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 ....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

It was another quiet evening at the Vice President's residence.  Dick Cheney and his lumbering heart were in bed for the night, and Lynn Cheney was in her sitting room listening to Frank Sinatra and thumbing threw the chambermaid's copy of Glamour magazine.  Suddenly she saw the photograph of Condoleezza Rice receiving a "Women of the Year" award and burst out laughing.  Rice was sporting a sassy new hairdo, a gladiator-like dress, and the biceps of a woman who spent more time pumping iron than paperwork.  She had been honored in part for persuading the United Nations to recognize rape as a weapon of war, but she looked like she was launching a serious campaign to win the male vote for National Football League Commissioner...either that or a spot on the next "Survivor".  Pathetic.  Lynn was trying to distract herself from the annoyance of yet another indictment against her husband:  Lynn was getting sick of it, but at least this time the national media had barely commented on another local jurisdiction's pretending to have the power to prosecute a sitting Vice President.  This one was out of Raymondville, Texas--some nonsense about prisoner mistreatment in privately run federal detention centers.  Nicole Kidman, Hillary Clinton, a child bride from Yemen?  What a bizarre magazine. 

"What is this?"  The Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness was again trying to propose to Eva Brown.  This time he had made her dinner himself, filled his apartment with candles, put on a smooth jazz CD--it was all going beautifully.  Did she find the ring?  He had hidden it in his shaving cream can so that it would be easy to retrieve after dinner, but then she had gone to the bathroom, and now he was panicking.  "What is this?"  He found her sitting next to his computer, where she had stopped to check her email.  She was looking at a State Department webpage he had left on the screen--it was Condoleezza Rice's speech at the Glamour awards.  "We've got pirates controlling the Somali coast, a major earthquake in Central America, Putin solidifying his control of Russia, the whole Congo erupting into war again, and the global economy in ruins--and she's making a speech about how much she loves Glamour magazine and still reads it?  And it's on the State Department website?!"  The Administrator started stammering, terrified that Eva would figure out he was the one who had written the speech.  "Honest to God!  Sometimes I wonder why you bother working there at all--it's useless!"

A few miles away, Charles Wu was leering over the online photographs from Glamour's "Women of the Year" awards, pausing extra long over Tyra Banks.  Even Jane Goodall doesn't look half bad.  The phone rang, the voice on the other side told him the potato pancakes were ready, and he called his Ethiopian taxi driver.  As he waited for the cab to arrive, he added Tyra and the bare-armed Secretary of State to his screen saver slide show.  A few minutes later, he was gathering intelligence on the Horn of Africa; then it was on his way to Cafe Mozart, where the 50-year-old Austrian guitar player was not what he seemed and someone was very interested in telling him what had not yet been reported about a certain Estonian's transmission of years of NATO intelligence to Russia.  Wu was feeling good:  it was a time of great uncertainty in the world, and he was helping people understand what was going on.  And making a ton of money doing it.  He nodded sympathetically as the taxi driver talked about the latest developments in the Sahel, schnitzel and beer on his mind.

Several miles to the west, Melinda was reading about Glamour's "Women of the Year" awards while three other residents of the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged were staring at a mysterious green screen on the television.  Melinda was trying to remember the year, but she couldn't.  She did remember the ceremony, though--the award, why she had won it, what she had worn, the other women there.  She could see it all vividly in her mind's eye, but she couldn't remember if it was last year or twenty years ago.  She looked at the wrinkles on her hands.  "I was a Glamour Woman of the Year," she said to nobody in particular, but they were all mesmerized by the green screen, believing it was transmitting secret messages directly into their brains.  Buckner walked in, unplugged the cable box, then plugged it back in--now the green screen was gone, and "Pretty Woman" was playing.  Buckner sat down next to Melinda because he thought she was pretty.

Not far to the east, Ardua was having another restless night, adjusting to the new mix of anti-depressants, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and hormone supplements that were being secreted into the river from upstream urinators.  Yes, the election had really changed everything, even the Potomac--or was it the economy?  As a demon, Ardua had little understanding of interest rates or unemployment, and was prone to be a little simplistic in her assessment of human society, but something in the water was making her feel hopeful, and relaxed, and...pretty.   She had a lot to be thankful for.

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