Previously at 24 College Avenue: Despite misgivings over the filthy conditions, Josh Williams, a junior at State College, has moved into the century-old Victorian house with 10 other students, including linebacker Kenan Hill; a gorgeous sprinter named Nicollette Mayle and her roommate, med student Cheryl Bellamy; profane gambling addict Danny Edmonds; ROTC cadet Katie Maynard (the Red Devils' school mascot); and Jenn Robbins, his old high school girlfriend. …

Josh hated almost everything about his bedroom.

Want to know more about Cheryl, Jill, Josh and the rest of the '24 College Avenue' residents? Step inside for a multi-media meet 'n' greet, and get a room-by-room guided tour of the house and the State College campus.

Chapter 1: The Panty Raid
Chapter 2: Burning Down the House
Chapter 3: Virtual Tour
Chapter 4: The Bear
First of all, it was so cramped and musty that each time he opened the door, he half expected to find Frodo smoking a pipe. It was not so much a room as a large piece of luggage. The room was situated under the eaves, so the ceiling angled down on both sides. The only place you could fully stand up was directly in the center of the room; but even then, you had to duck to avoid the naked light bulb dangling from the ceiling. The shag carpet was green and moldy -- though, thankfully, most of it was covered by the stained, lumpy mattress that served as Josh's bed. The desk was nothing more than a wooden door supported by plastic milk crates; on his first night, his new housemates had borrowed it to play Beer Pong. The window, which did not have a shade, looked directly into a window of the neighboring house. The room smelled of beer, dirty socks and marijuana, disturbing reminders of the near hermit who had lived there until he'd been evicted the previous week.

And all this for $400 a month, not including utilities.

But as Josh watched a cockroach slowly crawl up past the wall's sole decoration -- an ESPN banner he had stolen from a Red Devils game -- he concentrated on the one thing that made the room tolerable. The heating vent in the floor led directly to the bedroom underneath his. Come winter, he would discover that it directed virtually no heat into his room; but he had already learned something more important -- it carried up conversations from the bedroom below. And just before falling asleep his first night in the house, he had heard Nicollette Mayle tell her roommate, Cheryl Bellamy, that she thought Josh was cute.

Well, he was pretty sure that's what she said -- the acoustics weren't the best. But Josh was ever hopeful. It was his best asset.

Josh understood all too well that someone like Nicollette would normally be way out of his league, but he hoped that living in the same house would allow her to get to know him, and thus give him a chance to upgrade to first class. That tantalizing possibility made the cramped room and the house's living conditions almost worthwhile.

Even so, he about hit his limit when, on this, his very first morning in the house, Kenan Hill woke him by pounding on his door and demanding pancakes. He had almost fallen back asleep when a drunk Danny Edmonds kicked open the door after an all-night bender and shouted that he, too, wanted pancakes. And not just pancakes -- "BLUEBERRY #&$*%@ PANCAKES!!!''

Too awake to go back to sleep, Josh reluctantly decided he might as well get out of bed and have some breakfast. But damn if he was going to make anyone else pancakes. He might be the new guy, but this wasn't some fraternity. Let Kenan and Danny make the damn pancakes themselves if that's what they wanted. And blueberries? Who the hell did they think he was, Rachael Ray?

Better not mess with this dairy farmer!

Josh pulled on a pair of jeans, slowly walked toward the stairway and met a wall of sheetrock. Yet another thing to hate about the house. The landlord was trying to pass off the house as a duplex for tax reasons by "temporarily'' blocking off the third floor from the rest of the place. Josh would have to use the outside stairway and walk around to the front of the house to get to the kitchen. He looked outside. It was raining.

"@#$%, @#$%, @#$%,'' he muttered down the staircase.

He stepped in a puddle that was ankle-deep. "@#$%!''

Just before he reached the front steps, he stepped in a pile of dog manure. "@#$%!''

And then he banged his shin on the top step. "@#$%! @#$%! @#$%!''

Josh was still cursing when he opened the front door to find Nicollette performing Pilates or some such routine in the living room. She wore loose-fitting gray sweats and a "State Track'' jog bra that revealed an abdomen smooth and flat enough for figure skating. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a pony tail.

Good Lord. It was their first conversation; and not only were Josh's first words to her "@#$%!," he was soaking wet and he had dog crap on his shoes.

"Geez, that's some mouth you've got on you,'' Nicollette called out between sit-ups. "Better not let Katie hear that sort of language. Listening to Danny is bad enough.''

"Ummmm, yeah. Sorry about that.''

Nicollette paused in her routine and glanced over her shoulder. "You're Josh, right? The new guy in the Hobbit Hole? Kenan said you're making pancakes for everyone. That's really sweet.''

She smiled and Josh felt like Christmas morning.

At least Josh came up with a creative way of asking Nicollette out.

"Yeah, uh, right. Nice to meet you, too. I'm, umm, Josh. Ummm, Josh Williams. Ummm, I go to school here, too.''

(Jeez, what an idiot. Of course, he went to school here.)

"Ummmm, Jenn says you're on the track team. You must run a lot.''

(Good Lord, what a stupid thing to say. The next thing he would be asking is what her major is.)

"So, what's, ummm, your major?'

(He was blowing it, BLOWING IT!)

"Ummmm, about the pancakes?''

Nicollette turned back to complete a stretch and flipped her pony-tail back. "Yes?''

"Ummmm, nothing. Just … ummmm, would you like your pancakes with blueberries?''

FRIDAY: Chapter 6, ''Ouch!''

Jim Caple is a senior writer at His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale at bookstores nationwide. It can also be ordered through his Web site,

Howard Chaykin pioneered the graphic novel in the United States and is best known for his groundbreaking series, "American Flagg!" He has worked as a writer/producer on several television series (including "The Flash" and "Viper"), and freelanced in feature films, pilots, and episodic television. He is currently back in comics full-time as a writer and artist.

The theme song for "24 College Avenue" is "Threefold" by AUTOLOGIC. Download the free MP3 in its entirety by clicking here.