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, March 30, 2008

Party on the Potomac

Lynnette Wong was riding the Metro down to the Mall to see the Cherry Blossom Festival. She did not always close the shop on Sundays, but she was exhausted from monitoring the situation in Tibet. Her cousin was talking about it even now, but Lynnette had stopped listening and was watching a tourist family seated nearby. They had that look on the cusp of being northern Chinese or perhaps Korean; because Lynnette’s family had come from Canton, she was not that good at discerning among the northerners, and this family was silent. Their son of about 2-1/2 or 3 years was sleepy, but every time his head started to nod down in sleep, the boy slapped himself back awake. This was endlessly amusing to Regina and Ferguson, who were also seated nearby, on their way to the Tidal Basin.

A couple of miles away, Charles Wu was also on his way to the cherry blossoms, but he was riding in a taxi. The Pakistani driver was quietly passing Wu reports on John D. Negroponte’s recent visit to his homeland—where the Deputy Secretary of State had discovered just how vocal and strong Musharraf’s political opposition had grown. Indeed, to the journalists covering Negroponte’s visit, it had really appeared that the Pakistani parliament and judiciary were flexing serious muscle against Musharraf, and a collective backlash against the U.S. support for him; however, Wu’s driver was telling him why it was way too early to count out either Musharraf or his military might. Wu handed the driver $200, knowing he was thinking of giving up taxi driving because of the looming transition to a low-priced meter system.

Wu got out of the taxi and began moving in a counter-clockwise direction around the Tidal Basin. He knew what color shirts everyone was wearing and walked methodically until he spotted the group: “C. Coe Phant” and the South Korean dignitaries he was handling today for the State Department—one of whom was suspected of harboring serious hatred of the Japanese, and significant sympathy with communists to the north and west. Phant, in fact, believed the man had encouraged the recent resurgence of North Korean belligerence about its nuclear program. Wu sauntered nonchalantly past the group, wearing a very tweedy outfit and dark sunglasses to hide the hints of Chinese in his eyes and cheekbones; Phant tapped Wu on the shoulder and asked if he would help take some pictures of the group. Wu obligingly received several cameras, carefully embedding miniscule electronic devices in each one as he clicked multiple portraits in front of the gracefully adorned cherry trees. He handed the cameras back, committing to his photographic memory all their faces and wondering if Phant had a death wish.

A mile away, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness noted the late hour and began wolfing down the health food lunch his girlfriend had packed for him, while simultaneously fumbling for the pill box containing the herbs, vitamins, and chemicals his girlfriend’s naturopath had prescribed after the Administrator’s diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. His stomach was already full of coffee and groaned at the amount of liquid necessary to wash down the pills, and he still hadn’t finished the salt-saturated sandwich Eva Brown insisted he needed to start eating regularly. He sprayed the hormone spray into his mouth, mixed it with saliva for twenty seconds, then swallowed it down. He quickly hid the stash back in his bag, wishing he had not been ordered to take supplements mid-day. Eva had also told him not to work while he was eating, so he stared blankly at the framed photo of himself with Condoleezza Rice as he continued biting, chewing, and swallowing as fast as he could, trying not to think about all he still had to do before Monday morning.

Back at the Tidal Basin, Marcos Vasquez and his partner were taking the Coast Guard patrol boat back out to the Potomac for another foray. There had not been even a hint of terrorist chatter this year, and yet Vasquez seemed unduly tense to his partner—who had a vague idea that Vasquez did not command the full confidence of their superiors, even though there wasn’t a Coast Guard officer alive who would not have welcomed him as a partner. Behind his dark sunglasses, Vasquez continued to look down into the water for signs of dolphins and signs of Ardua until they approached Roosevelt Island, where Golden Fawn was performing ceremonies under the cover of the tourist horde spillover. She tipped her hat discreetly as his boat passed so that Vasquez’s partner would not notice her receiving Vasquez’s blown kiss. On the other side of the island, Lynette Wong was also performing a discreet ceremony under the cover of the tourist horde spillover--in front of a handful of pink dolphins doing leaps and flips that only she could see--while Lynnette’s cousin hiked around the island taking photographs of the mini-oasis on the Potomac.

A hundred feet below, Ardua was writhing in the cacophony of messages—some good, some bad--coming in from river rats and starlings. She had ordered the Beaver to hold his ground in the Tidal Basin, and so far the pink dolphins had not interfered there, but Ardua had a feeling it was coming. While one catbird reported back to her on the Secretary of State, another had arrived to tell her that Wu was back and vulnerable. There was too much to do, and she needed a larger army to do it. She stretched out into the Tidal Basin towards Wu and made a grab for him, but he turned away in the nick of time, and she accidentally grabbed a tourist from Ohio instead; the man would inexplicably throw his two small children off their hotel balcony later that evening before his wife and older child would succeed in knocking him unconscious with a Jefferson Memorial snow globe and a cherry blossom paperweight.

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