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 ....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Marijuana and Guerrillas

Television reporter Holly Gonightly and her crew were going over the details one more time to be sure they all knew exactly what to do when.

"We probably have only one minute to broadcast," she said, referring to the satellite transmission they would upload instantaneously to the television station's website.  "Then they'll grab the cameras and cut off the satellite feed."

"But we're not actually doing anything illegal?" asked her cameraman, again.

"The legal counsel cleared it.  It's a public sidewalk.  Ready?"

Her crew nodded, and they exited their van and sprinted over to the bomb-proof planter where the marijuana plants had been spotted outside the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Holly Gonightly, reporting live from FBI headquarters in downtown Washington.  Will marijuana plants deter suicide bombers?  Did the General Services Administration authorize this landscaping?  Or was this a gift left by lifestyle guru Giuliana Sunstream's guerrilla gardening crew earlier this summer?"  She beckoned a passing pedestrian to come take a closer look.  "Ma'am, do you know what these--"

"Hands in the air!  Nobody move"  And with that, another FBI smackdown began, and another FBI smackdown video took flight into cyberspace.

Meanwhile, a few miles north of the White House, Sunstream's former boyfriend and conspiracy blogger, Glenn Michael Beckmann, was passing out marijuana seeds at the biggest rally he had ever put together.  People had come from the Hunter-Gatherer Society, the local anti-government militia, Beckmann's Bad Asses clientele, Beckmann's Floral Cushions clientele (they were the most baffled...), Iraq war veteran circles, Justice for Darja supporters, Cuba haters, and Donald Trump haters.  They stretched out on the 16th Street sidewalk all the way from Euclid to Fuller, with Beckmann planted squarely on a milk crate right in front of the newly reopened Cuban Embassy.  The FBI, DC police and Secret Service agents were encircling the group to stop them from spilling into the street or, worse, trying to get over the fence, but for the moment, the crowd was hot, sleepy, and eyeing each other suspiciously.

"It's all connected!" began Beckmann, shouting into a megaphone.  "Donald Trump doesn't think I'm a hero because I got captured in Iraq?"  (This was a figment of his imagination.)  (Several hisses from the crowd.)  "I was serving my country while he was building dens of thieves in Atlantic City!"  (Cheers and applause.)  (A few FBI officers found themselves nodding in agreement.)  "I was invading Commie Cuba while he was getting into bed with Saudi petro dollars and Eurotrash hookers!"  (More cheers and applause.)  "I was feeding myself with my own two hands while Trump was another NBC parasite feeding off the hard work of interns!"  (This was the comment that got the best reaction from his Beckmann's Floral Cushions clientele.)  "I was killing illegal aliens while Trump was hiring them to clear-cut trees and build a damned golf course for Wall Street swindlers and bribed politicians!"  (More cheers and applause, coupled with raised eyebrows among the law enforcement officers.)

"It's all connected!" Beckmann hollered.  ("What about Darja?" somebody shouted.)  "I haven't figured out yet who killed her, but I've narrowed down the suspects!  It might even be a Cuban terrorist I've seen around town.  We have to stop all these un-American people!" he exclaimed, pointing at the Cuban Embassy behind him.  (More cheers and applause.)  ("What are we going to do about it?" someone else shouted.)  Beckmann, who was not entirely insane, eyed the police presence encircling his rally, and began speaking in code.  "We are going to assemble poplin and muslin with buckwheat filling into the best cushions this town has ever seen, and then we'll embroider daisies and petunias alongside the hibiscus until those floral cushions are delivered to the jackasses and burros and ragheads bringing our country down!"

The dozen people who had quickly translated that speech in their heads burst into wild applause, and the rest joined in so they wouldn't feel stupid.  The FBI commander and Secret Service chief of mission were both talking on cellphones with their bosses, explaining that they were still uncertain if Beckmann had directly threatened anybody, while the DC police lead detective was talking to his boss about whether he should bring Beckmann in for questioning about his claim to have killed illegal aliens.  All of them knew that Beckmann had been under federal surveillance since threatening to blow up the Federal Reserve Board, and the instructions were simply to put it into the reports.

Inside the Cuban Embassy, curious VIPs were gathered at upstairs windows to watch the rally.

"Ese tío está loco," said the ambassador, who turned to Prince and Prowling's interpreter to confirm his opinion.

"Yes," nodded Paul.  "A complete lunatic."

Bridezilla (a Prince and Prowling junior partner) smiled at Paul, who had been by her side at every Cuban Practice Group event the entire week since the embassy's flag-raising ceremony on Monday.  "Ladies and gentlemen, why don't we get back to the presentation?  The best way to counter extremism is to show that Cuba is open for business, and American business is going to be there to out-compete all comers!"  (She giggled at the word "comers" because having a secret affair with a contract attorney she was with day and night made her prey to frequent dirty thoughts.)  "Prince and Prowling is lobbying diligently in Congress to lift the restrictions, and you could be the first with commercial agreements in place to take advantage of the return of the Yankees to Havana!"

The Cuban ambassador handed another rum-and-Coke to Paul, who had repeatedly assured him that Prince and Prowling was not a CIA tool--just a firm that was truly willing to make money anywhere.  "Viva la Revolución!" Paul said, clinking glasses with the ambassador.

Back at FBI headquarters, the Director had bigger things to worry about than Beckmann's latest rally or even the marijuana smackdown video going viral:  Barbara Hellmeister had seduced and/or hypnotized her guard and escaped federal custody.  They knew she wouldn't dare return to the CIA, but the question remained:  where was she?  Outside the Director's window, a catbird sat on the ledge, mocking him with imitated walkie-talkie sounds, and he threw his stapler at it to make it fly away.  The catbird flew off but returned quickly, and this time it simply stared until the livid Director finally walked over and closed the blinds.

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COMING UP:  The haunting of the Reiki Triplets.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Yasmin

It had been a month since the neurosurgeon at George Washington University Hospital had saved Yasmin's life, and three weeks since Dr. Khalid Mohammad had spirited her away before her violent father could take her home.  Khalid had put Yasmin in the master bedroom of his Foggy Bottom apartment and taken the guest bedroom himself.  Instead of succeeding in obtaining visas to get his relatives out of Jordan before ISIS wreaked further violence, he had rescued an American girl.

She would never be the same.  He hadn't known Yasmin before her father had dented her skull for dating an infidel, but the brain damage was obvious.  Today they were making lunch together, but she still couldn't hold her hand steady enough to chop anything--she did the stirring and spreading and moving things around.  She still wore a head scarf that partially covered her face, but perhaps now it was more to cover her shaved head and surgery scars.

It had taken awhile for Khalid to convince her that she was nineteen and did not have to go home with her father.  Yasmin had finally acknowledged to Khalid that she didn't know anybody to take her in whom her father wouldn't find out about, and here she was.  He couldn't see her mouth, but he knew she was smiling at him because of the way her eyes looked at him.  The smiles were still fairly new.  He thought she might never take the scarf off unless he married her, and maybe he would, but it was not going to be easy.

Up in Cleveland Park, triple agent Charles Wu was discussing the matter over lunch with Angela de la Paz, while they watched through the window as Wu's English governess sat (without her usual sense of decorum) in the kiddie pool, spraying little Delia with a water gun.  It had been Wu's neighbor and de facto employee, Liv Cigemeier, who had first been contacted by Dr. Mohammad through her Girl Hurl blog.  She had discussed the case with her attorney husband, who had secretly turned to Wu, whom he knew had far more going on than Liv suspected.  Wu had put Angela on the case, and now she was telling him how it stood.

"Yasmin's father is from Cappadocia, Turkey.  His mother was ethnic Armenian, but he was raised Sufi Muslim by his father--a genuine whirling dervish.  His father used to take him around to the ancient sites to show him beheaded pagan statues from the first century B.C., and the Christian dwellings abandoned after the Islamic conquest.  He spent time in Iran as a spy feeding intelligence to NATO.  Got his visa to come to the U.S. twenty-five years ago. Married a Syrian woman, and they had a daughter, then a son.  He still works as an intelligence analyst for the CIA, but Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo radicalized him.  Changed mosques, put his womenfolk in veils, sent his son to an imam."

"He's still working for the CIA?" asked Wu.  "Why do they trust him?  Didn't they notice this?"

"If they didn't notice it before, they definitely noticed it after his daughter ended up in the emergency room.  But they haven't cut him loose."

"He knows too much?" asked Wu, and Angela nodded.

"He never let her get a driver's license, and she's never had a passport," added Angela.

"Well, that just makes it simpler," said Wu.  "We'll just get her Social Security number, change her legal name, and let her start over."

"Start over?" asked Angela incredulously.  "She's a walking bull's eye!  If that doctor really wants to protect her, he needs to take her hundreds of miles away from that father."

Wu leaned back, finishing his mimosa.  "I don't think so.  I think she needs to go public on Liv's blog."

"She's living with a man right now!" exclaimed Angela.  "She'll have more than her father trying to finish her off!  And the doctor will be under threat, too!"  Wu smiled, and Angela was aghast.  "How can you smile about this?!"

"I'm smiling at you," he said.  "I realize now I can let you handle this on your own."

Angela sat back and let this sink in for a few minutes.  "I never had a vision about this girl.  Why didn't I have a vision in the first place, to protect her?"

"Because you can't protect everybody.  And you don't need a vision now--you know what to do."

Angela went upstairs to the guest bedroom, which just happened to have a window that looked over to the bedroom of Lucas Cigemeier, whom she had given up for adoption over a year ago.  She didn't have to enter the Dreamtime to know Lucas was taking his afternoon nap.  She lay down on the bed, closed her eyes, and looked for him there.  He was happy.  She picked him up, and they talked for a few minutes--she was the only one who could understand his baby babble.  She told him she had something important to do, but would see him tomorrow.

She looked for Yasmin's father, but he wasn't asleep.  She had never summoned somebody to the Dreamtime before, so she looked for her mother and abuela instead, and they found Yasmin's grandfather to help her do it.  A few minutes later, Yasmin's father was overcome with drowsiness and lay down to take a nap.  Then he was back--back in the Cappadocia mountains, back near the waterfalls.  The imam was calling the faithful to prayer, but his father was in a Sufi daze, twirling and twirling and twirling.  His father rose to the sky, floated past the secret Christian cave dwellings, past the fairy chimneys, all the way to Nemrut Dağ.  Then Yasmin's grandfather motioned to Yasmin's father to look at the ancient pagan gods and goddesses, decapitated by religious zealots.  "Your faith is not here," he said.  Yasmin's father said he knew that already.  Yasmin's grandfather shook his head.  "Your faith does not come from smashing the heads."  Yasmin's father started trembling.  "You smashed my granddaughter's head."  Yasmin's father started weeping.  "She does not belong to you anymore.  But you still have a son."

Then Yasmin's father was alone, in a shimmering pool of melted snow, shivering, and this is when Angela came to him.  "Who are you?" he asked.

"I am the one who will kill you on Earth if you cause her more harm...but you won't, will you?"  (He shook his head.)  "Then go to your wife and son.  Tell them you know Yasmin is in a safe place.  If she marries and has a child, that is when you will see her again."

He vanished from the Dreamtime, awoken.  Angela opened her eyes.  How many could she drag into the Dreamtime, away from their fear and hatred?  If she did it all day and all night, it would never be enough.

Angela went downstairs and told Wu it was done:  Liv Cigemeier could tell Khalid and Yasmin that her attorney husband (Felix Cigemeier) was taking care of everything.  Yasmin could change her name, and her father understood there would be grave consequences if he did not stay away from her new life.  "We never worked on a pro bono case together before," Angela said to her boss, who was filling more water guns at the kitchen sink.

"Pro bono?" he laughed.  "I've got a new contact at the CIA that I can blackmail!"  Angela shook her head sternly at him.  "Maybe 'blackmail' is too strong a word."  She shook her head again, but this time she was smiling.

"I'm going to take a vacation to Turkey," Angela said.  "I want to see those places."

"Turkey is right next to Syria, you know."

"I know," said the woman formerly known in Egypt as "she whose gaze must be avoided" because anybody that saw her face died.  "I might take a hit at ISIS while I'm there, but I know I can't save everybody.  By the way:  get Mrs. H-C out of the sun before she has a sunstroke."

Out in the backyard, the sparrows resting in the shade of the bushes watched in delight as Charles Wu beckoned his governess and young daughter back into the house.  A flock of starlings dove for the kiddie pool, but the sparrows got there first and wouldn't give it up.  The starlings flew off, a fury of shimmering feathers and heated darkness.

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COMING UP:  
Glenn Michael Beckmann rallies veterans against Donald Trump, and the FBI suffers a setback.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The walls close in.

Fearless Leader held aloft the proof of the imminent 2015 hipster invasion of Dupont Down Under:  a dead rat covered in glitter.  The Freaks gasped at the unnatural sight.

"They are coming!" boomed the voice of Fearless Leader.  "They are planning yuppie cocktails and trendy art installments right outside our door!"

Of course, they didn't really have a door, but he was right:  the city-sponsored renovation of the Dupont Down Under tunnel space was frighteningly close to completion.

"Maybe that rat slithered through some glitter on P Street, and then fell into a sewer hole."

"No!" exclaimed Fearless Leader.  "Somebody was down here, and they were using glitter!"  He looked around at the sea of unwashed faces--war veterans, psych unit veterans, teenage runaways, illegal immigrants--and his heart felt for them.  "We repelled the 2011 invasion of the Hunter-Gatherer Society!  We got rid of that snoopy reporter, Holly Gonightly!"  ("She was easy on the eyes."  "But way too fat for television.")  "The prophetess delivered us from the the methane-fueled explosion of Fat John's Lake!  The Beaver has built dam after dam after dam to hold back the city from our secret lair, but we are squeezed down to our final tunnel, in-between the White House bunkers to our south, and the Prince and Prowling bunker review center to the west, and the public wine cellars for wusses being built to our north.  We have come to the end of the line, my friends."  ("No, no!"  "We'll fight to the death!")  "No, my friends, there will be no bloodshed!  I will lead you to a safe place.  Follow me!"

Meanwhile, a different set of walls was closing in on H Street "NoMa" lifestyle guru Giuliana Sunstream.  "I don't think you understand who I am!" she cried in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to avoid seeing the FBI holding cell door slam shut in her face.  "I'm a celebrity!"

"Oh, what?" exclaimed the guard, pausing for a moment.  "Did you say a celebrity?"  He spit on the floor of her cell.  "Just in case you get thirsty before the Vitamin Water arrives," he said.  (clank)

"What did you do with Vegas?" she cried out to nobody listening.  "Is he in prison, too?  He can't survive prison!"  And she started sobbing for her toy Maltese.

It was the worst back-fire of a public event she had ever conducted in her history as a local lifestyle guru and (occasional) celebrity.  It had all started innocently enough, with her posting photos of the series of concrete planters filled with nothing but dirt and gravel lining the E Street NW sidewalk between 9th and 10th Streets.  She had blogged about what a public eyesore they were, posted online sketches of her ideas for a guerrilla gardening project, then summoned her loyal followers to the pre-dawn site at 5 am.  And dozens of them had come!  They were armed with camping lanterns, hibiscus and hydrangea bushes, pampas grass, tiger lilies, snapdragons, petunias, creeping vinca, butterfly bushes, native honeysuckle, blueberry bushes, and three different garden gnomes.

"It's gonna be beautiful!" she said, over and over again, directing the people with spades to start digging in the planters at the center of the block first, while another group of people joined forces to move the large water canisters into place.

What Giuliana Sunstream (like many other Washingtonians) did not realize was that the line of empty bomb-proof planters was actually "gracing" the backside of the national FBI headquarters.  With no signage, no flowers, and only rare glimpses of FBI security, it was the easiest thing in the world to walk by that prison-like pile of concrete and think it was a sad, sad old office building, with no signs of life--perhaps vacant and up for sale.  Only the front of the building proudly proclaimed itself to be the FBI; the back of the building looked like something Donald Trump would lease from the federal government and hire illegal Mexican immigrants to renovate into the world's largest Hooters and snookah bar.  (Of course, I'm talking about the kind of illegals who are not rapists--Trump knows what he's doing!  But I digress....)

No, Giuliana Sunstream had not realized it was the FBI building, and though there truly was no place in Washington in more desperate need of guerrilla gardening, the FBI guards on duty this morning had not welcomed the sight of a mob approaching their planters before dawn.  Though most of the guerrilla gardeners had surrendered peacefully to the battalion of riot-gear-clad black-shirts swarming out of the building to arrest them, little Vegas had made quite a show of yapping at the police dogs.  Sunstream's attempt to defend her toy Maltese--coupled with her quick identification as the ringleader of the whole mob--had earned her the worst detention cell, and the slowest processing of the morning.

Giuliana walked dejectedly over to examine the chairs--early 1970s standard issue wooden numbers without wheels--and thought about how the right varnish and throw pillow could really bring out the beautiful maple grain.  She ran her hand across the well-worn surfaces.  I'll write a blog post about reusing surplus government furniture, she thought, sinking slowly into the chair, completely clueless that she would not be talking to an attorney or posting bail for another 24 hours.  She also had no idea that her blog readership would soon double because she had been live-blogging and streaming video of the first minute of the gardening event--and the video stream of the FBI smackdown would soon go viral.

Meanwhile, conspiracy theorist and militia man Glenn Michael Beckmann (Giuliana Sunstream's former flame), had seen her blog posts and shown up this morning to laugh at her gardening party from afar.  He had tried to record the police activity to blog about what a degenerate and terrible citizen she was, but had accidentally hit Play instead of Record.  He briefly contemplated making an attempt to post bail for her, just to lord it over her and blog about it later, but instead decided he was hungry.  He walked off to find some food, then ended up in front of the Old Post Office Pavilion with a second cup of coffee in his hand.  On the one hand, he had already been planning to blow up the new Trump hotel because it was an ugly desecration of a patriotic architectural treasure, not to mention a den of thieves financed by Saudi petrodollars.  On the other hand, Donald Trump was trumpeting one of Beckmann's favorite causes:  hating illegal immigrants!  So should he support Trump now?  Except that the Washington Post had reported that illegal Mexican immigrants were working construction on the Trump hotel!  So maybe he should blow it up anyway, to kill those illegals?  He swallowed the last of the coffee.  It's so ugly, even in the sunrise!  And then Beckmann started thinking about how funny it would be if Trump visited the construction site with his daughter, and a Mexican illegal whistled at her ("ssss!  guera!"), and Trump yelled at him "you're fired!", and the Mexican came over and punched Trump in the nose, and told him Ivanka was a whore!  Beckmann had a good laugh over that, and reserved judgment on whether he would blow up this public eyesore.  (And that's always how you deal with public eyesores, Giuliana:  you blow them up!)

Back in the tunnels below DC, Fearless Leader had led the Freaks of Dupont Down Under past the FBI underground bunker, past the Congressional tunnels, and all the way to the edge of a shallow river.  "This is it!" he shouted triumphantly, ushering them into the Anacostia River Tunnel Project.  The Freaks looked around at the signs of construction everywhere.

"This doesn't look abandoned," somebody called out from the back of the crowd.

"Well, they're still building it!" said Fearless Leader, triumphantly.

"So, it's just temporary?" somebody asked.  "We can't really stay here?"

"It's only going to be used for combined sewage/flood overflows.  Whenever it's not raining hard, this will be our home!"

"It's going to stink!" somebody complained.

"And it's too far from Dupont Circle!" another complained.

"You know what?" said Fearless Leader.  "You people are a bunch of ungrateful whiners!  I've got a sister in Pennsylvania.  I don't need this crap!  You find a better place to live if you don't like this!"

And with that, he headed for the exit.  The Freaks of Dupont Down Under shrugged and chose a new Fearless Leader, who promptly made them promises he could not deliver.

The Anacostia river rats were excited about the new wave of humans entering their space, and swam off to report to Ardua of the Potomac.

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COMING UP:  Dr. Khalid Mohammad saves a life and makes an enemy.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

John Boehner' Quest for Liberty

Congressman John Boehner had recently had a lot on his mind, but it's amazing how the most pressing matters of state, survival, and power recede to the back burner when your man cave reeks of shit.

"Where is the cleaning crew?!" he exclaimed to his bodyguard, Solomon Kane

"There were a lot of flooded basements after the monsoon yesterday, and it's not easy to find somebody who can pass the security clearance.  We were lucky to get the plumber last night!"

"There is pee and doo-doo all over my Ohio limestone floor, and the bearskin rugs, and the putting green, and the--"

"I know, boss!"

"Why can't we fly Marta back from her vacation to clean this up?"

"She's somewhere in El Salvador."

"Why can't you locate her?"

"Boss!"

"We wouldn't have this problem if you had persuaded the psychic to come work for me!"

"I don't think she gets visions about backed-up sewage pipes."

"I'm two heartbeats away from the Presidency!  I shouldn't have to live like this!  I want my man cave back!"

"Don't you like your suite at the Four Seasons?"

"They're over-charging for bourbon, the chairs are terrible, and the curtains are gay!"

Kane handed up three bottles of bourbon to where the Speaker of the House was perched on the stairs, wrinkling his nose.  "Is there something else bothering you, boss?"

"I mean, what's the world coming to?" sighed Boehner, taking a swig as he wistfully eyed the big-screen TV and his DVR loaded up with his favorite "House of Cards", "Game of Thrones", and "Charlie's Angels" episodes he had been planning to binge-watch today (again).

"I can move the DVR upstairs," said Kane.

"It's just not the same if I can't sit on my throne!"  (Kane knew he couldn't move the throne, so he remained silent.)  "The Oklahoma Supreme Court said it was okay for homeowners to sue fracking companies for earthquake damage!  Are they insane?  Nobody gets thirty-five earthquakes in a week unless God has it in for them!"

"Well, you don't really blame God for natural disasters, do you?" asked Kane, gesturing around the flood-damaged man cave.

"This is different!" retorted Boehner.  "I blame that Polish plumber I hired last year."

"What about all the shark attacks in North Carolina?  You blame those on God, too?  Some say global warming has messed up the fish schools that the sharks normally eat."

"Of course it's God!  Nobody would get that many shark attacks unless God had it in for them!"

"Well, why does God have it in for Oklahoma and North Carolina?  They don't even have gay marriage!"  (Kane had long ago decided that the only fun thing about his job was goading Boehner.)

"Who knows what secrets their Governors and Senators and business leaders might be hiding?!" exclaimed Boehner, his face getting redder as he thought about all the television-inspired imaginings and fantasies to which his mind had been wandering the past year (particularly during meetings)--some of which involved his being a hero and others of which involved his being a victim.  "Maybe my blackmailer is from Oklahoma or North Carolina!" he said fiercely.

"He's not," said Kane, still refusing to tell Boehner the identity of the blackmailer (Tarantula) or his puppet master (Charles Wu)--for Boehner's own safety.

"Damn it!  Why won't you admit it's Rupert Murdoch!?"  (Kane looked away, as he always did.)

"Dennis Hastert went from Speaker of the House to national disgrace because of his blackmailer!" exclaimed Boehner.

"Boss, this is completely different!  The Tarantula is not even asking you for money--just an occasional action in the House of Representatives."

"It's a corruption of the Democratic process!  Do you know how angry my constituents get at me when I don't do the right thing?"

"By 'constituents' you mean--"

"Don't start that again!"

Kane flashed his adorable smile at Boehner, fairly certain his boss had a man crush on him.  "Wow, this shirt stinks," Kane said, taking off his t-shirt to exhibit his six-pack of glory.  "Can we get outta here now?"  Kane walked up the stairs, brushing Boehner's shoulder with his ankle holster as he passed him.  "Why don't you invite your buddies from the secret Cuba Caucus to come over to your hotel suite and celebrate the announcement of the new embassy in Havana?  We could smoke cigars on the balcony!"

"How can I relax, knowing I owe favors that I might not be able to execute?  I've got this blackmail hanging over my head all the time!  I want to be free!"

Kane squatted down on the landing, his abs leaning over his jeans (and the Bill Blass belt Boehner had given him) and reached his hand down to Boehner, who seemed glued to the steps.  "Come on!  Everything's gonna be fine!"

Boehner looked up at the six-pack of glory and believed it.

Beneath them, in the laundry room tucked behind the man cave, Boehner's zombie chief of staff resumed eating the cleaning woman who had "passed" the security clearance and arrived a half-hour before Solomon Kane.

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COMING UP:  The walls close in on Dupont Down Under!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Public Policy Panic

The Heurich Society was not happy about having a meeting the Sunday before the 4th of July, but several of its grumpy old members had invoked the emergency meeting clause, and so here was Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson, passing around bowls of whipped cream, chopped nuts, berries, and candy sprinkles for her membership to build their own ice cream sundaes and calm down a little with the help of milkfat, sugar, and chocolate.  She rapped her gavel and tried to chair the opening of the meeting, but chaos continued to reign in the upper floor meeting room of the Brewmaster's Castle.

"The Pope's encyclical on climate change is the greatest threat to capitalism the world has ever seen!  The compassion for the environment and the poor--where does he get this stuff?  It's dynamite!  He's trying to get rid of survival-of-the-fittest!"

"The terrorists are coordinating their strikes all over the world--it's only a matter of time before Washington is hit!"

"The race war will hit us first!  It's time to trade all our assets for food and water and hunker down in the bunkers with our families for the next 100 years until 75% of the world's population slaughters each other or dies of bird flu!"

"There are sixty million refugees in the world!  This is the largest number since World War II!  Cannibalism and slaving pirate ships are right around the corner!"

Samuelson blew her rape whistle, and the grumpy old men finally shut up.  "Alright, well I'm glad some of you are finally noticing that maybe we should be focused on more important things than getting Condi named the new Commissioner of the National Football League."

"I resent that!" crackled Condoleezza Rice over the speakerphone.  "This is a small project that uses very few Society resources!"

"Whatever," said Samuelson.  "Our mission statement is to maximize wealth, power, and freedom.  There are serious threats in the world today, but we will deal with them as we always have--rationally, intelligently, and strategically."

The ghost of Henry Samuelson shook his head in the corner.  Wow, she really never read the minutes from those years before she took over.

"The terrorism and refugee problems are tied to climate change," the younger Samuelson continued.  "I've asked the Project Prometheus Committee chairman to report on their progress in preparing for the global security problems caused by climate change."

"Climate change isn't real!"

"Then why's the ice cream melting?"

"Shut up!"

Button Samuelson blew her rape whistle again and gestured to the Project Prometheus chairman, who cleared his throat and began to read from his repaired notes.  "It is very regrettable that Pope Francis has framed the problem in terms of attacking capitalism as the source of persistent poverty, environmental degradation, and global warming.  We have concluded that--"

"Concluded?" asked Samuelson.  "You just started talking, and you're telling us your conclusion?"

"Well, it's quite obvious, after you really analyse it.  There's only one acceptable path forward that does not involve an unacceptable change in our way of life:  we need to sterilize the world's poor."

"What?!" cried Button Samuelson.

"It's more humane than letting their children all turn into refugees, slaves, slavers, or cannibals.  Cut off the supply of young girls' being born, and ISIS won't have anything to bribe its warriors with.  Mass sterility will cause people to lose their religious fundamentalism altogether.  Greenhouse gas emissions will fall as populations decline to pre-Industrial Age levels.  The entire world will calm down, and we can remain living above ground."

"That's an interesting argument," crackled Rice over the speakerphone.  "What do you propose for the sterilization method?"

"Are you out of your minds?!" exclaimed Button Samuelson.

"Do you have a better solution?" retorted the chair of the Project Prometheus Committee.

"You call global eugenics a solution!?"

"Yes, I do!" he insisted.  "It's more humane than letting the world descend back into the Dark Ages."

"Well, I'm not signing off on that plan, and it's not open to debate!" declared Samuelson.  "You better have a Plan B!"

"Well," he sighed, "Plan B is to acknowledge that it's too late to stop climate change and the global security problems it is causing.  We need to build a Noah's Ark spaceship to take our families in search of a new planet.  Frankly, I feel this is a far more irresponsible plan."

A few miles away, the Congressional Holier Than Thou Caucus was having its own emergency/hysterical meeting in the leafy backyard of a South Carolina Representative, who was telling them that he had a prophetic dream that the mass murderer's wish would come true, and race war was about to start in his home state.  "He shot Christians in a church!" the Representative sobbed.  "He can only be the Antichrist!"

"I agree," exclaimed a representative from Texas.  "He's not even a Muslim!  He was surely the First Horseman of the Apocalypse!"

And then others joined in, crazed with excitement.

"The Obamacare ruling was the Second Horseman!  Now government officials will put their death panels in place in every state and start killing off people of faith!"

"Then the gay marriage ruling was the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse--with the White House beaming a gay rainbow of light from the roof--like a Satanic beam calling out to all the wicked of the world to gather there and fornicate and sodomize!"

"Wait, I think Bruce Jenner was the First Horseman of the Apocalypse, now that I think of it.  And how can a Supreme Court ruling be a Horseman?"

"It can be a sign of the Apocalypse."

"And the shooter was the Second Horseman?"

"The Pope was the Third Horseman!"

"Stop!" yelled Congressman Herrmark, who had only joined the Caucus in a desperate attempt to try to schmooze for votes against fracking.  "Do you realize how crazy you sound?  Obamacare is going to cost a lot of money, but it's not about death panels, for God's sake.  And gay people are going to sodomize whether they have a marriage certificate or not, so you can't say the Supreme Court is bringing on the Apocalypse!  That boy in Charleston is mentally deranged--it doesn't mean he's the Antichrist!"

"Your church doesn't do a good job of teaching the Apocalypse!" said a Pentecostal to Congressman Herrmark.

"Well, I know a zombie when I see one, and that's the most ungodly thing around!  You people need to get your priorities straight!"

The other members of the Holier Than Thou Caucus looked at Congressman Herrmark in perplexity--except for the few who were also members of Congressman Herrmark's Anti-Zombie Caucus.  He looked to them for support.

"I have seen some zombies, too," admitted a Congressman from Florida.  "What Herrmark is saying is true."  He sighed deeply  "Perhaps they were the first sign of the Apocalypse, and we should have warned you."

"Why, you're talking about the Occult!" exclaimed the Congressman from South Carolina.  "Not in my house!  Get behind me, Satan!"

"Now, John," protested the Congressman from Florida, "I'm not mixed up in the Occult!  Congress has a bunch of zombies, and we've been hunting them down, but they keep multiplying, and we don't even know how!  They have maggots for brains, and are causing a lot of crazy votes on the Hill!  You have to believe us!"

"Deliver us from Evil, he's gone over to the dark side!"

"I was always suspicious that he missed that vote on school prayer!"

Congressman Herrmark and his colleague from Florida looked to the other (still secret) members of the Anti-Zombie Caucus, but they were just looking down at the grass.  "Fine!" said Herrmark.  "I'm outta here!  You want to have hysterics about the Supreme Court, go at it."

"And that shooter isn't a sign of the Apocalypse!" exclaimed the Congressman from Florida.  "He's a sign that the NRA has too much damned power in this country!"  And he spit on the grass and walked out with Herrmark.

Behind the hydrangea bushes, the ghost of Condoleezza Rice's cat, Pippin, and the rest of the feline ghost gang, resumed killing sparrows.

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COMING UP:  Congressman John Boehner's quest for liberty!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Touched

The Reiki Triplets had used the proceeds of their mother's estate, combined with their own savings from the San Francisco practice, to buy a house out of foreclosure near Capitol Hill.  The top floor was shared by Calcium (Cal) with Magnesium (Maggie), who was divorced and had a kid in college.  The middle floor was for Sassafras (Sassy), her husband (a musician), and two young children.  The bottom floor was for cooking and getting together.

And the basement was where the identical triplets had set up their reiki practice.  Their first regular customer was Charles Wu, who had more natural chi than anybody on the planet, but was feeling quite off-kilter since the Chinese had hacked the federal government and made half his acquaintances distrustful of him.  He would walk through the beaded inner doorway, smell the patchouli incense in the lavender and mint waiting room, sip green tea sweetened with mango juice, then go into one of the treatment areas.  He would take most of his clothes off, which was not at all required but something he liked to do any chance he got.  And then they would touch him.  Though the triplets were middle-aged, he could still close his eyes and imagine how exciting it would have been for these identical beauties to have simultaneously touched him fifteen years ago.

And it was working!  His self-confidence was coming back!  The State Department's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was not yet returning his calls, but C. Coe Phant was.  He had handed former Senator Evermore Breadman a huge deal in China, so he was halfway back to being able to show his face at Prince and Prowling.  It wouldn't be long before he was back on top!

One of the Reiki Triplets' newest clients was H Street “NoMa” lifestyle guru, Giuliana Sunstream.  Giuliana--who shied away from anything controversial in her blog and wouldn't dream of using the word "New Age"--had recently posted that the experience was transcendent, uplifting, mind-clearing, and beautiful.  From the magnetized mattress to the automatic misters spraying citrus-infused water every seven minutes, from the Clayoquot flute music to the live butterflies flying back and forth over the client bed to reach the butterfly bushes placed under grow lamps around the room--Giuliana did not have enough good things to say about the experience.

The Reiki Triplets' most distressed client was Justice Department attorney Atticus Hawk, who was back to living a drug-free life since his clandestinely doping girlfriend had been picked up by the FBI.  Moved into the Attorney General's suite directly by Loretta Lynch herself, Hawk could not relax for a single minute in his office.  Psychiatrist Ermann Esse had not been much help with the recurrent nightmares about getting water-boarded, bombed by Predator drones, locked up at Guantanamo as an Enemy Combatant, or--worst of all--visited by Lynch with an urgent assignment that she is about to deliver to him, but then she realizes he is wearing daisy-covered pajama bottoms and nothing else.  Hawk was willing to try anything (other than quitting his job), and was soon booking lunch visits with the Reiki Triplets almost every day.

Unfortunately for Hawk, Giuliana Sunstream's blog post had caught the attention of ex-boyfriend Glenn Michael Beckmann, who believed the entire operation was a hippie front for laundering drug money--not that Beckmann was against drugs, since he loved drugs, but he knew that anybody who would put a Persian rug and and bags of pistachios in their waiting room was probably a Hezbollah agent laundering money from Iran.  It was just logical!  But what Beckmann learned after three days of stake-outs was that Atticus Hawk was the only repeat customer, so on Friday, Beckmann had followed Hawk out to see where he went after the appointment--and he went straight to the Justice Department!  This could not be good, thought Beckmann, who had now been tailing Hawk ever since (pumped up on meth so he didn't have to sleep all weekend).  Hawk, unaware that conspiracy theorist and militia leader Beckmann had been under federal surveillance since his “Serial Creditor – Serial Predator” blog post calling for the violent overthrow of the Federal Reserve Board, believed that Beckmann was an FBI agent tailing Hawk, and so the reiki visits were, quite ironically, increasing Hawk's paranoia and anxiety.

Out in the river, the chi-less demon Ardua of the Potomac slithered quickly under the 14th Street bridge, bracing for Dubious McGinty to urinate down on her from the bridgeman's quarters, as he always did.  But today he wasn't even shaking his fist at her.  Today he was staring at the Lincoln Memorial in the distance.  Today he was thinking about a week that started with a white girl pretending to be black, and ended with a white boy calmly murdering black people in a Charleston church.  Racism is a joke.  Racism is entertaining.  Racism is death.  He felt the demon pass below him, and reflexively spit into the water.  Do we feed the demons or do they feed us?

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COMING UP:  
The Heurich Society reacts to Pope's encyclical on climate change!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

West Side Story

After a couple more harrowing nights of knife wounds and bullet holes in the George Washington University Hospital E.R., Dr. Khalid Mohammad was convinced the heat wave was going to indirectly kill off five percent of the city's population.  Like leopards sleeping under rocks during the heat of the day and roaming out to hunt in the middle of the night, the killers were pouncing on prey right and left in fits of anger, hunger, and frustration.  It was the most intense month of surgery he had seen since coming back from Jordan, and he was losing almost as many patients.

But this was something different.  "Doctor, we can't persuade her to take off the burqa," said Nurse Consuela Arroyo.

"Is she bleeding?  What's wrong?"

"Her father says she keeps falling down and needs something to stop her dizzy spells."  Dr. Mohammad stared at Nurse Arroyo waiting for a better explanation, but she just handed him the chart.

"This is useless," he said after a minute.  "Somebody needs to examine her."

"Three female doctors have already been in there, and she won't take it off.  I came for you since you speak Arabic."

Dr. Mohammad pulled back the curtain and started speaking Arabic to the patient, who responded so quietly he could not hear what she was saying through the veil.  He continued talking to her anyway, while quietly using sharp scissors to cut through the side of her burqa.  He told her one more time the importance of allowing him to examine her, but she would not take off the burqa.  He abruptly ripped it off her head.  Both nurses gasped at the action, but the patient made no protest.  Her cranium looked like somebody had smashed it down with a brick.  There were trickles of blood coming out of her nostrils.  For the first time in his medical career, Dr. Mohammad suddenly thought that love was a healer more powerful than anything he could do.  "Page the neurosurgeon," he said quietly, taking the woman's hand in his own.

Not far away, Bridezilla arrived at Primi Piatti a half-hour early, told them she was having a business lunch, and sat down to get a Bellini.  Her pulse was racing with the thought of seeing Paul (!!!!) outside of the office.  Nobody would know!  She had told Paul that she needed him to interpret for her during a meeting with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim--who was interested in working with Prince and Prowling's Cuban Practices Group in setting up American investments after trade sanctions got lifted--but that was just a white lie.  Paul would show up, and then she would tell him that Slim had canceled, but they could still charge this as a business lunch.  It was a perfect plan!

Her happy thoughts faltered when she caught sight of the pale line on her tanned ring finger where Wince's engagement ring used to sit.  But what could she do?  Wince had seen it in her eyes after he lost the primary for the Virginia House of Delegates nomination to that weapons contractor with body odor, and she couldn't deny how disappointed she was.  The passion was gone, and she couldn't fake it for him.  But Paul!  Her heart fluttered every time she saw him!  And after being ordered to keep her engagement with a partisan political candidate quiet, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to sneak around! 

She sighed.  It was like "Gattaca"--they came from two different worlds!  She was of the superior race of beings who had done law review at a top tier law school.  He was one of those weirdos who had traveled the world and done jobs in other mysterious professions, and had a pile of amazing experience that nobody in law firms valued in the slightest--relegated to the contract attorney class for all of time.  But she saw glimmers of real intellect in him!  After all, he was fluent in several foreign languages, which was no mean task, and all kinds of smart comments came out of his mouth when she talked to him about the case he was working on.  And his eyes were so dreamy!

A romance with him would be the riskiest thing she had ever done in her legal career.  People would look down on her if they knew!  It was slumming, and she knew it.  It had to be kept a secret, but that just made it more exciting for her.  She ordered a second Bellini, feeling warm and fuzzy all over.

A few blocks away, Helen Talaverdi Yellen had stopped by the Federal Reserve Board to bring lunch to her husband, Luciano Talaverdi Yellen, who was hard at work on a special economic model ordered by the Chair, Janet Yellen (no actual blood relation).  She waited patiently on the corner outside the Liquidity Palace, but this did not stop a guard from coming over to harass her.

"What is this?" he demanded, pointing at her pot-bellied pig on a leash.

She held up the cooler bag.  "Just bringing lunch to my husband.  He's an economist--he's on his way down."

"You can't have a pig here!" exclaimed the guard, surprised that his yellow lab was rubbing noses peacefully with the pig.

"Why not?" she asked.

"It's an animal!" he exclaimed.

"Is he an idiot, or what?" Petro Pig whispered to the guard dog.

"Oh, he's alright," whispered the yellow lab, feeling butterflies in her stomach.  (She didn't know she could talk to a pig!)  "What's your name?"

"I'm Petro Pig."

"I'm Princess Buttercup."

The animals were giggling now, but only the Dog Whisperer would have been able to recognize it.

Back at Primi Piatti, Paul's lover (Fernando) dropped him off for his "business lunch" with a kiss on the cheek.  "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" laughed Fernando.

But since Paul was secretly bi-sexual, there really were some things he did that Fernando would not do.  The question today was, would any of those happen?  He looked for his boss (Bridezilla), and she waved him over with a drunken grin.  There was no Carlos Slim in sight, just as he had expected.  Paul sat down, and she lifted her cocktail in the air with her left--obviously now ringless--hand, and begged him to take a sip of it.  She lifted it to his lips, and he wished he had spent more time seriously pondering future repercussions.  She poured it crookedly into his mouth, then leaned over and wiped his dripping lips with her other hand.  "Whoops!" she said, a couple seconds later.

Outside, a catbird was imitating the sound of an ambulance siren, and the river rats ran back into the sewer to escape the heat.

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COMING UP:  The reiki triplets shake up Washington!