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 02, 2010

Unclear

"UNCLEAR!"

Bridezilla flinched at the unexpected shout emitted by the receptionist walking in front of her to escort her to her fiance's office.

"UNCLEAR!"

Bridezilla flinched again as various employees of Weapons 'R Us made a pretense of covering up files on their desks--part of the protocol of allowing in a visitor with only a partial security clearance. There were more people working here on a Sunday than she had ever seen at Prince and Prowling.

"UNCLEAR!"

Bridezilla did not flinch this time, and they finally exited the cubicle area and entered a long hallway leading to her fiance's walled office.

"Third door on the left," said the receptionist.

Bridezilla knocked on the door. She could see from her peripheral vision that the receptionist continued watching her until after her fiance's voice had summoned her into the room. He had a phone earpiece on and was typing on his computer as he talked, interrupting himself for only a brief nod to Bridezilla. She sat in the guest chair for what seemed like fifteen minutes, until he finally sent the email and got off the phone. "What a lovely surprise!" he said at last, though she was not certain his eyes were echoing his lips. "You're a sight for sore eyes!" he added after she had smiled wanly but said nothing.

"We're not ready for the wedding," she said quietly. What she meant was: I have knocked myself out planning this wedding, and you have not even done the paltry list of things that were your responsibility.

"Everything's gonna be fine!" he said, finally getting up from his chair to walk around his desk and give her a kiss. "Look: I know I've been insanely busy at work, but my two weeks' vacation for the honeymoon are locked in. You got the church, the hall, the dress, the flowers, the RSVPs, the caterer. Nothing else is important."

"Nothing else is important?!" Bridezilla had spent three weeks evaluating floral arrangements, and two months taste-testing caterers. She had tried on fifty wedding gowns before finally finding one she liked on a weekend trip to New York. She had been planning the song list since she was ten years old. "We don't even have a band! And I still don't know what to pack for the honeymoon because you haven't even told me what the temperature will be wherever we're going!

"Whoa, whoa! What is all this? Sweetheart, all that matters is we'll be together." (Will we? she thought.) "My brother's getting a D.J., and it will be bikini weather where we're going, OK?" Actually, he had forgotten to ask his brother to find the D.J., but he would call him as soon as Bridezilla left. Then he had to get online and find a Caribbean package--any island would do. "We're gonna be married!" he added. "The wedding is just a key that turns on the ignition. We're getting in the car for the trip: that's what matters!" She smiled wanly at the decidedly unromantic metaphor, which would have bombed completely except his deep voice and handsome face made everything he said seem at least a little bit heroic. "Now let me get back to work so I can come have dinner with you tonight, OK? I just need to get some shipments pointed towards Asia before I leave." He took her by the elbow and led her back to the hallway, and into the cubicle area. "Unclear," he said half-heartedly, confident she didn't have the slightest interest in stealing glances at anybody's desk papers. The receptionist looked up in surprise at Bridezilla's quick return to the lobby. "I'll call you in a few hours, OK?" Another quick kiss, and he was gone. Bridezilla walked out the door, feeling the stare of the receptionist following her up until the last second.

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was one man that wanted to be spending the afternoon with Bridezilla. What a week! Convincing Lindsay Graham to jettison his support of the energy bill, porn-surfing SEC employees trying to hire him to save their jobs, BP oil executives already planning to tie up oil spill reparations in court longer than Exxon managed to do after the Valdez trashed Alaska, Goldman Sachs executives seeking his advice before testifying on the Hill, and the specter of financial reform legislation giving him and his clients nightmares. Where is everybody in this office?! Cigemeier was out dealing with his wife's morning sickness (for crying out loud!), Bridezilla was getting ready for her wedding (was his memory going, or hadn't she been getting ready for her wedding for three or four years already?!), and even Chloe Cleavage was copping to spring fever and insisting she could not possibly come in on a weekend like this. He had seen that one particular person come in--the one with the sensible shoes and messy hair who inhabited the strange, smelly workroom near the front door. She had let him in a few times [in truth, dozens of times] after he had forgotten his key on the way to the restroom, but he did not really know what else she did. Desperate for help pulling information off the web, he strolled tentatively down to her workroom. There was no nameplate near the door, though this was not an essential piece of information for the transaction to occur. He could hear music wafting from the room--"Dancing Queen"? He frowned in disgust: this is a silly girl. He turned to continue wandering the hallway to see if anybody more professional was around to help him defend corporate robber barons from regulatory excess.

Over at George Washington University Hospital, Charles Wu--for the first time since he was a child--had no interest in affairs of state, economy, business, or war. He was recovering from a bone marrow transplant--something he had not told a single soul about. Who could he tell? He was a spy, and nobody could know who his father was...or his brother. And he could not tell his mother. Wu, who had scarcely been ill his entire life, was unused to feeling like hell, and a bone marrow transplant was the most horrific experience of his life. His father (Charles Wilkinson Montgomery) flitted back and forth between the beds of his two sons--together in one room for the first time in decades. Phillip Montgomery was still in a coma, unaware of the presence of his brother. Wu's eyes were staring blankly at the ceiling as his father read aloud to him from an Audubon guide to songbirds of Virginia. (Wu had requested The Economist earlier, but fell asleep every time his father had attempted an article from it.) "I haven't seen many of these, Charles," his father said, momentarily looking up from the book. "The city is overrun with starlings and other transplants. I suppose I would find these songbirds out in the forested areas?" Wu did not reply, having little interest in wildlife of any sort, though he had to confess, he would not have minded the sound of a bird singing just now. "I'll make it up to you, Charles. I don't know how, but I will. I love you more than you can imagine." Wu had no idea what this meant now, or what it would mean in the future. His father resumed reading from the bird book, and Wu stole a sideways glance at his comatose brother--who could not have been stranger to him had he been a wild bird plucked from a tree. Wu looked at his father's face, imagining what it would have been like to be a ten-year-old boy with a father taking him out on birdwatching expeditions. When his father's eyes lifted from the page, Wu quickly redirected his gaze to the ceiling, feeling sick in every possible way.

Outside in Washington Circle, a homeless man pulled a half-eaten sandwich out of a trash can. He chewed on the inner portions for a few minutes, then tore up the crusts and threw them into the grass for the birds. A few pigeon doves began pecking at the crusts until a flock of starlings arrived to outnumber them and chase them off. Up in the trees, a few of The Shackled hovered to discuss the lives and souls hanging in the balance inside the hospital: too many things remained unclear.

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