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 ....

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rock the Boat

It was the first meeting of the Bicameral Anti-Zombie Caucus, except most of the people on Congressman Herrmark's yacht ("The Golden Goose") did not know it.  A few were colleagues from the Holier Than Thou Caucus, a few were Euchre buddies from the Midwest bloc, a couple were staffers alarmed by the behavior of Congressman Jacques Javert, a few were Congresswomen that were being under-utilized on their committees, and the final invitee was Senator Rand Paul.

"It's hotter than tarnation out here!" exclaimed Rep. X, wiping his brow again with the Hilton towel he had wrapped around his neck.

"It must be global warming!" laughed Rep. Y with a wink, tossing back another ice-cold American beer.

"Can I get your attention, please?" said Congressman Herrmark.  "I want everybody to have a good time today, but there is something very important that I want to talk to you all about."

"No, no, I can't hear another word about the Patriot Act!" groaned Rep. Y.  "My constituents all want it to expire, but those spooks keep telling me we desperately need it!  What's a man to do?"

Senator Rand Paul opened his mouth to speak, but Congressman Herrmark cut him off.  "There's a greater threat to this nation than terrorists or the police state."  (Several gasps were heard.)  "Ann, start passing around the photos."

Herrmark's Chief of Staff, Ann Bishis, began handing around photos of the zombies her small team had so far killed on Capitol Hill, complete with close-ups of the maggots crawling out of their skulls.  (Sometimes she missed the old days, when the wildest thing she did was charge money to let constituents have sex on Herrmark's desk.)

Rep. X promptly fainted, and efforts were made to revive him.  "I'm alright!  I'm alright!" he exclaimed toweling off the water they had just poured on his face.  "It's the doggone heat!" he insisted.

"These are zombies, my friends," intoned Congressman Herrmark.  "They are in both branches of Congress, and we don't yet know how many there are.  We have affirmatively identified both junior and senior staffers, and we suspect some Members of Congress are also zombies."  (More gasps.)  "I am ashamed to say that my former Chief of Staff was a zombie, and I did not even know it.  It's quite likely she ate my summer 2010 intern, who disappeared without a trace.  (More gasps as Herrmark crossed himself.)  "More importantly, she persuaded me to vote for a lot of bone-headed bills which, in hindsight, I suspect were written by the Zombie Caucus."

"The Zombie Caucus?!" exclaimed Rep. Y.

"Oh, yes," intoned Congressman Herrmark.  "It exists.  My current Chief of Staff and her late boyfriend discovered it meeting in a secret room behind the Congressional tunnels.  The zombies killed that young man, who saved Ann's life by pushing her away even as the demon hordes descended on him.  They also killed the brilliant dog who sniffed them out."

"This is absurd!" protested Rep. Z.  "You don't believe in global warming, but you believe in zombies?!"

"I have slaughtered them with my bare hands!" exclaimed Congressman Herrmark.  "And we strongly suspect that Congressman Boehner's Chief of Staff is a zombie:  that's why he brought a vote to repeal Obamacare 834 times.  Zombies like to prey on the weak, people who are not healthy enough to run away or fight back.  They also support all the National Rifle Association legislation, because guns can't kill zombies.  We need your help investigating more Congressional delegations.  We can't trust the FBI with this, and we can't let the other two branches of government know that Congress is harboring the equivalent of a domestic terrorist cell.  We have to take care of this quietly.  Ann and I have selected you all because we think you are the right people for the job."  He nodded to his Chief of Staff, who texted her cousins (Herrmark's twin bodyguards) to bring up the prisoner from below deck.  "I'm gonna show you something today you will never forget as long as you live."

Nick and Costas brought up the large Samsonite suitcase they had stuffed Senator James Inhofe's hog-tied Chief Counsel into, opened it up, and a wriggling Hefty bag spilled out.  Nick pinned the zombie down, and Costas cut its head off with an axe.  (Gasps and screams.)  Then they pulled the plastic off to show their audience the maggots rushing out of the zombie's cranium.

"This man will terrorize the U.S. Department of Interior no more," said Congressman Herrmark.  (A couple people threw up.)  "I know this is horrifying, but this is the ugly truth about Congress.  Some of our people have maggots for brains.  It's time to take back America's House!"

"I'm with you, damn it!" exclaimed Senator Rand Paul, and several others chimed in with their now enthusiastic support.

Then they cleaned up the deck and did a limbo contest, waving cheerfully at other boaters enjoying the first day of summer on the Potomac River.

Ten feet below them, the demon Ardua laughed at this puny attempt to clean up Congress, reached her tentacles up to the hull, and sent evil energy into the drunk Euchre player who had just urinated into her river.

A few miles away, Bridezilla was not minding so much not being out on the Potomac.  It is true she still resented Prince and Prowling's banning her from publicly campaigning with her fiancé, Wince, but it would have been a hot day on the fundraising cruise, and it's not as if she could have gotten away with wearing a bikini to an event like that!  And since SOTA-BUNK was still shuttered until it could re-open under court-mandated conditions, the law firm had hired a few project attorneys directly:  and the handsomest one was currently in her office asking for clarification on his foreign language document review.  And even though she knew he was really a temp, and would be laid off in a few months, he just did not seem as lowly as the contract attorneys usually seemed to her.  For one thing, he had traveled all over the world!  He spoke three foreign languages.  He had a Spanish haircut, a Brazilian muscle shirt, and Italian shoes!  And he was wearing French cologne.

"So this one didn't have any Spanish," Paul said.  "Just a Latin quote in the signature block, 'carpe diem.'"

"Tag it Other Foreign Language," said Bridezilla, resting her head in her right hand and staring dreamily into his eyes.

"Um, okay," replied Paul, pulling out another document.  "This one just has a standard email disclaimer written in both English and Portuguese."

"Tag it Other Foreign Language," said Bridezilla again, smiling.

"Um, okay," said Paul, pulling out another.  "This one was apparently flagged because it has the name of a French company:  see, those words are just the name of a company."

"Tag it Other Foreign Language," said Bridezilla again, still smiling.

"But it's just a name--like Prada or Hyundai.  It's not really a foreign language."

"We're not producing anything but English or Spanish," said Bridezilla, still smiling.

"But the email is in English--it just has the name of a French company.  It's like the name Chanel or Givenchy."

"I don't make the rules," shrugged Bridezilla.

"You are really withholding these documents from the other side?" asked Paul, disgusted and incredulous.

"It is what it is!" said Bridezilla, sweetly.  Now, if this had been a mere contract attorney emailing her from the State-of-the-Art Review Bunker, she would have recognized this as a provocation about her legal ethics, and she would have been furious!  But this was a fellow Prince and Prowling attorney, sitting in her office!  And he had cheekbones to die for!  (And Wince had been out campaigning a lot lately.)  "Do you want to have lunch with me at the Daily Grill?"

"Um, okay," said Paul, looking nervously at the engagement ring on her left hand.

Back on the Potomac, Charles Wu was giving his three-year-old daughter, Buffy Cordelia, her first sailing lesson.  She was brilliant as well as physically gifted, just like her father.  "Tack it!" he said, and she pursed her little lips in determination and pulled with all her might.  "Good job, Delia!"  He scooped up some more river water and splashed it on her face to cool her off.  She giggled and shook her wet hair at him.

Ten feet below them, Ardua of the Potomac glided closer.  She knew that the Hong Kong triple agent was perfectly balanced again between good and evil, and it annoyed her to no end.  His life force was massive, and Ardua could not afford to lose him to the light...and she sensed a lot of light from that little girl.

COMING UP:  The Diary of Ghost Dennis.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The spy who came in from the cold.

Washington Water Woman had some unexpected events this weekend, but will return to blogging Memorial Day weekend.

For this week, I'll leave you with the only man sent to prison in connection with the CIA torture program:  the whistleblower....


COMING UP:  Congress gets a scary new caucus!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chief Justice John Roberts joins Sense of Entitlement Anonymous.

It was a former member of the FISA Court ("Martin") who told Chief Justice John Roberts about Sense of Entitlement Anonymous (D.C. Chapter), and today was his first meeting.

"The little people just don't understand how well-educated and wise we are!" said "Martin", as he introduced "John" to the other members.  "We have legal reasons for the things we say!  The ignorant masses think we should be using common sense or humanitarian impulses to make these important decisions, but we know better!"

Oh, here we go again, thought real estate mogul Calico Johnson, rolling his eyes at Federal Reserve Board economist Luciano Talaverdi Yellen.  Blah blah blah, law law law.

"This was a blow for judicial independence!" cried Roberts referring to the recently published (and quickly maligned) 5-4 Supreme Court case, Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar.  "I ruled that states may 'prohibit judges and judicial candidates from personally soliciting funds for their campaigns.'  How can a judge rule impartially if one of the parties gave them money?!  But nooooooo, the lamestream media wants to pretend this is a double standard!"

"It is a double standard!" exclaimed Bridezilla.  "My fiancé is running for the Virginia legislature, and you're saying he's not supposed to have any dignity!  A judge should not [air quotes] provide any special consideration to his campaign donors [air quotes], but Wince is supposed to head to Richmond with automobile salesmen and real estate developers breathing down his neck, telling him how to vote on everything?!  It's disgusting!"  She turned for a moment to Calico Johnson.  "No offense."  Johnson gave her a saccharine smile.

"That's not what I said, young lady!" scolded the Chief Justice.

"I know the law just as well as you do," retorted Bridezilla, "and you judges think you're so high and mighty!  Well how do you think you got your job, anyway?  Because of George Bush's campaign donors, that's how!  We all know you're answering to them, so stop pretending you aren't!"

The Chief Justice turned red in the face and looked to today's host, Congressman John Boehner, for an intervention, but the Speaker of the House did not recognize changes in facial color.

Sowell Ame, a local judge, stood up to impress the Chief Justice by reciting from Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:  “'It is well understood that a substantial and legitimate reason, if not the only reason, to cast a vote for, or to make a contribution to, one candidate over another is that the candidate will respond by producing those political outcomes the supporter favors.  Democracy is premised on responsiveness.'”

"Oh," responded Bridezilla, "so Wince is supposed to respond by repealing the sales tax on automobiles and houses, but not on diamond rings or cupcakes because he's not getting contributions from the diamond ring people or the cupcake people?"

"Yes, this is an important point!" interjected Luciano Talaverdi Yellen.  "The tax policy absolutely must be written with a view towards stimulating the desired sectors, inhibiting undesired behaviors, and maintaining fiscal stability without undue burden.  If taxes were written by campaign donors--"

"They are written by campaign donors already!" said "Lisa", a member of N.U.T.T.Y. (Nannies United to Take Y Chromosomes).  Everyone looked at her in surprise.  "What?  My boss works for the sugar people, and he wrote their tax subsidies."   Everyone continued to look at her in amazement.  "Sometimes we talk about public policy issues--it's not always about flirting."

Chief Justice Roberts shook his head in amazement, wondering if it was a mistake coming here.  He looked at Dick Cheney to see what the big guy would say, but Cheney was busy examining a specimen from Congressman Boehner's shot glass collection.  "Mr. Vice President, you understand the difference between judges and other government officials, don't you?"

Cheney looked up.  "Sure!  When the terrorists kill all our daughters and we run out of gasoline, you people will still be in your chambers and your silly robes, writing opinions by candlelight--until that next automatic deposit fails to land in your bank account, and then you'll be on the first yacht to Mexico while real patriots get out their guns and defend our liberty!"

"Damned straight!" cried Boehner, but then the point about the automatic deposit's not showing up in the bank account started gnawing away at him.  How can I protect my money?

"Can we talk about FISA now?" asked another former member of the FISA Court ("Claudia").  "There was a dangerous judicial ruling against NSA surveillance this week.  If this goes all the way to the Supreme Court--"

"La la la la la la!" started chanting Chief Justice Roberts, quickly putting his fingers in his ears.

"See, this is the problem!" exclaimed Bridezilla.

"He can't hear about a case that might come before the Supreme Court," said Judge Sowell Ame, gleefully lecturing the senior associate from (recently prosecuted) Prince and Prowling.

"Everything that happens in this country might go before the Supreme Court someday!  They pretend they're impartial, but they go on vacations with people and read biased news on the Internet and watch the films Netflix recommends to them, and somebody buys their underwear from somewhere!"  (Everybody looked at the Chief Justice, curious now as to who was buying what underwear for him, but he still had his fingers in his ears.)  "They're human!  Other human beings influence them all the time!  We pay their salaries, but who do they listen to?  You can't tell me that 'Will and Grace' had nothing to do with the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling!"

"We do pay their salaries," nodded Calico Johnson.

"So they should listen to us!  They should listen to everybody who pays their salaries!"  She walked over to Roberts and forcibly pulled his fingers out of his ears.  "You're an American!"

"Yes," said the Chief Justice carefully, looking around.  (What just happened?)

"Can we talk about Mother's Day now?" asked nanny "Lisa".  "I'm the one taking care of the kids!  When do they celebrate me, huh?  They owe me everything!  They wouldn't even have a family without me!  But what happens?!  He asks me to go with the kids to buy the card and the gift and the flowers and the candy for her!  It's totally unfair!  He should be buying those things for me!"

"Well, maybe N.U.T.T.Y. needs to do more campaign donations so that Congress passes legislation to create Nanny's Day!" said Bridezilla, shooting a snarky look at the Chief Justice.

"No," said the economist to the nanny, "you need to ask for a salary raise."

Just then, Boehner's bodyguard came in to tell his boss a suspicious parcel had been left outside the front door, and Cheney looked at the bodyguard in disgust.  "Well, go shoot it!" exclaimed the former leader of the not-so-free world.

"Is he senile?" whispered the Chief Justice to "Martin".

"Just haunted, as are we all."

There were actually several ghosts in attendance at the meeting, in addition to the listening device planted by triple agent Charles Wu, but like most S.E.A. meetings, this one would have no consequences--except the temporary lightening of the soul that occurs when kindred spirits share their pain.

COMING UP:  Congress gets a scary new caucus!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

DC Fairy Tale Endings

Real estate season was peaking, with azalea bushes blooming all over town and every property looking like a fairy tale cottage.  Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson used to love this time of year...because she would make so much money.  But she was no longer a real estate agent; instead, she was devoted full-time to the Heurich Society (mission statement--"maximize wealth, power, and freedom").  Some days she wished her father had left all his personal files to her brother, and that he was the one burdened with decades of CIA and post-CIA clandestine activity legacies.  But some things, once known, cannot be un-known.  The Heurich Society was too dangerous to walk away from, and somehow she was the one tasked with reining in the dragon.  She sat down at a table outside James Hoban's to eat lunch before the Society meeting at the Brewmaster's Castle, and started rifling through her notebook as she waited for her ale.

The Operations Committee had requested that a new agent be trained under the Project Cinderella protocol, and Button had to come up with a good reason to veto them.  It was not just that Angela de la Paz was a poor orphan trained secretly by her late father (Henry Samuelson) out in Kansas.  It was not that Angela had received plastic surgery to change her Salvadoran features to be more generically Latin American.  It was not about the cringe-worthy fact that Angela had been trained to seduce secrets out of targets.  It was not even about the fact that Button still missed her friendship with Angela.

No, the problem was that Angela had become a more lethal agent than her father had ever anticipated.  This is why the Operations Committee wanted to get another one like her, but they still did not understand:  it was not her father's training protocol.  There had been a lot of arguing about whether Angela really had supernatural abilities or was just a lunatic, but Button had seen and read things nobody else in the Heurich Society had.  Angela was different.  Whatever had been done to Angela to make her different must never again be repeated:  Project Cinderella needed to be officially purged from the Heurich Society's book of secrets.

Button looked up in surprise as her old boss, real estate mogul Calico Johnson, sat down at her table.  "I never thought I would see you looking so leisurely on a Saturday afternoon in May!" Cal said to her, and she laughed.

"I do miss it a little, honestly," she said.

"What are you doing these days?  It says public policy consultant on your LinkedIn account."

"That's what I'm doing," she said, evasively.  "What ever happened with that property that went up in flames next to your mansion in Potomac Manors?"

"I bought it at tax auction," he said.  "Then I sold it for a nice profit, as well as my old place.  I'm at a different place now, ten miles away."

"What about that missing owner?"

"Basia is no longer on the FBI Most Wanted list, but I'm not sure why."

"Mega Moo?"

"I have Mega Moo and the horse, too.  I thought Basia would try to get in touch with me again someday, but it hasn't happened."

"Do you think she's dead?"

Johnson frowned.  He was a fairly shallow person, and his unrequited obsession with Basia Karbusky had sucked more life out of him than he was accustomed to losing.  "I don't think about it," he lied.  He had wasted too much of his life pondering her mysteries already, and preferred to focus his efforts on easy conquests--which Button had once been.  "Well, you're always welcome to come out and stay at the new place if you need to get out of the city!"  He placed his hand over hers and squeezed it in the old familiar way.  "We don't have to talk about real estate!"

"Thanks!" she said, wondering what she had ever seen in him.  Then she remembered:  money.

A few miles away, Barbara Hellmeister, fka Basia Karbusky, currently known as Barbie Bucephalus, was also the topic of conversation at the Justice Department--where Atticus Hawk was having his first tête-à-tête with new Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  "Look," Lynch had said, "I've been reviewing your file, and I'm gonna be straight with you.  I'm not a big fan of these torture memos, or the Guantanamo stuff, or, frankly, half of your portfolio, but I'm willing to move past that because I understand you were doing the assignments given to you."  (Hawk nodded rigidly, his intestines clenched into a rock by the half-bottle of Immodium he had downed before the meeting.)  "I can see you have an excellent legal mind, but I need to understand more about this relationship you had with the woman on the FBI Most Wanted list.  I don't normally pry into personal relationships, but you lost your security clearance for awhile, and--"

"She works for the CIA now!" he blurted out.  "I'm scared of her!"  He had never had a woman boss before, and was surprised to find himself looking to Lynch for maternal support.

The Attorney General's mouth gaped.  "You know where she is?!  Why didn't you report that to the FBI?!"

"She's not on the list anymore."

"Just because she's not on the Most Wanted list doesn't mean she's not on a list!"

"Well, I suppose."

"Are you sure she's working for the CIA?" asked Lynch.

"Well, that's what she told me.  She said she does prisoner interrogations in a bunker under the Washington Times building.  She's going by the name Barbie Bucephalus."

"Did she threaten you?" asked Lynch.  (Hawk shook his head no.)  "Why are you afraid of her?"

"I'm always so happy when I'm with her!  Then I have nightmares later.  She has some kind of control over me."

"When was your last drug test?"

"Last Wednesday.  That won't find anything:  she's an expert at designing drugs which elude federal drug tests."

The Attorney General sat back in her chair to ponder this news for a minute.  The guy was a hot mess, but he also seemed to be the first person to speak honestly to her since she had arrived.  "I'm going to move you into my suite," she said.  (Hawk gasped in surprise.)  "Write down these names and aliases, and I'll speak to the CIA director about her.  Stay at DOJ until it's taken care of--don't go out."

"We're supposed to go to the Kennedy Center tonight."

"Perfect!  The FBI can pick her up when you're supposed to pick her up.  I'll have them do that first, and call Brennan afterwards.  Or maybe I'll call the President and tell him the CIA was employing an FBI fugitive!  Ha!"  (Her eyes were really lighting up now.)

"Wow, I don't know what to say, General Lynch.  How can I thank you?"

"Write a memo on this by Monday morning," she said, handing him a pile from her credenza.  You can use that office next to Jack's."

Several miles away, Chloe Cleavage was not receiving a similarly startling boost up from the hot mess which was her life and legal career.  She sat on the couch, staring at the vacuum cleaner, trying to will herself to turn it on and push it through her condo, but she had not gone without a maid since selling her eggs for a million dollars.  I need to economize, she sternly told herself again, but her legs refused to launch her from the couch towards the vacuum cleaner.  She had tried unsuccessfully to blame everything on fellow staff attorney, Laura Moreno, but even Chloe's blackmail cache was not enough to keep Chloe safe from the wrath of Prince and Prowling's managing partner.  SOTA-Bunk would only be allowed to reopen after the law firm met the court-mandated conditions, and large fines would be paid to avoid criminal prosecutions by the IRS.  Chloe was on an unpaid suspension, uncertain if her incriminating sexual evidence against various P&P lawyers would be enough to save her job.  And Laura Moreno was on a paid vacation!  It was so unfair.

Somebody knocked on the door, and she got up to answer it.  She looked through the peephole and saw a balding man with un-hip glasses and Saturday stubble on his face.  His eyes were barely gray, barely alive.  "Who is it?"

"Stuart, your new neighbor."  She opened the door, and his gaze was immediately drawn to the v-neck t-shirt exposing a large portion of her chest.  "Um," he faltered, bringing his gaze back up to her eyes, "I just bought this place, and my vacuum got broken during the move.  Would you mind if I borrowed yours until my new one arrives?  I ordered a Dyson."

Chloe's mind was turning fast.  Only people with money would buy a Dyson.  On the other hand, how much money could he have if he didn't have a maid?  He was probably a government bureaucrat, or some sycophantic Congressional aid.  But who am I kidding? she thought to herself, and almost started crying.  Life is passing me by!  I'll never get richer.  I'll never date a movie star [like her cousin Chloris Cleavage regularly did].  I'll never like my job.  What do I have to live for?

"You can borrow it if you vacuum my condo first," she said.

"Um," Stuart said, wondering if he should knock on somebody else's door.

"Fine, if you vacuum my condo, you can also have sex with me."  (She really didn't want to vacuum her condo.)

"Wow," said Stuart, feeling his pulse start racing.  Nobody had ever seduced him before!  "Can I, uh, look at you in your underwear while I'm vacuuming your apartment?"

"Sure-I'll do a total striptease for you," Chloe said, opening the door wide for him to enter.  (She also had a camera in the bedroom, so if it did turn out he was rich, maybe she could blackmail him later.)

Several miles away, White House Butler Clio was having similarly pessimistic visions of her future.  Her HIV was not going to kill her, but she was sick and tired a lot.  She liked her job, but she was never going to be promoted to anything else.  But what was hardest of all was that she couldn't shake the visions of her dead twins.  She had been in therapy awhile with Dr. Ermann Esse, and it wasn't helping.  She had even gone to a different psychiatrist for awhile to get anti-psychotic medication, but none of those worked either--and the shrink was puzzled that she never had hallucinations about anything except the pre-schoolers.  Neither one had reported her as a security risk because they had separately concluded that she was not actually having organic hallucinations but was simply seeing Reggie and Fergie because she wanted to.

Grief is different for everybody, she told herself.  (She had several conflicting mantras that she would say during the day.)  I feel guilty about not disciplining them better, or they never would have been on the roof to begin with.  Everybody makes mistakes.  They're in a better place.  She was taking a long walk from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue down to the Potomac to be near the water.  It's a beautiful day:  enjoy it.

Up on the roof, the ghosts of Ferguson and Regina were watching their mother's figure recede in the distance.  They had been trying hard to stay out of her sight, but invariably ended up running into her several times a week.  Why can't we still talk to her, like we talk to you? they had asked gardener Bridge many times.  You shouldn't be talking to me, neither, he would say.  Get on to where you're going!  But they didn't understand--this was where they had always lived, and they could not imagine anyplace more fun and interesting than the White House!  And other ghosts live here, they would argue with Bridge, and he would just mutter to himself, Lord, don't I know it.

COMING UP:  Chief Justice John Roberts said what??!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Hairy Tale (in lieu of a fairy tale!)

Washington Water Woman is worn out from hosting out-of-town guests and serving as President Obama's "anger translator" at last night's White House Correspondents' Dinner, so she will have to wait until next week to update your favorite stories and characters in Washington Horror Blog.

Posted for your pleasure this week is a silly story written by Washington Water Woman and a couple of her friends (in one hour!) for a recent D.C. story slam.  Enjoy!


"The Barber Who Fell Down and Then Fell Up" (by three amigos)

Harvey, the barber, was in a terrible mood.  Everybody had called in sick, and he had been on his feet all day.  Nobody had been there all day to clean up, so a carpet of hair had blown into the customers' faces every time the door had opened.  Harvey's allergy to hair was normally rather mild, but he had never had so much hair blow into his face before.  He even had some customers vomit.  Then one of the customers called the health department, which immediately dispatched an inspector on motorcycle--who promptly closed the barber shop down because of the excessive hair and vomit.  (You see, there are regulations about how much hair and vomit there can be.)  When he was ready to leave the shop in disgust, he slid on the vomit, fell down, hit his head on the barber chair foot rest, and blacked out.

When he came to, he was at the Hirshorn, which was curious because he hated modern art.  Then an angry man was yelling at him because Harvey had mouthed off to the angry man's girlfriend, a performance artist whose act involved gluing hair to spectator faces.  Harvey ran away, and as he was outside trying to catch his breath, he realized he was very hungry, and went off to find the nearest restaurant.  Unfortunately, they were out of everything except salad, and he had never eaten a salad in his life.  He reluctantly ordered a salad, and sat down to eat it.

Then the performance artist came in to get her favorite salad, and saw her heckler.  She confronted him, but he had no memory of ever seeing her before.  As she scolded him, Harvey realized she was the performance artist whose angry boyfriend he had just eluded, so Harvey apologized and told her he had been having a bad day.  She explained her art to him, and then he told her that he could supply her with all the hair she needed.  She said that's more than her boyfriend ever did for her.

She sat down to eat salad with him, and as they discussed their new business arrangement, they fell in love over the arugula.


COMING UP:   DC Fairy Tale Endings

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Earth Day, a Day on Earth

Congressman Herrmark was taking a break from his duties as Capitol Hill zombie hunter to search for anti-fracking campaign donors at the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day rally next to the Washington Monument.

"These people don't seem to have any money," he grumbled to his Chief of Staff, Ann Bishis.  "Some of them look like hippies.  And the children and animals are useless!"

"Sir, this is more about building up your name in environmental circles," replied Bishis (who was also in charge of the war on the Zombie Caucus).  "You want people to say your name in the same breath as the great environmental politicians like Michael Bloomberg--then you can get money from people like Leonardo DiCaprio!"

"Mark Ruffalo won't even return my phone calls, and you said he's the biggest anti-fracking celebrity in the country!" whined Herrmark.

"Well, he's probably upset about your vote to weaken Wall Street regulations.  It's a complex political field these days."

"Well, I regret that vote now!  Had I known that legislation was secretly sponsored by the Zombie Caucus, I never would have voted for it!"

"I know," sighed Bishis.  "Who would have guessed that zombies are so heavily funded by investment bankers?"

"I can't take this music anymore!" exclaimed Herrmark.  "And my bodyguards are making out with hippies!"

"Nick!  Costas!" she shouted at her Greek twin cousins, who immediately shoved the girls off and pulled their guns.  "Put the guns away!  I just wanted to get your attention."  She turned back to her boss.  "Why don't you go talk to that D.C. Councilmember?"

"A local politician?  Forget it!  It's bad enough I have to do that back home."  Then he kicked away a golden retriever trying to lick his hand.

Several yards away, Sebastian L'Arche shook his head in disgust.  The Dog Whisperer and his business partner, Becky Hartley, had a dozen dogs in tow, themselves.

"Best dog walk ever!" exclaimed Hartley, who was constantly handing out brochures for all the services they offered--walking, grooming, boarding, whisper therapy, acupuncture, rodent removal, weddings, and funerals.  (L'Arche wouldn't let her put anything about ghosts on the brochure:  he said that was something he should keep secret with the dogs he whispered to.  Why disturb the owners if the owners weren't already disturbed?)  "Have you noticed that our dogs are the best behaved?"

"Of course," said L'Arche, "but not for long."

"What's the matter?" asked Hartley.

"They're here," said the Dog Whisperer, looking nervously at the crowd.

"Who's here?"

"The cat pack."

Hartley knew what that meant:  the ghost of Condoleezza Rice's cat, Pippin, had gradually been gathering a large pack of angry feline ghosts.  (Most had been feral alley cats hit by cars.)  They still didn't know what it meant for animals to be ghosts, and L'Arche found them more disturbing than anything else.  L'Arche had taught many pets to learn not to be afraid of human ghosts in their homes, but this was different to him.  It was just so wrong.

He watched their old friend, Petro Pig, let out a loud grunt and charge straight into the pack of cat ghosts, which hissed and ran away.  The pot-bellied pig's owners, Luciano and Helen Talaverdi Yellen, spotted L'Arche and came over to him.  "Sometimes he just goes crazy like that!" exclaimed Luciano.  "Oinking at nothing!  Does he ever do that when you are taking care of him?"

"Sometimes," replied L'Arche, who was already squatting down to whisper a thank-you to Petro Pig for his bravery.  "Don't worry about it--he's a very smart pig."

"I tried to introduce him to Congressman Herrmark earlier, because they have so much in common," said Helen, "but he yelled, 'Get that pig away from me!'"

"Aw, he's from a state with hog slaughterhouses," said Hartley.

"I don't think he understood the sign, honey," Luciano said to his wife, referring to the t-shirt Petro Pig was wearing that said "Big Oil -- Wallow With Me!".

"It is a little subtle," agreed L'Arche who, along with Petro Pig, was now noticing the arrival of a different ghost pack--this one canine.  He felt his living dogs start pulling at their leashes, and stood up.  "We need to get moving."

Hartley, as usual, followed his cue.  "Nice seeing you!"  L'Arche led them away from the crowd.  "Sebastian, what are the cat ghosts doing?"

"Oh, they're gone," said L'Arche.  "Petro Pig scared them away.  But The Gopper Ghost is here with Anatoly Malenkov."

"The Russian diplomat trapped in the Samoyed ghost body?!"  (L'Arche nodded.)  "Oh, God, that is the freakiest thing!  Why hasn't he gone to Heaven, or somewhere?  How can he be in a dog ghost?  Are you absolutely certain?"

"I'm not crazy!" said L'Arche, who handed all his leashes to Hartley.  "Stay there," he said, calming their living dogs, and then he walked over to the canine ghost pack, which was now almost a dozen.  What are you doing here? he whispered, squatting down.  The Ghost Gopper said they felt good energy emanating from this place.  Anatoly lay down to have his ghost Samoyed belly scratched, but L'Arche shook his head.  You can't stay like that, Anatoly.  You don't belong in this pack. 

They keep me safe! cried Anatoly, whose spirit had jumped into a Samoyed just after being murdered, only to have the distressed Samoyed then leap out a window to its death.  And I love Earth Day concerts!

You have to try to go where you belong now, whispered L'Arche, with your own kind!

Let him be, said The Ghost Gopper, to his old friend the Dog Whisperer.  You don't understand.

Not far away, conspiracy theorist Glenn Michael Beckmann was getting into a heated argument with a "Ban the Bomb" t-shirt wearer from Hyattsville.  "You don't understand!" shouted Beckmann.  "The Bomb is the only thing stopping the Russian invasion!"

"Those people can't even invade Ukraine properly!" the bohemian rebutted.

"How dare you bring up Ukraine!  Putin assassinated my wife, Darja!" screamed Beckmann, who was not entirely certain of that but had no supporting evidence for his other theories:  President Obama, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, or the CEO of Au Bon Pain.  "I bet you're one of those gyrocopter, femi-Nazi, eco-terrorist, Occupy-Wall-Streeters, aren't you!?  I'll shoot you all out of the sky, rebel scum!"

"Jeez, man, calm down!  Here, take this, dude:  you need it more than me."  And he handed Beckmann his last reefer.

"Oh, thanks," said Beckmann.  "I ran out yesterday."

"Make love, not war, right?"

Beckmann narrowed his eyes.  "Don't push it!  I'm a veteran!"

That last part was a lie, but like many lies told in Washington, if you told it enough times, you came to believe it was true.

And so Ardua of the Potomac laughed at this feeble and futile celebration of Mother Earth.  After all, Mother Earth had also given birth to the river demon and all her minions!  And it would take a million gyrocopters to take back Capitalism Hill from Big Oil and the investment bankers, and save the planet.

COMING UP:   DC Fairy Tale Endings

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cherry Bomb Festival

"Go, go, go, go!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What's going on?" asked Laura.

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

"Is everybody evacuating?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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