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 13, 2008

Out of Washington

Eva Brown was scrubbing toilets while the other crew members emptied garbage cans and restocked soap and paper towels. The others were chatting away amiably, but Eva was fighting back the tears in her eyes because she had not yet adjusted to refugee life in El Salvador. The others had accepted that they were never going back to the U.S., but Eva could not believe that she and all these other Americans were going to be stuck in El Salvador for the rest of their lives. She lived with five other Americans in a shabby one-bedroom apartment in a seedy part of San Salvador now known as Gringo Town. Sometimes you could get Frosted Flakes or Jif Peanut Butter, but mostly they had to eat beans and tortillas. If the antenna was enjoying a clear night, they could occasionally watch tv programs from up north, but mostly they were stuck with a cacophony of Spanish voices embedded in soccer games and soap operas. A good day was when the boss got drunk and sent them home a little early--then she could read a little bit before falling asleep.

Eva woke up abruptly to the sound of shouting children in the hallway outside her apartment door. Disoriented and disturbed for a moment, she finally realized it had all been a dream. She telephoned her boyfriend to tell him that they needed to do more for Central American refugees, but the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness told her he was too busy working on the Mideast peace process. "There's never going to be peace in the Mideast! Why can't you people work on something that would actually make a difference in people's lives!?" He had no idea where this latest outburst had come from, and hoped she could not detect the eye-rolling in his voice as he promised her he would call her back in a few hours. As he hung up the phone, he paused over the thought that he could not remember the Secretary of State ever giving him an assignment about Central America.

Over in Adams Morgan, Angela de la Paz was talking to her grandmother about the upcoming court hearing this week--what they were going to wear, how they would get to the court building, what the attorney said would happen there. It had been years since they had met the attorney, and it seemed unreal to be going to court now after all this time. In fact, Angela was old enough to understand that this hearing was too little and too late to solve the original problem, but the attorney had said they may as well go through with it because it might help them in the future. Abuela was not feeling too well these days, her frailty no match for the oppressive heat. Angela's biggest fear was that abuela would end up back in the hospital, and she prayed about that all the time. She sat down with a banana peel to shine her grandmother's best shoes as the pink warbler on the windowsill watched over her from outside.

Several miles to the south, Marcos Vasquez was lolling in the Southwest Plaza swimming pool with Golden Fawn. He had patrolled the Potomac for the entire 4th of July weekend, and before that he had spent two weeks in Puerto Rico helping his mother through a nightmarish flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis. Golden Fawn's hair was now down to her shoulders, and the chemotherapy seemed a very distant thing, but she still looked tired to him. He scooped her up in his arms and twirled her around in the water, wishing he had been here to take her up the stairs when all the elevators had been broken again. She smiled broadly at him, her eyes squinting a little from the sun, her toes skimming the surface of the water. "They finally replaced my fridge!" she said, referring to the defective unit that the management company had neglected for two months. Sometimes it was a lot of small talk, and yet they fretted that everything was fraught with deeper implications--like, maybe it's time to move out of this crazy building, get a place of our own, get married.... Sometimes the small talk meant they were tired of talking about Ardua. Then Marcos told her about the sexual discrimination suit that had just been filed against his unit--everybody in the unit, including him. He stopped twirling her as he saw the alarm growing in her eyes. He felt silly saying it, but he then told her he was innocent. "I know," she said, but now the new fear had taken root--would the Coast Guard transfer him out of Washington?

Meanwhile, north of Washington, Calico Johnson was sitting on his balcony surfing his financial page bookmarks on the laptop computer open in front of him. Fifty feet below him, the real estate demon was sprawled out under the front porch smiling about the pummeling of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the Potomac River brightly shimmering nearby. Some nauseated ducks took off to look for other waters, their escape aided by the pink dolphins which blocked Ardua from dragging them back. A catbird perched on a riverside beech tree started making motorboat sounds as Ardua slunk back down to the depths.

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