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, June 15, 2008

Pow

Jai Alai laid out the blanket on the grass as her son raced over to splash in the fountain at Lafayette Park. She took out the sweet tea and picnic lunch she had brought downtown and waited for Atticus Hawk to show up. She was really beginning to think he was a major, major big shot--not only did he have to work most weekends on top secret matters he could never tell her about, but today he had told her he would be in meetings all day at the White House. She had told him sweetly that they would come downtown anyway, and even if he had only a few minutes to come out and see them, that would be alright. Unlike the massive Mother's Day family reunion, a Father's Day celebration with her family just did not appeal to her--all those sympathetic whispers about the absentee father of her son, all the unspoken words about the beating death of her daughter--she couldn't face it. She was quite content to spend hours here reading a magazine or playing chess with her boy (who had just learned from Atticus how to play it the evening before)--a few minutes with a good man were better than days (or months!) with a bad one.

A half a mile away, Hawk was actually in the Old Executive Office Building because the Vice President had made the decision to by-pass the Oval Office today after little progress had been made there the day before. Hawk and his boss (code-named "Itchy and Scratchy") were again explaining--for perhaps the tenth or eleventh time since June 12th-the meaning of the Supreme Court ruling that the Administration could not deny the Guantanamo Bay detainees court access. Cheney asked again, "Are you sure?" Hawk repeated to Cheney his statement of confidence that the Administration would be able to pass the buck on this one to the next Administration. "They can't testify...ever," Cheney added, as if the point were not implicit in the number of meetings the Justice Department's torture experts had attended since Thursday. Hawk rubbed his eyes, not even noticing that somewhere in the course of the last couple of years he had stopped feeling nervous around Cheney. He was exhausted and thinking about the text message he had gotten promising chilled sweet tea, buttermilk biscuits, fresh strawberry cobbler--he took another sip of his tepid coffee, revisited the partially eaten danish he had pushed away hours ago, and hoped his boss would start talking. However, the silence persisted. The White House attorneys cleared their throats, sipped water, and pretended to take notes on their legal pads as Cheney's staff whispered to each other behind Cheney's back. Hawk's boss was glaring at him with that "find a brilliant solution now!" look, but Hawk was avoiding the eye contact. They had done everything they could, written everything they could, said everything they could. It wasn't Hawk's fault that the military had done such a crappy job of keeping Guantanamo under wraps; it wasn't Hawk's fault that the military had already been stupid enough to release prisoners they had tortured. What the hell did they want now? A legal memo authorizing the military to summarily execute the prisoners in the name of National Security? Hell, they could accidentally blow up the whole place without Justice Department counsel, couldn't they? Cheney stood up and told them to reconvene in one hour, then headed back to his office where former Senator Evermore Breadman was waiting with a belly full of ulcerative colitis, a mouth full of Chinese herbal chewing gum, and a file full of contingency plans. Breadman didn't like doing these kinds of unpaid gigs--especially for Cheney--but they were part of the broader program, and he knew nobody could do it better.

Back at Lafayette Park, Clio was relieved that the special White House meetings had been moved to the Vice President's office--not that she was in the habit of celebrating Father's Day, but it was just too nice of a day to be doing overtime. She was sitting on a blanket near the fountain trying to read a book, but the dull headache that had started four days earlier just would not leave her be. She put it down and watched the twins refilling their water guns for another mini-war, but this time, Ferguson turned his gun on an older boy nearby instead of his sister Regina. The boy calmly walked away, but Ferguson followed him and kept shooting--despite the admonitions from his sister to stop. The boy finally turned around and planted his foot swiftly into Ferguson's gut, knocking him flat on his back and triggering both mothers to jump up and come over. "Fergie!" Clio looked apologetically at the other mother as she pulled her son up by the elbow. "I am so sorry!" Jai Alai was surprised to be receiving an apology instead of giving one, but nodded sweetly and also pulled her son away by the elbow. "Reggie! Put those water guns away and read your book!" Regina didn't like getting punished because of Ferguson, so she squirted him in the eyes before surrendering the guns. Some nearby crows took a dip in the fountain, returned to chirp some more in the tree branches above, and shook the water off their feathers to land on the twins below--who looked up in surprise, then smiled mischievously at the crows.

A few minutes later, Hawk joined Jai Alai and her son for a quick picnic. He was chagrined to see the boy hand-feeding perfectly good biscuits to a couple of squirrels, but the thump of his satchel on the ground scared the crows away as he high-fived the boy and kissed the woman. He wolfed down some food, then lay down to wait for his cellphone alarm to go off. Another set of bathing crows took to the trees and shook water out over Hawk and Jai Alai, causing Hawk to jump up, swearing about the "damned birds" that had just "peed" on him. He looked up angrily at the birds, then announced they would have to move the blanket, then grabbed a napkin to wipe his face off, then grabbed another to wipe her face off, then announced he really needed to be getting back anyway. It was all over far too quickly, and Jai Alai pursed her lips to retain the feel of the kiss as long as she could. Up in the trees, the Shackled hovered near the crows and watched in frustration as the torture specialist went back in.

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