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.

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