Fenno: Behind The Ink


Fenno raced into the Record office, her most recent widely-read masterpiece in her hands, ready to be published. It was due three hours before, but she knew from experience they would stop the presses and await the golden, glistening Fenno column. Except one time when it was a bit too glistening and the publisher had refused to touch it. Clinton glared up from his desk in mock anger as Fenno threw down the column.

“You’re late.”

“Aren’t you the disciplinarian all of a sudden, Mr. Dick!” Fenno giggled. She batted her eyes coyly and waited for Clinton to throw his scarf around her neck, or press her up against the cool basement walls of Ames, but her come-on seemed to fly right over his head, as usual.

Clinton laughed back. “Yeah, it looks like we won’t be printing until Friday this week- we’re all a bit late returning from Newbury Street. I did get this fabulous Armani wristband though…which reminds me, you won’t be getting paid this week. Or maybe ever.” He waved his wrist at her, and Fenno realized suddenly: it wasn’t her. Clinton was just such a busy man, following Boston fashion trends and reporting them dutifully to the public, that he didn’t have time to make out. Oh, well, Fenno was horny enough: she’d use her old standby:

“Where’s Tammy?”

Clinton jerked a thumb toward the hallway. “Out staging pictures, as usual. This week she’s developing a brilliant photographic self-reenactment of the gay marriage protests outside city hall. She even tinfoiled a laundry machine and made the capitol building. I think this one might even fool law review. Speaking of law review, what’s Fenno about this week, and I mean that rhetorically, because of course you should be out slamming the conservatives, as I note you have not done in two weeks. What’s the deal?”

“Uh, mmm. It’s a brilliant political piece about me as the..”

Clinton rolled his eyes. “Honestly, why do you bother? You know I’ll just scrap it and dust off an unused Verdict and pass it off as Fenno. Thanks for stopping by, though, chief. If you’re looking to make out with Pettinato, I suggest an offering, possibly in rum. She’s stone-cold sober and arguing socratically with Torres.”

“Uh, thanks.” Shit, was it common knowledge? Fenno backed out of the office, brushing up against the new Edwards For President sign which had been papered over the Kerry For President sign which itself was papering over the once-optimistic but still bright Dean for President sign. She stumbled down the hall – having gotten uproariously drunk to write Fenno again this week, unable to think of anything exciting on the law school campus, and unable to successfully indulge in delusions of grandeur when unintoxicated.

Which added to her confusion when she ran into Dean Kagan in the Ames basement, smiling and cordial. “Oh, hello Dean Kagan, you look great! Cute as a button! We’ll report it, you can count on that.” Fenno beamed at the Dean. Then another Elena appeared over the first Elena’s shoulder, which Fenno at first assumed was the Magic Hat, but then noticed the two identical placid expressions. To test, she tried shaking the Dean’s hand, but the silent cardboard cutout was intractable. After a few more seconds of swaying and nodding intelligently, Fenno realized she had stumbled into The Shrine. She stood and looked around the kitchen walls covered with smiling photos of Dean Kagan, clipped-out sycophantic Record headlines, the full-sized Kagan which had first assaulted her. There was a jello mold in the shape of the Dean’s face in the fridge, but Fenno didn’t know that.

“Oliver Wendell tapdancing Holmes! What the hell are you doing in the Kagashrine without shoes on?” Jon Lamberson shrieked. From the hallway, he was anxiously grabbing at Fenno’s sleeve, his clod feet carefully on the other side of the doorway. “You know what this means! No paycheck until you perform official ablutions at the ice rink!” He managed to pull Fenno out of the Shrine, and then proceeded to take his own shoes off and went down on his knees to lick up the footprints Fenno had made.

“Actually, Clinton said no paychecks.”

“He spent it all on the Verdict expense account again? Goddamnit!” Lamberson gave one last lick and then hurtled back out towards the editor’s office, where Fenno could hear the sounds of a sexily violent catfight beginning.

There was a clunk and a lull, and in the silence Fenno heard the petulant tones of Hugo Torres arguing with Tammy in the dark room, and edged her way over. On the way by, she passed the ‘dungeon,’ where they kept Adam White locked up and frothing on Wednesdays lest he try to interfere with the bleeding heart mission of The Record. He clawed at her, but Fenno easily avoided his grasp and made it to the dark room door, which she flung open to the angry stares of Tammy and Hugo.

“You dumb bitch!” screamed Tammy, “You just screwed up the most genius photoreeanactment everrrr!” Tammy dropped the negative in her hand and came wheeling at Fenno, fingernails drawn. Just as Fenno flinched for contact, Torres grabbed a zoom lens and cracked Tammy over the head, and she fell face first into a bucket of developer. She gurgled for a second and then, with a sigh, seemed to die.

“Dude, thanks.”

Hugo raised his eyebrow, and said: “I’ve been looking for an excuse to kill her for weeks. She still won’t agree that comic books can be cool. Now if I can write her opinion, I’ve got a 2/3 majority! Yessssssssss!”

“Uh, actually, you may have to write the whole thing this week. I think Lamberson just killed Dick.”

Hugo ran down the hall and looked into the editor’s empty chair. “Yes, baby! My time has come! The court will pass its supreme and monolithic judgment upon all sorts of passive electronic entertainment! Finally, the…”

Fenno heard another clunk, and saw Lamberson emerge from the office, covered in blood, holding the Record’s only journalism award, which was actually just an old bowling trophy with the words “Journalism Award” scratched into the surface. He looked maniacally at Fenno down the hallway and pointed at her with the gore-crusted trophy. “I’ve finally purged this place of the Verdict stain for good. Instead I will replace it with “A Dean’s Life,” an informative and heart-warming day in the life column about dear, sweet Elena. And if you know what’s good for you, next week’s Fenno will be a goddamned liberal diatribe like it’s supposed to be. Now get up there and repent at the ice rink!” He threw the trophy at her and it careened off the wall and rolled in Adam White’s den. White’s howls, prompted by the scent of fresh blood, followed Fenno up the stairs as she went drunkenly to prostrate herself before the almighty Kagan.

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