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, May 23, 2010

Re-education

Charles Wu knew about "re-education" camps in China--where citizens brainwashed against the communist government would re-learn everything until their thinking and behavior were aligned with the mandated political and social order--but he never expected to be subjected to such a thing himself. His father smiled at Charles as he popped in another DVD before heading out to see his other son, still in the hospital. "The hills are alive...with the sound of muuuuuuu-sic...." (Is this Hell?) Wu had carefully locked up everything he did not want his father to see before going into the hospital for the bone marrow transplant--with the result being that his father thought him a paranoid international businessman with an excess of locked filing cabinets, subscriptions to "The Economist" and "Businessweek", soulless black and white photography and contemporary artwork on the walls, and a CD collection comprised mostly of classical pianists and celloists (usually beautiful young women photographed in sleeveless ball gowns). The kitchen held little more than salt, soy sauce, crackers, and dried apricots since Wu ate almost every meal out, though the (unlocked!) liquor cabinet indicated a large amount of entertaining or a serious drinking habit. The only signs of emotional life on display were the photo of Wu with his mother on the living room end table, and the childhood photo of Wu with his mother on the bedroom nightstand. Wu had politely declined to give his father passwords to check his voicemail or email boxes while laid up, and his father had no knowledge of any of Wu's relationships until Lynnette Wong had arrived unannounced one day and rung the building's callbox. Wu had been asleep at the time, and Wong had told his father they were business partners in a herb shop in Chinatown...and, no, he had not told her about the bone marrow transplant. (He would have if he had thought any of her herbal remedies would help; it had never occurred to him that she would simply become worried about him after not hearing from him for weeks--though she had suspected his spy life might have been a source of harm, not a bone marrow transplant to save a brother's life.) Wu's father went out smiling: he had given Wong an extra apartment key so that she could bring by some tonics later, the robotic Wu would be enveloped in the emotional world of "The Sound of Music" for hours, his other son was recuperating well, and family and civilization were far more hopeful social constructs today than they had been in quite some time. Next week they could start talking about his sons' mother. It all seemed like destiny to Charles Wilkinson Montgomery now. Wu watched the door close behind his father, then turned his gaze back to the absurd woman in raggedy clothing singing in the middle of the Austrian Alps.

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was in his Prince and Prowling office, still devastated by the Senate passage of the ‘‘Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010’’--not because he thought it was the end of Wall Street, but because he had a lot of angry clients who had paid him a lot of money to lobby Senators against it all week. Though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was being more than a bit melodramatic (not to mention, disingenuous) in decrying the imminent withdrawal of capital from the United States, he did have some clients who felt legitimately threatened by the tightening of investment regulations. It was now time to try to gut the provisions during the House/Senate bill reconciliation sessions, and he did have a few tricks up his sleeve for that, but he suspected it would soon be time to steer his clients toward Plan B: stacking the consumer protection division to be set up inside the Federal Reserve Board. He knew that Charles Wu had made an interesting connection among the FRB economists there, but they had been playing phone tag for days. It was time for Breadman to invite General Counsel Scott Alvarez out to lunch--a straight arrow more likely to be seen in the FRB cafeteria than the K Street corridor. This was new territory for Breadman, and another one of those pesky thoughts started creeping around the back of his mind: I'm getting too old for this. Then the thoughts would creep down into his bowels, causing cramps and contractions until he reached for the bottom drawer of herbs from Lynnette Wong's Chinatown shop and washed down ounces of them with a cheerfully decorated bottle of green tea. Change simply means new ways for smart people to make money. At least, that's what he always told his clients. But sometimes change was simply...tiresome. He didn't like losing battles on Capitalism Hill, and he was feeling very uninspired. Then Chloe Cleavage walked in and announced she had brought him a piece of home-made strawberry pie. (She was bored out of her mind, with most of the contract attorneys currently exiled to Silver Spring.) She sat on the edge of his desk, cut the slice with a fork, and held it up to glide it into the former Senator's mouth. Breadman began salivating quickly, and closed his mouth firmly around the forkful of sweet stuff while he glanced down into her plunging neckline (doused in perfume)...and then at her bare legs uncrossed beneath her short skirt, forgetting all his clients and worries.

A block away, Sebastian L'Arche was back at the White House residence despite his continued protests that there was no known cure for canine narcolepsy. Bo's latest trigger was the term "BP oil spill", which would cause him to pass out on the spot, no matter what he was doing. The words "Supreme Court nominee" had also proven problematic, but the White House staff knew that would only be a temporary issue. Bo had also fallen asleep upon meeting the President of Mexico--who had made the mistake of joking that the Portuguese water dog might be arrested as an obvious foreigner if he ever visited the state of Arizona. "What did I tell you about meeting new people? Just ignore everything they say, look at the cameras, and wag your tail. That's all you have to do!" Bo laid down and put his head between L'Arche's feet. "I know, I know," said L'Arche, sitting down to put his arms around the dog. "You're not even afraid of the White House ghosts anymore! You've come very, very far, and I'm proud of you." Hiding in a closet, preschoolers Ferguson and Regina listened intently. They were tired of all the attention Bo was getting and were determined to do something about it.

Back at Charles Wu's apartment, Lynnette Wong had arrived just in time to see the Von Trapp family flee from the Nazis and head to the Alps, where they hoped to cross safely into Switzerland. Wu explained to her that he was only watching it to please his father and have something to talk about at dinnertime, but she thought she detected a little more than that in his intent regard of the television screen. He slowly sipped the hot herbal tea she prepared in his own kitchen, and gave no indication that she should leave, so she sat silently with him for some time, stealing glances at the pile of DVDs lined up on a shelf, most or all of which she was fairly certain Wu had not picked out for himself: "Pride and Prejudice", "Brideshead Revisited", "La Cage Aux Folles", "Life is Beautiful", "Hard Day's Night", "Bend it Like Beckham", "Gandhi", and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". The movie credits began to roll, and Wu stated quietly that he had not known he had a brother. "He's lucky to have you," she said. She got up to remove the DVD and asked if he wanted to watch anything else, but he closed his eyes, shook his head, and sank back into the couch cushions. She walked over to the CD player, inserted a compilation of piano sonatas, thought about going into the kitchen to cook something, then decided just to sit beside him for a little while.

Over in the Potomac, Ardua was feeling tired and uninspired herself--then she remembered another human holiday was coming up, which meant more people flocking to the river and the tidal basin. "I will start planning my feast today," thought the demon, "and this time, it will be spectacular!"

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