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, March 27, 2010

The Understanding is in the Undertaking

The Rahm Emanuel wannabe was hard at work in his West Wing office. He had scarcely taken a break all week except to watch the Rahm Emanuel piece on "60 Minutes", which had filled him with both pride and envy. (Handsome, powerful, successful, funny, married with children--he has it all!) Except when Emanuel was working seven days a week, so was the wannabe--without the handsome, powerful, successful, funny, married with children parts--or "60 Minutes", for that matter. What a week! Passing the health care legislation had been like taking down Al Capone or setting off the first hydrogen bomb or sending National Guards troops to that Arkansas school or--his mind was actually having trouble coming up with a fitting description. And the ironies! The staff was half-dead from the hard work, and the West Wing was well-littered with junk food wrappers, dirty coffee cups, antacid bottles, headache pills, and the occasional prescription drug containers indiscreetly left out on various desks. Exercise had been running up and down stairs or doing stomach crunches while on speaker phone. And it wasn't even over! People were comparing it to the passing of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Great Society. Leadership! (Sometimes you had to pull reluctant societies kicking and screaming into the future--after all, it wasn't that long ago that slavery was abolished, and women have had the vote less than a hundred years) The wannabe was pondering all these things as he caught up on email, but then he abruptly fell asleep.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Ann Bishis was not happy to be hard at work in her office while Congressman Herrmark was out of Washington for two weeks. The legislative director walked by her desk for the third time this morning--for no apparent reason other than to make sure Bishis was not slacking off. (As if!) Bishis glanced at her spirit animal (embodied by a stuffed pelican) for strength, and continued poring over the stack of statutes, rules, regulations, and court cases the l.d. had given her to analyze. She knew this was a great opportunity to show she could do quality research and really contribute in a meaningful way, but it all seemed so...Scroogelike. And her faith in Glaucos was a little shaken, though she had to acknowledge that Hera had come through in a big way for Greece. I need to figure out what god will answer our prayers on health care repeal! Maybe Cratus? Or Artemis? The l.d. returned to her own desk, and Bishis quickly pulled up her devotional website.

Back near the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue, attorney Laura Moreno was also not in the best of moods--after a long, long week. First there had been the hour on Monday trapped in the elevator with Bridezilla--who had suddenly spilled out to Moreno all her anxieties about her future at Prince and Prowling, her May wedding, her lingering feelings for her former fiance, her suspicion that former Senator Evermore Breadman was "not as nice as he seemed", her daydreams about quitting everything and going to a foreign land, and her jealousy that one of the other associates had a baby on the way. It was not the first time that Moreno's magnetic power as a sympathetic listener had prompted a mere acquaintance (or even stranger!) to spew raw honesty like lava erupting from an emotion volcano, but it was the first time Moreno had ever been close enough to another human being at Prince and Prowling for it to happen; and ever since then, Bridezilla had gone back to acting like she barely remembered who Moreno was. Then there was the Wednesday fistfight between two contract attorneys-which Chloe Cleavage had somehow managed to blame on Moreno's giving one attorney a trash can, but not the other. Then on Friday there was the random CVS encounter with former contractor "the Braggart", who had told Moreno how she had spent one afternoon learning Dutch on Rosetta Stone and was now making $50/hour reviewing FCPA documents for a Netherlands company--"75/hour in overtime!". And these were the things filling her life--while other people worked on health care legislation, rebuilt Haiti, signed nuclear arms deals with Russia, and prepared for Earth Day. She looked down at the blood stain that had never been removed from the workroom carpeting and tried to remember the last time she felt part of the human race.

Across the Potomac River, Brother Divine of the International Peace Movement (AKA Freddy Ritchings) always felt a part of the human race. Today was no different, even though he was concluding a sober meeting with his divorce attorney and the news was not good. "Brother Divine," the attorney said awkwardly (the client did not like being called "Mr. Ritchings"), "I'm concerned you don't really understand what I'm saying."

"The understanding is in the undertaking, and the undertaking is under the taking of the giving and the giving of the taking."

"Yes," the attorney said, trying to remember how this client had been referred to him. "You see, you were married twenty years before separating from your wife." (Brother Divine nodded.) "She stayed at home to raise your daughter." (Brother Divine nodded again.) "The judge is accepting her argument of abandonment and willful unemployment on your part." (Brother Divine's eyes narrowed.) "She has drained your main savings account, and the judge agrees that she had no choice." (Brother Divine closed his eyes.) "The judge wants to award her the house and order you to pay eight years of alimony at $5,000/month." Brother Divine suddenly opened his eyes and burst out laughing, prompting gasps from the other residents of the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged (who were listening through the ceiling vent).

"We are spirits in the material world," Brother Divine said quietly. Then he pulled out a wad of hundred-dollar bills from a pouch hidden under his tie-dye t-shirt. "Take what you need, and give the rest to my soul shadow who languishes in the gray mist of false idols. This is done."

"This is not done," the attorney said, though he pocketed the cash. "If you do not accept the judge's mediation, it will go to trial. If you refuse to go to the trial, you can be arrested and thrown in jail for contempt. You can't just hide here." He looked around his client's bedroom, full of magazine photos of shoes taped all over the walls (representing the journey) and yellow tissue paper piled everywhere (representing the harvest). "What about your daughter? Don't you want to see her again?"

Brother Divine closed his eyes and rubbed his heart clockwise, then counter-clockwise. "The cocoon falls away, the butterfly emerges, the tree stands alone."

"You're not a tree--you're a person," said the attorney. (Am I really having this conversation?) "And so is she."

Millie (the dog) was sensing angst, and pushed her large brown body against the bedroom door until it opened. She entered the bedroom and walked over to nuzzle Brother Divine. "And a child shall lead them," he said.

"This is a dog, not a child," said the attorney. "I am talking about your child."

But the sane part of Brother Divine's brain was correct in believing he would never see his daughter again, and that this was too painful to contemplate, so the insane part took over. "All good dogs go to heaven. Heaven is in our hearts. Hearts get broken every day. Every day I write the book. The book is closed. Closed for repairs. Repairs airs hairs lairs fairs. Poetry in motion. Go in peace." With that, Brother Divine stood up to dismiss his attorney, who shook his client's hands and walked out wondering if he could get a client declared incompetent to stand trial for divorce.

Back in the city, divorce was also the topic of conversation at the Brewmaster's Castle--where the Heurich Society members were grabbing doughnuts and discussing Sandra Bullock's marital woes prior to the start of their meeting. Butler (and Chinese defector) Han Li passed out steaming cups of cocoa, then retreated to his listening post in the basement of the Brewmaster's Castle; he didn't always listen in, but he suspected this time they would be discussing the sinking of the South Korean naval ship--which was probably not what it seemed. He put on his headphones and was surprised that the conversation about Sandra Bullock continued for another ten minutes, and it was only with reluctance that the members came to order at the pounding of the chair's gavel.

Several miles away, Angela de la Paz was disappointed to be donning her winter jacket again, but it was Saturday and the Friendship Garden participants had returned for spring planting at the National Arboretum, so she was happy. She smiled at her mother (bending over to sniff the fragrant hyacinth patch) and shared a laugh with a school friend as Rani (the donkey) played tug-a-war with a boy holding a rope. She paused at the sound of the pink warblers singing in the cherry tree and looked around to see if anybody else noticed, but she was the only one. (Some things never change.)

Over at the river, Ardua of the Potomac was gearing up for the parade of vulnerable souls starting to descend on the Tidal Basin for spiritual inspiration. (Why people would strive to gain power from flowering trees was something quite beyond her comprehension.) The river rats were ready, and the beaver, and the infected ducks--but the other side was also gearing up, led by the pink dolphins and the gulls. Bring 'em on!, cried the demon, and they came.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sick to the Stomach

Bridezilla was having a bad week. (She used to think she knew what a bad week was, but now she really knew what a bad week was.) She was in her kitchen making pancakes for Wince, who had spent the night on the couch. Her former fiance had not spent the night at her place in a very long time, and she really needed to get him out of here before her current fiance showed up. She flipped a few, poked at the turkey sausage, and poured herself another cup of coffee. She walked over to see if Wince was stirring, but none of the aromas had moved him. He was having nightmares every night, and so was she--except she had gone against Dr. Ermann Esse's admonition against drugs and started taking sleeping pills. Sleeping more also meant more nightmares--ironic. I'm getting married in May. She waited for the warm fuzzy glow to start after that thought, but nothing--she had unpleasant things on her mind.

Across the Potomac River, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope also had unpleasant things on his mind. He walked past a random stand of yellow daffodils trying to soften a block of sidewalk flanked by severe and unwelcoming shrubbery on the building side and truckbomb-stopping bollards on the curb side. (Why doesn't the General Services Administration have any bollards? Why doesn't anybody want to blow up GSA?) (His mind was wandering a lot lately.) He got to the employee entrance of the State Department and headed to his office--for once he was not here for the Secretary of State, or even the Deputy Secretary of State. No, today, he was here to find out what Project R.O.D.H.A.M. was, after accidentally discovering some papers on it at his girlfriend's place. (How is that I am the one working at the State Department, and she is the one keeping secrets from me?!) The world was spinning fast--Clinton discussing nukes and Iran with Russia, Biden failing to keep his big mouth shut in Israel (though most State Department employees were actually glad about that), Iraqi elections, Afghanistan's Karzai welcoming Iran's loony leader, North Korea executing a finance minister for screwing up (how many in the U.S. would be eligible for execution on those grounds?!), France's Sarkozy trying to normalize relations with Rwanda without directly addressing accusations of French complicity in the genocide, Greece and Iceland going bankrupt, Japan stepping up to compete with China to hold American debt. But none of that was on his mind today--only, what is Project R.O.D.H.A.M.? And he had no idea where to start looking--except in one place.

And that place was the office currently occupied by "C. Coe Phant", currently encrypting another communication about Project R.O.D.H.A.M. (Reserve Officers Deployed to Hunt Armed Misognyists). Phant felt that this project was starting to get spread too thin-after all, they only had limited successes to date in Afghanistan and the Middle East. And their largest mission--lacing the Taliban's water supply with estrogen--was still only in the planning stages. But today Clinton was adamant that they recruit a force in Ghana--a place where sexual predation had become so rampant that mothers were "ironing" their own daughters' breasts in hopes that males would not recognize the girls as girls. (Phant had seen Clinton livid about a lot of issues, but she had nearly vomited just discussing this one. And when he had mentioned it to Charles Wu, even the normally unfazed Wu had turned a little green.) A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts, and he blanked out his computer screen as he waved the Deputy Administrator in.

Several miles away, Angela de la Paz's mother was proudly and happily leaving the U.S. Census office after completing her training to be a bilingual interviewer. Leaning against his car, Glenn Michael Beckmann stared menacingly at the Latina, and she quickly turned to walk in the opposite direction. You and your totalitarian police state are not taking this country from us! he seethed inwardly. (He had already laced his form with anthrax and sent it back with a list of warnings, threats, and complaints put together from the multiple hate groups and militias he belonged to.) He spat on the ground, and a catbird then spat on the ground in imitation.

Back at Bridezilla's apartment, she sat down to the brunch spread by herself, with Wince still dozing fitfully on the couch. She nibbled at the sausage, then nibbled at a pancake, then licked some maple syrup off her fork, then stopped. I've got to eat something. She could not get the image out of her mind. She put down the fork, remembering the visit Wince had begged her to take to the McLean retirement home, where Justice Prissy Face's former executive secretary was slowly starving herself to death--whether from depression or anxiety or ideological culture shock or dementia, nobody knew. ("Please," Wince had begged her, "she always liked you: I know if she sees you, it will cheer her up." But it had not cheered her up. It had not cheered anybody up. The woman was 79 years old. Justice Prissy Face had come to see her--but she had never married, had no children, did not seem to recognize her friends. Wince had not loved Bridezilla enough to stop postponing their wedding date, but did think Bridezilla was special enough to cheer up an old woman and get her to start eating and living again.) These were troubling thoughts Bridezilla did not want to deal with right now--and they were killing her appetite, even as she had nightmares of starving to death in the McLean retirement home, forgotten by all but a couple of Prince and Prowling cronies. I should join Lawyers Without Borders...or go to Afghanistan. Her cellphone started vibrating, and the photo of her handsome fiance lit up the display. She slowly reached for the phone, waiting for the warm fuzzy feeling to come, but it wasn't coming.

Back at the Potomac, Ardua was sad to see the snow gone and the flowers here, but she knew the upside would be more humans near the water--fragile, vulnerable, stupid, malleable humans. The warmth in the air was making the pink dolphins leap for joy, and Ardua swatted at them impotently. A flock of starlings alit on the shoreline to give her a report on the boiling rage on Capitol Hill, and Ardua started feeling better.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Diary of Ann Bishis

Dear Diary,

Flowers! OMG! I think the stupid winter and snow are almost over. I have NEVER been so happy to see flowers blooming!

Today I made a sacrifice to Glaucos to help Congressman Herrmark defeat the health care bill. I'm not sure that was the right thing to do! Sometimes things are very confusing in Washington. Anyway, I'm OK, because somebody told me once you work for Congress, you have health insurance the rest of your life!!!!!

I also made a sacrifice to Hera to improve the Greek economy so my mother stops crying about it all the time. Honestly, why does she care? They always wanted to buy a retirement home there, and everything's so cheap now, so I don't know what she's crying about--except her cousins' losing their business in Athens, but she can't stand those cousins, so I don't know.

Met a day trader last night! Super rich, but he's from Pakistan, which would freak my mother out to no end. He said I could live in his extra 5-bedroom house he's not using! Unreal. I mean, in most cases, I would think the guy was full of shit, but I think this one's telling the truth! And totally NOT a jihadist or anything. Really cool--older, but really cool. Told me I looked like a model! I told him I modeled a hair barrette once for a crafts catalog, but I don't think he understood what I was talking about!

Peace out.


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Washington Water Woman regrets the silly content posted by her guest blogger, but Washington Water Woman is wrestling a serious real estate demon this week and will be slightly delayed in returning to her blogging responsibilities.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spring Fever

Clio was sipping echinacea tea and staring out the window at Regina and Ferguson running around like mad June bugs in the White House backyard. They were sequentially jump-roping, kicking a soccer ball, riding tricycles, pulling dolls in a wagon, throwing balls for Bo to fetch, and doing any and every other activity they could think of. The trees still looked barren and cold to Clio, whose left lung was secretly trying to deal with early stage pneumonia. (It had been one year since the White House butler was diagnosed HIV-positive and started the medicine regime which had kept her healthier--most of the time.) She blew her nose, hocked up another batch of green phlegm to spit into the plastic bag at her feet, then turned another page in her magazine.

Several miles away, realtor Button Samuelson stifled a cough of her own, swallowed the phlegm, and determinedly ushered Golden Fawn and her husband Marcos Vazquez into another house for sale. Her winter sales had been abysmal, and Calico Johnson wasn't paying Samuelson a lot to run Caljohn Mgmt., LLC. She knew this couple lived at Southwest Plaza, and finding a house for them would be a double victory for her: a commission, of course, and the removal of an uppity couple from the troubled rental property she managed for Johnson. (Not that he would see it that way, but there was no reason for him to know!) Samuelson smiled as Golden Fawn's face lit up at the sight of the garden in the backyard, but Vazquez was already kneeling down to examine the kitchen sink plumbing for signs of leaks. Does he really expect a perfect home on their budget? "Let me show you the master bedroom!" said Samuelson, as she took Golden Fawn by the elbow. Vazquez, anticipating another argument, watched nervously as Golden Fawn headed for the stairs: she had blamed every problem at Southwest Plaza on the real estate demon living in the parking garage, and though he knew the demon was real, he also knew that a lot of other things could go wrong. But at some point, Golden Fawn was going to announce that her instincts told her "this is the one", and he was going to have to accept that--after all, that was something he loved about her, wasn't it? He closed the kitchen cabinet and stood up, suddenly realizing that she must have looked at him at some point in time and instinctually decided "this is the one" about him. He smiled, deciding to trust her instincts...as long as her instincts took into account everything he noted about cracks, leaks, holes, and neighborhood graffiti.

Several miles away, Laura Moreno's instincts were telling her to give up. "Open folder." (Nothing.) "Save file." (Nothing.) "Directory." (Nothing.) She read the instructions for voice-activated command set-up for the fifth time, then glared malevolently at her expensive computer. She headed to her medicine chest for ibuprofen, put her wrist braces on, then sat down to work on another job application that might--through some miracle of karma or sorcery beyond her current comprehension--succeed in delivering her from Prince and Prowling purgatory. (She had spent all day Saturday doing electronic redactions for Chloe Cleavage, only to be told by Bridezilla at the end of the day that Chloe had assigned her the wrong folder of documents, and she would have to start over again on Monday.) "To whom it may concern," Moreno said out loud, but then she said no more because her throat hurt and she feared she was coming down with a cold. She massaged her thumb momentarily, then scrolled her mouse.

Back at Southwest Plaza, one floor above the Vazquez apartment, Glenn Michael Beckmann was finishing his prayers at the shrine he had set up for John Patrick Bedell. "Your death is not in vain, my brother," he whispered as he blew out the candle and rose to his feet. "Someday, the true patriots will scrape the scum of the Earth out of the Pentagon." He walked past his gun cabinet, paused to pick up his binoculars, then headed out on the balcony to take another look at the Capitol. He knew he could take out the Lady Liberty statue with the right rocket launcher, but there was no point (or bloodshed) involved in doing that, and he didn't know why the thought kept popping into his head. "Patience," he whispered to himself, then pivoted and trained his bincoulars on the Washington Monument--which was too far for for a rocket launcher, but he was working on some other ideas that he hoped to pull together by Memorial Day (when the monument would be crawling with tourists). Kill. He put down his binoculars, wondering where the voice had come from, but saw nothing but a catbird on the railing. Kill. The catbird cocked her head, but her mouth was not moving. "Kill who?" Beckmann whispered. All of them. Deep in the parking garage, the real estate demon chuckled.

Back at the White House, the twin pre-schoolers were taunting Bo with figures of Taylor Swift and Kobe Bryant, prompting their mother to come running out the door into the backyard. "Reggie! Fergie! Stop that! You know Bo's afraid of Bobbleheads!" Bo galloped over to Clio for protection as she wagged her fingers at them. "Shame on you!"

A White House sniper looked down from the roof, shaking his head. "Why are these kids so bad?" One of the White House ghosts watching from a tree was thinking just the opposite: Why aren't these kids more evil by now?! What's it gonna take?!

Inside the West Wing, the Rahm Emmanuel wannabe turned away from the momentary drama outside his window and back to the task at end: we will accomplish health care reform even if it kills us! In the corner, a member of the Shackled was trying to whisper to him, but didn't know what to say. (Once you're a ghost, the fear of death passes, and health care seems a very alien concept.) The phone rang, and the wannabe looked at the caller ID: former Senator Evermore Breadman. He sneezed and felt a sinus headache coming on...maybe a fever. The phone rang again, and he answered the call.