“I need your passcode,” repeats the bodyguard stationed outside of Law Review Headquarters. He’s about 6’4”, 265, and though the work he’s done on his lats suggests that he’s going for that LL Cool J look, his freakishly wide shoulders put him a lot closer to former NBA forward Anthony Mason. (I’m to learn later that he actually is Anthony Mason.)
“I wasn’t aware that I needed a passcode. I was, uh, invited.”
“A courier should have brought you a Palm with the passcode loaded on it sometime last week .”
Great. And I threw that thing out because I was sure it was just another law firm promo piece. In the past week I’ve received the usual slew of lookbooks and DVDs, plus a few gift towers from Harry & David’s, half a dozen cookie bouquets, and a surprisingly good singing telegram. I thought the Palm was just another gimmick.
“Umm…I seem to have lost that. Isn’t there some sort of list or something?”
“Yeah, but I’ll need to draw some blood to verify your identity against the law school database.”
“Is that absolutely necessary?”
“They would have needed it later anyway. We screen for most genetic disorders. Just a precaution.”
* * *
Once in the complex—just a bit lightheaded and with a sore arm…Mason’s vein-finding skills definitely leave something to be desired—I understand the need for security. There must be three million dollars’ worth of equipment in the waiting room alone. I’m told that they’re in the process of shifting around some supplies, and that’s why the waiting room couches and tables are covered with dozens of laptops, servers, plasma screens, satellite phones, stun-guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, various small arms, and a box containing something like 300 IPod Minis. I’m impressed, and when the EIC walks in I feel compelled to ask the obvious question:
“Uh, dude? What are you going to do with all of this shit?”
Only 25, but with the steely-eyed stare of a man of 27, the EIC cuts an impressive figure. On this particular day he’s chosen to leave the Hugo Boss at home, and is sporting his snakeskin jacket, which he frequently claims to wear because it “symbolizes [his] individuality and belief in personal freedom.” I’m not really sure what’s up with that, but it’s clear that I should be intimidated. And I am. It’s been rumored that he’s had affairs with half the women on the journal, most of the female faculty, and even a few circuit court judges. He’s already signed a seven-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster, and he actually does most of his journal work from West Palm Beach, where he runs a successful night club/feed store, which is why I feel more than a little bit honored when he actually decides to answer me.
“Well, that depends on which shit you’re talking about. We’re bringing in the servers and extra workstations to handle our newest project. Since we upped the hours requirement to 250 per semester, we’ve got a bit of surplus capacity, so we’ve decided to take on some extra cite-checking work for a few of the higher-ranked journals. Normally I’d feel weird about letting them take credit for our work, put they pay well. It’s bringing in enough extra cash that we’ll be able to rent a Gulfstream before Volume 84 comes out.”
“That’s great,” I say. “But what about the weaponry?”
“Well, we’ve received credible reports of other UT journals’ plans to move in on our coffee supply. We get some pretty great Sumatran stuff flown in every week, and I’m not willing to let any of it slip through our fingers. Also, we’re worried about some of the untenured profs trying to infiltrate the office and screw with the article review program. We find that the anti-personnel mines are pretty effective at dealing with that.”
“Wow. And the IPod minis?”
“Oh, those? I stole ‘em out of the back of a BestBuy truck. I wish they’d had more pink ones, though.”
At this point he takes out and lights an impossibly huge cigar. Seemingly on cue, three Russian prostitutes (I only call them that because of the way they were dressed—they could just as easily have been Lithuanian prostitutes) enter from the right, each carrying a machete and a brandy snifter. I’m pretty sure that I recognize one from her website.
“Mike,” the EIC says, and I’m completely floored to find out that he knows my name. “Would you mind excusing us for a little bit? Veronika here has a substantially complete student note of publishable quality that she really needs me to look over, and I really can’t put it off any longer. Anthony can show you the way out.”
“Sure thing, Boss. I’ll, uh, catch you later.” I turn and walk out slowly, the door closing behind me just as the sounds of Al Green reach my ears. I always knew that being the head honcho was a sweet gig, but just how sweet had remained unclear until now. I feel that something inside me has been irrevocably altered, but I’m not sure what. I also feel that I need to get to work on my student note.
Mostly, though, I need to pray.