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 ....

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Daze

Coast Guard Officer Marcos Vazquez was back on the Potomac doing tourism patrol. He had visited a few graves at Arlington Cemetery earlier in the week, on his day off--today and tomorrow were just work days for him. The sudden thunderstorm had already chased away the afternoon boating crowd, and it was just him and his partner waiting for the big concert to end so that they could prevent a terrorist attack on the cars that would soon be streaming across the river into Virginia. The Coast Guard boat was just emerging from under the drawbridge when a pile of magazines landed at Vazquez's feet. He looked up in time to see Dubious McGinty hoisting up another armful of trash to toss from his perch in the abandoned bridgeman's quarters. Their eyes locked. Dubious lowered his armful of trash, smiled at Vazquez, then squatted low and out of sight, hoping he wouldn't get in trouble. "That's the guy that tried to kill himself!" shouted Vazquez's partner. Vazquez didn't reply, and he didn't care about some biodegradable magazines' getting dumped in the Potomac because he knew how many bottles and cans Dubious collected from the riverbanks every week. Vazquez squatted down to look the pile of magazines. The one on the top was the old Vanity Fair issue that had showed all the Neocons posing in the Oval Office, smug and conceited before 9/11 had even happened. Vanity. Vazquez thumbed through it, looking at the schizophrenic notations that Dubious had drawn all over the article. "That guy is a major nut job!" Again, Vazquez did not reply. He was picturing the Vulcans all lined up for the magazine photo session while George Tenet was frantically trying to get their attention about the looming Osama threat. I guess it would require several more tell-all autiobiographies before the truth emerged fully. Fair.

Dubious McGinty was still cursing his bad luck. No! It was sloppiness! He was getting sloppy! He was lucky it was Vazquez's boat. The anxiety swelled up in his stomach again, and he started snapping his fingers nervously. He really, really, really wanted to throw this pile over: its evil had suddenly overwhelmed him, right after the thunderstorm, when the air was still ionized and everything seemed fresh and clean except the piles of evil thoughts in his cubbyhole. It all had to go! He stood up again. The Coast Guard boat was far away again. Dubious picked up another pile to throw into the river, then another, then another. He was tired of remembering. Memorial Day was the worst day of the year! He wanted to forget everything he knew, everything he thought about, everyone he thought about.

Several miles to the east, Devi Rajatala was wondering what Angela de la Paz was thinking about. She was driving Angela home from her afternoon working at the National Arboretum Friendship Garden. Dr. Raj did not usually drive anybody home, but the sudden thunderstorm had caused Angela to miss her bus, and the buses were very infrequent on Sundays. Angela was thinking that it would probably be really nice to go live with Dr. Raj. She probably had a nice house with nice things, and she was smart, so maybe she could help Angela's grandmother get better. Dr. Raj asked how things were at home. "Good," replied Angela. "Abuela got a walker, so that's helping." Angela could not remember a time when her grandmother was not on dialysis, but this walking trouble was a new thing and it scared her. With no more homework tutoring needed until fall, Dr. Rajatala did not really know what she could do to help Angela. Talking about plants and math and science was the easy part, but Dr. Rajatala did not know how to talk to Angela about all the other things somebody needed to be talking to this girl about. She tried to remember things her own mother had talked to her about at that age, but that was in India and probably irrelevant. "Thanks! Bye!" Angela was already getting out of the car. Angela had a lot of happy memories from the Friendship Garden and was looking forward to spending a lot of time there over the summer. Dr. Rajatala watched her walk up the sidewalk. She saw a little girl growing up too fast, and it made her sad. All her memories of Angela were sad.

Seeral miles south, Golden Fawn was in her apartment, on the phone with her own grandmother, trying to explain that her arm was numb because of the lymph nodes that had been removed, but it was no use. Her grandmother had told her the breast cancer was from Ardua of the Potomac, so every conversation they had about medical procedures and their repercussions always ended in the same pronouncement: I told you so. Holding the phone in her right hand, Golden Fawn was angrily moving her left arm, trying to will it into complete feeling, obedience, and range of motion. That city is making you forget who you are and what you must do. She had heard that one before, too. "I work at the National Museum of the American Indian! I think about who I am every day!" Maybe the problem is that it is now "work" for you to be who you are. Hmmm, this one was new. She was too tired to respond to this one. "OK, grandmother, I've gotta go. I love you!" She walked into the kitchen, pulled an ice cube from the freezer, and pushed it against the dead spot on her left arm, but felt nothing. She hurled the ice cube into the sink at a cockroach--she had dozens of them now thanks to the crappy cabinetry installation the management company had just done, leaving gaping passageways between every kitchen on the floor. She hated Washington. She put her hands to her mouth, realizing the thought she just had. It was the cancer talking. She tried to remember all the things she loved about Washington, and her job, but she was tired and decided to go to bed.

A few miles east, Sebastian L'Arche was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, remembering his tour of Iraq. He didn't go to a parade, or a cemetery, or a concert, or a wreath-laying. He just let the messages rack up on his phone from his veteran buddies who all wanted to talk on days like this. He thought remembering was bad enough by himself, but sharing memories was the last thing he wanted to do. Let the dead bury the dead. But he wondered, were any of them scared the way he was, especially near the river? How could he be scared of a river after getting out of Iraq alive? He needed to stop avoiding that river and face it.

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