Hardest of Wood

The Kappa Deltas gathered outside for a third night in row, singing the same incessantly droll songs, hooting at the fraternity pledges passing by in convertibles, and blathering on and on about how much spirit they had. Scott and I sat at our desks, fretting over an impending deadline racing toward us the following morning.

Scott stood, his lanky form filled the glass doors out onto the balcony; he gripped the frame of the door with both hands, squeezing them until the tendons stood out on the back of his forearms.

“Shut the fuck up,” he said quietly. Then, a bit louder, “Shut up.”

He wrenched open the door, stepped out on the balcony, leaned against the balustrade and after taking a deep breath, he screamed, “Shut. The fuck. Up!”

The Deltas were horrified and began heckling the small crowd gathered on the balcony, including both me and Scott. The lack of sleep, along with a healthy nip of proper Arkansas moonshine, are anethema to a clear, well-reasoned response. Scott retreated inside to find a weapon.

I raced back inside, following Scott as he flipped over desks and rifled through drawers looking for something, anything, to throw.

“What are you doing, Scott?” I said, working my way over to block his door.

“I’m going to shut them up,” he said, gruffly. “They won’t stop singing, and I can’t think.”

“Let’s go talk to them. Find out when they’ll be done. It can’t be much longer, right?”

He worked his way over to the common space, lifting up and dropping successively larger items.

“Listen, I’ll go ask, just wait here. Don’t throw anything!” I raced down the flight of stairs, flew out the doors leading to the terrace that separated our studio building from the street, directly across from the lawn of the sorority, where the pledges continued hooting and preening.

As I cleared the colonnade I heard a sharp, barking laugh erupt from above. I looked up in time to see an old, wooden desk, the kind we wedged ouselves into in grade school, soaring into the night sky.

Luckily for the Kappa Deltas, the weight of the desk and the distance it had to travel worked in their favor. Unluckily for me, I found myself well within the blast radius of an old wooden desk impacting with a hardened plaza.

The desk landed spectacularly, sending shrapnel in all directions, one of which hit me in the head as I was turning away, knocking me to the ground. Scott, along with a small group of classmates, come out of the doors and onto the terrace just as I awoke, dazed.

Scott slid up beside me an said, “Dude! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I said, gingerly patting the growing welt on the side of my head, checking my hand multiple times for blood. “No blood. I must have a hard head.”

Scott laughed. “Well, harder than wood anyway… or, at least, really hard wood.”

We stood up and stared in awe at the mess on the plaza. The tension released, and with need of a break, we broke out the moonshine and a box of chalk, and proceeded to outline each piece of the wooden corpse with care.


This story was originally posted on Ficly.com as part the “Nonsensical Names” challenge.  Links to the original 3 posts:




The story is based on some very real events that happened to me in the early 90’s while attending the University of Arkansas.  I probably should have changed the names, but Scott would probably agree it was a fun story.  Plus, it is only partially true.  I leave it to you to decide which parts are hyperbole, or outright fiction.