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, February 28, 2010

Taking a Gamble

"No, really--forget it!" Charles Wu was on his cellphone in the back of a taxi, trying to assure his Russian colleague he did not need to pay the lost bets on the Olympics. "Nyet!" Wu had been just a little tipsy when he made the bets, and was now more than a little fearful he would end up on some Russian mafia black lists for betting against ice skater Evgeni Plushenko. "Forget it!" (Now the Russian was seeking double-or-nothing on the Canada-U.S. gold medal hockey match.) Wu rolled his eyes as they passed the construction site for the U.S. Institute for Peace--whether this was because of the phone conversation or his ironic take on the sign was hard to say. "Alright! Alright! Double-or nothing!" The Russian was betting on Canada, and Wu just wanted it to be over--he had safer ways to make money. He put away his cellphone as they drove past the grandiose but seldom-used Constitution-side entrance and turned up 20th Street to the visitors' entrance at the Federal Reserve Board. Wu exited the taxi and flashed his passport to the suspicious FRB police officer, who didn't like the looks of him and picked up the visitor printout to see if Wu was really on the list. Disappointed, the officer waved Wu past the first line of defense, thinking he was one of those Chinese embassy big shots that liked to lord it over their American borrowers. Wu handed over his passport at the second line of defense, and a few minutes later sailed through the metal detector, retrieved his bright yellow "Escort Required" visitor badge, and passed to the chilly waiting room for his escort to pick him up. Outside, parked in a black sedan across the street, Henry Samuelson had followed Wu down here, then watched incredulously as Wu had been ushered into the palatial home of America's guardians of CAPITAL [though perhaps not "capitalism"], and was now dialing furiously to reach the member of the Heurich Society who served on the Fed's Board of Governors to alert him to this threat and gain access. The number you have reached is not in service. "What the @#$%!?" Samuelson glared at the phone in disbelief.

"What the @#$%!?" Social worker Hue Nguyen rarely used profanity on her job at the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged, but she could not believe what she was seeing in her spot inspection of Buckner's bedroom after an anonymous tip. Buckner--who had heard the loud exclamation while washing his hands in the bathroom down the hall--came hurtling out of the bathroom doorway, wet soapsuds dripping all over the mauve hallway carpeting. Nguyen was now pointing speechlessly into the bedroom with one hand and lifting her other hand questioningly, her gaze turned in shock at Buckner.

"You had no right!" exclaimed Buckner, even though he knew she did have a right. Nguyen backed away from the doorway, slightly nauseous. "It's not what you think!" he exclaimed. He knew he could be evicted from the group home and was starting to cry. "I just wanted to audition for 'Hoarders'!" ("It's a television show," Melinda said softly to Nguyen, after creeping up behind her.) All three turned their gazes toward the bedroom--buried in mountains of clothing, cans, bottles, pizza boxes, dog hair, newspapers, moldy apple cores, hundreds of de-papered toilet paper and paper towel cardboard cores, three buckets of saved "snow" (now putrid smelling water), and hundreds of items lifted from neighborhood garbage cans and curbs in the past four months--including a broken tricycle, a fish tank with only three glass walls, a pile of rusty toasters and fans, an old feline scratching post, a snow shovel detached from its handle, a deflated basketball, a one-wheeled skateboard, and a dozen pairs of old shoes, "I'm gonna take the apple seeds and plant them, like Johnny Appleseed," Buckner added softly. Nguyen looked silently at Buckner, then headed down to her office to think this one through. Millie (the dog) looked around in perplexity--people here were always getting upset about things completely unknown to her. She licked Buckner's hand in encouragement.

Back in downtown Washington, former Senator Evermore Breadman was reviewing the transcript of the February 26th Senate Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Patrick Leahy to question Office of Professional Responsibility lawyers on their five-year investigation of the conduct of former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Patrick Philbin in giving the Bush Administration memos to justify torture. Five years of investigation to say "poor judgment", but "not professional misconduct": and now Senator Leahy wants to keep investigating!? Breadman's feet were soaking in a detoxification stew specially prepared for him in Lynnette Wong's Chinatown herb shop, and the smell was giving him a headache, so he reached in his drawer for the headache pills she had given him. “Focusing on whether these lawyers failed to meet legal ethics standards misses the fundamental point,” Breadman read from Leahy's statement. “The real concern is that lawyers who were supposed to be giving independent advice regarding the rule of law and what it prohibits were instead focused on excusing what the Bush-Cheney administration wanted to do.” Whatever. He downed his Five-Hour Energy Drink. ("Whatever"? Am I talking like Chloe Cleavage now?!) What he could not say "whatever" to was the fact that Leahy, the New York Times, and several advocacy organizations were all calling for an investigation of Yoo's and Philbin's missing emails: Breadman might be getting on in years, but he did know enough about modern technology to know that there was no way to lose emails forever unless servers, routers, and every personal computer connected to them were electrocuted or incinerated--something the Justice Department had reminded Prince and Prowling's clients of numerous times!) Breadman glanced at the clock, realizing that the West Coast-based Yoo was surely up by now and would be pestering him soon with a phone call. Why did these ideologues take credit for these memos anyway?! If they had given Atticus Hawk the credit he deserved, there would have been a low-level attorney fired at the Justice Department, and that would have been the end of it!

Back at the Federal Reserve Board, the Italian economist was finishing up Wu's tour of precious pantings, Greek sculpture, currency displays, marble hallways, wood-paneled elevators, and gleaming golden bathroom doors. They were sipping hot coffee from the man's personal cappuccino machine while taking in the panoramic view of the Mall on the (chilly) wrap-around balcony. "We are sitting pretty here, no?" asked the Italian. Wu nodded, but the Chinese triple agent couldn't disagree more. An Australian cookaburra alit on a table and cocked her head inquisitively at the two men, tired and perplexed since her accidental escape from the National Zoo and subsequent flight from a ravenous hawk. High above them, a raven watched with unease at the trio--who were all out of place there.

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