An excerpt from The Young Martens – love, sex, loss and vigilantism of a secret Midwest fraternity.


“That’s a lot of beer, Irish.”

“Yea Wyatt, it’s a lot of beer. It’s a lot of beer.”

I’ve been in the basement of our “frat” home several times since I joined the group a week ago. I never knew there was a hidden storage area. Behind an old bar, actually, which was fitting since there were about 3 dozen cases of beer back there.

“Yea it is, yea it certainly is,” said Wyatt, our leader, if you can call him that. No one had any real titles in this home, and we technically weren’t a frat. If anything we were an anti-frat. In a way we were like a large band.

The Young Martens. They, or we, got the name because the Wyatt and the first three guys happened to wear the British footwear. It was what I was wearing in the courtyard when Wyatt first spotted me and said, “nice boots.”

“We’re drinking some beers and listening to some music tonight,” he said that day. “You should stop by Irish.”

He never called me by my real name, as ridiculous as it is to some.

A liquor store just off the campus and popular with college students burned to the ground just a few days before I was welcomed into the Martens. It looks to me now that this beer belonged to that liquor store.

“Did you guys burn that place down?”

“Not a nice man, the owner,” Wyatt said. “He’s abusive. Sexually assaulted one of our friends. In the store. And some other shit.”

“Well at least you got some of the beer out first,” I said. “Are you gonna sell it to some of the frats?”

“And have it led to them committing to more date rapes? Nah. We are selling it though. Not your concern now. And we are keeping some.”

Wyatt. The Robin Hood leader of The Young Martens.

We went back upstairs – Wyatt to his girlfriend and his room, and myself to Todd’s room. A room he rarely left because he was dying of cancer. His nurse – the one his parents paid for – wasn’t there. But Barbie was. All six feet of her. Barbie was black, athletic, a really good member of the volleyball team and she like punk rock. Oh yea there were girls in the Martens. Many of them current girlfriends of some of the guys, or friends, or friends of friends. Girls who didn’t like the frats. Girls who liked to get high, girls who didn’t.

The first time I met Barbie she grinded and humped me at a punk concert on campus by some local band. A bunch of the Martens went, and we were in the front row. Barbie got behind me, wrapped her long arms around my waist, locking my arms at my sides. Then she grinded her crotch against my ass, and I liked it.

Nothing happened after that. We didn’t even talk about it. And here she was, in Todd’s room, where most of the girls could be found in the house. They all loved Todd. We all loved him. And he loved us. It was quite the battle, I was told, to get him to convince his parents to let him stay in the house rather than at home. He wanted to die here.

“Irish – did I tell you how much I love you, and Wyatt? Especially Wyatt.”

I don’t know if it was the drugs he was on, or maybe he had a few beers, because he could do that when he was up for it. Or maybe and most likely it was just him being him.

“Yea you did Todd.”

“Wyatt is Jesus to me,” Todd said. “He’s amazing. And he makes all of us amazing.”

I looked up at the wall. There was what looked like a picture of R.E.M. from their early days playing in this very room. The early days of the house.

“Liffey, I’ve never felt so happier and loved then I’ve felt here. I’m glad you’re here.”

Later a bunch of us went to hang out on the porch. We wheeled Todd out there too. Some of the frat guys from a few houses down walked by. One of muttered “faggots” in our direction, if you could believe that.

“I didn’t hear you,” said Sanchay, a junior engineering student and the best pool player in the house. “I am a faggot. And Indian. You’re worst fucking nightmare.”

“And I’m not gay,” I yelled back to the group, who continued walking on, wearing their bad clothes. “But I would kiss this guy on the mouth (pointing to Sanchay).

“Would you really?” Sanchay said to me.

Just then the campus police, along with a city police detective – Det. Laura we’d all soon know her by, pulled up to the house.

They were looking for Wyatt.