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, February 11, 2010

A Lead Role in a Cage

Your sweeter necklace will have the loving ground.

Ours produced maddening, widening, pointed coloring that flipped.

Coldly snowing, the dude ranch roughest light spilled and passed.


Social worker Hue Nguyen was reading over Melinda's shoulder again. Nguyen was growing increasingly concerned about Melinda's non-stop "channeling" (as Melinda put it)--not because of the nonsensical nature of the musings (after all, Snowpocalypse was giving everybody cabin fever), but rather because Melinda was writing every word using a Q-tip dipped in ketchup. A pile of ketchup-inscribed newspapers were already at her feet, and still she continued. Melinda's biggest fan was that instigator Brother Divine of the International Peace Movement, who had been working tirelessly to turn the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged into his own private cult for months. Dr. Leo Schwartz had assured Nguyen that it was both common and therapeutic for psychiatric patients to write in blood-like substances, but Dr. Schwartz was not with them day in and day out (and had not made a single visit in a whole week now). Then there was Cedric to worry about: he had rigged up a discarded TV antenna to his birding binoculars and was constantly surveilling the snow drifts for spies that might be tunneling into their house. He went from window to window in a clockwise circuit, first on the top floor, then on the ground floor, with no regard for whether the window was in a private bedroom, occupied bathroom, or the social worker's office. He repeated his circuit at the top of every hour, and had been doing so for 48 hours except for the five hours each night that Nguyen had been able to force him to sleep by drugging his evening glass of carrot juice. Brother Divine had twisted four metal hangers together to resemble a shepherd's crook and was standing sentinel in a brown velour bathrobe, the big brown dog Millie seated at his feet. Nguyen patted the dog on the head and returned to her office to jot down some notes.

Back in Washington, Charles Wu was packing up his suitcase to check out of the Hotel Monaco--where he had been holed up since Tuesday afternoon, unwilling to be trapped by bad weather in his apartment building. He had rushed back from the Caribbean to Washington to discuss the plan for launching Project R.O.D.H.A.M. - Turkey, only to find all his State Department meetings cancelled and another blizzard bearing down on the region. Despite paying for boxes and boxes of wine to flow, there had been a decided lack of debauchery and altogether too much staring-across-the-room from odd barfly Henry Samuelson, who had just happened to have the same idea of holing up at Hotel Monaco. Wu could swear that he had sent one whole box of wine bottle-by-bottle just to Samuelson's table, and still the man had never passed out or gotten up to return to his room and sleep. (Samuelson was adept at sipping drinks slowly and sticking bottles into his large briefcase.) Wu had enjoyed his one tryst, but, still, it had hardly been worth leaving home for two days. He left the maid a hundred-dollar bill under the soap dish, turned out the lights, and left.

Over in upper Georgetown, Judge Sowell Lame was finding it increasingly difficult to avoid working on the stack of papers he had brought home to examine while snowed in. He had taken the snowblower out multiple times already (had cleared the sidewalks on his entire block, in fact), baked up the wheat germ muffin mix his niece had given him for Christmas (odd girl), cleaned his furnace, caught up on "Damages" and law journals (the former with diligent attention, the latter not so much), endured a tedious two hours playing chess with his next door neighbor, fell asleep watching "The French Connection" (did not even hear the infamous "you can't trust a nigger" line), discovered three new online dating sites, and spent several hours in the A&E "Hoarders" chat room. He sat down at his desk and opened up his briefcase. You cannot seriously return to court without having written at least three orders. (Goodness knows he had sent his clerks home with a pile of assignments.) It's either this or accept that divorcee's invitation to lunch, and you know she's going to try to get you into the hot tub again, and if you go twice, forget it. He picked up the first file. What on Earth? He was incredulous that the Old Dominion Boat Club case had found its way back to him. There was a one-page memo from his senior law clerk attached; he scanned quickly down to the last sentence hoping to read "dismiss on the basis of ________" but instead found a recommendation to set another oral hearing. [Groan.] Lame turned the file over and picked up the next one: Southwest Plaza Tenants Association v. --. [Groan.] Not them again. He scanned the memo from his junior law clerk down to the last sentence: "dismiss on the basis of lack of standing". Hmmm. Seems a little late in the game for the defendants to be making that motion. He returned to the top of the page and started reading the memo from the start, a smile slowly spreading across his face. I like this law clerk. He swiveled his chair and fired up his home computer to type up the holding that the court had decided sua sponte to dismiss for lack of proof that the plaintiffs really represented a tenant association. After two years in litigation, the defendants will be as surprised as the plaintiffs to read this one! Hovering in the corner, his house ghosts giggled at this banal exercise of evil against unseen victims, and Lame felt a sudden shiver run down his spine.

Back at Hotel Monaco, his junior law clerk was checking out at the front desk, where he was irritated to discover that the hotel clerk did not have change for his five-hundred dollar bill. If I can't launder bribe money at a hotel on M Street, then where can I? Wu (who had checked out with a credit card using his room television service) stifled a chuckle at the young amateur as he walked past to request a taxi over to Prince and Prowling, where former Senator Evermore Breadman was already back in his office.

Over at Prince and Prowling, Breadman was reveling in freedom after 48 hours trapped in a suburban house with his wife. He was so giddy with relief that he almost did not mind having to work on a second stage of damage control for former and again current client televangelist Pat Robertson--recently fingered by the former Liberian president and war crimes defendant Charles Taylor for being granted a gold mine concession in exchange for lobbying the Bush Administration on Taylor's behalf. Sadly, critics, investigative journalists, bloggers and other pests were refusing to buy their initial attempt at damage control: "This concession was granted by the Liberian government to promote economic activity and alleviate the suffering of the people of Liberia following a terrible civil war....Freedom Gold accomplished this by employing some 200 Liberians in addition to providing humanitarian efforts, including free medical care and installation of clean water wells for area residents." You would think people would be more inclined to believe Taylor is lying--not my client! He was looking forward to Wu's visit; Wu had become like the son he never had. (Breadman actually had two sons, but one had joined the Marines and died in the first invasion of Iraq, while the other was wasting his medical career serving in Doctors Without Borders, so Wu was really like the son he never had.)

A few floors down, Laura Moreno (who had trudged through two miles of snow to get to the office because she would only get paid for showing up, since she was not allowed to telecommute like every other attorney at Prince and Prowling) was preparing the Sweat Shop for the next wave of contract attorneys being rounded up to make up for days of lost billable hours. She found a Pink Floyd CD that had fallen down behind a pile of discarded instruction manuals, wiped the dust off on her pants, and stuck it into a CD player. She continued her toil, pausing only at "Did you trade a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?" If she had turned around, she would have seen a curious first year associate peeking in from the hallway, viewing her like an exhibit at a museum for a few moments before rushing off to score brownie points with former Senator Evermore Breadman.

Nearby, the denizens of Urine Park (home of the yellowest snow in the city) were trying to get back to normal, even though nobody in Washington had any idea what "normal" was, and even the thickest blanket of snow could not purify this town. A flock of sparrows sang half-heartedly from the bushes, uncertain where to look for food next but ever hopeful. High in a tree branch, a catbird began imitating the menacing sound of a snow plow, and the branch swayed from the vibration of his booming voice; someday when he had more practice, he hoped to imitate the voice of Ardua herself.

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