I turn and smile reflexively. Here’s Joe come to rescue me at last. “Hey buddy!” I said, “how was your night?”
“Good man good, so listen, I heard that things got kind of rough with Shelton and Bill, and I wanted to talk to you about it.”
“Yeah, what was that about? I mean if they wanted me to leave them alone, that’s fine, I just don’t think they needed to be dicks about it.”
“Why don’t we have a smoke out on the front porch?”
We opened up the double doors to the back porch of the Sigma house. I went out onto the patio. Above the patio was a trellis that hadn’t hosted vines for some time. The bedroom windows upstairs were open, with light on.
He gave me two cigarettes out of his pack. I lit them, and handed one to him. This was a ritual we had. I didn’t usually carry a pack of cigarettes on me because I was trying to quit, but I would still smoke with people at different times, especially if they invited me to.
“So those guys made it sound like they’re mad at me, like I did something, and I have no idea what is going on.”
Joe took a drag of his cigarette. “But let me ask you something, did you and the pledges paint the second floor?”
I winced. I’ve spent many hours painting the second floor the fraternity house. I’ve gotten so much grief about it. “Yes I painted it and I tried to get the other guys to help with it.”
“You painted it,” he said, “so if I go in there now is it fucking painted?” He was raising his voice and he had that same anger that the other guys did.
“But we did the best we could, okay, I and those guys haven’t painted that much before, I’ve been working on it, I will work on it more if you want us to work on it, and I don’t see why I’m getting bitched out if other guys aren’t here also getting bitched out because we’re supposed to be a team, a pledge class team.”
“Look Bo, all your life I’ve been protecting you, okay, but I’m sick of it. You don’t seem to be able to do simple things, like you’re supposed to be this big fucking smart guy but you can’t do fucking simple things, okay, you’re like that kid in The Breakfast Club who can’t make a fucking lamp to save his life and so that’s why he ends up in Saturday detention. You’re weird and crazy and stupid and awkward and no one likes you, no one cares if you live or die. We are tired of carrying your ass, okay? We’ve have had enough of tolerating you and your bullshit.”
I could hear noise upstairs, and see the faces of the brothers crowding around the windows. They were pushing each other, laughing and hooting, loving nothing more than to see someone getting punished. It reaffirmed their sense of the social order.
“Jesus Joe, you’re supposed to be my brother, you’re supposed to be helping me with this, why can’t you guys just tell me if you want me to do something, instead of talking about it behind my back and make it into some kind of big deal, something I can never ever get away from, you guys are making fun of me, you’re mocking me you’re calling me that nickname Shimmy which I hate …” I could hear the voices upstairs shouting “Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop!” and now they were wriggling out the windows onto the trellis trying to get a closer look.
“Look, you’re weak, I understand that, Mom and Dad understand that, okay, I have been taking care of you and I’m not going to take care of you anymore. You’re going to have to get the fuck out and you not going to be able to ride on my coattails.”
“Ride on your coattails ,what the hell are you talking about? I’m the one who made grades when the rest of the pledge class didn’t. My GPA is the one that’s holding up the class so you guys can take more guys on academic probation. I’m the one bringing in people from different extracurriculars, which you said you wanted, you told me that you wanted more diverse house, you want people who aren’t just going to drink and smoke all the time.”
“Yeah and where the fuck are they? Where the fuck are they? Bo, you were supposed to bring in all these people, and all we see is you running around doing a bunch of different shit that doesn’t concern us, and it’s not getting the shit done that you’re supposed to in this house. We are tired of your judgement, we’re tired of your negativity and you are fucking blackballed, my man, now get the fuck out!”
He stepped up to me, and gave me a slap in the face with his left hand, with his class ring, my vision blacked and I tasted blood in my mouth.
The guys were out the windows on the trellis, hooting and stomping.
“You fucking faggot, you get the fuck out of my house, and get the fuck off my property. You’ve embarrassed me for the last time, Shimmy.” And he spit on me.
I can feel the tears in my eyes now “Jesus Christ Joe, Jesus, you’re my fucking brother man, what the fuck you’re supposed to put me ahead of these guys.”
“Your brother? These guys are my brothers, these guys are the ones who are going to back me up and help me out if I need anything, you’re dead weight and you have been sucking and mooching off of me all your life and it’s over, it’s over, we are done.” I could hear applause break out from the upstairs peanut gallery.
I took out my wallet, took my pledge pin out of it and handed it to him, then I took off my pledge shirt. People started hooting upstairs about my nipple hair and my man boobs.
“You’ve embarrassed me for the last time, Shimmy.” I threw the shirt on the ground and I was like “fuck you guys, fuck all of you guys, you’re never going to see my fucking ass again.”
And I walked off the porch Into the Night