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, July 27, 2008

Hold On to Your Dreams

Atticus Hawk was sitting at the 30-year-old formica table reviewing paperwork while Jai Alai cooked dinner and periodically looked out the kitchen window at her son playing in the brown backyard with the new tenant from the basement apartment. Hawk was reviewing the mortgage program papers Jai had picked up earlier in the week at NACA's "Save the Dream of Homeownership Event". He had promised to go with her, but when he had seen the line stretching out of the Capital Hilton and down K Street, he had bailed out on her and gone back to the office. He had also spent most of the weekend at the Justice Department with the legal team preparing for the start of Hamdan's trial, but she had never complained--she just said she knew he was doing important work and would help her with the paperwork when he had a chance. She had no idea what work he did, and most of the time he was glad not to be able to tell her. He knew his boss would summon him back to the office soon enough, but he really wanted to do this. Until he had started dating Jai, he had not held any sympathy for the idiots who had taken out sub-prime mortgages, but he felt differently about it now that he knew her story--the former boyfriend in on the down payment, the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend realtor, the promise that house equity would keep rising (even in this drab and uninviting suburban Maryland neighborhood), the former boyfriend's cousin who had rented out the basement apartment for only three months before accidentally (or unaccidentally) burning it up the week before he was arrested and sent to prison, the many long months with no renter, the transfer of her mortgage to another mortgage company which had started tacking on mysterious fees and jacking up her escrow payment far beyond what was necessary for the taxes, and so forth and so on.

And Hawk suspected there was even more to the story, which was true, since he still did not know the full horror story which was the story of the former boyfriend. Right now, she was earning $45,000/year, had a mortgage of $1,600/month, and had exhausted her savings during the period before the basement was fixed up and re-rented. She really needs this program. Hawk read more about the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America and found himself liking it--far from being some bleeding-heart liberal charity, it was actually providing a service that made sense. He made some calculations, then started filling out paperwork for her. She placed a steaming bowl of corn-on-the-cob at the other end of the table and smiled at him when he looked up. "I think this program can get you down to a fixed 6.5% mortgage--maybe even 6%," he said, smiling up at her. She had taken out the previous mortgage with the boyfriend now in prison for murdering her daughter, and had barely understood what she was doing. This time, she was determined to understand everything and had read all the paperwork several times, but it still perplexed and scared her. He put down his pen and clasped her wrist reassuringly. "It'll be alright." All this time, she had been thinking that she could not keep this sad little house unless she found another boyfriend to move in, but Hawk...well, this was different....It was like he wanted her to get back on her feet by herself. This was new, and seemed a good thing, but she couldn't help but wonder if he ever would want to....He drew her hand up to his lips, kissed it, and told her the corn smelled great. He gathered up the paperwork and headed to the backyard to get her son.

Several miles south, Golden Fawn lit another pile of sage to smoke out the dozens of black flies infesting her boyfriend's Southwest Plaza apartment. Marcos Vasquez hung up the phone and shook his head in horror as Golden Fawn looked at him quizzically. "The guy in the apartment below me died a week ago." She put down the lighter and walked over to where he was sitting on the couch. "They just cleared the body out, so the flies have scattered through the passive air vents looking for fresh meat." He regretted the choice of words as soon as he saw her wince. He stood up to walk out on the balcony with her, their dinner safely tucked into the fridge. They sat down to munch on pretzels and drink chilled white wine, watching the thunderstorm growing in the distance. It's always something. She rested her head on his shoulder, wondering why they could never relax in this building. He was going to give her an update on the sexual harassment lawsuit at work but decided to put it off. A raven landed on the railing and made a loud address to Golden Fawn, who nodded at it before it flew off again. It was updating her about the real estate demon living in the basement--something she had postponed telling Marcos about because, well, she wasn't entirely sure it was real. She knew Ardua was real because her grandmother had warned her about it and Marcos and some others had seen it, but this was something new and different and strange, and she couldn't very well tell Marcos that ravens were speaking to her when she was not, in fact, sure that they were. But it makes sense....This building is cursed, surely. She took another sip of wine, her neck growing warm and sweaty from lying on his shoulder out in the heat and humidity. He kissed the top of her head, and they sat in silence.

A few miles north, Han Li was watching the Olympic Village Opening Ceremony over the internet in the little cramped office next to the kitchen at the Brewmaster Castle. He could see the smog and haze and knew that the Chinese government would feel shame over the fact that the "Birdnest" could barely be seen in the international broadcasts. The report on the internet said that the Chinese government was blaming it on the "weather", but the weather had never been like that when Li was a boy. His pager went off, and he poured out a fresh pitcher of ice water and a fresh pitcher of sweet tea to bring to the upper conference room, where the Heurich Society was meeting. He entered the room quietly and began refilling empty glasses around the table as Henry Samuelson was vehemently ridiculing Barak Obama's Berlin call for a world without nuclear arms. Li brushed a few drops of water off his tuxedo and picked up the box of donuts to walk it around the table as the Chair assured Samuelson that it was never going to happen. Condoleezza Rice waved off the donut box and took another sip of the stawberry/aioli/flax seed smoothie she had brought in; she had already been here an hour without saying a word and was getting tired of all the boy talk. Finally the Chair said it was time for Rice's report on the Moon Township plan, and everyone's eyes turned to Li, signalling him that it was time to buzz off. He exited the room, shut the door, then went downstairs to resume surfing the internet. He knew that the Moon Township plan was of great interest to Charles Wu, but Li would wait until they were gone to retrieve the listening device that Wu had shown him how to use. Li was fairly certain that his English had gotten rather good, but Wu had become more and more incredulous about Li's reports on the Heurich Society, so this was better. Li pulled up a report on Dr. Edgar Mitchell's declaration that NASA was covering up visits from outer space, wondering if this was being reported in China. A pang of homesickness suddenly erupted in his gut. He had come to Washington to build the new Chinese embassy, but now he really did not know why he was here. He missed his family. Sometimes he found himself wondering if defecting was the right choice. He had learned a lot, but it was all painful. He pulled the website link up to listen again to Barak Obama's speech in Berlin. He watched the crowd in amazement--again--understanding that many people around the world believed that the occupant of the White House made a huge difference. Li was not so sure.

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