Fenno’s train was scheduled to depart in an hour and he still had to pack, shower, and send out a slew of e-mails. He considered forgoing the shower but then came to his senses. After all, he hadn’t been on a date in months, and everyone knows that if you sit next to a chick on the train for five hours you’re guaranteed to get her number. I mean, it’s in the bag.
Lathering up his face, Fenno started shaving with the frenetic alacrity of Louise Sandberg after a gallon of espresso. It was a mistake. His face might have been hairless, but it looked as if Fenno had just made out with a rusty cheese grater. Toilet paper did nothing to stanch the bleeding: every time he went to remove the paper it would simply tear open the cut. As did the blood from his tiny lacerations, time drained away bit by bit, sending Fenno into a state of panic. Carelessly, clothes were thrown into a suitcase, along with his toothbrush, hair gel, Cetaphil, phone charger, iPod, and casebook for Admin, which he knew he wouldn’t so much as glance at over the break but felt compelled to bring lest he feel guilty. A few e-mails and one deranged key search later, a scab-ridden Fenno was flying out the door.
Running down the street – luggage, laptop, and messenger bag in tow – Fenno had the unique grace of a three-legged zebra on roller skates. Darting passed Kumble Plaza, oblivious to everything around him, he managed to recklessly run over Therese Rohrbeck’s pet rabbit with his suitcase. Cradling the bunny – its entrails oozing out like worms from Brad Rosen’s stool sample – Therese cried loud enough to make a grand scene. A crowd quickly formed and Fenno was faced with a choice: he could stay and try to get help or book it the hell out of there. Choosing the latter, Fenno vowed to send Therese some flowers and perhaps a funny e-card like the one his grandmother sent him on Halloween that read “Witch You Were Here!”
Once on the T, Fenno had the luck of sitting next to Ashley Olsen doppelganger Maria Luisa Romero.
“What happened to your face?” she asked.
“You should see the other guy,” Fenno quipped.
“What other guy?”
Dud number one.
“Oh, nothing. So where are you from?”
“Panama City, actually,” Maria replied.
“Oh, I think I’ve heard of it. That’s in Panama right?”
Silence. Dud number two.
“Anyway,” said Fenno, “I’m so anxious to get home for the holidays. We’re having, like, twenty people over and I’m helping with the cooking.”
“Oh, that’s cool. I tried to cook last year but ended up burning the turkey. It tasted like shoe leather.”
“In that case, you should have made a cobbler. Get it… shoe leather? Cobbler?”
Strike three. A deflated Fenno got off at South Station with the self-esteem of Harriet Miers perusing confirmthem.com. “That was just a trial run” he thought to himself. “Now comes the real deal.”
One of the first to board the train, Fenno had his well-honed strategy ready to go. Each time anyone old, male, or busted walked past, he conspicuously placed his belongings on the seat next to him to create the appearance it was taken. When a cute girl approached, he swept everything of the adjacent seat, faced the window, and prayed. His prayers were answered when a gorgeous, voluptuous redhead asked if the seat was taken.
Fenno started with some small talk, which revealed that his travel buddy was actually attending law school at Suffolk.
“That’s so funny,” she exclaimed. “So, like, is everyone at Harvard really smart?”
“I guess. You get a lot of pseudo-intellectuals though. And the professors aren’t all that spectacular. Like, I had Dershowitz for crim and all he did was tell anecdotes.”
“Alan Dershowitz? No? Nevermind. But it’s great sometimes, I’ve seen Breyer, Souter, and Scalia this semester alone.”
“Are those, like, your friends?”
“Um, no. They’re justices on the Supreme Court. Speaking of which, I’m just praying Alito doesn’t get confirmed or else this country’s gonna enter the dark ages. I think Bush’s approval ratings are low enough that the Democrats stand a shot of blocking him.”
“Alito or Bush,” asked Fenno tentatively.
Fenno was growing increasingly frustrated. He didn’t need a brilliant Rhodes scholar like Randall from The Apprentice, but somebody with half a brain would have been nice. Excusing himself for a moment, Fenno went to the café car to purchase a sandwich. After a few bites, he felt dizzy. The walls of the train appeared to be melting. Rushing back to his seat, he asked his new friend if she had any Advil. She removed a burlap sac from her pocket and gave him a tiny piece of silver, which Fenno swallowed. Staring out the window he noticed that the magic dragons were flying unusually low today. When he looked back, he noticed that he was sitting next to Tai Shan, the new giant panda cub from the National Zoo. Fenno and Tai Shan shared hilarious stories and even a few racy jokes. They swatted at the pixies swirling above and pet the lecherous goats walking up and down the aisles. When he had to get off at the Bermuda Triangle stop, Tai Shan promised to write Fenno every day. They hugged briefly, at which point Tai Shan blew his whistle and was whisked away to the final stage, where he would sadly lose in a battle against Koopa king Bowser.
When Tai Shan left, Fenno wept like a baby. His tears were green, and Fenno used them to paint a picture of “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” on the back of the seat in front of him. Famous art critic Rosalind Krauss stopped by to compliment him on the reproduction, then offered him ten thousand rubles to purchase it. After the exchange Rosalind graded Fenno’s feet, giving them a B plus. She then transformed into a tub of popcorn, which everybody on the train shared.
An investigation confirmed that Fenno’s ham sandwich had been laced with LSD. Recovering in the hospital, Fenno felt weak, nauseous, and lonely. That is, until the nurses wheeled in his new roommate: Joanna.