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, April 20, 2008

The Edge

Marcos Vasquez and Golden Fawn were cuddled up on the couch looking out on the gray day. It was the first full weekend Vasquez had enjoyed off from work in a long time, though he had found out too late for them to go out of town. Yesterday they had been out kayaking and incanting on the river, but today was going to be an indoors day. At this moment, they had finished talking about what had happened with Ardua yesterday and were now comparing the letters each had received from the Southwest Plaza management company. Golden Fawn's letter warned her to remove her broom from the balcony or she would be evicted; Vasquez's letter warned him to recertify his income level or be evicted. "That's the broom I use to sweep up pigeon poop," she said, though he already knew that. "I don't want that inside!" She glanced down at his letter again. "What are they talking about-- 'recertify'?" He told her that a couple of years ago, his Coast Guard income was low enough to qualify for some sort of certification that he thought would reduce his rent, but it did not reduce his rent at all; his salary was now higher, and he no longer qualified, which he had already told them three times. "What's the point of certifying or recertifying?" He speculated that Southwest Plaza was claiming tax breaks because they had a certain percentage of renters whose salaries were below the median income level. "You're talking about this place like it's public housing or something!" Golden Fawn had lived in her share of public housing for Indians and subsidized dorms for scholarship students--this was her first "real" apartment. He shrugged, remembering the public housing police car he had seen earlier in the week but had not told her about. He stroked her now-shoulder-length hair and told her to keep her broom flat on the balcony so that nobody would see it. He wanted to marry her and buy a house where they could both live, but he was worried that the Coast Guard was going to transfer him and that she would not want to go with him. Vasquez did not know what else he could do if he left the Coast Guard, and he did not know what else Golden Fawn could do if she left the Museum of the American Indian. These were the insecurities that Ardua fed into Vasquez because she knew that he made Golden Fawn stronger. He got up to close the blinds against the gray sky and turn on the Himalayan salt crystal lamp to cast a warm orange glow on the room. He pulled her off the couch to slow-dance to the flute music playing on the stereo.

Several miles north, Charles Wu was playing back the Pippin tape from the last couple of hours before Condoleezza Rice made her secret flight to Iraq. He heard her discussing with the cat what reading material she should pack for the flight, and which clothes. Then he heard her tell Pippin she was logging into her blog analytics to see how it was doing, followed by an exclamation of astonishment that she had acquired readers in both Beijing and Shanghai. She mused that they had undoubtedly found her blog because of her postings on Tibet, but Wu knew that the Shanghai reader had been an accidental drop-and-bounce, and that the Beijing reader was a government internet screener alerted to the blog by Wu himself (a screener who, in truth, had spent half an hour with an English-Chinese dictionary but was still undecided whether or not to unblock Rice's postings on Tibet). Then Wu heard Rice take a final sip of her smoothie and put down the Los Angeles Rams glass. Then Wu heard her exclaim on another analytics page that she now had readers in New York, Illinois, California, and Florida! "Finally--I'm reaching real leaders in the important states!" (If she had examined the analytics more carefully, she would have realized that they were all bounces except for a Mormon in Oakland and a Moonie in Sarasota, but neither she nor Wu knew that.) Then Wu heard her log out and walk over to her red leather recliner, where she curled up and picked up the remote to turn on her harp cd. Wu heard Pippin jump into Rice's lap and slurp the red drops from Rice's lips before curling up for a nap. Wu heard no more sounds except the harp, as Rice had stroked the cat absent-mindedly and thought about where she would be a year from now. She had always said she would leave Washington, but sometimes she really liked being here. She had stared out at the gray river in a reverie that bordered on cultish, as Ardua floated serenely beneath the surface of the Potomac.

Several miles south of Wu, Laura Moreno keyed herself into Prince and Prowling. There were only a few hours of authorized weekend work she could do to make up for the mid-week lock-out fiasco, but first she was determined to write another pleading for her pro bono case. She spent half an hour in the law library, then logged onto her computer to troll for templates. Prince and Prowling, in its infinite wisdom, had decided that all but the most confidential documents would now be uploaded to the network for any and all P&P employees to access, so Laura was racking her brains to think of some type of legal case that P&P might have had which would have produced a pleading similar to what she needed to file with Judge Sowell Lame. The P&P pro bono files touched on political asylum (for a Liberian gun-runner, in truth), school vouchers (for a religious school that taught its pupils the evils of racial mixing), defense of a flag-burning ban in Oklahoma, and defense of a gun lobby PAC accused of illegal fundraising tactics. She also found defense of a Louisiana insurance company that did not want to pay Katrina claims, but then she realized that was neither relevant nor pro bono. She trolled some more, using as many search terms as she could, and came up with one FOIA request that she could copy and a couple of possibly useful pleadings involving a lawsuit against the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. She downloaded the files to her diskette and packed the diskette into her bag. It had been over a year since she had started this pro bono case, and it had swallowed up almost every weekend since then...and still the family suffered. She went back to look at the Louisiana insurance case. If I could just find one case that I could stand, one wealthy client I could take on with gritted teeth, just one representation I could tolerate enough to line my pockets, then I would have the money I need to do all those things to help--

Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the suite door. Laura walked out to let in (of course) former Senator Evermore Breadman. He apologized (again) for forgetting his keycard, and walked briskly down the hall to his office. He had finally gotten the call: Alberto Gonzales was having trouble finding a suitable job in the private sector. Breadman rifled through his files in the fourth cabinet, pulling out a couple along the way. The guy was too damned picky. He's asking for too much money for too little value. Breadman had seen it before: people who had a delusion that the revolving door would land them right back in the private sector wherever they wanted to be. This wasn't the first time he would have to tell somebody to get down from his high horse and start shoveling manure for a living--for a really good living. Could Gonzales still be an ideologue after all this time? He settled on the second folder as the best possibility, and picked up the phone to start telephoning the board members of the New Texas Association.

Not too far away, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness was swallowing his adrenal fatigue pills while frantically trying to complete the pile of work that the Secretary of State had dumped on his desk Friday at 5:45 p.m., to be completed by Monday morning, Baghdad time. He looked at the clock, knowing that if he called his girlfriend to cancel the double-date cribbage match with the blind law student and his Braille playing cards, she would accuse him of being afraid of socializing with differently abled people. He suddenly lurched for the trash can and upchucked his special sandwich and all the pills he had swallowed with it. He wiped his mouth with an inter-office envelope, then lay down on the carpet on his back and passed out. Overhead, a couple of the Shackled hovered uncertainly--they had been working for awhile on the State Department ghosts goading this fellow, but they had not wished for this drastic result. They shrugged and headed off to Southeast, where the foul weather was sending another Iraq War veteran over the edge.

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