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, October 14, 2007

Live and Let Die

Golden Fawn's circuit breaker was jammed again, and she wasn't strong enough to trip it. It was defective, like everything else at Southwest Plaza. After a two-hour wait, she finally heard the maintenance call knock on her door. It was the same guy who had come twice already. He pulled out a hammer and pliers and set to work trying to realign the defective switch. After a lot of effort and grunting, he flipped the circuit back on and pronounced it fixed. He packed up his tools to leave before she stopped him to ask about the flies. "Oh!" he said, looking up at the infestation of black flies buzzing above their heads in the kitchen. "They told me there's nothing we can do. There was a dead body in the unit below yours, and then the flies spread through the vents. They'll be gone before you know it." Golden Fawn shuddered as she closed the door behind him. She looked up at the flies, willing them to fly out the balcony door she had left open for hours already, but they wouldn't budge. She got out the stepladder, removed the battery from the smoke alarm, then set some newspapers on fire in her kitchen sink. When the smoke thickened and rose, the flies departed the kitchen and gradually found their way to the exit. When she was sure they were all gone, she watered down the fire, then went out on the balcony to await the smoke's dissipation, the screen door now tightly shut. She buttoned up her sweater against the afternoon's growing chill, feeling tired and wondering why she had told them she could return to work tomorrow. She ran her fingers through her stubbly hair, wondering what her downstairs neighbor had died from. She didn't even know him, and he had died a dozen feet away from her, visited by a throng of flies long before any human being found him. That never would have happened where she came from. This was an evil place. She needed to get back to fighting Ardua.

Several miles to the northeast, Dr. Devi Rajatala was shepherding out the last of the Friendship Gardeners. There was still no sign of Angela Paz. She frowned at the late-season swarm of black flies, but she knew a lot of things were out of balance because of the drought. The children simply wanted to water everything, and it was hard telling them that sometimes the water is more precious and you need to let the weaker plants die. She walked the garden one last time, enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet. They had raked up most of the dead plants to add to the compost pile, and the garden was now a haphazard collection of half-dead bushes and fallow vegetable patches. The peach and plum trees looked terrible, but she was confident they would rebound in the spring. She stopped at the apple tree, one of the few specimens she had allowed to be watered all through August and September. All the children were going home with sacks of apples today, and probably would again for two more weekends. But what did they learn from that? That sometimes you have to let beautiful things die just to have something to eat? Weren't their lives hard enough without learning lessons like that?

Several miles west, Perry Winkle was doing a follow-up investigation in Dupont Circle. Something about the stabbing earlier in the week just didn't sit right with him, and he really didn't think it was just another tale of mentally ill people under the influence. He moved from chess game to chess game, bench to bench, but most people told him they hadn't been there at the time, hadn't seen anything. He looked down at his notes: only two interviews, both anonymous. He looked up to see a young athletic man sit down to take a rest from his roller-blading, a slew of dogs attached to him like octapus tentacles. The young man drank some water from a bottle attached to his waist, looking up as Winkle approached him. "I don't suppose you witnessed the stabbing here this week?"

"Who are you?" asked Sebastian L'Arche. Winkle handed him his reporter's calling card from The Washington Post. "Huh." L'Arche handed back the card. "Why you so interested in this stabbing?" Winkle said he just had a feeling there was a bigger story behind it. "Well, I knew the victim when we were in Iraq, but I didn't know he was living here until about a month ago." L'Arche swallowed some more water. "By here, I mean in Dupont Down Under." Winkle didn't know what that meant. "Man, you don't know about Dupont Down Under? You think there's a bunch of crazies in this park? This is just the tip of the iceberg, man. There are hundreds of people living down there. He told me about it a couple of times. Of course, he was probably exaggerating some of those stories--like that thing about 'The Beaver'. He said there's a bunch of Iraq war veterans down there, all labeled 'Prior Psychological Condition' so that the V.A. can avoid paying for their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatments." Winkle asked if he could turn on a tape recorder. "Sure! I've been to Iraq--what do I have to be afraid of now?! But I was afraid to go down there. I went down there with him once, but I didn't go all the way in--too claustrophobic, smelled like shit, rats all over the place, and paranoia just bouncing off the walls at you. That guy told me he only came up a couple of times a month, would go to St. Matthew's Cathedral and get a shower and some clean clothes, then head back down. I didn't even wanna know what they were doing for food or money. I gotta go." L'Arche stood up abruptly and started skating away, but Perry stopped him to get his name and phone number, then watched him skate away with the dogs who adored him--the animal whisperer of Southeast.

A couple miles east, Atticus Hawk was at the Department of Justice, trying to finish another memo on torture, except it wasn't on torture because "the U.S. does not torture". Recently he had begun telling people at parties that his law specialty was "torture", and this usually did not go over well. He glanced at the clock: he had to pick up his dog from the dogwalker in forty-five minutes. This was a memo-to-file in response to Jimmy Carter's allegations. He had done dozens of these for his boss, so that his boss could pull them out if he had to testify to a Congressional committee. Stupid Jimmy Carter. What does he know? Atticus had not been alive when Carter was President and truthfully did not actually know what Carter could possibly know. He reread the Carter statements one more time, then began tweaking his concluding argument. I am the torture expert! Not Jimmy Carter! Some day he would be published in major law journals and speak at conventions.

A couple of miles west, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness was also tweaking the concluding paragraph on a memo for his boss--a memo on Blackwater's operations in Iraq. The problem with Blackwater was that its people were too full of feck, operating with the philosophy that a good offense is the best defense. There was a momentary lull when the world's outraged people turned their focus to Myanmar, but the focus was already tilting back to Iraq. His boss was already heading to the Middle East, and she was sick to death of visiting the Middle East. And Condoleezza Rice was worried about those air force bases in Turkey and whether she would be able to convince the Turks that the U.S. State Department had no memory of having denounced the Armenian atrocities a century earlier. (Ancient history!) She always seemed in control, but sometimes, every now and then, the Assistant Deputy Administrator got the feeling that Rice was getting fed up and would rather be jetting off to Singapore or Paris. The thrill was gone.

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