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, November 29, 2009

Fresh Starts

The Rahm Emanuel wannabe was back in the West Wing. He loved holiday weekends because he would receive huge gobs of (temporary) power while others went off to have fun. He had already figured out who Emanuel should fire for the State Dinner security breach, and had communicated with several nervous bankers about the rumors of widespread financial collapse in Dubai. He had spent ninety minutes exploring the secret government URL he had finally been given access to, and read the inner-inner preparatory papers for the upcoming Copenhagen climate change summit. But the fun was over, and he had to turn his attention back to Emanuel's pointed memo regarding the fact that only 55% of the Administration's political appointments had been filled. The wannabe was proud of a lot of his guys (like that young whipper-snapper he was placing at the U.S. Agency for International Development), but the complaints were getting louder: too little, too slow, too political, too inexperienced, too young, too elite, too Ivy League, too out of left field.... The entire Generation X was complaining they had been leapfrogged by Generation Y (who could barely remember the 1980s, let alone the 1970s), while the Baby Boomers were complaining they were being discriminated against because they did not answer emails via PDA. And there were (take your pick) too many/few white men. You can't please everybody. Emanuel's voice reverberated in his head. We are all here to serve the President. The wannabe picked up the stack of folders submitted for a position at the Department of Transportation and began screening. Naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan?! I don't think so.... He tossed the folder aside, then hesitated, then picked it up to take a closer look.

A few miles to the south, Calico Johnson was unlocking the door to the two-story penthouse apartment he had gotten for Chloe Cleavage at Southwest Plaza. She had been in the hospital for a day after she burned her apartment to a crisp on Thanksgiving, and had then been staying at his mansion in Potomac Manors, Maryland, while Johnson's property manager (and another sometime girlfriend) Button Samuelson had been ordered to find someplace ASAP before Chloe dug her claws in too deep. Chloe gave him a saccharin smile as she walked through the doorway and looked around at the huge sunlit apartment and soaring loft. "Freshly painted!" he crowed, and she was amazed to see that the main areas were buttercream, the bedroom was pink, the bathroom was teal, and the kitchen was wallpapered in a bright strawberry pattern. He didn't tell her that half the walls had been covered in months-old black mold four days earlier; he merely told her about the half which had been smoke-damaged in (ironically!) the fire that had occurred in this building on Thanksgiving, too--and that the renter had not had the patience to await repairs. Chloe had been devastated when she realized that Johnson was not going to let her live with him, and had felt almost sick when they pulled up to this disaster scene of a building that was half burnt to the ground, but she could see now it was the largest and most beautiful apartment she had ever had--and he said she didn't have to pay any rent! Hope returned to her heart, and she gave him a big kiss.

A few floors away, Marcos Vasquez gave Golden Fawn Vasquez a big kiss. The newlyweds were doing the final clean-up of his fried apartment, doing one final search for salvageable items. He was entirely serene because he had already moved into her apartment, which was on the side of the building mostly spared--which meant that all the things dear to her were spared, and all the things dear to him were already there. The rumor was that the trash chute arsonist had struck again, and with so many people cooking on the same day, the smoke smells had not caught anybody's immediate attention. The construction dumpster had also been on fire, though the rumors were conflicting as to whether this had been the arsonist or merely somebody throwing burning things out their window straight into the dumpster. But none of it really mattered to the Vasquez's, who had finally decided it was time to buy a place of their own. Golden Fawn spoke no more about the real estate demon living beneath the building, even though they both knew it was still there--she had decided it was not meant to be her fight. "Look!" Marcos had found a necklace beneath a sofa cushion and handed it over to Golden Fawn. It was not hers, but she held her tongue--it probably belonged to the last woman Marcos had dated before Golden Fawn, and she didn't care. She put it around her neck and smiled.

Back near the White House, Laura Moreno re-entered the Prince and Prowling sweatshop, which was officially back in business. Prince and Prowling was paying her an extra dollar per hour to supervise the sixty attorneys brought in for the latest investigational emergency, and it was not fun. Her first challenge: not enough chairs. She wasn't sure why P&P had the money to rent all these computers, but could not shell out sixty bucks for a decent chair so that people did not have to sit in metal-backed conference room chairs or discarded wing chairs. She had taken advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to raid quite a few empty offices for decent desk chairs, because she didn't see how else she could ask people to sit and work for eleven hours/day. The thought that this might have repercussions for her did not enter her head because she, like the rest of the attorneys, was starved for oxygen. True, it was less stuffy after somebody figured out how to switch the system from heat to air conditioning, but this was a high price to pay, with several sniffling and coughing attorneys working in winter coats. Three team leaders had been selected under her who liked to play solitaire on their computers and admonish everybody else to slow down their document review pace--don't go more than fifty documents/hour!--even if they had fifty viagra spams in a row. (It was Chloe Cleavage who had selected those team leaders according to one of her standard rubrics: two cute guys and one ugly woman.) Moreno walked around the room answering questions, then exited to check on the attorneys in the next room being paid $70/hour to review documents in Hungarian. As she walked in, three of them abruptly shut down their internet connection so that she would not see them entering entire paragraphs into Google Translator; this caused them to accidentally lose two hours' worth of database coding that had not been properly saved. A lone Hungarian woman and a young man who had served in the Peace Corps in Hungary continued working hard to earn their pay, asking themselves if they had an ethical obligation to report the others to the D.C. Bar. Moreno already had; she had also reported them to the senior partner a week ago, but only one had been fired, and that was for claiming a half-hour lunch break when the keycard log showed he had been out of the building from 10:30 am to 3 pm. Moreno handed some candy bars to the Hungarian and the Peace Corps veteran and said nothing to the others.

Across the street, the homeless lined up in Urine Park for the mid-day soup and sandwich truck, a childless pair of ducks waited for crumbs, and a catbird mocked the artificial bird noises emanating from the World Bank building to scare away pigeons.

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