Monday, June 15, 2009

The Learning Curve: Chapter 2

The fall chill had already arrived and was making its presence known that evening. CC and Tonya made their way to the lane of houses that comprised the “Greek Row” where the majority of the fraternities and sororities had their houses. The girls heard music playing even before they got to the Row. Almost every house was hosting a mixer that evening. The street and sidewalk were mostly clear, and those that were out on it seemed to be freshmen like Tonya and CC whom were attempting to find their destinations.

The houses on the Row were obviously built later than the main building on campus. The Gothic architecture and cobblestone walls were replaced by colonial styles and modern siding. All of the houses were two or three stories and had the Greek letters representing the different organizations displayed proudly on the porches by the front doors.

CC was smiling. The parties going on looked promising. She helped Tonya look to try to find the Kappa Theta Kappa house, but as of yet they had no luck. They did receive a few catcalls and whistles from some of the fraternity houses, and more than one invitation to join the festivities.

“This is going to be great!” Tonya chirped, reiterating the same sentiment she had been exposing the entire day.

“Yeah, although if we don’t find the house soon, I may take someone up on their offer.” CC eyed a few fraternity guys waving at them to join their party.

“Don’t be such a ho bag.” Tonya teased as she entwined her arm with CC’s in an effort to keep her from straying off. “The mixer is going to be a lot of fun. Julie promised to introduce me to all the girls and they sound really awesome.”

“Alright, alright. I’m not going to bail on you.” CC barely got the words out when she spotted someone dashing out from between the houses. The Row was well lit, but it was difficult to make out who it was until he was nearly upon the girls. “WHOA!” CC shouted at him as her hand went into her pocket to grab her pepper spray.

The guy came to a halt on the sidewalk in front of them. It was the student that CC had seen Mister Gunther talking to before her class earlier, but it took CC a moment to recognize him. He was not wearing his cowboy boots and had found the time to get a haircut after she had seen him last. His dark hair was uncombed and spiked out in places as if he had trouble keeping it under control. He wore a black leather jacket, which the chill in the air did not warrant. His jeans were loose fitting and faded. He looked at the girls was deep brown eyes, and offered them a smile which looked to CC as if it was as practiced as Julie’s had been earlier that day.

“Sorry to startle you.” He offered by way of an apology. Tonya clung tighter to CC’s arm and CC did not release her grip on the pepper spray in her pocket.

“You’re Tommy, right?” CC asked and both the young man and Tonya seemed surprised.

“No, Tommy’s my brother.” The young man said keeping his distance.

“You look a lot alike.”

“We’re twins. You know Tommy?”

“We both have Professor Carlson for anthro.”

“I see.” The young man was glancing around but trying not to be obvious about it. “Doctor Carlson is a great teacher.”

“If you say so.” CC could not see the appeal of Carlson. His lectures were about as entertaining to CC as watching paint dry.

“Say, do you know where the Kappa Theta Kappa house is?” Tonya asked, finally unclenching from CC arm.

“You’re almost there.” He answered. He gestured with his head towards the house, which was only a few more houses down the row, while keeping his arms at his sides.

“Great, thanks.” Tonya started walking with CC right behind her. They passed by the man without saying another word. Once they thought they were out of earshot, Tonya said softly to CC, “That guy seem kinda weird to you?”

“Yeah, just a bit. We didn’t even catch his name.” CC glanced back at where he had been standing. She caught sight of him hurrying down the Row away from them. She saw a splatter on the sidewalk where he had been standing. She did not pay it much attention, and barely registered that the spot was red. “I bet it was Tommy and he thinks he’s funny.”

The Kappa Theta Kappa house was bustling with activity. The house was like all the others on the row. Some of the girls had taken the time to hang some Christmas lights on the porch to make the place stand out for their guests. CC and Tonya agreed that it was a cute touch. There were a few girls on the porch, chatting over their drinks. The front door was wide open and Julie was waiting right inside at a table. It occurred to CC that the only time she had every seen Julie was in front of or behind tables. Either she was very dedicated to the sorority, or she had a habit of drawing the short straw.

“You made it!” She shouted over the music that filled the house. “I’ve got name tags for both of you!” The tags were the standard stickers that read ‘Hello, my name is’. CC wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to wear it, and briefly contemplated writing something weird on it. However she filled it out as did Tonya and stuck the tag on her shirt. “Did you have any trouble finding us?”

“Not really.” Tonya answered. “A friend of CC’s showed us where to go.”

“Oh, you have a friend on the row?” Julie asked through her permanent smile.

“Just a guy from class. I don’t really know him. He was screwing around and claiming he was his own twin brother.”

“It wasn’t one of the Ellison brothers was it?” Julie’s smile was starting to look forced.

“Who?” CC raised an eyebrow.

“James and Tommy Ellison. Those guys are really creepy. You’re better off avoiding them.” Julie seemed earnest in her advice, but that only got CC’s curiosity up. More girls entered before CC could ask Julie more about the brothers, and Tonya was pulling her away.

CC met dozens of girls that evening and if held at gunpoint could not be made to remember a single name besides Julie’s. Tonya however was in her element. She seemed to program the phone number of every girl they encountered into her cell phone. A few of the boys caught CC’s attention. One in particular, who was a ‘sweetheart’ for the sorority, caught her eye. His name tag identified him as ‘Steve’. Steve was tall and muscular with brown hair that looked like he spent time making it look like he spent no time on it. He was talking to a small group of girls. CC made her way over to them as Tonya was programming yet another number into her phone. She had had a few drinks and her courage was up.

“Hi Steve.” She said after waiting for just the right lull in the conversation to speak up.

“Oh hi… um…” He checked her name tag. “CC. Um, did we meet already?” CC pointed to his name tag to show how she knew his name. Steve looked down at it and the recognition clicked in. “Oh… DUH!” He laughed and CC giggled. He was cute, and seemed not terribly bright at the moment. “Are you having a good time?”

“Actually, I was hoping for a tour of the house.” Her eyes caught his and held them. She smiled.

“Oh, sure! It’ll be my pleasure.” Steve ushered her away from the main party towards the kitchen area. She felt a little bad about ditching Tonya, but Tonya seemed to be enjoying herself. CC figured it was time to enjoy herself too.

Steve showed her around the kitchen and dining room area, which were the only places on the first floor CC had not seen yet. They ascended the stairs. There were a few girls up there as well, mostly looking around and seeing how they liked the house. Steve talked about the sorority and the house and bunch of other things that CC did not listen to. She was hoping to find a place to have a bit of fun with Steve, but he said something that disrupted her search.

“So, I hear you know the Ellison brothers.”

“What?” CC was caught off guard by the remark. She turned from the bedroom she was looking at to Steve. “Not really. I have a professor in common with one of them and I ran into the other one earlier.”

“So… there are two of them.” Steve’s demeanor was changing quickly. The semi-dense, smiling sorority sweetheart had just taken a very serious sounding tone. He gave CC a slight shove into the empty bedroom they were looking at and enter behind her closing the door behind him. “I’m going to have to ask you a few things.”

CC reached into her pocket for her pepper spray.

About this month's artist: Marty Nozz wrote all the stuff you just read. All five of you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Learning Curve: Chapter 1

Cecelia Catherine Tucker was facing her most difficult decision since entering Lazlo University. This would affect not only the rest of her time at the university, but also possibly the rest of her life. She stood at the table looking in front of the campus dining hall mulling over her decision as dozens of other students passed by her, never running into each other, yet so much in their own little worlds that they were seemingly oblivious to everyone around them. She contemplated going into old Gothic style building that was the dining hall to mull over the decision. At the very least she would not have to decide on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, she stood transfixed. She was trapped, unable to move. Her captor wore a sweater branded with select letters of the Greek alphabet and a smile that seemed permanent.

“So are you interested in rushing Kappa Theta Kappa?” Her name was Julie. She had been sitting behind the table for the better part of the morning. She made sure that every last item on the table was laid out perfectly and was easily seen by any passer-by, and should those passer-bys happen to look she was prepared to deliver the sales pitch which she had just inflicted on one Cecilia Tucker.

Miss Tucker was tempted and yet unconvinced. She shifted her weight back and forth and brushed her long blond hair behind her ear. Her soft hazel eyes studied Julie as she pondered what it would be like to be wearing a Kappa Theta Kappa sweater. Her roommate Tonya was already going to rush the sorority, and it seemed like fun. She had heard stories about parties with fraternity boys and much drinking. She could not bring herself to ask Julie if any of these stories were true, because if they were not, she was not interested.

“CC!” She heard from behind her and recognized the voice immediately as Tonya’s. She turned to see her friend bouncing up to them. Tonya was a bit taller than CC, which was the nickname she had since first grade where the two had met. Tonya had gotten her brown hair cut short, which she deemed her ‘college’ look. “Hi, Julie! Have you talked her into it yet?”

“I’m working on it, Tonya.” Julie responded with a smile.

“Come on! They’re having a mixer tonight! I don’t want to go alone.”

“Alright, I’m in.” CC said finally with a shrug. Then she turned to Julie. “Just make sure there’s some guys there to mix with.”

CC and Tonya had lunch together in the dining hall. Tonya spent the meal chatting about how excited she was about possibly joining the sorority. CC mostly just nodded and looked about for boys she could deem worthy of classifying as ‘eye-candy’.

From there CC went to the first of her afternoon class. As a freshman she had the last pick of classes and she loathed her schedule. She had only one class that afternoon, but it was an anthropology course which bored her senseless. However, since she had yet to declare a major she was stuck taking the university’s requirements for liberal studies. She made her way across the campus and paid no attention to the building with their old cobblestone with the ivy attempting to overtake it at many points. She had lived there for an entire month and still had not noticed the gargoyles that sat perched atop many of the roofs. She came to her destination and moved with the flow of students into the building, and started up a flight of stairs to her class.

“Coming through!” An Asian man, a few years older than CC came barreling down the stairs, slicing through the mass of students in his way effortlessly. He muttered something by way of an apology as he passed by. CC thought of saying something, but another student beat her to it, yelling at the man, who had already turned the corner and was gone.

CC walked to the classroom with a few minutes to spare. Standing outside of the room were two men. She recognized one of them as her professor’s assistant, Mister Gunther. Gunther was an imposing man who did not seem to fit her idea of an academic. His blond hair was chopped short as if he was in the military, and he had a mustache and goatee. Gunther was talking with a student, but it was not one from CC’s class. He looked like a freshman and dark long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. She had seen him before around campus. His cowboy boots made him stand out.

“Just see if you can find the books, Tommy. I know there’s a lot to go through.” Gunther said in a rather hushed tone.

“Don’t worry, Gabe. I’ve got this.” And with that the student hurried off, with his boots clicking on the tile floor as he hurried away. CC shrugged and passed Gunther as she entered the room. She took a seat near the back of the room as the professor entered. Gunther followed her in and sat in his usual seat at the front of the room. CC was hoping she would be able to stay awake for the class. She had already been caught napping once and was still embarrassed by it. She knew it would be difficult, as she could not think of anyone more boring than Doctor Carson Rogers.

* * * * * * * * * *

She had managed to stay awake in class, but despite that, she could not remember a bit of what the class was about. She was happy to have her classes over for the week and found herself looking forward to going to the sorority mixer that night. She dumped her books on her desk, where they would in all likelihood stay until Sunday when she would frantically try to complete her reading assignments.

She and Tonya spent about an hour after dinner picking out their outfits and getting made up for the mixer. Each had vetoed the other’s selection at least twice.

“Gawd!” CC griped. “There had better be some damn hot guys at this thing.”

“Well, we’re mostly there to see if we want to hang with these girls. The guys are just a perk.”

“They better be damn perky if they want me to join.”

“Oh come on! You don’t think the idea of joining a sorority is cool?” Tonya asked as she made some adjustments to her hair.

“I guess.” CC replied as she applied some make-up. The two were sharing a mirror in their dorm room.

“Oh, once you get there, you’re going to have a blast.” Tonya grabbed her toothbrush and toothpaste and headed for the door. “Be right back.”

“Sure thing.” CC watched her go and then turned back to her reflection. In the glass behind her image there was a person. CC gasped and turned quickly. She was alone in the room. She looked back at the mirror to see nothing but her face looking shocked. “Gawd.” She groaned. She felt silly for letting her mind play tricks with her. Tonya returned soon after.


“Hell yes! Let’s go find some beer and cute stupid boys.” They both laughed.

“Whoo. Did it get chilly in here all of a sudden?” Tonya asked. She passed CC and turned the heater up. “I don’t want to come home to a freezing room.” They left for the mixer. Despite the heater’s best efforts, the room did not get any warmer.

About this month's artist: Bridget once snorted orange-flavored Pixie Stix dust when she was younger, simply because someone dared her to. Not only would she be sneezing orange for a week after the incident, but many would blame the act for her current mental state. All evidence suggests otherwise, proving she was never the brightest sandwich in the galaxy even before the lapse in judgment.