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 ....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat, More or Less

Charles Wu walked slowly into Lynnette Wong's Chinatown herb shop, amazed at the rows of empty shelves. He waited until the shop had emptied of customers, then approached Lynnette--who was boxing up something behind the counter. "Why are you going out of business?"

She was amazed that a man so intelligent in so many ways could be so obtuse about day-to-day living. "People are economizing, buying cheap stuff off the internet. I'm behind in my rent, and have to clear out whatever's left at the end of the day."

Wu was amazed that a businesswoman could be so stubborn. "You should have told me," he said. "Who's your landlord--Calico Johnson?" She nodded almost imperceptibly. "I'll go see him and take care of it"

"It's too late," she said. "My lease is up."

"Don't worry--I can talk him into another lease."

"I don't have the money."

"I told you I would take care of it." Wu was gathering a few bottles from around the shop, then pointed behind the counter and asked for "the usual." He handed her several thousand dollars in cash (more or less--he didn't count it out) and told her he would return on Monday to discuss her supplier accounts. "Take a day off tomorrow!" he said, picking up the bag she handed him.

"I'm not sure a partnership is a good idea."

"It's never a good idea," Wu agreed, leaving Wong more confused than ever, but Wu needed to expand his legitimate business enterprises in Washington, and this was a no-brainer for him. As far as he was concerned, revenue would continue going to Wong, but he would have another business to put on his tax return. She probably wouldn't like it, but he'd bring by a few papers for her to sign, and she would realize that nothing was going to change in her operation of the shop, more or less. "This will be a win-win situation," he said, on his way out.

Wong looked after him with misgiving. I'm not really in business with somebody from Hong Kong, am I? the Taiwanese-American thought.

"It wasn't my idea!" Henry Samuelson was on the defensive at the meeting of the Heurich Society in the Brewmaster's Castle. "Anyway, I thought you all knew already!" The other members seated around the table were staring at the CIA alumnus with their arms folded across their chests. "How could you not know that Wally was getting CIA money?!" He was referring to the recent reporting that the CIA had, since 2001, been giving money to Ahmed Wali Karzai--a more-than-suspected heroin druglord who just happened to be the brother of Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai. "There aren't a lot of options in Afghanistan, you know! We wouldn't be in this mess if Reagan and his Freedom Frighters--"

"Freedom FIGHTERS," the chair interjected.

"--his Freedom FRIGHTER buddies hadn't armed the Taliban to the teeth against the Soviets! We should've let them continue slaughtering each other!"

"Nobody--not even the Heurich Society--can tolerate that level of instability in central Asia!" said the Chair.

"Well, Wally is as stable as they come! Even the Bloodsucker knew that," retorted Samuelson, who nodded to the speakerphone on the table, but no response came from Condoleezza Rice, who did not realize Samuelson was referring to her. The other members fell silent, and it became apparent that Samuelson did not realize what he had called her out loud.

"This does not change anything," Condoleeza Rice said at last, baffled by both the initial uproar and the sudden silence. Her voice crackled over the speakerphone like an impatient schoolmarm: "Project Eliminati needs to move forward!"

A couple miles away, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was fielding his third angry phone call of the day from Hillary Clinton. "Yes, Madam Secretary." He was not taking it personally, but her fury was wearing him down. "Right, got it," he tried to assure her, but he was uncertain what she really expected him to do about CIA communications to the State Department. He hung up the phone and looked at the framed photo of his girlfriend (Eva Brown)--whom he had, until this morning, assumed was really working in Afghanistan for the CIA during her brief stint allegedly working for the State Department in Asia. What were you really doing there, Eva?

A few doors down, "C. Coe Phant" then took his own third phone call of the day from Clinton, but the conversation was much quieter. "I understand," he said. She wanted him to make some adjustments to Project R.O.D.H.A.M. "However, if we try to gather more intelligence on the CIA, we're going to put our agents in more danger, and also draw resources away from our primary purpose." Clinton raised her voice, trying to make him understand how dangerous the CIA was to their primary purpose. "Well, the fact that the news has come out surely signals that President Obama--." She cut him off, and he listened carefully. "Alright," he said at last. He gathered his thoughts for a couple of minutes, then wrote a drop note for Charles Wu indicating that Phant needed to talk to Camisole Silk and Apricot Lily about Afghanistan operations.

Not far away, Ann Bishis was in a Metro tunnel under the Potomac River, returning from a morning of sailing with the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club. Greek men are all the same, more or less, she was thinking, but she still felt a life imperative to marry one. (The one that she thought was cutest might actually have been Albanian, she suspected, or even Serbian, and that wouldn't do at all.) Every outing was the same: as soon as the boat would leave the dock, they'd all start drinking and singing, only a couple guys would stay sober enough to take care of the sails, the rest of the guys would end up cursing the river or wrestling on the deck, and the women would talk in Greek about the pointless jobs they were doing until they could get married and have Greek children. Bishis was getting tired of sailing with the Greeks, though she did not realize that it had nothing to do with being Greek, and plenty of other sailboats experienced the same phenomenon when crossing Ardua's demonic waters. She narrowed her eyes at a man in the back of the Metro car who was pulling off his pants. He was partially obscured by a seatback as he proceeded to fold up the jeans carefully, then unzip his suitcase to put them in. Then he took his socks off and put those away. Then he put a fresh pair of ankle socks on. Then he put much longer socks on, but he rolled them from their knee height all the way down to the ankle. Then he pulled out shin guards and wrapped them around his shins, then he rolled the long socks over the shin guards and all the way up to his knees. Then he zipped up the suitcase and stuck his legs in the air to do hamstring stretches. He was completely oblivious to (or pretending to be oblivious to) the stares of every woman in the car--all impressed with his arm and calf muscles, and wishing the rest had not been obscured by the seatback. Bishis was starting to wonder if finding a Greek husband was really helpful to pursuing other goals in her life

A few miles to the east, Laura Moreno dragged her reluctant body into Prince and Prowling, where another round of trial preparation was under way. Prince and Prowling never went to trial, and protected their clients from the ordeal by a strict policy of Mutual Assured Destruction: namely, Prince and Prowling would invest gargantuan quantities of resources into building up the trial arsenal of weaponry in order to drive the opponent to risk bankruptcy doing the same, then bring the case to the eve of trial, at which point the other side would blink first, certain of their inability to withstand the onset of nuclear winter that Prince and Prowling was ready, willing, and able to unleash. The entire process was a game of legal "chicken" which ensured that the legal dispute would be resolved by force, rather than legalities or (even worse!) truth and justice. Moreno's job on this Saturday was to enrich some more legal uranium, more or less. She put down her bag and looked around at the barren workroom walls (from which she had been pressured to remove all decorations) and the smooth work table (from which she had been pressured to relocate all her files and office supplies to the floor) and exhaled deeply, knowing she would not know fresh air for some time to come.

A block away, White House butler Clio was finishing final stitches on the Halloween costumes for her twins, Ferguson and Regina--who were going trick-or-treating as Batman and Catwoman--while they played in the next room with Regina's new Barbie dolls, Grace and Trichelle. The White House ghosts were fascinated by the blackest Barbies ever, but the twins were not as reverent, as they merrily pulled off the heads and swapped bodies with Malibu Stacy and Wonder Woman. "Reggie! Fergie!" Clio exclaimed with disappointment, as she entered the room; she had thought she had finally found some dolls that her twins would not mutilate. The ghosts were disappointed too, more or less.

Back at the Potomac River, Ardua inhaled deeply and waited impatiently for darkness to fall.

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