The boys of Tau Epsilon Kappa had always claimed the halls of their fraternity were haunted. According to legend, their residence was a living quarter for the servants of the nearby historical museum down the street: The Holton House. Back in the 1800s, one of the younger maids hung herself from the second story for unknown reasons. Some claimed she was caught in a forbidden relationship with one of the Holton sons, leaving her so distressed that she killed herself. The fraternity members swore there was an old headstone hidden somewhere in the gravel parking lot, but I could never find the evidence. Her name was Sarah Wilson, and they said that she was still very present in the corridors of the house.
The boys said that Sarah remained the culprit of most of the eerie happenings around the frat. Sometimes they would hear a noise come from the kitchen at night. Clink, clank. A pot had fallen from the sink to the floor, but when one of the members went to look there was nobody there. The occasional door would creek open or slam shut, but the house was guarded by door knobs with a numerical code to get in. She was most famous for dimming the lights when she was passing through. Nobody I knew had ever seen her, but local folklore said that her entity had been spotted a number of times on the grounds of the property in her 17th century garb. She never did anything evil. At least until the summer of 2013.
By that time, I had stopped talking to the boys of TEK. My last semester on campus was Spring of 2013. Word on the block was that they were losing their charter for their house, and this summer was the last one they would have with it. The campus was taking it away because of their belligerent partying, hazing, and the sexual assault of a freshman girl in the house by the fraternity’s president. If they got their act together along with the funding from alumni there was a chance the next summer would bring them a clean slate and a new house on Greek Row. However, come fall the house would be demolished along with any entities left in it.
The small things that Sarah did got worse. Nobody knows if it was out of anger towards their poor behavior or the fact that she was finally forced to face her final resting place. By the end of that summer though, no TEK was mad about moving out when the house was due to be bulldozed.
At first it was a slight escalation. The light bulbs would burn out or the electricity would lose power. The pots still made noises in the kitchen. Clink, clank. This time, though, the kitchen had caught fire. Three members were sent to the hospital with second-degree burns trying to put out the flames. Upon investigation, nobody could find what started the blaze. One night when the boys came home from a bonfire, they found an uneasy decoration upstairs. On the second floor there was a rope hanging, perfectly tied in the shape of a noose. Tired of all of the nonsense, one of the members yanked the noose down. Not realizing how close he was to the railing and how hard he was pulling, the rope finally gave out. He toppled over the barrier to the hardwood of the first floor. He was rushed to the ER with two broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a broken arm.
When the fall of 2013 finally came, every TEK was ready to leave. They had put on their best face to try to reconcile with the university and earn a new house. Tau Epsilon Kappa had raised enough funds for the new fraternity and they were given the ok to start building in the summer of 2014 pending their behavior and grades. The day of demolition came, and all of the TEK members stood outside watching. As all of the fond memories they had were slowly turned to piles of decrepit wood and dust, they were also letting go of the things that haunted them the past summer. Construction on the new house didn’t start much later.
I found myself in the area that summer of 2014, and was curious to see what had become of it. The old TEK house was nothing but an awkward gravel parking lot and an unkempt property of mostly dirt and some grass. The new house was just down the street near Oaken Hall. What used to be a green stretching from the hall to the edge of campus was now a big pit in the ground with construction vehicles and nail stakes protecting its perimeter. As it got darker I walked to the old dive bar up the road that had once been called Pints. While the name had changed it still reeked of cheap college beer and piss. Regardless, it had been a long day with a very successful interview downtown, and I deserved a drink while I was passing through.
As I walked back to my car, I passed the new TEK lot for a second time. A few people were out roaming, but less people stayed on campus during the summer. I was surprised to see a figure near the construction site. I kept a distance in the shadows and realized it was the president of the fraternity. I hadn’t seen him in years, but his face was still very recognizable. It looked like he was waiting for someone, yet it seemed like such an odd time of night to be near a pit holding out for a late rendezvous. I approached him from behind and when I got closer I caught his attention. “Hey! Are you okay?” I didn’t want to scare him or cause him to fall into the pit. They had already had enough of that over the previous summer.
He turned to look at me. He squinted for a second, but then he knew. He recognized that freshman a few years back. In an instant it’s like he knew. There was no haunting of Sarah Wilson, and there was no hookup from Tinder that was going to meet him for a date outside of their new property.
I didn’t want him to fall into the pit. I wanted to push him.
And I did.