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.

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