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 ....

Monday, February 18, 2008

Year of the Rat

The donut box was wet, but that did not stop the Heurich Society members from digging in--it was going to be a long meeting. Henry Samuelson proppped his tall umbrella in the corner, near the window that looked out on New Hampshire Avenue from the top floor of the Brewmaster's Castle. He sat down and looked at the cryptic agenda written in blue marker on the eraser board. A couple other members were already arguing about the order of the agenda items, but he was ignoring them as he sunk his teeth into the custard-filled eclair. "Where's the blood--" He caught himself in time. "Where's Rice?" Even that may have sounded a little disrespectful, he thought as soon as he had said it, but he was not impressed with her tenure as Secretary of State. The chair said she was busy, but he had a message from her about the intelligence on the Pakistani elections, and they were going to move that to the top of the agenda.

A few miles away, Charles Wu was sitting under an awning at an outdoor cafe, determined to get every degree of warmth out of this unseasonably warm day. He carefully removed the pearl cufflinks his mother had sent him for the Chinese New Year, and rolled up his sleeves. He was sipping a cold Hong Kong milk tea and thinking about the rainy season there. He already knew what the outcome of the Pakistani election would be, but he was not thinking about that: he was thinking about the memo passed to him by "C. Coe Phant" about the two recent Chinese espionage arrests. Mostly he was amazed that Phant was still in the game after the arrest of Bergersen at the Defense Department. Bergersen was not in Wu's game, and Wu did not know whose game he was in, but Wu disliked him immensely for making things difficult. There was no immediate danger to Wu, but Wu knew that he was going to have to work harder to plump up his cover and have a larger number of disclosable consulting clients if he wanted to stay under the radar. He finished his drink. He really disliked helping Americans do business in China--they liked going there to pay cheap wages and build factories with little or no pollution controls. He needed to start recruiting more Chinese clients. His eyes glazed over and lost focus as he stared unblinkingly into the warm drizzle, thinking about the mysteries of rain, the passage of water from one part of the globe to another, the passage of air, the passage of birds and insects and fish. Did the passage of military secrets matter in a country where the bees and bats were mysteriously dying off? A country without pollination cannot cultivate; a country that cannot cultivate cannot eat. A car door slam interrupted his reverie, but he decided to order another Hong Kong milk tea.

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was in Lynnette Wong's shop, where she was refusing to give him the Hong Kong milk tea he was requesting. "You never listen to me! How will your stomach get better? Listen to me!" He was sick of drinking the foul-tasting herb teas and yogurt drinks, he was sick of the pills, he was sick of it all, and he told her he wasn't getting better. "You're still wearing that watch!" she chided him. He looked at her in astonishment. "I told you it was bad for you!" He fingered the Rolex with the cursed history only partially known to him. "Throw it in the trash!" He told her it was worth thousands of dollars. "You have spent thousands of dollars in my shop, but you don't listen to me!" He took it off his wrist to appease her, and put it in his pocket. She frowned at him, amazed that he could think her that stupid, but said nothing more about the Rolex. She handed him a new tea mixture for the migraine he had gotten the day that the House had voted 223-23 to hold White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House lawyer Harriet Miers in contempt in its probe of the 2006 firings of U.S. attorneys. 223-23!!!! His head still throbbed every time he thought of it. He didn't know who was aggravating him more--the idiots in Congress or the idiots in the White House. They were always doing stupid things, then asking him to fix it after the fact. He paid his bill and left the shop, heading back to Prince and Prowling for his meeting with White House counsel.

Several miles west, Laura Moreno was sitting in the conference room getting lectured by Chloe Cleavage about abuse of breaks by contract attorneys. The lecture was actually for the benefit of the three contract attorneys across the table--the ones whose swipecard records had revealed they were actually leaving the building about seven times per day, but Laura had to be dragged into this meeting and given the same anonymous lecture directed at six innocent attorneys and three guilty ones. Laura was clenching her fist under the table, wondering why the guilty ones were not just fired--they only did half the work they were getting paid for. Laura wanted to go home and call her pro bono client to make sure she was doing OK after her release from the hospital. The lecture was finally over, and Laura headed back to the workroom. As she passed Bridezilla's office, she could hear a senior partner telling Bridezilla to wear her red dress for the court appearance tomorrow--because the judge liked Bridezilla's red dress. A few minutes later, Laura and Bridezilla were riding the elevator down together, thinking the same thing about Good Old Boys, but not discussing it with each other.

A few miles north, the Heurich Society meeting was drawing to a close with a discussion of Kosovo's declaration of independence. "It's a mistake!" railed Henry Samuelson. "It's just going to unite the Russian hard-liners!" There was a heated debate on the topic of the soft underbelly of Europe, how the Balkans would be the once and future flashpoint of the next world war. "I don't think we can pull off the Moon Township Plan--it's not going to work!" But Samuelson was in the minority in that view, and the majority voted to continue with the Moon Township Plan. Samuelson walked out of the Brewmaster's Castle, troubled, and wondering where the Bloodsucker was and what she was really doing. A river rat scurried across Samuelson's path as he headed to his car. From the kitchen window, Han Li looked out the window at the departing Society members, disturbed by the snatches of conversation he had overheard--he still did not understand much English, but something about those men made him very nervous.

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