This story in no way depicts real life events. It is purely fictional. As always, I welcome any constructive criticism you may have. Just leave it in the comments below. Please join me now as we enter the world of Dear Ellie.
Ellie sat at the dining room table staring out through the French doors as a gentle, September breeze filled the room. Autumn’s golden garb was just beginning to clothe the mountains in the distance. She wondered how life ever got so complicated. Her gaze shifted to the note in her left hand. It read in part -
. . . I never meant for this to happen. I don’t how it all went wrong. I know I’ve caused you so much pain, and I can never make it right. Life has gotten to be too hard too fast. I’m leaving, and I won’t be back.”
Ellie’s mind shifted back to a happier day. She had known Scott Branson since kindergarten, They grew up together in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin. But it wasn’t until her senior year at West Mifflin High that she really noticed Scott.
It was the way he looked at her after the Friday afternoon pep rally. The Titans first football game with South Allegheny would take place that night, and the air was filled with electricity. Scott’s athleticism won him the starting job at quarterback for the second year in a row. In his junior year, he thoroughly destroyed the competition, and his senior year was to be no different. The rally was dismissed, and Scott winked at Ellie as he walked past her on the way to his locker.
A strange tingle covered Ellie. She never felt like that before, and now these many years later, she never would again. Her life with Scott began as everything she ever hoped for.
They continued to date through the rest of their senior year while Scott led the Titans to a 10-0 record for the second time in as many years. She was the homecoming queen and led the Titan cross country team to another championship before graduation.
The world seemed perfect to both of them, but now she sat looking out over the lonely countryside from her dining room. She glanced once again at the letter she held in her hand. It was all too much for her to handle. The pain and confusion stirred once more. Then . . .
Her mind regressed again. After graduating from high school, both signed commitments to attend Penn State – Scott on a football scholarship and Ellie on a cross country scholarship. Scott was to be groomed to be the starting quarterback within the next two years.
Ellie, she’d just run, and run, and run and was getting nowhere with every step. College level cross country was a bigger step than she could take.
But that didn’t stop her. She pledged herself to the Alpha Xi Delta sorority and her popularity continued to climb. Not to be outdone by the love of his life, Scott also decided to consider fraternity life.
Rush week was fast approaching, and both Ellie and Scott were excited. There was to be a welcoming party at the Sigma Nu house on Friday night, and Scott was pumped. He was not yet a member, but he felt it wouldn’t be long until he was. His social standing was as important to him as his college football career.
The days passed slowly, but finally, Friday night arrived. He and Ellie walked through the Sigma Nu door to be greeted by many of the ones he believed would soon be his brothers.
They mingled with the other rushes and their dates. They snacked on the finger foods that were continually passed around along with the drinks. They listened to the band and eventually moved to the small dance floor. Scott felt quite at home in the party atmosphere.
“Hey, Scotty, my man. How ya doin’?” Todd Martz called from across the room. Todd knew everybody and everything about his fraternity, and he knew how important it was to Scott to be a part.
“Doing great! Doing great, Todd. Quite a lively place here tonight!”
“Yeah, uh, look Scotty. We know ya want to be part of this fraternity, but of course, we need to test your loyalty.” Ellie continued mingling while Scott was led to a small room off to the side of the main entrance.
The dimly lit room housed only a table and one chair – a chair that Scott would not sit in. It was reserved for Todd. On the corner of the table was a mirror. Todd led Scott over to the mirror and handed him a fresh one-hundred dollar bill.
“Nothin’ but class for Sigma Nu, Scotty – nothing but class. We’re gonna play a little game called Lines on My Face. Now, I know you know this is how we play, right Scotty?”
“Not exactly, but I think I have an idea.”
“Yeah, well it’s pretty simple, man. All you have to do is to chase that line on the mirror. You know what I mean by that, Scotty, my man?”
He handed Scott the rolled up one-hundred dollar bill.
“No . . . No this doesn’t work for me.”
“Okay, okay, my man. Go do some more mingling. I have another game we can play, Josh will have to get it set up. Meet me back here in ten. Oh, and Scotty, this is your last chance to prove yourself loyal to the cause of Sigma Nu. Know what I mean?”
Scott stepped out for a breath of fresh air. He breathed deep and had to stop and remind himself that the party lifestyle didn’t mix with his athletic aspirations. Scott re-entered the party and casually walked back to the room beside the entrance. Todd met him there.
The Psychology Behind Hazing
On the table, spreading end to end, was a neat, single row of 20 shot glasses. “Now, Scotty, my man. I feel a new Sigma Nu record is gonna be set tonight – if ya know what I mean.”
“Not exactly, Todd. You might have to spell it out for me.”
“Um, yeah. Spell it out. Well, ya see, my man, the old record is 12 shots in 60 seconds. That’s about one every five seconds. Ya only have to do 13 to beat the record, but Scotty, I know you can do more than thirteen, right?”
Scott was getting a little nervous. “No, this doesn’t work for me either. Coach gives us an ETG test every Monday before practice. I can’t risk it.”
“Trust me, my man! By Monday, the alcohol will be all outta your system. You’ll be okay." Todd held up a glass. "Look how small this glass is. Hardly anything to it.
“Ya are wanting to be a part of this fraternity, aren’t ya?”
“Well sure, but . . .”
Todd cut him off. “Look, all the pledges here have to do this. This just happens to be your night. Believe me, my man, Monday’ll take care of itself. Josh, get the vodka and let’s go. Get those glasses filled before he changes his mind. Get the other brothers and gather ‘round.”
Josh Timmons began filling each glass. By the time all 20 glasses were filled, the rest of the Sigma Nu brothers were gathered around the table to witness the possible new record.
Todd began, “ Okay, guys. We’re ready. Here are the rules, Scotty, my man. Ya have to finish each shot before going on to the next. I’ll count the empties as we go. Josh, here, he’ll keep the time. Ya have 60 seconds to down as many as you can – But, Scotty, I have faith in ya! I think you do at least 15. What do ya think, Guys.” The room filled with cheers as Todd continued.
“Okay, Scotty. On my signal. Ready?” Scott nodded a big yes. “Ready, Josh?” Josh signaled likewise, “Okay. Ready. Go!”
The contest was under way. Todd began to count. “One . . . two . . . three . . . four. Hey, Josh. What kind of time do we have?”
“Just hit 15 seconds, He’s way ahead of the record.”
Todd continued. Three . . . four . . . five . . . six. How ‘bout another time check, Josh?”
“Oh, he’s slowing down. He’s only at 23 seconds.”
The chant began – “Scot-tee, Scot-tee, Scot-tee.”
Scott kept up the pace. Todd counted. “Four . . .five. . . six. Time check!”
“Just ticked 19 seconds. You say he’s at four, Todd?”
“Right. Four . . . five . . . six . . . seven . . . Gimme the time!
The chant continued as Todd began to count again. “Five . . . six . . . seven. . . eight . . . Time?”
“Approaching 25 seconds.”
Two and a half minutes later Todd finished counting the number of shots Scott put down as he reached for the last glass. “Ten . . . eleven . . . twelve. Oh, Scotty, my man. You tied the record. I was really hoping for something more, but hey, you tied it!” 20 shots later, a collective cheer was raised around the table.
Within minutes Scott fell to the floor convulsing. Finally, his body settled down as he began to make strange gurgling sounds. Seconds after that, Josh noticed he quit breathing. A blanket off panic covered the Sigma Nu brothers.
“Someone call 911! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!”
Todd spoke in a calm voice, “No, we can’t do that. Quick, Josh, help me carry him to the balcony.”
Josh grabbed Scott under his arms while Todd lifted his feet. The other brothers crowded around to shield Scott from the others attending the party. Carefully, they lifted Scott over the upstairs balcony railing and dropped him to the ground below. Todd reached for his cell phone and dialed 911.
“Yes, this is Todd Martz at Sigma Nu Fraternity on Fraternity Row. We just had an accident. A man fell over the balcony railing. I think he may be dead.”
- Dear Ellie - Part 2
Dear Ellie - Part 1 Scott Branson is on a path to self-destruction, and Ellie will pay the price.
© 2017 William Kovacic