This story is based on real people; I've taken some literary license with the characters and events.
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For four years I had the best job I've ever had. It's been about two years since I left it and nothing I've done since compared. I'm currently a 26 year old teacher and as a career it is fulfilling, rewarding, and enjoyable but it doesn't compare fun wise to my previous position. I have moved on as circumstances dictated and while cleaning out a storage unit at my condo I came across a box with mementos, pictures, and souvenirs of that time in my life and of that job.
I'm moving into a new house and have to decide what goes and what gets thrown away. Taking a few minutes I remember those years and the good times with a nostalgic fondness as I go through that box of memories.
James Nelson O'Connor is my name. As if the name didn't clue you in I'm of Irish extraction and really proud of it. There are a lot of Irish in St. Louis and my family immersed themselves in all the holidays and special celebrations. The Irish have an old adage or saying "Don't be too proud or too happy because the devil will find you and slap you down. I've paraphrased it some but that's what happened to me.
My parents were killed when our house caught fire and was destroyed late one night and I was suddenly on my own at 18. I woke up coughing from the smoke and disorientated. My dad rushed into my room yelling that the house was on fire and to get out. I jumped through the window in my bedroom as my dad yelled that he was going to get my mom. That was the last time I saw him or my mother; they never made it out.
I was lost and alone; there were no other family members to help. After the shock, after the funeral, and after the realization that I was truly alone, I moved in with a friend for two months. His parents were very nice and told me I could stay with them as long as I needed to.
Great people, I mean really great, but I couldn't stay with them forever; it was a financial strain on them and too much of an emotional strain on me. It was a loving family but it wasn't my family and every day it reminded me of what I had lost.
My dad's attorney contacted me one month after the funeral; I didn't even know that Dad had an attorney. He told me that my parents had a will and suggested a meeting for the reading of that will and explanation of finances. At the meeting I was told that insurance policies paid off both the first and second mortgages on the house and the funeral expenses.
All additional expenses or debts were paid and after all the dispersals of money I was left with about nine thousand dollars and the long standing wish from my parents that I go to college and make something of myself. I also inherited my dad's vintage 69 Mustang Mach One. The family car had been destroyed in the fire but the Mustang had been in a separate garage at the back of our property. My dad left the Mustang to me; for transportation to school and to attract a few young ladies according to his statement in the will.
I had transportation and money to go to school, now I needed a job to pay for a place to live and other expenses. A warehouse/shipping company needed a man on the loading dock and I got the job working Monday through Thursday, 8 PM to 6 AM. I was a big kid at 6 feet 3 and I could handle the hard work on the dock.
Those hours would allow me go to school and leave a little time for winding down. I decided to go to Harris Teachers College; the costs were reasonable and I could stretch the money from my folks into a four year education and a degree. Teaching wasn't my first choice as a career but once I had my degree I could teach, earn a living, and continue my education in whatever field I opted for.
I found a studio apartment near the school; a studio apartment is like a room at a bed and breakfast but without the breakfast. I had one big room that was a combination kitchenette, living room, and bedroom. It wasn't fancy, but it was clean and inexpensive.
My freshman year in school I joined a fraternity, Lamda Beta Lamda. If you remember the crazy Delta Tau Chi fraternity in "Animal House", you have a good idea of our group. We paid more attention to our education than they did but we partied like the Deltas on the weekends. And like the Deltas, we seemed to frequently be in some kind of trouble with the school administration.
I never hooked up with any special girl but I wasn't without female companionship. Apparently my size, the dark hair, and the piercing blue eyes all contributed to my success with the fair young coeds of our school. I was seldom without a date when I wanted one. Working four, ten hour days gave me time to study during the week and at least one day a weekend to party if I wanted to. I wanted to; I was at school to get an education but that didn't mean I had to be a monk or hermit.
Our school was relatively small; we weren't a high dollar school like Washington University or St. Louis U. Most of our students worked at least part time jobs while attending classes. None of the frats or sororities could afford a house and most students lived at home or shared apartments.
My frat brothers decided that even though we couldn't afford a frat house we needed somewhere to party on the weekends that there wasn't some frat or sorority sponsored dance or mixer going on. We thought about apartments but there were few places that would rent to a bunch of rowdy drunken college students.
After my pledge semester Chuck Long, the president of Lamda, and I continued to search for a place that the fraternity could call their own. I had an inspiration one evening as I was hanging out at one of the clubs on Gaslight Square. The Square was a thriving entertainment district that could be compared to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It ran for four blocks and was a haven for musicians, artist, poets, and sometimes ladies of the evening. Numerous bars, clubs, galleries, and restaurants lined both sides of the street.
There were always people enjoying the different businesses seven days a week from around noon until 2 AM when the bars closed. There was even a real honest to goodness old fashioned bordello at the end of the block. The whole area was only about two miles from the college; providing easy access for the fraternity.
Sitting at an outdoor table in front of a coffee house I saw a for lease sign on a two story building across the street. I wrote down the phone number and called for information the next day. I learned that a dance school had been leasing the second floor and had gone out of business.
I explained who I was and what I wanted the place for and the leasing agent offered to show it to me; she wanted to regain an income from that property very badly. Chuck Long the president of Lamda went with me to meet the agent and we knew we had found our "frat house" as soon as we saw the space.
The only question remaining was could we afford it. The agent let it slip that there weren't many takers for an apartment this size; I think she was new and didn't realize that she shouldn't have told me how much trouble her company was having trying to lease the apartment. I was able to negotiate the terms for a one year lease, security deposit, and utilities. Maybe I should go into sales or purchasing I thought because I got the frat a sweetheart of a deal.
A showing for the rest of the frat was arranged and we told the agent that the fraternity would have a meeting to discuss the terms before looking at the space; that way we could make a decision on the spot after the frat members inspected the place.
The financial arrangements were explained at the meeting. We had 40 active members in the frat plus another 10 or so that were on academic probation for this semester, in addition some of the alumni could be counted on for financial assistance.
The initial cost would be $100 per fraternity member; this would pay first and last month's rent and the security deposit for the lease which included utilities. The cost after that would be $30 a month to any of the brothers that wanted to use the "house". If you didn't pay you didn't use the apartment, not even as a guest.
The brothers were blown away when they saw the size of the "apartment" we would be leasing. The apartment took up the entire second floor. It had a huge room in front with a kitchen/dining area in the middle and three bedrooms and two baths at the rear. The large room was 40ft by 75ft with concrete floors and walls so we couldn't do much damage to them. It was perfect and Chuck signed the lease representing the fraternity.
The frat needed someone to oversee the apartment and I was offered the use of the master bedrooms and a small salary to basically take care of "Lamda House". I also got the use of the parking space in the basement garage; so my Mustang had a new home too. My duties included collecting the money, paying the lease, cleaning up after parties, and keeping the "house" presentable; this included the two other bedrooms with all the expenses paid out of a slush fund. If we would have had a real house, I guess I would have been the "house mother".
One of the brothers was a techno-geek and installed a numerical electronic lock on the door of the apartment. Each contributing brother was given a code to let them in; this lock also recorded the code used each time it was punched in. This saved us the problem of keys for everyone.
We used part of the start up money for a few items like party supplies, cleaning supplies, and a second hand sofa and chair. Several of the frat members donated used furniture so the apartment wasn't a completely bare space. I'm sure several garages were cleaned out to furnish our apartment. We did a little painting and a lot of cleaning and we were all set for the first party.
There were several rules that the executive committee, that was Chuck and I, drew up for the use of "Lamda House".
All brothers that wanted to use the place must pay the monthly fees in advance. If they were more than a week late their codes would be deactivated until the fees were paid.
Parties were to be on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only; except on special occasions or during the holiday breaks from classes. A curfew of 3 AM was to be adhered to. Exceptions for week day use were also made for "finals" week but only for studying, no parties.
The brothers would bring their own drinks and food for any party they had. Anything left at the apartment after their party became property of the apartment and placed behind the bar.
ABSOULTELY NO DRUGS OF ANY KIND WOULD BE ALLOWED IN "LAMDA HOUSE". This was cut in stone; it was a zero tolerance rule.
Any damage caused to furnishings or the apartment would be paid for by the offending party. Their privileges were suspended until their payment was received. If a guest caused the damage the frat brother that invited them was responsible.
And the most important rule, at least to me. My bedroom/bathroom suite was off limits to everyone.
The schedule gave me four days a week on my own and if I didn't want to party any night during the weekends I could retire to my bedroom. The sound proofing was really good and it needed to be because my frat brothers were a loud and noisy bunch. I went from living and paying for a ratty little studio apartment to living in a large apartment rent free and actually getting paid for living there. The extra duties were fairly easy and didn't take much time or effort.
After the first month of weekend parties I hired a couple of middle aged women that lived in the neighborhood to do the clean up. I gave them an entry code and called them the day after a party. By that evening the apartment was spic and span and ready for the next party. The cost of the cleaning was more than paid for by my salary.
Apparently some of my brothers neglected to read the rule about my room being off limits. The first time I walked into my room and found an orgy of six or seven people on my bed, I put an industrial grade deadbolt on my door. That solved that problem.
"Lamda House" worked out so well that we just kept renewing the lease every year. There was seldom a weekend that there wasn't something going on at our place. Aside from the fraternity sponsored mixers and parties which happened about once a month, some of the brothers were always in attendance with their honeys or even stag. Usually a good time was had by all.
Although the "house" was for the frat brothers and their guests, outsiders would be allowed on the premises but they had to bring at least two young lovelies with them to gain entrance. A frat brother could invite another guy but the guest better have two coeds in tow or he wouldn't get in.
If you were a male and didn't have two ladies with you, you didn't get in. This two and one rule included young ladies that wanted in, however if the girl wanting in was a real hottie exceptions were made. The executive committee would make that decision; that committee consisted of Chuck and me.
The parties at "Lamda House" were loud, fun, and well lubricated by alcohol. They soon became a legend at school. Everyone wanted to party at our place. It got to the point that we had to limit the number of guests; the apartment was very large but would only hold a certain number of people. A night seldom went by without some young ladies ending up topless and sometimes bottomless too.
It got to the point that I didn't made dates anymore because there were always extra pretties at the house; it was a target rich environment. I would scout out the available women and make a move. If things went well we didn't have far to go; my bedroom was only about 75 feet away.
For the next four years, I never had to buy any booze, snacks, and not a lot of food. After almost every party the brothers would usually leave behind any extra food and alcohol that they had brought with them. Mainly they forgot because they were too drunk to think about taking their stuff with them. I usually could eat free for a couple of days after a party and there was a cornucopia of soft drinks, mixers, beer and hard liquor left behind.
The company renting the space below us was a sort of arts and crafts store. It closed every day at 5 PM so our parties didn't interfere with their business or customers. But I made it a point to personally invite the two guys that owned that store to any and all of our parties; these two were an exception to the rule of needing two girls to get in. It never hurts to keep the neighbors happy.
We were raided once during the first year that we had the apartment; nothing major we were just too damn loud too damn late one evening; actually it was early one morning. I knew that the police looked the other way concerning the corner bordello and I wanted them to have the same attitude about us.
So after this raid I made it a point to become friendly with the police that patrolled Gaslight Square. I would sometimes stand at the entrance to our place with a fresh pot of coffee for the patrolmen as they started their rounds. Shortly I was inviting some of them to our parties. The cops were usually relatively young and appreciated a place to go and unwind with some good guys and many pretty coeds. It never hurts to have in house security either; they were also an exception to the rules for admittance.
The only other major bump in the road to happy partying happened in the third year of our lease. We caught one of the male guests trying to use a date rape drug on one of the girls at a Saturday night bash; it was Rohypnol I believe. That evening showed the wisdom of having a couple of friendly police officers on hand.
The officers didn't arrest or detain the guy but they did stop some of the brothers from practicing a vigilante type of justice on this guy. I really believe that my brothers would have seriously injured the asshole if the police hadn't gotten him out of there. As it was, I heard that he suffered a broken nose and a couple of cracked ribs. We were deadly serious about NO DRUGS at our place.
I graduated, got my degree and a teaching certification. I gave up my job on the docks and began teaching at a nearby grade school. "Lamda House" was still my home and my job. I knew I couldn't live there forever but I could live there for right now. The right now was open ended with no time table. However, something happened that marked the beginning of the end of my residency there. I fell in love.
Remember the young lady that was drugged? I had decided not to party that night because I was still suffering from the previous evening's celebration. After the hoopla died down, I was the only one sober enough to get the girl home.
I didn't want to send her home in a taxi; she was still a little out of it and I wasn't sure she could get into her house. By the way, the taxi drivers loved us and we could always get a cab with a phone call. At the conclusion of a lot of our parties several taxis would be called because most of the frat brothers were too drunk to drive safely and the brothers tipped excessively when they were under the influence.
Anyway, I drove the young lady, Julie Reynolds, home. She was still a little wobbly so I helped her to her door. Julie was fishing in her purse for her key when the door sprang open. Standing in the door way was a young woman and a very large very angry gentleman who seemed upset; it was Julie's father and her sister as I found out shortly.
"What the hell is going on here? Who are you and why is my daughter in this condition? What did you do to her?" Mr. Reynolds approached me with fire in his eyes.
"Daddy please calm down," the young woman said. "Let's find out what happened before you start hammering this man into the ground. Mr. Reynolds backed down a little but was still visibly upset. "Please come in," she said.
I'm pretty good sized but Mr. Reynolds was huge and mad. I'm no coward but I certainly didn't want to tangle with him. It was a good thing that the young lady was there to soothe him down a little.
I helped the girl and her father get Julie into the house. "Hi, I'm Kelly; Julie's older sister. This is our father Charles."
"Kelly, take Julie to her room and make sure she's okay. Young man comes with me into the den and you can explain what's going on and what is wrong with Julie."
Mr. Reynolds was still mumbling but led me to a chair into the den. When Kelly came into the room I got my first good look at her. I had been distracted by Mr. Reynolds and the activity of getting Julie into the house.
Kelly Reynolds looked like a summer's day. She was tall for a woman at 5 feet 9 with a slender build and reddish blond hair. But the thing that struck me, the thing that stood out the most, was her sparkling green eyes. Eyes that I could have lost myself in for hours and hours. It was all over but the shouting for me, I was in love.
"I'm sorry I didn't catch your name," Kelly said to me. "Would you like some coffee or something to drink while you explain my sister's condition?" She made it clear that I was going to explain the situation before I left.
"My name is James O'Connor and yes I would like some coffee if it's no trouble."
Kelly returned with coffee for the three of us and motioned for me to begin. Mr. Reynolds sat forward in his chair; he was very interested in my story too.
I explained about the guy getting caught putting the drug into Julie's drink and the cops taking him away. "We didn't want her to take a cab home in her condition and I was the only one who hadn't been drinking so I decided to bring Julie home. That's about it Mr. Reynolds."
"Where is that bastard now?" Mr. Reynolds asked. "He needs to be punished."
"Sir if you found him you would beat the hell out of him and probably end up in jail. He isn't worth it and your daughters need you at home not rotting in some cell because of what you did to that asshole."
I also explained that the frat brothers had touched him up pretty good before the cops could get the guy out of the apartment. Laughing, I told him that one of our guys seemed to be trying to rip the man's arm off when the police stopped him. My drunken frat brother said that he was going to use the arm to beat the hell out of the guy.
"Believe me sir; it will be a long time before that ass tries anything like that again. He'll be reminded of his punishment for the next month or so every time he looks in the mirror. And by Monday afternoon the story will be all over school so his welcome is pretty much worn out around there too."
Kelly walked over to my chair, bent down, kissed me on the cheek and looked into my eyes. "Thank you James for helping Julie. It was a very decent thing for you to do."
If I hadn't been in love before, I certainly was after the kiss and that look. How could I feel the way I do when I've just met her I thought? I didn't have an answer to my question but I knew that I loved Kelly. Finishing my coffee I said good night to the Reynolds and got up to leave.
Mr. Reynolds walked me to the door and explained "I guess I'm a little over protective of my girls since their mother passed away six years ago."
He shook my hand, thanked me, and he said he hoped to see me again. I don't know if you're just being polite, I said to myself, but I will bet that we do meet again.
The story about the guy trying to drug a girl at our party and the results quickly spread around school and as I had predicted the jerk was shunned by everyone, especially the young ladies. The only people who did greet and talk to him were some of my frat brothers. A lot of them made it a point to greet him between classes and some of them suggested the many bad things that could happen to him in the next few days. No direct threats were heard but he got the idea anyway. He left school before the week was out.
Some of the lovely young coeds at the "house" paid more attention to me when the story got around and Julie made it a point to write a letter to say thank you. It was funny, my frat brothers were the ones that "saved" Julie but I got to be the hero because I was the only sober one there. Go figure. I guess fate or cupid or whoever decided I deserved to be rewarded.
Three weeks after the incident at our party, Julie's car broke down and she had to scramble for transportation. She caught a ride to school with a friend but her return trip home was an adventure the first 3 or 4 days. Neither Kelly nor her dad could pick Julie up because they were working. Mr. Reynolds was a dispatcher for a trucking company and Kelly worked in the administration office of a hospital. I heard about Julie's problem from one of the brothers and stopped by Harris Teachers on my way home from my teaching job. Julie was surprised and happy to see me.
I offered to stop by every afternoon and give her a ride home. Julie's house was only about two miles out of my way and I felt responsible for her a little; even though we banned drugs from our place and even though it wasn't one of the fraternity members that tried to drug her, it was still at our party that she almost got raped. Also I had an ulterior motive.
Okay, honesty time. The chance to get to see Kelly was the main reason I offered to help. I had to do something because I hadn't heard or talked to Kelly for almost a month. Usually I wasn't backward or shy around young lovelies but this girl was different. I used the excuse that I didn't have her phone number. But I could have gotten her number in several different ways including looking in the phone directory. I guess I was worried about being rejected; being in love sometimes undermines your confidence you know.
Julie and I would talk during the ride to her house and after a week she asked a question that I didn't have a good answer for.
"Why haven't you called my sister? I know you're attracted to her and she asks about you every night when I get home."
I mumbled something because I couldn't think of an answer. We pulled up in front of her house before the silence became too awkward. Whatever my motives or my reasons, my plan worked; Kelly was sitting on the front porch when we got there. I hoped she was waiting for me.
Normally I would stop my car, Julie would say thank you, and jump out. Today I got out with her and walked to the house; Julie was giggling as she went inside.
"Julie's knight in shining armor saves her again or at least saves her the hassle of riding the bus," Kelly said with a big grin. "Hello James. Very nice," she said pointing at my Mustang.
"Hi Kelly, it's nice to see you," I responded. "Thanks, the car belonged to my dad." I tried to think of some witty thing to say but looking into her eyes my brain took a small vacation. She waited for a few seconds for me to say more and then continued.
"Why didn't you call me after that evening you brought Julie home? The way you were staring at me I thought you would be on the phone the next day." Apparently Kelly was nothing if not forthright.