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 12/26/2015. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Some surprising secret plans!

The Heurich Society was not in the habit of supporting Democratic candidates, but, even with Dick Cheney at its helm, was now having a serious discussion about stopping Donald Trump from taking control of the White House.

"Nothing's more important than the money!"

"And the power!"

"And the freedom!"

"How can he criticize Hillary for something that Pence also did, and when confronted with the hypocrisy, say he doesn't care?!"

"Why don't his supporters care that he's a proud hypocrite?"

"Why do his supporters think he gives a shit about anything except aggrandizing his own DNA pool?"

"The man's a Nazi!"

"That's an insult to Nazis!"

"He'll freeze our assets!"

"We will lose decades of work building networks in OPEC countries!"

"Who will take care of my yard if he gets rid of the Mexicans?"

"Shut up!" hollered Cheney, massaging his wacko replacement heart muscles with his right hand.  "This is not the time to panic!  We have never put stock in democracy, anyway.  We've got dozens of key operatives in the military and intelligence branches.  We have 100% control of the Overseas Contingency Operations, for God's sake!"

"What are you suggesting?!"

"Let him win!  Then we blackmail the Hell out of him once he's in office.  If that doesn't work, he's out."

The upper floor conference room of the Brewmaster's Castle fell silent except for the Army colonel chewing ice and the international arms dealer scratching his stubble.  Several eyes looked to the speakerphone, but Condoleezza Rice was uncharacteristically quiet.

After several minutes, the international banker pushed back his chair and stood up.  "No."

"No?!" screamed Cheney, turning red in the face.

"No.  We've increased all our financial holdings under the Obama Administration and still retained tremendous influence in world affairs.  The conservative choice is Hillary Clinton."

"How the Hell can we project power in the world if that broad is wearing the pants in the family?  She's going to be sitting down with Russian and Chinese leaders while Bubba is holding tea parties in the Rose Garden?  We'll be the laughing stock of the world!  No offense, Condi."

"We'll be the laughing stock if we let a charlatan and his coterie of yes men and sluts take over the White House," said the international banker calmly.  "No offense, Condi.  And if you actually expect the Heurich Society to put its resources into electing Donald Trump, I will put our financial resources at the disposition of somebody else."

Three men jumped up and pulled their guns on the international banker, while another four pulled their guns on the first three.

"ORDER!  ORDER!" screamed Cheney, pounding his fist on the table until he had a heart attack and slumped in his chair.

The ghost of Henry Samuelson, appalled that he had suddenly found himself siding with his arch-enemy Cheney, held his spectral breath waiting to see if the man who had murdered his daughter was finally dead.

Condoleezza Rice, who had not seen the guns drawn and could not see that the current silence in the room was due to the men falling silent while a defibrillator was applied, finally spoke.  "What I want to know is, who fed the DNC documents to Wikileaks?  What exactly is their agenda?"

Their agenda, as it turned out, was to air the dirty laundry before the DNC convention so that it would be quickly subsumed, and not come to light in an untimely fashion in the fall.

"I've taken a big leap of faith on this one," Charles Wu said to Bridezilla, who was still serving as an occasional consultant to his SuperPAC.  "Nobody really wants to see how the sausage is made."

"People would rather eat bloody sausages than shit on a spatula," said the Prince and Prowling junior partner in a tone of bitterness he had never heard from her.

"I didn't know he was already married," said Wu honestly, switching to the topic they needed to address.

"But you did know he had a secret life in Singapore and plenty of other places," said Bridezilla.

"He said you liked the fact he was a mysterious foreigner."  Wu was uncomfortable with this sort of conversation and got up to feign interest in the blooming bougainvillea gracing the corner of her office.

"I didn't even know his real name!"

"Neither did I," said Wu, honestly.  He knew she was an intelligent woman about many things but not her own heart.  He gently touched the blossoms, keeping his back to her.

"What did you know about him?" she asked.

Wu suppressed a sigh and returned to the guest chair.  "He fed me intelligence about OPEC countries to help me make business decisions."  (This was true, though only a fraction of the truth.)  "I think he was in love with you, for what it's worth."

"Who do you really work for, Charles?"

"Myself and my daughter.  I'm a selfish man.  I have clients that I may or may not agree with, like your law firm."

Bridezilla bit her lip, realizing there was no moral high ground to take in response to such a statement.  She took a bonbon out of the expensive box of chocolates he had brought her and ate it while he got up to look at the bougainvillea again.  "You're right," she said at last.  "I did like the fact he was a mysterious foreigner.  Now I'm surrounded by strangers in my own country more mysterious to me than you or him.  People ready to vote Adolf Hitler into the White House.  My grandfather didn't die in Italy so that fascists could take over this country."  (And bigamists! she added to herself, with a newly found horror of men who take on a new wife every decade or two.)

Wu returned to the guest chair, and she offered him a bonbon.  The crisis in their working relationship was over.  "So let's talk about what we will spend money on in Philly," said Wu.

"Hillary must win," said Bridezilla quietly, thinking with sadness about the era which now seemed eons ago--the era when she worked closely with John Boehner.  "And Tim Kaine," she added, though she had never voted for him before.

Out at Trump National Golf Course in Virginia, Nazi descendants Barbara Hellmeister and Ernest Ironman were dealing with their own angst about the upcoming Presidential election.

"But your grandfather would have wanted Trump!" exclaimed Barbara.

"No, not Adolf Eichmann!" argued Ernest, who was fed up that his pregnant lover was too fat and tired now to satisfy his needs.

"Trump has Hitler DNA!" retorted an exasperated Barbara.  "I've run the biological analysis four times!"  She was amazed she had ever thought she could bring out the Aryan greatness in this hillbilly.

"He blood is too impure!"

"So was Hitler's!"

"Trump has recklessly bred with Eastern European scum!" exclaimed Ernest (who had some suspicious West Virginian ancestry of his own).  "He has a daughter named 'Ivanka' dying her hair blond to try to pretend she is an Aryan, and yet she married a Jew!"

"All this screaming is not good for the baby!" pouted Barbara, showing a rare maternal streak.  "I am going out to soak my feet!"

It was too hot for members to come golf today, so she was able to leave their underground bunker freely and head to the pond where Ardua was currently residing.  Ardua had regained her strength feeding on the fascist energy of Trump's club, but was not yet ready to slither her way back into larger waters.  Ardua sucked affectionately on the wicked toes of Barbara Hellmeister, but was undecided what to do about the sudden rift between the couple she had been hoping to inspire for a major killing spree in Virginia.  And what about Tim Kaine?  Was Ernest onto something?  Perhaps further down the line, Ardua could actually have more influence over a Virginian!

Back in Washington, conspiracy blogger Glenn Michael Beckmann was stoked on cannabis purchased at the housing project across the street, and the lovely interaction it made with the prescription psychotropics already circulating in his brain.  He was rewatching the most recent video of the day put on by the popular YouTube channel, "Larry and Gary".  Larry, as usual, had filmed the video in front of the shared computer at the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged (while nobody else was in the room).  And, as usual, the video began with typical comedian banter between Larry (an exceedingly bad ventriloquist) and Gary (an exceedingly bad dummy).  Then, as usual, they ended up in a big argument (this time it was about immigration policy as it would be applied to ventriloquist acts from terrorism-compromised countries), followed by Gary's putting his little dummy hands around Larry's neck.  Then, as usual, somebody (this time it was Theresa) interrupted the fight, pulled the dummy off Larry's neck, and threw it on the floor.  Gary's mouth continued to move by itself for another minute.

Beckmann had been convinced for weeks that Gary was truly evil (maybe even as bad as that zombie chief of staff he had beheaded some years back) but had been undecided what to do about it.  Today, he finally realized what he needed to:  kidnap the dummy so that he could unleash it on unsuspecting enemies.  (The enemy list--subject to daily revisions--was kept on a dry erase board next to the television.  Top of the list?  Ivanka Trump's husband.)  He pulled up his conspiracy blog (disguised as a lifestyle blog) and typed in code a call upon his followers to locate where Larry and Gary were to be found.

Over in Cleveland Park, Marcos Vazquez's mother made the difficult decision to give destiny a hand by slipping secret herbs to Golden Fawn to get her pregnant, but the herbs would do much more than that.

********************************************************************
COMING UP:  The veil.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A legend in his own mind, a hero in his own heart!

A lot of people were upset about the Brexit vote, but not Cedric, a resident of the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged.  "Rule, Brittania!" he had been exclaiming repeatedly for weeks.  Despite several heated conversations about it with the ghost of deceased CIA officer Henry Samuelson, Cedric was so certain that (despite the lack of slavery-powered colonies which had previously built the Empire) Britain was again taking its rightful place as an independent Superpower, he had regressed to again believing he was a British spy.  He had sneaked out to ride a bus, Metro train, and another bus to arrive at the door of Charles Wu's Cleveland Park house and make another rescue attempt on behalf of Cordelia Buffy's English nanny, Mrs. Prudence Higgety-Cheshire.

"Oh, bother!" cried the nanny when she saw Cedric enter the backyard. Mrs. H-C was wearing a matronly swimsuit, sitting in a most undignified manner in the kiddie pool, and aiming the hose at little Delia and Delia's visiting friend while they dashed about the yard giggling.  "You can't just show up here unannounced!"

"Well, you never take my phone calls!" Cedric protested, sitting down on a patio chair and wiping a handkerchief across his sweaty brow.

"How many times must I tell you that I am not interested in your well-intended advances!"  She stopped shooting the hose as the two young girls ran over to examine Cedric and the stuffed bear he had placed on the seat beside him.

"That's Aloysius," said Cedric, and the girls giggled.  "He doesn't like being laughed at!"

"Cedric, they're four years old!  They giggle fourteen hours a day."

"My name is--" began Delia's friend.

"Don't tell him your name!" interrupted the nanny.  She was fairly certain Cedric was harmless, but there was no need to throw precaution to the wind.  "He likes to play a game of trying to guess your name."

Cedric did not like children at all, and barked at them to leave him alone, whereupon Charles Wu emerged from the house with a drugged bottle of cold beer to offer the annoying former member of the Heurich Society.  (Charles would call one of his Pakistani taxi driver contacts to take him away later.)

"Thank you, Charles!" Cedric said, suddenly forgetting he was supposed to be rescuing Prudence from this dangerous spy (who had done something now completely slipping Cedric's mind).

Charles sent the girls inside with the nanny to eat lunch, and sat down to tell Cedric he had switched sides.

Down at the White House, Ghost Dennis was arguing with members of the Shackled about the outcome of the summit on police and race relations.

"I told President Obama it would lead to nothing, and it hasn't!" said Ghost Dennis.

The Shackled disagreed.  They had been around for centuries, and argued that progress was slow but definitely happening.

"This country is descending into madness!" exclaimed Ghost Dennis.  "He can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results."

"It's not like before," said a member of the Shackled.  "Africans were lynched with impunity.  Now there is accountability."

"It's just a dog and pony show, and then the cops always get acquitted," protested Ghost Dennis.  "Can't you see the President needs to shift course?  If only he would sit still long enough to hear my five-point proposal.  He always brushes me away like a fly!"

Over on Capitol Hill, Congressman Herrmark was holding a meeting of the Bicameral Anti-Zombie Caucus.  "Are they zombies?" was the question on everybody's lips, but nobody was really certain whether the names touted as Vice-Presidential candidates were undead or not.

"They are probably safe for now," said Herrmark's Chief of Staff, Ann Bishis, who was passing around a plate of lemon squares and a stack of memos outlining Herrmark's plan to monitor Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for signs of brain rot.  "You really can't beat Secret Service protection."

"We still believe that the zombie pandemic has been contained to the legislative branch," added Herrmark, "but, of course, we take nothing for granted.  Personally, I think Trump is probably immune--I don't think any zombie would find his brains palatable enough to eat.  We do need watch the others."  Herrmark knew that what he was doing was more important for democracy than anything a Vice-President could do, and so did not feel the sting of envy so many other politicians were experiencing right now.

Over at the FBI headquarters, self-professed autistic shaman "John Doe" was again being interviewed about blog posts he had recently written, predicting a police massacre in Texas, a killer bus in France, and a bloody Ottoman insurrection.  "That's not my name," the total amnesiac said, again refusing to acknowledge incontrovertible proof of his identity.  The FBI had verified the massive gang-related brain trauma which had caused the insomnia and temporal lobe epilepsy, but he was definitely not autistic.  But who could have such accurate visions?  He made everybody nervous.  "They just come to me," John said, again.  "Ghost Henry's been trying for a long time to force them, because he says my visions always come too late to be of any use."  (The FBI was still trying to confirm whether a "Henry Samuelson" ever worked for the CIA; the interrogators never discussed whether they believed he was currently a ghost or not.)  "And I think he's right.  I post my visions in my blog, but I can never get wide readership.  I tried doing YouTube videos.  CNN and Fox are always interviewing so-called experts who make predictions that never come true, but mine do!  It would be nice if somebody put me on TV to warn people!  I mean, I don't care about the money, because I'm a shaman, of course."  (All his bills were paid by the relatives he refused to acknowledge were actually his.) 

"Tell us about the driver of the bus in Nice," the lead investigator said doggedly, pointing to a photo.  "When did you first learn about him?"

"I told you," he repeated.  "I fell down in a fit and saw the fiery truck.  I never saw him."  He had waited until the cup of decaf coffee had cooled down, and started drinking it now, but he had mistakenly received the real stuff.  "A prophet is never welcome in his own time, they say.  But then, what's the point of being a prophet?"  (The lead investigator sighed; it was like this every time.)  "I struggle with that sometime.  I wrote an essay about it once for Reader's Digest, but they never printed it."

"You must have seen the driver!"

"I don't know anything about the driver!"  With that, the caffeine hit John's nervous system like an electric shock, and he went into an epileptic trance that nobody could snap him out of for ten minutes.  When he came to, the first thing he said was, "The dogs, too?"

Down in Southwest, conspiracy theorist Glenn Michael Beckmann's nervous system was having an overload of its own.  Beckmann had failed to assassinate Donald Trump before he got Secret Service protection, failed to fly to Alaska to make a paternity claim on his love child with Bristol Palin (how could they put a patriot like him on the No-Fly List?!), failed to get Sarah Palin arrested for assassinating Antonin Scalia, failed to discover Darja's killer, and failed to formulate a plan to protect America's police forces from retaliation.  He took a deep toke of reefer and closed his eyes to recall past glories when he was serving in Iraq [in his imagination], killing illegal aliens and terrorists [partially true], planting bombs against ___ [can't remember, but they deserved it!], invading Cuba [not even close], and leading the Hunter-Gatherer Society in its successful eradication of germ warfare [not] monkeys [only one] from Kingman Island.  "I will rise again!" he cried to the mouse scurrying across the floor, and picked up a book on Attila the Hun to throw at it.  And then the mouse reminded him of vermin in general, and he realized what he needed to do next.

The mouse ran out to the open balcony, where it was quickly attacked by the feline ghost pack run by Condoleezza's deceased pet, Pippin, and plunged to its death on the sidewalk below.

**************************************************************
COMING UP:  Some surprising secret plans!

Prince and Prowling's women on the verge of a nervous breakdown!

Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam!

Bridezilla pulled off her goggles as the gun range target sheet flew towards her for review.

"You hit all the vital organs again, ma'am," said her shooting instructor.  "Why don't you take a break?"  She had been there for ten hours on Saturday, and had shown up promptly at 11:30 this morning (after church services) ready to go again.

"What?" protested the Prince and Prowling junior partner.  "I just got here!"

The shooting instructor knew that the gun range owner was going to come in on Monday, see the massively depleted inventory of bullets and target sheets, and seriously reconsider his unlimited target practice membership plan.

"We could try blindfolded shooting," suggested the instructor, trying to slow her down.  "It's good practice for shooting in the dark."

"Blindfolded shooting?" exclaimed Bridezilla, incredulously.  "I'm an attorney!  I'm not going to shoot at somebody I can't see!"  She tore off the target sheet and reloaded her gun for the next one.

The shooters this morning were mostly white people preparing for the spread of the deadly race war engulfing America, though there were also a few people subconsciously preparing to shoot up Muslims, politicians, gays, bosses, or ex-wives.   Bridezilla was uncharacteristically apolitical this week, picturing only one face on the hundreds of targets she had shot up:  husband Marco Pel.  "Don't even know his real name!" she muttered again.

The instructor had tried in vain to figure out if she was really going to gun down her husband or was just blowing off steam:  after several protests about invading her privacy, she had finally told him she had no husband, it was all a sham, and she would get an annulment as soon as all the damned vacationing Virginia judges would get back to their dockets!  The instructor had seen these skinny Virginia belle types before, but usually only for a couple hours the weekend after a husband had purchased them a small handgun for their designer purse.  He had never seen this type of behavior, and was writing up a report for his boss even though he knew nothing would come of it.

Another target sheet flew towards them, with the genitals blown to bits, and he sipped from his water bottle instead of commenting.

Further down the legal totem pole of Prince and Prowling, staff attorney Chloe Cleavage was also becoming increasingly unhinged.  She was sunbathing on her condo building roof with cousin Chloris Cleavage, an actress who had stopped by for a visit after completing a bit part as "Waitress Number Two" in a movie filming outside Baltimore.

"I guess I should take the train up on Monday to New York, to prepare for the audition," Chloris was saying for the tenth time, even though the audition for an antiperspirant commercial was not scheduled until Thursday.  "I could stay with Mitch or Michael, I suppose."  Chloris was always referring to a score of men just dying to pin her down, and Chloe was silently rolling her eyes again.  "Michael is definitely a better cook, tee hee!  But Mitch, well--"

"Whatever!" cried out an exasperated Chloe, who had now forgotten all the gratitude previously felt for the period Chloris had come to stay with her after the broken arm.  "You know how many guys have me on speed dial?!  Two dozen, at least!"

"Well, that's great!" said Chloris.  "What are you hollerin' at me for?  Which one do you like the best?  Wait, two-dozen?!"

Chloe grabbed her thermos to sip from the frozen margarita and stall.  "Well...."  She took another sip, suddenly overcome with bitterness that a prince had never arrived on a white horse for her.  (Well, not a handsome rich one, like she wanted.)  "Devon, I suppose," which was the name of a firm client, and the princeliest name she could come up with.

"Ooh, what's he like?"

Chloe thought about the first time she had accidentally run into an attorney visiting from Devon.  Staff attorneys at P&P were never supposed to mix with clients, but when he saw her silicone enhancements and figured out she was working on his case, he had stopped by her office on the way out.  One thing had led to another, and then he had left her with a fifty-dollar bill on her desk.  Somehow, this had now happened with attorneys visiting from three other clients, none of whom objected when she also billed the time to their employers.  Then she had started getting cellphone calls from other men they knew, and she now had a guy visiting her apartment almost every night of the week!  She had raised her price to $300, but this had led to even more phone calls as her reputation as a "high-priced call girl" spread.  And she turned away ugly guys, which made the guys reaching her bedroom (or office chair) crow about their experiences even more! 

Am I really the sort of girl a man will never want to marry?  She had anguished to herself over and over again.  My cousin is at least out there pursuing her dream!  I can't even remember why I went to law school!  What have I become?

"Chloe?  Hey, slow down on the margarita, girl!"

Chloe put the thermos down beside her.  "Devon is...well, he's hard to describe.  He makes me feel...wanted."

"Goodness, that is not enough, Chloe!  Trust me!  Guys are always wanting, wanting, wanting.  But what are they giving?  You gotta find somebody who will help your dreams come true!"

I don't have a dream, Chloe thought.

Downtown, further down the P&P totem pole, long-time contract attorney Laura Moreno was putting in the repeated weekend overtime hours she needed to pay her health insurance premium, but she was in an uncharacteristically good mood because tonight was another meeting of ASPIRE:  Attorneys Serving Public Interest Radicals Everywhere.  It had been years since her drudgery work at Prince and Prowling made her too exhausted to do pro bono work or look for better job opportunities, but ASPIRE made her feel energized!  The leader--who only went by the name "Max" to avoid harassment from reactionary trolls--was the most charismatic man she had ever met!  She really felt she could move mountains for him!  Though most of the members were attorneys, he had also attracted paralegals, legal assistants, secretaries, accountants, political activists, and scores of other professionals united behind his vision of shifting the intellectual energy of the nation's legal sector away from serving corporate America and towards serving common America.  What neither Laura nor anybody else in the young organization knew was that Max was really serving Evil.

Closer to the bottom of the Prince and Prowling totem pole than she felt she (even though a non-employee) should be, the wife of former Senator Evermore Breadman had followed him to work to spy on him, incredulous that he would pass up a yacht excursion on a gorgeous day like this simply because "it's an election year, dear!"  She was aware of his occasional philandering, and had cheated on him in revenge a few times, but she felt they were both getting too old for that nonsense and needed to get closer to the dignity she saw in others of their age--who were learning to play bridge and taking grandchildren to baseball games.  She had gotten Laura what's-her-name to let her in under false pretenses, and was creeping around on her husband's floor.  Every time she got near his office, she could hear his voice on the phone in what sounded like legitimate calls (though she had never before heard him refer to Donald Trump as a "sperm whale with diarrhea", President Obama as "the Wizard of Clods", and Hillary Clinton as "living proof that voodoo dolls work").  Still uneasy, she poked through his secretary's desk and his legal assistant's files.  She poked through forgotten food in the kitchen fridge and forgotten output in the central printer tray.  She went downstairs to the firm library and upstairs to the penthouse.  Then she accidentally stumbled across the office of Chloe Cleavage--a name she had heard whispered every year at the firm holiday party.  She rummaged through everything until she found the smoking gun:  four boxes of condoms!  "What kind of slut keeps four boxes of condoms in her office!"  [Chloe had ordered a crate of them from Amazon because she had run out of nearby drugstores she was willing to buy more at.]  She grabbed all of them and raced to her husband's office.

"What kind of woman is this?!" she shouted to her shocked husband, throwing the condom boxes on his desk.

"I need to call you back, Mr. Speaker," he said quickly, hanging up the phone.  "What on Earth?"

"Is that what they're called these days?  [Air quotes--]  Staff attorney?"

"Um--"

"Don't 'um' me!"

"Are those from Roderick's office?" Breadman asked, though he doubted it.

"Chloe Cleavage!  How often do you sleep with her?  Are you crazy?  She could blackmail you!"

Chloe had already blackmailed him, but he wasn't responsible for this quantity of condoms, and a surge of testosterone-fueled jealousy rose in him even as he struggled to calm down his wife.

"I don't know what all those are for!" he said honestly.  "I don't have time for that!  Believe me:  I wish I did!"  He regretted that last part as soon as it was out of his mouth.

"Well, maybe I can give you a quickie before you call back Mr. Ryan!" she screamed.

"Um, alright," Breadman said, relieved.

"Ga, you're disgusting!  You think I'm going to do it on a sticky leather chair!  Satin sheets!  Satin sheets!  Satin sheets!  Dignity!"  She kicked over both his guest chairs, then dumped a potted plant onto his couch for good measure.  "Act your age!"

Back at the gun range, a sudden migraine had finally put an end to Bridezilla's personal blitzkrieg across the stack of target sheets.  "Sometimes pets can help with extreme stress," the instructor said to her, surprising even himself.

She looked at him suspiciously.  "Some men are scared of strong women!" she declared, marching off in a snit, determined to find a female shooting instructor, even though she was good enough to be a psycho sniper now.

Nonetheless, an hour later, she was returning home with miniature Siamese-twin guinea pigs, little conjoined freaks she had adopted from the local animal shelter.  "I'll call you Thelma and Louise," she told them.  (In time, she would change their names to "Flower Girl" and "Maid of Honor".)

Outside her window, a catbird wondered whose side they were on. 

********************************************************************
COMING UP:  
A legend in his own mind, a hero in his own heart!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Longing for Freedom (but freedom from what?)

Calico Johnson had come home early from Atlantic City because of the lousy weather.  Megamoo, as expected, was huddled in her outdoor pagoda, refusing to graze.  "Come on!  This is ridiculous!  You need to graze now before it really starts raining!"  Megamoo, as expected, let out a loud bellow but refused to budge.  I've got acres and acres of grass here!  I'm tired of buying hay for you!"  There was a time he used to invite friends, colleagues, hot women, and real estate clients out to his Potomac Manors estate, but the two horses and one (very loud cow) made it a little too farm-like and not enough party-like.  He tried to push Megamoo (who had been cured of bovine narcolepsy, but was currently being treated for arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and [Johnson had some doubts about this one] dissociative identity disorder), but she simply let out another loud moo.  Johnson had recently sold a pricey (but haunted!) home to the Obamas, and the astonishing political rise of Donald Trump had reminded him that he was a major player himself and should not be wasting his time in animal husbandry.  "I only took you in for Basia's sake!" he grumbled to the geriatric cow, recalling bitterly his infatuation with the neighbor who had--according to the FBI--burnt down her own home.  "And it's obvious she's never coming back!  I have no qualms about turning you into hamburger!"  Megamoo lay down on the concrete in protest.

President Obama, meanwhile, was at the White House preparing for another USO event to honor military families.  He and his wife had signed the real estate contract (for a haunted house!) the same day he had signed the law opening up more records to Freedom of Information Act requests.  (They would still be answered too slowly to affect anything he was doing in office.)  But he knew his legacy was in jeopardy.  So many advisors had told him that Donald Trump's Republican nomination would guarantee Hillary Clinton's election in November, but why is this FBI investigation dragging on so long?  And how could my Attorney General have been stupid enough to talk to Bill Clinton at an airport?  Sometimes it seems like--

"Don't worry," the familiar voice whispered in his ear.

It was Ghost Dennis, but Obama still did not know that, and his skin crawled.  Sometimes it seems like there is a conspiracy of evil to destroy everything, and--

"I know," the familiar voice whispered in his ear.  "But I'm playing the long game."  (Ghost Dennis had been there since dying in an "accident" during the Nixon Administration.)

The President plugged his ears.  "I will never surrender to evil!" he said out loud, not understanding that evil doesn't need a formal surrender.

Over at the CIA's secret underground facility, beneath the Washington Times headquarters, Dr. Ermann Esse had tried without success to free himself from bondage to the CIA's secret enhanced interrogation program by addicting himself to prescription pain killers in order to fail the random drug tests they made everybody take.  However, instead of firing the psychiatrist, the CIA had placed him in lockdown for a rapid and painful cold-turkey withdrawal.  The shrink who had made a career of not prescribing psychotropics for his patients was now a poster child for "this is your brain on drugs"--writhing in agony on the floor, pulling his hair out, scratching his forearms, banging his forehead against the cinderblock wall, and periodically crying out to anybody who might hear him to take pity and give him a pill.  How had it all gone so horribly wrong?! (Dr. Esse had a lot of memory loss surrounding the period in which he had been wearing the cursed Rolex.)

The cursed Rolex was currently adorning the wrist of previously average and normal Kevin "Monkey" Mundy, a DC water employee now obsessed with panning for gold and diamonds in the Potomac River and its tributaries.  The Nazi-descendant couple, Barbara Hellmeister and Ernest Ironman, had invited him out for an ironic 4th of July celebration in their secret bunker at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia.  Ernest was insecure about Monkey's friendship with the couple, even though Barbara was due to give birth to his child in late September.  Therefore, Ernest, who had been raised in obscurity in West Virginia, had decided to surprise Monkey with a young bride of his own--whom Ernest had picked out after several trips to Northern Virginia's shopping malls and bus stations.

"I thought it was time for you to get married," said Ernest, as Monkey walked in.  Much to his surprise, Monkey saw a girl dressed in a red, white and blue sundress, rubbing her bare arms against the cold and damp.  "Her name is Brittani spelled with two i's.  She's already pregnant, so if you say you're the father, you can marry her--but you should do it right away, because the stupid government just raised the age of marriage in Virginia."  Brittani was only fourteen.  She was not actually pregnant, but she had already run away from home to be with a boyfriend who had subsequently dumped her for another girl.  She was a little chubby, so when Ernest had asked if she was pregnant, she had impulsively said yes in a ploy for sympathy, food, and/or money.

Barbara, who believed their own baby would be an example of Aryan greatness, did not at all approve of encouraging these two genetic mutts to marry each other and produce any offspring (hers, his, or theirs), but she knew that Ernest was jealous about Monkey, so she had not stood in the way.  She handed Brittani a sweater, now that Monkey had already gotten a look at the girl's cleavage.

"Hi!" cried out Brittani, who occasionally felt special and excited about all that was happening, and thought Monkey was kinda cute.  "I made potato salad!  I can cook all kinds of things.  I made chocolate chip cookies, too, but those are for later."

Monkey had not dated since having his heart broken by his college girlfriend.  He had first poured himself into a local government career, and then, lately, all his passion had flowed towards finding the secret treasurers hidden in the water.  But now he felt his pulse quicken at the sight of this girl and the sound of her voice.  Maybe the Taliban and ISIS are right about child brides?!  All his (corrupted) instincts were saying yes!

"Just call in sick tomorrow," said Ernest, seeing the lust in Monkey's eyes.  He handed Monkey a cold beer, and took the bag of chips, brownies, and fireworks from him.  "Spend the night here, and we'll all go to the Courthouse first thing in the morning!  She already has a white dress ready."

"Sure, why not?" Monkey found himself saying, momentarily forgetting his obsession with gold and diamonds.  (But it would return.)

Back in Washington, British special agents Nigel Blackthorne (code name "Prickly") and Richard Mollington (code name "The Third") were trying to enjoy local lifestyle guru Giuliana Sunstream's 4th of July party, but the marijuana-and-cinnamon lemonade was not enough to cut the gloom cast from the gray, damp skies.  Giuliana had most of her guests now engaged indoors in a patriotic game she had invented (Hamilton hip-hop charades), but Prickly and The Third were still sitting on the balcony, commiserating about the Brexit vote.  The main Brexit problem, of course, was that special agents would all lose easy access to every country in the European Union, and the easy access that in turn gave to entering Russia or the Middle East.  The secondary problem was that too many people in England were unable to accept that their country was a declining world power:  without a string of colonies to prop it up, England was going to be just another small European country.  A nuclear arsenal could do nothing about the narrow economy (which the security establishment had been lamenting for years).  Haiti and Somalia had freedom from excessive government bureaucracy, and what had it gotten them?  The strongest economies in the world all had strong governments.

"Come on, you sourpusses!" exclaimed Giuliana as she opened the balcony door to summon them inside.  "I know you didn't come to my Freedom Fest to sit out here by yourself staring at the drizzle!"  She squeezed both of them on the shoulder at the same time, bending over to let them smell the perfume she had hand-crafted herself at a Scents-Your-Purpose event she had hosted the previous weekend.  "Come in and join the fun!"

A flock of starlings quickly descended to take over the now empty balcony, chattering away about how easy it was to crush the human spirit.

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COMING UP:  Prince and Prowling's women
on the verge of a nervous breakdown!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Singapore Surprise

Angela de la Paz, as it turned out, was having a harder time with Father's Day than with Mother's Day.  She was thinking about the late Aussie commando who had been father to the son she had given up for adoption.  She had seen him a couple times in the Dreamtime and knew he was at peace, but it seemed wrong that he never got a chance to see his son on Earth.

"What do you think?" smiled Dulles Samuelson (who wast not at all thinking about his adoptive father, or the Argentine father he had never known).  Dulles showed off the cleaned-up houseboat, Singapore Surprise, which he had just moved into.  "See, I got some hammocks, petunias, tomato plants.  I took out that navy plaid in the interior and replaced it with turquoise."  (He had noticed she wore turquoise a lot.)  "I know sometimes you go out of town for work, but you could stay here whenever you want."  He was hoping that would be all the time, but he didn't want to push his luck.  "Roommates," he added, though he was pretty sure she knew he was hoping for more than that down the road.

Angela sat in the hammock, giving him a smile but no promises.  She loved the feel of the rocking boat and the swaying hammock above the demon-free river.  (She knew the Warrior had located Ardua of the Potomac out in a pond at Trump National Golf Course, but that felt like a thousand miles away.)  "This is a perfect day," she said, which was a lie, but she did feel really good in the sunshine looking at the unexpected sweetness which was Dulles.  (Neither of them had any clue what was still hidden on the boat by the previous owner, a Navy admiral going to prison for corruption.)

"That's the one," said Marcos Vazquez, pointing to Singapore Surprise as they sailed past it in the catamaran they had rented for Father's Day.  "When the Admiral was in town, he always stayed there--never bought a house anywhere."

"Or that's what he told them," said Golden Fawn, smiling.

"He had to cough up plenty of that bribe money," said Vazquez.

"Sure, just not the money he already spent."

"Well, he never had the reward of the true love of a good woman!" exclaimed Vazquez, leaning over for a kiss and accidentally pulling the sail the wrong way.

"Dad!" cried Joey Bent Oak from the other side, where he had been letting his step-grandmother use the binoculars, but the sail was quickly righted.

A few miles away, that was not the case.  "How am I going to get this ship righted?" asked Congressman Paul Ryan, who had taken to talking out loud to his Thaitastic masseuse because she barely understood English.

"Yes," she said, as always.  (She did not let him distract her from the hard work of realigning his joints and ligaments.)

"Two GOP governors' saying they won't vote for Trump.  Surely Lindsay Graham and John Cain will start a #NeverTrump movement in the Senate!  And then what?"

"Yes."

"Oof!  I mean, I don't think his foreign policy is going to be totally nuts when he has actual national security professionals giving him daily briefings, right?"

"Yes."

"Nobody respects me.  Could you believe those Democrats revolting about gun control, throwing a hissy fit in the House after that moment of silence for Orlando?"

"Yes."

"Oh!  Maybe Hillary would be alright on foreign policy, but she'll never sign any of our domestic bills!"

"Yes."

"Gaaa!  Honestly, considering how much people hate both of them, you would think more dirt would have been dug up on both of them!"

"Yes."

"Well, at least that socialist didn't win the Democratic nomination.  Oof!"

"Socialist, yes."

The Speaker of the House looked up in surprise.  Why does she know that word?  Maybe she's not Thai at all?  Maybe she's Chinese?  "Ah!"

"Yes," said the woman, who had been born in Singapore.

Not far away, Charles Wu had not yet returned home to the Father's Day surprises he knew the English nanny had helped his daughter prepare.  Right now, he was still stuck at Froggy Bottom trying to redirect "C. Coe Phant's" China advocacy at the State Department.

"When the economy stalls, the government--"

"You mean the Communist Party," interrupted C. Coe Phant.

Wu did not like being interrupted, particularly by somebody he had paid plenty of money to over the years.

"The rulers of China have a stalled economy, and whenever citizens feel financially pinched, they complain more.  This leads to more government reaction."

"Like making Hong Kong booksellers disappear into black hole prison sites?"

"Yes!" said Wu, who had grown up in Hong Kong and had spent many years carefully balancing his work for Hong Kong against his work for mainland China.  "Things are not going well domestically, so the government is cracking down on opposition and seeking to score nationalist victories by expanding naval power."

"In international waters," said C. Coe Phant.

Was was about to ask "whose side are you on?" when the triple agent remembered how much he dreaded that question himself.  "I know this is not an easy time to advocate for Beijing.  I'm only asking you to keep hammering the intelligence analysis that the government is anxious about domestic economic grumbling.  Any increase in human rights diplomacy would be counter-productive at this time."

"I suppose they're upset that Obama met with the Dalai Lama?"

"That is the least of their concerns--the average Chinese doesn't even know it happened."

"But what about Singapore?" whispered C. Coe Phant.  "Forbes calls it Asia's most influential city, and some are saying that Beijing hackers are trying to undermine it.  Is it true?"

"Of course not," said Wu, but he wasn't going to tell him what was really going on there.

A few miles away, U.S Attorney Atticus Hawk was in his Justice Department office, ignoring the beautiful June day to make more progress in the Panama Papers investigation.  He was following a thread that seemed to wind its way back and forth around the globe several times, linked to a man with several aliases.  Then he pulled up Facebook on his phone to check something about his old pal Wince's former fiancee--the name of her husband.  "Marco Pel!"  He looked back at his computer.  "You have been a very bad boy."  He hesitated a couple minutes, then decided to text Wince a link to a public registry.  "Don't ask me how I stumbled across this, but Bridezilla's husband, using a different name, has a wife in Singapore."

Back on Singapore Surprise, Angela smiled at the pink dolphins splashing nearby, pushing out of her mind the battles still to come.

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COMING UP:  Washington Water Woman is heading out of town, so please be patient in waiting for her next post!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Running With the Pack

Ghost Pippin had been haunting the Supreme Court for several months, terrorizing judicial clerks, secretaries, security guards, cleaning staff, librarians and the Justices themselves--not that any would admit it!  This was a semi-rational place dedicated to declaring the law of the land, and nobody here wanted to say they were knocking on wood, carrying rabbit's feet, leaving out cat treats and toys, crossing themselves, throwing salt over their shoulders, or closing their eyes when riding alone in elevators.  The former pet of Condoleezza Rice was bored with it:  spreading scary mojo at the Supreme Court, though perhaps having serious effects on judicial outcomes, gave no immediate gratification to Ghost Pippin.  The heat of summer was back, and Ghost Pippin returned to the streets to assemble a new pack of feral feline phantoms to run with.

Back at Thaitastic, the therapist was again massaging the hell out of Congressman Paul Ryan.  "Uh," he grunted, knowing he was even more tied up in knots than last time after the pummeling he had received at Mitt Romney's CEO gathering for endorsing Donald Trump.  "Oof."  She was pushing his spine forward while pulling both his arms back.  My hands were tied behind my back! he repeated to himself.  I'm the leader of all the Republicans!  "Eh!"  He thought back to a simple time when he only had to please campaign donors in his own little corner of Wisconsin--reasonable people.  "Oh!"  When a woman CEO tells me Trump is like Hitler and Mussolini, and I have no counter-argument, what the Hell am I doing as Speaker of the House?  Speaker for what?  For whom?  "Gaaaa."  The therapist had him pressed down on the futon again, yanking his legs around.  And now dozens of people massacred in Orlando in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history!  Here comes the NRA apocalypse!  "Jesus!"

Over on Capitol Hill, Sebastian L'Arche was training some high school students who would be helping him do additional pet-sitting and dog-walking during the summer months when so many Congressional Representatives and their staffers were out of town.  "I'm not giving you any pit bulls, but you need to learn to recognize them.  If you see a pit bull in a dog park or anywhere else you are walking dogs, stay away from them."  The teenagers were surprised to hear the locally famous Dog Whisperer caution against a particular breed--they thought it was a myth about pit bulls.

"It depends on how they're raised," said L'Arche, "but if  I don't know who raised them, I have to assume the worse."

"Man, you bigoted!" laughed one of the teens.

"People have different colored skin:  that has nothing to do with their brains.  In-breeding for specific dog traits has led to very different brains.  Pit bulls have a killer instinct, and if they haven't been trained against it, there's nothing you can do when it's triggered."

"What other dogs we gotta worry 'bout?"

"Dogs have a pack instinct.  We're going to walk these two over to the dog park now, and I want you to observe silently all the interactions in the dog park.  I want to hear who you think the leader of the pack is.  Pay particular attention when dogs are coming or leaving, because there might be another play for power."

"Like biting and shit?"

"Get out of the habit of swearing--clients don't want to hear it.  If they think your language is careless, they'll think your work habits are also careless."  The teens rolled their eyes at him.  "And don't do that, either.  You can swear and roll your eyes on your own time.  When I'm paying you, don't."

They were at the park now, and L'Arche unleashed the dogs and watched the teens observing how one hung back a bit while the other ran straight into the fray of dogs trotting around.  L'Arche spotted a Doberman he had never seen here before, but she was timid.  It seemed to be a Rottweiler/shepherd mix that was leading the pack, but his charge that had hung back--a border collie--had finished assessing the group and suddenly started running circles trying to round them all up.  L'Arche laughed because he had seen this happen so many times before.  "Barking does not prove much," said L'Arche to his new employees.  "Sometimes it's the quiet ones."

Then a King Charles spaniel in the far end of the park started growling, and L'Arche turned to look.  "Growling is much more important than barking," said L'Arche.  "That means they are on full alert and ready to pounce."

"On what?"

"Sometimes you won't know," said L'Arche, but he did know:  it was the pack of ghost dogs running with the Gopper and Ghost Anatoly (inhabiting a Samoyed phantom).

When are you going to move on? he whispered to the approaching leader of the pack, the Gopper Ghost.

Too much left to do, said TGG, sitting down at L'Arche's feet.

It's not your job, whispered L'Arche, who had spent a lot of time with TGG (and his sire, the Gipper) before TGG was killed by the Zombie Caucus in Congress. 

Why haven't you warned the people? asked Ghost Anatoly, a human ghost trapped in a canine specter after a traumatic murder.

L'Arche sighed so deeply that the teens turned to look at him, but the Dog Whisperer was not even looking at the pack in the dog park at all.

Some people can hear the truth, but some can't, L'Arche whispered.

You're afraid, said TGG, and L'Arche had no response; the ghost pack trotted off towards Capitol Hill.

"It's gotten kinda weird in there," said one of the teens, drawing L'Arche's attention back to the living dogs.

L'Arche moved into the center of the pack, surrounded by confused dogs--some pacing nervously, some growling, one howling.  He squatted and whispered to them not to fear the ghost pack.  He put his hand under the howling chihuahua, who immediately quieted down and put his little snout into L'Arche's palm.  They are caught between two worlds, but they only want to do good.

The teens and everybody else watching (many of whom were familiar with Sebastian L'Arche) smiled and shook their heads at the now quiet pack of dogs.  L'Arche then stood up and clapped his hands.  "Run!" he cried, and they obediently took off.

Out on Kingman Island, Glenn Michael Beckmann's pack of Hunter-Gatherer Society he-men were running quickly after a wounded monkey who had pulled the arrow out of its haunch and was painfully trying to escape.  Beckmann soon ran out of breath and left it to the younger, more nimble members to finish it off.  Where the Hell did that monkey come from?  Beckmann was ignorant about a lot of things, but he knew their usual prey on Kingman Island was not monkey.  He took a gulp from his thermos of Long Island iced tea.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  Despite having a secret love child with Bristol Palin, Bristol had married somebody else last week!  Sarah Palin had abandoned the Hunter-Gatherer Society to support Donald Trump, a man who couldn't kill a mouse without summoning bodyguards!  Captain America was saluting Hydra!

"Damned fascists!" shouted one of the hunters after tripping over some abandoned beer bottles.

Oh, my God, we lost to the fascists!  Beckmann looked around wildly.  He had always thought the Federal Reserve Board would destroy the country, or illegal aliens, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but fascists?!  Then he remembered he was supposed to have assassinated Donald Trump for Ghost Henry.  It's too late!  The fascists have planted Ebola monkeys to wipe us all out!

"Don't eat it!  Burn it!" hollered Beckmann to the men walking back with the triple-stabbed and now dead monkey.

"But we always eat what we hunt," whined Melvin, "and I've never tasted monkey before!"

"Ebola!  Zika!  Mad cow monkey brain disease!  Burn it!"

"Damn it!" said Howard.  "I might as well be shooting at the National Rifle Association target range if we ain't gonna eat it!"

"Yeah, those people will shoot fifty gays in a nightclub just for fun, not even for eating."

"Damned waste of ammunition."

"And now the whiny people will try to come for our guns again."

"Let 'em try!  I got my cross-bow."

The chatter died down when they saw Beckmann smearing mud on his face for better camouflage.  "Nobody's leaving Kingman until we find all the fascist monkeys!"

A few miles away, the White House ghosts were discussing the looming nomination of Donald Trump.

It's a sign of the Apocalypse!

It's a sign that this country is going to the dogs!

It's a sign that I need to get out of this place!

No way!  I'm staying!  I'm gonna haunt that man to death if it's the last thing I do!

Gardener Bridge listened carefully, spraying water on the roots of the rose bushes.  No, sir, it ain't gonna come to that.

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COMING UP:  Singapore surprise!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Secret Addictions

Dick Cheney's thoughts turned to this more and more often.  At first it was just a wild fling, something to do while his wife was out of town.  But in May, when the rain never seemed to stop and the skies always seemed gray, he found himself craving it more and more and more.  He tried to turn to other distractions--like using secret Heurich Society resources to tamper with the stock market or playing that Donald Rumsfeld Churchill solitaire game--but nothing ever felt as good as this.  He parked his SUV with the tinted windows, examining all the mirrored 360-degree views to see who might be out there to see him at a place like this.  Then he got out of the car.

A few miles away, Congressman Paul Ryan's chauffeur pulled up his own tinted-window SUV to the Apolline in Dupont Circle.  The Secret Service assisted the baseball-capped, casually dressed Speaker of the House out of the car, into the lower level of the building, all the way to the door of Ryan's secret refuge.  He smiled sheepishly at the stone-faced agents and walked inside for his appointment.  Ever since accidentally finding and impulsively purloining a Groupon printed out by one of his junior staffers, the Speaker had discovered the only thing in Washington that made him feel good:  Thaitastic!  He smiled at the familiar face (whose name he still mispronounced), went into the private room to undress, then lay down and waited for the magical moment when she would press her knees into the pressure points in his buttocks.  Ahhhh!  He could hardly breathe when she was on top of him like this, but it didn't matter--he could breathe the other twenty-three hours of the day.  Ahhhh!  She poked him, prodded him, twisted him, stretched him, kneaded him, curled on top of him--and it was all guilt-free for him!  Not that he really wanted anybody finding out about this--well, they wouldn't understand, would they?  He had been begged and pleaded with to take over as Speaker of the House, but nobody--NOBODY--could have predicted to him that he would be forced to endorse a sack of shit like Donald Trump for President.  Every choice he made felt wrong; every sight he saw felt wrong; every move he made felt wrong.  Except here:  she took his breath away, and when she was done with him, for a brief time, it all felt right.

A few miles away, psychiatrist Ermann Esse had come up with the only solution he could see to extricating himself from effectively being blackmailed into doing secret prisoner interrogations for the CIA:  he would take drugs until he failed a security pee-in-a-cup test.  He had prided himself on rendering drug-free psychotherapy for years--with a large clientele of Washingtonians who needed serious help but could not risk drug tests at work--but now he was desperate to get his previous life back.  After briefly considering an array of illegal substances, he decided it would be safer and more convenient to prescribe himself an addictive pain killer.  He did careful research on which had the most accidental overdoses, which showed up most reliably on urine tests, and which were easiest to recover from; then he selected Vicodin.  The problem was that, since he was not working in a hospital, he would have to fill his own prescription at a pharmacy, and they would never agree to handing over a ton of pills.  Therefore, he devised a plan to fill prescriptions for three different pain killers at three different pharmacy chains in Washington, and supplement this with some over-the-counter remedies.  He figured it would take two or three weeks to become seriously addicted, and he hoped to fail a urine test before then.  He read all the medication insert warnings one more time, rechecked the pill-popping schedule he had planned out for himself, then filled a glass with water.

Out in Virginia, Bridezilla had not decided to extricate herself from her current situation, but she was starting to wonder if it was off somehow.  She sat down at her home computer, turned on the private browsing mode, and ran a search for sex addiction to husband:  thousands and thousands of results.  She looked around self-consciously, even though she knew Marco was out.  They had had sex in almost every room in the apartment this weekend, as well as the car on Friday night.  "I couldn't talk to him about anything," she read on one sight.  "I only felt married when we were having sex."  She unconsciously ran her fingers through her hair, yet consciously knew she had not even read those sentences without suddenly wanting to have sex with him again.  For months she had felt this was totally normal for newlyweds, but his recent one-week business trip to Europe had left her so messed up that she couldn't even get out of the airport parking lot Friday night before jumping his bones.  Yet she had not missed talking to him at all:  in fact, they had only emailed and texted each other, with no phone calls all week.  The things she used to enjoy--shopping, Facebooking, editing her fifteen-year plan for becoming Governor of Virginia--no longer held any appeal for her.  Even her recent reinstatement as a partner at Prince and Prowling had done very little to elevate her mood--until she and Marco had celebrated it in bed.  She felt dirty.  I'm married--why do I feel dirty?  And then a little voice started nagging her:  ARE you?  ARE you married?

Over in upper Georgetown, "Mama Vazquez" was looking over the ground-floor bedroom that her son and daughter-in-law had prepared for her.  "It's time," Marcos Vazquez had finally said to Golden Fawn on the phone from Puerto Rico during an emergency trip to visit his mother, and she had agreed.  Between her worsening rheumatoid arthritis, fear of the Zika virus, the increasingly frequent home robberies because of the island financial crisis, and the arrest of a caregiver for tying Mama Vazquez down while she went out to the apartment swimming pool, the situation was no longer acceptable.  Marcos had sold off the furniture and kitchen items, shipped the linens, clothing, artwork, and personal things ahead, then flown with his mother back to Washington.  There was a time when he had assumed he would eventually use his Coast Guard seniority to get a transfer back to the island to take care of his mother, as her only son, but Golden Fawn had changed all that.  Mama Vazquez said she was tired and wanted to lie down, so they left her alone in the bedroom.  She looked at the paintings hung on the walls, the framed photos and bric-a-brac that Golden Fawn had arranged on the dresser top, the books their adopted son had arranged on the shelving, and her familiar bedspread lying on top of the unfamiliar bed.  She opened her purse and pulled out one of her last remaining marijuana-laced brownies from its heavy layer of plastic wrap and chewed it carefully.  Tomorrow she would get a taxi while they were all at work or school to go see one of those doctors that prescribed medicinal marijuana.  She was ashamed of how badly she wanted it, and never wanted to tell them.

A few miles away, Dick Cheney--who also never wanted to tell his family about it--slowly approached the magical room.  He was wearing a duck-hunting cap pulled down low, a white t-shirt, overalls, and a fake beard.  He forked over his money and went over to stand patiently in line.  He pulled out his phone to play Donald Rumsfeld Churchill solitaire, but he was too excited and put it back in his pocket.  There was nobody there his own age, but he didn't care.  At last it was his turn, and he walked through the door.  Then a smile spread over his face as he saw his first butterfly--blue, bold, beautiful--at the exhibit on the upper floor of the National Museum of Natural History.  Then he forgot everything else.  The ghost of Henry Samuelson, who had followed him in there, shook his head in disgust.

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COMING UP:  Running with the pack!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Place of Their Own

The Southwest Plaza real estate demon was welcoming other real estate demons into the parking garage for a convention (party!) to discuss the high cost of real estate in Washington.

"Double the minimum wage!  Triple it!  It doesn't matter--rents will keep killing the people!"

"Only the little people!"

"Aren't they all little?"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

"Have you seen all the for sale signs out in McLean?  Who's gonna buy all those mansions?"

"Only one-percenters who like being haunted by the Ghost CIA!"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

But it was not all fun and games at the real estate demon convention.  Several of the younger real estate demons were listening in awe to the Southwest Plaza real estate demon explain how he had poisoned so many minds over the years.

"They're so vulnerable already:  drug trafficking in the neighborhood, rents going up, security going down, ugly utilitarian architecture, dirty swimming pool, assaults in the laundry room, prostitution in the stairwells.  The main thing is to prey on everybody's sense that there is no community here--just everybody on their own in the jungle.  And when there's no financial hope of buying real estate, renters are living in hell."

"So how many people are now under your influence?"

"Oh, dozens strongly; maybe another hundred marginally."

"But Glenn Michael Beckmann is your crowning achievement, right?"

"Oh, no question!  The guy is a certifiable lunatic and a murderer, but nobody's locked him up!"

"That's because he doesn't look like a terrorist, right?"

"Yes, that's part of it, but you also have to whisper the right things into their ears--ideas that will sow evil without courting too much attention."

"What about the houseboats?  I hear some people are escaping the astronomical cost of DC living by buying houseboats.  There's no demon in the Potomac right now!"

"Yeah, that's a problem, but there's a limited number of pier spots.  To really get away from the astronomical cost of living here, you pretty much need to move to Alabama."

"But what else can we do besides prey on the financial stress?"

"Oh, the sky's the limit in a town like this!  Racism, sexism, partisan fury, random violence, substance addiction in the professional class, substance addiction in the working class, substance addiction in  the unemployed, inability of security-clearance-dependent workers to seek mental health assistance, crumbling of transit infrastructure, and interns."

"Interns?  What does a real estate demon do with interns?"

"Anything you want!"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" 

Out past McLean, not far from the mansions for sale, Kevin "Monkey" Mundy was panning for gold and diamonds in the muddy shoreline at Riverbend Park.  He had sneaked in by motorcycle after the park closed, screamed at the geese parents to take their goslings further downstream, dropped some mercury at the shore, then furiously began scooping up mud by the light of a camping lantern.  He usually just spent the weekends visiting the neo-Nazis at Trump National Golf Club, but he was taking advantage of the three-day holiday weekend to try his luck at other places--like Hain's Point and Lake Barcroft.  There was a time the DC Water employee would have spent a weekend like this fishing at Great Falls or sailing down the Chesapeake, but those pursuits seemed like childish nonsense to him now.  He saw a water snake float to the surface, picked it up in disgust, and flung it downstream for river rats to eat.  "Someday I'm gonna buy my own pink mansion on Saigon Road!" he declared to anybody listening.  "And I'm renaming that road 'Mundy Street!'"

Back in Washington, Congressman Herrmark was hosting a party to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the founding of the Anti-Zombie Caucus.

"We've killed a lot of zombies, and have much to be proud of this year!"

A dozen people raised their champagne glasses, but the mood was somber given that one of their own had been bitten by a zombie just last week and had to be put down.  Talk turned to politics.

"Obama is back from Asia."

"Are we sure they don't have a zombie problem at the White House?"

"We've seen no indication."

"What have we determined about the Donald Trump team?"

"Please!  Turning into zombies could only be an improvement for those people!"

"Don't even joke about that!  Nothing is worse than a zombie!"

"I'm not sure about that anymore."

"Zombies have maggots for brains.  Trump's people have shit for brains."

"They're not killers."

"Has anybody stopped to think that maybe Donald Trump did a deal with the devil?"

Everybody turned to look at the member from the Holier Than Thou Caucus, but nobody could actually think of an argument against this theory.

Back in Southwest, Dulles Samuelson took one more walk around the "Singapore Surprise" and said, "I'll take it."  Real estate never did my sister any good, he was thinking.  I'll live my life out on the water.  (He did not know the previous owner, a Navy Admiral, had lived his life out on the water--until going to prison for accepting bribes from Fat Leonard.)

A few blocks away, the real estate demon convention was winding down.

"What about the new Trump Hotel?" asked a young demon currently sharpening his claws on a modest bungalow in Brightwood.  "Who's haunting it?"

A hush fell over the demons, and finally an old real estate demon from the Willard spoke:  "We have been told that Trump always brings in his own."


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COMING UP:  Dick Cheney's secret addiction!