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Going Down With the Ship: 7 Months Until Shutdown

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One morning in May, the Alpha house was raided and shut down by the authorities. What follows is an account of the events that led to its shutdown.

The wheels finally touched down on the tarmac after what had been a turbulent flight. As the Airbus A-320 approached the terminal, the pilot’s voice crackled to life on the intercom.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve arrived at your final destination of Colorado Springs. The local time is 12:33 p.m., with cloudy skies and a current temperature of nineteen degrees Fahrenheit. Please keep your seatbelts on until the light goes off, and I hope you enjoy your formal. Have a great day.”

Carson wiped the sweat off his brow and pulled out his phone to let the bus driver know that they had arrived. He’d always hated flying, but the Alpha house had gotten a massive discount on a chartered flight for their formal. One of their alums was high up in Delta and had chartered them a flight for around 150 people for the low price of sixteen grand. It was too good to pass up. The flight itself had been rather uneventful, as the house had been warned that any damages would be billed straight to them. Ironically enough, their treasurer, Mason, had been the only one to do any damage on the flight, breaking two whiskey glasses and his plastic food tray. He had pre-gamed the flight a bit too hard, his excuse being that the altitude had “really bent me over and fucked my tolerance.”

Carson was seated near the back of the plane, and as people slowly filed out, he found himself with some time to think about the events of the past few months. It had been a semester for the ages. Alpha’s parties were among the best on the row, and they had pulled in a fall class of 22 solid guys. Their alumni base loved the progress that the house was making, and donations came in faster than anyone knew what to do with them. This was further supplemented by Mason running an elaborate operation out of the house that had proven to be a goldmine. He had started out over a year before, dealing moonshine and amphetamines only to members of the house. Within a few months, he had expanded to the rest of Greek Row, and was the self-proclaimed kingpin of Adderall for the entire school. His “Treasurer Committee” consisted of eight guys that worked under him, further expanding his operation. More recently, he had begun to dabble in textbooks, stocks, electronics, and furniture.

Carson, the newly elected president of the Alpha house, normally would have had a problem with his treasurer running a black market out of the fraternity house, but Mason had created a slush fund where he would kick thousands of dollars back into the house every week. Also, Mason was meticulous and careful about everything he did, and always made sure to cover his tracks. Carson trusted that things wouldn’t get too far off the rails, and operated on a “See no evil, hear no evil” policy when it came to illegal operations.

When their bus arrived at the formal venue, Carson’s jaw dropped to the floor. He had seen the pictures during the process of booking the place, but nothing could have prepared him for the real thing. It was a walled-in compound that overlooked the valley below, with four gigantic condos that were connected by covered walkways. All the noise that his fraternity could possible make would vanish right into the mountain air. Being a former risk management chair, he breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

Alpha’s formal ended up being one of the best in their entire history. In addition to chartering the plane and buses and renting out the property, the social committee was given a budget of five grand, which they spent in a single trip into town. They covered all the bases, hitting two liquor stores, two dispensaries, and a supermarket. By the end of the trip, they had run through most of the party favors, and the venue had taken a beating. Between a destroyed hot tub, ruined pool table, 28 broken glasses, stained carpets, a chipped marble counter, and a broken elevator, the total bill for damages quickly climbed into four-figure territory. Add that to the food, drinks, drugs, buses, plane, and the cost of renting the venue, and the chapter had just blown through around $40,000. Not bad for one weekend.

As Carson stepped out of his Uber from the airport upon returning home, he felt waves of nausea coming back over him. He was pretty banged up from the trip, and had to carry a handkerchief in his back pocket for the constant nosebleeds that had plagued him the past 72 hours. He fumbled around for his keys, opened the front door, and staggered over to the living room, where about 20 brothers were already situated on couches. They greeted him with cheers and applause, but he barely heard any of it. He then headed up the stairs to his room and passed out the second he got into bed, still fully clothed. He was awoken not ten minutes later to the sound of his phone vibrating on the nightstand. He took a look at the screen, which displayed a number with the area code 540. Fuck, that’s got to be nationals, he thought. He put the phone up to his ear, and groggily muttered, “Hello?”

“Hello Carson, this is Thomas Braddock from the national fraternity. We have a few questions to ask you about some of the events of this semester, if you wouldn’t mind.” Carson froze, his heart skipping a few beats.

“Carson, you there?”

“Yeah. Yeah, what’s up?”

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WJ Cope

He's the real reason people say "No one likes you when you're 23."

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