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 ....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen

Bridezilla was walking down the street to meet Wince for lunch when a clump of people stopped her to ask for directions. It was a group of Korean tourists who could barely speak English, and a little old lady; they were trying to help the old woman find the Social Security Office. Bridezilla told them she was walking that way and would show the woman where it was. The woman thanked her profusely and began moving her cane forward at a pace of about two miles per hour; it was only 2-1/2 blocks, but it was going to be a long walk. The woman told her the taxi had dropped her off at the wrong place; Bridezilla surmised that the taxi driver had mistaken the U.S. Passport Agency for the Social Security office, but the woman insisted that the taxi driver had taken her money while lying about knowing where the Social Security Office was. By the time they got to the Social Security office, Bridezilla knew the woman was 86 years old, had grown up in Greensboro, had two sons in D.C., had a daughter who had just retired back to North Carolina, had cooked tomatoes and okra the night before, and had been robbed of her identity by a "flim-flam artist". The woman had been up since 6 a.m. and had already been to the police to tell them somebody had tried to purchase a car in her name, and to her bank to have her account changed. Bridezilla assisted her into the Social Security office where they got a numbered ticket and sat down to wait. The old lady was comfortable with Bridezilla because Bridezilla had confessed to living in North Carolina for awhile and loving fried okra. The old lady extracted her wallet from her purse and began methodically handing Bridezilla all the items she thought she would need: her new checkbook, her photo ID, a business card from the bank, the policeman's business card, her Medicare card, and her Medicaid card. Bridezilla was watching the monitor and listening to how the tiered alpha-numeric turns were being called, and began wondering how long this was going to take. The old lady--whom she now knew was named Eleanor Williamston--kept telling her that she did not have to stay, but Bridezilla had a feeling this woman might not even recognize when her turn was called. Bridezilla pulled out her cellphone to call Wince and tell him she would be late, but barely got a few words out when the security guard pounced on her and told her she could not use cellphones there. She frowned, annoyed; she didn't even have a magazine to read, and the security guard was shushing people who were talking too loud. If she had brought her briefcase she could be doing something billable, but she hadn't. Bridezilla commented quietly on the inappropriateness of President Bush's portrait's being hung next to the men's room, which prompted a tirade from Williamston on why that's where Bush belonged, and how he had led them into a country where they had no business being, and how her grandchildren (and if Bridezilla had children and grandchildren someday) would be paying for that war for years to come. Bridezilla nodded and said nothing, accustomed to the ignorant views expressed by uneducated poor people.

After a half-hour, two of the window clerks went to lunch and were not replaced; then a new clerk came in, but another clerk left for lunch, and so on, until the clerks dwindled down to one before their numbers began climbing back up again. Bridezilla had already phoned Wince again--quickly--to cancel lunch, even though Williamston had told her again she could go, but Bridezilla was having a horrible vision of herself sitting in this waiting room sixty years from now, unmarried, no children, no grandchildren, confused, screwed over by a "flim-flam artist". Would there be anybody to help her? An hour and a half later, Bridezilla suggested that Williamston use the restroom since it would still be at least a little while longer; the old woman agreed, leaving Bridezilla behind with the checkbook and crucial pile of cards, again leaving her identity in the hands of a stranger, which bothered Bridezilla in no small part, but she said nothing. Another quarter hour later, Williamston's turn was finally called, and Bridezilla accompanied her to the clerk's window to lay down all the cards. After an initially confusing exchange, the clerk finally understood that he needed to change Williamston's Social Security direct deposit to the new bank account; unfortunately, he was unable to understand her concerns about her Medicare and Medicaid being "stolen" because she had not brought with her "the letter" that told her that her health insurance cards would no longer be valid at the end of the month. Apparently, she had been refused service at the doctor's office, and believed she had been tricked into signing her coverage over to the flim-flam artist, who had promised her and a dozen other senior citizens in her building supplemental insurance coverage. The clerk flagged her account to make it extremely difficult for anybody to change her address or any other information connected to her record, but he said her Medicare was fine. With some difficulty, Bridezilla and the clerk convinced Williamston to get that letter and speak to the Medicaid office about it tomorrow. Williamston declared to the clerk that in her entire life she had never seen a white person help a colored person like this. As Bridezilla helped the old woman hail a taxi, Williamston pressed a twenty-dollar bill into Bridezilla's hands; Bridezilla was wondering what kind of vermin goes into an apartment building to steal identities from a dozen senior citizens. Back at Prince and Prowling, two floors below Bridezilla's empty office, a contract attorney was finally being sacked for coding documents incorrectly for the past six months under the not-so-careful eye of Chloe Cleavage--who had let the guy bill 60 hours/week despite Laura Moreno's warnings.

Meanwhile, Wince had quickly changed lunch plans and gotten his old law school roommate to meet him at the K Street Squire, where men got shoeshines and other obsequious services in exchange for paying a lot of money to rub shoulders with the power-lunchers of Washington. They were digging into raw ribeyes--the kind of cholesterol nightmare that Wince could never order in Bridezilla's presence--and knocking back whiskey sours. As Atticus Hawk's tongue loosened up, he began telling Wince more salacious details about the recent U.S. Attorney probe of Elliot Spitzer, and the two men laughed raucously. In the kitchen, their waitress was picking up another order while her manager told her to wear shorter skirts if she wanted better tips.

A few miles west, a pudgy businessman from Missouri was seeing his dream come true, as he walked out of Fireplace Restaurant escorted by a stunning ("Brown Sugar"!) transvestite wearing a full-length white evening gown like something out of the Academy Awards. She walked daintily beside him, her high heels in defiance of the brick sidewalk, her bare arms in defiance of the cold wind, her narrow hips in defiance of the childbirth that the female pelvis was made for. Charles Wu watched in amusement from the other side of the window at Soho, where he was watching for C. Coe Phant to make a lunch-time drop at P Street Beach. Wu hadn't been back there since the night he had found that murder victim, and though the memory was now purged from his active memory, it lingered underneath.

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