Fenno: A cold day in hell

BY

It was a cold day in hell. There were a lot of signs pointing in that direction, but Fenno was absolutely sure of it once he saw James stroll in ten minutes late to Liz Warren’s bankruptcy class, take off his parka and gloves, and mutter something about having to put chains on his tires. Also, the icicles on his pitchfork rendered it too heavy to use to stab the laptop screens of classmates who had souls and therefore dared to play solitaire or Snood during class. Everyone got high scores!

Fenno decided to figure out what was going on. The easiest thing would have been to ask James directly, but that would have been risking a conversation. Instead, Fenno trudged off in the direction of Areeda. But Stephen said that Arthur Miller had been completely snowed in. Fenno declined the offer of iced coffee.

Off to Griswold. Professor Hanson was crying, and the last day of Torts was still months away. “My Corporations class has ruined Cardozo! I love Cardozo,” he blubbered. Fenno offered him one of the Diversity Cookies he’d picked up in the Lehmann Lounge. Unable to choose only one, Hanson shoved all ten of them in his mouth at the same time, just to be fair. Greatly relieved to have someone to talk to at last, he continued: “Mmmph mmph mmchhk, mmffchk.”

“Yes, you are much too tall to cry,” Fenno replied. Hanson swallowed, slouched a bit, and explained, “They mocked the ‘punctilio of an honor’ speech. They were all laughing at Cardozo. I knew I shouldn’t have let Joe Nuccio read it aloud.” Fenno reached up and gave Hanson a hug. And since he’d attended an ’80s retro anti-war rally in the Square that morning, Fenno knew he was in a perfect position to help out. As he left, Fenno casually dropped a couple “No Nootch” stickers on his chair.

Still not satisfied that all was right with Harvard Law, Fenno sprinted back through Areeda and out the front doors of Langdell. He caught Brent Bickley, Dave Axelrod, Justin Tichauer and Mike Gottlieb taking a study break on the steps. Fenno hailed them: “What’s up fellas?”

“Me and the crew is just chillin’,” said Dave. “We were thinking about maybe going wilding later. Want in?” Fenno paused. He’d heard of this before. Wilding involved sitting outside Pound Hall drinking forties during a seriously in-your-face discussion about the ideal incentive structure for maximum deterrence against insider trading. There was also a lot of shoulder-punching.

Fenno politely declined: “No, too extreme for me, dudes.” Fenno also thought he might not have enough hair product to hang. Brent turned to Justin. “Dude, have any hair product? I just ran out.” Tichauer responded by putting his cigarette out on Brent’s arm. End of conversation.

Fenno took his leave and sloughed back through Langdell. He heard a loud screech overhead. Looking up, he saw the library hawk. It had a crow in its mouth. The crow had a piece of cheese in its mouth. Fenno asked the hawk if he knew anything about the source of the troubles at the Law School. But the hawk wasn’t falling for that old trick. He flew off south, in the direction of the yard. Fenno watched him go, and noticed a strange mist wafting from the roof of Austin Hall. Ever suspicious and handsome, Fenno ran as fast as he could to Austin. It was very dark inside. The front doors creaked open of their own accord. Fenno stepped inside and felt a chill run down his spine. He heard organ music. He turned off his walkman. He heard live organ music. Oh, and some wailing coming from upstairs. He grabbed a torch from off the wall and quietly started up the staircase.

He peered into Ames Courtroom. It was strangely lit, and quiet as the grave. This made perfect sense as soon as Fenno saw Professor Murray reading a blank PowerPoint slide to his ITA class. Fenno felt a tug on his sleeve. Still intent on the rather surreal scene in the courtroom, Fenno drew his arm away. Then he felt something biting into his ankle. It was Allison Caplis. She took his hand and dragged him away from the door. “Fenno! Oh thank God you’re here,” she whispered, somewhat out of breath. “Something terrible is happening in the attic.”

“There’s an attic?” Fenno asked, incredulous.

“Of course there’s an attic. What did you think the ‘70-Foot High Club’ meant?”

“There’s a 70-Foot High Club? At the Law School?! Do we go to the same law school?” Fenno thought this might be a trick.

“Well it only happens once every 15 years or so, but it gets a lot of press,” Allison explained. “But never mind that. Come with me.” Fenno followed Allison up the next flight of stairs, past the Morgan Courtroom. He heard something like tapping on the wall as they went past. “Don’t worry,” Allison said, “it’s just the Tenant Advocacy Project advocating tenancy.” Fenno shook his head. It can’t be as easy as that, he thought.

They arrived at the door to the attic. Fenno put Allison on his shoulders so she could pull the doorknob from the ceiling. They lowered the stairs and walked up. The organ music was very loud, and Fenno could barely see from the clouds of mist pouring down. At the top of the stairs it was almost freezing, but the air had cleared, though it was still dark. In the middle of the room was a 10-foot high cage, and inside was the figure of a man, suspended in the air, shackled, the lower part of his face covered with a muzzle.

A voice came from inside the cage: “Greetings Fenno. I knew you might find me on your own, but I thought I’d give you a little help.” Fenno looked around for Allison, but all he saw was a little white mouse. It wrinkled its nose, then ran into the cage and sat on the man’s foot. “I’m just doing a little research for my latest controversial stand,” he continued. “Funny how easy it is to get research assistants at Harvard Law School. They don’t even ask what they’re researching.” As Fenno’s eyes adjusted to the dim, he saw human shapes hanging from the walls, and he began to make out faces. He didn’t recognize any of them, but that was probably only because they were 2Ls. Each of them wore a dark-colored XXL sweatshirt, with “Property of Alan Dershowitz” on the chest.

“Professor Dershowitz, what are you doing?” Fenno cried.

“I’m just getting a little . . . information,” he cackled. “Surely you’ve heard of academic freedom.”

Fenno was stunned. He scanned the room again. There was a face he recognized. “Clifford Ginn. C’mon, Professor. You’ll never get anything out of him. Didn’t you read his almost poetic attack on the Supreme Court’s disregard for the Fifth Amendment in last week’s RECORD?”

Dershowitz’s eyes opened, and he looked towards the budding Con Law scholar writhing on his wall. “Oh yeah,” he sniffed. “Him I’m just plain torturing. I figure anyone who can’t tell the difference between an editorial in The RECORD and an article in the Law Review deserves it.”

Fenno gave him a thumbs up.

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