Out at the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged, burglar Glenn Michael Beckmann had been caught red-handed trying to steal a ventriloquist dummy from resident Larry. During several minutes of increasingly peculiar conversation about his plans for "Gary", the various residents had streamed into Larry's bedroom, followed by social worker Hue Nguyen.
"So you actually live by yourself?" social worker Hue Nguyen asked again, dumbfounded. (She had already texted psychologist Leo Schwartz to rush over and make an assessment on the manic Beckmann, but hadn't heard back from him yet.)
"Of course," said Beckmann, a man who was always a danger to himself and others but somehow continued living in Section 8 housing with occasional psychotropic prescriptions and sporadic assessments. "The FBI can't touch me because I have too many followers."
"Uh-huh," Nguyen said.
"But I like Donald Trump," said Larry, getting back to the important topic. "I don't want you to use Gary to kill him."
"What?!" exclaimed Nguyen.
"Lots of people like Trump!" Larry cried, indignantly.
"I'm not going to kill Trump," said Beckmann. "Gary is going to tell Donald Trump, Junior, to do it."
"Oh, goody, goody, goody!" exclaimed Theresa, clapping her hands. (She was a big fan of both Hillary and the ventriloquist dummy.)
"I don't know," said Melinda. "I don't think you should get children involved."
"That's no child!" hollered Cedric, waving his teddy bear Aloysius in the air. (He knew all about Ghost Henry's desire to assassinate Trump.)
"It's a demon child!" exclaimed Theresa.
"Well, if a demon child kills Trump, then Trump is a good guy, like I said," declared Larry, though he was getting confused.
"The child is wild with mild guile," said Freddy Ritchings (AKA Brother Divine of the International Peace Movement). "The demon of the semen leaves us all believin'! The dummy is crummy, but God's wrath is yummy!"
"He's not a kid!" said Beckmann. "He's a grown man! All I need to do is get him to watch one of your evil YouTube ventriloquist videos."
"My YouTube videos aren't evil!" protested Larry, even though he ended up getting choked by the dummy at the end of every one.
"They are a little creepy," said Melinda. "Even Cedric said so."
"No, I didn't!" lied Cedric.
"You tied Aloysius's hands behind his back for weeks until you were sure he didn't want to choke you," retorted Melinda.
"Let's have ice cream," the social worker suddenly interjected. (She really wanted to call the police on Beckmann and get him hauled away, but she was desperately hoping Schwartz could come soon, make a proper diagnosis, and get the troubled man the help he needed.) "Mr. Beckmann, you're welcome to join us for ice cream, but no more talk about Gary or Donald Trump."
"Who do you think you are, talking to me like that, girlie girlie!? It's a free country! I can talk about anything I want to talk about!"
"Not in my house!" hollered Nguyen in a voice nobody had ever heard from her.
"I'm calling the police!" said Larry. "I don't want him to steal Gary!"
"Just let him take the dummy!" exclaimed Cedric. "We all hate it!"
"Not me!" retorted Theresa.
"I have 30,000 followers on my 'Larry and Gary' YouTube channel! That's more than Freddy has in his Church of Twitter!"
"Your followers are a cult!" exclaimed Beckmann. "I just need to get Junior into it!"
Meanwhile, the Seekers were gathered in a small Georgetown University classroom to have a rather different conversation about Donald Trump. Coming from varied theological, philosophical, and demographic backgrounds, they had nonetheless been determined to leave no question unasked, no topic undiscussed, and no theory unexplored in their ecumenical quest to learn the spiritual meaning of everything. Today's topic was new territory for the Seekers: Trumpism.
"Are we really calling it 'Trumpism?'" asked the Baptist minister.
"We have nothing else to call it," said the Jewish rabbi.
"But it's not a theology," said the Jesuit priest.
"Is it even a philosophy?" asked the Muslim cleric.
"Certainly not that," said the Buddhist monk. "He does not love knowledge!"
They had a good laugh over that one, then grew silent for a few minutes.
"It's a cult," said the Pentecostal minister. "And I say that as somebody whose religion was once called a cult. The man has gone to evangelical leaders and asked them to organize voters so that he can go to Heaven!"
"He doesn't care about getting anybody else into Heaven," added the Jesuit.
"But we are the ones under attack," said the Pentecostal minister. "Evangelicals!"
"I respectfully disagree with that," said the Lutheran minister. "We have members in my own congregation who suddenly think Supreme Court nominations are a crusade for Christ--and, actually, the most important crusade for Christ. Well, that's very simple, isn't it? Say you've nominated a good Christian, and nothing else you do matters!"
"And he's a good Christian?" asked the Muslim cleric, shaking his head.
"Only God knows what's in his heart," said the Baptist minister.
"He's already admitted he's not a good Christian!" exclaimed the Buddhist. "He said Supreme Court nominations might be the only way he gets into Heaven! This man is seriously perverse!"
"He's not a Christian at all, as far as I can see," said the Jesuit priest. "He worships money and his own family. He is spreading an idea that we discredited centuries ago: that you can buy your way into Heaven through a grand gesture."
"Yes," said the Pentecostal minister, "and he is leading people astray. He is telling vulnerable, ignorant people that he has all the answers, that you can be as greedy and cruel--"
"--and racist," interjected the Hindu cleric.
"--and sexist," added the Lutheran minister.
"--as you want, and none of that matters if you do some grand gesture to get into Heaven," concluded the Pentecostal minister.
"I'm a firm believer in grand gestures," said the Buddhist monk. "The issue is how he has defined it."
"Well, how is anybody else going to get into Heaven if that's the way?" asked the Rabbi minister. "The rest of us don't make Supreme Court nominations. We have got to hit back on this!"
"It's a cult," said the Sikh cleric, scratching anxiously under his turban. "How do we reprogram the cult followers?"
Across town, the same question was being asked by TFFT (too fat for television) reporter Holly Gonightly, gesturing to a group of dazed attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants huddled on the lawn of their leader's Brookland row house. "How will these cult members be reprogrammed?"
"We're not cult members!" shouted an angry young man, shaking his fist at the pretty but plump journalist. "We were gonna save the world!"
"You heard it, ladies and gentlemen," she said to the camera focused on her. (The producer pointed to the rain starting to fall and gestured to Gonightly to speed it up.) "They believed a madman who told him they were going to save the world!"
"It's not cool to call mentally ill people names!" said a crying woman. "And he's a great man!" (She was one of three women who had spent the night with him in an orgy of meth and sex she could barely recall.) "He had a vision!"
"He had a vision," Gonightly echoed in her most serious voice. "The vision was about repurposing the DC legal community away from corporate clients and onto public interest work. But the reality was more about collecting dues, funneling the money into a Cayman Islands bank account, and seducing scores of young women to have sex with him."
"That's a lie!" cried several members in unison, but the crowd was dwindling as most of the members realized they did not want to be seen on camera during an FBI sting. (They were going to have to return to the law firms tomorrow.)
"It was all lies," said Gonightly. "And here he comes now!" The cameraman turned to film "Max" being led out of the house in handcuffs, his face down. "This ASPIRE organization--Attorneys Serving Public Interest Radicals Everywhere--was a pyramid of lies foisted on vulnerable, idealistic young professionals searching for a more meaningful life."
"It's not a lie to believe in the public interest!" cried a young woman, trying to wipe rainwater out of her eyes.
"Today the public interest means locking up a fraud. This is Holly Gonightly."
Inside the house, several FBI officers were still gathering evidence, and Prince and Prowling contract attorney Laura Moreno sadly handed over the hidden wire she had been wearing for the FBI. Down in the basement, the real estate demon who had easily possessed and controlled "Max" hid himself deep in the crawl space to await the next occupant.
Back at the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged, enormous brown helping dog Millie had heard enough. She had already known that Gary was a bad influence, but things were clearly getting out of hand. She grabbed Gary out of Larry's arms, ran into the next room and started tearing the ventriloquist dummy to pieces with her teeth, shaking it in fury. If there had not been so many gasps from the residents, as well as the wail of dismay from Larry, they might have heard the hiss of a demon fleeing the fury of Millie's mouth and diving for the exit. Beckmann ran into the room, clutched his head in anguish, and shouted, "now what?!" while staring at the ceiling. But he could not see Ghost Henry and would have to return home to await a visit from medium John Doe.
COMING UP: War of attrition!