It's now the middle of October. After leaving my morning class, I pass by the giant announcement board in the hallway right outside the office. Many of the papers littering the board are ads for first-year tutors and clubs, but one large poster in the middle dominates the rest. It's from the Kappa Iota Phi fraternity and past the flashy, poorly-spelt sentences that were probably written while drunk they're currently looking for some new members. I'm excited. What better way is there to get involved in the community than by joining this brotherhood?
I walk over to the building as four PM passes by. It's not a large building, only two stories tall, but it has evidently seen much "use." There's a portion of the wall boarded up with pasted papers of some band that had a gig a while back and there are stains which I could barely make out. The raucous laughter and hooting of guys blast into my ears as I enter. It's easy to tell who the brothers and who the pledges are: there were some guys who are playing pool, watching the baseball game on TV, and a few other around a small herd of younger men, whispering amongst themselves. I quietly make my way into the group.
A guy with a trimmed moustache and small beard sneers at us. "So! You little shits think you're man enough to join Kappa Iota Phi? Well I'm just going to say that that's going to change soon enough. My name's Michael and I'm gonna be your pledgemaster. You'll be put through some of the toughest challenges you'll ever live to face. So who's ready for this?" No one says a word. He looks around again. "No, huh?" he scoffs. "That's it, all you pansies can go home now."
I've come this far and I'm not turning back. I step forward, swallowing a mouthful of saliva. I hope the frat bro in front of me didn't notice. He smirks. "Alright, then. Looks like one of you actually have the balls to be one of us. Maybe. What's your name?"
"Chris." He smirks. He looks me over and stares right into me. If he's checking for fear then he's doing a good job of pretending he doesn't notice.
"Alright, at least one of you ladies have manned up. Anybody else?" He circles us like a rabid wolf waiting for one of the weaker lambs in the flock to break rank and run. A few others meekly join me. "Huh, guess we'll give all of you a shot, hmm?" He turns to another member who gives him a nod. "Okay. Come back in three days and we'll give you a task. If you can't pass, you don't deserve to call yourself a proud brother of Kappa Iota Phi. Dismissed!"
I swiftly leave, though not as fast as some of the other pledges-to-be. Glancing at the clock tower in the distance, only half an hour passed. I blink; it seemed much shorter than that. Four-thirty PM, huh. I'm not hungry yet, though. Perhaps a little bit of studying won't hurt.
I walk back towards my dorm. The yellow and orange leaves littered all over the campus grounds crunch and crack at my feet. "Hey Chris!" I turn around.
"Jen?" She's some few yards away from me. It's been quite some time since I last saw her in chemistry class; she switched seats every time, talking to new people around her. I feel a little… forgotten. "What's up?"
"Oh, nothing, just wondering how you've been." She walks up to me.
"Pretty good. Anthropology's getting more complicated, so I gotta crack open the books." She laughs.
"Or maybe you were cracking open the Captain Morgan, huh."
I roll my eyes. "Very funny. I might take you up on that."
"On a Tuesday night? I'd love to see that." I chuckle half-heartedly. "Anyway, I was wondering; would you like to go out for dinner with a few friends on Friday night?"
Friends. "Friday, huh? Sorry Jen, can't make that. I've got something else on that day."
She pokes me. "More important than eating some good Italian food with people our age?"
"I'd say so. Sorry, I'll call you when I have time." She rolls her eyes and puffs her cheeks up, like a squirrel with nuts in her mouth. She gives me a wry smile and waves goodbye before walking away. What was I going to do again? Right, studying for that Anthro quiz in two days. Guess I'll be pulling an all-nighter…
Three days have gone by and today is the day where I'll be tested to see if I have what it takes to be a Kappa Iota Phi brother. I'm back in the lounge. Every pledge from the other day has shown up.
Michael's back as well and for an instant I swear I see his eyes widen in surprise before reverting back into his cocky glance. "So all of you decided to man up and come back, huh? I'll tell you all one thing, and that's you all got balls. What we're going to do is not a big deal. It might hurt a little, but you're all tough enough, right?" A few of us nod nervously. His eyes are trained on me again.
"Right, then." He looks to the brothers and exchanges coded grins with them. I gulp nervously. When he turns back, the look that he gives us is familiar to me. When I was in middle school, there was another boy, Jake, if I remember his name correctly; he was a popular kid and vicious. Everyone learned to steer clear of him and whoever he laid his eyes on wouldn't show up to school on the next day in fear of having a few ribs broken. "What you're all going to do is the elephant walk."
"Wait, elephant walk?" a scrawny guy behind me protests. "That's wrong, dude, just wrong." A few others nod in agreement. "Isn't that illegal?"
"Yeah," another adds. "I don't like to have stinky thumbs."
"You shitheads got a problem with it, there's the door." The scrawny guy glances toward the exit and walks out briskly. He's followed by more than half of the group, many of them with looks of disgust. Michael scoffs as the door slams behind the last one out.
I look at the other pledges, many of which silently say "what have I gotten myself into?" I'm wondering that too, but it's too late for regrets now. My train of thought's interrupted by Michael, laughing his guts out, which really doesn't help.
"Did you see the look on their faces? Priceless!" he snickered. "Relax!" he assures us. "We're not that crazy." A collective sigh fills the room. "What we'll be really doing is paddling." No one breathes as two huge dudes silently take out rowing oars.
It's not as bad as it looks, I tell myself. How much more painful can a paddle be than a belt?
A/N: Well I finally updated in God knows how long. The aforementioned rituals have been practiced and should not be done as they are illegal. Hope you enjoyed this chapter!