Washington Horror Blog

SEMI-FICTIONAL CHRONICLE of the EVIL THAT INFECTS WASHINGTON, D.C. To read Prologue and Character Guide, please see www.washingtonhorrorblog.com, updated 12/27/2014. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Sunday, July 05, 2015

John Boehner' Quest for Liberty

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

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

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

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

"I know, boss!"

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

"She's somewhere in El Salvador."

"Why can't you locate her?"

"Boss!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"By 'constituents' you mean--"

"Don't start that again!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Public Policy Panic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Climate change isn't real!"

"Then why's the ice cream melting?"

"Shut up!"

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

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

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

"What?!" cried Button Samuelson.

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

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

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

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

"You call global eugenics a solution!?"

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

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

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

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

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

And then others joined in, crazed with excitement.

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

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

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

"It can be a sign of the Apocalypse."

"And the shooter was the Second Horseman?"

"The Pope was the Third Horseman!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Touched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 14, 2015

West Side Story

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

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

"Is she bleeding?  What's wrong?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why not?" she asked.

"It's an animal!" he exclaimed.

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

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

"I'm Petro Pig."

"I'm Princess Buttercup."

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

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

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

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

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COMING UP:  The reiki triplets shake up Washington!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Crazy as a Junebug

"What are you gonna do to preserve our right to defend ourselves in our home from meth-brained crackheads coming to rape and rob us?"

"Well, sir," began Wince, a primary candidate for the Virginia legislature, "I don't believe that right is in imminent danger."  There were gasps from the campaign rally crowd, and the former Supreme Court clerk looked nervously at his fiancée (Bridezilla).  "Of course, I will be vigilant in safeguarding the gun rights you already have--"

"It's in the Constitution!" somebody shouted. 

"Yes, sir," agreed Wince.

"What about those cops showing up at people's doors and blowin' 'em away?  We got a right to shoot them, too!"

"Well, of course, it depends on the circumstances--"  (Bridezilla cleared her throat.)  "--but, naturally, you have a right to defend yourselves if the officer is acting outside of the legally permitted use of force."

Bridezilla, was dying to get out her phone and text Paul again, but she knew Wince was looking at her half the time.  His fundraising had gone pretty well, but these public rallies were like watching a law librarian try to get a NASCAR crowd revved up.  She just didn't understand it.  He looked great in a suit, but none of his personal charisma came through when he talked to the crowds.

And that's when the June bug dived straight into Wince's face, and he started swatting at it in what would be called, a few minutes later on social media, the "Elect-a-Spazz" dance.  

Of course, that wouldn't be the craziest thing to happen in the Virginia primaries, where Republicans were willing to vote for a man named "Brat" and Libertarians were willing to vote for a man named "Loser".  It wouldn't even be the craziest thing to happen during Wince's campaign, which had a few days earlier been ambushed by gasoline-filled balloons tossed by climate change activists walking with a pot-bellied pig sporting a crown with the words "Petro Pig" written in red crayon on it.

But primaries were all about name recognition and voter turnout, and Wince's new viral video was only going to help with half of that equation. 

Back in D.C., triple agent Charles Wu was having a rough week.  Even his good (spy) pal "The Condor" had insisted on meeting at Le Pain Quotidien so that they could sit nonchalantly at the communal table and pretend they didn't know each other.  Wu was wearing a British seersucker suit which, rather than emphasize the English half of his Hong Kong heritage, made him stand out in the crowd in a way that greatly displeased The Condor.  Wu reached for the hazelnut praline spread and discreetly removed the computer chip The Condor had stuck to the jar.  "This stuff's like frosting," said Wu quietly, spreading it sparsely on his raisin bread, but The Condor turned away to wink at a redhead at the far end of the table.  

It was a lonely time to be a Chinese spy in Washington.  After assuring the State Department's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope that he would find out who had authorized the Chinese hack of the U.S. federal worker data files, he was no closer to having a scapegoat to hand them, and no closer to getting his phone calls returned...by anyone.  He knew all about the hack, of course, which he had discouraged, but he couldn't give up that information.  He had to come up with something (somebody) else to win back the Americans' trust.  And they were still pissed off about that man-made island, which they said he should have warned them about!  He lifted the raisin bread to take a bite, only to see a Junebug dive right into it.  Then a pretty blond laughed and smiled at him, and he started to feel better.

Up in Cleveland Park, Cedric was on day leave from the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged to visit Wu's governess, Mrs. Prudence Higgety-Cheshire.  "Your boss just hacked the U.S. government!" he exclaimed, while she handed him a scone.  "You need to get away from him!"

"I'm very grateful for your concern, Cedric, and my late husband would also be grateful for your concern, but as I told you, Charles is from Hong Kong.  He's a British spy."

"When it suits him!" retorted Cedric.  "And it hasn't suited him very much since he found out the British were responsible for the death of Buffy Cordelia's mother!"

"What?!  I never heard this about Delia's mother!"

"Slow down!" exclaimed Cedric to the ghost of Henry Samuelson (deceased CIA agent), who was whispering a lot of information into Cedric's ear.

"Slow down?"

"Not you!" said Cedric to Mrs. H-C.  "Never mind that.  Listen:  Delia's mother was a spy, too, and the British accidentally got her killed, and Wu's been angry about it ever since he found out."

"Well, I suppose that would be a good reason to be angry at certain agents, but he's a professional!  He would hardly take it out on the entire country!  He still has family there, you know.  And, really, why would that turn him against the United States?  He's very pro-American."

"Wake up and smell the jasmine tea!" Cedric cried.  "He's dangerous!  He might be the most dangerous spy in Washington!"

"My dear, I have it on very good authority that he's quite a noble fellow at heart.  I trust him completely."  (Mrs. H.-C was referring obliquely to the fact that Wu's bodyguard, Angela de la Paz, often received psychic visions about protecting people, including Wu; thus, Mrs. H-C was quite certain that Wu had "friends upstairs".)

Cedric sank into the couch cushion, dejected, and stuck his fingers into his ears to stop hearing anything more from Ghost Henry.  

Back downtown, the brain-damaged amnesiac "John Doe" was having a temporal lobe epileptic seizure in the lobby of The Washington Post, after having failed to convince anybody that his visions about future Metro accidents were more important than anything the newspaper's reporters had uncovered about current safety inspections.  His helping dog, Lucky Charm, commenced licking his hand to bring him back to full consciousness.  "Chewing gum," he muttered repeatedly for a good ten minutes.  His eyes were open by the time the ambulance arrived.  "It will start with the chewing gum," he said to the EMTs approaching him.  "I'm an autistic-mystic-shaman, so that's how I know."

"Okay, sir."

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac laughed with pleasure at another nightmare planted successfully into a weakling's brain.  Then she slithered off to make another kill.

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COMING UP:  West Side Story!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Diary of Ghost Dennis

Ghost Dennis had been at the White House a very long time, having been murdered there during the waning days of the Nixon Administration.  (It had been made to look like an accident.)  He had seen Presidents come and go, staff members come and go, family members come and go, pets come and go.  Still, he was considered one of the newer kids on the block, what with all the slave ghosts from the first century of the United States.  Only the twins, Regina and Ferguson, were younger than he was.

He was the most political of the White House ghosts, having whispered in many Presidents' ears about the Equal Rights Amendment, relations with China, OPEC, detente, the AIDS epidemic, the CIA wars in Latin America, the Environmental Protection Agency, the recession, the police state, and many other issues of the day.  He had made peace with the Portuguese water dogs, having bonded with Bo and Sunny over their mutual fear of bobble heads, but he was still discontent and restless.  Life after death just wasn't any fun.  And then an amazing thing happened.  In his own words--

Well, I've heard a lot about "moving on" and "moving into the light", but I've never seen anybody do it--not even Reggie and Fergie, and they have the least emotional baggage of all!  It's true that a few of the older ghosts have disappeared over the years, but nobody can really be certain if this was because they crossed over or just because they hitched a ride out to go haunt someplace else.  After all, we can all fly out of the White House at any time.  It's just that something usually pulls us back!  

Well, yesterday I got the shock of my life!  I was floating around Lafayette Park, just thinking about the mammoth implications if the Patriot Act actually expires Sunday night (!!!!!!), when I suddenly heard somebody calling to me!  Except they were saying "Dad", instead of "Dennis".  But I knew immediately they were calling to me!  I floated down and saw identical triplets:  three middle-aged women sitting in a circle on the grass, holding hands.  And I knew instantly they were my daughters!  Helen had been pregnant when I died, and I never knew what happened to her, but suddenly I knew!  It all flooded into me!  Helen had moved to California and joined a hippie commune.  The girls had been born a few months after my death.  She had named them Calcium, Magnesium, and Sassafras because those were what the "healer" had told her to take for the health of the babies.  They now went by the names Cal, Maggie, and Sassy, and worked in San Francisco as reiki healers.  Upon the recent death of their mother, they received a letter telling them the truth about me--that I had not been a Hollywood actor she met hiking the John Muir Trail, that I had really been a Nixon staffer who died suddenly, that Helen's suspicions had been sharply rebuked, and that she had fled clear to the other coast because she feared for her own safety.  And so they came to DC to try to make a spiritual connection with me for the first time!

Of course, I never believed in nonsense like reiki, and it's not like they're psychics, but there they were, holding hands, closing their eyes, thinking of me in unison, and I connected with all of them!  My daughters!  It was a little creepy, and I'm saying that as a ghost, but I was pretty weirded out.  I didn't know what to do!  I shouted quite a bit, and that didn't work, and then I tried whispering in their ears, but that didn't work, so then I floated into the middle of their circle and just sat there listening for awhile.  But it was like listening to the radio!  I could hear them, but they couldn't hear me.  I learned everything:  where they went to school, their marriages, their kids, their hobbies, their dreams.

Well, it turns out, they have been harboring a dream for awhile of forming a reiki circle around President Obama!  And after their mother's death, and learning about me, they were sure this was the right time to come to Washington.  How can I help them?  Not that I think a reiki circle around Obama is going to accomplish anything, but they're my daughters, and I want them to be happy!  Of course, if people are paying them to do reiki circles, maybe there's something to it, after all?  I mean, I sure didn't believe in ghosts until I became one!  And what harm could it do?  

And then it hit me:  there is more to life than politics!  I could move in with my girls!  Well, okay, they're grown women now, and I have grandkids, but still!  Maybe I should take a break from the White House!  So I hung out with them all day, followed them to Busboys and Poets for dinner, followed them back to their hotel, hung out while they chatted.  But then they started getting undressed for bed, and I was like, whoa, I can't be here!  And then I realized that being a ghost is the same thing as being a spy!  Except there's not a lot of nudity in the West Wing (ha ha!), and I don't do that much lurking in the White House residence, but I had never really thought about it much before.  Yeah, it's true I was murdered there, so it's not really my fault I'm stuck there as a ghost, but maybe I should give people a little more privacy?

So I left the hotel room and headed back to the White House, and now I've got a lot of stuff to figure out.  And I'm not talking about the new trade agreement negotiations or the new attempt to roll back financial regulations!  What if my girls move into a bad neighborhood and get murdered?

And then I remembered about Helen's being dead.  Where is she?  Can I see her?  Maybe I don't have my priorities straight.  A man can only do so much for his country, and I've been at it longer than most!

But here I am, back in the White House.  I'm going out to check on my girls soon, but it felt really weird to be away from here.  Like hearing about Dennis Hastert's paying over a million dollars to hush up some homosexual affair from his pre-Congress days, and listening to the White House staffers gossip about it--the guy was Speaker of the House, two heart beats away from the Presidency!--and you have to be in the White House to really understand that kind of stuff.  (I mean, it could have beeb me, Ghost Dennis, with President Dennis!)  Politics:  this is all I've known for so long...but there's a world outside there, too.   

And then I had a really chilling thought: not all ghosts are political!  What if my girls end up haunted by vicious ghosts?  I need to be with them, to protect them!  But I've never abandoned an American President before!  Can I balance family and career?  I wasn't that good at is when I was married to Helen, and being a ghost isn't making it any easier!  

That's all for now.  Gotta meet up with the triplets at the Smithsonian!

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COMING UP:  Political primaries and other things mad as a Junebug.

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.

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COMING UP:  The Diary of Ghost Dennis.