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 ....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chinese Silk Worms

Dr. Devi Rajatala sat down for a rest on the bench at Forsythia Hill. She pulled out her pen and added some more notes to her spiral notebook, then looked out at the "wild" woods on the other side of the fence from the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks. She had been surprised when her boss sent her out on this consulting assignment, but apparently it was going to generate revenue for the National Arboretum, and he was desperate to do anything to help the budget. She re-read her notes from the beginning, most of which were about the threat that non-native species (the Japanese wisteria, the English ivy, the Chinese honeysuckle, and so on) would spread to the nearby parkland and strangle out native Chesapeake flora. She was also concerned about the luxuriantly large lawns they had, and how many chemicals they must be applying there which were undoubtedly ending up washed down into Rock Creek. She had made notes about the items she wanted to collect samples on (insects on the Japanese and European trees, algae in Lovers' Lane Pool, pesticide residue in the rose garden and lawns...), but she still had to meet with the head gardener to ask him some questions, and she was going to have to come back next week to finish up. What a beautiful place. She sighed, dreading the technical portion of the consultation, since she doubted that the Harvard trustees were going to go organic or remove all the non-native species, but, then again, it was Dumbarton Oaks which had requested and paid for this consultation. She knew that they would be bound by the terms of the bequeathal, and that the gardens had been expressly designed to show a variety of European and Asian garden styles. And it's beautiful here. It was always hard to fault American gardeners for being taken in by exotic beauties.

About 50 feet away, Charles Wu was making out with a Californian tourist under the crabapple trees. She was a little too athletic for his taste, and he could not entirely rule out the possibility that she was taking steroids because her face was a little stubbly, but if he kept his head buried in her neck (or below!), it was pleasant enough. He had really and truly intended to spend a couple of hours meditating on the trees and flowers (some of which even had a nostalgic effect on him), but somehow this had happened. He had also really and truly intended to devote more time to building up his legitimate business enterprises, but somehow the weather was simply too nice to stay indoors--and it was always good to scout out new locations for secret meetings.

Another 50 feet away, Henry Samuelson was standing at the foot of the North Vista watching the couple making out on Crabapple Hill. He still had not gotten a good look at the woman that was the object of this tryst with Charles Wu, and he again adjusted his binoculars. Finally! She came clearly into focus. His thoughts faltered for a moment, then he knew who she was--that FBI agent from Los Angeles! Is that possible? Is the FBI following him? Are they going to get the glory? Samuelson pulled out his camera to take some photos, just in case he was wrong about the woman. He put the camera away and leaned against the wall. What if she's not really on our side? Some days he got really aggravated about his mandatory retirement from the CIA--he knew his mind was as sharp as ever, and he knew that Charles Wu was up to no good.

A few miles east, Laura Moreno was wishing her retirement was not decades away. She climbed into the taxi, took off the painful shoes, took off the perspiration-threatened blazer, and let out another post-interview sigh. Nine dollars there and nine dollars back because it was too warm for her interview suit. Two hours of lost wages. A five-minute interview by a woman that was interviewing so many attorneys that she had a set of identical photocopied questions to ask each one--and none of them were about her studies or any important job she had ever held. Maybe I should have worn the green suit so she would remember me better. Her brown silk suit was now ten years old--she only wore it for court appearances and interviews, and it didn't have a stain on it. The driver thought it was a very nice suit. Laura reached into the Coach briefcase (a gift that was kept in plastic in the closet except on interview days) to pull out the cab fare. The driver thought she was a rich lawyer or businesswoman, and felt she should have given him a twenty.

A couple blocks away, Liv Cigemeier had actually gotten out of the International Development Machine office at 5 on a Friday and was heading to a bookstore to kill some time before her husband could leave work and meet her for dinner. She was thinking about the dream she had the night before--how she was Hermione, and the Headmaster told her on graduation day that they had cast a spell on her during her entire schooling because she was actually more powerful than anybody else. "We did not want you to be able to use your full powers until your training was complete." She was more powerful than the teachers, she was more powerful than Harry Potter, she could suddenly do a million things she couldn't before--including FLY! She had flown up to the roof of Hogwarts, hundreds of feet above everybody else, and she had known she was going to do wonderful things with her life.... She paused at a funky clothing shop display window and admired the Chinese silk scarves--the kind of thing that her husband used to adore when they were in school, but now frowned on as "unbusinesslike". She toyed with the idea of buying one to put on before her Friday night dinner date, but decided she would rather stop at the bookstore and buy something for him.

Further to the east, in Chinatown, Lynnette Wong sealed the carry-out container tightly and told the customer to eat the silk worms immediately after boiling them. She didn't tell him that they were live (smuggled illegally from China), but he was Chinese and probably knew that already. It was a drastic cure, but for some people, the only one that worked. It was a shame to kill something that gave such beauty and grace to the world, but some things were more important than silk.

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