Uttering to himself a very wry chuckle under his breath, the heavyset man with a graying beard put down his pen on the office desk, and he leaned back in his chair. Regarding what he'd absently just written on the form in the signature block at the bottom of this sheet of paper, this man now knew he had to start all over again at filling out everything there. It was an actual legal document, after all, which meant there was no possible way his Delta House name given to him thirty-five years ago would be acceptable at all to the bureaucrats responsible for running things here.
Crumpling up the paper in one hand, Flounder (hey, since he was thinking of himself as that, he might as well continue) casually tossed the wadded form into the wastebasket next to his desk. Next, this man pulled out another document from the stacks of red tape, carefully checking to make sure he'd gotten the right one. Seeing the printed words 'Notice Of Approval For Early Discharge' at the top of this sheet, Flounder nodded in calm satisfaction, and at the very first information block, he filled out in a neat hand the name of his latest patient at Pescadero State Hospital:
Buffy Anne Summers
Bemusedly cocking an eyebrow over what people actually called their children, Dr. Kent Dorfman, Ph.D, aka Flounder, started to work his way down the psychiatric evaluation, until a flood of memories came rushing back, abruptly brought into existence due to what he'd discussed with a certain young lady several minutes ago. Again setting down his pen and relaxing in his chair, Flounder decided to allow himself a few minutes' nostalgia, lest he accidentally spoil things once more and have to redo everything on the form yet again.
Despite how a particular movie comedy might have ended, in the real world, there were definite consequences for your actions. Which meant, a day after the Faber Homecoming parade fiasco, the former inhabitants of Delta House, or at least those who could be located, were facing a rather unpleasant future. A future which had in it the words 'criminal charges.'
The lawyer sent by the Delta fraternity to represent the subdued band of young men gathered in a motel room in the neighboring town from Faber had a note of actual awe in his voice when he informed his listeners, "Among everything else, you even got accused of fomenting rebellion, a charge my firm hasn't had to deal with since the Civil War. That alone makes this a once-in-a-lifetime case!"
"I'm so glad we're deep enough in the shit to give you a happy in your pants," sarcastically growled Boon, as the other guys there became still more miserable at the near-certain prospect of prison time.
Their lawyer didn't seem offended by this, as the man only ten or fifteen years older than the seniors just grinned back at everyone. Instead, he went on to snicker, "I thought me and my college buddies in our Delta house were real scoundrels, but you people put us all in the shade! Trust me, I'm gonna do my best to get you off, just to be able to brag about it to my own frat brothers."
Everyone there who'd participated in the riot now felt the faintest stirrings of hope, as the lawyer then briskly uttered a series of firm orders: "Okay, listen up, Deltas! First of all, you keep your mouths shut about everything, understand? You don't talk to anyone but me, you don't brag about it, you don't lip off to the press, cops, college, or the town. You stay sober, you dress up and be polite, and most important of all, you BEHAVE! Anyone who screws up and makes more trouble, I'm perfectly willing to toss 'em to the wolves!"
From the back of the suddenly respectful crowd came an impressed whisper, "He sounds like Silver."
Quickly pulling out a notebook and a pen from his suit, the lawyer intently asked, "Who's Silver?"
From then on, things improved for the Deltas, starting with Dean Wormer's nervous breakdown several days later. From what their lawyer told them afterwards, the dean had adamantly insisted to anyone questioning him that he was suffering from total amnesia regarding not just the events of the last few days but even further back, to a couple of years, however unbelievable as this might seem. Indeed, his interviewers' extreme skepticism grew even more over what most of them considered to be nothing but a clumsy attempt to avoid any possible blame for what was now referred to as the 'Faber riot'. Particularly since the Deltas' lawyer and the Faber College trustees in their separate investigations were both discovering some very odd things about Dean Wormer's personality, behavior, and actions involving that school administrator's evident feud with his college's Delta House.
(As the lawyer later on incredulously declared to an embarrassed group of trustees, "Double secret probation?")
It all came down to the former dean being given a choice while under heavy sedation in a mental facility: retire quietly and continue keeping his mouth shut, and he'd be allowed to retain his pension and medical benefits. Since his wife was already in the process of divorcing him and taking her husband for everything but his underwear in the legal proceedings, Wormer eventually gave in and disappeared from sight, to pass away a decade later due to a fatal stroke suffered by that still hot-tempered man.
With this out of the way, the Faber College trustees and the Deltas' lawyer found themselves working together against the other side, the town of Faber itself. Determined to make someone pay for ruining their parade, the municipality made several angry demands which were reluctantly agreed to by their opponents. First of all, the hovel of a Delta House was to stay permanently closed, and the fraternity itself was banned from opening another such residence upon the college grounds for a full decade.
All Delta brothers directly involved in the disturbance were to be expelled from Faber College, and this did occur. However, discreet, behind-the-scenes networking between various Delta old boys got those who still wanted to attend college into other schools having Delta Houses there, along with retaining their military deferments. The law was sternly laid down to those given second chances, that they'd damn well better stay out of trouble and concentrate on their studies, or risk getting kicked out again and immediately drafted.
In the end, a final conference was held between the Deltas and their lawyer, who glumly announced to them all, "Guys, there's a big problem. The town of Faber won't budge the slightest on their last demand. They're still being absolutely stubborn on that some specific Delta has to be arrested, tried, and sent to jail for what you did. They told me and the trustees that you guys couldn't get off completely scot-free, but we managed to negotiate a deal where you pick somebody to be sacrificed."
Surprisingly, instead of the normal shouts of anger and protest he'd expected, the lawyer got in return a shared doleful expression evident upon all the faces gazing back at him. Bob Hoover, former president of the Delta House and clearly the spokesman for them, just nodded and replied to someone they'd come to like and even use his first name, "We figured, Leland. What's the weirdest part is that Silver must've known too, 'cause he told us right off, after we agreed to his plan to mess up everything, to blame it all on him if and when we got caught."
Leland McKenzie had to actually blink over hearing this. He cautiously said, "You still haven't heard from him?"
The whole crowd simultaneously shook their heads over their missing comrade. Sighing, the lawyer informed the room, "Okay, then. If you're really sure about it, I'll go back and tell them that this, uh, Xander Harris is the one they need to look for. That should settle things for once and all, but if your friend known as Silver gets detained soon and any of you learn about it, pass the word onto me as fast as possible. Either I or somebody else the Delta fraternity hires will defend him in court, and we'll do our best for him. Frankly, from what you've told me about him, I definitely want to talk to this guy."
"No offense, Leland," a very acerbic Otter commented, "But we'd much rather you didn't, given how the only way you'll probably meet Silver if he's behind bars."
"Fair enough," shrugged Leland, going on to give everyone there an uncompromising glower, while saying, "Just keep in your tiny little minds that aiding and abetting a fugitive is a serious crime, and you really don't need that kind of trouble. Leave it all to me, guys, and go on with your lives."
As the days, weeks, months, years, and finally decades went by, the advice given to the young men in the motel room by their lawyer eventually came to pass. All those who'd been part of Delta House during the last half of 1962 soon became occupied with their normal pursuits, which included actually learning something at college, getting a job or joining a profession due to this, and also doing other things like every other member of the human race. Such as meeting a nice girl, marrying her (even several times the same one, in the case of Boon and Katy), having kids, watching glumly as their waistlines and hairlines changed, and now and then, having reunions with their Delta brothers.
'Once a Delta, always a Delta' was something firmly believed by the previous attendees at Faber College, which caused all the guys to look eagerly forward to the meetings with their friends from all over the country. One such reunion at a reception center in New York City during the bicentennial year of 1976 was the largest ever, with virtually everyone from fourteen years ago now there. Except for Silver, of course.
During the usual boozy reminiscences among the crowd, it was quickly confirmed that just as it'd been over nearly the last decade and a half, nobody there had heard anything at all from or about this one-eyed man, who was still maintaining his perfect streak of triumphantly avoiding the authorities. A very gleeful toast was promptly performed by all, who wished Silver the very best of luck in his life as a fugitive. After their glasses and cans had been drained, people started looking around for another drink, only to be interrupted by Larry Kroger climbing up onto a chair in the middle of the room and calling for everyone's attention.
The crowd now focused (albeit somewhat blearily for a couple of the guys there) upon a man who'd become a successful writer and later on an editor for a college humor magazine. During this, Larry had written a few hilarious stories about the exploits of Delta House during his time there, and they'd been enthusiastically received by his readers. Which included all the former residents at that Pennsylvania fraternity, none of whom minded the slightest the idea of Pinto writing about themselves. It was true he'd called the guys in his stories by their house names, but since Larry had also changed everyone's real names, it wasn't like they'd officially been exposed to the entire world.
Knowing he had to speak fast before some brother launched an empty beer can at his head, Larry announced, "Guys, I've got something important to tell you all. I put together my Delta House stories into a movie script and send it out on spec to some of the Hollywood studios. Well, guess what? Columbia brought it!"
This surprising bit of news received a loud cheer and several suggestions that the rest of the drinks were on Larry, who just smirked at them from his position on top of the chair. Shouting over sarcastic cries of "Cheap bastard!", Larry warned everyone, "In the movie world, everything's a crapshoot, fellas! There's no guarantee a film will be made at all, or that it'll be good or even recognizable! But, for it to get on track, something has to be done first. See over there?"
Heads turned in the crowd at where Larry was now pointing, one of the reception tables which now had a stack of papers resting there. Their puzzled notice was quickly brought back by Larry continuing, "I could get away with my magazine stories, but movies are different. Because I wrote about real people and put 'em in the script, the studio lawyers say I have to contact anyone I mentioned and get them to sign a release form allowing their portrayal in the movie. Since the film might or might not be made, I didn't get all that much money from the legal department to pay anyone who permanently signs away their rights-"
"HOLD EVERYTHING!" interrupted a bellowing Otter, who'd stepped out from the shocked crowd to stand there and glare at the startled other Delta still perched on his chair. In a very menacing voice, the man named after an aquatic weasel in his college days, who'd afterwards become a flourishing Beverly Hills gynecologist, now stated, "Are you saying, that if I sign, by tomorrow morning I'll wake up in my hotel bed with one hell of a hangover, a couple of extra bucks in my pocket, and the definite sensation that I've been seriously screwed over?"
Pausing to think about this for a few seconds, Larry then sheepishly shrugged, "Yeah, pretty much."
Dramatically spinning around to march towards the table with the release forms, Otter jovially called over his shoulder, "Oh, well, why didn't you just say so?" Grabbing the first sheet of paper, the doctor who was still a devoted horndog now signed his name with a grand flourish.
The laughing crowd now all lined up behind Otter, getting ready to give their own permission. Included in the queue was a practicing California psychologist who'd long ago been nicknamed Flounder. After signing, that man and the rest of the Deltas cheerfully went back to the party, and they didn't give the least bit of thought to what they'd done. Until a year later, they learned to their complete astonishment that a film named Animal House was about to start shooting in Oregon.
Several months afterwards, a special screening of the completed film before it went into wide release was offered by Columbia Studios to any former Delta House member able to come see this movie. Naturally, everyone showed up, and joined by numerous actors and others involved with the filmic record of their hell-raising exploits, the Delta House brothers watched a bunch of college guys back in the early sixties have the time of their lives. As expected, the entire audience loved it, just like millions of people would also do so for the next several decades.
When the lights came up in the screening room, the crowd quickly adjourned to another place nearby to celebrate the success of what was about to be released onto an unsuspecting world. Happily standing in the conference room, Larry Kroger good-humouredly waited for his Delta brothers to deliver their congratulations in these friends' usual style of seriously busting his balls. Watching in awe during all this were the various actors and actresses who'd portrayed the same people they were now meeting.
Perhaps this was the reason why Bluto put a little more swagger in his stride than usual when he stepped in front of Larry. Looking right into the resigned face of someone whose leg he'd peed upon years ago, the burly Delta now gleefully asked, "So, Pinto, how come you didn't get hauled off to the clink for statutory rape when you nailed your little girlfriend on the football field?"
Sharing an exasperated glance, Mandy Blutarsky and Clorette Kroger then glowered at their respective spouses, with this latter woman then jerking a wifely thumb towards her smirking husband, as she snapped, "Mr. Big Shot Writer here, he thought it'd be real funny to knock off a few years off my age. I was sixteen, not thirteen! This was legal then, plus it made a lot more sense on how I was able to work as a cashier in my dad's store!"
Pausing at seeing the suddenly relieved look which had flashed over a young woman's face in the listening crowd, Clorette put on her own features a truly mischievous expression which showed there was good reason she'd long ago been awarded the title of 'Honorary Delta' due to a certain party. This became even more evident as the older woman snickered directly towards this actress who instantly blushed brick red at what she heard, "Besides, honey, I never had tits like yours when I was thirteen!"
Raucous laughter shook the room for the next few moments, until things calmed down for someone else to ask a question. Pointing to a smiling D-Day across in the crowd while clad in his immaculate Marine dress blues, a puzzled Katy asked, "Hey, Larry, how come in the end credits you said this guy was missing? He's right here!"
There was a sudden hush throughout the entire space, as all there waited for an answer. They watched a very sad look appear on Larry's countenance, right before he sighed, and explained, "Dan said it was okay, when I told him why I wanted it that way. It's a homage to Silver, guys, how he disappeared into thin air and hasn't shown up since."
"You couldn't find him at all?" incredulously asked Flounder, beating ahead the rest there.
Larry dolefully shook his head. "Not a single clue, and I asked all the Deltas and everyone else from Faber who was still alive and willing to talk to me. Nobody knew, either. Over the years, whenever I'm in a new city, I check the phone books for any Xander Harris, without finding him. It didn't help any that I learned a while back the name Xander can be short for Alexander, which made it even more hopeless. The studio gave me some money a few months before the film started to hire a professional skip tracer, but they didn't have any luck either. It all wound up with me having to write a script leaving out Silver totally, no matter how much I hated to do it."
For the first time, one of the non-Deltas in the crowd listening with fascination spoke up, with this actor asking in complete bafflement, "Who's Silver?"
In his office inside the state psychiatric hospital, Flounder returned from this thoughts to the present, as he sadly mused upon the fact nearly twenty years later, Silver the Delta House member was still missing.
Back then, Larry had permanently moved to the West Coast after the successful opening of Animal House, writing even more movies and also working as a script doctor. Flounder and Pinto were still good friends, and over time, they'd started having lunch together whenever they could. Every month or so, when the conversation drifted to their college days, Larry had to confess there'd never been any news about Silver or Xander Harris, even though a lot more people now knew about this minor mystery regarding the cult comedy film and this had continued right up to the present day.
During one meal recently after hearing this, Kent had tried to change the depressed mood at their table by asking something he'd just thought, "Larry, you had really great luck in getting such a talented bunch of guys at the start of their careers to appear in the movie, right?"
"Mmm-hmmm," agreeably mumbled Larry through his mouthful of pasta.
"Well, I was just wondering, if you'd managed to find Silver around then, or if he showed up on his own and signed the release form, who would've played him in the film?"
An genuine look of interest appeared on Larry's face while this man absently swallowed, thinking this over. He eventually cautioned, "I didn't have anything to do with the casting back then."
Flounder nodded impatiently, as he urged, "Still, if you could've gotten anyone at all…?"
Leaning back in the booth after his best friend since college trailed off, Larry was indisputably tickled over hearing an actual new question about his film. He still liked talking about Animal House, but it was now rare to have to think about something novel regarding the movie. Starting to ponder out loud, Larry muttered, "Let's see, the late seventies, whoever back then would've had to be around thirty like Silver was, just starting out as an actor, plus he had to pull off playing both one very scary guy and also somebody who knew how to flat-out have fun- Huh!" That last yelp was quickly accompanied by a gleeful grin, signifying Larry had actually thought of someone.
After a few more moments of his friend doing nothing but smirking to himself, an annoyed Kent demanded, "Well?"
"Tommy Lee Jones," chuckled Larry Kroger.
Kent's mouth fell open, as he stared at a guffawing Pinto. Eventually regaining his voice, the other Delta spluttered, "What, you mean the actor from The Fugitive? You're having me on! How could that grim, totally serious guy ever show himself enjoying life, like Silver did?"
Larry wryly eyed Kent, pointing out, "Acting a part doesn't mean that's all any actor is, Flounder. Besides, I've met the man in real life, and he's got an actual sense of humor. He would've been great as Silver then, and Jones might've had more chances to play comedy than he actually did, ever since a breakout role in Rolling Thunder back in 1977. Right now, he's shooting something that's got good word-of-mouth, called Men In Black, and it sounds like it'll show everyone he can do funny stuff."
"I suppose so," Kent responded doubtfully. They went back to finishing off their lunch, and made arrangements to eat together soon again.
The psychiatrist in the office guiltily collected himself over spending so much time thinking about such trivial things, and he soon devoted his attention into completing the mental health evaluation. Nevertheless, during this, Dr. Dorfman couldn't help bringing up his short time as a Delta at Faber College regarding the specific person who'd necessitated him interviewing one Buffy Anne Summers.
Like all the main characters from Animal House, the good doctor occasionally met someone who realized exactly whom their new acquaintance was. Kent didn't really mind, even if he usually kept it quiet in order to maintain the obligatory dignity of his profession. But, if they came right out and asked, the man was willing enough to admit he'd once been the Delta frat brother known as Flounder. Of course, this often produced several other questions, which always included two particular inquiries. The only good thing about it now was the passing amusement gained by seeing the utterly incredulous looks on their faces, as they heard the very tolerant replies:
Yes, he really did puke all over Dean Wormer.
Yes, he really did shoot the gun with blanks that made Trooper the horse die from pure fright.
Dr. Dorfman still possessed a thorough dislike regarding the entire equine species. On the other hand, once a year, he sent a rather large check to the Southern California Humane Society directing it to be used to assist in the care of injured, sick, and abandoned horses. Kent half-heartedly tried to convince himself this was just a minor charitable impulse, with his other altruistic endeavors being much more important, such as the two days a week he took from his practice to offer free psychiatric help to the patients at Pescadero State Hospital.
Frowning to himself, Kent couldn't help but to think that the regular psychiatrist, whose office he was now in and had been asked to cover for today when this doctor had unexpectedly called in sick, deserved to be scrupulously covered with the entire contents of his stomach. From what he'd picked up from the staff and those patients willing to freely talk, this arrogant asshole far preferred to use the people under his presumed care to accumulate enough data to churn out several dozen medical papers a year. It didn't seem to matter these articles apparently never advanced anything new or possibly beneficial to society in general. The only thing which mattered was sooner or later, this much production of useless dreck would catch the eye of some outside hospital chief and get a genuinely useless psychiatric into a much larger office with an accompanying steep rise in salary.
Worse of all, the bastard in white was keeping anyone transferred to him far longer in psychiatric incarceration that was genuinely necessary, just to make sure he could squeeze a few more interesting footnotes out of them. Regardless of what the patients themselves wanted, or more important, what they needed. Dr. Dorfman had been quietly gathering information and he was about to make a formal complaint to the hospital board concerning all this very soon. In the meantime, at least he could intervene in today's cases. One in particular had been genuinely distressing.
It'd have normally been over and done with, the case involving Buffy Anne Summers. Kent hadn't been very happy simply reading about it in the first place. People suffering from mental problems were to be institutionalized only as a last resort, not just because a married couple couldn't deal with their daughter's erratic behavior. There was plenty of help available from other health professionals, if only Hank and Joyce Summers had even bothered to look for it.
The psychiatrist had just barely kept his own anger under control when he'd met the young lady herself for their first and only interview, and he'd seen how terrified she was. Once the girl had sat down in the office, the tiny blonde had immediately started babbling over how sorry she was, she'd never do it again, and anything else Dr. Dorfman might be wanting to hear. It didn't take long for Kent to understand she well knew about the reputation of the other doctor he was temporarily replacing, and to explain he wasn't that man. The waterworks had promptly started, and after handing over a ready box of tissues, Kent patiently coaxed out from her a vague story of a gang attack at her high school which resulted in the gym burning down.
Starting from his first year at college in the Delta House, Flounder had found himself in the company of liars ranging from merely proficient to the genius level. He soon found he had a talent for sniffing out false statements, though the young man wasn't very good at actually lying himself. It didn't matter, since Kent was soon becoming interested about why and how people spoke what they knew and believed to be the truth, even if it was most decidedly not. This soon lead him into psychiatry, and he found it to be something he could sincerely be good at for the first time in his entire life.
Right now, Dr. Dorfman knew that Buffy Summers was lying to him, but he didn't really care about the particulars. Instead, he judged this young lady to be quite sane, and she most decidedly didn't need to be in the hospital. Any problems she had (and Kent was soon beginning to oddly feel these difficulties were far vaster than normal for someone her age) could best be dealt with in another environment. Briskly explaining to a wide-eyed girl that in his opinion, her mother's plans to move the Summers women into an entirely new home was exactly the right thing to do, Kent happily went on to give her the good news. By his authority as the physician in charge, even if it was only temporary for today, Buffy would be released from the custody of the hospital right away. Instead of what she'd been fearing, that her stay here wouldn't end anytime soon, the California high school student could leave and go with her mother to, where did she say? Oh, yes, Sunnydale. This place sounded peaceful enough, which was just what Buffy needed.
Wincing slightly from the ear-piercing squeal of delight from his patient, a smiling Dr. Dorfman called after the young lady who'd bounced up from her chair and was about to rush out of the office to call Mommy to come pick her up. Pausing at the open door to look over her shoulder in sudden wariness, an astonished Buffy heard from the absolutely nice doctor, "Buffy, one last piece of advice. When you're settled in your new home, try to find friends there. Real friend, not the casual kind you've had before to discuss boys and clothes and hairstyles. Look for them in the spots you'd never expect, because the stranger, the weirder, the odder they are, the more you can trust them to be on your side, no matter what happens."
The newest Slayer found her mouth hanging open at that point, as she stared in wonder at a great big teddy bear of a man chuckling to himself under his breath, "I had, and still have friends like that: Pinto, Bluto, Otter, Boon, and even Silver…"
Author's Note: Well, the story's done, and I hope you liked it! One thing though, in all the reviews, NOBODY noticed something! Just for that, instead of the yummy imaginary cookie I was going to present to the first one to spot it, everyone gets a proper hard smack across the chops. Go back to Chapter Five, and check out the name of the demon who was standing guard in the pentagram in the Administration Building basement. There's a little something called an anagram...