Fenno

BY

Tessa Platt slammed her ornamental gavel down on the table. “The Student Funding Board Session for Emergency Appropriations has begun!” She sat down in her throne, relished the moment, then nodded to signal that everyone else could sit down. Her Official Lackey walked over to the audio equipment at the front of the classroom and began the official recording of the session, for posterity’s sake. Fenno sat in her chair wondering why the hell she had applied for the Student Funding Board position. Her plan to saturate In Vino Veritas with funds had backfired when they realized Fenno would just drink up the budget and started restricting membership – specifically to exclude Fenno. She had tried to screw their budget, but even that hadn’t worked. So she was stuck here with arbitrary authority and hatred for mankind: which, looking around, Fenno decided, actually made her fit in rather well with the other student funding board members.

Garry Grundy looked up from his files: “Who’s first?” The Student Funding Board Official Lackey sniffed and called out into the hallway: “LDS? Are the Latter-Day Saints here?” Dana Roehm entered the room, smiled, and approached the podium. She laid out her folder, and stood patiently as the Lackey recited her name and position for the audio recording. Before she could speak, Tessa yelled at her: “who dares disturb the funding board in March? Where has your budget gone?”

Dana stammered and nodded. “I…well, our outreach efforts at Boca Grande have been really successful…and we gave a lot of it to the homeless shelters downtown…”

“What!!?? That money is appropriated for HLS to enjoy! And you gave it away to the poor? AAAARggggggggh!”

“How much money did you spend on alcohol?” Fenno asked. Always a safe question for her to ask: also, it made it more believable that she wasn’t mostly nodding off.

“None. Mormons can’t…”

“Petition denied! Next!” Tessa banged the gavel.

“But we bought really nice nametags with the Harvard logo…”

“NEXT!” Dana trailed off hopelessly as the Lackey approached her with a menacing look. He grabbed her shoulder and led her back outside. The Lackey efficiently began reciting the details of the next presenter, Adam Neufeld for the Gender Study at HLS, as he opened the door for Adam to enter and shoved Dana into the hallway. Adam stepped up to the platform, meek head down. He’d done this before.

“MORE money already, Adam?” Garry asked. Adam nodded. “Are you using it to make the HLS name famous?” Adam nodded again. “Have you said anything controversial to the press?” Adam shook his head. Is at least 60% of this money going to booze?” Adam nodded again: he had no problem meeting the 60-40 policy. Garry arched an eyebrow at Tessa, got the nod, and said, “Petition Approved. $500 for the Gender Study.” Adam whispered a quiet thank you and shuffled over to the desk where the Funding treasurer was making out checks. The treasurer signed the check and reached it out, but before Adam could grab it, Tessa snatched it and waved it over his head.

“What do you say, Adam?” Tessa asked in the same tone when your mom wants you to say ‘please.’

“The gender study is not about gender.”

Tessa patted him on the head, handed the check over, and said “good boy. NEXT!”

Lackey opened the door and called up Carrie Campbell, representing the Society for Law, Life, and Religion. After she was announced, Carrie walked up to the podium, set up a small portable projection screen, opened her laptop to her Powerpoint display, and began flashing images of aborted fetuses in vivid color, with strains of “Living on a Prayer” playing on her small surround-sound system. Carrie waited for the multi-media display to finish, then bowed solemnly and asked if there were any questions.

“Beautiful work,” Grundy noted, wiping a tear from his eye. “Where did the money go?”

“You’re looking at it. Every SLLR Officer has one. It was our social director’s idea: market hard, fast, and technological. You never know when you need to impromptu policywonk.”

“Well, perhaps your social director should be here in person to explain the expense,” Tessa interjected.

“Tessa, you’re our social director.” Carrie smirked and waited.

“Oh, goodness, how did I overlook that?” She turned and loudly said to the front of the room, “I, Tessa Platt, recuse myself from this SLLR funding consideration.” Tessa held her breath and nodded to the Lackey, who jumped for the pause button. As soon as he pressed it, Tessa and Carrie laughed hysterically and the Lackey sat at Garry’s feet and enjoyed his 19-minute break from official proceedings. Fenno snored and occasionally mumbled, “How much did you spend on alcohol?” in her brief spurts of consciousness, unaware the meeting had paused. Garry went to the bathroom and stretched his legs while Tessa and Carrie devised new gadgets that would add to the color display of their slideshow. Garry resettled himself, Tessa composed herself and nodded at the Lackey, and he hit the pause button again.

“After fair and impartial consideration, the funding board has decided to appropriate $6000…” Carrie widened her eyes and fingered the subwoofer they had agreed to upgrade. “..sorry, $7000, I misread, to the Society for Law, Life, and Religion. The board thanks you Carrie, for your thoughtful presentation. Next.”

Carrie smiled, stalked out of the room, passing in her way in Andrea Santoriello of the Catholic Law Students Association, both sneering at each other in their usual method of greeting.

Andrea walked right past the podium as the Lackey stated her position, and up to the conference table where Tessa, Fenno, and Garry sat.

“Boy, we’re seeing the Godsquad today, huh? Why can’t the Christians manage their money?” Fenno joked, then froze as Tessa shot her an icy look. Andrea cleared her throat meaningfully and set down three tumblers, filled them with ice, and then slyly uncorked a bottle of Ketel One Vodka and filled the glasses. Then she snapped her fingers and Lisa Palluconi, Michael Whamond, and Leslie Ballantyne stepped through the door, and in synchronized steps, rubbed a lemon wedge on their necks, sugared their respective wet skins, stuck the lemon wedges in their mouths, and knelt before the three funders. Fenno noted that they had sent in a woman for both Garry and Fenno: so they knew, huh? After the three licking sounds, gulps, sucking sounds, and clunking sounds of the empty glasses, the three CLSA aides filed out. Garry sucked in air and whispered: “nice use of the body shot funding tactic. We haven’t seen that since November, and I was missing it.” Then, out loud, Garry bellowed: “Let the record reflect that Andrea has provided us with some charts and statistics which we will now consider.” Whispering again, he smiled at Andrea and added, “during Lent, too, you rat.”

Fenno tapped her glass petulantly, and after Andrea had refilled it twice, she said, “I find these photographs very mov…”

“Stats, Fenno.”

“…yes, these stats very moving. I move to appropriate – (what is it, Ketel One?) – $3000 to the CLSA.” She burped. “Or four. Whatever.”

“Four sounds good to me!” Garry seconded, and Tessa gaveled it into existence. Andrea headed to the check table, Tessa grabbing the bottle of vodka from her hand en route.

The checkwriter looked up: “And we’re out! The monies have left the building.”

“Sweet. Quick one.” The Lackey took the tape out, and Tessa, Andrea, and Garry packed up their things and followed the Lackey out of the room. Fenno grabbed the vodka and sat in the front drinking alone for a few minutes, when she heard the door creak open and Dana Roehm walked down to Fenno’s table and said, “Um, Fenno? I just wanted to say that I know everybody else got money today, and if there’s anything I can do…I mean, I can’t bribe you like everyone else, but we could spend 60% of our money on alcohol and give it away, I guess. That’s kind of like charity.”

Fenno squinted and swayed in confused reaction to a logical argument. “I don’
t…” Fenno stopped burbling as a diffuse light filled Austin North and the front row of student desks began to glow. A shape materialized in front of Dana and Fenno, a man in a toga, happy and bearded. It was Jesus. Fenno looked down at the vodka, hit herself in the face, and looked up again at the face of Jesus Christ. Dana clearly saw Him, too.

“Do not fear, Dana. I have come to tell you that the Student Funding Board too will be judged in Heaven.” Dana nodded calmly.

Fenno drained the Ketel One. “Jesus, you watch the funding board? Shit, that was me addressing you, not taking you in vain,” Fenno lied.

“Yes. God is busy with the president, of course, and I’m here at HLS for now. I think the Holy Ghost is in Houston. And I have seen the Funding Board and I know that it is wicked.”

“I promise we’ll be more fair, we’ll recuse…”

“Shut up, Fenno, there is no hope for your soul. I have come only to give Dana some greens.” Jesus handed Dana a bundle of hundreds, saying: “Rely not on the blood-stained crimson cash. I have heard the Dean blaspheme! Instead, take this and start a Utah club, ok?”

Dana nodded politely, took the cash, and walked up the stairs and out of the room. Jesus just hung there for a second, eying Fenno contemptuously. “By the way, you’re going to get a D in Admin Law, so you might as well just stop trying.” With that, he vanished into the spirit of HLS.

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