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, August 27, 2009

Asses

Cedric was getting tired of visits from members of the Heurich Society.  There were a lot of things he could not understand anymore, but he did understand that he was living in the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged, and he was fairly certain that this would deter most people from coming to speak to him about national security matters.  He stared out his upstairs bedroom window as Dick Cheney got into a sedan and drove away.  I don't think he's even in office anymore--he's driving the car himself!  Cedric was also fairly certain that Cheney had left the Heurich Society quite awhile ago.  Cheney had been asking Cedric a lot of questions about that other grumpy old man, Henry Samuelson.  Cedric sat down on the floor and resumed constructing his Lego model of the American Fondouk donkey clinic in Morocco.  (His mother had promised to bring him model donkeys on her next visit.)  I wasn't even in the CIA!  How would I know what Samuelson had done in the CIA?  It was true that he had not been in the CIA, but there had been a time when Cedric had known quite a lot about what Samuelson had done in the CIA.  Why do they keep pestering me?  He was building the octagonal storage room where a couple secret CIA interrogations had been done--so secret that the donkey clinic staff had not even been aware of them (distracted, in fact, by the hubbub involved in treating the royal family's donkeys that day).  Cedric did not consciously remember anything about the donkey clinic, and wasn't sure what had prompted him to start building the model this morning, but it was looking pretty good so far.

A couple miles away, Henry Samuelson was going through the boxes in his storage unit.  He was 100% certain that (a) the criminal investigation of CIA officers would not extend far enough back in time to involve him and (b) there was no proof; however, he had decided that, in consideration of his own aging, he had better verify the correctness of his memories.  He recoiled slightly as he opened the "Morocco" box and discovered a fetal donkey sealed inside a formaldehyde-filled glass jar.  What on Earth possessed me to save this?  He transferred it into a large trash can he had wheeled into the unit.  I'll chop it up and leave it out for the rats to eat--that will destroy the ass and the rats both.  Samuelson had forgotten what was implanted inside the fetal donkey, and how brilliant he had felt at the time he had smuggled it into the United States.  Why am I saving all this anyway?  There's nobody I can pass it on to now.

Across the river, in the heart of Washington, Atticus Hawk was staring at his boss, incredulous at having been assigned to the just-launched criminal investigation of CIA interrogations.  "Who better?" said Hawk's boss.  "You're the torture expert here at the Justice Department, aren't you?"  Hawk, who had spent months meticulously purging any signs of his legal work as Guantanamo apologist, felt sick to his stomach.   "Look, Atticus," said his boss, sitting down on the corner of the desk and leaning over close to Hawk, "you don't really want somebody else in charge of discovery, do you?  Somebody who might, say, decide to charge a Grand Jury with looking in any other directions such evidence might point, shall we say?"  Hawk shook his head.  "Then it's settled!"  Hawk watched his boss walk out of the office whistling, then vomited into his waste basket.  When is my revolving door gonna open up?  Where is my golden parachute?

A few miles to the east, Sebastian L'Arche was trying to convince Dr. Devi Rajatala to adopt a skinny little donkey that had been mysteriously dumped at his house two days earlier.  "The zoo doesn't want it--she's not cute enough for the petting farm.  But she's very smart, and strong.  She's a little underfed right now, but she'll be fine out here.  In fact, she can probably eat weeds for you, if you point them out to her."  Dr. Rajatala reminded L'Arche that she was just an arborist at the National Arboretum, and didn't know how to take care of animals.  "C'mon!  She'll be no problem.  The vet said she's healthy, and donkeys are smart:  S-M-A-R-T!  You can train her to poop in one place, then use it as fertilizer.  She can spend the winter in a tool shed--she'll grow extra hair when it's cold."  Dr. Rajatala looked dubious.  "I'll make you a saddle basket myself--she can carry around your equipment for you.  And the kids will love her!"  Dr. Rajatala reminded L'Arche that the Friendship Garden program would close down in the winter.  "Look, if she doesn't work out, I'll take her off your hands."  The donkey looked dolefully at Dr. Rajatala, who had chosen to become an arborist in no small part because her mother had taught her that you never knew who was reincarnated in an animal.  And donkeys were lower caste beasts.

"Alright," Dr. Rajatala said.  "What's her name?"  L'Arche said he had no clue.  "I'll call her 'Rani'," Dr. Rajatala said.  L'Arche looked quizzically at her.  "Rani was a woman killed by arson because she had married outside her caste."  L'Arche nodded in pretend comprehension, though he had to admit it sounded better than "Donkey", which is what he had been calling her for two days.  Up in the trees, a raven looked on approvingly while a flock of starlings stared in suspicion.  Rani nuzzled Dr. Rajatala as the arborist took hold of the donkey's halter, wondering how long it would be before she got in trouble for this.  L'Arche smiled and waved goodbye.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Young and the Restless

The Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was reviewing the latest internal State Department bulletin about the election in Afghanistan.  The once-darling President Hamid Karzai had not only sold Shiite women down the sharia river to get votes, he had caused an even larger shock wave by winning the endorsement of Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum--and the warrior had promised to deliver Karzai 500,000 votes among Afghanistan's Uzbek and Turkmen populations.  The Administrator had not heard from his girlfriend since she had emailed him that she would be monitoring voting in one of the eastern cities.  He finished reading the memo as "C. Coe Phant" walked in to pass the Administrator a file.  "Have you heard of something called "Project R.O.D.H.A.M.?" the Administrator asked.  He was nervous enough about Eva Brown to stop pretending he knew more about what was going on in Asia than the obnoxious bureaucrat standing before him.  Phant shook his head no, then turned around to head over to the Secretary of State's office to warn her.

Several blocks away, baby Zeke was making his debut at Prince and Prowling because his babysitter was off on a 3-day weekend.  (Liv Cigemeier could not bring him back to International Development Machine the same week that Momzilla had announced her miscarriage, so, for the first time, her husband had taken Zeke to work.)  News of the dimpled little cutie pie had spread rapidly, and it was now Chloe Cleavage's turn to stop by and admire the baby.  "Aren't you the cutest thing ever!  Who's a bubby-wubby-tubby-dubby?!"  Zeke's eyes were focused on Chloe's fake boobs, unaware that it was not milk making them bob up and down.  The P and P associate had simply told coworkers it was a neighbor's baby, and they were doing emergency babysitting--though weeks had passed by since Zeke's mother had dropped off the baby and started sending sporadic and enigmatic emails from the road.  Former Senator Evermore Breadman paused momentarily outside the associate's door, the duty of scuttling Obama's health reform proposal weighing heavily on his mind; he cast a disapproving look at the young associate (he had not come close to a baby since his last Senate reelection campaign), but he could not help admitting to himself that Chloe Cleavage would make one hot momma.  A few minutes later, Bridezilla stopped by with a Hello Kitty lunch box for Zeke to examine, then it was an I.T. person, and then a secretary.  Fearing that he would never be able to file his motion before today's deadline expired, the associate abruptly strolled Zeke out of his office and down to the workroom where that contract attorney (what's her name?) sat. Nora?  Dora?  No, something with an "L"....Linda?  Lydia?  He was now outside her workroom door and could hear the faint but unmistakable sound of an Abba song emanating.  Laura!  That's it.  He knocked on the open door, then strolled baby Zeke in--much to the astonishment of Laura Moreno.  A few minutes later, Zeke had a fresh diaper and was lying face-up in a box of to-be-shredded papers, gnawing on a Barbri plastic cup, and cooing contentedly (he liked Abba music).  Laura had not even known the name of that associate until he had left his business card (with phone extension and email address) on her desk, and she was shocked he had known hers.  At first she had wished that he had requested her help with the motion, rather than requesting her help with the baby, but she couldn't resist that dimpled smile for long.  She leaned over to tickle Zeke's tummy, then went back to work.

A couple miles to the east, Judge Sowell Ame was in his chambers, tidying up his desk before his two-week summer vacation.  He was down to his last case, the one always on the bottom of the pile--the class action TOPA lawsuit on Southwest Plaza.  As far as he was concerned, rent control was idiotic, and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act was even more inane, but nobody had warned him about these laws before he was appointed to this bench, and he couldn't ignore this case forever.  He began reading the latest law clerk memo attached to the top.  Good heavens!  He had no idea that the tenant association had launched additional lawsuits against the Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.  He continued reading.  The management company!  Now that was a lawsuit he could philosophically support [though probably not in actuality].  But whatever case went through first would have an impact on the others, his law clerk had surmised.  (Pure genius, that one!)  Ame decided to set a date for the tenant association and management company to make oral arguments for and against an injunction on balcony demolitions.  (He didn't bother deducing that the jackhammer demolitions were finished already, and it was too late to get an injunction against the activity that had sent three people to the emergency room with asthma attacks, forced a dozen elderly people to move out, and caused one baby to be born prematurely.)  He signed the order, turned off his computer, picked up his empty briefcase, and walked out the door--depositing the Southwest Plaza jacket in the appropriate wire basket on his way out.

Over on the West End, Charles Wu was talking on a cellphone in the back seat of a Diamond cab when a green tennis ball abruptly bounced onto the hood of the car before continuing its journey across 23rd Street.  With scarcely a sidelong glance at the tennis courts whizzing past, Wu was trying to take as many notes as he could from Apricot Lily--who was talking on a secure but fuzzy satellite telephone frequency from the mountainous Wakhjir Pass.  Wu was on his way to meet with C. Coe Phant and Hillary Clinton at the State Department--an unprecedented meeting reflecting just how desperate the Secretary of State had become about the situation in Afghanistan.  The success of Project R.O.D.H.A.M. was apparently causing a huge backlash, and though Wu had tried to counsel that this was a sign of effectiveness, the Secretary of State was frantic to get rid of Karzai--who had gone off the ranch a long time ago.  Wu put away his cellphone and reviewed his Afghanistan notes from the latest Heurich Society meeting.  Afghanistan cannot be controlled.  He glanced at the over-sized Albert Einstein sculpture as his driver pulled up as close as allowed to the U.S. State Department.  Wu handed the driver a hundred-dollar bill and headed in for his first ever foray into the State Department.  A few seconds later, another cab pulled over, but the passenger did not get out:  it was Henry Samuelson, and he watched with perverse glee as Wu headed towards the State Department entrance.

Several miles to the north, the Warrior was crouched on a maple tree limb, peering into the window of a red brick rowhouse in Columbia Heights.  All the signs had led him here, but he didn't know why.  A pink warbler alighted next to him and sang softly until Angela de la Paz came to the window.  The Warrior had backed away so that the girl could not see him.  There were miserable girls all over the city, but he had been sent here to this girl.  She needed him...and he needed her--to fight Ardua.  A raven alighted on his shoulder and began whispering in his ear.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Action!

"Action!"

Malia focused the digital camcorder on her sister Sasha's hands, which were busy moving two Barbie dolls around an improvised movie set.  The only other kids living in the White House--twins Fergie and Reggie--gleefully marched their own Barbie dolls behind Sasha's while humming the Olympics theme song.  (It was the all-Barbie summer Olympic team, and it was chockfull of talent.)  

"Cut!"

The Opening Ceremonies were over, and it was time to begin the games.  Malia set up her bleach-blond Barbie on the balance beam (a wooden ruler straddling two walls of Legos).

"Action!"

Malia pranced her Barbie doll back and forth across the balance beam, carefully putting the doll through a series of expert handstands, flips, arabesques, and then a gigantic twisting dismount.  The crowd (Fergie and Reggie) went wild with cheers and clapping.

"Cut!"

Reggie then set up her bleach-blond Barbie on the floor exercise mat (a white hand towel folded in half).

"Action!"

Reggie pranced her Barbie doll around the mat, carefully putting the doll through a series of expert round-offs, somersaults, split leaps, and gravity-defying full lay-outs, while her brother Fergie sang a Jonas Brothers song in the background.

"Cut!"

The twins were now getting bored, and discussed in their secret twin language what needed to be done to spice up the first-ever White House Barbie Home Video.  Malia put down the camcorder and awaited further instructions while Sasha pranced her Barbie over to talk to Bo, who sniffed at it momentarily, then resumed gnawing his chew toy.

A few miles to the west, Chloe Cleavage was unleashing her newest bikini on the sunbathing crowd at Francis Swimming Pool.  She slowly wriggled out of her denim shorts, then bent at the waist to tidy up her things before heading to the water.  Her surgical scars were nearly invisible now, and the bikini top was the most revealing she had ever worn.  She straightened up, did not see anybody ogling her bosom, and sauntered over to the deep end of the water to dive in.  She emerged a minute later, dripping wet, and sauntered back in the direction of her chair, hips a-swinging.  "Hola!  Tu eres rica como una pupusa!"  The lascivious comment came from the other side of the fence, from a Salvadoran immigrant walking the Rock Creek Park pathway bordering the pool.  Chloe wasn't sure what he said, but was fairly certain that a pupusa was like an enchilada, and she didn't like the sound of it, so she told him to go screw himself--which was about the only Spanish expression she knew how to say (picked up in Cancun during a college spring break trip).  The man laughed to himself, knowing that half the guys at the pool were gay, and more interested in the bikini-clad male (and very buff) swimmer snapping his bathing cap on prior to practicing his butterfly stroke in the north swimming lane:  the girl had just told off the only guy noticing her.

A few miles to the east, former Senator Evermore Breadman was coyly bantering with Charles Wu in his Prince and Prowling office.  "So what do you think is gonna be in the book?" he asked Wu. ("What do you think is going to be in the book?")  Breadman chuckled, and Wu smiled back.  Both men had valid suspicions about certain items that were going to appear in Dick Cheney's upcoming memoir.  "Well, the statute of limitations has expired on some of his secrets, you know!" Breadman offered playfully.  ("But not on all of them!" replied Wu.)  Breadman took another gulp of the lotus blossom tea that Wu had brought him from Lynnette Wong's shop, and his grateful gut neutralized another teaspoon of acid.  "But seriously, Charles:  the man's obsessed with getting nuked by America's enemies.  He really can't stand other people being in charge, and he really can't stand being blamed for things that happened on Bush's watch."  Wu nodded in understanding.  "And he's getting old."  (Getting?)  "He's going to have a very selective memory, aided and abetted by natural senility, and he's going to say whatever the hell he feels like saying, because old people do.  That may not be in the best interest of some of my clients."  ("Is George W. Bush one of your clients?")  "Now, you know I can't tell you who all of my clients are, Charles!  What I like to counsel people is that you can make money at any time, in any kind of circumstance.  A certain amount of militarism is good for business, but abject fear-mongering will just drive people into underground bunkers, and then they stop buying, and the recession gets worse.  And I sure don't want my clients showing up in this memoir--there could be a backlash."

"I'll see what I can find out," Wu stated as he stood up to go, "but what about you?  He's not going to talk about you, is he?"  Breadman shook his head no and mumbled something about Cheney's not wanting to break attorney-client privilege, but the fear showed in his eyes anyway:  Cheney is off the ranch.

A couple miles away, Sebastian L'Arche poured water into a bowl and placed it on the sidewalk in front of his noon dogwalking canines, then sat down at an outdoor Soho table to eat lunch.  A commotion at the bus stop on the other side of P Street caught his attention:  it was a drunk (high?) fellow who had stumbled out of The Fireplace and was exhibiting his private parts for an eager photographer.  L'Arche shook his head and turned back towards his food, but was again distracted, this time by a familiar canine bark.  He looked around for Bo, then realized the barking was coming from a You Tube video playing on the laptop computer on the table to his left.  He discreetly focused his gaze on the screen and, sure enough, saw Bo in the corner of the video barking cheerily as Sasha stared at two pre-schoolers prancing Barbies around a bathtub.  Then the boy's voice announced it was time for the high-dive competition, and the girl solemnly marched a bleach-blond Barbie up a dangling play truck ladder tied to the showerhead with a shoelace.  The Barbie (with arms not raised to dive) was then tipped over into a swan dive, crashing headlong into a small bowl of water placed underneath her in the tub.  L'Arche laughed out loud, as did the woman who owned the laptop, until the boy in the video squirted catsup into the water bowl and announced that America's top diver had just cracked her skull open.  Sasha pursed her lips and stared at the boy, but the other little girl in the video started laughing her head off.  A voice that sounded like Malia's yelled "cut", and the YouTube video was over.  L'Arche looked down at the dogs lying on the sidewalk and panting in the sun, and knew he had a lot of work left to do at the White House.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Impulses

Button Samuelson walked into the psychiatrist's office with her father Henry, who (Button had recently learned) had been seeing Dr. Ermann Esse for some time now.  Just when she thought her father's erratic behavior and mystifying beliefs could not surprise her anymore, she had discovered he was in therapy,...and his shrink thought he needed to bring his daughter in for a session.  She sat down on the left end of the couch, and her father sat on the right end.  Henry usually lay down on the couch for these sessions, and so he momentarily thought about asking her to take a different chair, but then he realized how weak and pathetic he would look, so he sat down stiffly and planted his elbow firmly on the arm rest.  Dr. Esse invited Henry to tell his daughter Henrietta why she had been invited in, but Henry sat motionless.  "Your father," Dr. Esse began, "has been having a lot of dreams--strange dreams and nightmarish dreams.  Though some neurologists believe that dreams are simply the brain's feeble and confused attempt at interpreting the random electrical impulses coursing through your unconscious brain to 'reset the computer' (so to speak) every night, I adhere to the traditional psychoanalytical belief that dreams are your unconscious brain's attempt to work through problems and issues that have arisen in your conscious state."  Button glanced briefly at her father, then resumed staring at Dr. Esse.  

"Many of the dreams are about you and your brother," Dr. Esse continued.  "As a CIA operative, Henry was forced to lie to you and your brother numerous times over the course of your childhood.  Thus, without intending to, your father set up a fundamentally false and illusory relationship with his children.  As an adult, you discovered many of those lies, and so you lost trust in him overall.  He wants you to know that you can still trust him, and that many of the things he said to you were, in fact true."

"Was my best friend's father really killed in a freak automobile accident that severed his head?" Button suddenly asked.  She turned to stare at her father, as did Dr. Esse.  Henry stared blankly at her and asked who she was talking about.  "You don't remember when my best friend's father was killed in a freak automobile accident that severed his head?!"  Henry shook his head no.  (He had known a lot of men who were killed in freak automobile accidents that severed their heads--it was quite common in the 1970s in his social and professional circles.)  "I think you killed him yourself!  He died right after the election."  Henry's mind launched a few new electrical impulses to search for the correct memories:  Chile?  She must be talking about something that happened in Chile.  "Never mind."  She turned back to stare at the shrink again.

Not far away from the father-daughter scene, a mother-son scene was repeating itself at International Development Machine.  Liv Cigemeier was working on another grant report, baby Zeke was bouncing lightly in his bouncy chair, and various staff members were stopping by to admire the adorable bundle of joy.  Then the goo-goo ga-ga chatter abruptly ended, her coworkers scattered, and Liv turned to see her boss had stopped by her cubicle and folded his arms across his chest.  "The babysitter wasn't feeling well this morning, but I have somebody else coming by to pick him up after lunch."  Her boss reminded her about company policy regarding children in the office.  "I could have worked from home if the other part of the grant report had been finished, but I had to look up some files."  She was referring to the report section that Momzilla had allegedly been working on since Monday.  "The babysitter should be here fairly soon--I can take a couple hours of personal time and wait outside if you want."  Her boss shook his head, asked her not to let it happen again, and walked away.  Liv looked over at Momzilla--who could not be fired because she was pregnant, and who was doing nothing to disguise the glee she felt at having gotten Liv into trouble.  Pure evil oozed from every pore of her skin, and she exuded a hatred for Zeke that was truly frightening.  Liv started to type an email to her husband, then thought better of it:  he would just tell her again that Zeke's mother was probably not coming back, and they needed to alert the authorities so that they could take steps to find the baby's relatives.  Liv looked at Zeke, and he smiled and shook his rattle at her.  What if she does come back, and he's in foster care?  What if they place him with some horrible relative?  What if he's beaten or starved to death?  (What if you get so attached to him that you can't let him go?)  The last thought was her husband's voice, and she knew the Prince and Prowling associate's logic was flawless and he was, in fact, looking out for her best interests, but every instinct she possessed told her to hold onto Zeke.  

Momzilla turned away in fury and rechecked her calendar, even though she had the due date memorized.  She decided that this was the weekend she would stage her miscarriage, even though she had learned five months ago that her pregnancy was false, and what she needed to do to disrupt the maniacal hormones that had built up her uterus to support nothing more than a couple of fibroids.  The phony doctor appointments, the fetal ultrasounds she had purchased over the internet, the constantly swelling abdomen caused by the pseudocyesis--they had all fooled her husband, as well as everybody else.  But he was going to California to visit his sick mother, and she would take the prescribed steps on Friday night.  On Monday, she would phone in sick and explain the "miscarriage".  When he came back from California, she would not rest until she was pregnant for real.  She pulled a small candy bar from a glass jar on her desk and tore into it.  

Several miles away, Charles Wu was drinking cachaca in a small office at the Brazilian Army Commission on Wisconsin Avenue and telling a 50-year-old man with an eye tic what he knew about land purchases made in Paraguay by the Bush clan.  "It was absolutely about freshwater," Wu said, repeating what was already common knowledge concerning the nearly 100,000 aquifer-rich acres snapped up three years earlier.  "But it would be prohibitively expensive to ship it to the United States...until the price of water goes up and the price of fuel goes down."  He finished his glass of cachaca.  "It could make them rich in the long run, but they have other plans for the short run--such as agriculture."  The twitchy man asked if Wu could confirm Brazil's spy satellite estimates on how large a private security force had already been amassed near the Paraguayan/Brazilian border, and Wu told him it was twice that size already.  Then he told the twitcher something else that Che Flaco and Che Gordo had informed him:  the neo-Nazis of Paraguay and Argentina had been buying up the aquifer-fed land for years.  "But nobody's going to invade Brazil," Wu assured the man.  "These are all defensive moves."  The man asked why, then, did Bush purchase so much land adjacent to a United States military base?  "Because things are going to fall apart," Wu answered calmly.

Back at Dr. Esse's office, Henry Samuelson was fruitlessly trying to explain to his daughter that she was too optimistic for her own good, and he had to shake her up and destroy her Peace Corps dreams so that she would grow up and see how dangerous the world really was.  Though she was a "wonderful little girl" who gave her parents no discipline problems, he conceded, he simply had to take drastic steps to rein in the juvenile and naive impulses she had carried well into adulthood.  "I did it for your own good!" he scolded her.  "Somebody had to tell you how idiotic you were!"  After a few minutes of silence, Dr. Esse asked Button Samuelson if she had a reply to this.

"I think the world is a frightening and horrible place where bad things are all I expect from the future," she said quietly.  "I sell and manage real estate for a living because it's solid.  I suppress every humanitarian instinct and artistic sensibility that stirs inside of me because I can't make a living with them, and I can't expect anybody else to take care of me.  I'm on my own.  Maybe I'm not good enough or strong enough to take care of myself, but I have no choice, so this is what I do."

"Didymus", the ghost of Robert McNamara, had already entered the psychiatrist's office and was impatiently awaiting his turn on the couch.  Dr. Esse cleared his throat, pointed out the time, thanked Henrietta for coming in, pronounced the session quite valuable, and ushered the father and daughter out into the waiting room to make another appointment with his secretary.  "That woman needs a hundred years of therapy," Didymus said, "and her father needs three-hundred."  Dr. Esse chastised him for eavesdropping on another client, but Didymus replied, "I'm a ghost--that's what we do."

A few miles north, a Salvadoran grandmother was lying motionless on her sweat-soaked sheets in her apartment with the broken air conditioning that Henrietta Samuelson had promised to fix three days ago.  Several miles south, her granddaughter Angela de la Paz was sitting on the shore of the Potomac River, soaking her hot feet in the water and trying to repress an ardent impulse to flee her foster parents and go home.  They had told her that her mother had drowned in this river, but she didn't believe it; she never felt a warm maternal vibe here--only darkness and terror. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer

The Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was feeling the power:  his boss was doing a huge tour of Africa, her husband had just rescued the imprisoned journalists in North Korea, and he was feeding people news tidbits right and left.  Clinton!  Clinton!  Clinton!  Clinton!  It was just like her supporters had said:  voting for her was like getting two for the price of one.  Now he was monitoring the fallout from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/04/AR2009080403373.html, but he wasn't worried--Hillary had a plan for everything.  The only thing that might ruin his day was the surprising news that Russian nuclear submarines were patrolling up and down the east coast of the United States--though Hillary had not seemed that surprised about it.  Still, he wished he could comment on it:  shouldn't he know if diplomats were working on the problem?  

The problem with the Russian nuclear submarines was that they were not actually patrolling for any reason that Washington's elite talking heads could accurately surmise.  They were on an unusual mission, and the only person at the State Department who actually knew about it was "C. Coe Phant", who had learned about it from Charles Wu, who in turn had learned about it from the listening device implanted in Condoleezza Rice's cat "Pippin" (whose recordings Wu now played through a sophisticated electronic analyzer, which fast-forwarded through the long silent stretches and tagged keywords chosen by Wu, one of which, of course, was "Russian").  C. Coe Phant plopped a Timor Leste dossier on the Administrator's desk with a polite "here ya' go", and a faint smirk (because he knew something the Hoper didn't know).

Across the Potomac River, Henry Samuelson entered the Arlington Home for the Mentally Challenged, where he was ushered to a back porch to visit Cedric.  "Whadda ya' know about the commie subs out there?"  Cedric looked up in surprise--not at the lack of small talk or pleasantries (because that was how the spook was), but rather at the fact that someone as intelligent as Samuelson did not understand that when Cedric was on the back porch with his birding binoculars focused on the hummingbird feeder, he was not to be disturbed unless the house was on fire.  Cedric turned back to the feeder and said nothing.  "C'mon, Cedric, I've heard a lot of chatter, and it's all bogus."  Cedric continued to ignore him.  Samuelson picked up a tennis ball lying in a dusty corner and threw it at the feeder, dispersing the diners to the four winds.  Cedric put down his binoculars and turned deliberately to the irritating old man in the ancient polo shirt fraying on every side and kicked him in the shin.  "OWWW!  Goddam it!  This is serious!"  Cedric put his binoculars carefully back into the velvet-lined case his auntie had given him on his 16th birthday, then folded his arms across the chest.  He knew why the Russian submarines were there because Condi and he had discussed it during her last visit, right after they had talked about Putin's latest shirtless photo opportunity, and right before he showed her his new collection of tree leaves glued to old toilet paper rolls suspended on crisscrossing strings in his bedroom so that the fairies would have somewhere to rest during the night (instead of sleeping near his pillow and shaking their fairy dust all over him, which gave him the weird dreams).  "What are they doin', Cedric?"  Samuelson handed Cedric a lemon meringue pie lollipop from Wisey's, and Cedric smiled and decided to talk.

Back in the District, Golden Fawn got off the phone with her fiance, who had suddenly departed for a not-so-secret Coast Guard mission the day before.  It was nice to hear his voice, even if Marcos couldn't tell her anything.  And she could tell nothing had happened with the Russian subs because he was more interested in her new Nanchotank pendant and its continuing effectiveness against the real estate demon living in the Southwest Plaza apartment building.  She fingered the medicine bag tied around her waist:  funny how the more bureaucratic and staid her job at the National Museum of the American Indian became, the more steeped in ancient rituals she became in turn.  Her co-workers thought it was the bout with breast cancer that had sent Golden Fawn down this path, but it was Ardua of the Potomac.  Golden Fawn was sure she would lose her job at NMAI if she told anybody here; she didn't know there were a dozen other people at NMAI who believed exactly the same thing.

A few miles away, a weary Charles Wu walked past his still unpacked suitcase, a gin and tonic in one hand and his notebook in the other.  He walked out on the balcony in his silk boxer shorts and sat on an imported rattan chair.  He took a couple of swallows, then started going over his coded notes from the trip to Asia.  The Clinton "miracle" had been a surprise to a lot of people, but not to him.  In-between bouts of coddling his mother in Hong Kong, he had accomplished quite a lot on his trip to China, particularly with Project R.O.D.H.A.M.  So why did he feel so unsettled?  Because he had flown through half a dozen airports in the past two weeks, and none of them felt like home.  China had become too big.  Asia had become too big.  The world had become too big.  He took some more swallows.  I used to be a big fish in a small pond; now I'm a small fish in a big pond.  But Wu was wrong--he was water.  

Back on the other side of the Potomac, Henry Samuelson emerged from the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged, got into his car, turned the ignition, then stared blankly through the windshield.  I knew we never should have let the Bloodsucker into the Heurich Society.  He started driving towards the bridge, his annoyance slowly transitioning to anxiety the closer he got to the river.