Fenno and the Prisoner of Concord (Part 5 of 8)

Note: This serial is fictional.

“Look, man, I really need your help,” the Prisoner of Concord pleaded. Fenno tried to remain unswayed. Prison Legal Assistance Project received dozens of such pleas a week. Fenno had joined because the time commitment, an hour a week, was negligible and the gaping white space on his resume demanded to be filled. But it was hard, to sit in a room and answer phone calls from prison, and say again and again that there was nothing he could do. He imagined the Prisoner of Concord, trapped in his little box, asking some clueless kid miles away for help.

A few days later, he was on his way to Concord. Fenno had taken the case because he was tired of waiting. He was tired of reading about and talking about and thinking about being a lawyer. He wanted to be one already.

Cambridge quickly receded into the grey winter textures of suburban Massachusetts. The prison rose from the ground, brick and concrete heavy on the earth, fences tearing at the sky, guard towers anchoring the atrocity to this world.

Fenno was run through metal detectors and buzzed through doors and ordered through hallways before he finally reached the small booth where the Prisoner of Concord had been brought before him. The Prisoner of Concord had stepped right out of a bad prison movie, his light blue jumpsuit ragged, tattoos grazing his worn face, and his hooded eyes hollow.

The Prisoner picked up the black phone on the other side of the dirty plastic pane separating him from Fenno. Before Fenno even picked up his phone, the Prisoner began to spew his story. He was not a bad person, the Prisoner of Concord explained, but life brings us where we are with little regard for such trivialities. The Prisoner rambled on about his life, prison, and how he found himself facing a disciplinary violation for merely for not hearing a guard’s order to get back to his cell. Fenno absorbed it all, fascinated, his ears delighted to devour words that were not related to grades, firms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or outlines.

Fenno left the prison feeling free. He had been so overwhelmed by 1L that he had somehow forgotten the rest of the world and all the strange and wonderful people in it.

“Some of these guys are here for the rest of their lives, so they’ve got nothing to lose. They just want to make it hell for the rest of us.” The guard said on Fenno’s way out, and Fenno saw that he was trapped too.

Back on campus, Fenno worked on his motions to dismiss and for the first time in a long time, he remembered why he came to law school.

“Fenno” is a fictional serial written by an anonymous law student. The main character is always named Fenno and is always a 1L, but his or her character changes every school year. This installation is part of the series for the 2011 to 2012 School Year entitled “The Uncertain Fenno, 2011 to 2012.”


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