The letter had read:
We have just received a copy of your January term grade from the Harvard registrar. We are genuinely surprised at your performance, especially since we were under the impression that Harvard does not usually give D triple minuses. As you know, we asked you here for the summer under somewhat strained circumstances due to your sexual harassment of one of the partner’s prize parakeets. We are therefore forced to put you on intern probation; we reserve the right to terminate your employment should you receive any grades lower than a C in your spring semester. Best of luck!
Tripp Duppinger, Quinn Emanuel
And thus Fenno hideously enough found herself in class at the atrocious hour of 3 in the afternoon, learning about the intricacies of Stephen Breyer’s poker techniques during secret Texas hold ’em sessions Tribe had led when he was clerking. She had quit drinking at 11:30pm (or rather, had passed out then after dipping the letter in tequila and setting it on fire, and resolved in the morning not to drink until she had gone to class. But she was counting retroactively.) And this was her first attended class of the calendar year. Which reminded Fenno, she should turn in that J-term paper.
The DTs struck hard and fast. Fenno went from doodling a loving caricature of Bruce Hay to scribbling wildly around her pad. She slammed her left palm on top of her arm, but the shakes went up her arm and a whole row of desk began to rock. Curtis Murungi looked down at her and said, “what the hell is wrong with you, man?”
“It’s like 50 outside,” hissed Michael Lorelli from the aisle, who had taken Con Law with Fallon, but was auditing Tribe to monitor for activist pedagogy. He was just pissed because he had calculated that three weeks was enough to establish an easement over Fenno’s seat.
“I have high standards,” answered Fenno through gritted teeth.
Curtis picked his laptop off the wobbling desk and sat back in his chair and chuckled. “Just not for school.”
“Shut up.” Fenno took a deep breath and steeled herself. She had pride! She wouldn’t drink. At least not until sundown. She picked up her pen again and turned the page in her notebook. No drinks. Stupid job. She wouldn’t even care if she hadn’t gotten into all that debt, betting on Aristide in the HRP pool. God, she had been drunk. But now she needed the stupid firm. No drinks. Whew. This shit was stressful. Fenno shuddered again. She needed some pot.
Fenno bolted up out of her seat, grabbed her pad and jacket, and started squeezing her way toward the door. As soon as she was behind Curtis she heard a thump and looked over to see Lorelli already in her seat, glaring up at her and rubbing his Con Law text greedily. Four seats of law students pretended not to notice Fenno was coming, and she slipped over bags and coats behind these attending-type asses who refused to lean forward, making a ruckus. Tribe looked up for a moment from the middle of a stunning tangent about Jesse Jackson’s tie fashion, waved a beneficent hand at Fenno and said: “by all means, help yourselves to more donuts while I’m talking.” Fenno snickered and grabbed a cinnamon on her way out the door.
Her dealer was in Vegas: she’d have to try the back-up routes. First she went over to Duncan Kennedy’s office. She knocked and went in, but before she could even start, Dunc held up a hand.
“Don’t even start. I see that look.” He arched his eyebrows over his glasses and pointed at the door. “You still owe me for the horse tranquilizers.” Shit. She had forgotten about that. God, she had been drunk. Fenno sighed and spun around, and clumped upstairs to Nesson’s office. There was a note on the door that said: “Nice try, Fenno. Last time I know you scammed me on the White Widow. Where’s the love? -C.” Crap. The Dunc had beat her upstairs with a phone call. Didn’t any students do drugs around here? Fenno snorted to herself: Lincoln’s Inn.
She headed across Mass Ave., hoping to find someone smoking a joint, or at least something in the Inn to scrape resin off of. She got up to the door and remembered she hadn’t paid her dues: this would have to be a covert mission. She rang the bell and hid behind the garbage can on the porch. A minute later, Brandon Hill opened the door, and Fenno threw a rock down the driveway and attempted to throw her voice across the alley: “Help me, Brandon!”
Fenno was, however, no ventriloquist: Brandon picked the lid off of Fenno’s head. “Shit, Fenno, what the hell are you doing? Did you get our letter?”
“Ok. I did that math. You saw that? Your dues: 300, or rather, nothing, since you didn’t pay them. Your consumption: last count was 13 jugs of Cuervo, 6 kegs of Natty, 18 packages of hot dogs, 162 porns on the Comcast bill, and the blow-up Reagan doll. You got money?”
“Then get the hell off my porch. And when the hell did you have time to watch 300 hours of porn? Aren’t you enrolled?” He slammed the door and sauntered back upstairs. Fenno hung her head, retched off the railing, and rang the doorbell a few times in aimless desolation. The third time, someone threw bong water out the top window and shouted something about security. O, cruel world.
So Fenno headed back across Mass Ave, figuring she’d walk over to the undergrad and look for rooms with Dean stickers on the window. She crossed the road and froze. Fenno was stopped dead in front of Gannett House. Obviously, she was hallucinating. But the smell was so strong! She crept up to the front door and fell on her knees, and sniffed through the keyhole. Unmistakably pot. And good, too: smells like Oregon, Fenno noted, impressed. Just then the door opened wide, and out of a cloud of blue smoke and the loud guitar of – Yes, maybe, or Rush – stepped Thiru Vignarajah, in a crown of flowers, smiling and beckoning. “Welcome, Fenno! Everyone who is down with the doob is welcome here!”
Fenno slowly stood up, eyes wide, and her eyes began watering in grateful disbelief as Ben Roin pressed a lit blunt into her hand. Fenno took a few hits in between her relieved sniffs, and when she finally felt calmer, she passed the duchy to her left, to George Hicks, Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned to the waist, who seemed to be calm: something Fenno had never seen. As he began to puff, Fenno exhaled. “So, what in god’s name happened here?”
“Thiru! Thiru!” Emily Thacher-Renshaw and Mark Conrad started chanting from a huge beanbag in the corner. Thiru smiled widely and leaned in to Fenno. “I made some brownies for the election. It was well-received. We’ll be a new review this year, if I say so myself.” Ben Roin started coughing on Fenno’s right, gave a thumb’s up, and said in between coughs: “Amen, man.”
The joint had rolled around the room to Hashim Mooppan, who sucked in smoke and said in a strained voice: “Dude, you know what would be sweet? If we had more chicks around here.” Ben gave another thumb’s up and said amen again. Hashim nodded sagely and exhaled. “How about you, Fenno – wanna join? I’m sure your summer firm wouldn’t mind!” Then he grinned and passed the joint; or at least, that’s what Fenno thought he did – she could barely see through the tears.