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Rated: 18+ · Novella · Comedy · #2173650
Chapter 1 - On Campus
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running, too ~ Jackson Browne


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I never started out with a set goal to attend the University of Arkansas. In fact, aside from knowing about Sidney Moncrief and the triplets going to the Final Four in 1978, I knew nothing about the school. I had gone the junior college route, and was a semester shy of completing the two years on a scholarship. But since I had started in the spring, I would have missed starting in the fall term if I stayed. I had switched from English to architecture after publishing a short story and receiving a check for fourteen dollars and change. That set me about looking about for a top school in the field, and i narrowed it down to three choices, and all had been rated by some publication. There was no internet to search, either, this was 1984. Well, Princeton offered a scholarship, but even with that it was a fortune. Minnesota wasn’t interested in players walking on to the hockey team, and though I hadn’t ranked them, I had one left. Call it fate if you believe in such things, but my phone rang while I was reading the catalog.

“Hello?”
“Hi, is this Kevin?” It had to be the sweetest southern accent I had ever heard.
“Yes it is…”
“Well, Kevin, are you comin’ down to study here with us at Arkansas?” She continued.
“Why yes, yes I am.” I said without even a slight hesitation.

Just like that, I had made a life choice that would chart a whole new course. It was exhilarating, and to my complete lack of surprise, my parents even offered to drive me to Fayetteville from Philly. Our relationship was complicated. Next stop, campus! All I took was a hobo pack, my stereo, and a box with various posters and junk. As I met my first roommate, Nathan, my ol’ man dropped the box he was carrying and my folks were gone like a shot. No tour for them. So, alone with a complete stranger in my new digs on the fifth floor of Reid Hall, I asked him if he liked to party. Turns out he’d brought a gallon of Jack Daniels. I liked him from the start, you could say. We ended up meeting a few people from the floor and drinking a fair bit of the bottle when I really decided that Nathan was too long of a name, and Nate just didn’t seem right. So, being the ass I can be when I’m swimming in the deep end of Jack’s pool, I decided a nickname was in order.

“Who’s a famous Nathan?” I asked the group gathered in the room quickly dubbed the 522 Corner Bar.
“How ‘bout Nathan Hale?”Came a reply.. On a sober day I know that’s patriot with but one life to give for his country.
“Yeah! He was the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island!” That was not that day. “I’ll call you Skip!”

It stuck. To this day, since we connected on social media, some people still use it. That kind of makes me proud. Eventually, the 522 Corner Bar, which became an actual speakeasy in the dorm was too much for him. He really wanted to get an education, and even though I though I did as well, I was enjoying the party life even more. Especially since we got written up by our resident assistant for it. He moved out, and I would get a new roomie, and Skip would end up just fine. The only other anecdote I’ll share from that time is my first Hog Call. You see, I had never really heard the actual one fans do in unison at games. However, I had actually been to a hog farm and I had heard farmers calling up hogs to feed them. One day I was in my room with a couple of people from the state, and they asked me.

“Do you know how to call the Hogs?” What they meant was, did I know the cheer.
“Yeah, I’ve heard it done before.” What I thought they meant was had I ever heard it done on a farm.
“Well, let’s hear it!”
“Sure, okay.” I replied and walked over and opened the window.
“Woo pig! C’mon pig pig… Here now, woo, here pig!” We’ll never know if it was the Michelob or Wild Turkey, but alcohol was involved.
“That’s not a Hog Call!” They were howling with laughter.
“The hell it isn’t! I’ve heard ‘em do it!” I countered.
“Listen, this is how you do it.” They proceeded to show me, and just as they were done, in walks Skip.
“Hey Skip. What’s goin’ on.” I greeted him and so did the other two.
“Apparently, some idiot up on this floor is doing his own version of the Hog Call.” I managed to look shocked.
“Huh, wonder who it was? And just like that, I was introduced to one of the most famous cheers in the south.

We went out one night just before the Labor Day weekend, taking along one of the girls from the floors above us. It was a co-ed dorm, but they did their best to keep us apart at night. They had minimal success. What a culture shock that night was for me. I’d never heard of wet open rush. They had to say it slow to me, but what it meant was they closed off the streets, and you could walk from fraternity to fraternity with booze they gave you for free. It seemed awful nice. Then, on the way home, we’re crossing a parking lot and I see the car.

“Cops!” I ducked down a bit. No one else did. “Hey, get down!”
“Why?” Skip asked.
“What? You have a drink and you’re nineteen.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Watch. He lifted his arm, “Officer!”
“Oh, shit. What are you doing?” I straighten up as the patrol car pulls up.
“Problem, son?” The officer asks Skip.
“Yeah. I’ve been drinking and I don’t want to drive. Can you take us to Reid Hall?”
“”Oh, sure y’all. Hop in the back.”

We piled in and Skip thanked him, and we all thanked him again when he dropped us off at our door. Skip didn’t even have a car, we’d walked down. It was definitely one of the stranger experiences I’ve had in my life. I’d been in the back of police cars before, but never for a courtesy ride home. It was kind of nice, too.

----------


The bad part about being away from home was there was no way to make money. I had very little, and after stocking the bar, I had even less. Sure, it would end up earning me a little on the side, but most of the students had other places to be over Labor Day, and the cafeterias shut down all over campus. If all you have is a university food card, you go hungry! Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, either. It’s Sunday, and there is simply no food to be had without some cash, and I’m just toughing it out in the recreation room, when another guy walks by. He was headed for the vending machine room, and after a couple minutes of silence and a few more noisier ones, he came back through looking none too pleased. It certainly was curious when he returned with a crowbar, and downright funny seeing him pass back through with a hot dog and hamburger in bite size pieces. Once alone again, I looked in the room. Apparently, payment had been made and vending did not occur. Or rather, didn’t occur until reworked with a large metal implement. Even then it didn’t give up its hoard easily, like it was the dragon machine guarding the sandwiches. Well, that turned out to be Jeb who vanquished the beast, but like I told the RA, I didn't really see a thing. That ruddy faced, dark haired guy from New Orleans with a barely understandable accent would be my roommate, fraternity brother, and brother-in-law in time. Later that evening, we were part of a small group that liberated some supplies from the cafeteria. It’s amazing the things a person doesn’t know can sometimes turn out to cause some hilarity in your life, and this turn of events surely would. When Skip would move out a few weeks later, I thought I had a room of my own, But I was wrong. To keep it I’d have to basically pay double the fees, and I had exactly zero funds for that or anything else. The people staying in the dorm were already moved in, and if no one wanted to change rooms, they’d expect payment. So I head out of my room to post a note for a new cellie, and there in the hallway is Jeb - - with all his possessions in a cart. He’d been to the 522, as it became known, on several occasions, and must have heard the news Skip had skipped out. He knew I needed a new roommate and told me he was ready to move in. I was a bit hesitant at first. After all, he had used a crowbar to retrieve his wayward snacks. In that moment of hesitation, there was a decision that would impact my life for years to come. So I took a chance he was a good guy, and he wheeled that stinking cart into the room. Our room. I was glad to discover it was only the cart that had that rancid sweat sock smell creating an affront to the nostrils. This would be the start of a very interesting run of events.

----------


That same week-end, I met one other guy on my floor, the other Kevin. He hailed from Chicago, so now we had three guys from big cities in what was a much smaller college town. So of course we went exploring the place, and on those couple of days, it was like a ghost town. We may have gone in a building or two, and maybe the other Kevin thought up the alleged food raid. It was that week-end that we discovered the tunnels. It seems the school heats most of their building with steam. To get that steam where it needs to go, they built a tunnel system. We became curious as we wandered, because many sidewalks had metal covers every so often. When we got one open and there was a ladder to get down in it, we became more curious. What we found was they were quite useful for getting around unnoticed, if you could figure out where you were going, of course. It was also handy for getting into the basements of some buildings. That would be useful in some respects. But when we got in the natatorium, also known as the HYPR building, we decided to jump off the 10 meter platform. It was a bad idea, because that hurt like hell. In the dark, it wasn’t so much diving or jumping, it was hurtling toward the water. We were lucky not to have broken something. Though limping all the way back to Reid Hall was punishment all on its own.

----------


The other use for those steam tunnels was picking someone off in a game of T.A.G. The advent of the Commodore 64 was a pretty big deal, and someone from somewhere had written a program called The Assassination Game. You could never, ever, get away with playing it today. But back then, it was just completely different. The next year a movie named Gotcha! would come out, and one of the elements of the film was this game. Basically, you gave up certain information and a picture, then later, you’d receive “orders” to take someone out. It was all really cloak and dagger stuff. The most common method was the dart gun. Players would take off the rubber plunger so the dart would go farther, too. Sometimes it was a sock grenade or a rubber knife, but the object was to eliminate the person and take their orders, and go get the next one. All the while, someone was hunting you! It was not uncommon for someone to walk into a class, pretend you were going to hand the professor a note and pop! You drop someone. “Give me your orders!” Not that I would ever disrupt a class. Not me. The tunnels really helped. Everyone knew who was playing, so you could walk past someone, and they’d be all wary and ready to dart. You greet them, they pass, and you turn a corner, and drop in a tunnel, baby! Double time it to their destination, which you get on the orders by way of class schedule and home address. Then get topside and wait for your prey. It was $5 or $10 to get in one of the games, usually winner take all. A hundred or two hundred dollars was big money for a starving college student in the mid 80’s. Besides, it really was fun.

----------


If the T.A.G. game would have gotten us in trouble these days, what my roommate and I did on Halloween would get you killed. I’m not exaggerating, and I was very torn about putting this to paper. On the day I’m writing this, some asshole killed 14 people in Thousand Oaks. I was close to a shooting in Oregon, and was in Vegas October 1st last year. But this was a different time, and older people will understand, and maybe younger people will work to reverse the flow and change society. You have to remember this happened fifteen years before Columbine. If you can do that, this is kinda funny. But first, let’s explain Salamo.

I often tell people that physics changed my life, and it’s true. I took an elementary and advanced class in a high school known for academics, and being in an architecture program, physics was required. Enter Salamo. He walked up to the chalkboard and started writing out stuff that could have been Sanskrit for all we knew. I got a couple of the Greek letters, but when he went all Good Will Hunting, the students were shocked. He looked out at the students that looked like poleaxed cows.

“What?” He said into the mic. “This is all review!”
“Review for what?” I shouted back.
“Astrophysics 404 is just a continuation of 403.”
“Well, this is Architectural Physics 101.”
“Oh,” he said looking at his calendar. “Perhaps it is…”

He erased the board and the room just exhaled in a minty fresh breeze of co-ed breath mints. It wasn’t that he was scatterbrained. Quite the opposite, he had laser focus, and that’s a pun, too. He was a laser physicist, and he even fired it up for the two of us once. So, we kind of got to know him some, and he almost literally lived at the physics building. That’s why he didn’t realize why the room for a midterm was available on Friday night, the week before Halloween, would be open at 7:00 p.m.

“Damn, Greg, why did you cut us off from the fraternity parties? We won’t get there until 9:30 or 10:00!”
“Sorry guys, it was all that they had.”
“Had left…” I said. “We could have helped!”
“I had a lot on my mind.”

We knew he did. So, fast forward to that Friday evening. Jeb, and he has passed, so I’ll call him by name, was getting made up. We decide we’d go take the test in costume, then head down the hill to the party at the house. We were dressing as, and I’m sure you’ll see where this is going, as soldiers. We had BDU’s, no insignia of course, boonie hats, boots, and we were painting our faces in camo. All the while, we were quizzing each other for the physics test. So we’re all ready for the party, and we have a small problem… with a problem. It seems we cannot solve this one item.

“Well.” Says Jeb. “Let’s just go ask Salamo.”
“How you know where he is?”
“You know he’s in the physics building somewhere. He never leaves.”
“True.” I responded. So we grabbed our fake M-16s, that had no orange tip, and looked real.
“He’ll help us!” And he headed out with me right behind him.

If the T.A.G. game would have gotten us in trouble these days, what my roommate and I did on Halloween would get you killed. I’m not exaggerating, and I was very torn about putting this to paper. One the day I’m writing this, some asshole killed 14 people. I was close to a shooting in Oregon, and was in Vegas October 1st last year. But this was a different time, and older people will understand, and maybe younger people will work to reverse the flow and change society, You have to remember this happened fifteen years before Columbine. If you can do that, this is kinda funny. But first, let’s explain Salamo.

I often tell people that physics changed my life, and it’s true. I took an elementary and advanced class in a high school known for academics, and being in an architecture program, physics was required. Enter Salamo. He walked up to the chalkboard and started writing out stuff that could have been Sanskrit for all we knew, I got a couple of the Greek letters, but when he went all Good Will Hunting, the students were shocked. He looked out at the students that looked like poleaxed cows.

“What?” He said into the mic. “This is all review!”
“Review for what?” I shouted back.
“Astrophysics 404 is just a continuation of 403.”
“Well, this is Architectural Physics 101.”
“Oh,” he said looking at his calendar. “Perhaps it is…”

He erased the board and the room just exhaled in a minty fresh breeze of co-ed breath mints. It wasn’t that he was scatterbrained. Quite the opposite, he had laser focus, and that’s a pun, too. He was a laser physicist, and he even fired it up for the two of us once. So, we kind of got to know him some, and he almost literally lived at the physics building. That’s why he didn’t realize why the room for a midterm was available on Friday night, the week before Halloween, would be open at 7:00 p.m.

“Damn, Greg, why did you cut us off from the fraternity parties? We won’t get there until 9:30 or 10:00!”
“Sorry guys, it was all that they had.”
“Had left…” I said. “We Could have helped!”
“I had a lot on my mind.”

We knew he did. So, fast forward to that Friday evening. Jeb, and he has passed, so I’ll call him by name, was getting made up. We decide we’d go take the test in costume, then head down the hill to the party at the house. We were dressing as, and I’m sure you’ll see where this is going, as soldiers. We had BDU’s, no insignia of course, boonie hats, boots, and we were painting our faces in camo. All the while, we were quizzing each other for the physics test. So we’re all ready for the party, and we have a small problem… with a problem. It seems we cannot solve this one item.

“Well.” Says Jeb. “Let’s just go ask Salamo.”
“How you know where he is?”
“You know he’s in the physics building somewhere. He never leaves.”
“True.” I responded. So we grabbed our fake M-16s, that had no orange tip, and looked real.
“He’ll help us!” And he headed out with me right behind him.


Now, we wouldn’t have gotten ten feet outside the building without getting plugged by someone these days, but it just wasn’t anything back then. We were crossing the campus in a standard 1 x 1 formation. It’s usually more, but it was just the two of us. We were giving hand signals, the closed fist to stop, the come ahead wave, and whatever else. We got to the fountain in front of the student union. He pointed at me, then made a gesture into the fountain, the wiggled his hand like a trout.

“What the hell does that mean?”
“Dive in the fountain and swim across!”
“What?!”

I pointed back at him and made the same motions. We finally decided we could both go around the fountain. So it went, past the arts building, down to the Greek Theater, and finally to the physics building. We came into the secretaries office low and fast! Not really, it was slow and clumsy. But when I asked her where Salamo was, she was very cooperative. In fact, he was just across the hall. We took up positions on either side of the door.

“Ready?” Jeb asked.
“Oh yeah.” I turned the knob on the door.
“Go!” He pushed the door open with his foot,
“Golf Oscar, roger!” And I rushed in… to a physics faculty meeting. I knew I had only one play. “We’re here for Salamo!”
“Yeah!” Jeb said and walked to where he sat. Salamo packed up his notebook, grabbed his briefcase and went with us, at gunpoint.

And no one thought a thing of it. Salamo was laughing so hard, and telling us that meeting would go down in history. Then, in his typical fashion, he took us in a room and explained the problem to us. Moreover, he went over many problems with us. When they passed out the test, I realized most of the problems on the test were exactly what he’d just taught us. It wasn’t to cheat, he just thought the best way to make us understand was with the problems in his head. It was my only A in that class.

But physics changed my life. It taught me more than just the math. It was great science when you want to know how the world works. But, I suggest you not try our shenanigans in this day and age. It could be bad for your health.

----------


There was an interesting sports moment in there, too. I was given tickets to a game, probably because it was bitter cold and sleeting I think. I could have sworn it was Baylor, but that would have had to been 1983, and I could swear it was ‘84. All I know was it was cold. We had used our Uncle Heavy hog hats to proper use and snuck in a pint apiece. All I remember after the half was we received a dare to go bare chested, and we did. We enjoyed the extra cash and made it on television. The other thing was we lost. Welcome to Razorback Football. Breaking my heart since whatever that game was...

----------


I was kind of amused at something I read on a Razorback message board I frequent. Someone had written, and I can't remember the exact words they used, but it was "...and then some crazy guy flooded the third floor of Hotz Hall for some reason. I figured they must have attended the same time I was there. So I responded, "It was Reid Hall, actually, and they know what they did! It was true, and I will not say if I was involved. Who knows what the statute of limitations is on property damage in Arkansas.

It all happened because of the jack wagons on the third floor. For some reason they picked our floor, perhaps we were too rowdy or something, but it was always us. Everyone who has been in a dorm knows the gags. You can "penny someone in" their room by having someone lean hard on the door while another shoves pennies between the door and frame near the knob. It's good there was a phone in every room, because you had to call someone to let you out. You can give someone the "snowstorm" with some talcum powder and a paper bag. If you place to powder in the bag right, keep the bottom of the bag open, and slide the top of the bag under the door. Then either stomp the bag, or better, drop a book on it. Piff! The talc is all over everything and it looks like it snowed. But one of the worst was having the "flash flood" hit your room. That’s a trash can full of water leaned up against the door. They hit our floor so bad we stashed a mop and bucket in the bathroom. Rugs? No, it would spend more time drying out than on the floor.

So one night, a guy from the fifth floor knocks on a door on the same floor. He steps a few feet into the room when the door opens. It’s around three in the morning, but a light was on. Seems a paper was due. The man needed an accomplice to help him.

“It’s time to pay back the third floor!”
“How?”
“I have the plan and the goods.” He patted his backpack. “I just need some help!”
“I’m working. How long?”
“Fifteen minutes?” He replied. “Maybe less. But we have to go now, “security” just went by.”

The two descended the flights of steps and exited on the third floor. They went to the first bathroom and the instigator pulled out squares of plastic and duct tape. One all the drains were covered, they turned the showers on full, locked the door behind them, and even added crazy glue. They did the same to the second bathroom, and then disappeared. By the time it was discovered, water covered the floor, was draining down to other floors, and cascading off the building. I did see it, I was up studying. Really! They didn’t really believe me, either. So I was asked to move, but it was a moot point. I already had plans.

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