The Revenge of Pippin!
"Damn it!" cried a former CIA officer, who grabbed the device and dropped it into his glass of water. "Why did you bring it here? Of all the idiotic things to do!"
Rice stared icily at him for several seconds. "Do you really think moisture can stop it? It's been inside my cat for God-knows how many years!"
"You're right," he replied. "We need a hammer."
Rice grabbed the water glass away from him and fished it out. "The listening component is on mute right now. I want to use this to entrap Wu."
"Brilliant!" cried the international arms dealer.
"There could be listening devices all over this place!" exclaimed the investment banker.
"The Castle is swept for bugs daily," said Samuelson, the Chair of the Heurich Society. "What's your plan?" she asked, knowing that Angela de la Paz, their dangerous former errand girl, was now working for Wu.
At that moment, the crawl space above the conference table collapsed, and a chunk of ceiling formerly holding up Glenn Michael Beckmann crashed down on the table. Beckmann (who thought he had planned this surveillance a lot better than the last one--which had left the conspiracy blogger with two broken feet), shattered both his knee caps...and smashed Wu's listening device into a hundred minute pieces. (The conference room table, impressively, was still standing!)
Han Li rushed into the room at the sound of the crash, and the members looked up expectantly at him. "Should I call the police?" he asked, knowing full well they would say no.
"We need to interrogate this jackass!" said the former CIA officer.
"Always itching to waterboard somebody," sneered Rice, who had started going through the unconscious Beckmann's pockets. She pulled out lip balm, a Metro SmartTrip card, a sheathed dagger, two lottery tickets, a tear gas canister, a ski mask, a small revolver, and a folded-up newspaper article about aroma therapy--in that order. "He's just a nut job."
"Check the attic," said Samuelson to Han Li. "Maybe there's a bag or something."
"How did he get in here?" asked the germ warfare specialist.
"He must have slipped away from a tour group," said Samuelson.
"Well, this is unacceptable!" said the investment banker, and all eyes turned to Samuelson.
A few miles away, Charles Wu began receiving a series of text messages from Han Li recounting the incident. "An autopsy!" Wu exclaimed out loud. "On her cat?!" He read some more messages. Well, that explains why I've heard nothing in two days. He looked anxiously out his office window at little Delia frolicking around the back yard while her governess pruned the rose bushes. I can't believe Rice did an autopsy on her cat! This is not good.
Back at the Brewmaster's Castle, the ghost of Pippin (who had followed Rice from California) was distraught at seeing the destruction of the listening device. He was trying furiously to claw Beckmann, but it wasn't working. He hissed in frustration and jumped out the window to search for this Charles Wu himself. Now cats have small brains, and feline ghosts are not the sharpest spirits out there, so Pippin really had no idea what he was doing. The ghost of Henry Samuelson, who was arriving late for this meeting, ran into Ghost Pippin outside.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, but Ghost Pippin just hissed because feline ghosts can't talk any better than live cats can. "Did you come with the Bloodsucker? Why is she in town?"
It was then that Ghost Pippin recognized Ghost Henry from photos he had seen previously...and he knew that Rice hated him. He jumped on Ghost Henry and started clawing furiously. This time it worked! Ghost Henry cried in unfamiliar pain and knocked Ghost Pippin to the ground.
"Knock it off!" yelled Ghost Henry. "I've got to get in there and find out whether they support another invasion of Iraq."
Ghost Pippin lifted his leg and urinated on Ghost Henry.
"Hey!" hollered Ghost Henry, who didn't even know ghosts could pee. He kicked the cat to the curb, then flew upstairs to enter the conference room.
A few yards away, the Dog Whisperer had been watching this all with great curiosity. He had never seen a ghost before, though he knew from the whispers that they existed. However, now he could see Ghost Pippin. He looked down at his charges. The Great Dane was sniffing a tree. The Springer Spaniel was sniffing the Great Dane. The Golden Retriever looked up at Sebastian L'Arche, and L'Arche knelt down to whisper. The dog told L'Arche what had transpired with Ghost Henry (whom L'Arche had not seen). L'Arche sighed heavily, feeling he had more important things to do, but there it was.
"Pippin," whispered L'Arche, and Ghost Pippin turned around and looked at L'Arche suspiciously. "They won't hurt you," L'Arche said, nodding at his three charges. "Why don't you move on? This isn't a good place for your kind." Even L'Arche did not think this was a compelling argument, but it was all he had at the moment. Ghost Pippin, who still had a small brain, had no idea what L'Arche was talking about. "You don't belong in this world anymore," continued L'Arche. "Do you see a light that you can go to?" Pippin looked around in the bright sunlight, saw a glint of light reflected from the Dupont Circle fountain, and ran off to check it out. The Dog Whisperer looked at the Golden Retriever, shrugged his shoulders, and continued their mid-day walk.
Meanwhile, Ghost Pippin continued on his way, unaware that his spectral hissy fit had sent a nearby John Doe into a temporal lobe epileptic fit. A couple of river rats near the Dupont Circle fountain watched him approach with sinister curiosity--after all, no mind was too small for Ardua of the Potomac to recruit into her army.
COMING UP: Constantine the coroner.