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 ....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Onion

Bridge was chewing on some wild green onions he had pulled up from the edge of the White House back lawn. When he had taken over as White House gardener, the whole place had been like a chemical waste plant, with all the fertilizers and pesticides running the show. Disgusting. The transition to organic was tough, especially since he was doing it surreptitiously, but the garden was on its way. If he could only figure out why there were so many catbirds and starlings here? It was unbalanced, to be sure. He had asked about hanging some bird feeders to attract more songbirds, but the White House landscaper had vetoed that as "unkempt". Maybe he could rig something deep in the bushes that the Landscaper wouldn't see?

The butler's twins ran up to him, laughing. Bridge was the only person in the world who could understand their secret twin language. They handed him some pictures they had finger-painted, and he handed them some wild green onions to chew on. They all thought it was a fair exchange. Reggie told Bridge that she was concerned about the President's State of the Union address, but Fergie said it would be fine. Bridge frowned as the pre-schoolers romped around to get a spate of fresh air before their supper. He knew that those twins were special, but sometimes he really worried about them. Reggie seemed so good, but Fergie...well....The fact of the matter was that the speech was going to be a disaster. Bridge knew this the same way he knew a lot of things at the White House, but he couldn't do anything about them. The words of the speech had been reverberating in his mind all day long. He didn't want to hear these things--he just did. Words of importance and weight--said then repeated, revised then repeated, denounced then edited, repeated, repeated--crowded his thoughts all day long. It wasn't so bad when he had worked at the museum. He heard too much here. That's why he needed more songbirds. "Regina! Ferguson!" The twins heard their mother's call, gave Bridge a quick hug, then vanished back into the servants' quarters. Bridge shivered in the cold and turned to head back inside.

Upstairs, President Bush watched through a window as the twins and Bridge left the rear garden. He was praying for God to guide him in leading this great nation, but he kept getting distracted and losing his train of thought. He could have sworn those twins looked straight up at him, and it had been very unsettling. A catbird sat outside his window, softly imitating the sound of a police siren.

Next door, Laura Bush was lying down before dinner, dreading the State of the Union address. She had seen the morning draft of the speech, and she didn't like it, but she couldn't tell anybody that. Why didn't any of his staff care about boys the way she did? Her big initiative to fix the country by helping boys was simply not taken seriously enough. Why, the boys at Abu Gharib probably wouldn't have done those nasty things if they weren't so messed up in this culture that was not preparing boys to be gentlemen! She was tired of being the sweet-faced librarian promoting literacy. That's what Barbara had done! Laura wanted to be different. She rolled over and stared at the dogs lying in George's spot in the bed. They were sound asleep but twitching. Laura was twitching but wide awake. She wondered why the dogs had onion breath.

Over at the State Department, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness was doing last-minute tweaks to the foreign policy portion of the speech. For the past five days, all he had heard was "shorter!" "shorter!" "shorter!" Now Condaleeza Rice was complaining that the section lacked theme, coherence, and conclusion. He shoved more onion rings in his mouth, wiped his greasy hands on a napkin, then typed in some more tweaks. He just didn't care anymore: all he wanted to do was write something his girlfriend Eva Brown would be impressed by, something with bold vision and poetic beauty. "What is this? A commercial for the Peace Corps?" Rice's latest email was pretty bad. He'd better get this right before she showed up in his office in person. She would be sipping a smoothie, and lambast him for eating onion rings.

A few miles southeast, Coast Guard officer Marcos Vasquez was frying up yellow onions for his rice and beans, thankful he was not on river patrol duty tonight. Damned cold! He really missed Puerto Rico this week. He inhaled the onion smell deeply, closed his eyes, and pictured his mami's kitchen. Why had she called him the night after he saw that thing in the Potomac? It was like she had known, and kept asking him if he was OK. He was not OK. He knew the only thing to do was go for another deep dive to get over this ridiculous hallucination he had seen, but it was too darned cold, and he just didn't want to go back in that river.

Over at the Washington Post, Perry Winkle was polishing off his burger in the "Metro" department. Hmmm! He loved those Bermuda onions. According to his boss, most of the cops would be stationed between the White House and the Capitol tonight, and burglaries and carjackings would accelerate all over the residential neighborhoods. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction--something like that, he thought. The President was going to focus on domestic policy tonight, and this would coincide with an immediate jump in the D.C. domestic misery rate.

Several miles north, Angela de la Paz retrieved another sweater for her grandmother, shivering in their drafty apartment. She sliced white onions until she was crying, then handed them to abuela. They didn't know that President Bush was planning to talk about them in the State of the Union address, or maybe they would have planned to watch it.

Over at the Potomac, Dubious McGinty chomped on his Vidalia onion like an apple. He already had his TV tuned in and ready, hours early. He always watched the State of the Union address, though--like most of his life since Vietnam--he could not remember any of them. He was really hoping the President would talk about Ardua tonight, since Dubious had sent him several anonymous letters to alert him to her growing power and wickedness. Down beneath the bridgeman's quarters, Ardua chafed at McGinty's presence, but she was focusing her energies on all the possibilities of the night--the speech itself, the political anxiety and ambition choking hundreds (thousands?) of Washingtonians, the criminal suggestibility of hundreds (thousands?) of others--so much vulnerability, so much misused police power, so much hatred and greed and stubbornness and fear and anger for her to feed on tonight!

Back at the White House, the Secret Service was placing a phone call to Marcos Vasqez to come in and replace somebody out sick. They really needed the river covered tonight--who knew what this anonymous crackpot was planning with this "evil Ardua of the Potomac" crap? The Secret Service men tossed the remains of their pizza into the trash and geared up for Operation State of the Onion.

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