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, June 28, 2009

In the Heart

In the heart of old Georgetown, Charles Wu climbed the old wooden staircase to the balcony of Holy Trinity Catholic Church.  He knew that the balcony had originally been the segregated province of freed slaves, but now it was the refuge of mass latecomers and those like Wu who had their own reasons for choosing it over the airy rows of sunlit pews below.  He walked quietly into the third row and found page 300 in the third hymnal from the left.  He discreetly pulled the note out to read it, stared at the Mary statue in the distance for awhile, then jotted a few words on the note and returned it to where he had found it.  Now he would have to sit through the entire mass to make sure that nobody else picked up this hymnal before the church emptied out.  He never picked drop sites like this himself, and felt that only the most ideologically driven spies made their work more important by surrounding it with incense and organ music.  He looked out in surprise as a bunch of guitar players assembled near the altar, and a young man took a seat at the piano for the pre-mass rehearsal.  Hmmm.

Too many things were getting in the way of the Ming Dung plan, he thought.  Kenyan and Ethiopian armies were massing on the borders of Somalia, and the question was, was this going to be an old-fashioned invade, divide and conquer?  Not according to the Eritrean taxi driver who had spent two hours last week explaining to Wu the "revenge culture" of Somalia.  Still, the visible world was more focused on Iran, even as the invisible arms merchants continued to funnel weapons into the Horn of Africa.  The short attention span of Americans never ceased to amaze Wu, who only saw a little irony in today's Washington Post opinion peace by Laura Bush imploring the world not to forget about Burma.  He nodded and smiled as a single woman sat down at the end of the pew in front of him.  Hmmm.

Several miles to the east, Angela de la Paz was gloomy as she sat in the mulch, picking tomatoes and scanning the leaves for pests and fungi.  She was sitting at a distance from most of the Friendship Gardeners, lost in thought, barely aware she was at the National Arboretum.  Dr. Devi Rajatala knew that Angela was no longer living with her grandmother but knew nothing else.  She scooped up a mildly protesting cat and walked over to Angela with it.  She sat down in the mulch with the tabby in her lap.  "We got him to keep rodents under control," she said.  "He was trained by an amazing animal handler in Southeast:  he won't go after live birds or the fish in the coi pond--only rodents, and only those near the garden and building."  Angela looked over at the cat with no visible glimmer of curiosity, or appreciation of his beautiful orange coat, or desire to pet him.  The cat looked at the girl politely, not having been trained for this situation, and decided to extend a paw.  "I hardly give him any cat food at all--he prefers to eat the rats."  Angela stared at the paw, imagining a half-eaten rat clutched in its grip.  "Isn't it beautiful?"  Angela looked at Dr. Raj and didn't know what she was supposed to say.

Many miles away, Laura Moreno was staring out her kitchen window at the police car that had reappeared in the alley for another mysterious stake-out, but she was barely aware of it.  The family she had spent over two years doing pro bono work for had fallen apart.  The grandmother was sick, the cousin had vanished, and the girl had been placed in a foster home to be safe from the uncle--or at least this is what Laura had been told over the phone by the mysterious woman who had answered Laura's call.  Laura had known there was some friction with the uncle, but it was all crashing down on her now.  I failed her.  How many times had Laura given the girl her calling card with the phone number and email address?  How many times had she called the girl to check on her and the grandmother?  How many times had she told the girl she could come live with Laura if she couldn't live with her grandmother anymore?  I should have turned him into the police.  But Laura had no concrete accusation to make against the uncle--just the understanding that he helped out financially and caused no trouble when he wasn't drinking.  I failed her.  Even now, Laura could not be certain what had happened, and tried not to fear the worse.  Why didn't she call me?

Over on Capitol Hill, Perry Winkle finally had time to sit down at his computer to watch the video replay of Thursday's D.C. Council hearing on the bill to ban the flushing of pharmaceuticals in the District.  Dubious McGinty was always interested in river policies, but even Winkle was surprised to learn that the homeless man had testified at the Health Committee hearing.  Winkle lingered for a minute on each successive witness (and their predictable testimony) until he found McGinty's testimony about two hours into the tape.  "She needs more drugs, not less!"  Winkle grimaced at the opening statement, the bewildered look on Marion Barry's face, the annoyed head-tilting of Tommy Wells, and the eyes-rolling-into-the-back-of-his-head-I'm-going-to-stare-at-the-ceiling-now reaction of Chairman David Catania.  "Uppers, downers, nicotine, sleeping pills, birth control pills, pain killers--all these drugs are keeping Ardua weak and confused, unbalanced, constantly seeking equilibrium.  If you take those drugs out of the water, she'll only grow stronger!"  Barry asked McGinty to explain who "Ardua" was, and Catania slammed his gavel down and warned Barry not to speak out of turn.  Then Barry and Catania argued like 10-year-olds on a playground as McGinty kept testifying.  "Who's Ardua??!!  Don't you folks know anything?  I've known about her since I came back from 'Nam!  She would have destroyed the whole world by now if it weren't for people flushing all their hormones and allergy medicines down the toilet!  Don't stop!"  Wells (who had arrived late) scratched his head and decided to leave early.  The well-paid lobbyists for the drug manufacturers and drugstores stared at McGinty, transfixed, while some of the more radical environmentalists took down notes and wondered if this was code for something.  "You don't want Ardua going cold turkey--it's gonna be a bloodbath!" McGinty concluded, well before his three minutes were up.  The witness next to him waited politely to be called on.

Back at Holy Trinity, the Eucharistic ministers arrived in the balcony to distribute communion, and the congregants looked around in a panic, extremely anxious to get their communion but uncertain what the traffic pattern up here was.  Wu (who had done this drill before) gestured and whispered to the first two rows where to go, and the rest followed like sheep.  Wu, who had flashily dropped a hundred-dollar bill in the collection plate a few minutes earlier, was disappointed to see how many pretty girls rushed out of the church right after communion.  (The short attention span of Americans never ceased to amaze him.)  He waited with the rest for the announcements, final blessing, and recessional hymn, then meditated in his own transcendental-lite sort of way until the balcony was cleared out and his message was safe for the pick-up.  A couple of the Shackled watched him as he descended the stairs--the ghosts had never before seen a soul so perfectly balanced between good and evil, with no signs of tipping one way or the other.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of Mice and Men

Dizzy was coming out of a deep slumber.  He had moved last night from Lafayette Park back to Urine Park because he knew he needed a break from trumpeting for all those tourists today.  It was quieter here, and he slept deep into the morning until he started noticed something on his right eyelid.  He brushed it off as he regained consciousness, opened his eyes, and saw it was a roly-poly he had knocked off his eyelid onto the ground.  He jumped up, now fully awake, and started brushing off imaginary insects from every inch of his body.  Then he checked to see if any had crawled into his eyes, or his nose, or his mouth, or his ears.  Then he took a deep breath and sunk into a park bench, finally noticing the eyes of many bemused homeless men upon him.  He hadn't slept in Urine Park for a long time, and he only recognized a couple of the faces.  The rest thought he was insane, and actually the two that knew him also thought so (but he didn't know that).  He started wondering if a roly-poly could have crawled into his brain and hatched eggs there.  He started gathering up his things to return to Lafayette--where there were enough ducks and pigeons and starlings to eat all the damned bugs--because no amount of sleep was worth this.

A couple blocks away, Laura Moreno was making another useless sweep of her Prince and Prowling workroom for the files that the partner said must be found before anybody did anything else today.  She had already helped search the war room, and the sweatshop, and the library, and the kitchen, and five secretarial stations, and three paralegal offices, and had now retired to her "office" with the comment that she would search the workroom again.  Meanwhile, the associate who had suddenly remembered they were in his car trunk was quietly taking the files up from the parking garage, hoping to plant them and then "find" them in the men's room...or possibly the desk of the paralegal-from-Hell (because he hated her), though he did briefly ponder how amusing it would be to dump them in former Senator Evermore Breadman's office.  As soon as he stepped off the elevator, the fire alarm went off.  He tried to enter the suite anyway--because the fire alarm had been going off at this hour every single day for two weeks--but the floor fire marshall was already there shooing him out to the stairwell.  He knew he couldn't be caught with the files in his hands, so he dumped them on the landing before racing down the steps.  A few minutes later, a senior partner from upstairs was apologetically ushering a client to the stairwell, where the client was surprised to find himself trampling files with his company's name all over them.

Many miles to the northeast, Perry Winkle jotted down some more notes from the crash scene on his Washington Post standard issue steno pad, then walked back to talk some more to the adolescents sitting on the trampled grass between the Metro track accident site and the woods of Fort Totten.  It was the most hastily assembled Urban Guerrilla Field Trip that Perry Winkle and his comrades had pulled off yet.  Both he and the teachers knew that the kids had probably requested it for the shock value, but they had agreed that the kids would still learn a lot from observing how rescue workers, reporters, and investigators work a crash scene.  Some of the kids had actually gone on their own the night before and seen victims carried off on stretchers, but today they were digging deeper.  They had a lot of questions about who's in charge during an emergency, whether people should have jumped out of the train or waited for rescue workers, why the crash happened, what were the dogs doing, and why did the fire department come if there was no fire.  The hardest questions--like "why does God let these things happen?"--remained unspoken, deep in the hearts of people like Angela de la Paz.

Several miles to the south, Sebastian L'Arche was receiving another pet drop-off.  He had developed a reputation for being able to deal with almost any animal in the city, and two ferrets and one pet snake had already been dropped off by grieving relatives who were not up to the task of caring for the victims' oddball pets.  He walked back into his house in bewilderment, having just been handed a pet spider cage.  Who the Hell has a pet spider?  It wasn't even a thrilling one, like a tarantula--it was just a huge black spider named "Fred".  He walked without hesitation out to the back porch (the reptile room), lifted the lid off the snake cage, and dumped the spider in.  The snake swallowed the spider immediately, then looked up with no sense of appreciation because snakes have never been domesticated ever.  He could claim the spider had escaped if that family ever came back, but he would probably have to keep the snake alive for at least a couple of weeks.  He hated looking for homes for snakes--the takers always gave him the creeps.  He hated wasting perfectly good mice to feed a damned snake.  He sighed, the weight of the animal kingdom's karma leaning on him.  He knew he could probably find homes for the ferrets in less than a week.  He decided he would keep the snake a couple of days, and if the family did not come back for it, feed it to the ferrets.  He looked out at his wild scrub of a back yard, wondering how broken a person has to be emotionally to want a spider as a pet.  He was certain that some of the rescue dogs on the Metro crash scene had been trained by him, and he was proud of that, but sometimes the cycle of life was too much for him.  He looked down at the scar where he had cut out his hand tattoo during his nervous breakdown in Iraq, then turned to go back into the house and whisper to the ferrets that life goes on.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How It's Done

Lucky Charm and The Gipper were doggie-paddling down the length of the White House swimming pool, trying to show Bo how it's done.  Bo's general behavior had shown some improvement since the Irish setter and rat terrier had told the White House ghosts in no uncertain terms that Bo was off limits, but Bo was still afraid of water.  "Why do they call it a Portuguese water dog?" asked Bridge, leaning against a wall and chewing a straw.  Sebastian L'Arche was sitting with his feet dangling in the pool water, the nervous Porty at his side and in his firm embrace.

"Because it was bred to help Portuguese fishermen," said Clio quietly from her lounge chair without opening her eyes.  She was the only one present who did not know that the White House had ghosts, but the White House butler knew everything else that was going on in the East Wing.  Her fatherless twins were playing quietly in the shallow end of the pool under the close watch of Bridge; Fergie and Reggie had been sternly warned that they could come only if they were extremely quiet and did not distract any of the dogs, but the mesmerized pre-schoolers lived in awe of the Dog Whisperer and hung on his every word and action.

L'Arche glanced briefly at Clio, whom he knew was living with HIV and probably the first stages of AIDS, then refocused his attention on the task at hand.  He began whispering to Bo that it didn't matter where the water had come from or if it had been tainted with evil--he could swim through it without fear of harm.  Bo turned a dubious gaze to L'Arche, who continued to stroke the dog for encouragement, then looked back at Lucky Charm and The Gipper, who had made the turn and were paddling back towards L'Arche.  Lucky Charm thought he was L'Arche's dog, though L'Arche still had hopes of placing him as a helping dog at the right time and place.  The Gipper belonged to a Republican Congressman who had no idea that his dogwalker had been taking the dog out on de-ratting missions all over town.  L'Arche welcomed the two swimmers with a cuddle, then jumped into the water and turned to face Bo with arms outstretched.  "Come on," he whispered.  "Come on.  You can do it."  Lucky Charm and The Gipper barked their encouragement, then turned around to swim another lap.  "Come on."  Bo stood up, thought about jumping in, crouched for the leap, then changed his mind and ran over to Bridge.  L'Arche closed his eyes, sunk beneath the water's surface, and contemplated his next move.

Not far away, Dubious McGinty was up on the drawbridge contemplating Ardua, the evil demon inhabiting the Potomac below him.  A few days before, reporter Perry Winkle had stopped by to show him an article he had written about the D.C. Council's unanimous passage of the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009:  the politicians thought they could clean up the Potomac (and its tributary, the Anacostia) by reducing the amount of disposable plastic bags polluting the waterways.  The article had explained that many stores and food vendors will now be required to charge a 5-cent fee on disposable bags, both to raise money for the Anacostia River fund and to encourage consumers to shop with reusable bags.  It ain't the bags that make the ducks go crazy and run away to live in city parks, taking handouts from tourists like a bunch of pigeons.  It ain't the bags that ruin the fish and strengthen the river rats.  It ain't the bags knocking the Jefferson Memorial down into the water.  It ain't the bags that made all this morning's competitors in the International Triathlon Union's World Cup cramp up and vomit.  He shook his head, pitying those athletes who were accustomed to doing their thing in Hawaii.

On the D.C. shoreline, Lynnette Wong arrived at the Potomac to honor her father on Father's Day, for it was here he had died trying to stop Ardua.  She glanced briefly up at the distant figure on the drawbridge, then focused her thoughts on the amulets she threw one-by-one into the river, making Ardua shudder in pain and anger.

A couple of miles north, Henry Samuelson shuddered in pain and anger, barely able to contain his disgust that the chair of the Heurich Society had actually allowed Dick Cheney to come in and make a presentation on why he should be allowed to re-join after departing the Society some years back.  "North Korea is preparing to launch a nuclear war against us!  Iran is a brutal dictatorship killing its own citizens in the street!  I told you they were the Axis of Evil!  I was right about everything!"  Samuelson clenched his fists under the table.  Where's Osama bin Laden, you incompetent lunatic?  How did you manage to kill more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein did?  Out on the third floor window ledge of the Brewmaster's Castle, a quintet of starlings were watching the drama with unnatural interest.  At long last, Cheney brought his presentation to a close.  "This is the only organization left in Washington with the courage, conviction, and capacity to fight for what we all believe in."  Cheney then walked out of the room, and was escorted by Han Li (the Castle's butler and spy for Charles Wu) to a second floor sitting room with red leather chairs and a tray of heart-healthy refreshments.  Upstairs, Samuelson stood up without seeking or awaiting the chair's permission, and the CIA alumnus began reciting all the new dirt he had uncovered on Cheney--including some surprising tidbits that Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell had proffered him.  Then Samuelson sat down just as abruptly, not bothering to make a motion.  The Chair looked around at the unhappy faces staring back at him, and motioned (with mixed feelings) to table Cheney's petition for reinstatement.  Samuelson leaned back in his chair, folded his arms across his chest, and smiled for the first time in weeks:  tonight his daughter was taking him to Belga Cafe for Father's Day, and even though he couldn't tell her about this, he was going to be in a really good mood.

Not far away, Calico Johnson was also in a really good mood.  Two of his second-tier girlfriends had chosen Father's Day to inform the rich real estate developer they were pregnant, and since nobody could successfully lie to his face, they had given him good excuses to break up.  Now he was brunching at Citronelle with Chloe Cleavage, who was not stupid enough to fake a pregnancy, but was stupid enough to have asked him to move in together.  Though she did have an astonishing amount of possessions stuffed into her closet-sized efficiency at Gallery Place, he would have no trouble making space for her things in his mansion in Potomac, Maryland.  But space for her?  It was all he could to do not to burst out laughing.  "I don't think people should live together before marriage:  people who live together before marriage are statistically more likely to divorce."  He said this with a straight face, knowing it would completely disarm her.  Putty in my hands.  She gave him a saccharine smile and took another swallow of her mimosa.  In the back of the kitchen, a Salvadoran father of three whacked a broom at a large gray rat until he got it out the door, resolving to call back the Dog Whisperer for another de-ratting on Monday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Faces

Washington Post reporter Perry Winkle and two middle-school teachers were in the middle of another Urban Guerrilla field trip.  The student permission slip had been written as "field trip to the Holocaust Museum and related activities".  The children and chaperones had toured the exhibits all morning and were now eating a kosher lunch in the Holocaust Museum cafeteria.  After lunch would come the "related activities":  first a visit with a white supremacist, then a visit to the morgue where the murdered security guard had been taken after dying in the line of duty, then a visit to George Washington University Hospital to see 88-year-old diehard anti-Semite James von Brunn still clinging to life after being shot in the head before he could murder anybody else.  The chaperones had not yet told the children what was next on the agenda, and they were listening silently to the children's spontaneous discussion of the Holocaust exhibits.  The children were also talking about the security guard who had been killed, and debating how to stop haters like von Brunn:  some said only love can stop hate, while others said that you have to fight fire with fire and that von Brunn was stopped by somebody else with a gun.  Winkle quietly wrote down notes for the Urban Guerrilla Field Trip series he hoped (without much hope) to publish someday in the "Metro" section of The Washington Post.  "The more things change, the more they stay the same," he added.

Over at George Washington University Hospital, Dr. Khalid Mohammad stopped in to check on James von Brunn.  Nurse Consuela Arroyo was fidgeting with his intravenous drip, fighting back another impulse to smother the man with a pillow.  She looked up at Dr. Mohammad, and they nodded silently to one another.  They had both seen small children die of such a wound after drive-by shootings, they had both seen battered wives die of such a wound after their husbands had reached the apex of their lifelong rages, and they had both seen police officers die of such a wound after another tragic clash with D.C.'s not-so-underground drug traffickers--but neither had ever seen an 88-year-old man survive a bullet in the head.  It was like God wanted him to live.  Dr. Mohammad shuddered at the thought, and Nurse Arroyo crossed herself at the sight of Dr. Mohammad's shuddering at the bandaged face of evil.  "There's a field trip coming by later to see him," he said to the nurse, who raised her eyebrows in surprise.  "Some of the same kids that came by a month or so ago--I'm going to talk to them for a few minutes about what was done to save his life."  He looked into her eyes, but she made no reply.  "Don't tell anybody else," he said before he left the room.  Nurse Arroyo fingered the edge of the pillow for a few more minutes, then crossed herself and went out.

Across the Potomac River, Melinda had been hogging the computer for two hours in the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged.  Larry was complaining that he needed to check his stocks and bonds [he had none], Theresa was anxious about her email because she knew that the National Security Agency made a sweep and stole them out of her inbox four times a day, and Cedric was eager to check on Project RODHAM [which he was not supposed to know about].  "Just a few more minutes!" Melinda cried joyously.  She had been meticulously answering dozens of e-Harmony questions, and was getting very close to the moment when she would hit the magic button and the sophisticated matchmaking computer system would find a soulmate for her.  The closer she got, the more frenetically her housemates paced around her--despite the best efforts of social worker Hue Nguyen to distract them from the obvious breach of the one-hour-computer-use house rule.  "Done!" Melinda exclaimed, and hit the final button.  Everyone stopped pacing and crowded around the computer to await the answer.  A minute passed by, then another minute passed by, and then a meek message appeared on the monitor:  "We regret to inform you that we cannot accurately predict a match for you."  Melinda let out a huge wail, and ran over to the couch, where she flung herself down to cry.  Another website I need to block, thought Nguyen, as she headed over to the couch to console the schizophrenic and bi-polar woman whose complex brain patterns could only be understood by God.

Back on the D.C. side of the river, Charles Wu was wearing his favorite tailored white tennis outfit from London and testing the tautness of his racket strings in the back seat of a taxi while the Sikh driver was explaining to him that Mohandas Gandhi was a goat.  Wu had heard a wide variety of political and philosophical opinions during his espionage career, but this was a new one.  He caught the driver's eye in the rearview mirror, but made no response.  The driver went on about how Gandhi referred to himself as a god (or God), which disgusted the driver to no end--and that this was the reason Gandhi got assassinated.  This was certainly a version of Indian history that Wu had not heard before, and the driver was too young to have come up with this version by himself.  The driver turned off of P Street to drop Wu at the Rose Park tennis courts, where he was to meet a shapely young woman from South (North?!) Korea, whom he would be scrutinizing today as a possible new contact (in more ways than one).  Wu made mental notes of the driver's face and taxi insignia, intending to avoid him in the future, then headed towards the courts--pausing momentarily to watch two Jack Russell terriers running delightedly (albeit, awkwardly) up and down the monkey bars under the bemused watch of their dogwalker (Sebastian L'Arche).

Back on the Virginia side of the Potomac, Dick Cheney was examining an anonymous note he had found stuffed inside a rolled-up newspaper in the front yard of his McLean house.  It was typed in one of the tongue-in-cheek "kidnapper" word processing fonts, and said, "Why don't you do us all a big favor and take your next hunting party to the border of Afghanistan--maybe you can accidentally shoot Osama bin Laden in the face."  He scowled as his blood pressure rose and his pacemaker struggled valiantly to prevent an acceleration of heartbeats.  Samuelson!  That arrogant CIA bastard!  He crumpled up the note, then thought differently and decided to confront Henry Samuelson with it later.  A flock of starlings looked on approvingly, then flew off to report to Ardua of the Potomac as Cheney slammed his front door.

Out on the drawbridge, Vietnam veteran Dubious McGinty was flying a tattered American flag out the window of his bridgeman's quarters, wondering why nobody on television was talking about Flag Day.  He walked outside to catch a breeze and spit into the water 75 feet below him, and cursed Ardua...again.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Blog of Camisole Silk and Apricot Lily

Gentle Readers,

We are off to wage our first secret mission for Project RODHAM.  We are loaded up with tranquilizer blowdarts and estrogen implants to pacify the Taliban.  We can say NO MORE.

We will blog again in 7-10 days, if all goes well.

Remember:  8he62lkhm093bxyq2!!!!!