Washington Horror Blog

SEMI-FICTIONAL CHRONICLE of the EVIL THAT INFECTS WASHINGTON, D.C. To read Prologue and Character Guide, please see www.washingtonhorrorblog.com, updated 4/12/2014. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Sunday, November 23, 2014

No Rest for the Wicked

Washington Water Woman has to postpone her next blog until the holiday weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

In a Cold November Rain

Washington Water Woman is a little under the weather today, but hopes to return to blogging soon!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

PAC a Punch

Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson looked around at the faces of the Heurich Society members and tried to acknowledge their pain.  "I know we were surprised by the last-minute SuperPAC spending from Qatar, but we still managed to get most of our candidates elected."

"We have never been outspent by Qatar before!" hissed Condoleezza Rice over the speakerphone.  (She rarely made it anymore to the rarefied air of the upper meeting room of the Brewmaster's Castle.)

"Yeah, who's next?" asked the international arms dealer.  "Kuwait?  Oprah?  The Bush clan of the U.S. Virgin Islands?"

"Please, please!" implored Samuelson.  "Qatar actually supported some of the same PACs that we did!  And we still had more direct campaign involvement than they could ever dream of."

"What about Taylor Swift?" asked a former U.S. Congressman.  "Did she outspend us?  I heard she's richer than God now."

"I heard she made a deal with the Devil," said the investment banker, "that her cutesy image with the bangs and schoolgirl skirts is just a charade.  That's why she only wears red lipstick!"

"OK, let's get back on track," said Samuelson, rolling her eyes.  "One thing is clear from the election:  marijuana is a growth industry in this country, and our next frontier of investment and social policy.  The more stoned people are, the easier it is to manipulate them--or bypass them completely."

"That's what I always said in Afghanistan!" said the former CIA agent.  "Worst place ever for a war on drugs."

"So we're all in agreement, then?  Operation Bong Song is underway?"  Samuelson looked around at the faces of the Heurich Society members and saw very little agreement, mixed with a decided inability to unite in opposition against her.

"Absolutely!" said the former CIA agent, who was starting to think of a naughty Taylor Swift role-play he might ask Button Samuelson to do with him later.

Meanwhile, Samuelson's Crimea plan had gone horribly amiss over in Southwest.  (Thank Goodness that the Heurich Society members had stopped paying attention to Crimea, along with the U.S. media!)  Darja was so deep undercover as Glenn Michael Beckmann's Ukrainian mail-order bride that she had forgotten all about (a) having been hired by Henrietta Samuelson, (b) being a Russian masquerading as a Russian-speaking Ukrainian, (c) having a secret agenda to coax Beckmann over to Crimea as a Heurich agent there, and (d) how to build bombs.  And so, under the evil influence of the real estate demon living in the parking garage of Southwest Plaza, and believing there was a beautiful giant cockroach growing in her womb, she was content to spend her days cooking and crocheting.  But Beckmann still had a very busy conspiracy theorist career going, not to mention using Beckmann's Bad Asses (and Beckmann's Floral Cushions) to pay the bills.  And so it was, after an odd series of events involving a fake mail box, fake tax return forms, filings attempted with the fake tax return forms, and public urination, Beckmann found himself on a stolen motorcycle, with the Government Printing Office Police in hot pursuit.  Just when he thought he had shaken them for good, and that they had no idea he had zoomed into the Southwest Plaza parking garage, their GPO cop car came careening down the garage ramp.  Both cop car doors flew open at the same time, and both GPO cops leaned out over their respective doors, with their GPO guns aimed straight at Beckmann.

"Freeze, fraudster!" they yelled in unison.  "Federal agent!"  (Even though they had uncanny timing, they had never thought to pluralize their joint-shout.)

Beckmann crouched behind the motorcycle defiantly.  "Go ahead!  Shoot!  I'm sure you're way too accurate to hit the gas tank!"

The two GPO cops looked at each other, nodded, and began walking slowly and quietly towards Beckmann.  Their buddies from the Capitol Police used to laugh at them when they would stop by The Dubliner for a beer after work, but they always knew that nobody was a greater threat to America than people who had it in for the United States Government Printing Office.

Now, as it so happens, Darja's demonic imaginary pregnancy occasionally gave her cravings which led her to go down to the parking garage to lick tires.  She had heard all the commotion and run out just in time to see that her husband was in danger.  Suddenly, her instincts took over and she remembered what to do:  she reached for the gun in her ankle holster, but then realized she wasn't wearing it.  Alright, she thought, it will have to be kung fu.  She crept quietly through the garage to get closer, then started running over nearby cars to build up speed and come at them from a downward trajectory.  Just as the GPO cops suddenly saw her flying through the air at them, the real estate demon became alarmed that they might actually shoot Darja, so it picked up the motorcycle and flung it at the cops, knocking them over.  Darja landed, grabbed one of the dropped guns, and shot them both dead.

"Are you OK, honey?" she asked, rushing over to check on Beckmann.

"What a woman!" he crowed.  Then he kissed her, and it was weird, because she tasted like burnt rubber.

Back at The Dubliner, Congressman Jacques Javert was buying a round of beer for all the Capitol Police officers off duty.  "I missed y'all!" he boomed.  "I can't believe my campaign manager made me spend a whole month traipsing through those damned swamps shaking hands with Cajun hicks!"

"Congrats on your reelection, Congressman!" shouted one of the boys, raising his glass.  "Louisiana's finest!"

Well, this should do it, though Javert, who had just murdered three oil company executives before they even managed to check into their hotel.  About two-dozen cop eyewitnesses for an alibi!  Those bastards can put all the money they want into my campaign, but ain't nobody gonna make me share hookers with 'em or listen to their b.s. about climate change if I don't wanna!

"Hey, boss, can I try on that Rolex for a minute?" asked one officer, who had already had four whiskeys, and couldn't see straight except for the light reflecting off that beautiful gold.

Javert slapped the officer's hand away from his (cursed) Rolex, and in a low, menacing tone, said, "get back to your beer, boy!"

Down at his feet, a river rat licked his lips and waited eagerly.

COMING UP:  Cedric gets inspired.

Sunday, November 02, 2014


Charles Wu had come to America as a triple agent (Beijing, Hong Kong, Great Britain) for the purpose of unlocking the most important secrets in the nation's capital.  To execute this plan, he had built a huge network of spies and informants, both human and technological.  However, he enjoyed nothing better than learning a secret himself, straight from the source.  Nobody could resist his charm, comeliness, cunning, charisma, and chi.  And though it had taken a great deal of money, time, and effort, Wu had not only ingratiated himself into many of D.C.'s power circles, he had risen to the master ranks in a number of secret and semi-secret societies, including the Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission, the Star Chamber, the Seekers, the Cherry Blossom Cherubs, the Church of Scientology, the New Order of Malta, the Knightum Templarum, the Sunny Moonies, the Shriners, and the Paw Paw Phalanx.  (The latter involved a secret ceremony in which mushy paw paw fruit had to be placed in every orifice of the human body, though Wu had used his chi power to persuade them that he only needed to eat it.)

Wu had suffered through rambling speeches about American destiny, astrology, the political war between professional football and professional baseball, the Islamic Crescent and Star of David supposedly hidden on the dollar bill, the secret atheist agenda of Farmers' Markets and community yard sales, America's hidden addiction to chick pea salad and kale chips, and the responsibility of alien implants for all four Presidential assassinations.  Wu had skinny-dipped in the Reflecting Pool at midnight, rappelled up the Washington Monument at 2 a.m., urinated through the White House fence at 4 a.m., and crowed like a rooster at the dawn's first gleaming over the Capitol.  Nonetheless, today's initiation ceremony was finally testing the limits of how far Wu was willing to go to spy on Washington's power brokers.

"Live leeches?" asked Wu.

The Grand Extractor of the Shock and Awe Political Action Committee (SAAPAC) nodded and repeated his instruction that Wu take off his shirt.

"On my stomach?"

The Grand Extractor nodded again.  "No guts, no glory.  You have to prove you're willing to sacrifice from the gut."

Now Charles Wu was more willing than most people to sacrifice from the gut, having done a fecal transplant for former Senator Evermore Breadman, but that procedure had been under sedation, in a lovely European spa.  This procedure was going to be lying on an American flag placed on a pile of dead leaves in the dead center of the dead Congressional Cemetery.  Wu looked around the group, hoping this was a joke.

"Didn't you have leeches in Hong Kong?" asked one man.  "Wasn't that part of your culture?"

"Lying in a cemetery while leeches suck blood out of my abdomen?  No, sir, that was not part of my culture."

"Well, we've all done it," said the Grand Extractor.

Wu looked around one more time.  He adjusted the cuff links on his white silk shirt (tailored in London), exhaled deeply, and told them he had decided to start his own political action committee.

A mile away, law clerk Wince was pacing his Supreme Court office, having just read a blackmail letter concerning his secret engagement to Bridezilla.  "Bloody leeches!" he exclaimed, pounding his right fist into his left hand.  "Is it somebody in this office?"  He started running through his list of coworkers, any of whom might rise in importance if Wince were to be dethroned as Justice Prissy Face's favorite "confirmed bachelor".  He sat down, then jumped back to his feet.  "Is it Marcy?  She could be angry that I rebuffed her advances.  Or Melvin?"  Wince was hampered in his deductions (as Congressman John Boehner had similarly been hampered when first blackmailed by the same person) by the perplexity of not actually receiving any demands from the blackmailer...at first.  "Or Manuel?  Still pissed off that I wouldn't try his mother's Twinkie chili?"  Wince sat down again.  "They haven't told him yet.  What do they want?"

Back at home, The Tarantula was smiling, remotely listening to Wince fret over the bug planted in his office.  The Tarantula had planted a wave of bugs all over the Supreme Court offices before selecting Justice Prissy Face as the easiest target to influence this term.  This is gonna be a walk in the park! he thought.  Then he began hearing something odd from the listening device:  Wince's speculating whether he was being blackmailed by somebody from Clarence Thomas's office.  "First they make me have nightmares that Thomas is a zombie, now this!  How are they doing it?"

Over at Prince and Prowling, former Senator Evermore Breadman took a few more gulps from his bourbon bottle, placed two fresh leeches on his ankles (circulation trick he learned in Saigon), pulled his socks up, and marched back into the War Room.  "OK, how are we doing on the Saudi team?"

"Eighteen more PAC donations, five more SuperPAC donations."

"And thus?" Breadman asked, turning to his Qatar point person.

"They countered with nine more PAC donations and two more SuperPAC donations--big ones--against the Saudi candidates."

"Big Oil?" Breadman asked, moving to the center of the room.

"Approaching $50 million--twenty of that is through our secret PACs."

Breadman rubbed his hands in glee.  "What have you got?" he asked, turning to the Wall Street and pharmaceutical team before making his way over to the defense contractor team.

A few minutes later, Breadman was heading back to his office.  "God, I love this country--and McCutcheon vs. FEC!" he exclaimed, stopping at his Wall of Me to move the photo with Harry Reid down to the bottom.  (His photo with Mitch McConnell was in the filing cabinet, of course--ready to come out if need be.)  In his office, he found Chloe Cleavage in an obscene Statue of Liberty Halloween costume.  She knew that Breadman was always feeling his oats at election time, and once Chloe Cleavage had started blackmailing the firm about all her sexual shenanigans, Breadman saw no reason to resist temptation ever again.

"Is there any SuperPAC you can't grow bigger?" she cooed, grabbing his huevos.

"Not if I have your help!" he replied, perfectly willing to put up with her usual shtick to have a quickie on his leather couch.

Over on Capitol Hill, coroner John Constantine had managed to sneak back into the Rayburn House Office Building without the help of his girlfriend, Ann Bishis.  (Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff was on the campaign trail.)  They had debated for weeks about the evidence they had found in the first sweep, and could not agree.  He knew she just didn't want to face it.  "Zombies, and witches, and bears--oh, my," he whispered to himself, poking his flashlight into dark corners.  "What is going on here?"  He stopped in the 3rd floor men's room to relieve himself, never feeling the leech crawling over his shoe and up his leg.  This is the creepiest place on Earth, he thought...but John Constantine would not have to put up with it much longer.

COMING UP:  Heurich Society outspent by Qatar, vows revenge!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Washington's secret haunted house party!

It was Joey Bent Oak who had first said something about using his haunted house as a Halloween attraction, but after some consideration, Angela de la Paz had come up with a new plan for exorcising the wicked ghosts unwilling to depart upper Georgetown for the Afterlife.  Joey's adoptive parents, Golden Fawn and Marcos Vazquez, were extremely resistant to the idea for some time, but Angela's supernatural powers had kept them safe this long, so at last they had consented to turning their haunted house into a Halloween haunted house party--for ghosts.  Joey was disappointed he would have to miss it--since it was his idea!--but he was still just a child, and Angela insisted on his parents taking him away during the event.  So here she was, now, entering the Dreamtime, to summon all the ghosts she knew in D.C. to come on over.

Ghost Henry was the first to arrive, since he was always happy to win brownie points with Angela, his one-time Project Cinderella.  Then Ferguson and Regina showed up from the White House, with Ghost Dennis not far behind.  Then a large contingent of The Shackled showed up, followed by Ghost Pippin.

"Fergie!  Reggie!"  Ghost Dennis was already trying to rein in the twin pre-schoolers from running amok, but Angela told him to let the imps run wild.  Soon they were overturning chairs, swinging on the dining room chandelier, and chasing Ghost Pippin (a deceased cat) while making loud barking noises.

Just as Angela had anticipated, the resident ghosts became enraged at this invasion of their home, and came flying out of the attic in a fury--only to be met by the stern admonitions of the Shackled that it was time for those ghosts to go seek atonement for all the evil they had perpetuated in this house.

What Angela had not anticipated was that Joey had broken his promise not to tell anybody at school that they were going to have the craziest Halloween haunted house party ever held in D.C., much less anticipated how rapidly this news would spread.  The first surprise guest to arrive was real estate tycoon Calico Johnson, with a date from N.U.T.T.Y. (Nannies United to Take Y-chromosomes).  They were dressed as Antony and Cleopatra.

"Are you sure this is the right place, Cal?"

"Yes!  They said it was a secret, so I guess that's why they don't have any decorations outside."

"It's a lovely house!" his date replied, and they went inside to discover Angela de la Paz lying down on the living room sofa in a trance.

"Well, that's kind of creepy," said Cal.  And then Regina and Ferguson shoved the coffee table into has shins, and his date screamed.

The next guest to arrive was Slow Man, dressed up as a yellow banana.  "It's so quiet in here!" he exclaimed, hoping there would be karaoke.  The ghost of Henry Samuelson recognized him immediately as a spy, and began interrogating Slow Man about his Kurdish contacts in Turkey, which to Slow Man sounded like faint whisperings in his ears.  Slow Man had no peripheral vision in the banana suit, and kept spinning around trying to figure out who was talking to him.  Ghost Pippin took advantage of Ghost Henry's distraction to urinate ghost pee on Ghost Henry, who screamed and threw the cat across the room.

Then Judge Sowell Ame arrived, with his 10-year-old niece in tow.  (She was dressed in some type of "Frozen" costume which he didn't understand, and she had insisted her uncle wear his chamber robe, carry her magic wand, and pretend to be a Hogwarts wizardry professor.)  Now Judge Ame did not live very far away, and he had his own (not too troublesome) ghosts--which had followed him to this party, and were quickly accosted by the resident ghosts trying to evict them.

At this point, Giuliana Sunstream showed up to take notes, because she would be having a FABULOUS Halloween party of her own in NoMA the following weekend.  She and her toy Maltese "Vegas" were both dressed as snow leopards, and Ghost Pippin immediately hissed and jumped up at Vegas with her little ghost claws out.  Vegas started barking furiously, leaped out of Sunstream's arms, and landed--with his own claws out--on Yellow Man's banana suit, which started peeling downward.

It was at this point that television reporter Holly Gonightly arrived, cameraman in tow, to film D.C.'s most secretive and amazing haunted house party.  Angela de la Paz, who had remained in the Dreamtime up until this point, now jumped up from the couch--because she had to destroy the camera before it captured any ghost images.  She used her telekinetic powers to hurl the camera against a wall, shattering it into a hundred pieces, and Calico Johnson's N.U.T.T.Y. date screamed.

"Did you see that?" hollered Gonightly to nobody in particular, as her cameraman debated whether to retrieve his camera or not.

Meanwhile, the resident ghosts were fed up with all the chaos, and somebody had to die!  They grabbed the little "Frozen" girl (ghosts aren't very strong, and she was the smallest), and tried to fling her through the dining room window, but Angela stopped her in mid-air and deposited her safely on the floor.  Then they jumped onto Calico Johnson's shoulders and screamed at him to kill his girlfriend  before she killed him--which sounded to Johnson like the eeriest whisper he had ever heard.  He reached out his hands to choke his date, but Angela telekinetically tossed Johnson onto the sofa.

"You will never kill another soul here!" screamed Angela, and the guests all jumped back, not seeing whom she was screaming at.  The resident ghosts howled in fury, and flew into the living room windows, shattering them.  "You belong in Purgatory!" she yelled even louder, and then she telekinetically started a fire in the fireplace.  "Now!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, and commanded them with her hands to go into the fire.  Ghost Henry, Ghost Pippin, Ghost Dennis, Regina, Ferguson, and The Shackled surrounded the resident ghosts and started crowding them towards the fire.  "Now!" Angela screamed again, with a clap of her hands, and with that, the resident ghosts flew into the fire, which immediately died out.  The guests and other ghosts were now silent.

Angela exhaled deeply, walked over to the recliner and sank into it.  "You can all go now," she said quietly to the ghosts, momentarily forgetting there were still people present until Slow Man exclaimed how brilliant it all was and began clapping.  Angela got back up from the recliner and looked at the other people, who were all clapping now, though some of them with very shell-shocked looks on their faces.  "Thank you," she said.

"What do we owe you?" asked Judge Sowell Ame, reaching for his wallet.  "That was really scary, and I don't scare easily!"  (His niece had peed in her panties, but he didn't know that.)

"Twenty bucks," said Angela, who saw there was a lot of house damage to repair.

"What about my camera?!" exclaimed the cameraman.

"The insurance will cover it, son," said Judge Ame.  "And you should know better than to try to film a secret haunted house party!"

"Are there any refreshments?" asked Giuliana Sunstream, who was slowly recovering, and knew she could never outdo these special effects, but had a plan for amazingly frightening bowls of Jello.

Ten minutes later, Angela was finally alone in the house...except for the ghost of Henry Samuelson.  She lay down on the sofa and closed her eyes, but that didn't stop him.

"So you sent a couple of evil ghosts to Purgatory--you could be doing more!  You should be in Syria or Hong Kong or--"

"Don't start with me," replied Angela.

"You could be saving a lot more lives!"

"By killing, you mean?"

"It's a lesser evil," insisted Ghost Henry.

"I like doing NO evil," insisted Angela.  "Go back to the CIA."

"Why didn't you try to make the rest of us leave?"

"You're not murderous," said Angela.

"But I was in purgatory," said Ghost Henry.

"I know," said Angela.

"So why didn't you send me back?"

"I haven't had a vision to."

Ghost Henry laughed, shook his head, and flew away without another word.

Angela lay back down on the sofa, listening to the wind whistle through the broken glass.  She had a colossal headache, but the house was finally free.

COMING UP:  Leeches.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Prize

Luciano Talaverdi was on a mission.  He had been up all night with insomnia, fretting about his life in America.  All the blood, sweat and tears he had put into becoming a leading economist had led him to this fork in the road.  Working his way through Sapienza University in Rome, winning the Rhodes Scholarship to the London School of Economics, doing the post-doc back in Rome at the Food and Agriculture Organization, publishing his first book at age 27, coming to work at the Federal Reserve Board....

This is no good.

He walked out, rushing to the next place.  It was useless!  After rising and rising and rising in the field of economics, he had to admit that he was completely stalled. The Washington Post had rejected his latest op-ed ("Why a warming world needs a World Bank of Water"), Slate said he was too liberal, Salon said he was too conservative, and USA Today said his ideas for writing a weekly column on economics were not a good fit for their (ignoramus!) audience.  And to add insult to injury, that Germanic "stand-up economist", Yoram Bauman, was stealing Talaverdi's best Italian jokes!  Now he would never be able to publish "Mamma mia, that's a spicy margin!"   Talaverdi had to do something desperate if he wanted to escape the rank and file economics cadre of the FRB and become a game-changer.  He checked his phone again, then made a sharp right.  He was running out of time!  The U.S. elections were coming, and he would have another chance to influence an impressionable batch of political ignoramuses with his monetary and fiscal brilliance--but only if he could manage to be in the right place at the right time!

And there it was--he had found it!  He rushed in.  All that glitters is not gold....The choice of a lifetime....

A few miles away, Talaverdi's girlfriend, Helen Yellen, was dropping off Petro Pig for another mid-day stroll with Sebastian L'Arche (AKA the Dog Whisperer of DC), after his morning celebrity appearance (and live-tweeting) at "Opportunities for Curbing Methane Pollution", hosted by the Center for American Progress.  Her pot-bellied pig had become very attached to L'Arche during that long weekend when Yellen was away, so she liked to hire L'Arche a few times a week.  And Yellen knew that everything people said about the Dog Whisperer was true, because when he dropped to his knees and whispered in Petro Pig's ear, Petro Pig would quietly snort and wiggle his tail.  Her boyfriend could barely tolerate petting the pig at all, but L'Arche would do Eskimo kisses and everything!

Petro Pig whispered to L'Arche that Talaverdi was completely mistaken about Peak Oil, but L'Arche was fairly certain that everybody was mistaken about Peak Oil, so he just nodded sympathetically.  Then Petro Pig whispered that Talaverdi's ambition was darkening his soul, but L'Arche didn't want to be too alarming to Yellen.  "Petro Pig says Luciano has been very tense lately."

"Yes!  Oh, my God, that is so true!  Ever since they announced the Nobel Prize in Economics, he's been so jealous and depressed!  I keep trying to tell him that goes to older people who've been at it much longer, but he wants so much."

With that, Yellen set off to meet Talaverdi at the Inter-American Development Bank art exhibit, "Flow".  He rarely left the Federal Reserve Board palace at lunch time, but he had surprised her by agreeing to this--because it was at a humongous bank, she figured.  She got on the little Vespa he had bought her and started zipping her way downtown.

Meanwhile, Talaverdi was almost ready.  He had phoned his mother in Italy to be certain she was on board with the whole idea, and now he was yammering on the cellphone with his psychiatrist, Dr. Ermann Esse in the back of an Ethiopian's taxi.  "Yes, but that's...alright...I see....Is it normal to feel hope and terror at the same time?  OK."  He finally hung up, and the driver caught his eyes in the mirror.

"I remember that feeling," he laughed, shaking his head, but Talaverdi was fairly certain it was not the same feeling.

 A few minutes later, the two sweethearts were kissing in front of a very disturbing painting that Talaverdi could just glimpse out of the corner of his eye.  "How's the exhibit?" he asked her.

"A lot of wild stuff!  Come and see this!" exclaimed Yellen, taking him by the hand.

Raised on a diet of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci, Talaverdi was not a natural aficionado of Caribbean art, but the Italian economist had not expected to see the Inter-American Development Bank exhibiting films of naked women being marked by a plastic surgeon or pouring makeup over themselves.  "Is this...feminist?" he asked.

Yellen just laughed and pulled him along.  After he had seen everything, he realized this was not the appropriate place he had hoped for, but his heart was pounding out of his chest, and he couldn't wait another minute.  He pulled his sweetheart back to the exhibit with the beaded sneakers on the floor, knelt down in front of her, and pulled out the engagement ring.

The security guard shook his head, puzzled that they always picked the sneakers.  He carefully took a cellphone photo to add to his collection, which he was eventually going to exhibit as "Tying the Knot".

Three stories above them, a Brazilian economist finished reading another report about Amazonian deforestation, wrote down some notes for the Nobel Prize-winning work he was planning to publish next year, and headed out for lunch.

A hundred feet above him, a flock of Baltimore orioles passed over Washington on their way back to the Caribbean, accelerating their pace as they sensed a flock of evil starlings trying to chase them out to Ardua of the Potomac.

COMING UP:  Washington's secret haunted house party!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

From Russia, with love!

Glenn Michael Beckmann was living proof that just because you're paranoid does not mean nobody is following you.  Despite his best efforts to keep his subversive (but patriotic!) activities undetected by the federal agents who had kept him under surveillance since publication of his blog entry threatening fatal harm to the Federal Reserve Board ("Serial creditor, serial predator!"), the feds were well aware that a Ukrainian woman had started living with him at Southwest Plaza.  They were also aware of something he was not--that she was actually from Russia.  What they could not figure out was why she spent so much time cooking.

"I swear, Darja, your cooking smells so good that you're attracting all the roaches from the floor into our apartment!" exclaimed Beckmann, neglecting his business affairs yet again to enter the kitchen and give her a squeeze.

Darja was very happy to spend all her time in the kitchen.  First of all, it was a large kitchen she did not have to share with a quarrelsome mother and a deaf grandmother.  Secondly, the leader of the Heurich Society (Henrietta "Button" Samuelson) had instructed her to keep Beckmann well-fed with soup, bread, and lies about Ukraine.  Thirdly, the food helped decrease his voracious appetite in bed.  But most importantly of all, Darja was slowly going insane from the influence of the Southwest Plaza real estate demon, and believed the roaches were her special friends.  "Putin is withdrawing the Russian troops from Ukraine!" she declared joyously, even though she knew full-well it was another lie.  "In a few months, maybe I take you to Ukraine, meet my family!"

"I still don't understand why we can't go now!" Beckmann pouted.  "I'd love to be helping your freedom fighters and pounding it to those Russkies!"  (He embellished this with finger-gun flourishes.)

"No, no!  Too dangerous!  We go at Christmas, maybe."  She shoved a spoonful of potato into his mouth to fend off another beer-breath kiss.  "Maybe I have baby bump by then, no?" she teased him.

Beckmann was still not sure how this mail-order bride thing worked, and didn't even remember ordering Darja [he didn't], but he had fleeting memories of a son living somewhere else, and thoughts of parenthood troubled him.  "I thought you were taking those Ukrainian herbs so you wouldn't get pregnant?"

"Da, da, but sometimes they don't work."  [They were parsley, actually, and never worked--but she was on the pill, anyway.]  "You might be too much of a man for my little herbs, ha ha!"  Beckmann could not help but feel an ego stroke at that, having no idea that she was dreaming of a large, beautiful cockroach growing in her belly.  (Soon, she would be crazier than he was.)

Over in Dupont Circle, Samuelson was trying to get ready for the Heurich Society meeting, but the former CIA agent had shown up early, trying to make out with her.  "Not now!" she kept protesting, but the man did not like giving up easily (except with Angela Merkel).

"You look so hot today!" he purred, trying to take off her leather jacket.

"Don't, I'm cold!" she said, tossing him off.  (Her father had warned her never to date men from the CIA, and she was tired of this guy trying to turn it into more than a fling.)

He finally sat down and pretended to look at his phone.  "How's that Ukrainian-Russian plot going?" he asked, nonchalantly.

"Perfect!" she lied.  The reports she was getting from Darja were getting more and more peculiar, and she was on the verge of scuttling the secret plan.  "But today we can move onto something more pressing."

"The Islamic State?" he asked, looking up.

"I know what's happening in North Korea," she said, winking.

A mile away, Charles Wu was making the same claim, and in his case, it was actually based on accurate intelligence.  "My Russian source told me," he whispered to Slow Man over whiskey sours in their private karaoke room at Musette.

"Not yet--I'm not in the mood, yet!" protested Slow Man, putting down his little terrier to sing a song by When In Rome.  Wu smiled obligingly, though he was not in the mood to kill a whole hour indulging Slow Man's fetish for singing-before-snitching.  Slow Man caressed his own yellow suit jacket repeatedly during the song, expressing emotions that had nothing to do with the lyrics.  Wu hated him and his little dog, too.  Wu had paid big bucks to get this information from a Russian spy, and was in a hurry to get something from Slow Man in return, but, as usual, Slow Man was not in a hurry to do anything.  Wu stole a gulp from Slow Man's drink while he was spinning, burped loudly, and thought about killing the dog but making it look like an accident.

Over in Foggy Bottom, Camisole Silk and Apricot Lily were delivering other important information from the same Russian spy, but they were insisting on speaking directly with John Kerry.

"The Secretary of State is very busy today," said C. Coe Phant, "and asked me to take the Project R.O.D.H.A.M. meeting."

Camisole Silk knew this was a lie and Phant was just trying to get lucky with the beautiful Chinese spies.  "This is top-level information, and we can only deliver it directly."

Phant tapped his beer glass impatiently on the sticky Froggy Bottom table.  "Do you actually know what's happening in North Korea?"

"Yes, we actually know!" said Apricot Lily,

"And we actually know the next step in Ukraine!" added Camisole Silk.

"We may even actually know that Moscow is using Islamist State targets in Syria to train new Russian agents in search-and-destroy tactics," said Apricot Lily.

"Check, please!" shouted Phant, reaching for his Blackberry to contact John Kerry.

A few miles to the east, Sebastian L'Arche had discovered his own Russian mole--or, rather, Russian dog--who had sneaked into his house.  The Samoyed was curled up asleep in the basement, next to the hot water heater.  The Samoyed was a beautiful creature covered in white fluff, but the Dog Whisperer knew something wasn't quite right.  "You're not a dog," he whispered, and the Samoyed opened his eyes without arguing the point.  L'Arche reached out his hand and found actual fur to stroke.  "Who are you?"  The Samoyed, in fact, was the ghost of a Russian diplomat named Anatoly Malenkov, who had died of mysterious circumstances a year earlier.  "Men don't get reincarnated as dogs," said L'Arche, still petting the dog, and the dog made no argument about it since he was still finding the whole ghost thing very confusing.  "Ghosts don't have fur," said L'Arche, rethinking his own sanity.

Then the pot-bellied pig which L'Arche was keeping over the holiday weekend (Petro Pig!) sauntered over to have a sniff, grunted approvingly at the Russian creature, and turned to L'Arche.  "That's Anatoly Malenkov," grunted Petro Pig.  "He likes it here."

Back at the Heurich Society meeting, Condoleezza Rice was crackling over the speaker phone, casting serious doubt on Samuelson's North Korean source.  "Believe me," Rice crackled, "my Russians will tell me as soon as there's anything we need to know about Korea."

"Of course," said Samuelson, rolling her eyes at the former CIA agent, who smiled and winked at her.  "Anything else."

"It's time for us to revisit Operation Cajun Rice," crackled Rice over the speaker phone.

Samuelson had never seen anything about Operation Cajun Rice in the official records, nor in her late father's records; she looked around for a clue, and saw that most of the men in the room were groaning.

"The NFL is a doomed enterprise if it doesn't get new leadership," continued Rice.  "The media is turning on the owners like rabid dogs, slamming them with political correctness which amounts to nothing more than re-branded Southern plantation concepts of gentility.  With my, that is, our leadership, the NFL will be rife with opportunities for serious financial gain, as well as additional influence in business and political circles."  ("She wants to be NFL Commissioner," said the note passed to Samuelson from the investment banker.  "She has a void in her heart ever since Pippin her cat died," said the note passed to Samuelson from the former U.S. Congressman.  "She just likes seeing men slaughtering each other," said the note passed to Samuelson from the international arms dealer.)  "This goes perfectly with our mission statement:  maximize wealth, power, and freedom.  I've already taken the liberty of launching steps one through four, but I'll need help with steps five through ten," said Rice.

"But the Buffalo Bills will NEVER win a Super Bowl, right?" asked a former FBI agent from New Jersey.

"Of course not!" crackled Rice over the speaker phone.

A mile away, the White House butler began putting up Halloween decorations, and the White House ghosts started going into overdrive.

COMING UP:  Luciano Talaverdi, economist extraordinaire.