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, October 28, 2009

The Powers That Be

Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Rosanne Cash, the Roots, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, David Byrne, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, T-Bone Burnett--Atticus Hawk was scanning the list of musicians' names and comparing them with his remaining memories of Guantanamo files long since shredded. The Justice Department attorney once known as the Torture Specialist remembered the memoranda about enhanced interrogation techniques which employed constant play of loud music, but he could not understand why the soldiers and interrogators would have chosen such obviously liberal songsters. And now those stupid liberals were backing a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the National Security Archive to see all documentation on musical interrogation methods! Did he really have to spell out everything?! Should he have told those morons to use artists like Ted Nugent and Keith Green?! Even Eminen probably wouldn't have cared if his music had been blared at locked up terrorists day and night! Or they could have blared Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley! Elvis was a veteran! Atticus Hawk was sweating: he knew he had shredded his own files on the subject, but how many other people had memoranda with his name on them telling them it was OK to bombard prisoners with American pop music 24 hours/day?

Hawk decided to call up his old law school roommate, Wince, who was currently clerking for "Justice Prissy Face" on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Hawk couldn't help but chuckle as he made the call, remembering the first time he had heard Wince's fiancee's nickname for the Justice.) "Hey, dude! What's up?" The relaxed voice of Wince was comforting to Hawk, as he started whining about the FOIA request, the musicians, and the renewed call from veterans and retired military officers for President Obama to keep his promise to close down Guantanamo in his first year in office. "Dude! Chill out! They can't sue for royalties unless the music was played for profit."

"Are you listening to me? It's not about royalties! It's about digging for more documents on Guantanamo!"

"You're golden, man! You worry too much! You didn't do anything illegal."

"Illegal? Do you think that's all that matters with the powers that be?"

"Man, I don't have time for this! Come on! You know we're up to our ears in oral arguments here, and Bridezilla says she's leaving me 'cause I haven't set a date and her biological clock's going off! Just deal!"

Hawk heard a click and felt...let down. He wished he could call his girlfriend to talk about it, but he had told her a long time ago that all his work at Justice was classified. Bridezilla? (The latter portion of Wince's sign-off finally hit him.) What if Jai leaves me, too? What do I have to show for my life? He looked at the framed photo of himself with Jai and her little boy that he kept in his drawer. She likes Rosanne Cash. What am I gonna do?

"What am I gonna do with you?!" A couple miles to the west, Bridezilla was in her Prince and Prowling office, giggling on the phone with her new fiance. "I'm gonna pee in my pants if you don't stop!" She didn't bother looking up at Laura Moreno as she deposited a new witness binder on the polished desk, then beat a hasty retreat before the groan escaped her mouth. "Hee, hee, hee!" (Moreno had never heard a nasal voice that high-pitched and squeaky--a voice that might have been blared 24 hours/day to torture prisoners in Guantanamo.) "I gotta GO!" (She really did have to look at that binder.) "I'll see you tonight!" She hung up the phone, beaming. She had first met her new fiance in a Facebook tea party political protest group, then met him for drinks at the Hilton--where it was love at first sight when she saw the blond-haired blue-eyed boy wearing a Rush Limbaugh t-shirt under a Ralph Lauren navy blue blazer. And now they were engaged to be married in April! (She had broken her engagement with Wince via Facebook.) He was a Marine Corps veteran, totally manly, serious about his career with Weapons 'R Us (a growing Pentagon contractor), and ready to start a family. Bridezilla opened the witness binder and stared blankly at the table of contents as visions of organza and lace danced in her head.

Not far away, visions of coal-fired power plants were dancing in the head of former Senator Evermore Breadman, who had several clients extremely unhappy with the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to settle a lawsuit by agreeing to issue rules for curbing mercury and other smokestack emissions linked to respiratory health problems. "Look," he was saying on the phone, "those EPA rules aren't due until November 2011. We have plenty of time to deal with it." Inspectors can be bought off, legal loopholes can be found, emissions data can be rigged.... "Let me call you back in a week after I have time to formulate a plan, OK?" Breadman had more urgent concerns, such as the fact that H.R. 3126 had been reported out of Committee for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 must not reach the floor for a vote! But there wasn't much Breadman could actually do about that, so he needed to line up House votes against it--something he found distasteful and almost beneath him, but sometimes necessary. He rose to put on his navy blazer and catch a taxi to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressman Herrmark's aide, Ann Bishis, first on his agenda. (Herrmark may have been voted 2008 Upper Class Twit of the Year by the Secret Society of Monty Pythonites on Capitalism Hill, but he was no pushover when it came to casting votes in the House: Breadman had his work cut out for him.)

A few miles to the east, Ann Bishis was lighting a candle on top of her filing cabinet next to a circa 200 B.C. clay figure of a pelican. (She had twenty minutes before Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff returned, and nobody else complained about her burning candles.) Bishis said a silent prayer to Glaucos that Senator Breadman be pulled into her professional network like a slippery eel is trapped in a pelican's mouth, as her bemused coworkers shook their heads at her mysterious collection of animal pottery and mini statuettes.

A couple of miles to the west, Didymus was standing in front of Dr. Ermann Esse's collection of animal pottery and mini statuettes. "These are all blasphemous," Didymus announced in an only mildly roused voice, his arms crossed in front of his chest. The psychiatrist explained that they were gifts from clients, and he paid no attention to what they might represent, but the ghost of Robert McNamara remained suspicious. "You should get rid of them, or you're going to get in trouble with the Powers That Be," Didymus said on the way back to the couch. Dr. Esse smiled condescendingly and steered the conversation back to Vietnam. "I'm tired of people comparing everything to Vietnam!" Didymus said. "Things were different then! We didn't know as much!" Dr. Esse had given up trying to separate Didymus from his delusion that he was the ghost of McNamara, because it was clear that Didymus was working through some serious Vietnam baggage. Dr. Esse pointed out to Didymus that if the military leadership of the war had been challenged more by the civilian leaders, they would have known more about strategic decisions. "I've already admitted that!" said Didymus. "How much penance does one man have to do?! When will they stop comparing everything to the Vietnam War?!"

A few miles to the west, another State Department employee was quietly recruited into Project R.O.D.H.A.M. by a team determined not to let Afghanistan become another Vietnam.

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