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, August 17, 2008

In Danger

The kids were getting a little restless: they had dutifully picked up a hundred pounds of trash on Roosevelt Island and had seen a fair amount of wildlife, but they were starting to get antsy as they passed around the binoculars and the Washington Post "Metro" section. "I think I see it!" shouted Jai Alai's son, suddenly jumping to his feet and pointing to a girder on the drawbridge. Dr. Devi Rajatala put her binoculars to her eyes to see for herself. YES! There it was--the peregrine falcon featured in the newspaper article about local endangered species. The kids clamored for their turns with the limited number of binoculars, and lots of ooh's and ahh's ensued. The only one not looking was Angela de la Paz, who was still freaked out by the fact that Dr. Raj had not been able to see the pink warblers that Angela had pointed out to her twice this afternoon. Now Angela was staring at the pink dolphins leaping around in the Potomac River, which were obviously unnoticed by anybody else there. Dr. Raj made her way over to Angela to see if she wanted to take a look at the falcon, and Angela took the binoculars quietly. Dr. Raj had not heard Angela mention the pink warblers in a very long time, but her scientific mind reasoned that it was just a type of imaginary friend common in only children.

"OK--time to go!" Atticus Hawk was clapping his hands to get the children's attention even though only five minutes had passed since the falcon was espied. Dr. Rajatala was irritated to no measure, but since Jai Alai's boyfriend in his SUV had helped bring the kids from the Friendship Garden to the boathouse, and Jai and Atticus had helped canoe the kids over to the island, Dr. Raj was not really in a position to complain. Hawk had no idea this pleasant little outing (as proposed by Jai!) would turn into a propaganda lecture about endangered species and President Bush's recent proposed rulemaking to modify the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, and it was all he could do to hold his tongue all afternoon about it, but they had seen the damned falcon and he was ready to go. He shepherded the children and bags of trash into the canoes and shoved off his own last, already trying to turn his thoughts to the mound of paperwork he had to face on Monday morning and obsessing about the fifteen Blackberry messages and voicemails he had already received about "innocent" Jumah al Dossari's Sunday editorial on his imprisonment at Guantanamo. He used to take pride in being the Justice Department's torture specialist, but it was getting more and more painful and less and less glorious.

Twenty feet below, Ardua was desperately trying to touch and revitalize Hawk, but the pink dolphins were flanking the canoes and it was impossible. Ardua knew the dolphins were protecting the girl, and Ardua was angry but could do little except order some starlings to stay with him. She also ordered a flock to follow the girl, but they agreed reluctantly and kept their distance from Angela and the pink warblers accompanying her away from the river. Up in the watchman's quarters of the drawbridge, Dubious McGinty had his own binoculars up as he followed the drama unfolding between Roosevelt Island and the shore. "Well, I'll be damned!" He had never seen the dolphins take to anybody the way they took to that girl. Even when they had saved Perry Winkle's life, it wasn't like this. He continued watching as the rented canoes were put up at the boathouse, the trash disposed, and the Friendship Garden kids herded into Hawk's SUV and Dr. Raj's hatchback. Starlings and pink warblers followed the cars as they left the parking lot and faded from McGinty's view. He put the binoculars down, glad that Ardua was pissed off, and glad that the peregrine had come back--she would gobble up some of those damned river rats multiplying in his bridge.

A couple of miles to the east, a river rat entering the Brewmaster Castle discovered only moments before its death that Han Li had brought in a couple of stray cats to the kitchen level. Li cooed approvingly to the cats amicably eating the rat as he made his way up to the top floor to serve refreshments to the Heurich Society. As he walked in, he could hear the disheveled one complaining again that the others were underestimating how dangerous Putin still was in Asia, and the big stiff one was again telling him not to worry. Then the disheveled one was saying that Musharraf's resignation was not going to help, and again the big stiff one was telling him not to worry. Those were really the only two that ever spoke in front of Li, so he never knew what the others would say until he played the tapes back later, but this time Li was agreeing with the disheveled one: Asia was unhinged. Li made his way back to his office to watch some more of the Olympics. Now that he had been in the U.S. so long, he could see that the U.S. was impotent about many things--like the Taliban, Burma, and North Korea. China was the most powerful player in Asia, as he had long been taught. Still, you could only be a world power by controlling your neighbors, right? He found another online article about the women's gymnastics team, wondering why a country so powerful would lie about a 14-year-old girl just to get a gold disc on a ribbon. Upstairs were men who were battling for much more, and he knew it...and it scared him. Sometimes he wondered how many men just like these were sitting around in secret meetings in Beijing--talking about Musharraf, talking about Georgia, talking about who would control the gas and oil fields of Asia and Asia Minor. Li looked down at his deformed thumb, the one that had broken and never healed right at the age of five when he was being trained for gymnastics. He had pleaded to be allowed to switch to diving, but the government had sent him home to his parents, who were deeply ashamed and disappointed for years until he finally landed the construction job that brought him to America to work on the Chinese embassy. He wiggled his thumb and thought about how different his life might have been. The cats rubbed his legs, and he smiled and threw them some catnip, which they gnawed at contentedly for half an hour until they smelled another rat intrusion.

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