“Remember Marty, these are basically kids, and they don’t know you, so…” Steve began to tell to his fraternity brother, a reminder he delivered more like a plea.
Rushes were supposed to show up to the fraternity house for a casual meet and greet barbecue and beers within the hour.
Marty was in the midst of quickly and giddily opening a fifth of whiskey so cheap that, going down, it stung (and after drinking enough, paralyzed) like Box Jellyfish venom. The whiskey, called Hornet’s Nest Tennessee Whiskey, was Marty’s brand of choice. He claimed it was because it burned like the raging fire he felt inside of him, an absurd reasoning Marty first shouted in a nonsensical and totally unprovoked drunken rant he ended up directing at the moon before being asked to please get back inside the window of the bus. Steve conceded that this could be true, because he, long ago, realized Marty was sent from Hell, but he knew it was actually more because the whiskey was ridiculously cheap (though still somehow overpriced based on the quality), and that Marty liked throwing nickels at the cashier to pay for it, but didn’t want to carry around that many nickels. Maybe it was both.
Marty narrowed his eyes and parted his lips at Steve’s concerned pleading. He debated if he should tell Steve to shut his “face ass,” which is what Marty, with his standard drunken eloquence, called Steve’s mouth, because, according to Marty, it was an asshole constantly shitting out stupid ideas like, “Don’t break into that Jimmy John’s, we’ll just order something else,” or “You can’t make that jump,” which Steve said with such frequency to Marty that he considered it Steve’s catchphrase, along with “Please Marty, no” and “We’ve got to get out of here now!”
Instead, Marty decided that raising the plastic bottle of Hornet’s Nest Whiskey above his upwardly cocked head and squeezing its rancid contents into his open mouth, until it was finished, like a football player taking a swig from a Gatorade bottle during a timeout conveyed the message he wanted to get across to Steve just as well. That message, naturally, was “Fuck you, I do what I want.”
Then Marty kicked over a full trashcan and pointed at Steve, who was obviously already well aware of what Marty had insinuated prior to that.
“Yeah, I… I get it, Marty,” Steve said, shaking his head.
Then, Marty -– never breaking eye contact with Steve — threw the trashcan into the street, causing an oncoming car to swerve up onto the sidewalk and narrowly miss a telephone pole before correcting back onto the road and slamming on its brakes. The driver, a hefty man in his mid-40s, leapt out of the car and started screaming at the two of them.
“What the fuck is wrong with you shitheads?” the furious driver questioned.
This was obviously a mistake on the driver’s part — not that he knew it. Confronting blackout Marty was, in the very words of a blacked out Marty, “like poking a homophobic bear in the eye with your dick.” When an annoyed Steve told Marty he had absolutely no idea what the fuck that was supposed to mean, Marty exclaimed, “Oh, what? You need me to draw it out for you?” and proceeded to literally draw an angry bear biting a guy’s dick off. It was a surprisingly good drawing. Steve framed it, and it still hung on his wall.
Marty provided that explanation to Steve, and the chapter’s then-president, his JI semester, on the fraternity house’s front lawn, with an empty twelve pack of Steel Reserve at his feet and a three wood in his hands. Marty had been hitting a barrage of golf balls he doused in lighter fluid and ignited one-by-one before teeing off at their rival fraternity across the street, because they were accidentally delivered the chapter’s copy of Penthouse, which was Marty’s favorite bathroom literature. When the president incredulously asked Marty why he didn’t just look at porn on his iPhone if it meant that much to him (and it did), he said it was because he liked to “crap old school.”
As the driver demanded an answer, Marty’s eyes stretched menacingly, impossibly wide, and he lowered his head and raised his brow. He flashed a quick smile to Steve before turning to the driver. Marty summoned every ounce of oxygen and strength available to him, to bellow the most colorful threat he could possibly concoct from the veritable rainbow of intensely disturbing language that glimmered inside his head and pushed past the boundaries of decency the way the Nazis did the boundaries of Poland.
“I will carry your FAT ASS to the top of that fucking telephone pole, shove it inside of you, grab you by the ankles, and ride you all the way down to the sidewalk unless you get THE FUCK back into your car, drive to a church, and pray to fucking God I don’t find out where you live!”
Marty’s eyes were what really sold it. It was reasonable to assume that Marty wasn’t actually going to impale the man on a telephone pole and use his corpse to vertically zip-line back down to the street, but that wasn’t something anyone was going to glean from his unhinged, bursting stare. The man stumbled over himself trying to get back into his car. He sped off with the driver’s door still open for half a block. Steve shook his head again and sighed. Marty pulled out a two by four of Busch from his back pocket, cracked it, and began to sip. He looked up at some grey clouds in the distance.
“I hope it doesn’t rain,” he said in a completely plain voice.
Marty was, in his unique way, one of the house’s best and worst assets during rush. Being the rush chair that summer, Steve had to figure out a way to maximize Marty’s entertainment factor and charm while minimizing all collateral damage, which was essentially like trying to find a way to effectively water a lawn with a hurricane.
Of course, Marty was still better than Darren, who spent most of his time during rush outright trying to sleep with any girlfriends the rushes brought along with them. If he was rejected, he would tell Steve, “This kid fucks, give him a bid,” and if he succeeded in romancing the girl, he’d say, “He’s a good sport, throw him a bid.” Darren was not helpful.
On the fraternity float trip a month earlier, which a dozen or so rushes ended up attending, Marty’s behavior fluctuated, as usual, between entertaining and demented, though he usually found a way to strike both chords at once. The rushes found it pretty entertaining, for example, when Marty had Darren backlight his tent while he was mid-coitus with one of the girls the fraternity invited to the float trip on Friday night. They were confused, though, as they watched two silhouettes bang each other, why Marty kept shouting “Mom’s weekend! GIT REEEEAAAADDDDDYYYYY!” and pointing in their direction, even though he obviously couldn’t see them.
The rushes weren’t aware, like Steve painfully was, that Marty developed a sixth sense when he was blacked out. It was as if he knew instinctively where to aim mischief. One Thursday, after somehow managing to spend 37 dollars on 75 cent triple wells night, and because his phone died and he didn’t have anything else to occupy him in that moment, he picked up a rock, closed his eyes, and threw it as far as he could, seemingly at nothing in particular. Three hours later, the Taco Bell next to campus was a pile of smoldering rubble.
It wasn’t as amusing to the rushes, however, when Marty walked up to each of them, holding a hatchet, and looked them dead in the eyes.
“You know why I got this hatchet, boy?” Marty would ask them.
The rushes all asked why, but Marty never answered — he just stared. To be fair, not even Marty knew why he had the hatchet. It was just there. Just something he had, because of course he did. The hatchet did end up being useful on the river, though, where Marty repeatedly chopped the nozzles off bags of Franzia and forced everyone on his raft — at hatchet point — to catch as much of the trailer park chardonnay in their mouths as they could before the bladder emptied.
For that the rushes loved Marty, and also for the multitude of girls Marty attracted to his raft through sheer brashness and charm. Marty was so charming, in fact, that he actually brought several girls over simply by saying, “Come check out my hatchet,” a phrase that, especially when uttered by a strange man, should have set off every emergency alarm their female intuition had equipped them with. This was no surprise to Steve, though. He had seen Marty charm his way out of trespassing, indecent exposure, and vandalism charges while he was peeing on the seats of a rival team’s bus on game day, front facing the officers the entire time, with both hands on his dick and his pants fully down around his ankles, kindergarten style.
“Shit. Yeah. We’ll figure something out if it rains, I guess,” Steve said to Marty, observing the clouds with him on the fraternity’s front lawn.
It did rain. Despite Steve’s initial protests, which Marty quelled by forcing Steve to “Chug Rumple Minze until you’re pissing Christmas,” the fraternity ended up shuttling the rushes to the filthiest strip club in town, which Marty lobbied for under the guise that they had a free ribs buffet, or, Marty assumed they still did. He had no idea where Club Moist got its food ever since the privatized correctional facility thirty miles south of town closed and stopped selling the strip club its kitchen’s unused meat products, which were in turn factory defect frozen McRib knockoffs deemed by multiple Central American governments to have too high of a sawdust content for human consumption. These were all things Marty knew because Jaxon, Club Moist’s manager, had explained it to him as a warning the day Marty bought a month’s worth of the cardboard and spoiled rectum meat squares to feed to the pledges instead of the normal fraternity house meals as punishment after the pledge class cleaned out Monday Night Brinner (breakfast for dinner) before Marty could get to it. The pledges found it unfair that Marty had accused them of this, though, as had Marty showed up for dinner at 10 P.M. that night, having no idea what had been served.
“We promised them barbecue goddammit!” Marty exclaimed.
Twenty rushes entered the strip club, and by the end of the night, a handful of bid cards in Steve’s arms, twenty pledges left it — two with Chlamydia, and one with a now slightly strained relationship with his father (also newly diseased via sexual transmission), who he found getting blown by a stripper he remembered being a grade above him in high school. Marty tried to console the kid, but ended up buying him a lap dance from that same stripper and insisting he “face his fears,” advice based on a slight miscommunication between Marty and the rush, who he was not really listening to in the first place and assumed was simply afraid of Chlamydia.
At the end of the night, Steve begrudgingly thanked Marty for his help. Marty promptly flipped Steve off and demanded five hundred dollars. To celebrate the successful night, Steve pulled out cigars, which Marty lit with the signed bid card of the rush he liked the least.
“Kid kept talking about his dad and crying while a stripper was trying to squeeze one out of him. He’s weird. I don’t want him around,” Marty said, taking a puff and then a long pull of a new bottle of Hornet’s Nest..