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 6/6//2017. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Saturday, September 30, 2006

All the President's Men

Bob Woodward reclined in the sailboat, catching the last wisp of September sun and Potomac breeze. His new book was climbing the lists, well-reviewed, and uber-buzzed. Still, it didn't feel the same as last time, or the time before that, or the time before that. His book was huge, but probably would result in nothing changing. There was something about this Administration that could just hang on, long after any other Administration would have imploded...and he couldn't figure out what it was. Next week he would be jetting all over the country, talking about the damning book, but what would it matter? For the first time in his life, he really wondered if there was too much evil in Washington to root it out.

Below Woodward's boat, Ardua lurked. She had grown so large now, she stretched all the way from Great Falls to Alexandria. She wanted to take him, but she didn't like what she sensed in him. She turned her attention to the Metro train crossing from Virginia into D.C. She sensed something enticing was on board there, and reached out to feel it.

On the Orange Line train, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He turned around sharply, thinking some fag was trying to blow in his ear, but there was nobody in the seat. He turned around and glared at Dr. Khalid Mohammad several feet away, whose medical bag looked extremely suspicious. Dr. Mohammad didn't notice because he was busy reading Bob Woodward's new book, which made the Assistant Deputy Administrator get even angrier.

Over at the State Department, Condoleezza Rice was awaiting the Deputy Administrator's arrival while re-reading the same chapter that Dr. Mohammad was reading for the first time--the chapter about how Laura Bush had joined Andy Card in encouraging Bush to fire Rummy. Poor naive Laura: she would never get it. People like Rummy and Cheney could not be killed by ordinary bullets. Only someone of Condi's brilliance could lay a plot elaborate enough to trap them...after they had served her purpose. Outside the window, a starling looked on approvingly, its feathers shimmering blue and green and black.

Several miles away, a flock of starlings descended suddenly on the courtyard of the Afghan embassy, where the Special Envoy from Pakistan was having another secret meeting with the Afghan Ambassador. The countries' presidents had done a brilliant job of sending mixed signals to Bush last week, letting him think he was militarily, psychologically, morally, and diplomatically superior to both of them. It was only through the charade of non-cooperation that they could convince people like Rummy and Cheney that Osama Bin Laden could not be found. Musharraf and Karzai had their own plans to carry out, and were weaving an increasingly complex web to maintain their own power bases. It was only in reading Woodward's new book that they realized the time was closer at hand than they had thought.

Over at Observatory Circle, Rummy was drinking martinis with Cheney, watching football, feeling sickly beholden in a way that he had not felt for a long time. He wondered what it would be like if Cheney became President.

Over at the White House, Laura Bush was pondering what it would be like to be President. She was irritated to be stuck here for the weekend, again. She had never been so humiliated in her life. Now the whole world knew that George didn't listen to her. She reapplied her lipstick before carrying a tray of oatmeal cookies into the study, where George was trying to pay attention to his National Security Advisor without falling asleep. Laura knew that George would really have liked to take a nap after lunch, then watch a college football game. He smiled up at her sweetly, then accidentally burped. Laura went outside to sit in the Rose Garden. The scent was sweet, but the blooms looked a little tired, like they just would prefer to go into hibernation already. She didn't notice that the garden was full of starlings, catbirds, and rats-- and nothing else.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Paz

Angela de la Paz left her sleeping grandmother and walked somberly towards the bus stop. Her grandmother was sleeping more and more, increasingly worn out from the dialysis. After Angela did the housework and cooking, she didn't know what else to do for her grandmother. Angela was raised with so many different religions, she didn't know how to pray. Still, as sick as her grandmother was, her grandmother was more at peace than anybody else she knew.

Angela pulled our her English homework and tried to finish the 4th chapter of "Jane Eyre". Her mind wandered back to her mother, whom she hadn't seen in over a year. Her mother used to read to her...or maybe it had been her older sister, and she just liked to think it had been her mom. They had told Angela that her mom had drowned in the Potomac, but she never believed that. The body was never recovered. How could her mother survive El Salvador, survive the trek through Mexico, survive crossing into the United States, and survive everything that happened afterwards, and then drown in the Potomac? She missed her.

Angela transferred buses and tried to get back into "Jane Eyre". Dr. Rajatala was only supposed to be tutoring Angela in math. It would be too embarrassing to ask for help with "Jane Eyre".

Devi Rajatala sat in the serenity of the Friendship Garden at the National Arboretum, embroidering a sari for her engaged cousin. It was a warm and muggy September day, and she could almost imagine herself embroidering the sari back in Mumbai, sitting on the tiny balcony, desperately trying to catch a breeze through the trees. It felt odd to be doing it here--where she was botanist "Dr. Raj" Monday through Friday--but she needed to get it done. Usually when she was here, she would spend the mornings analyzing hybrids, pests, and growth patterns, then spend the afternoons babysitting the under-privileged teenagers bused in to work in the Friendship Garden. It was a program she had inherited, and she wasn't sure what the benefit was of teaching landless ghetto kids how to grow vegetables and flowers, but the program was growing on her. She wasn't used to being here on a Sunday. She had suggested meeting Angela de la Paz at the downtown library, but Angela had said she would prefer to come here, if that was OK. Devi put down her embroidery for a moment and sniffed at the sweet smell of Japanese honeysuckle. An invasive species, it was relegated to a harmless patch of ground in between giant boulders and a gravel path. Why did the most dangerous plants smell the best?

"Dr. Raj?" It was Angela, her favorite, though it was hard for her to admit it, even to herself. Angela was a natural-born scientist, full of wonder at the natural world and an enormous thirst to learn how things grew--but math was killing her. They went inside and sat down to it. Angela shyly told Devi about the pink warblers she had seen as she walked over from the bus stop--the most beautiful birds ever! Devi smiled but said nothing. There was no such thing as pink warblers. She would have to bring in a bird book later to ask Angela what she meant.

A few miles away, Golden Fawn was slowly waking up from an afternoon nap, the vivid sight of pink warblers fresh in her mind. It was a sign of something, but she had no idea what.

At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the butler's twins were also waking up from a nap. One of them had dreamt about pink warblers, but the other had dreamt about catbirds. They told each other their dreams in their secret twin babbling language while their baffled mother looked up from her checkbook.

Upstairs, the Commander in Chief was watching football, his devoted wife watching to make sure he chewed carefully before swallowing each pretzel. He had a Presidential Seal notepad at his side, and occasionally jotted down some ideas for fixing things. First, there was this thing with Musharraf announcing that he had been threatened with being bombed back into the Stone Age--now that just wasn't even funny. Imagine him, the President, getting that pointed out to him by Laura after she read it in the newspaper! He thought Colin Powell had gone in there and done things right after 9/11. Stupid Pakistanis--always more trouble than they were worth. They didn't even catch Bin Laden! How hard was that? Those damned fools had a nucular program, but they couldn't catch Bin Laden.

And now this damn intelligence report saying that the Iraq War was impeding the War on Terror by inspiring new terrorists!! Why didn't anybody tell him that was going to happen? He stuffed another pretzel in his mouth. uncomfortable with the feeling that sometimes his advisers didn't tell him everything. What if Armitage had threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age? Bush could have lived with that. He wished they would just tell him this stuff. He wrote down "Commander in Chief" and underlined it twice.

Across the Potomac River, Condaleeza Rice had made a surprise visit to the Pentagon. She was sick of these damn reports getting out. First the Pentagon, then the CIA, then the National Security Agency, then....Her thoughts wandered as she waited for the scurry to end and the pile of papers to be brought to her in the conference room. For a moment, she wondered if it was too late to keep the web of lies intact--but only for a moment. She was still the smartest person in the room. Nobody was ripping her web open.

Over on the bridge, Dubious McGinty flicked a spider into the Potomac, and Ardua swallowed it down.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pooped Out

Marcos Vasquez returned to Southwest Plaza. The front gate was broken and open, again. Two hoodlums followed him into the lobby after he keycarded himself in, no doubt heading up to Crackhouse Lane on the 5th floor or Hooker Alley on the 2nd floor. The first year he had lived here was fine, before that evil real estate deal. Now the security was shot, everything was shot. In the lobby, Melvin was standing in a daze, his pants down at his ankles. A half-dozen people were huddled around the stalled elevators, trying to will them into motion. The "courtesy officer" was nowhere in sight. Marcos checked his mailbox, then started climbing the stairs to the 7th floor, his legs groaning in pain and disbelief. He really didn't need this after the biathlon. Why did he do it, anyway? Swimming was his strongest event, and they had cancelled it because there was too much shit in the Potomac. He should have dropped the biathlon. He entered his apartment to find his furniture moved and debris all over the floor--they had put in a new HVAC system. He walked over and turned it on, but it didn't work. He looked at the plywood they had covered up his windows with while working on the balcony. He didn't even have any damn air in here! He grabbed the phone and lay down on his bed to call around for a place to stay....Or maybe he would just kick down that plywood as soon as his legs stopped throbbing....Or maybe he needed to join that tenant association....Why did the Coast Guard keep postponing his transfer out of D.C.? He fell asleep.

Fifty miles up river, the new 99% owner of Southwest Plaza was sitting in his air-conditioned veranda, sipping Jack Daniels, gazing out at the Potomac River from his 50-acre spread. He had made more money in the past five years than in the previous 50. Life was gooooood. He had no idea that screwing people out of their right of first refusal would make him a millionaire a hundred times over. He wished he had found another city government this incompetent and corrupt sooner in his real estate career. Then again, he probably would have been too sissy to do totally bogus boondoggle deals when he had been a younger man. The last few years had sharpened his real estate instincts into steel acquisition claws, razing their way through D.C. Every day he walked out and smelled that moist river breeze, it fired him up all over again. On Monday, he would telephone Prince and Prowling about the next parcel of D.C. land slated for the Big Land Grab. Outside the veranda window, a duck was staring at him. He went inside to get his shotgun.

Back in D.C., Dubious McGinty finished cleaning his new shotgun and stored it carefully in the bridgeman's office abandoned control room. Quick inventory check--hmmm, up to 42 guns. Forty-two weapons thrown away after they had killed somebody, he reckoned. No use turning them over to the police--better to take them off the streets himself, and save them for that showdown that was coming with that demon in the Potomac. He closed and locked the abandoned control room, then put the key in rotational hiding place number 4. He returned to the bridgeman's office to eat his scrounged-up supper. After supper, he walked out to the catwalk, squatted over the river, and took a crap at the bitch witch in the river. He knew it couldn't hurt her, but he liked doing it anyway. He had really enjoyed raiding those tourist port-a-potties to dump hundreds of pounds of poop into the river Thursday night, guaranteeing fecal contamination levels high enough to prevent the triathletes from swimming in the river. He had probably saved a hundred lives, which made him feel pretty good, but mostly he felt good about stinking it up for that demon. Little did he know that her appetite was only growing stronger.

Across town, Golden Fawn fell asleep thinking about the white buffalo birth earlier in the week, and the ceremonies she had missed with her family out on the reservation. Before the night was over, she would have another nightmare about Ardua and her insatiable hunger, but for the first time, the pink warblers would come, and she would wake up with hope.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sticks and Stones

Colin Powell stared gloomily at the Potomac as his car inched through the traffic jam across the 14th Street Bridge. He should have listened to his wife. They should have bought a house in Maryland after he left the government. But NOOOO, he said he needed to stay near the airport, near the Pentagon, near the State Department. Every time he had to cross the river, he got in a bad mood. When he was at the Pentagon and stayed on his side of the Potomac, everything was crystal clear.

Across the river, Condoleezza Rice was staring at the copy of the letter she just got, addressed to Senator John McCain, authored by Colin Powell. She was pissed. A half-hour-advance courtesy copy before public release?! Who the hell did he think he was!? Whiny has-been. He had no clue what was going on. She threw her stress ball against the window to scare away the pigeon dove cooing at her.

Senator John McCain was also staring out a window, but he could not see the pigeon dove cooing at him, nor anything else but the pictures playing in his mind. On days like this he knew he was just another veteran. It didn't matter how many years he was in Congress, how many years he was married, how many years he was a father, how many years....The pain came back to him like it was yesterday. T O R T U R E. The days when he believed in nothing except P A I N. The days when a back-firing car made him jump. The days when a loud crackle in the fireplace made him jump. The days when men were ripping apart his body until he woke up screaming in the night, screaming out a nightmare that wouldn't die after 30 years. His Chief of Staff knocked softly on the door, and he shot out of his chair like a rocket, banging his bad knee, cussing. "Come in," he heard himself saying in his authoritative voice, sitting back down while he massaged the knee with one hand and searched for Colin Powell letter with the other. Where did he get the idea he could be a statesman anyway? He was tired of all this. He didn't like Powell's reminding him about the Geneva Convention. What did Powell know? When was Powell a POW? When was Powell tortured? Why was Powell up on a high horse? Losing the moral authority crap, world leadership crap.

"Sir?" McCain looked up at the sharp sound of somebody else's voice. He suddenly realized somebody had been talking to him--oh, it was his Chief of Staff. How long had he been talking? Did McCain have a blackout? Did his wife know he was having blackouts? Why did ducks suddenly made him nervous? "Sir?" Again, the voice, and he was still forgetting to listen....Need to listen.

Three hours later, Dubious McGinty was listening to NPR in the Bridgeman's Office, looking out at the Potomac, thinking about the Geneva Convention. He didn't know nothing about that in Vietnam. It was bad. He didn't like thinking about that. Couldn't figure out why he still remembered Vietnam in technicolor, even after forgetting everything from 1975 to 1992. Moral authority of the U.S. was in jeopardy, eh? "HA!" he yelled out to the demon mocking him. He didn't know what those fellows should do about that War on Terror or the Axis of Evil or the Invasion of the Body Snatchers that had taken over the whole Bush family back in the 1960s, but he was gonna get this bitch witch running the river. And he wouldn't have to torture her to learn her secrets, no sirree, he had ways. He knew how to access the spy satellites of the American Dental Association! He knew lots of things. Only idiots torture--idiots and demons practicing for a gig in hell. The ducks would help him. They were sick of losing their ducklings to Ardua.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Twilight for the Leaders of the Free World

Condoleezza Rice was pissed off. She had thought she was in charge. What is going on out there? She stared at the sunset over the Potomac, crumpling a draft memo in her right hand while swishing her gingko biloba, pomegranate, wheat grass, Fresca, rice milk smoothie in her left hand. She tried to kick off her shoes, then realized she had already kicked them off. Her feet were still throbbing. She had had enough of this. Tomorrow she would wear cowboy boots and start rounding up those idiotic dogies.

Over at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Dubyah was watching a round-up from the second season of "Gunsmoke"--a DVD gift from his brother. He was a little confused about what had happened today. He was thinking maybe he should ask his Chief of Staff to explain it in the morning. They had planned the press conference all day, then announced the SUPER BIG SECRET they had made him keep shut up about all these years--yes, by golly, we DO have super secret CIA prisons all over the place, and we had REALLY BAD GUYS in there, and they told us stuff because we water-boarded them, but that's not torture, here, I'll show you a picture of how it's done, but I have never condoned torture and never will, nosirree, not on my watch, and they don't have no more useful information for us because they've been out of the loop for four years, so we're gonna finally give them a trial now, even though we won't let them confront the evidence against them, and, oh, by the way, they're GUILTY!!!!!! Let 'em fry!!!! Well, he didn't say that last part, except to Dickie.

So that was all swell, but NOOOOO, Rummy had to get pissed off because those sissie Democrats in Congress had tried to force a vote of no confidence on him--well, who cares? Sticks and stones, Rummy! But Rummy couldn't stand it, so he had made a big press release of his own and told the whole world that the Defense Department had just updated its Human Intelligence Collector manual, and they had banned water-boarding, yeah! And banned hoods! And banned mean dogs! And banned sexual degradation! And banned ALL THOSE THINGS at Abu, yeah, man, cause the Defense Department read the whole report from Amnesty International, and the Defense Department is cool, man! The Defense Department doesn't torture! Made Bush look like a damn fool, showing the press pictures of how water-boarding is done and it's not torture, so if it's not torture, why did Rummy get it banned, huh? And then Bush had gotten a headache, so they had sent him home to eat pretzels and watch TV. In the morning somebody would explain to him how this all meant sense. Usually it was Dickie. Sometimes it was Condi, and then Dickie would come in and explain what Condi's words meant. Lately they had started letting Tony Snow explain things to him, and that was good.

The "Gunsmoke" episode was in a boring place, so he turned to the pile of magazines Laura had left on the end table before she joined her Wednesday night chat room about the tragic national neglect of boys. "Meet the Cannibals"?! WAY COOL! Bush picked up the September Smithsonian issue and turned to the article on Papua cannibalism. He had never picked up the Smithsonian magazine before--BORING! There is NO way they had an article about cannibals in there...but they DID! It took him a long time to read it, and he even had to use the pause button on "Gunsmoke", but he finally got to the part about eating the other human being. It wasn't a human being at all! It was a human being that had already been killed and replaced by a witch! Khakhua! Invasion of the body snatchers! Well, sure, he could understand that. He had put to death all kinds of people in Texas who had obviously been possessed by demons. Eating them makes perfect sense, he thought. Don't take any chances. And they're poor, so waste not, want not--gotta taste better than frogs and spiders. He kept reading some more, flipped the pages--nekkid breasts!--read some more. Well, it all made sense. It was just like with them terrorists--if somebody whispers to you that it's a witch, don't take any chances! Gotta protect the people! Khakhua! He ripped out the article so Laura wouldn't read it--she'd probably wanna send the Methodist missionaries out there, and they'd just get themselves killed what with the cannibals and the elephantiasis, and he didn't have time for that.

Maybe Rummy was already gone? Maybe he had already been replaced by a khakhua? Well, Bush knew he couldn't fire him--that would look like caving! Had to stay the course. Get Harriet and her Pentecostal friends on it--tell her to take a close look at Rummy and pray for him. See what she could figure out about him. Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

Why was he still thinking about this?! Somebody would explain it all in the morning. He turned "Gunsmoke" back on, then fell asleep with the khakhua article stuffed in his shirt.

Uptown, Dick Cheney was also reading about khakhua. He could just rip that idiot Rummy to pieces and eat him raw!!!!!! The whole damn Defense Department was flippin' them the bird again! That report wasn't supposed to come out until a month before the mid-terms, and quietly, to be used strategically by certain incumbents on the campaign trail only. He was tired of sticking up for those Pentagon morons. Hell, it didn't matter to Cheney who was getting killed in Iraq as long as the Halliburton money kept rolling in, but Rummy needed to get with the program. He pounded his fist on the table. Mrs. Cheney looked up from her Wednesday night chat room on the tragic national neglect of boys and exclaimed, "Cool it, pacemaker boy!" Then she got back to her anonymous post about how the country really needed cotillions for 10-year-old boys. She loved to yank Laura's chain!

Across the river, Donald Rumsfeld was listening to "Opera at Eight" and throwing darts at his upside-down picture of Condaleeza Rice. He knew his Deputy Secretary for Strategic Communications was still at the White House getting cussed out by Tony Snow's pit bull and Dick Cheney's rottweiler, but he didn't care. It was the only thing he could do to avoid getting fired--no WAY they can fire me now! I just cleaned up the Pentagon act, I just took the high road, I just announced to the world that we won't treat prisoners like Stalin and Hitler did! It's the CIA that's acting like the Russian mafia, not us! We're Boy Scouts, damn it! We're patriots! WE ARE THE ONES SAVING THE WORLD FOR DEMOCRACY! No matter that it was the Office of General Counsel that had read the riot act to him after Abu, no matter that it was all those 5-Star Generals' threatening to resign if he didn't fix it, no matter that John McCain had lectured to him for two hours about how Abu had just greenlighted torture against American prisoners all over the world. Rumsfeld would get credit. Everything good that happened at the Pentagon was because of him! Everything bad that happened at the Pentagon was because of the Democrats' not supporting the war on terror! It was plain and simple! Now Condi better take care of Iran, because there was no way in hell he was doing another invasion! He didn't see anything wrong with the neutron bomb plan, but if she could do better, fine! He threw his final dart, and it bounced off her teeth.

Over the Potomac, Dubious McGinty was flossing his teeth in the abandoned bridgeman's quarters, listening to "Opera at Eight". It was the first time he had flossed his teeth in nine years, but he couldn't stop gagging, having just read the Smithsonian cannibalism article after eating super-stringy chicken. "That's just not right!" he yelled out again, then did another look-around to make sure nobody was coming for him. He knew he was the one chosen to fight this evil demon in the Potomac, but he couldn't stand the thought of somebody coming to eat his brains out. It took him three years to get his brains back after that electric shock treatment at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. It took him five years to stop having nightmares about his brains, and now he had a brand new one. He hurled the Smithsonian magazine off the bridge and squinted his eyes to see it hit the water, but he couldn't see a splash. He shivered all over. He crossed himself and spit three times into the demon water.

Napalm in the Morning

Ex-Senator Evermore Breadman knocked on the suite door of Prince and Prowling, and Laura Moreno interrupted her work for the 100th time to get up and let him in. He smiled warmly at her, told her she should start charging him, then inhaled deeply as he walked by her workroom. "I love the smell of dead rat in the morning!" he bellowed down the hallway, as he passed the wall display photograph of himself and Mother Teresa on his way to his 300-square-foot office-- where he would later be hosting his new lobbying client, the Plawsubble de Niabillitee Pharmaceutical Company, Inc.

A loud crash woke Laura Moreno up. It was only a dream! Actually, most of that was true. Only part of that was a dream. Darn. She rolled out of bed to face another day of sharecrop lawyering at Prince and Prowling.

Across the river, ex-Senator Evermore Breadman was also rolling out of bed. He was in an excellent mood: his shares in Chevron would probably quadruple in value today after that successful drilling test in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday! He was glad he had voted to ease restrictions on offshore oil drilling in his last year in the Senate. He forgot that a year ago he was sitting in a Senate Energy Committee hearing on Gulf oil spills during Hurricane Katrina. His future was bright!

Dizzy scowled at the strung-out punk urinating in the bushes at 7:43 a.m. Everybody knows you gotta take care of your business before 7:30 a.m.! He looked around to see if a cop would arrest the punk, but the nearest cop was a block away, parked at 17th and Pennsylvania, staring vacantly in the general vicinity of the White House--which he would be doing until his relief came at 10 a.m. Dizzy finished eating his breakfast, rinsed out his mouth, picked up his bowl and trumpet, and walked over to the northeast corner of Urine Park. It was a little early to start playing, but the weather was fine, and he was in a good mood. Yesterday was the most money he had collected since a year ago, the first time he had started playing New Orleans style jazz. It was funny how many people had walked by him without paying much attention for three years, then suddenly decided he must be a refugee from Hurricane Katrina. Now everybody was in Katrina anniversary mode, beating their breasts in public mourning again, and his collection was up. Behind him, a half a dozen ducks flew in for a landing, their feet still wet from the Potomac. The ducks waddled awkwardly among the pigeon doves, feeding on the morning's first bread crumbs. Dizzy launched into his first performance of "When the Saints Come Marching In," hoping this would be the day one of the fancy motorcade limousines would finally stop and notice him. He wanted to talk to Those People about the ducks. Those ducks weren't right.

At the World Bank security center, a young woman was staring at the camera feed monitoring Urine Park. She thought ducks were just the cutest thing ever! She zoomed in for a closer look. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a frenetic flurry of feathers and switched her gaze to a different camera feed. A catbird was chasing a pigeon dove away from his family's nest in a light fixture. The catbird repeatedly dive-bombed the much larger bird, which--the woman saw by switching her gaze to yet another camera feed--had to retreat all the way to the World Bank roof garden before the catbird turned and flew back to its nest.

The woman did not see the parking garage camera feed showing the junior economist from Wurpuristan finalizing a kickback deal to get the senior loan officer to authorize the new dam which would bring hydroelectric power to 300,000 people while only displacing 60,000 residents and an old growth forest in Mitebeetailabanstan. The senior loan officer was happy to take the kickback, and did not tell the junior economist that he had already decided in favor of the dam because of Musharraf's live-and-let-live agreement with the Taliban. If you can't beat 'em, drown 'em! He needed to remember that line. He wanted to tell Wolfowitz his plan for damming away the Taliban country-by-country. He wasn't actually sure what Wurpuristan would do with the electric power, but at least they would not be growing poppies or fanatics with it! He needed to remember that line, too.

Condoleezza Rice stared out of her Watergate penthouse window at the Potomac River while she brushed her teeth and drafted sound bites in her head. She really liked some of the report ideas delivered to her desk earlier this week by her Anti-Fecklessness team. She still believed that eventually everybody would agree she was the smartest person in the room and do what she told them to do. America did not appreciate what a diplomat she was! America did not know that she was the one who had buried the top secret plan to set off a chain reaction of "diplomatic" incidents that would lead to Iran's setting off a neutron bomb, thereby clearing away all those troublesome Middle Easterners and leaving their oil reserves unscathed. Sure, the plan made sense in many ways, but it would be far too difficult to conceal in the long run. There were some real idiots in this Administration. She was the only one practicing soundbites every day to make sure the media had at least one intelligible quote to print. She stared at the ducks circling the Potomac in an odd way. Something about "duck and run", the "tide of history", "the unstoppable current of democracy"...she would find the words.

Monday, September 04, 2006

River of Dreams

It was Labor Day in Washington, and much evil work was taking the day off--but not all.

Coast Guard officer Marcos Vazquez was pulling another body from the Potomac--another fool who went boating without a life vest on. As he glanced to the shore, he could see Dubious McGinty staring at the corpse from the shore. As soon as their eyes met, Dubious started waving his arms and making a commotion. Marcos could not hear him, but he had heard the speech before--all about the evil spirit that dwelt in the Potomac. Marcos knew where Dubious lived. Sometimes he thought about ratting out Dubious, but where was the sense in that? Dubious was the only problem on the Potomac that was not a problem. Marcos cursed his tour of duty on the Potomac. He missed the ocean and Puerto Rico.

Dubious McGinty crossed himself, made a cross of twigs on the ground, spit on that, then resumed his walk home to the suspension bridge. He hated holidays--all the party people jetting up and down his river, keeping him from sleep and his studies. He had spent most of the day collecting food scraps and cigarette butts in Foggy Bottom, and had also found a magazine about the coming apocalypse in Fallujah. The evil spirit had already told him that the apocalypse would be in Washington, but he knew that sometimes the evil spirit lied, so he had to keep doing his studies, trying to stay one step ahead. It took him a quarter hour to climb to the obsolete bridgeman's quarters. Normally he only did the climb home after dark, but he knew nobody would be watching him while a corpse was being pulled from the Potomac. He turned on the TV to "Oprah" and sat down to eat some cold fries.

On Air Force One back to D.C., President Bush put down the magazine with the cover story about the coming apocalypse in Fallujah. "They're doin a heckuva job in Fallujah!" he exclaimed to nobody in particular. His posse exchanged veiled looks with each other. His posse had been instructed to distract him from Iraq--which he was only supposed to discuss with Rummy, Dickie, and Condi. There was a traitor amongst them: somebody had given him that magazine, but they didn't know who! John Smith No. 4 got up, strode over to Bush, cleared his throat, and handed him an article about Katie Couric's debut on the CBS Evening News. "I always liked that Katydid girl!" Bush exclaimed, picking up the article.

Chloe Cleavage minimized the web story on Katie Couric when she heard the knock on her door. Laura Moreno entered with another box of stupid documents to flag, re-shut the door behind her, then walked past the fifty wall photos of ex-Senator Evermore Breadman on her way back to the workroom. It was the 13th day of the dead rat smell in her air ducts, but she was almost used to it now--either that or it really was fading. She usually didn't come in on holidays, but she needed the extra money. At least she didn't have to listen to Bridezilla on the phone making her daily quota of 10 wedding-planning phone calls/day. Bridezilla had been planning the wedding since the day she started at Prince and Prowling six months ago. Laura did not make 10 personal phone calls/day, and had been racking up billable hours for three years, but she did not have a real office because she had not done law review or worn low-cut sweaters every day of the year. Immaculate offices of all shapes and sizes sat unused all over Prince and Prowling, while Laura sat and inhaled dead rat fumes every day. Nobody had even come to investigate the smell until Breadman had wrinkled his nose at it during one of his infrequent visits to the office in between lobbying junkets to the Mariana Islands, (after Laura had walked out to the suite door to let him in, since he had too many important things to do to remember his own key). The investigation had turned up nothing, and Laura still had not been given an office. She popped some antacid and turned off her computer for the day, nearly brain-dead.

Laura walked home past Urine Park, wrinkling her nose. She smiled at the ducks, paddling around the fountain. A mere hop, skip, and a jump from the Potomac, they nonetheless liked to come here and swim in this tiny pond. Sometimes they waddled around, picking up the breadcrumbs thrown to the pigeon doves. Other times they huddled lazily in the shady grass. But other times--like now--they inexplicably swam in the fountain, making occasional head dives for who-knows-what at the bottom. She saw Dizzy lying on a bench, his silent trumpet resting on his stomach as he snoozed--no World Bankers to play for on Labor Day. Seven other homeless men, 200 sparrows, 50 starlings, and a dozen squirrels rounded out the wildlife found at Urine Park this Labor Day. Sometimes after being shut up in the Prince & Prowling workroom all day, she wondered if she would end up in this wildlife refuge someday herself. She was losing her mind.

Dr. Khalid Mohammad walked aimlessly past Laura, strung out from an unexpectedly long overnight shift. He was walking in the wrong direction, but he was not yet cognizant of that. When he started sniffing the urine, he came back to his senses, looked around, realized he had missed the Metro stop, and retraced his steps. He had thought he would learn about emergency surgery during his residency at George Washington University Hospital, but most of the patients were either flat-lined gunshot victims or crazies and junkies needing sedation. He walked down the escalator steps, enjoying the growing coolness as he descended from the air pollution mugginess. On days like this, he could not even remember where he was from, or where he was going. He stared at the signs for a moment before opting to travel west to Virginia, where his wife would have a cold lentil soup ready for him. She was pregnant! He kept forgetting he was happy. The train dove into the tunnel under the Potomac River.

Golden Fawn was riding in the opposite direction, taking a train from the airport into the city. She hated going through the tunnel under the Potomac: she got superstitious every time she went under it, and chills ran down her spine. She tried to tell herself these were rational concerns about an aging subway system, but she knew deep down that she had an irrational fear of Ardua. Too many inexplicable things had happened in D.C. in the past six years. Too much evil. Sometimes she sprung for a taxi when she was really too wigged out to go into the subway tunnel under the river, but she was trying to maintain an extremely frugal budget right now in order to buy a home of her own, now that Mr. Right No. 2 had just broken up with her on their Labor Day vacation. Now she needed another vacation.

Tomorrow would be another staff meeting about budget cuts. Golden Fawn could not understand how the U.S. government could spend $2 billion/week on "nation-building" blood-soaked Iraq, when it had not spent that much in the past decade building up the reservation concentration camps sprinkled around the continent like hell's franchises. With the soaring cost of gas forcing more and more field trip cancellations, the Museum of the American Indian had to turn increasingly to corporate sponsors. At tomorrow's staff meeting, they would decide between cutting another $200,000 from the budget or renaming the auditorium the "Shock Wave Cola Auditorium".

Golden Fawn exhaled deeply as the train entered the station of Foggy Bottom, out of the river. Across the aisle from her, Condoleezza Rice's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness arose to exit the train, clutching the report he would put on Rice's desk at the State Department. He glanced suspiciously at Golden Fawn's black hair, dark skin, and battered suitcase, wondering if she was a terrorist trying to blow up his boss from underground. Golden Fawn smiled at him, unaware of the evil he was carrying with him. His suspicions allayed by the glint of her non-extremist-looking earrings, he exited the train. Golden Fawn closed her eyes and started thinking about the future.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

First Day of the New Millennium, Great Falls of the Potomac

Golden Fawn looked out the plane window at the Great Falls of the Potomac. They were magnificent, but she shuddered, remembering her grandmother's story about Ardua of the Potomac. She had learned in college that the Ice Age had not extended this far south, so the story could not be true. She remembered telling her boyfriend about Ardua that day, and he had joked that global warming would be freeing record numbers of evil spirits in the next generation. She had laughed, as she always did at his jokes, even though she had rarely found him funny. He had always liked mocking every story she told him as a crazy superstition. Now, here she was, on her way to the newly constructed, not-yet-open, Museum of the American Indian, where she would be working for the Curator, setting up educational exhibits to tell visitors all kinds of stories. Someday thousands and thousands of people would learn stories that very few believed in anymore. What was the point? That's what her father had said, but her grandmother had hushed him. Golden Fawn missed her. Golden Fawn missed her stories.