by Gregory Frost
When he woke up, he was lying in grass and the sun had risen. He had no idea how he’d gotten there. "Maybe the fraternity house was a wizard’s illusion.It’s not as if that’s never happened to me before. The brew was much stronger than it seemed. I’m sure there was trickery in it." He would have looked to see if it were still there, but it hurt to open his eyes;his head seemed to have swollen up as if all that beer had flowed into it. At least the dew smelled fresh.
Eventually, he did manage to raise his head, only to find that he was lying on the front lawn of the fraternity. With great effort, he staggered to his feet and wove his way to the door. He was about to knock, but decided that would make too much noise — a raremoment of prudence for him. He rang the doorbell instead.
After a moment, two of the fraternity members opened the door.
"I seem to have wandered out of the party," Coyote said.
"No, you didn’t," came the reply. "We threw you out. You can’t come back in either. Ever."
"Because you drank up all our beer. The whole keg. Nobody else got to have any and we still have to pay for it." They closed the door in his face before he had a chance to explain that he could fill that keg back up if they wanted him to. In fact, he was quite capable of filling a moat around the fraternity house, and that’s exactly what he did.
Afterward, he thought, "Well, maybe I don’t want to belong to this group. After all, for all their bragging, there were no women here. It’s going to be very boring if I just live in a house with boys. All they do is belch and fart, and that’s not funny every night.I’ll have to think about this." So he picked up his pack and headed in toward the campus.
Since following the boys hadn’t done him any good, he decided to follow the girls he’d seen on the lawn. It was a nice day, and soon enough they were back, stretched out on blankets, reading books, and chatting on tiny phones or with each other.
He sat on a bench and pretended to be reading one of the books he’d found in his pack. A woman sat down beside him. She said, "You must have Michaelson, too."
Coyote had no idea what this meant, so he just nodded sagely.
"I love history," she continued. "I’d have done anything to get in his section."
Still unable to make sense of her talk — for instance, what was a section and could he coax her into his if he had one? — he continued to nod at everything she said. She went on about crusades and nights and someone named Saladin, but he’d never met that person,and he couldn’t grasp how one could enclose a night with armor, though the idea sounded intriguing and certainly worth trying some other time. Finally, when she elicited no sensible response from him, the woman got up and left. He watched her join some of the women on their blankets, and when they left, he followed them.
They walked away from the campus, and he thought, "Maybe they’re going to the fraternity house after all." Instead they went to another house on the same street. Like the fraternity, it had strange symbols above the door. He hung back and watched from across the street. More women entered that house, and only women.
"This is just like the fraternity," he told himself, "except it’s women. This is where I need to go."
He walked up to the door and knocked on it. One of the women he’d followed opened it. She stared at him with obvious surprise. "Can I help you?" she asked.
He remembered how to speak from the previous night. "I would like to pledge," he said.
"Don’t be ridiculous," came her reply and she slammed the door in his face.
"Well, that’s clearly not the way." He walked back across the street, where he sat and pondered the dilemma, but nothing came to him. Finally, he had to relieve himself and crept into the bushes. When he’d finished, he crouched down beside his excrement and asked "How do I get into this women’s fraternity?"One turd immediately rolled away from the rest, crying out, "He’ll never learn! Don’t help him!" But the others ignored the objection and replied, "You have to become someone else. They won’t accept Coyote into their midst. They know what you want. And if you don’t do something about your penis, he’ll stand up and sing and then they’ll know you for sure."
"But they won’t," he argued. "They don’t know me, and in this world anymore, even I wouldn’t know one of the true People."
The turds sighed. "Well, we tried, didn’t we?" they said to one another, and after that they wouldn’t speak to him.
Later in the evening, two women came out and passed by him. They didn’t notice when Coyote followed them. The women went to a large building that was brightly lit. There was a desk inside, and they each pulled out a card and pushed it through a slot at the side of the desk, then walked through a turnstile.Coyote dug around in his bag and found a card like theirs, then went in. He pushed the card into the slot and tried to walk through the turnstile, but it didn’t budge and instead he clutched himself in pain. A boy behind the desk said, "That must have hurt."
Coyote agreed that it had.
The boy said, "You had your card backwards. Stripe goes on the inside. Your first time in the gym?"
"Yes," hissed Coyote.
"Well, the guys’ gyms and courts are to the right, and the locker room’s after that. Pool’s on the far side of the locker room."
"Thank you," Coyote said. He ran the card through the slot, and noticed this time that a small light on it turned green. He pushed the turnstile and it rotated freely. How marvelous.