“Lipper-Flapper,” said a voice out of a dark red haze, “beware the ides of March.”
“What are you talking about?” The RECORD’s pumpkin-headed “resident gadfly” replied. “I’m just trying to finish work on my latest condemnation of Republican-led charity events for next week’s RECORD.”
“Lipper-Flapper,” the Voice continued, “what I am telling you now is that you are to be revealed as the arch-villain of this year’s Parody. Mark well my words. . . .”
Fenno awoke in a cold sweat. How did that voice know? Were the secrets of the Parody being revealed in advance? As a cast member sworn to preserve the mysteries of all things Parody, Fenno was terrified. He screamed a blood-curdling scream. Reflecting on the futility of such a response, he decided to call Jason Watkins.
“Jason, it’s Fenno,” said the clammy-handed, trembling law school satirist. “Listen, I wanted to warn you about a serious problem.”
“What is it, Fenno?” Watkins whined. Then his tone changed, and none for the better. “Wait a second. Fenno? Don’t put me in Fenno, Fenno. I hate this crap. I’ll be wicked pissed if you put me in Fenno, Fenno. Promise me you won’t put me in Fenno, Fenno.”
“I promise,” Fenno complied.
“Okay,” Watkins cautiously began, “what’s the goddamn problem?”
“I think Greg Lipper knows he’s in the Parody!”
“Fenno, it’s Thursday. We’ve done the show twice already, remember? Half the school’s seen it, and by now they’ve told the half that hasn’t.”
“Damn deadlines,” Fenno lamented. “I knew I should’ve had that dream earlier.”
Fenno still couldn’t believe he was in the Parody cast. Lured by the promise of spending five weeks with an incestuous, booze-loving bunch of law school lunatics, he’d signed on for what he believed would be the closest thing HLS could get to true hedonism. Instead, he’d found himself spending upwards of four hours a day mastering the fine art of falsetto while staring longingly across the room at scantily-clad but romantically-attached female cast members rehearsing “Law in Herre” for the umpteenth time.
And all I got was this lousy hangover, Fenno thought. Maybe that would make a good t-shirt. Probably not.
Jason was still on the line, and he was getting impatient. Well, maybe he started out impatient. “Fenno, it’s 4 a.m. Why are you always calling me at 4 a.m. talking all this nonsense?”
“Well, I’m usually drunk by then,” Fenno explained. “And I don’t have any other friends.”
“I’m the director, Fenno, not your friend,” Watkins said petulantly. “Maybe you didn’t get the note about my not being a ‘people person?'”
“Sorry, Jason,” Fenno said, hanging up. Now wide awake, Fenno decided to call some other cast members. He’d always wanted to try this stunt when not mind-bendingly intoxicated.
He dialed up Kristy Kirkpatrick. “Hey Fenno!” she said cheerily. “Great to hear you’re thinking about the show!”
“Gee, thanks, Kristy!”
“Fenno, you’ve been such a good cast member. I love that thing you do with the lawn ornament in the RECORD scene.”
“It’s a typewriter, Kristy,” Fenno said.
“Okay, well, you know what I mean. Anyway, people like you make producing the show worthwhile, so anytime you need to talk, just give me a ring, okay?”
Fenno hung up. Heart-warmed by Kirkpatrick’s irrepressible amiableness, he drifted off to sleep.
He didn’t rest long. The phone rang, interrupting Fenno’s wonderful dream of riding a merry-go-round with Kristy.
“Fenno, it’s Zack,” the hurried voice on the line began.
“What is it, Zack?” Fenno wasn’t used to calls from Zack Taylor. It couldn’t be good news.
“Fenno, I’m in a bad state,” Zack answered. “Have you seen Jonas lately?”
“I think he’s trying to kill me,” Zack squeaked. “If you don’t know where he is, that means he could be somewhere in my house. But I’m afraid to go down to the basement to check. He might be there, hiding in wait like a medieval assassin, scimitar bared and horse at the ready.”
“Zack, you know I can’t understand you when you talk like that,” Fenno pleaded.
“Like what?” Zack asked.
“Like Oscar Wilde,” Fenno explicated.
“Oh, sorry. Must be all that time alone with books.”
“You need a PlayStation.”
“I know,” Zack agreed.
“And some friends who are still alive.”
“I know, Fenno. I’m trying to remain a friend who’s still alive myself. That’s why I’m calling.”
“Well, what do you expect me to do?” Fenno asked.
“I don’t know. Just talk to me. I’m scared.”
Fenno weighed his options: Talk to Zack Taylor and listen to the inevitable death gasps — he was right about Jonas’s threats, after all — or ride the merry-go-round with Cutesy Kirk-Giggle. Fenno hung up.
Just as the revolving horsies were coming into focus again, Fenno’s phone rang. He looked at his caller ID: Jonas Blank. Fenno was a bit nervous. Jonas was probably calling to gloat at having vanquished Mr. Obscure Reference at last. But, worse than that, Jonas was probably calling to ask where in the hell Fenno’s column was.
“Hey, Jonas,” Fenno said, voice quavering. “Where are you?”
“Hey, Fenno,” replied Jonas in a whisper. “That’s a strange question. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason. But just out of curiosity, where are you?” Fenno repeated.
“Shhhhh,” Jonas scolded. “I’m in Zack’s basement.”
“Listen, Fenno,” Jonas continued, “I need your freakin’ column, punk-ass.”
“Jonas, it really hurts when you call me that.”
“Sorry,” Jonas apologized. “I don’t mean anything by it.”
Fenno tried to explain to Jonas how he had had a great idea, but that the dream about the Parody and Greg Lipper came too late. It didn’t go over very well.
“Fenno, that makes no sense,” Jonas rebutted after a pause. “Stay off the drugs. Get me the column.” The phone clicked to a dial tone. Fenno fell asleep rehearsing what he’d say at Jonas’s trial. He dreamt of Charley Nesson’s opening statement for the defense. It didn’t make any sense either.