Fraternity Brothers

 

"So, whaddaya think, then? Mistake for me and Rachele to drop by? Few minutes together. You remember Rachele. Skidmore?"



    "Phi-Psi" are Greek letters standing for the first two words of a four-word slogan, which is the secret slogan of a college fraternity I once belonged to. Still do, I guess. Those things are for life. "Phi-Psi" is something you'd say to a properly initiated fraternity brother as a means of underscoring your fraternal concern as distinguished from your merelypersonal concern. I still get the alumni rag put out by the national office of my fraternity, and it is regularly replete with "Phi-Psi's," much to my astonishment. I wouldn't have thought there was a market for that, any more. 
    "Hey, hey, Gil, Phi-Psi! Howya doin', soldier?" 
    "Todd Richards, fraternity brother, is that you?" 
    "Better believe it is, Gil. A voice from the past. It's been years since those days. Been years. Too long. I tell you, though, Gil, I deliberately didn't want to call you -- the pressures and everything that you've been under. I know what's going on up there. I've been reading the papers. And I wanted you to think, Todd Richards -- that's a friend who didn't call. That's what I wanted you to think. So I didn't call. Figured all your other friends were calling you, so I didn't want to. Know what I mean?" 
    "Boy, do I ever, Todd. People have been calling me I haven't heard from in ten years. 'Hey, Gil, baby, too long no see. Listen, me and the wife, we're just down here in Sturbridge. Thought we'd take a spin up and see that pride and joy of yours. You musta worked hard and long for that, Gil. Like I was saying to Jane just a few minutes ago. It's not everybody who'll put all he's got on the line... I mean on the line, and... '. Stuff like that, Todd, you know. Friends who just don't understand." 
    "Yeah," Todd said on the other end of the phone, "I know what you mean. Listen," he said, "I know this is a stupid thing to ask under the circumstances, but Rachele and me, we'd figured we'd take an afternoon outing -- never thought we'd come all the way up here from the city just for some fresh air, but we did, and we're down here in Sturbridge and thought you might like to join us for a drink. We're in some Yankee Peddler Roadhouse -- only a few miles away from you, as it turns out." 
    "Todd," I said, "fraternity brother of mine, there's no way. I'm answering phones. Couldn't get away if I wanted to. Chained to the desk, like we used to say at Rensselaer." 
    "So, whaddaya think, then? Mistake for me and Rachele to drop by? Few minutes together. You remember Rachele. Skidmore?" 
    "Todd. It can't happen. They'd dump you in together with the photographer from the London Sun, who's in the back of the police cruiser at this very moment, claiming some sort of international immunity. Said he knew me. The son of a gun did, too, but it didn't do him any good at all. No good at all. I'm insulted, but I'm warning my friends to stay away." 
    "Geez, Gil. It's been years, you know. Remember the time we did up Rose Street, in Albany, before you knew what it was all about, and needed fraternity brothers like me?" 
    "Rose Street? You mean the red light district?" 
    "Don't feel bad, Gil. It always takes one or two of those outings before you know what you're doing. Well, frat brother of mine, co-holder of the secrets of the founding fathers of our order, and good friend -- if it can't be this time, it'll be another. You gotta explain it to Rachele, however." 
    "Gil, is that you?" 
    "Yes, Rachele. You remember me?" 
    "Do I remember you! Gil, how can you say such a thing? What about the night -- hold on, I want to see where Todd went -- O.K., what about the night after the winter carnival when Barbi got taken back to the institution, and we ended up in the ski-hut?" 
    "I remember that, Rachele. I really do." 
    "There's no way we can come by, Gil? Even just for a second? I mean, Gil, it's been years since Barbi and the ski-hut, and everything. Just for a few seconds?" 
    "Rachele, it can't happen, my hands are tied. I'm working for these people, and they don't want any guests." 
    "You don't seem to be the same Gil to me." 
    "I am, Rachele. I'm the Gil who got his wish." 
    "Well, I don't want to know what you mean by that. Here, talk to Todd again. He's just back from the men's room." .

 


 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.