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 ....

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!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Partners

Dr. Khalid Mohammad smiled at his father, who was adjusting his son's tuxedo bow tie for the fifth time.  Khalid was glad his parents had flown over from Jordan early in the week; his brother had suddenly found himself mistakenly on a no-fly list in the wake of the Egypt Air crash.

"My handsome doctor son!" his father exclaimed yet again.  "Such a lovely bride!"

"I know you're worried," Khalid suddenly said, determined to broach the subject they had tiptoed around all week.

"We're not worried!  She's a lovely girl!"

"I think I can get her to stop wearing the veil after the wedding.  She just...."  He fell silent, unable to articulate the vague notions of hope he was clinging to.  He was a modern man, educated in the West, but he was actually hoping to "fix" Yasmin by marrying her.

Khalid's father pulled him down, and they both sat.  He had a deep-rooted aversion to Turks, as many Arabs did, but he had tried to raise his sons free of the weight of centuries of ethnic war.  "Her father worked for the CIA, and then he felt guilty about it, so he bounced back in the other direction.  His daughter was dutiful, and so she bounced, too.  But you will be the head of her family now."

"That's what I keep thinking, and it's medieval.  Is this really the best way to help her?  Her father almost bashed her brains in, and that wasn't enough for her to reject everything he stood for."

"He stood for nothing," said Khalid's father.  "That is why she is so lost.  If you don't know how to be a good girl in your father's eyes, you never know how to be good.  You will replace that."

"Will I?  I don't want to be her father."  Khalid's affection for Yasmin had grown into a complex love that made him more nervous than happy.

"Your mother was only sixteen when I married her.  That was common then, but she seemed very young.  When she got older, I actually liked things much better.  Give it time."

"You should come live with us," Khalid said.  "Things are not getting better there."  They never spoke aloud about how Khalid's cousin had been burned to death by ISIS.

Khalid's father had been glad to have his son home for awhile, even if it was to work in the clinic for Syrian refugees.  "Your mother is content to live out her days there.  But maybe a grandchild will make her feel differently!"  His eyes twinkled, and he reached over to fidget with the bow tie again while the best man (another doctor from George Washington University Hospital) sat in another room, duty-free.

A few miles away, psychiatrist Ermann Esse had been on duty for four days with little sleep when they brought in another Egyptian detainee to his suite in the secret CIA facility under the Washington Times headquarters.  The after-effects of the cursed Rolex were well out of his system, but Dr. Esse had no idea how to extricate himself from his clandestine services to the CIA.  Though his memories were a little hazy, he feared that he may have murdered one of his private practice patients, and if the CIA was holding that over his head, what future could he have?  But he fretted about his neglected private patients, especially the ones who could not rely on pharmaceutical fixes because of their security clearances.  How were they faring?  (Since he had been so abusive towards the end, most of them were actually doing better without his care, but Dr. Esse did not know this.) 

He also fretted about this work.  He nodded as the Egyptian was strapped into a chair, and he directed the interpreter to tell the detainee the doctor was injecting a truth serum.  Although Dr. Esse considered himself a top-notch hypnotist, it really did not work well with an interpreter; "the truth serum" often helped.  The Egyptian grimaced in anxiety, afraid his secret lust for the blond cashier at CVS would be flushed out, or his addiction to "Game of Thrones".

"My brother married a girl from Yemen," he blurted out, "but I've done nothing!"

"That's not what we heard," said Dr. Esse, and he waited a moment for the interpreter to repeat it.  "Your brother already told us about the bomber on the airplane."

"What?  Yusef?  Oh, my God!  I promised my mother I would keep him out of trouble!  I let him marry the Yemeni girl, but she liked to watch 'Project Runway' and spend hours in the shopping mall!"

Dr. Esse listened as the interpreter relayed this information.  "He's innocent," the shrink said.

The interpreter nodded and began preparing coffee cups for the three to share for the next hour of pretend interrogation.  (The CIA never videotaped interrogations anymore.)  "Might have been another suicidal pilot," offered the interpreter, in English.

"Maybe," said Dr. Esse.

Back in Foggy Bottom, Khalid's mother was helping Yasmin with her wedding gown.  She had persuaded her to wear an American-style wedding veil, but Yasmin was fretting at her reflection in the mirror.  "I don't look like a Muslim bride."

"You are also an American bride," said the future mother-in-law.  "You are living in America!"

Yasmin sighed, not comforted by those words.  She could see the pink lipstick through the veil, and reached for a tissue to wipe it off.  Khalid's mother stayed her arm.

"Yasmin, I am your mother now!  You must listen to me!" (Yasmin paused, surprised.)  "Do you not wish to please your husband?"

"Yes, mother."

"Good!  Then leave the lipstick on.  It will look very nice in the pictures."  (Red would have looked better with Yasmin's skin tone, but that would have been out of the question.)

Angela de la Paz walked in, feeling silly in her maid-of-honor gown.  It was very old-fashioned, with long sleeves covered in pink lace.

"Oh, how beautiful!" cried Khalid's mother.  She knew that Yasmin's personal turmoil had left her with few friends.  (Nurse Consuela Arroyo had helped choose the wedding dress and maid-of-honor gown.)

"I'm very happy for you," said Angela.  "Khalid is such a good man."  She took Yasmin's hands in her own and dove into the Dreamtime to find her spirit.  There is nothing to fear, she telepathically whispered to Yasmin's spirit, drawing her away from the hissing Chimera.  (Angela was still unable to destroy such a chimera outright, but she had definitely grown stronger against them.)  "Love and friendship and peace, all with God's blessing, await you," she said out loud, kissing each of Yasmin's hands.

Khalid's mother saw Yasmin's tense shoulders relax and drop.  "Yes," she echoed, "love and friendship and peace, all with God's blessing."

Yasmin smiled.  She was ready to marry, and they headed out to the limousine which would take them to the mosque in Virginia.

A mile away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was staring out his Prince and Prowling office window at the spot where an armed man had been shot outside the White House twenty-four hours earlier.  Extra heavy security still blanketed the area, even though it was a lone crazy and the response had gone just as it should have.   

"It's done."  Breadman jumped and turned around.  "Sorry to startle you," said Bridezilla, who had dry-cleaned an Anne Klein suit for this meeting.  "Marco took care of it."  She sat down in the guest chair, expectantly.

Breadman poured a couple of shots of whiskey from his sidebar and sat down to toast the announcement.  They clinked glasses silently, and then Breadman asked, "when?"

"I thought you didn't want to know anything," smiled Bridezilla, who had been perfectly contented herself not to know how Marco had made sure the New Jersey thug never threatened the hallowed halls of Prince and Prowling again.

"You're right!" laughed Breadman, nervously.  "As long as he's out of my hair."

"Out of our hair," said Bridezilla.

Breadman nodded.  "It won't be immediate, of course.  I'll tell the managing partner that the political stakes are simply too high this year and I need somebody with your connections back on my team."

With Boehner gone from Washington politics and most of her former friends avoiding her, she didn't really have any connections that would impress the managing partner.  "Did he know about the Jersey issue?"

"He will now."  Breadman finished his whiskey, feeling the familiar warmth, flush of relaxation, and shredding of gastric cells.  "I can't promise that everybody around here will treat you right, but when they see you're my right arm, you'll be on your way.  And I'll pay your partnership stake back in."

Bridezilla smiled, amazed she did not have to bargain for that.  "Then I'll wait to hear from you," she said, arising.  (She was eager to go home and thank Marco again.)

Out in Virginia, Liv and Felix Cigemeier were sitting in a mosque for the first time in their lives, watching the wedding ceremony of Yasmin and Dr. Khalid Mohammad.  Liv had thought about writing a story about it to update the Girl Hurl readers on Yasmin's recovery from her father's savage beating, but Felix had talked her out of it.  "She's not comfortable yet with her new role," he had said, and she had thought about that term "role" often in the past week.  Had Liv taken on a role when she married Felix?  Had she taken on a role when they adopted Angela's son, Lucas?  Had Angela taken on a role when she gave up the baby for adoption?

There were only about twenty people in attendance, but one of them was Buffy Cordelia, whose father had received an invitation solely for the purpose of securing little Delia's services as a flower girl.  She giggled repeatedly as she turned to her occasional babysitter, Angela, who was walking behind her and nodding in encouragement as the youngster tossed pink rose petals on the marble floor.

"It's quite beautiful," said Liv, leaning against her husband and thinking that sometimes it was good to take on roles.

Back in Washington, Golden Fawn was still reading online reactions to the Washington Post poll showing that "9 out of 10" American Indians did not care about the name "Redskins".

"Enough, already!" said her husband, Marcos Vazquez, calling her to lunch.

"It's driving me up the wall!  Most of them are living in abject poverty on reservations--of course they have bigger things to worry about!  If it were Washington 'Blackskins', nobody would be doing a poll about it!"

"Honey, why don't you call back the Redskins?  Say you want to get onto the board of that stupid foundation.  Sometimes you have to compromise your principles to--"

"Alright, I'll come to lunch," she said, walking away from the computer.

****************************************************************
COMING UP:  Real estate demon convention to 
celebrate high cost of "living" in Washington!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

P and P, pee pee, P.R., and P.P.

"It's just a SuperPAC, sir, like I understand Prince and Prowling has done many of before."

The interjection of "sir" did nothing to assuage former Senator Evermore Breadman's feeling that he was being shaken down by a New Jersey thug.

"Now, I could take our business elsewhere, but I know P.P.--"

"P and P," interjected Breadman.

"P and P," repeated the New Jersey thug, leaning forward in the guest chair, "has a reputation for delivering tough political results."

"If you don't mind my saying so," said Breadman, "your candidate has done pretty well for himself without our services so far."

The thug propped his elbows on the arm rests and pressed his fingertips against each other the way he'd seen it done by tough guys in many Hollywood films, then he smiled with recently bleached teeth already stained from excessive coffee and cigarettes over the past five days.  "Mr. Trump is in a new field of play now.  You don't keep using submarine warfare after you've already stormed the beaches of Burgundy."

"Normandy?"

"What?"

"Beaches of--never mind.  Look, we can set up the SuperPAC for you, but we can't run it."

"I think you can, and you will."

"We have strict policies about--"

"Your mama has strict policies!"

"What?!"

"You've got a nice good-cop-bad-cop thing going at Prince and Prowling.  We're just looking to hire the bad cop."

"Like I said, we can set it up for you--"

"I'm not a retard, so stop repeating yourself, Breadman!"

"Let me talk to the Managing Partner--"

"Well, make it snappy," said the New Jersey thug, standing up.  "I'd hate to see things get ugly for your fancy little law firm here."  Then he knocked a pile of files off Breadman's desk and walked out.

Across the river in McLean, the Ghost CIA was also having a rather animated meeting about Donald Trump's looming Presidential nomination.  On the one hand, they were all thrilled with Trump's promises to bring back torture.  On the other hand, they weren't a big fan of complete morons' running national security. 

"He might take back the Panama Canal."

"What does he care about the Canal for?  He's an isolationist!"

"I don't think so."

"He wants to give Korea and Japan their own nukes, then withdraw troops!  We have American troops on every continent in the world--we can't end that!"

"But if troops are withdrawn, that means more power for the CIA stations!"

To do what?  Little assassinations here and there?  The days when an entire regime can be toppled with just a couple dozen advisers are long gone!"

"We'll still have our drone strikes."

"You can't topple regimes with drone strikes!"

"If Drumpf's elected, the CIA will be more powerful than ever!" cried the Ghost of Henry Samuelson.  "The Pentagon will be terrified to take commands from Drumpf!  They'll lie about the nuclear codes-- I can guarantee that.  There will be a power vacuum, and the CIA will fill it--with help from the Ghost CIA."

The others were impressed that Ghost Henry had deftly inserted the ancestral name of Trump's family into the conversation--a name well-known by the Nazi wing of the CIA.  

"The tide is turning, gentlemen," continued Ghost Henry.  "A baby with Hitler DNA is growing within a womb on Trump National Golf Course ["huh?"], and powerful forces are on the rise.  The stupider the President, the more opportunity for the Ghost CIA to take charge of this historic moment."

"Henry, have you been sniffing the ink toner again?  You can never be a poltergeist when it really counts, but somehow you can rip open those packages--"

"Shut up!"

"You wanted Trump assassinated!  You threatened to haunt his body!"

"I changed my mind!  The weaker the President, the better for us!  The stupider the President, the better for us!  And my poltergeist skills get better every month!"  Ghost Henry tried to demonstrate this by urinating into a potted plant the way he saw Ghost Pippin do once, but his spectral willy just hung there doing nothing.

Back in Washington, the Zombie Caucus was having a similarly spirited debate about Donald Trump in the bowels of the Capitol.

"He's not one of us!"

"That can be arranged."

"I'd rather eat him."

"That can also be arranged."

"I don't think there are any brains in there to eat."

"What do you think, David?"

All eyes turned to David Hoppe, Paul Ryan's Chief of Staff, whom some felt had not accomplished much for the Zombie Caucus since joining it.  "He's simply an egomaniac.  He has one strategy for everything, which is bullying.  He tried groveling with the Speaker, and it came across as desperate and fake."

"But Ryan spoke optimistically afterward."

"Ryan made no promises--he just wanted the clown back on the first plane out of Washington."

"So should we eat Trump or get him elected?"

"Well," said Hoppe, "I was sorely tempted to eat him on the spot, what with the Secret Service agents waiting out in the hallway, but he might still prove useful to us.  I did give him some zombie suggestions for a V.P. pick."

Over at the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney Atticus Hawk sat nervously in his office, waiting for Loretta Lynch to summon him into her office for this rare Sunday afternoon meeting.  Please don't put me on the North Carolina bathroom case.  Please don't put me on the North Carolina bathroom case.  Please don't put me on the--

His phone buzzed, and he jumped up to head three doors down to her office.  He greeted her warmly, shut the door behind him, and proffered a bag of pastries so that he could avoid a sweaty handshake.

"Please sit down, Atticus."

"Before you begin, I understand that it's been a tough week with the White House and the culture wars, and I'm all on board with the agenda, but I think Karen would be a better person to hand it off to for follow-up because--"

"I'm not assigning the bathroom litigation to you."  (Atticus exhaled deeply.)  "I need you take on this."

She handed him a large portfolio marked "P.P."

"I thought David was still overseeing the Prince and Prowling deferred prosecution agreement?"  The Attorney General shook her head, and Atticus opened the file.  "Panama Papers?  What are we doing with the Panama Papers?"

"Proceeding with caution.  I need somebody with your skill set to handle this."  (Atticus Hawk did a quick inventory of his skill set--torture expert, NSA damage control, psychological profile of FBI's Most Wanted Barbara Hellmeister--but was at a loss.)  "We currently have no electronic files on this.  Anybody hacking us or watching us--including the NSA and the CIA--will only find that a few attorneys here have browsed what's out in the public domain.  All our analysis is sitting in your hands.  You will write everything in long hand, and the file will be locked in your safe every time you leave your office unattended for even one second--unless you have brought the file to me."

"Are we prosecuting anybody?"
 
The Attorney General leaned across her desk to whisper.  "The bathroom wars are a distraction.  The death threats we get about those transgender kids will create the smokescreen behind which we tip toe across this field of landmines."

"Isn't walking across landmines in a cloud of smoke a bad idea?"

Lynch frowned at him.  "When you're A.G., you can use whatever metaphors you like."

"Yes, ma'am!"

"You know how the unsavory think and act and justify themselves.  You are going to learn this world inside and out, and then we will decide how to proceed."

Atticus left her office still uncertain if the Justice Department wanted to prosecute tax evaders, recruit them, or ship them off to Guantanamo for torture sessions.  He sat down at his desk and nervously opened the file.

Back at Prince and Prowling, Bridezilla was now sitting in former Senator Evermore Breadman's office, surprised by her sudden summoning from exile in the underground SOTA-Bunk (State-of-the-Art Secure Review Bunker, still being federally monitored under Prince and Prowling's deferred prosecution agreement).

"I'm not going to beat around the bush.  I'd like to be on a plane to Dallas to promise bankruptcy miracles to another faltering Texas oil company, and you'd like to be a partner again."

"Sir?"  Bridezilla had never before worn yoga pants and an old Redskins sweatshirt to a meeting with Breadman, but he didn't seem to notice or care.

"Tell me about that husband of yours."

"Marco?"

"Is there another one?"

"No, sir!"

"Then tell me about Marco!"

"Well...."  Bridezilla hesitated.  The success of her whirlwind marriage to Marco Pel relied on the fact that she found him tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious, and she had made no effort to thwart that.  "He works very hard."

"At what?"

"Business things--international business things."

"Cut the crap:  can he get things accomplished or not?"

"Sure, loads of things!"  (She had no idea where this was heading.)

"Because I've heard rumors that he has associates who can get things accomplished."

"Sure!" Bridezilla repeated.  "You just name it!"

Breadman handed the New Jersey thug's business card across the desk.  "This man wants us to set up and run a SuperPAC devoted to wreaking revenge on any Republican who doesn't jump on the Donald Trump bandwagon."

"And you want me to do that?"

"And stab half our clients in the back?  Of course not!  I need Marco's associates to tell this thug what to do with his ugly threats.  I don't wanna hear how Marco handles this--I just want it handled.  You get that done, and you'll be back in a partner's office in no time."

"This sounds more like a matter for the FBI or--"

"Are you out of your mind?!  The survival of this law firm is at stake!  This guy threatened us, and nobody threatens Prince and Prowling!  Now can I count on you?"

"Yes, sir!"

Outside the window, an interested catbird would have flown off to report to Ardua, but she was living so far away now that he just flew instead across the street to make siren noises to startle tourists at the White House.

*************************************************************
COMING UP:  
Dr. Khalid Mohammad and the radicalized Muslim.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Even Washingtonians care about about Mother's Day!

Bridge had brought White House butler Clio some egg salad, potato salad, and cherry pie from Safeway to have Mother's Day lunch with her.  He knew it was always a miserable day for her, and she'd be thinking about the deceased twins all day long.

"The garden's lookin' real nice," she said.  "That rain made everybody miserable except the trees and the gardens."

"Yeah, saved me some work," said Bridge, the head gardener.  "But the sunshine'll do them some good, too."  He looked over to the ghosts of Regina and Ferguson, watching with the quiet grace that only came to the forever pre-schoolers on days like Mother's Day.  "I think Mrs. Obama gonna miss the garden quite a bit."

"I don't think I can work for those tramps," said Clio.

"Trumps!" corrected Bridge.

"I know what to call them," retorted Clio.

"They'll never set a foot inside this place!" snorted the gardener.  "Mrs. Clinton on her way back--you just wait and see!  I know you came after her time, but you'll like her."

"But a LOT a people like those tramps."

"And a LOT a people like rap music, but Kanye ain't gettin' elected and neither is that fool Trump."

"They'd be so big today," said Clio.

Bridge nodded silently.  She always changed the subject abruptly like that--sooner or later, she would want to say something about Reggie and Fergie.

"I know they were a handful, and that GSA man still holds a grudge about that Ming vase they tricked the Secret Service agent into shooting, but I always thought they would turn out fine."

Bridge looked again at the twins, who had recently been under the firm guiding hand of Ghost Dennis.  "Yes, that kinda spirit and energy just need to be shaped right."

Up in Columbia Heights, Angela de la Paz was also observing a childless Mother's Day--in her case because the father of Lucas had died in combat and she knew she was too young and unready to raise her son, whom she had given up for adoption.  Dulles Samuelson had offered to take her to a fancy brunch, but she had insisted on pupusas at a hole-in-the-wall Salvadoran place.

"So you're really Salvadoran?" asked Dulles.

Angela hesitated for a moment.  "Your father paid for me to have plastic surgery so that my facial traits would be more generic."  She saw him swallow hard.  "He wanted me to be able to take on all kinds of phony identities.  It was called Project Cinderella."  She hadn't said or heard those words out loud for awhile, and they sounded very odd to her now.  "I was supposed to become a seductress super spy, but it didn't really work out."

"Because you developed your gift?"

"I still don't always know what I'm supposed to do with this gift," she said.  "I work for Charles Wu for money, but I argue with him a lot about his agenda."

"Which is what?"

"That's a good question.  Mostly to make money, but he has a convoluted psyche shaped from growing up in Hong Kong with his mother before the Chinese got it back from Britain.  His English father paid for him to go to school in Britain, and eventually he started being a triple agent:  Hong Kong, Beijing, Britain.  Actually I guess it's quadruple now, since he feeds intelligence to Americans--but not for money, since they think he's a businessman.  I think he honestly does not have any particular allegiance."

"That seems dangerous."

"He's the luckiest man I've ever met," she said without irony.

"Because your ESP tells you when he's in danger?"

"Oh, long before I met him," she said.  "His chi is astronomical."

"What does that mean?"

"It means he was meant for more.  What are you really going to do here, Dulles?" she asked, abruptly changing the subject.  She had not yet told him she was in contact with the ghost of his father.

"I just want to help!  I didn't know ghosts and zombies and demons were real!  And in Washington!  I don't understand why my father and sister didn't understand how special your gift was."

Angela glanced over at Ghost Henry, who was glowering with frustration that her plan to get Dulles safely out of Washington had backfired.  "My gift is not always obvious.  I've never gotten a message telling me to wipe out the Heurich Society, even though I easily could.  I'm not out fighting crime every night.  I'm not out fighting demons or zombies every night.  I just try to go where my instincts and visions tell me to go.  This is a very expensive city, Dulles.  What are you going to do here?"

"I have inherited money," he said.  "I can buy a house, and you can live there, too." She looked at him in surprise.  "As a housemate, I mean," he added quickly.  "And then I'll find a job eventually.  Maybe I should be a cop--it would be something, right?  Or an FBI agent--my dad would hate that!"

Angela couldn't help but smile, not daring to look at Ghost Henry, a former CIA agent.  "Weren't you an insurance agent in Philly?  You could do that."

"How can I go back to insurance?!"

"It's an honest living," said Angela.

Over in Georgetown, Golden Fawn had allowed herself to be taken to a fancy Mother's Day brunch--by her husband, Marcos Vazquez, and their adopted son, Joey Bent Oak.  Unfortunately, she was not enjoying it much because, like many Washingtonians, young Joey was fascinated by election politics.

"If so many Republicans voted for Trump, why are there people saying he's not a real Republican?"

"We basically have a two-party system here," said Vazquez (who had grown up in basically one-party Puerto Rico).  "That means the parties have to create broad coalitions to get votes.  Trump talks out of both sides of his mouth to pander for votes.  Experienced politicians know he can never deliver most of the nonsense he says he can, and they don't trust him to uphold conservative values."

This did not help, so Joey turned to Golden Fawn instead.  "Why are there people saying he's not a real Republican."

Golden Fawn couldn't help but smile.  "Because he's a racist independent who hijacked the Republican primaries with a lot of lies."

"Huh," said Joey, pausing to reflect on this.

"Nice sound bite," smiled Marcos, shaking his head.

A few miles away, in Southwest Plaza, conspiracy blogger Glenn Michael Beckmann took another gulp of whiskey, then returned to his post blaming Metro track fireballs on shoddy work done by illegal Mexican aliens for Donald Trump's construction company, underground real estate demons, rats chewing on wires, and zombies' taking over the electricians' union.  His solution?  Deploy roller-skating homeless people with fire extinguishers in each station:  this would cure the homeless problem AND prevent Metro from shutting down for repairs!  He took another gulp of whiskey, amazed that he had to tell all those fancy people with fancy degrees how to fix this!  Satisfied that his work was finished, he logged onto Amazon to track the shipment of Mother's Day diapers he had sent Bristol Palin for their secret love child.

**************************************************************
COMING UP:  A Donald Trump operative makes former 
Senator Evermore Breadman an offer he can't refuse!