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 ....

Friday, January 01, 2010

Year of the Shark

"There were a bunch of hammerhead sharks lined up in the shallow water, right on the edge of the shore. People were tossing food to them like they were ducks or something. It was very wrong." Psychiatrist Ermann Esse nodded in encouragement. "Then there was one shark that had been stuffed into a sleeping bag and forced to stand up vertically, like a mummy." Dr. Esse frowned. "I told them, 'This is wrong! It's suffocating! You have to put it back in the water!' So they finally undid the sleeping bag, and it was just a baby shark, and I was angry. Then it swam away." Bridezilla leaned back in the sofa cushion, bracing for a diagnosis that she had gone stark raving mad.

"Well," began Dr. Esse. (He was charging $500 for this emergency New Year's Day session--he loved the health insurance plan Bridezilla had at Prince and Prowling.) "Is it possible that the baby shark is really you?" Bridezilla's jaw dropped in shock and awe. "Perhaps you know that you have not yet learned to swim with the sharks, so to speak. And the people supposedly helping you are not helping at all." Esse did not usually tell people what their dreams meant, but this one seemed too obvious, and his patient too obtuse to figure it out herself. "Tell me: do you still feel you are on partner track?" Bridezilla had not given this the slightest thought since she broke up with Wince and found her new fiance, but January was the time the hiring partner would sit down with associates to talk about their progress in the law firm. A gnawing anxiety started creeping out of the nerve endings in her abdomen.

Meanwhile, Laura Moreno--who had toiled in obscurity at Prince and Prowling for years with no health insurance--sat down to add up her medical expenses from 2009 to see if they were high enough to bankrupt her without being high enough to deduct on her taxes. She had developed three types of medical problems in her hands from the constant mouse clicking, chronic sinusitis from the bad air in the workroom, and recurrent shoulder and back pains since they had told her "only attorneys" were allowed to request wheeled carts to move document boxes around. (And Moreno--who was, in fact, an attorney--was ratted out by the paralegal-from-Hell every time she got caught wheeling document boxes around on office chairs.) The more overtime she did, the more her health deteriorated; then her doctor bills and medicine bills went up, and she had to do more overtime again. She had applied for a thousand other jobs since she started at Prince and Prowling, but apparently nobody else was interested in the unique skills she had learned here: redacting Social Security numbers with black Sharpies, stamping "CONFIDENTIAL" on thousands of pages per day, typing up a privilege log in the patented Prince and Prowling style (commas, commas, and more commas--the senior partner would go apoplectic if he saw parentheses on a privilege log, though he did not mind seeing them in blogs), telling new associates what this client's legal problems were all about....Moreno summed up the medical expenses and plugged them into Turbo Tax. She had read more of the client's documents than everybody else at Prince and Prowling put together, but nobody was interested in her assessment of the facts. Turbo Tax spat back the answer, and she sighed: a few hundred more dollars would have put her over the top. I guess I should have gone to a psychiatrist to talk about my nightmares since that contract attorney stabbed himself in the chest.

Over at the George Washington University Hospital emergency room, Golden Fawn was waiting patiently for an x-ray of her hip, which she had crash-landed on after stepping into a puddle on a Metro platform New Year's Eve. She smiled sweetly at her husband Marcos Vazquez. She hadn't even wanted to go out on New Year's Eve, but he did, and so they went to Bar Pilar, and since they were newlyweds, it was all good. They were staring into each other's eyes, and with the ice pack on her hip, Golden Fawn scarcely knew how miserable she was, but their cocoon of love and warmth was causing nausea and consternation among everybody around them. They were supposed to be looking at condos all weekend, but the hip injury was going to delay that. Vazquez didn't want to tell his bride, but he was nervous about things: first the building fire, now this. He was her husband now, and he was supposed to keep her safe, and he was in the Coast Guard, and he was supposed to keep Washington safe, and somehow, even if he spent every waking minute thinking about keeping people safe, things happened. "This town is CRAZY!" The newlyweds turned to look at an old man with what appeared to be blue mold growing in his right ear. "Two NBA basketball players pulling guns on each other in their locker room!" he said to nobody in particular. "Can't the sissies in this town just throw a punch no more?! I'm gonna move back to Chicago--people still punch each other there!"

Over on the Virginia shore of the Potomac, Ann Bishis (who was thrilled to be in Washington now, not Chicago) was tossing her New Year's Day pelican amulet into the river. It had been an exciting year working for Congressman Herrmark [whose reign as 2008 Upper Class Twit of the Year had just come to an end with the announcement that Kanye West was voted the 2009 Upper Class Twit of the Year], but she still had lots of goals for this town--lots and lots. She prayed to Hera and Glaucos--eyes closed, arms stretched out to the sky--as other members of the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club sipped hot coffee from their Poseidon Auxiliary thermoses and whispered about her. Their president declared it was time to board the boat, and they climbed onto the dock to repeat the traditional New Year's Day Greek voyage from Alexandria, VA, to Athens, MD. As the boat pulled away from the shore, Bishis dropped 365 pennies into the water's wake one by one.

Several miles away, Angela de la Paz's grandmother opened her apartment door and nearly fainted at the sight of Angela's mother--who rushed inside calling Angela's name. The grandmother muttered in confusion about how they thought she had drowned in the Potomac years before. "I did," she said quietly. "Where is Angela?" The grandmother shook her head and sat down on the couch.

A few miles to the south, the Heurich Society began its first meeting of 2010 with black-eyed peas and a progress report on Project Eliminati. (In short: there will be blood.) Up in the corner, one of the hovering Shackled shivered and shook: ghosts couldn't bleed, but he knew what Project Eliminati was doing. There will be blood.

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