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, April 19, 2009

Dreams and Visions

Charles Wu exited the Brazilian Army Commission with a purchase order for former Senator Evermore Breadman's spyplane manufacturing client and pages of coded notes on current American activity in Latin America.  Russian military deals with Venezuela and Chinese investments in the Southern Cone had not gone unanswered by the CIA or the White House, and Wu was again expanding his geographic expertise far beyond the Hong Kong intrigue that had begun his career.  He walked up to the Steak 'n Egg Kitchen, sat down at the counter, ordered a malt waffle, re-read his notes on the "War on Drugs", and waited for "C. Coe Phant" to arrive from the Tenleytown Metro station.  "O globalista" was what the Brazilian intelligence officer had called Obama, but internationalism and naivete were not considered mutually exclusive by Latin America's ascending powerhouse.

Several miles to the east, Atticus Hawk was at his girlfriend's home seated on the edge of the couch, bouncing a small rubber ball repeatedly off the wooden paddle tethered to it.  For some reason this did not bother Jai Alai's son, whose eyes were glued to a baseball game on tv.  They had been dating a long time, and it was a rare thing for Alai to be able to spend a whole weekend with workaholic Hawk, but she could see the tension in his rapid wrist movements and the way he blankly stared at the paddle in front of him.  She got up wordlessly to check on dinner; she was thinking it was high time he started telling her about his job because those secrets were gonna kill him.  The secret he was thinking was "not off my hard drive, not off my hard drive, not off my hard drive", like a mantra to soothe himself.  He was thinking of the publicly released Bybee memo that had informed the CIA that the Justice Department would not call it illegal torture if the CIA interrogators were to water-board their detainees, or lock them in small chambers with insects, or inflict a whole litany of pain and fear during the course of the CIA's investigations.  Not from my files, not from my files, not from my files.  Finally, after all those years, the Justice Department's torture expert was glad that higher-ups had taken credit for all his research memos, and that the name "Atticus Hawk" had appeared on nothing released by the Obama Administration.  But the renditions, the renditions, the renditions.  He bounced the ball methodically, knowing that civil lawsuits would be a far different matter with low burdens of proof.  Spain may have decided not to prosecute, but there were rabid lawyers all over the place getting ready to pounce:  I know it.  His girlfriend handed him a cold beer as she returned from the kitchen; he took it in his left hand and continued paddling with his right.  Alai smiled at him for a moment, glad he was a good man who paddled a ball instead of children, hopeful her son would not suffer the fate her daughter had.

A few miles to the south, Henry Samuelson was also on the edge of a couch--Dr. Ermann Esse's couch.  The psychiatrist had never seen a patient who did not know how to relax on the couch, but Samuelson was lying close to the edge.  Dr. Esse was certain that Samuelson had a fear of being smothered by the cushions, but he was saving that for a discussion much later in treatment.  "It's the same dream, every night, and then I wake up, then I go back to sleep and dream it again."  Dr. Esse was not convinced this was an authentic childhood memory, but Samuelson insisted it was.  "It's my earliest memory.  My older brothers are climbing across a rickety rope bridge above a river.  Then they come back, then they dare me to do it.  I walk really close to the bridge, but it's so rickety--I'm just too scared to get on it.  The river's not even that wide, but it looks deep and fast, and I don't like the look of the bridge at all."  Dr. Esse asked if Samuelson had other memories of distrusting his older brothers.  "What do you mean?!"  Samuelson was angry.  "I didn't distrust them!  I just thought that bridge wasn't gonna last much longer--it was only a matter of time!"  Dr. Esse asked if Samuelson thought the youngest brother should be the one to determine that, or the older ones.  Samuelson's eyes narrowed:  he felt he was being tricked.  "I just wanna know why I'm dreaming about this now!  I'm not afraid of rope bridges anymore!  I once walked across a laundry line to get from one roof to another in Beirut.  I scaled a six-story building in Moscow using the drainpipe!"  Dr. Esse did not bat an eyelash--having heard these types of exclamations from all sorts of terrified patients lying on his downtown Washington shrink couch; Dr. Esse reminded him about the house-purchase trip to Kansas and asked Samuelson what he thought was the reason for the recurring bridge dream.  "I'm getting ready for anything!" declared Samuelson.  "I have no reason to be afraid!"  Dr. Esse--who refused to use psychiatric medicine--began pondering if it would be entirely unethical to try to hypnotize Samuelson after a couple of martinis.

Why did they get a water dog?  Sebastian L'Arche had not believed it when the friend of a friend of a client had called him up out of the blue to say the White House needed a dog whisperer.  L'Arche was an Iraqi veteran, and it was simply presumed that a security clearance would be no trouble for him.  Two psychiatric interviews later, L'Arche--notwithstanding his mental breakdown in Iraq--was seated on the floor of a White House rumpus room, staring into the troubled eyes of "Bo", the Obama's new puppy.  He knew the Kennedys (and the Obamas) had believed that the six-month-old Portuguese water dog had been thoroughly trained before placement with his new family, but L'Arche had seen this look before and knew what it was--Ardua.  In fact, it was more than Ardua.  Certainly Bo's sudden hatred of baths was because White House water came from the Potomac, but Bo had other issues.  "You can tell me," L'Arche whispered to Bo.  L'Arche had seen very little of the White House on the way in.  It had certainly not occurred to White House butler Clio that this man in surplus army fatigues and dirty sneakers was looking for a tour of 18th century furniture or 19th century artwork; L'Arche, for his part, had guessed he would be put in a basement or backyard area.  L'Arche had met no Obamas at all, though he had a feeling he was being watched on closed-circuit tv.  "You can tell me," L'Arche whispered again, even softer. Bo moved forward to nuzzle L'Arche, and L'Arche put his arms around him.  Then Bo whimpered into L'Arche's ear that he didn't like the White House ghosts.

Back in Tenleytown, C. Coe Phant finally sat down next to Charles Wu.  Phant ordered a Paul Bunyan, then whispered, "I've got an IN for you with Hillary."  Wu raised his eyebrows in genuine suspense.  "She's looking for help with Project RODHAM, and I told her I had a Chinese contact that might be able to help."  Wu didn't appreciate having his services volunteered for a mystery assignment, but he nodded encouragingly and asked what Project RODHAM was.  Phant re-checked their safe-to-talk perimeter.  "Reserve Officers Deployed to Hunt Armed Misogynists."  He drank some coffee and waited for that to sink in with Wu, who looked baffled, then he repeated it.  "Reserve Officers Deployed to Hunt Armed Misogynists."  Wu sipped his tea, then asked as diplomatically as he could if it was possible that Clinton was testing Phant with a red herring.  "Oh, no!  This project is well underway!  But we don't have everything we need."  Wu asked if they were looking for money for a clandestine mission.  "Oh, no!  This is no mission--this is an entire program!  And she's got several wealthy donors involved already, as well as the reserve officers--we're using the term "officers' loosely, of course.  They'll all have diplomatic passports, though that's no guarantee of safety in this day and age."  Wu sipped some more tea, now wondering if he was being tested with a red herring.  "We already have a small force in Mexico, a small force in Saudi Arabia, and large forces preparing to deploy in the Horn of Africa.  We're ready to deploy our largest force of all in Afghanistan."  Phant looked around again to check their speaking perimeter.  "She wants to base them in western China."

Wu knew that the Chinese border with Afghanistan was very small, and far from the horror zone of misogyny in southwestern Afghanistan, so he logically asked, "Why China?"  "Where else?" was Phant's reply.  (Phant thought it was obvious that Afghanistan had no other bordering countries appropriate for the program.)  "Even if I could get you a base, they'd still have to get into the country, go through the mountains, infiltrate Kandihar--and in case you haven't noticed, the Afghans are winning in those mountains."  Phant had been prepared for this argument and assured Wu that this force would enter completely undercover, would facially pass for ethnic Afghans or Pakistanis, would be traveling with their own "wives" undercover in burqas hiding AK47s and specialized weapons that Phant was not at liberty to divulge at the moment, and would be bringing a fanatical determination to kill armed misogynists.  "And by that you mean?"  Phant said that Clinton wanted the next You Tube video of men beating up an Afghan woman to end with all the men getting the living daylights beaten out of them.  "She's had it," Phant said quietly.  "She's decided diplomacy doesn't always work?" Wu asked.  Phant nodded and added that the forces would also set up an underground railroad to smuggle women refugees over the border to the safe haven in China.  "You want to smuggle oppressed women who are probably terrified of men into a country where so many female fetuses were aborted in the past twenty years that there are now 32 million more males than females under the age of twenty?  Look, some people think that Chinese men are going to start kidnapping women and locking them up!"  Phant shook his head "no" and pleaded with Wu.  "I know you love women.  I know you can make this happen."  "I don't even know anybody in western China!"  Phant shook his head "no" again.  "You know people who know people.  All we need is a base and no questions asked when we enter and exit the country."  Wu drummed his fingers on the countertop.  This was a moral crusade, and once you went down that road, God help you....But it also meant a big IN with Hillary--really big.  "I'll see what I can do."  To some, this would have sounded extremely noncommittal, but Phant smiled broadly and patted Wu on the back.  Outside the diner, a flock of starlings flew off to report back to Ardua.

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