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 12/27/2014. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cherry Bomb Festival

"Go, go, go, go!"

The FBI agents raiding Prince and Prowling were not really anticipating any resistance on this Sunday afternoon at the close of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but it was legally required in the United States that law enforcement officials treat every raid as a militarized foray into hostile enemy territory.  And thus three dozen agents entered the luxurious law offices across the street from the White House in full battle gear, armed to the teeth.  A loud burglar alarm went off as they kicked in the glass doors leading to the receptionist desk on the penultimate-to-penthouse floor (despite the pleas of Javier, the lobby security guard who had told them a minute earlier--after seeing their search warrant--that he could unlock the doors).  The ratio of jackboots to actual forensic investigators was very high, so the jackboots were able to fan out quickly and secure five floors of empty offices for the investigators to examine paper files, remove hard drives, and pocket flash drives all across the law firm.

Prince and Prowling was a large old law firm which had spent decades making money in any manner for which they could proffer at least a sliver of legal gray area to justify.  Prince and Prowling was rarely investigated by the Feds, and had successfully negotiated small criminal fines for the few times their legal arguments seemed a little wobbly to stand up in a court of law.  But this was different:  this time the Feds had an inside tip.

And so, on paper, they were focused on raiding the office of staff attorney Chloe Cleavage, who had claimed 10 dependents on her individual tax return--all of whom had names allegedly corresponding to contract attorneys working in P&P's state-of-the-art review center [aka SOTA-Bunker].  But the FBI agents wanted to look at everything--especially the private family foundation tax returns and the SuperPAC files in Evermore Breadman's office.  (Everybody knew how dirty Prince and Prowling was, after all!)

Meanwhile, Chloe was actually down in the crowded underground bunker, cracking the whip on 200 disgruntled worker ants sick to death of processing evidence in a class-action auto parts case.  She quickly told them to ignore the sound of the burglar alarm, since she had a different sounding alarm that would go off if SOTA-Bunk were ever breached.  She continued walking around the bunker, injecting the workers' upper arms with her custom blend of B-vitamins, amino acids, bull testosterone, caffeine, and ecstasy.  This enabled them to work all day without having to eat--which was forbidden in SOTA-Bunk, and only permitted in the tiny break room outside the bunker.  For ten of the contract attorneys, even that was not enough, so Chloe kept for them in the break room special power shakes she made from pomegranate juice, wheat germ, yogurt, kale, quinoa, and chocolate syrup.  This was why she felt perfectly justified claiming ten contract attorneys as dependents on her tax return.

Staff attorney Laura Moreno was getting sick in the restroom when the burglar alarm went off--she was in there a lot, since the law firm had never approved any of her vacation requests since she had become a staff attorney, and had insisted her health insurance would never cover any preexisting conditions.  She clutched her aching head in dismay and made her way back to SOTA-Bunk to see what was happening.

She ran into Mariana and Alejandro, who were leaving SOTA-Bunk against Chloe's orders.  The truth was, they were the ones who had tipped off the FBI--disgruntled over being lured into this nightmare case by phony promises of loads and loads of Spanish documents for which they would get paid extra money.  (There were no Spanish documents!  Only lies!  Pinche mentirosa Chloe!) They suspected the FBI was in the building and were eager to find them.

"What's going on?" asked Laura.

"Not sure!" said Mariana, on her way to the stairwell emergency exit.

"Is everybody evacuating?"

"Not sure!" said Alejandro, holding the door for Mariana and then quickly following her to the stairs.

Laura followed them up to the lobby, where two FBI agents immediately pointed guns at them and asked them where they had come from.

"The bunker!" exclaimed Mariana, bursting into tears.

The FBI agents handcuffed the three to the lobby's $4,000 modern art sculpture (wrought-iron rendering of the Statue of Liberty performing a flying Dutchman jump), then headed down the stairs to investigate the bunker.

"Oh, my God!" exclaimed the first agent (who had, surprisingly, not kicked in the door, but had, rather, used the key card he had ripped off of Moreno's neck).  In front of them stretched a sea of zombie-like creatures, almost as pale as albinos, with dark circles around their twitching eyes.  One was nervously ripping his hair out.  Another was laughing and nodding repeatedly at the computer screen in front of her.  Another was passed out in her chair, where Chloe was using a battery-operated bug zapper to give the temp mild electrical shocks.  "The humanity!"

"And the smell!" said the other agent.  "It's like the slaughterhouse after the arrival of a hundred steer!"  (He was from Texas.)

And so began what would come to be known in labor rights circles as "the Great Mole Liberation", in tax attorney circles as "the Cherry Blossom Forensic Parade", at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as "the Prince and Prowling Prick Sting", and among the partners of Prince and Prowling as "the Cherry Bomb of 2015".

Back in the lobby, Bridezilla was arriving with her fiancé, Wince, to hang up in her office a cherry blossom watercolor she had just purchased at the festival.

"What in tarnation is happening here?!" she exclaimed, spotting Laura Moreno and two Mexican-looking people handcuffed to the lobby sculpture.

"I wish I knew!" cried Moreno, nauseous and on the verge of fainting from a fever.

"It's the FBI," said Mariana.  "They're raiding your law firm."

"Ha!  Serves them right!" exclaimed Bridezilla, who was still furious that the managing attorney had told her she could not announce her engagement to a partisan political candidate until after the Virginia elections were over in the fall.  "Bad karma!"

"Honey, this is serious!" scolded Wince.  "We don't even know what this is about!"

"Well, I never broke any laws!" declared his fiancée.  "If there are criminals in my law firm, good riddance!  Us decent folk should be running things!"  (The three attorneys handcuffed to the sculpture protested they were not criminals, either, but Bridezilla had already turned to head back to the car.

Over at the Tidal Basin, the Cherry Blossom Festival wound down to a close with thousands of giddy visitors snapping pictures in the sunshine.  The river demon, Ardua of the Potomac, lurked just below the water's surface, trailed constantly by Marcos Vazquez of the U.S. Coast Guard--who was wearing a new fetish supplied by his wife, Golden Fawn, for just that purpose.  And Glenn Michael Beckmann continued to finger the cherry bombs in his pocket, on the lookout for that girl-who-might-be-a-Cuban-terrorist-spy...or anybody else on his list.

*******************************************************
COMING UP:  Earth Day is every day in Washington...not!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Diary of Glenn Michael Beckmann

(Washington Water Woman had a rough week, so she invited renowned conspiracy blogger Glenn Michael Beckmann to contribute something today.  What Washington Water Woman did not know was that Beckmann's doctor recently changed his meds...and that Beckmann has also been smoking every green weed he could find since marijuana possession was decriminalized in the District of Columbia....)

It has come to my attention that Vladimir Putin (one of my top-ten suspects for the assassination of my darling Darja) has engineered invitations to the White House Easter Egg Roll for five Russian secret agents!  So I am launching a covert operation I'm calling Operation Covert Easter Egg Roll Operation.  (Ha!  That's not even the real name!)

What an event I have planned! If all goes as I envision it, we will kick off the morning by boarding a stagecoach that will be held aloft by a hot-air balloon and propelled by a swarm of bees. As we are carried to a destination of the bees’ choosing, from the coach’s windows we will glimpse pieces of pie with arms and legs engaged in combat with helpless, melting ice cream on the shores of an ocean of béarnaise sauce, all against the breathtaking backdrop of a sky filled with smog of every shade of purple in the rainbow. En route to our final destination, we will stop briefly on The Other Side, where we will be reunited not only with dear departed friends, relatives, and pets but also with earlier versions of people who are still alive, along with various loads of laundry we have done in the course of our lives. Finally, we will alight on the edge of a vast field filled with chocolate truffles and goats. We will gambol through the field, and when we come out of it at the opposite end, we will discover to our amazement that our shoes are cleaner than they were when we entered it. In the clearing, we will spy a spring that seems to be sluggishly, sporadically, and indiscriminately spewing orange soda that’s gone flat. A skeletal man with a flowing white beard will emerge from the brush and tell us it’s the Fountain of Middle Age, whereupon the Russian secret agents will run in the opposite direction because they want to be young forever.  Then I will know who the secret agents are and kill them all!  The Easter Egg Roll will be saved!

Ha, fooled you again!  That's not my plan at all!  That was a plan I used eight years ago when I was looking for Osama bin Laden!  Except there was heroin and donkeys and a Publishers' Clearinghouse check and a Chinese marching band.  It worked great!  Lots of bloodshed!

And I'm not even going after Russian agents at the White House Easter Egg Roll!  I'm going after the Easter Bunny because Ghost Henry told me it's Chinese spy Charles Wu and he's handing out toy spy drones to all the children!

Or am I????????

I have woven a web of deception so webby that you will never know what's coming until it arrives!  But mark my words:  what I do at Monday's Easter Egg Roll is going to be epic!  They will still be talking about it even when the next Super Bowl is on TV.

Finally, Beckmann's Floral Cushions is having a 40% off sale on poppy pillows (endorsed by the National Security Agency) and narcissus neck rolls (endorsed by Sense of Entitlement Anonymous).

****************************************************************
COMING UP:  Prince and Prowling's tax attorneys are in for a surprise!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Dreams

It was another service at the Church of Twitter being held at the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged.  Brother Divine of the International Peace Movement (AKA Freddy Ritchings) was speaking and Tweeting simultaneously, as the other residents listened and watched.

"I am in a large, beachside vacation home, dining on the veranda with Leonard Nimoy, who is wearing his 'Star Trek' Spock costume."

"He's dead!" protested Buckner.

"He's speaking to us from the Great Beyond!" exclaimed Melinda.

"A teenage boy is also dining with us," continued Brother Divine.  "He finishes his meal, rises to leave, and says, 'See ya later, Spock.'  Leonard gets very angry and tells the boy he is not Spock.  I tell Leonard to stop being so hard on the boy, and that he shouldn't wear his Spock costume if he doesn't want to be called 'Spock.'  Then Leonard picks up a knife and plunges it into his own heart!"

"What?!" cried Theresa, reaching for comfort from Millie, the enormous brown helping dog.

"Leonard falls to the ground dead," continued Brother Divine, "but in his place pops up a dragon to fight on his behalf!"  (Social worker Hue Nguyen looked up in surprise from her crocheting.)  "Then rocks are flying at us from every direction, and I run for cover into the house.  Suddenly I hear a voice intoning, 'For every one percent that sacrifice themselves, ten percent of the innocent people will be saved!'"

"That's the stupidest story I ever heard!" exclaimed Larry.

"It's a prophecy!" cried Cedric, clutching Aloysius, his teddy bear.  He looked around, expecting the ghost of CIA agent Henry Samuelson to appear and explain it.

"It's simply a metaphor," said the social worker, sternly.  "Stabbing yourself is suicide.  The dream is simply about making sacrifices for the greater good, but stabbing yourself in real life causes blood to shoot out, not a dragon!"  The residents looked very disappointed.  "Do you understand?  Stabbing yourself will not help anybody!"

"Well, how else can you make sacrifices?" asked Melinda.

"You can wash the dishes when it's my turn," said Larry.

A few miles to the east, Angela de la Paz was babysitting Lucas Cigemeier, her birth child.  She watched him fall asleep in his crib, then sat down in the rocking chair to close her eyes.  Soon she met him in the Dreamtime, where his soul was a little older than it seemed on Earth.  He asked her about the plane crash his parents had been discussing while the television was on, and she remembered that she had gone into labor with him right after seeing the Korean plane crash victims in the Dreamtime.  She pondered this for a moment, then took him there.  The souls were still in agony and confusion, but angels were slowly and carefully collecting them, to take them to Heaven.  The pilot's soul was dark and twisted and guarded by a Chimera.  She called for the help of her own mother, the grandmother of Lucas, and together they eased the Chimera away from the pilot as Lucas watched in amazement.  "You are one now," said the grandmother, and Lucas nodded and accepted a kiss and an embrace.

Angela opened her eyes.  She looked again at Lucas, who had fallen into a deep sleep now, his arm wrapped around the stuffed puma she had given him for his first birthday last Sunday.  Angela shed a tear of sadness and joy.

A couple miles away, Barbie Bucephalus (fka Basia Karbusky, fka as Barbara Hellmeister) had recently left Justice Department attorney Atticus Hawk who, exhausted after a busy weekend with her, lay down for a nap.  Barbie had successfully modified her Nazi grandfather's journal recipes so that the drugs could still evade security clearance drug tests without turning people into zombies, but the drug cocktail she was secretly using on Hawk was not ideal.  While it did give him a false sense of happiness and love in his life, his rational mind was still capable of doubting that this came from Barbie.  For instance, the recent (happy!) prosecution deal made with David (“Betray Us”) Petraeus had left Hawk with the delusion that Petraeus had signed the deal because he loved Atticus Hawk.  Hawk had similarly come to the conclusion that public outcries over Guantanamo, the CIA Torture Report, and NSA spying had died down because Atticus Hawk's legal apologies had won the love and happiness of the American people.  He also believed that Congress was holding up the confirmation of new Attorney General Loretta Lynch because they were uncertain she could give DOJ as much love and happiness as somebody like Atticus Hawk.

But the real problem was the withdrawal symptoms when he was no longer in Barbie's company:  rather than confirm in his mind that he could only be happy in her presence, the withdrawal would make him tired, irritable, and prone to nightmares about her.  And so it was that he put the basketball game on, but quickly fell asleep on the couch and started dreaming about Barbie:  she was smiling at him, then frowning at him, then making apple strudel laced with shaving cream and furniture polish, then speaking German to a band of German cockroaches standing in perfect soldier formation in front of his refrigerator, then burning the U.S. Constitution and saying it needed to be replaced by the Fourth Reich, then begging him to compete on "The Amazing Race" with her so that she could prove her genetic excellence, then humming "Blurred Lines" while conducting her CIA torture sessions at the secret bunker beneath the Washington Times headquarters, then slicing up her beloved pet Mega Moo for steaks because she was too old to live--

Hawk awoke with a start, panting heavily.  He had toppled the television over in his sleep, but there was still a basketball game playing sideways.

Back in Virginia, Wince was dreaming of marrying Bridezilla but, unlike the last time they were engaged, Bridezilla was in absolutely no hurry to set a date this time.

"The cherry blossoms will be out soon!" he said, handing her another Mimosa to top off her baked French toast.  He had not heard her say one word about spring, had not seen her look at one bridal magazine, had not caught her looking at any bridal websites.  "I understand why we kept the engagement secret at the beginning, but it's been ten months now."  She looked at him in alarm.  "Don't you think we should set a date and announce our engagement now?"

"I didn't realize it had been ten months," she said quietly, which, of course, was a lie since they had gotten engaged immediately after the memorably violent gun attack which interrupted the May 2014 wedding planned with Buddy Lee Trickham.

"Well, it has!" smiled Wince.  "I left the Supreme Court, I'm an associate at a law firm now, and we can plan our future, right?"

The truth was, Bridezilla could not bear to see a wedding announcement that she, a junior partner, was marrying a mere associate!  She had attempted to draft that wedding announcement dozens of times, but it simply looked as if he had been demoted to incredibly boring work after leaving his long clerkship.  He should be doing more!  Not to mention the fact that he was working at a rival law firm.  "The truth is," said Bridezilla, "I'm not sure you really feel settled into your new life."

"I do!" exclaimed Wince.

"I just don't want you to lose sight of your ambitions because of marital bliss.  Maybe you should run for the Virginia House of Delegates while you're still fresh out of the Supreme Court?  Wouldn't that be exciting?"

"What?  Where did this come from?"

"We've talked about this before!" exclaimed Bridezilla.

"We haven't talked about this since law school!" he objected.

"Wince!  That's what I mean!  We have to hold onto those dreams!"

"Alright, alright, I'll do whatever you want!" he cried, and Bridezilla jumped for joy at her surprisingly easy victory.

"We can announce the engagement after you announce your candidacy!" she exclaimed, giving him a hug and a kiss.  "We have to move quickly:  the primary is in June!  But don't worry--Prince and Prowling runs lots of PACs and SUPERPACs.  And you're still young and handsome!"

"Gee, thanks."

Back in the city, two of those PAC directors were, in fact, secretly meeting at Prince and Prowling to discuss the GOP field for President.

"I just don't get any tingly feelings about any of these guys," sighed one.

"You want to love them?" asked former Senator Evermore Breadman, puzzled.

"Aw, I don't need to love them," said the other, "but I'd at least like to feel a little happy about somebody."

"Can we take a break from the Clown Circus and look at some of the more local elections for awhile?"

"Absolutely," said Breadman, who made money no matter where they flung their cash.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac had some spring dreams of her own.  She looked up at the tourists flocking like clockwork to the nonetheless non-blooming cherry blossoms, stretched herself to choose her next victim, then breathed a coronary arrest into a father of three from Iowa.

******************************************
COMING UP:  
Glenn Michael Beckmann plans his attack on the White House Easter Egg Roll!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cuba Libre!

The Cuba Practices Group at Prince and Prowling was off to a spectacular start, and junior partner Bridezilla was quite pleased with herself.  She had already arranged a dozen visits to the island by potential business investors, and their clients had already purchased several investment options which could be activated immediately once the relevant government restrictions were removed.  She had arranged the major publicity stunt of Paris Hilton--the ultimate high-spending capitalism princess!--visiting Cuba.  She had made two semi-successful trips to Miami to network with the Cuban immigrants and their descendants who still harbored a burning hatred of the Castro regime, convincing at least a few that happiness--and smart business investments now!--were the best revenge.  She had dined privately with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban three times, and believed she had a good chance of convincing him that he had the personal branding opportunity of a lifetime right now if he played his cards right.

And now she was in John Boehner's bunker (man cave) trying to convince his secretly convened Cuba Caucus to stop hating President Obama long enough to embrace the historic opening.

"Imagine if you will, ladies and gentlemen, a world where the Cuba Libre again becomes the most popular drink on the island," said Bridezilla, hand-squeezing limes into the glasses of rum and Coke she was handing out.  "A world where Cuba imports a billion cases of Coca-Cola a year to stock the world-class hotels run by American companies:  Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, The Four Seasons.  A world where American tour companies take vacationers diving in pristine coral reefs and hiking through pristine jungles.  A world where American airlines run ten flights a day to Cuba.  A world where American tech companies bring high-speed Internet to--"

"Look, Missy, our American companies can do all that with the good ole U.S. Virgin Islands," protested a Representative from Oklahoma.  "Why should we be helping Cuba?  What did they ever do for us except give us Guantanamo?"

"The U.S. Virgin Islands are tiny," replied Bridezilla, "and most of the businesses there are owned by Augustus Bush's family.  There are investment opportunities now in Cuba, and if your constituents can't take advantage of them, we are just ceding all that business to Europe, Japan, China, and Brazil."

"But they're still Commies!" protested a Representative from Texas.

"So is China," said Bridezilla.

"That's different!" he retorted.

"How?" asked Bridezilla.  This stumped everybody, so she moved on.  "The Speaker of the House invited you here because he believes you are the political mavericks with enough business acumen to see what is possible here.  Don't you want to bring capitalism back to Cuba?"  She waited while they quietly finished their cocktails and started flushing in the face.  "Our law firm has set up three different political action committees dedicated to promoting Cuban-American trade, and I'm not supposed to be telling you this, but we are talking about millions of dollars already banked for the next election cycle."

"Well, why didn't you say so before?!" cried the Representative from Florida.  "That changes everything!"

Yes it does, thought a smiling Bridezilla.  Thank you, Supreme Court!

Meanwhile, Cedric, a former CIA agent and current resident of the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged, was decidedly in the anti-Cuba caucus.  For one thing, he had been taught to hate Cuba as a Soviet proxy.  For another thing, the ghost of Henry Samuelson had been making weekly visits to discuss the situation since Obama had announced the diplomatic breakthrough.

"I told you:  there's nothing I can do about it!" shouted Cedric, shaking Aloysius (his teddy bear) at Ghost Henry.  "You've already got the Ghost CIA stirring up trouble, and nobody is returning my phone calls!"

"Condoleezza Rice will, and she's in the Heurich Society!" exclaimed Ghost Henry, who knew that some of the founders' fortunes had been expropriated by Fidel Castro after the Revolution.  "I can give them insider information they can't get from anybody else."

"I thought you hated the Heurich Society?"

"Most of the time, but sometimes they serve my strategic purposes.  I know they want to derail this Cuba thing, but they need more ammo."

"Won't your daughter listen to you?" asked Cedric, referring to Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson, who was the current Chair of the Heurich Society.

"She can't hear me," sighed Ghost Henry.

"What about that witch girl?" asked Cedric, referring to Angela de la Paz.

"The Heurich Society kicked her out," sighed Ghost Henry.

"Well, maybe I could persuade Prudence to get Charles Wu involved," said Cedric, referring to the Chinese triple agent's governess, Mrs. Higgety-Cheshire.

"Charles Wu?!  Never!"

"I don't like him, either, but you said strategic alliances!"

"Never!  Bad alliances lead to things like the Vietnam War and Manuel Noriega!"

"I never thought Manny was so bad," said Cedric.  "Aloysius used to spend his winter vacation down there."

"That's a stuffed bear!" shouted Ghost Henry.

"Well, he's more real than you are!" exclaimed Cedric.

Back in Washington, business had slowed considerably at Fat John's Lake under Dupont Circle, what with the return of winter weather and the increasingly pungent smell emanating from the mystical waters.  But security guard Glenn Michael Beckmann liked the quieter atmosphere, and the semi-asphyxiated visitors (and more permanent residents of Dupont Down Under) were giving him very little trouble.  It gave him time to think about his failed attempt to hijack a boat to Cuba to mine the harbors there.  If I could just get back with the Heurich Society, he thought, they could buy me a boat to go do it!

Just then, Angela de la Paz arrived, straight off a vision about impending doom.  "Everybody out!" she shouted, which accomplished nothing since everybody was lethargic from the massive build-up of methane and carbon monoxide in the fetid air.

"Hey!" exclaimed Beckmann, pointing his gun at her.  (He had no idea she was the daughter of an illegal immigrant he had murdered years earlier.)  "I'm in charge here!"

"There's not going to be a here, here!" she exclaimed, telekinetically ripping the gun from his hand.  "Everybody out!" she repeated, this time with a concentration of psychic force which began shoving people like a gale force wind towards the exit.

A few minutes later, she had succeeded in herding everyone to the surface just before the methane ignited and Fat John's Lake exploded into a pond of fire.

"How did you do that?!" shouted Beckmann, eyeing Angela with the suspicion she was a Cuban terrorist spy.

"It was the methane that exploded," she said, eyeing Beckmann with the suspicion that this well-known loony would (a) not call 911 and (b) blame it all on a government conspiracy.  But there was no voice in her head telling her that anybody else needed help, so she left.

"All hail Wonder Woman!" cried Fearless Leader, and the Freaks repeated his cry with a salute to the departing Angela, while Beckmann continued to seethe.

**************************************
COMING UP:  Spring Dreams.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fat John's Lake

It was a mystical place that Glenn Michael Beckmann had seen in his dreams many times:  the lake from which his mother had risen to hand him Ex Calibur.  (In truth, Ex Calibur was the bloody axe he had lost in the Potomac to Ardua and then found later on Roosevelt Island, but he didn't remember it that way.)  It was a small, murky lake, covered in fog, with occasional shimmers of eerie green streaks of light.  It was the font of life for all of Washington, and it had chosen him.

And now he didn't know if he was awake or dreaming.

"It's a little slimy for swimming, on account of all the motor oil run-off and the river rats' pooping in it, but your skin do feel nice and soft afterwards," said the Fearless Leader of the Freaks of Dupont Down Under.  He pointed to a makeshift diving platform made out of a stack of three shopping carts.  "Louis likes to do back flips off of that.  Of course, there's not enough height for him to do a double."

Beckmann inhaled deeply of the subterranean humours and felt all tingly inside.  "How did you find it?"

"Well, between DC Water and the Secret Service, they've staked out almost every square mile under the city.  The Beaver built a dam to try to protect Dupont Down Under, and then after they dug out the final White House bunker, the dam collapsed and the water flowed into a huge sinkhole down here."

"What do you mean?" cried Beckmann.  "The lake was always here!  It's eternal!  It dates to the time of Robin Hood!  You said Little John found it!"

"No, it was Fat John," said Fearless Leader, pointing to a portly homeless man soaking his feet at the edge of the lake.  "He says it cures gout and Lyme disease.  We're getting totally overrun with sickly cripples visiting us now!  Can't keep 'em away. That's why we want to hire Beckmann's Bad Asses for crowd control.  We're charging $10 admission for a half-hour."

Beckmann knew in his heart that Fearless Leader was wrong:  this place was eternal, and meant only for valiant knights.  But he was also months behind in paying the rent.  "Alright," Beckmann said, sticking his hand out to shake on it.  The most important thing was to keep those government bureaucrats away!  And so the previous enemies, having completely forgotten their animosity from a few years earlier, struck a deal.

Two-hundred feet above Fat John's Lake, Felix Cigemeier was taking a break from Prince and Prowling for brunch with his wife and infant son at Scion.

"I really don't think International Development Machine has anything to worry about," the law partner said to his wife.  "They don't do any of the things that got International Relief and Development into trouble."

"How do we really know that?" asked Liv.

"Because you haven't been invited to boozy staff retreats at 5-star resorts!" Cigemeier exclaimed.

"But there are a lot of rumors about Augustus Bush," said Liv of IDM's president.  "Some say the orphanage we built in Afghanistan is just a front for a palatial mansion for opium kingpins, and that the leadership and educational programs in the U.S. Virgin Islands are just a front for teaching Afghans how to manage their drug business."

"Liv--"

"And there are rumors that the Board of Directors meetings supposedly held in Denver are actually held at the Playboy Mansion, and--"

"Liv!"  (Liv looked at her husband in surprise.)  "Just rumors!  There's no point in worrying about rumors!  And the most important part is that you are working on private grant money right now, so the government can't touch you!"  But Cigemeier was worried about the rumors.  And he was only slightly comforted by the fact that his wife was working on private grant money from the untrustworthy Charles Wu--for God only knew where that money came from!  Cigemeier was desperate to make more income so that his wife could quit work altogether to look after Lucas, but that was not yet an option.  "Just keep documenting what you do with your time and how the money is disbursed in the Philippines.  Don't pay the slightest attention to what anybody else is doing in any of the other programs:  they're not your problem."

Liv smiled in gratitude, unaccustomed to receiving legal advice from her husband, but sometimes she wondered if he even cared at all about her passion for international development work.  How could he tell her so cavalierly not to care whether millions of dollars of aid money were actually doing any good?

A mile away, Dr. Khalid Mohammad was in the George Washington University Hospital emergency room, examining another homeless patient with bleeding ulcers on his legs.  "Have you been doing anything unusual lately?" asked Dr. Mohammad, gingerly removing dead skin with a scalpel.

"I got baptized in Fat John's Lake!" exclaimed the Iraq War veteran.  "Reverend Magpie did it, and he said it would take away the night shakes and everything."

"Where is this lake?" asked Dr. Mohammad, who had been hearing about it for days, but he knew he would get the same answer.

"It's a secret!" exclaimed the patient.  "Only the chosen can go there!"

"What if the lake did this to your legs?  Don't you want to know?"

"It's worth it, to cleanse my soul and stop the night shakes!"

Dr. Mohammad looked up at Nurse Arroyo, who shook her head in frustration.  They couldn't breach patient confidentiality, but they feared a serious public health threat was growing in the homeless community.  Somebody needed to find this lake.

Back at Fat John's Lake, Washington Post "Metro" reporter Perry Winkle had just arrived after paying a source $20 to show him to the rumored underground water.  "Lake" was clearly a misnomer for the subterranean pond, but the descriptions of otherworldly smells and mysterious green lights were true.  He was panning his video camera slowly over the crowd of chattering bathers when he spotted a scuffle at the far end.  He heard somebody shout "Security!" and saw Beckmann--whom he immediately recognized from one of the most traumatic moments of his life--race over with a gun drawn.  It looked like...no!  It looked like a woman was trying to eat someone's arm!

"Let him go or I'll shoot you to Kingdom Come!" shouted Beckmann at the manic woman, who abruptly let go of her victim and dove for cover underwater.  The crowd screamed in panic, clambering out of the water and scrambling in all directions.  Winkle, loopy from the vapors, didn't even think to call 911; he simply continued watching the scene through his video camera as Beckmann waited for the assailant to come back to the surface.   But she didn't.

Several minutes went by, and Beckmann reholstered his gun.  "Fat John's Lake is closed until tomorrow!" he bellowed to the crowd.  "Everybody out!"

"No!" wailed Fearless Leader, lamenting all the lost Sunday afternoon income.

"I need to dredge the lake," said Beckmann, who had no idea how to do so but knew it involved getting a rowboat.

And then Winkle thought about calling 911, but he was starting to doubt himself.  Did the woman really try to eat that arm?  Was Beckmann the man he saw chop off that zombie's head a couple years ago?  He knew the vapors were affecting him, so he headed back to the surface to watch his videotape.

At the bottom of Fat John's Lake, the zombie woman had already disintegrated into hundreds of pieces, which the river rats were already eating.

****************************
COMING UP:  Cuba libre!

Monday, March 09, 2015

Daylight has been saved!

...but that was of no use to Washington Water Woman, who had more vexing issues to deal with this past week.  After she finishes erasing all traces of Charles Wu's secret foreign policy emails, she hopes to get back to blogging later this week....

Friday, February 27, 2015

State (Department) of Confusion

"We just don't have the sex appeal to stay popular," lamented "C. Coe Phant" to triple agent Charles Wu.  "Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism--frankly, the U.S. public is bored with it."

"I'm not sure I would agree with that," said Wu to his State Department source over lunch at Froggy Bottom.  "Didn't Scott Walker just compare bullying union activists with fighting the Islamic State?"

"Ha, ha!  Yeah, that was a good one!  Let's elect Scott Walker so he can fight terrorists by killing their government pensions!"

"Charlie Hebdo got people fired up.  And now there's a martyr hacked to death in Bangladesh."

"But people don't really care.  We have a new Secretary of Defense, and people don't really care.  We're negotiating with Iran, and people don't really care.  The Obama Administration has been authorized to go to war in Iraq again, and people don't really care.  Putin is still invading Ukraine, and people don't really care.  The Clinton Foundation took donations from foreign governments while Hillary was the Secretary of State, and people don't really care.  The frigging net neutrality rules are getting more chatter on Twitter!"

"I think it's a good thing for the State Department's foreign policy not to be shaped by Twitter," said a puzzled Wu.  "The more you can do out of the spotlight, the better."

"I don't think it works that way anymore," said Phant.  "Social media whips the Republicans into a frenzy, so they try to abolish Obamacare and force construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  Social media whips Democrats into a frenzy, so they double down on Obamacare and Obama vetoes the Keystone XL bill.  We might be living in the most democratic age of all, where the loud voice of the people determines everything."

Wu was really starting to question whether Phant had recently lost some marbles.  "You realize that politicians mostly act in accordance with what their political donors want, don't you?  And half the stuff on Twitter is paid to be there?"

"Have you even heard of the United States Institute of Peace?" asked Phant.  "The U.S. media completely ignores it--its only chance is to host a Lady Gaga concert."

"Its only chance at what?"  Wu was starting to despair of getting any lucrative information out of Phant at all.  "Look, the most important international work is done behind closed doors--it's always been that way, and it always will.  China is very interested in these Iran negotiations--very interested."  Wu had already handed Phant a pile of cash stuffed into a ski cap placed on the table, but Phant hadn't even touched it.  "Politico had a cartoon about the Department of Foreign Entanglements--that was pretty funny, wasn't it?"  (Phant shrugged.)  You had Edward Snowden's hot girlfriend in a ballerina skirt and stilettos at the Oscars--nobody's looking that good in this Republican showdown over Homeland Security's budget!  Come on!  Nothing will ever be as sexy as a good spy story!  Am I right?"  And Wu flashed that charming Hong Kong smile that convinced everybody he was a debonair Englishman at heart, and Phant finally started spilling--much to the relief of Charles Wu, who would rather not have to go back to John Kerry's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope if he didn't have to.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Zombie Caucus was lunching on a couple of young interns when Congressman John Boehner's chief of staff got a phone call pressuring him to help the Republican whip round up more votes on the House bill to fund Homeland Security for three more weeks.  "Damn!" he exclaimed, wiping blood and brains off his lips with a napkin.  "I wish I could get a job at the State Department!"  The zombies didn't care whether Homeland Security was funded or not, but their votes were already in the bag, so he went off to make deals with Congressman Herrmark and Congressman Jacques Javert.

"This is truly disgusting," nodded the ghost of Russian diplomat Anatoly Malenkov, trapped under the white fur of a Samoyed.  He was hiding behind a stack of briefcases with the Gopper Ghost (an actual dog ghost), who had brought Ghost Anatoly here to see the zombies who had killed the Gopper.  "You are right:  this is a bigger problem than anything happening in the State Department."  And so was launched the first-ever ghost-dog pack united against repulsive influences in Congress.

***************************************
COMING UP:  Fat John's Lake.