Cheap motherfucker.



          I opened the front door and saw Ripper, Mickey, and New York Eddie standing outside.

“What the fuck, man?” I asked Eddie in a facetious effort to sound angry.

           “My bad, Bryce,” answered the dark-haired Italian with a giggle. He extended his hand.

          I shook the hand and said, “It’s cool, man. How does her koochie juice feel?”

          Eddie’s dark eyes widened and he immediately snatched his hand away and wiped it on his pants.

          I grinned. “I’m just playing, kid.”

          Mickey and Ripper chuckled at this exchange which meant that Eddie had already told them about his peep show.

           “Hey, Ripper,” I asked. “You got a smoke?”

           “Sure, dude,” Ripper replied as he produced a fresh pack of Marlboro Lights 100s. “I’ll match you.”

          My shaggy-haired, surfer-looking friend always had a smoke. He handed me a cigarette and then stuffed one in his own mouth before lighting both of them with a silver Zippo.

          I took a long drag and exhaled. “Thanks, man. By the way, fellas…Tadd told me he’s gonna drink more than anyone here tonight.”

          Mickey snorted. “He might pour more beer than anyone here tonight…”

          Eddie finished his thought. “Whether or not it goes down his throat is another thing entirely.”

          I chuckled. “Have you guys ever figured out why he does that shit?”

          Ripper shrugged. “There’s several running theories.”

          “It’s about his image,” Eddie surmised. “He wants everybody to think he’s some big time, heavy drinking redneck, so he gets more alcohol than he can drink and pours that shit out when he thinks no one is watching.”

          “Fuck it,” I replied. “As long as we don’t run out of beer, he can shower in that shit for all I care. How we doing on collections?”

          “Good,” Mickey answered and pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket. “We already have the first two kegs paid off and are working our way towards the third.”

          “Nice. I appreciate you boys doing this for me.”

          “No problem,” Eddie replied. “It’s a lot easier to buy all the kegs up front and then collect at the door.”

          I nodded. “Every time I try to collect money inside for another beer run, I want to punch those assholes in the face.”

“Hells yeah. The worst is when you get some dickhead you don’t know who refuses to contribute money towards the alcohol you’re giving him to drink.”

          “It’s bullshit,” Mickey agreed. “For a bunch of rich kids, they can be some Jew motherfuckers.”

          I glanced at Eddie. “What’ve you been charging them?”

          My friend shrugged. “Couple bucks for the guys. Girls are free.”

          “Perfect. A couple bucks is chump change for what they’re getting inside.”

          “Yo, Bryce!” screamed a loud voice. “What’s up, motherfucker?”

          I looked to the stairway and saw that Rowdy had arrived and was carrying two handles of vodka. My fraternity brother was a muscular young man with an eyebrow ring, reddish-blonde hair, and a matching goatee. He looked and often acted like a modern day Viking.

          “What up, boy?” I greeted him.

          Rowdy lifted the two liquor bottles out to his sides and then crossed them across his chest like he was doing a kung fu bow of respect.

          “You’re a good man, Rowdy,” I said. “I appreciate you bringing the extra liquor.”

          Rowdy laughed. “You know we gotta do some funnel shots to get this fucking party going!”


          He greeted my other friends with a nod. “Sup, boys?”

          “What’s up, Rowdy?” Mickey replied.

          “What are funnel shots?” Ripper asked.

          My fraternity brother grinned like a shark. “You do a beer bong with a couple shots of liquor on top.”

          Ripper’s eyebrows arched with intrigue. “Cool, dude. I’ll have to try that.”

          “Where’s Jacob and your roommates at?” I asked.

          Rowdy shrugged. “They’ll be here soon. Where do you want me to put these bottles?”

          “Just put them somewhere near the funnel in the kitchen sink. Let me break you off forty dollars for the grocery bill.”

          I motioned to Mickey and he pulled out the wad of cash and started counting out the money.

          “Nah, man,” Rowdy replied. “Don’t worry about it.”

          “You sure?” I asked.

          “Yeah,” he said with a wide grin. “I guarantee I’ll be drinking more than forty dollars worth of alcohol tonight.”

          I laughed. “Cool. Grab one of the big plastic cups out of the kitchen cabinet. There’s a keg in the living room and two more out back. There’s also a couch down there being used for upside-down margaritas.”

          Rowdy’s eyes widened with excitement. “Tequila? Hell yeah, Bryce! Your boy is gonna get fuuucked up tonight!”

          Two pledges had ascended the stairway, and after paying for cups, they were immediately thrown in a double headlock by Rowdy and dragged inside the apartment.

          “Come on, you pledge fucks!” he growled. “If you two don’t get fucked up tonight, then I’m gonna get fucked up and fuck your little pussies!”

          The door shut behind the trio and we continued to watch people flood into the party and collect money for cups. With his slick people skills, New York Eddie was the perfect salesman for this financial operation and the intimidation of Mickey The Enforcer made him an excellent tax collector. My muscular friend had really bulked up this semester and had recently bleached the tips of his dark hair blonde. Clad in a black wife beater, baggy dark-blue jeans, and white Adidas sneakers with black stripes, he looked like a badass bass guitar player from a hardcore heavy metal band.

          “So, Bryce,” Eddie asked, “who came up with the theme for this party? You or your roommates?”

          “I guess we all did. We love girls in short skirts and wife beaters let us flex our muscles.” I chuckled and added, “Yeah, we’re definitely some fucking meatheads over here at 212 Casa Cordoba.”

          Mickey was eyeing the parking lot. “Bryce, guys like Rowdy and Mitchell are cool as fuck, but how can you stand being brothers with kids like this?”

          I followed his gaze and saw two young men walking towards us on the sidewalk. Neither was sporting a wife beater which was probably a good thing since one of the young men had a bird chest and the other kid had a 300 pound frame that was packing far more fat than muscle.

          “Who the fuck are these clowns?” Mickey asked.

          “The skinny one is Preston. He was my big brother Kronic’s roommate last year. He’s a smart fucker, skipped a grade in elementary school or something.” I shrugged. “He’s a funny kid in that witty satirical kind of way.”

          Eddie chuckled. “Isn’t he the guy who likes to brag about how the novel he’s writing is gonna change the world?”

          I snorted. “Yeah, but he only does that shit when he’s drunk as hell.”

“The fat guy’s name is Milton, right?” Ripper asked.

“Yeah, but we call him The Blob.”

          “The Blob?”  Mickey laughed. “Why the hell would you give a rush bid to a guy nicknamed The Blob?”

“Probably because he played High School ball with some of my brothers. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s been kind of a letdown because he didn’t turn out to be a funny, take my shirt off, shake my fat stomach guy like Billy Bob from Varsity Blues.”

          Ripper exhaled cigarette smoke and said, “He looks drunk as fuck tonight.”

          I heard Milton stumbling up the staircase and suspected Ripper was right—Milton was sloppy drunk. When he and Preston reached the top of the stairs, the blobbish young man greeted me with a drunken slur.

“Bryce!” Milton yelled. “Where’s tha keg at? I need beer!” His words were followed by the fearsomely loud belching you would expect from a tub of lard. “Give me beer right fucking now!”

          The intoxicated behavior of my heavyset fraternity brother brought a twist of amusement to my lips. Maybe I had misjudged him. Maybe he was a fun guy after all.

“What’s going on, Milton?” I asked. “What’s up, Preston? You think Kronic will make an appearance tonight?”

          Preston’s face soured. “Hell no. That guy is living up his girlfriend’s ass crack.”

          “Yeah, he is,” I agreed.

          “What’s up, boys?” Eddie greeted my fraternity brothers. “It’s two dollars for a cup.”

          “Seriously, Bryce?” Preston asked irritably. “How many times did you party in my room last year with Kronic?”

          Milton was also upset. “Are you really charging your pledge brothers? We—”

          “Come on, fellas,” I interjected. “Just a couple bucks. I got three kegs in there and upside-down margaritas. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth tonight.”

          Preston and Milton caved and handed Mickey a couple dollars. Eddie gave them cups and they ventured inside.

          The next cluster of people to walk up the sidewalk was a thuggish group of kids from South Florida that I became acquainted with freshman year in the dormitories. The entourage was led by a bug-eyed young man named Kurt with a monkey-shaped shaved head and sleight muscular frame. One of the guys with him was another shaved head kid named Eric who used to sell me marijuana. Kurt and his boys all wore wife beaters and fat silver chains hung from their necks.

“Here comes the thug crew,” Eddie announced. “Yo, these kids always come to your parties.”

          I nodded. “Blake and I usually invite Kurt and his boys. They’re cool, man. Real cordial and shit.”

          “These kids are straight,” Mickey agreed. “I can deal with thugs that don’t try to act hard all the time.”

          I nodded again. “They also aren’t shy about throwing money down for the kegs and they always bring girls.”

Ripper chuckled. “Nothing worse than four guys you don’t know showing up to your party without any women.”

          “In other words,” Eddie said comically, “a good party is never a cockfest, sausage party, or a sword fight.”

          We all laughed as the thug crew climbed the stairway.

          I greeted the new arrivals warmly by shaking their hands jive-style. “What up, Kurt? Sup, Eric? What’s going on, fellas? Glad you boys could make it.”

          Kurt replied in a polite, soft-spoken voice. “What’s up, Darren? You know we wouldn’t miss one of your parties.”

          I sized the young man up. “You’re looking bigger, kid.”

          The thug smiled at the compliment every meathead loves to hear. “Trying to catch you, big man,” he replied. “Trying to catch you.”

          Eric leaned in closer and grinned at me devilishly. The shaved head young man always seemed to have an evil smile on his acne face.

          “Hey, dogg,” he said, “I got a fat sack of weed in my pocket with a Phillies. Is there somewhere we can roll this blunt at?”

          “Yeah, man. Use my bedroom. It’s all the way in the back to the right.”

          “Thanks, playa.”

          “Just don’t bring the whole party back there.”

          Kurt nodded in understanding. “Nah, man. It’ll be just us in there. Us and whoever you want to bring with you.”

          Eric’s eyes widened. “Come get twisted with us, dogg. I got the chronic!”

          I laughed. “Nah…I’m good, man. Just throw my boy some cash for the kegs.”

          Kurt smiled coolly. “Always.”

          The thug handed Mickey a crisp ten dollar bill and did not request any change. Eddie handed out cups to the thug crew and I smiled at the three girls they had brought with them. A blonde in a tight jean skirt caught my eye.

          When the door shut behind the thug entourage, Ripper gave a low whistle. “Dude, that girl had a nice ass.”

           “The blonde?’ I asked. “Hell yeah. She’s got one of those upside-down heart shaped asses. I see her in the Bellamy Building all the time wearing tight, little gym shorts. She—”

          “Yo, Bryce,” Mickey interrupted, “I just watched your fraternity brother out there in the red shirt take out his wallet so he could hide his money in his pocket.”

          I looked to the parking lot and was not surprised to see the guy wearing the red shirt was Thorne. Putting the money in his pocket was a deliberate ploy to avoid paying for a cup. When asked for money tonight, my fraternity brother intended to slyly produce his wallet and show me that it was empty. Cheap motherfucker.

          “Bryce,” Mickey said with disdain, “I’m gonna make this kid pay for a cup.”

          I shot him a calming stare. “Relax, Mickey. Let me handle this. Give me the cups, Eddie.”

          Eddie handed me the bag of cups and I quickly sized up the situation. My personal feelings for Thorne had always been mixed. When I was a pledge, he was one of those asshole brothers who acted like a complete dick to you just because he could. Thorne thought he was intimidating, but most of us thought he was just a punk hiding behind his brother status. To the redneck’s credit, he may have daunted some of my weaker pledge brothers because he was a very good and very aggressive soccer player during our intramural games. As our starting sweeper, Thorne would often take out opposing players with his vicious slide tackles and physically rough play.

Thorne and his redneck entourage reached the top of the staircase and turned left towards my apartment. He and the rest of his boys were all upperclassmen in-between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-five. Thorne himself was about six feet tall and athletically-built with dark eyes and dark buzz-cut hair. The glossy look in his eyes and the goofy grin sprawled across his face indicated that my fraternity brother was already very wasted.

          Before I could even ask him for money, he sneered at me and said, “I got no money tonight, Bryce!”

          “No—not in your wallet. Why don’t you check your pocket?”

          The redneck was startled by my shrewd perception of his devious plan, but the surprised look on his face was quickly replaced with contemptible arrogance. In Thorne’s mind, he was a respected older brother and there was no way in hell he was paying money to drink at an Upsilon party. I the lowly younger brother should consider myself lucky to even have him here attending my pathetic party. But before he could put into words what his facial expression had already told me, his redneck buddy Coleman handed me five dollars.

          “Here ya go,” he said amicably. “This should cover me and Thorne.”      

          “Thanks, man,” I replied and handed the money to Mickey.

          My friend took the money, but he was staring Thorne down with mad dog eyes. With a silent chuckle of amusement, I handed out cups to both rednecks.

          Thanks,” Thorne said in a mocking sort of way.

          “You’re welcome,” I replied simply.

          A mischievous smile formed on the redneck’s lips and he used his free hand to deliver a little love tap pat on my cheek. Hatred swelled within me. You never touch another man’s face. Never. Not unless you wanted to fight him. Any man who would belittle you by touching your face was degrading your manhood and might as well have spit on you.

          I instantly slapped Thorne across his own face with an open right hand. It was not hard enough to leave a welt, but it was hard enough to waken Thorne to the reality that I was not a pledge anymore and would no longer be deterred by his seniority status from kicking his ass.

          “Damn!” someone exclaimed and a sudden hush fell over the stairway.

          I realized my actions had just put the older brother in an awkward position. Thorne no doubt derived a certain satisfaction from his self-proclaimed badass reputation in the fraternity and he knew that his redneck sidekicks and all the other people who saw or heard the slap would perceive this escalation of violence to be a test of his manhood.

There were only two decisions Thorne could make to salvage his pride—fight me and get fucked up or laugh it off and try to generate the perception that we were good enough friends for me to bitch-slap him and not be held accountable. Thorne prudently chose the latter course of action and entered the apartment. When the front door shut behind the redneck crew, my boys laughed their asses off, but Thorne’s impish antics were far from over.

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