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 ....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Details

It was looking like a late night at Prince and Prowling.  Former Senator Evermore Breadman was looking through the economic stimulus plan with a fine-toothed comb.  He had already spent six days in a row on the phone with clients about the impact of the machine-gun fire that was President Obama's first week of Executive Orders, and now it was time to see where the ship of state was sailing.  He knew how to make money in any Administration, but the devil was in the details.  His intestinal demon let out another low moan, and he headed out to the men's room.  


He passed the conference room, where last-minute reinforcements had been brought in to finish reviewing the production of documents for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of multinational corporation Beeline Beverages.  There was Sonya the Russian reviewer, Chong Hu the Chinese reviewer, Sanjay Rao the Hindi reviewer, and five Japanese attorneys.  Laura Moreno was also in the conference room--retrieving binders that Chloe Cleavage had forgotten to bring downstairs to the sweatshop.  As she staggered out to the elevator under the weight of the box of binders, Breadman emerged from the men's room and recognized her as the girl who would let him in if he had forgotten his suite key.  He saw the elevator door shut just as his pocket fumble revealed that he had, indeed, forgotten his suite key on his desk.  


Downstairs, Moreno brought the box of binders to Cleavage, who was wearing a silk tank top in front of the only fan in the room (aimed at her, and away from the thirty attorneys on computers).  “Cool beans!” Cleavage said upon receipt of the box.  “Can you help that redhead with a technical question?”  She pointed to the corner of the sweatshop, then returned to text-messaging her occasional boyfriend Calico Johnson.  Moreno walked over to find that the nameless, flummoxed redhead had just spilled her bag of personal belongings, and Moreno bent over to help her pick up the things—lotion, earplugs, kleenex, asthma inhaler, hand sanitizer, gluten-free snack crackers, a map of Washington, snowboots, an umbrella, eye drops, vitamin water, cough syrup, and a brochure about lyme disease .  Another high-maintenance chick, Moreno fretted, knowing that Prince and Prowling had already fired the woman that asked for an ergonomic mouse last week and the man who had arrived at 10:30 this morning because his kids' school opened late.  (And they had both been replaced the next day.)  Moreno spoke in a soothing, maternal tone to the bleary-eyed girl, and showed her the correct menu sequence to get where she needed to go in the database.


Several floors above them:  Liv Cigemeier's husband was telephoning his wife to tell her he would be home late tonight, but he didn't want to tell her that it was because he was doing an online application for a federal attorney position in Afghanistan; Bridezilla was scanning E-Bay for antique necklaces and waiting for Wince to pick her up; and Breadman was still in the hallway by the elevators and restrooms, ringing the doorbell to get back in, not knowing that his first-ever phone call from President Obama's White House was about to end in a voicemail.


A couple of blocks away, an exhausted White House butler settled her twins into a bath and went to take her pills.  They had been home from preschool all day, and so had the Obama girls—and their paths had crossed many times.  Clio liked those Obama girls, and hoped they would be a good influence on Regina and Ferguson.  When she returned to get them out of the tub, water was splashed all over the floor.  “Reggie!  Fergie!”  They protested that it wasn't their fault, but she would hear none of it.  She stood them up and turned a cold shower on them while she toweled off the floor.  The White House ghost that had made the mess hovered near the window, still angry at what the twins had said about Sasha and Malia.  Clio opened up a large towel for her children to step into, already regretting the yelling.  Sometimes she just felt so confused.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Audacity of --

The papers were all shredded, the computer diskettes and jump drives dissolved in acid, the laptop hard drive reformatted [“Do not put any of this research on a network drive!”], and the Blackberry files electrocuted—at least, that was Atticus Hawk's intention.  He could no longer be the Justice Department's torture expert, nor the defender of Guantanamo:  the naïve new President had spoken.  Hawk's destiny now lay elsewhere.  But it was so important....He had randomly selected a few items to whisk away home—just in case he should ever be called upon again to serve his country in this way again.   A few items randomly selected--just enough for him to believe there was hope in the future, but not enough to prevent him from exercising plausible deniability in any hypothetical hearing on whether he had produced such-and-such (specifically described!) evidence on how Justice Department memos were written.  What if they torture me to find out if I took files home?  He let out a sort of screech, somewhere between a laugh and a wince of pain.  He re-read his boss's memo requesting junior attorneys to update their professional work histories in anticipation of the arrival of a new Attorney General.  Hawk would not be able to write down 90% of what he had done since 2002.


Several blocks away, Momzilla was telling yet another co-worker about her husband's new job in the White House.  “It's a policy position,” she said gravely.  “He's advising the President on policy.”  Liv Cigemeier was completing a grant report from International Development Machine to the Better Bungalows Foundation—completing all of it because, as usual, Momzilla had spent the majority of the day going out for refreshments and chatting with coworkers.  Liv covered her ears with her hands to reread the “Lessons Learned” paragraph, and Momzilla looked purposefully at Anton and raised her voice to talk even louder.  “He writes speeches, too!”  Anton let out a loud whistle, and Momzilla continued to tell more lies about her husband--who actually had a job in the White House IT department.  “That's why I'm working even though I'm pregnant:  I have to help provide for our family so that my husband can work in public service.”  Liv rolled her eyes and got up to use the restroom.


Several miles north, Calico Johnson was making a rare “inspection” at one of his rental properties with his Caljohn Mgmt. property manager, Button Samuelson.  She was showing him the damage caused by the negligence of his preferred plumber, and asking why she could not use a different plumber.  “I've been using this plumber for ten years!”  Samuelson nodded and again pointed to the damage.  “Well, he's paying for that, right?”  Yes, she nodded, thinking, out of the outrageous mark-ups he charges on his work.  Samuelson handed Johnson a copy of a press release she had emailed him a week ago without hearing any response.  “Oh, this....Yes, I was meaning to get back to you on this.”  It was an announcement from Mayor Fenty that rental buildings in the city would now be subject to an automatic four-year cycle of inspections, and a two-year cycle for properties with violations.  “Don't worry about it—I'll take care of it!”  An inspection was still an inspection as far as he could see—it required an inspector, and an inspector could be taken care of one way or the other.  “This changes nothing,” he added.  Samuelson did not understand how it could change nothing if the city was now going to come in to inspect properties like this, where people who barely spoke English and often had immigration problems rarely contacted the government about anything.  She knew the place had probably not been inspected in over ten years, and she didn't know how to get it ready for inspection if he wouldn't let her hire better contractors.  “Come on—let's go to dinner!”  He was relieved that Button was just worried about the inspection:  for a moment, he had started thinking she was going soft on him.  “I want to try that new fusion place.”  The two were heading out to the newer, swankier portion of Columbia Heights just as Angela de la Paz was returning from school.  She wanted to ask them about the sudden surge in cockroaches, but something in their brusque greetings put her off, and she passed silently into the building.


Down at the White House, Clio was wrapping up her afternoon butler shift.  She had started the AIDS cocktail two weeks earlier, after recovery from the sinus infection and pneumonia, and this was a good week.  She headed down to her little apartment where the twins were, as usual, talking in their secret twin language about Sasha and Malia.  And, as usual, she reminded them that they needed to speak more English if they wanted to invite the Obama girls to play with them.  They shrugged their shoulders and resumed chattering.  She was really starting to wonder if they would start kindergarten on time—it was as if they deliberately refused to learn more than a few words of English.  Clio took a donated casserole out of the freezer and put it in the oven, then went to check her personal email.  Her aunt had sent her an email about the new Sasha and Malia Beanie Babies...and the price.  Well, some things don't change, I suppose.  In the other room, Regina and Ferguson grew quiet as a White House ghost started whispering to them about the new ones.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Recall

The Warrior sat in the dense underbrush near the edge of the Potomac River, gazing over the water towards the city.  He was dressed for the elements and scarcely noticed the cold or the descending dampness.  He was over 400 years old, but he didn't know why.  Everyone he had ever loved, liked, or just known, was dead—dead by the musket, or pox, or flu, or starvation, or aneurism, or childbirth, or drowning, or old age.  He was certain he still had living descendants, but after a few generations, he had voluntarily disappeared from their lives—nobody wants a great, great, great, great, great...grandfather, or uncle, or anything else.  And sometimes he doubted his own story and was unsure what he would say about himself—he vaguely remembered he was Seneca and French, and where he had lived as a child and young man, but the images were all hazy and uncertain to him now.  He remembered a wife and three children, but sometimes he doubted whether he was correctly recalling what they looked like or even what their names were.  He had stopped feeling he had a family a very long time ago indeed.


And as the years went by and the modern age emerged, it became increasingly clear to him that society was rejecting death and insisting on life at any cost:  God only knew what scientists and entrepreneurs would have done to him to decipher his hidden elixir of life.  As far as he was concerned, he was on his own in this world.  He traveled and lived off the land with more and more difficulty as--year by year—every acre of the continent had been claimed by or for somebody.  Mostly he foraged and hunted through what they now called National Forests—he hunted to eat the bounty of good in the land and kill the plague of evil.  He had seen a lot, but he had never seen anything like Ardua.  He was afraid of nothing, but he did not know how to destroy Ardua.  He was beginning to think that, after all these centuries, he might still have something left to learn.  He picked up his binoculars to take a closer look at what appeared to be smoke on Roosevelt Island.


It was Golden Fawn, one of his descendants.  She was tending a fire but also waving a large bamboo fan to dissipate the smoke almost as quickly as it arose.  Her fiance was currently doing the helicopter exercises over this stretch of the Potomac, so she knew this was the best time to get in one last ritual before the inauguration.  She looked up at Marcos Vasquez as he made another pass, knowing how worried he was about the unprecedented number of death threats he was not even at liberty to discuss with her.  Haters were approaching from every direction, and the closer they got to Ardua, the more her power grew.  But hopers were approaching, too, and in greater numbers than had been seen in Washington in a very long time; nothing was certain.


A couple of miles north, a taxi driver pulled over next to Meridian Hill.  Two of his cousins had died in Somalia the day before, and he had a lot to tell Charles Wu about recent developments in the Horn of Africa.  He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, simultaneously thinking about his relatives and wondering if the drunkard would succeed in urinating behind a bush and returning to the taxi before the sedan got rear-ended.  He opened his eyes to see the drunkard unsuccessfully try to pick up a couple of girls at the bus stop before climbing crookedly back into the taxi.  “Madam's Organ!”, he declared, but the driver pointed out to him that he had just picked up the drunkard from there.  “OHHH!”  The drunkard was laughing at himself.  “Right!  Where did I say I was going?”  The driver repeated the private address he had received earlier, and the drunkard nodded in agreement.  Everybody said there was Change in the air, but the driver hadn't seen anything different yet.


A few miles to the west, Charles Wu got out of a taxi, and a doorman escorted him into the Ritz Carlton.  “Welcome back, Mr. Wu!”  Wu pressed a fifty-dollar bill into the man's hands and headed into the Westend Bistro for lunch with his friend from the British Embassy.  The junior diplomat had already set up the cribbage set and shuffled the cards, but he did not see Wu approach because the man was blind.  Wu greeted him cheerily, they shook hands, and then Wu sat down to the martini already ordered for him.  The junior diplomat picked up the braille-enhance cards and began dealing; with his sympathy-evoking disability and Wu's legendary attractiveness, they were a babe-magnet team extraordinaire.  Today, politics was on hold, espionage was on hold, solemnity was on hold, and all that mattered was how many celebrity starlets and pretty entourage members they could meet before the inauguration juggernaut's Hollywood component left town.


A mile north, Henry Samuelson entered the Brewmeister's Castle, an old duffel bag slung over his shoulder.  He proceeded to the upstairs meeting room where the Heurich Society was gathering with multiple televisions, recently installed secure telephone lines, and a four-day supply of food (on top of the usual stock of a month's emergency rations in the store rooms).  The Chair was busy removing  Little Debbie peanut butter cheese crackers from one of the bags after seeing the CNN report of the salmonella-related recall; this was a great disappointment to Samuelson because that was his favorite food for hunkering down.  Samuelson made his way over to the champagne and pineapple juice punch, where Condoleezza Rice was wrapping up her token appearance before heading off to a whirlwind of inaugural events.  Just as well.  Samuelson had never trusted Rice and was glad the only female member of the Heurich Society was heading back to California—though she was still a member and would, undoubtedly, occasionally pop up at future meetings.  He watched her sail out the door, not entirely displeased to see the end of the Dubyah Administration—though some things would change for the worse, other things might actually become simpler.  The Moon Township Plan had not gone entirely as the Heurich Society had hoped, but it had accomplished a lot, and they were excited about the progress of the Ming Dung plan.  Finished with his peanut butter operation, the Chair saw the final member arrive, made sure everybody had a punch glass, and offered a toast to the next era of Heurich Society operations.  In the next room, Han Li was placing several air-purifiers and humidifiers around the cots, wondering why these people were acting like a coup d'etat was imminent.  He had been spying on them for some time now, but they still made no sense.


Up in the graying skies, starlings flew in restless circles, gulls scanned for rats on the ground, and the Shackled roamed in ghostly patrols.  Sparrows sang in the trees, and pigeon doves cooed in the grass.  Ducks quacked loudly against the cold, wondering to themselves why they had not flown south for the winter.  Catbirds imitated the sounds of helicopter blades, car horns, and police sirens.  And in the water, Ardua waited and watched.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Coolest Ball of Them All

The encounter was going down tonight at the Cool Inaugural Ball.  Charles Wu logged onto

 www.washingtonparks.net/cool_inaugural_ball

to purchase the ticket.  Seventy-five dollars was a small price to pay for access to the Georgian spy somewhere nobody would be expecting to find her--reporting on a grassroots green gala.  Wu had been trying to arrange a meeting with this elusive woman for a long, long time.  He might have to miss the other three balls on his agenda today, but this was a prize he could not pass up.

A few miles away, Henry Wu got an email alert on Wu's credit card purchase, checked it out, and logged onto the website to buy his own ticket.  Something was up.

Outside the Josephine Parks Butler Center, the starlings were already gathering, for there was something different about this ball, and they needed to be ready--nothing more was at stake than the very climate of life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cornered

The Freaks from Dupont Down Under slowly made their way back to their home beneath the city streets, still puzzled about Mayor Fenty's appearance at the Grand Opening of dc Bread & Brew.  What was the big deal?  What did the mayor care about that little place?  And was it a coincidence that the place opened up right next to the orthodox Jewish restaurant that was rarely open?  And just a couple blocks from that new Dupont Circle CVS that was suspiciously small and lacking entire sections like toilet paper?  And just a couple blocks away from that alley the police car hangs out at for no apparent reason?  And just a couple blocks away from that International Square food court that says it's open on Saturdays, but it's actually never open on Saturdays?  And how come Tony M. never came around anymore—was it true he had moved to Indianapolis?  (He used to come to this place a lot, before it became “dc Bread & Brew”.)  They clutched their purloined balloons, their tongues still lolling in the taste of raisin scone and chocolate croissant samples, and prepared to tell their subterranean neighbors how the mayor's handlers wouldn't let them close enough to ask any questions.


A couple of miles to the east, Atticus Hawk was enjoying the therapeutic rhythm of his document shredder.  The countdown was on now, and he still did not know if he was going to keep his job at the Justice Department or not—but he was certain he would no longer be referred to as the “Torture Specialist”.  Right now he was working on the file of Muhammad Saad Iqbal, a Pakistani recently released from Guantanamo with no charges filed after six years of detention.  Iqbal had repeatedly passed lie detector tests, but the torture had continued until...well, until the Bush Administration knew that any lawsuit filed about the detention would have to be handled by the next Presidential Administration.  Hawk paused to rub Ben Gay on his left jaw joint because it was inflamed and misaligned from nocturnal mouth-clenching (according to the dentist).  He was supposed to wear a nightguard in his sleep now, like some kind of nerdy freak.  He shoved some more papers into the shredder.  Maybe I'll take up smoking in my sleep next.  He suddenly wondered if Iqbal also slept with a nightguard.  Hawk felt the mechanical teeth engage, tug, and chew, and then he felt better.


A mile away, Laura Moreno was getting a lecture on non-billable hours by Chloe Cleavage.  “Billing this year has got to be fierce.”  (Translation: “Bill the clients up the wazoo.”)  “You can't have a week with only ten billable hours.”  Moreno tried to point out that there was down time the previous week when she was waiting for additional work, and that she had voluntarily taken some time out of the office, but Cleavage waved off her objection.  “If you don't have work to do, then make up for it when you do.”  (Translation: “After the new assignment begins, do fifty hours for the week--even if that is only starting on Thursday.”)  “And you need to stop putting non-billable time down every day.”  Moreno tried to ask what she was supposed to do with records-keeping time, paralegal-from-Hell time, unlocking-the-door-five-times-a-day-for-former-Senator-Evermore-Breadman time, jumping-through-hoops-to-order-supplies time, accepting-flowers-and-candy-for-Bridezilla time, trying-to-get-the-dead-rodent-out-of-the-air-vent time--and all the other things that could not be billed to the client--but Cleavage again waved off the objection.  “Put all your non-billable time on Friday to make it simpler for the accounting department.”  (Translation: “It better not add up to more than half an hour for the week.”)  Moreno furrowed her eyebrows and gave Cleavage her best disapproving look, but Cleavage would have none of it.  “This is a client-driven business, and the partners just wanted me to remind you of that as we start the new year.”  (Translation: “They just fired a dozen attorneys on Friday, and you barely made the cut.”)  Cleavage flashed a saccharin smile, then abruptly walked out of the workroom, coughing up a little dust as she left; she was going to go back to her office and order some new v-necked sweaters online, and this whole hour would be billed to the client currently assigned to Moreno.  Moreno dialed the Help Desk (for the fifth time) to find out why the law firm's network had not allowed her to print a single document since the start of 2009, and pondered whether to write it down as technical problem time or bill it to the client.


A few blocks away, the Permanent Peace Vigil had been moved yet again, and the Vigilist was starting to think they could no longer call it the Permanent Peace Vigil.  He was now at the far northeast corner of Lafayette Park—as far as possible from the current President and the incoming President both.  Tourists rarely made it to this corner, but Dizzy had moved his trumpet operation to the northeast corner, and that was helping.  Dizzy was good at bullshitting the tourists, telling them, “this is the state song of Hawaii,” or “this is the song the Obamas danced to at their wedding” (yesterday it was “Three Times a Lady”, but today it was “Sweet Love”, or “this is Barak's favorite show tune,” (yesterday it was “Impossible Dream”, but today it was “Climb Every Mountain”).  And he had copied the AFL-CIO and written a big sign that said, “Welcome!  Sasha and Malia!”  The Vigilist had to admit to himself that it would be really cool if the Obamas saw the sign, or heard the trumpet, or even got out of the car because they wanted to check out the Permanent Peace Vigil on their way back to the Hay Adams for the night, but so far, they hadn't.  The Vigilist looked up hopefully as a few visitors from California approached, but they were miserably cold and barely paused to make out the tune before rushing off in search of a Starbucks.


A couple of miles away, Marcos Vasquez was leading a Coast Guard exercise on the Potomac, wondering if Ardua knew how many death threats the Obamas had gotten about the upcoming inauguration.  Unfortunately, she did.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Listen and Learn

Perry Winkle was re-inspecting the crime scene, trying to understand why Dubious McGinty was insisting that Ardua of the Potomac had been responsible for beating the homeless man to death.  They were in Foggy Bottom, not too far from the river, glad the sun was still shining through the chilly air.  Winkle had been assigned by his Washington Post editor the task of writing an in-depth “Metro” article on the waterfront's homeless community, and it wasn't going to be easy.  The police were certain that the elderly Japanese man was only one of many homeless to be attacked by the presumed gang of adrenaline-junkie sociopaths, but if anybody had actually survived such an attack, they weren't talking.  No witnesses, no descriptions, no clues—just two corpses.  McGinty motioned to Winkle to follow him, and they walked a careful path from the crime scene straight down to the water.  “You see, you see?” questioned McGinty, but Winkle didn't see anything.  Sometimes McGinty wondered if Winkle was really meant to be a reporter.


Suddenly they saw Lynnette Wong at the water's edge.  Her eyes were closed in prayer, and she didn't hear their approach.  When the incantations were complete, she threw the amulet into the river, and Ardua shuddered and winced in pain.  Lynnette opened her eyes.  It's never enough.  The tears welled up in her eyes as she recalled the night they found her father's body beaten to a pulp at the very same spot as the Japanese man.  Never at night—not because Ardua is stronger at night, but because both her puppets and her victims are weaker at night.  She opened her eyes and saw the pink dolphins surface in solidarity with her.  Why was he here at night?  She wiped the tears away, wondering how she was ever going to figure out how to do more than wound Ardua.  


On the other side of the river, the Warrior watched all this through his binoculars with great interest.  He had killed a lot of Ardua's minions, but had never wounded her in the slightest.  What was this Chinese girl doing?


A couple miles to the east, Bridezilla was on the couch of Dr. Ermann Esse.  Her dreams were getting worse.  “I was at Prince and Prowling, but it was different.  For one thing, it was in Costa Rica.”  Dr. Esse raised his eyebrows appropriately.  “And we were preparing for some huge party—like an inaugural ball, but different.  There was a huge backyard—I mean huge, like several miniature golf courses.  There were monkeys and jungle birds and ponds with lily pads.  I was in charge of getting it ready.”  Dr. Esse asked if this was her vision for her wedding.  “No!  This was Prince and Prowling!  I was getting the backyard ready, then I had to go to the firm's law library to find some old law books for a partner.  When I say old, I mean old.  They were disgusting—they were literally covered in dust and wet mold.  And I had to photocopy gooey pages!  It was gross to the max.”  Dr. Esse began to feel nauseous.  “Then I discovered some flying brooms--” (Dr. Esse raised his eyebrows again) “--like in Harry Potter.”  Dr. Esse wondered why she thought of Harry Potter rather than a female witch.  “By then, it was two in the morning.  I tried to flag a taxi outside, but I couldn't get one, and there were other people from Prince and Prowling trying to get a taxi, so I was worried it would take forever.  I decided to fly home on a broom.”  Dr. Esse asked why she didn't call Wince for a ride.  “Wince?  Look, I just told you that I dreamt I flew home on a broom!  And I was worried that people from Prince and Prowling would see me, but I was exhausted and didn't care—I just wanted to get home!”  Dr. Esse again commented that he found it interesting that she had not thought to call her fiance for a ride; Bridezilla threw her hands up in the air, wondering what she was paying him for.  What would Wince think if he knew I were here?  Dr. Esse was saying something else, but she missed it—she was remembering what it felt like to ride the broom.


A couple blocks away, Laura Moreno staggered wearily into the workroom for another round.  The holidays had come and gone with barely a pause.  She was racking up plenty of overtime pay, desperate to create a hedge fund against the rumors that they would all be laid off any day now.  She had been trying to work every day they had work for her to do, but now she was wondering if it was all a subterfuge—was the threat of getting laid off planted by management to get them all to work over the holidays?  She certainly didn't see much evidence of associates or partners killing themselves for some theoretical deadline.  


The only senior employee she saw regularly was former Senator Evermore Breadman—working day and night to cement the Bush legacy of public land giveaways to private companies, relaxed industrial and pollution regulations, and public appointments based on loyalty with no regard for competence.  Breadman had also convinced Bush to pardon all ten of the names he had submitted himself, and pocketed a hefty pile of thank-you fees for that.  But today, unbeknownst to Moreno, he was actually on the phone with his colleagues in the Beijing branch, trying to work out an effective settlement for the milk company clients sued by the families of tainted milk victims.  He was trying to explain to them that sometimes throwing a little money around was not enough—you had to throw a lot of money around.  As Moreno walked past Breadman's “wall of me” photographs, she heard through his shut door the raised voice coming over his speakerphone:  “The families are too greedy!”  Then she heard Breadman shouting, “Our clients put melamine in baby's milk, for Christsake!  Some clients you just cannot defend—all you can do is represent them.”  Moreno stopped in her tracks, amazed at Breadman's attack of conscience.  Even he has his limits.  But Breadman also knew that the worse the clients were, the steeper their legal learning curves, and the more fees for Prince and Prowling.


A couple of blocks away, Che Flaco and Che Gordo were knocking back tequila sunrises at Off the Record, satisfied with their progress in procuring Hay Adams spies for the imminent (albeit brief) sojourn of the Obama family in the hotel.  They felt a little guilty about the listening devices planted in the mattresses, but the Secret Service would probably have found anything else.  The modern world was going to turn upside down...or maybe it was going to collapse...but either way, for a couple of weeks, they would do their best to be at the epicenter.  Outside and across the street, Dizzy and the permanent peace vigilist were sitting in Lafayette Park.  “Something ain't right there,” said Dizzy, staring at the hotel.  The vigilist had heard Dizzy say this sort of thing so many times that it went in one ear and out the other.