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 ....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Sun

"The Germans were invading," Didymus began.  "There was an android bride who had just married her flying superhero boyfriend, and then he raced off to save the day.  Most of the Germans gave up the invasion and turned back, but some decided to stay as refugees in our land.  The problem was, that some of the so-called refugees were soldiers, and they were hoarding supplies and planning a future uprising.  Since some of the refugees were friends we had known before, we asked them to find out what was going on, but it was too dangerous for them, so we had to go house-by-house searching the refugees.  It was a nightmare that would never end."  Dr. Ermann Esse asked Didymus how long he had been having these flying dreams.  "No!  I wasn't the one flying!  The dream was about the threat of the Germans."  The psychiatrist assured Didymus that the dream was most certainly not about the threat of the Germans, then asked Didymus how long he had been having these android bride dreams.  "I wasn't the one marrying the android bride!  What about the dangerous refugees?"  Dr. Esse assured Didymus that the dream was most certainly not about dangerous refugees.  

"You are obsessed with the death of Robert McNamara, and his failure in Vietnam.  Very few remember that he fought the Germans in World War II:  you are trying to distract yourself from remembering his failure in Vietnam.  You are trying to turn back history to a time when the enemy was obvious, and America's warriors succeeded.  But this cannot be done!  You must move forward in your life."

"But I'm already dead."

"You feel metaphorically dead, but I can assure you that you are most decidedly alive!"

The ghost of Robert McNamara folded his arms across his chest and sunk his head into the couch pillow, wishing that St. Peter had sent him to purgatory rather than this.

A few blocks away, the shit had hit the fan at Prince and Prowling.  A furious general counsel from one of America's Fortune 100 corporations was in the Managing Partner's office demanding to see two years' worth of billing files.  Apparently, a tipsy Chloe Cleavage had given the man's wife an earful about the law firm's over-billing practices during an alumni expedition to see a Nationals baseball game the day before.  "Attorneys surfing the internet all day and billing us for 12 hours of work?!  You actually fired the attorneys who turned in honest timesheets?!  You fired people for taking sick days, but retained people who came in and coughed all over everybody else?!  You fired people who asked for one day per week off, but retained people who billed us while spending their time day-trading and Twittering?!  You fired people for having acne, but retained--"

"Sir," the managing partner eked out, followed by a tortured clearing of the throat.  "You cannot take seriously the silly ramblings of a girl at a happy hour event."

"Silly?  Girl?  Is this woman or is this woman not an employee at Prince and Prowling?!"

The partner cleared his throat again and mustered a saccharine smile.  "She's a kidder!  Always has been and always will be!"

"And a drunk?"

"Are you sure she was drunk?  Sometimes she's just ebullient!"

"Do you think it's appropriate for an 'ebullient' employee to be mocking us at a college alumni event and telling everyone that we have overpaid Prince and Prowling at least a million dollars in the past two years?!"

"No, of course not."

"Then show me the goddam billing files!"

"I'll be right back."  The managing partner headed to the men's room to think and to recover the pint of perspiration pooling in each underarm.  If I fire her, she'll post that video of me on You Tube and my marriage is over...and I'm fired.  If I don't fire her, we'll lose our biggest client, and I'm fired, but I'll still be married...maybe.  If I show him the official files, they will match everything he's been given.  Will he demand more files?  There really are no files that prove any of that, are there?  He vomited into the sink just as former Senator Evermore Breadman walked in, but Breadman said nothing.  (Breadman had his own gastrointestinal demons.)  What if there are videos from "Sangria Saturdays"?  He'll find the sexual harassment lawsuits with a few choice Google terms...and the blogs!  All these goddam contract attorneys and their blogs!  He wiped his mouth and headed out of the men's room.

Several blocks away, Atticus Hawk was meeting with his boss to discuss the recent formation of the Guantanamo Justice Center in Geneva, Switzerland, and the attorney formerly called the "Torture Expert" did not like the direction his boss was going.  "If you're asking me to fall on my sword for Dubyah--"

"Nobody's asking you to fall on your sword!  Don't be so melodramatic!"  The truth was, there was a time when both of them would have gladly fallen on their sword for the former President, and it would not have been melodramatic, but that time had passed.  "They're going to be working up their case for a long time, which is to our advantage.  Memories fade and get confused, bruises heal, cuts close, medical files disappear, a lot of the witnesses are dead, for crying out loud!"  Hawk did not need to be reminded of the number of Guantanamo detainees who had already died--suicides, hunger strikes, medical problems.  "We're going to have to do what the Attorney General asks us to do, but we have a constitutional right to defend ourselves, right?!"  Atticus Hawk's thoughts turned to Jai Alai and her son.  Maybe they could run away to a little town down south...or out west.  He could do real estate law or drunk drivers...or not even be a lawyer at all...open a little gift shop like the one Jai Alai worked at in the National Arboretum.  "Anyway, who cares if we can't go to Europe without being arrested?  Damned socialist lame-o wussies!  Who needs 'em?  My last vacation was to Thailand and Hong Kong--it doesn't get better than that!"

Back at Prince and Prowling, the managing partner had arrived at Bridezilla's office.  "Give me your gun!" the managing partner whispered menacingly, after closing her office door behind himself.

"Look," the startled associate said, "I know it's not totally legal yet, but my fiancee insists that I protect myself, and--"

"Give me your gun!" he barked loudly.  Bridezilla unlocked her bottom drawer, pulled out the monogrammed revolver, and handed it silently to the managing partner, who promptly put it into his mouth and pulled the trigger.  Bridezilla gasped as he crumpled to the floor.  She hesitated for a moment, then picked up the revolver and wiped off the fingerprints with a napkin.  She then scooped out some dirt in her bougainvillea pot and shoved the revolver deep beneath the tropical bloomer.  She wiped the dirt off her hands, then pumped out some rose-scented hand sanitizer while staring at the managing partner lying motionless on the taupe-colored carpeting.  She tried to visualize the pool of blood that would be spreading around him if the gun had actually been loaded, but it wasn't, and she had no idea what to do with the man lying in a dead faint next to her desk.  She picked up the phone to call Wince.

Several miles away, Charles Wu desperately needed to get back to monitoring Project R.O.D.H.A.M., but he could not get off the phone with his mother in Hong Kong.  "This is the 21st century, ma!  Nobody believes those superstitions anymore!"  He was speaking to her in his crisp British accent, which he always did when her Chinese-ness was driving him up the wall.  "On the mainland, they were celebrating the total solar eclipse!"  This incensed her even more.  "Nothing bad happened yesterday!"  She reminded him of the woman trampled to death in India.  "One person out of millions dies, and you blame this on a solar eclipse?  In any case, you were indoors the whole time, and nobody trampled you!"  She insisted that bad things were now on the rise, and he was her only son, and he needed to come home to protect her.  He clenched his free fist in frustration:  there was no way he wanted to go to China right now before getting the long-promised meeting with the Secretary of State.  He looked around his apartment, feeling the crippling effect of the kryptonite which was his mother.  "Fine.  Fine!  I'll book a flight and come home."  He ended the phone call, stomped over to the kitchen, and made himself a bowl of Rice Crispies and gin.  The truth was that he believed a lot of superstitious things his mother had taught him--and they had served him well.  The thought of going back to China now made him uncharacteristically nervous.  Outside his window, a flock of starlings darkened the sky, and the sunlight vanished from his home.

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