The Turn of Pfaffly Hall

Pfaffly Hall put a fright in the freshmen each fall. Just the slightest, just an inkling as their mums and dads put coins in the meter then looked on the building a first time and feared as if they’d relinquished their baby to the gaoler. This is a dormitory? It looked quite serious, and none expected that. None did not bite back something a little when they walked through Pfaffly’s orifices like jagged, leprous maws. It was a great béton brut concrete thing of jutting slabs and filled-in window shapes, lest any take advantage of a view.

The dormitory was three stories tall and housed two hundred students, give or take. Its address was 11 Universality Circle (a straight road with definite termini). Across the street, a muddy riverbank was treacherous in the equinoctial brume, sloped off steeply into the soupy Asthmiatic. Now the river was characteristically porridge-colored, scummy and fungal, smelling of eggs. But beyond, the opposite shore was a lush tropic, where tantalizingly undeveloped green foliage swayed and was fringed with pink hollyhocks and vibrant delphiniums, and even the sunbeams there were brighter.

“Right-o,” said the newly inaugurated President Goeth Mewlby. He’d stopped and leaned on dear Pfaffly Hall a moment, gazed out on the Asthmiatic he was so fond of, it all mucked up and shat out and extracted, its duty done proudly. The opposite shore was ripe for the picking. Mewlby licked his chops and brushed off his hands. “Good?”

“Ready sir,” said his underling.
Mewlby bent and dug his fingers into the dirt beneath Pfaffly Hall’s northwest corner. He paused and braced himself, and his underling stood by and fidgeted and seemed likely to volunteer his labor in Mewlby’s stead, but Mewlby preferred to do this great task himself. With all his might, minding to use his knees not his back, Mewlby heaved and lifted up Pfaffly Hall’s corner five-six inches off the ground.

“Now! Go,” Mewlby hissed, straining.
The underling knelt and shoved beneath the behemoth building a 4-wheel dolly, taking care to align with the concrete perimeter. “Okay sir.”

Mewlby released and the building dropped and snapped to the dolly.
“That’s the last,” Mewlby confirmed. “Let’s see,” and he pressed gently against Pfaffly Hall, and sure enough the monstrosity gave way to his touch.

“That’s good sir,” said the underling.
“The dolly does all the work,” Mewlby declared approvingly. “We didn’t need to hire movers after all. I’ll have the shareholders’ favor.”

“You have the students’ favor, sir,” said the underling sycophantically. “They knew you would do good things, that’s why they voted for you.”

“We’re going to do a perfect one-eighty now,” said Mewlby.
“I know sir,” said the underling. “Things are going to change.”
“Not fundamentally,” Mewlby corrected sternly. “The building. We’re moving it one-hundred-eighty degrees. You get on this side here with me, now come on.”

“Oh, yes! Sir,” said the underling and he hurried to join the president and helped rotate Pfaffly away from the river.

Mewlby quietly marveled at the young man’s guilelessness. It irked him as well. “Now son,” he began, continuing the push, “the electorate was not so much favorable to me as it was disposed against my predecessor. He meant to curtail the protections on the opposite shore. The student body feels protectively of such things. But we must not take our victory to mean we’ve a popular mandate. We certainly must not proceed with any urgency.”

“Oh, certainly not, sir.”
“However, we must act in the best interests of the public, or the pertinent portion of it,” Mewlby continued, “and therefore we must direct dear Pfaffly Hall towards the bureaucratic organs of our university. If it seems radical, additionally, then it is necessary nevertheless I think to put small windows in the concrete façade. There should be real windows. I think it is advisable that these windows should be translucent to see through, yet not so transparent that the very impressive effects of claustrophobia within Pfaffly are substantially mitigated.”

“I understand sir,” the underling said, then added, “why?”
“Because it is important for the constituents to see the processes,” Mewlby answered, delighting in the opportunity to explain as someone listened, which was the actual labor his underlings were contracted for. “It is especially important in the months to come that the voters acquire an awareness and an appreciation for the processes of the veneer of a decision-making body. We must, most crucially, bring about an awareness of the Parliamentarian.”

“I… I’ve never heard of the Parliamentarian, sir.”
“Oh, they are a wonderful caricature. They are seldom heard of or from. They are totally dispensable and inconsequential. However our Parliamentarian says we must proceed with extraction of the opposite shore. We have no alternative but to honor their decision.”

“Could we dispense with the Parliamentarian, sir?”
“No to do so would be indecorous.”