Fenno

BY

Alan Stone held up the final piece of paper. On it was handwritten, in black marker, “Fenno.”

“I’m sorry, Fenno,” Stone said, “It appears your blazing torch of intellectualism has been extinguished, at least in this seminar.”

Stone had imaginatively imposed the Survivor game rules onto his seminar Law, Psychology and Morality: An Exploration Through Film. Every week the students voted one of their group off their little island of academe. The last survivor would get an A+. Fenno stood to get something much lower than that, given her early departure from the Ivory Island.

The first student to go had been the most annoying: a gum-popping, halter-top wearing vixen with a hair trigger where feminist ideals were concerned. She had taken issue with the closing credits in Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun. Her rant about the concept of a “best boy” had pleased no one. An hour later, the tribe had spoken. One down, fifteen to go.

Fenno figured she could outlast the other folks in the seminar. I can certainly outwit them, she had thought. But her indispensable outlining skills had fallen on deaf 3L ears. Nobody wanted a bullet-pointed version of the script for My Beautiful Laundrette. Hell, most of them hadn’t done laundry all year. They just wanted to write a crap paper and hit the beaches in Jamaica.

So Fenno bid adieu to the Pfizer Alan Stone Film Festival. She would have to resort to Saturday School for passive entertainment.

Saturday School was on a Thursday afternoon this week. Hmmm, that’s weird, Fenno thought. Isn’t Saturday School usually on Wednesday? She had been looking forward to the lecture (When Obscure Students Get Press Coverage, by 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace) all week, but actually finding it was proving more difficult than expected. A lone publicity flyer, posted underneath a toilet lid in Hauser Hall, had said only 4:30 p.m., Griswold Hall, but hadn’t given a room number.

Fenno now found herself wandering the first floor of Griswold with no real direction. She was in a typically mischievous mood, so when she came across an unlocked office door – there was no nameplate outside – she couldn’t resist a brief trespass.

Upon crossing the threshold, Fenno realized that she had just entered the inner sanctum of Harvard Law School, the den of She Who Must Not Be Named, the Holiest of Holies: this was Sandy Coleman’s office. Sandy Coleman, the Administrative Dean at HLS … absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but invisible absolute power will really fuck you up.

Blithely flipping through the top-secret papers on Coleman’s desk, Fenno uncovered a single sheet marked HLS Budget, FY 2000.

This should be good, Fenno thought. Maybe I can pass this thing on to that Catalyst agitator, the one who looks like Paulie from Rocky.

Fenno looked at the sheet with interest; she had always wondered what HLS spent its money on. Here was a place with the biggest endowment of any law school, yet the faculty-student ratio was worse than the physician-inmate ratio at most prisons.

A quick scan of the sheet revealed an unexpected budgetary item: $540,000 to Hugh Rodham for Auxiliary Sanitation Management. Fenno couldn’t figure that out. How did the brother of New York’s junior senator get on the HLS payroll? Fenno thought. And 540 big ones, jeez, that’ll buy a lot of foie gras and mustache wax.

Fenno needed to get to the bottom of this; she pulled the newest volume of the Manhattan phone book from Coleman’s shelf. Clinbaum, Clinson, Clinton … WG, WH … there we go … WJ Clinton. Right on 125th Street, it has to be him.

The phone barely rung once before being snatched up. “Hello there …” The slow drawl, the silky delivery, it had to be the man himself.

“Billy?” Fenno asked.

“Uh hold on, darlin’ …” Clinton pulled the phone away from his mouth, but not out of Fenno’s earshot. “That’s it baby, just a little to the left, oh yeah … that’s the spot, work that for a little while …”

Clinton got back on the line. “Sorry ’bout that, just hanging a few new paintings here.”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“A pardon? You got it, honey. Don’t worry, sugar-nips, the check is in the mail. Daddy Bill always pardons those who’ve been a little naughty …”

“Ummm, well, thank you, sir,” Fenno said. That could really come in handy, she thought, remembering the spate of lies and half-truths that was her bar application. “But what I’m really wondering about is whether you remember pardoning anyone at Harvard Law School. You see, I’m a student at …”

“HELL, YEAH, Sugar!” Clinton bellowed. “I pardoned a couple fellas named Bob … Clark and Mnookin. My brother-in-law set the whole thing up.”

Clinton went on to explain that Clark and Mnookin had been convicted last year of severely battering Jason Manning of U.S. News and World Report after the magazine ranked HLS third among the nation’s law schools.

“Old Bob Clark was hoppin’ mad about that ranking,” said the former President, “but he’s not the physical type, you know, so he teamed up with Mnookin and they went after that poor Manning character. You know, the underworld folk call Mnookin the ZOPA-Enforcer. He’s a tough cookie …”

He went on, “When the cops arrived, Mnookin had Manning in a half-Nelson and he was screaming, I’ll rip your goddamn nuts off! again and again. I reckon all that ‘negotiation’ stuff is an act. He’s just a guy who likes to kick butt.”

Fenno tried to keep Clinton talking as she digested these revelations, but his interest seemed to turn quickly back to “hanging paintings.” The former president finished the conversation with a breathy question. “Gotta run baby, but before I do, think you could send me a copy of that Harvard Bulletin swimsuit issue. Heard it’s got a cover picture of my Long Tall Janet that would go great in my, uh, pool room.”

Fenno snickered. “You got it Bill,” she said, and the phone clicked dead.

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