genre 2
fiction by Paul Siegell

Fraternity Brothers

A little later they come out of the dorms, and in the sun, surprised, his father recognizes someone in the confusion of move-in day.

“—Are you Ethan?”

“Uh,” says Ethan, interrupted from acting like he wasn’t just eyeing those long legs and all that lip-gloss. He hesitates, then reluctantly reveals his identity.

“—Ethan Laskin, right? I’m Jerry, Jerry Adelman.” Jerry extends his hand. “This is amazing! I’m an old friend of your mother and father. Are they still around?” Parents with campus maps and yaffa blocks, freshmen with suitcases and poster tubes, all finding their way in the courtyard of letting go and everything new.

“Oh, no. They just left a few minutes ago.”

“Oh. Well, this is my son, Seth.” The sons shake hands, find out they used to play together, and the conversation rolls until awkwardness overcomes.

“Good luck to you, Ethan—”

Fresh from the bathroom, Seth’s mom Sharon and his little brother meet up with the rest of the family and they all head to the famous sandwich place down the street. “All that unpacking made me hungry,” Sharon says. The restaurant’s crowded. Father and freshman grab a table in the back while mom and little bro-bro order at the register.

Glad to be sitting, Jerry says to Seth, “You know that guy Ethan we were just talking to?”


“Well,” Jerry says, “your mother and I used to have sex parties with his parents.” Just like that. Happy first day of college, kid.

Shut-struck, Seth says nothing. His what-the-hell hands and what-the-fuck face say it instead.

“—Don’t worry, though,” Jerry adds. “We always had them at their house.” Seth’s disgusted. Jerry takes a sip of his self-serve soda and mother and child arrive with lunch.

Seth, he takes a deep breath, looks at his watch. All right: enough. Looks at his brother, smiles. Out-of-state tuition means out-of-state parents.

That night, Seth doesn’t get to bed until after four in the morning.

Not one day deeper into the big next step, and, surprise, Seth and Ethan run into each other on campus. “—Hey,” Ethan smiles, recognizing Seth, “you’re the guy with the funny father from the other day.”

Soon after they wind up playing NHL ’94 in Ethan’s room, and under the “D’oh!” of a Homer Simpson poster, Seth checks their latest development of silence. “Dude, I gotta tell you something. My dad said some pretty weird shit to me and I thought you should know.”

Thumbing the buttons in his hands, Ethan goes, “Oh-kay.” He sets up a one-timer. Shot saved. “Ah. What’d he say?”

“Well, he told me that your parents and my parents used to have sex parties back in the day.”

“—What!?” Ethan drops his controller. “—Wait, what? Seriously?” The pixels of his hockey players lose their motivation. “—Seriously!?”

Seth nods. Ethan leaps for the phone, dials. Seth hits pause.

“Hi, mom—Yeah, everything’s great—Doing good, doing good—Yeah, thanks—Uh huh—OK, sounds good—So, listen, do you remember Jerry Adelman?—Yeah, Jerry and Sharon Adelman—Right, right—I’m here with Seth, their son—Yeah, pretty crazy.”

Ethan looks at Seth. “My mom says, ‘Hi.’”

Seth chuckles, says, “Hi.”

Ethan looks away. “Seth says, ‘Hi’—Yeah, so, actually, Mom, Seth says that you and dad used to have sex parties with his parents—”

Seth shifts his weight in the chair. Ethan hasn’t said a word in over a minute. When he hangs up, he nods affirmative. “Our parents had sex parties, man.”

Having already accepted it, Seth agrees. “Yeah.”

Ethan goes, “But my mom said I shouldn’t worry. She said they always had them at your house.”

Seth shakes his head, chuckles. “Motherfuckers.”

Paul Siegell is the author of Take Out Delivery (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018), as well as wild life rifle fire, jambandbootleg, and Poemergency Room. He is a senior editor at Painted Bride Quarterly and has contributed to American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Rattle, and many other fine journals. Kindly find more of his work—and concrete poetry t-shirts—at ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL and @paulsiegell.
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