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, June 27, 2010

Anemic

"What do you mean you have anemia?" asked Eva Brown. "First adrenal fatigue, now anemia? All you do is sit at a desk all day!"

The Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was more than a little distressed to hear his State Department job characterized as sitting at a desk all day, but he suspected his girlfriend was secretly comparing him to the Marines she had been on a secret mission with in Afghanistan--burly, manly, powerful, courageous soldiers that would not complain about shrapnel wounds, let alone exhaustion. But he knew that she didn't know that he knew she had secretly been there with Project R.O.D.H.A.M., so he could not confront her about why she thought he was such a wimp. "The doctor wants to run more tests, maybe send me to a blood specialist. I have to take it easy until we get a handle on it." He leaned back wearily on her couch and and took another sip of coffee while Brown's daughter (a bundle of energy adopted from Tajikstan) enthusiastically skipped rope in rhythm with a reggae song coming from the CD player. He would not be able to teach the girl how to swim this summer, or take them to Old Dominion, or drive to the beach. "I know it's a drag," he said apologetically, though he resented having to apologize for being sick. "I wish I could be--" He paused, but she had heard the lump in his throat. Sometimes she felt they were still strangers; other times she felt the complete opposite.

"Alright, we'll deal with it," she said, and smiled at him. She curled up on the couch next to him and hummed to the music while the next generation jumped up and down in her living room. Nothing she planned for in life turned out the way she expected it--why should her boyfriend?

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was still salvaging clients after the disappointing success of financial reform legislation a couple days earlier. He had three banking clients sitting (and scowling) in his Prince and Prowling office, while two investment banking CEOs and the head of the Business Roundtable grilled him over the speakerphone. "It's actually not as bad as it looks," pleaded Breadman, who actually thought it looked pretty bad. "For one thing, nothing really happens until the agencies make the regulations, and I have 30 years of experience in writing regs. in this town." He paused to squirt herb drops into his nose, then inhaled deeply; the scowlers looked at him suspiciously, and he whispered it was an anti-oxidant mix he got from his herbalist in Chinatown. (He offered them a try, but they both declined--one was busy chewing his Nicorette gum, and the other was sipping vodka and Splenda from a Perrier bottle.) "Yes, it will probably cost the industry $20 billion in fees over the next five years, but that's chunk change, really--easily absorbed." Scowler #1 folded his arms over his chest, while scowler #2 typed furiously into his laptop computer. "I saved derivatives for you, gentlemen!" (That ALONE is worth my consulting fees, you tightwads!) A beep on the speakerphone indicated that the caller from the Financial Services Roundtable had finally joined the conference; he pleaded "bad traffic" on the way home from church, causing synchronized eye rolling from the scowlers. "Now, getting back to the regs.: those goody-two-shoe amateurs don't know how to affect rulemaking at FDIC or SEC--they're totally out of their league." (He was referring to nonprofit groups and consumer protection advocates.) "Trust me--none of these regs. are getting written without my input." But in truth, Breadman was still worried about one set of regulations--the ones that would be coming out of the Federal Reserve Board, where fierce independence was still the norm. (How I am going to influence those arrogant bastards?)

A mile away, Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi was tired of hearing about all the drama in the legal division of the Federal Reserve Board, and how busy those attorneys had been in helping lawmakers draft and amend the financial reform legislation. Arrogant bastards. He was tired of how much time Ben Bernanke spent listening to lawyers instead of listening to economists; Talaverdi didn't come all the way from Napoli to produce reports that never worked their way up to the top. How can I get his attention? Talaverdi had tried analyzing the data fed to him by Charles Wu, but his boss was just sitting on it because the Project Eliminati numbers could not be verified by other sources. A quiet knock grabbed his attention, and he looked up to see Chinese economist Fen Do Ping at his door. "I read your white paper," he said. "May I have permission to use your data, please?" Ping was new at the Board, and Talaverdi didn't know much about him. "Charles Wu said you would be happy to share it with me," Ping said, sitting down on the guest chair and smiling like a Cheshire cat.

A few miles to the north, the Heurich Society meeting was underway in the Brewmaster Castle, with Henry Samuelson launching a diatribe about President Obama's kid glove handling of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. "Russia agrees to import a few chickens, and now we're letting them into the World Trade Organization!? Russia is dangerous!" Nods all around the table. "Just because the jackass can eat a hamburger and drink Coca-Cola does not make him one of us!" (Just the thought of a Commie in Ray's Hell Burger made him determined never to set foot in there again, though he wished he had been there on that day to make sure both Presidents had come down with e coli.) "Who do they think they're fooling with this 'we're regular guys' shit?!" Nods all around the table.

"We need Russia's support against extremists in Asia--it's as simple as that." The Heurich Society members stared in surprise at the speakerphone, from whence this Condoleezza Rice pronouncement had come. "And we have to keep juggling Russia, India, and China--we cannot choose one over another. It's Russia's turn."

Samuelson folded his arms over his chest. They never should have let women into this organization.

Over in Silver Spring, Liv Cigemeir was sitting at the kitchen table when her husband returned from Prince and Prowling (where he had been poring over financial legislation for former Senator Evermore Breadman). Cigemeir had $75 worth of CVS purchases spread out in front of her--including a lit make-up mirror, two blushes, and four shades of eye shadow. She looked up at her husband, both cheeks a different color and sporting all four shades of eye shadow. "Oh, you're home early," she said, embarrassed. He kissed her lips (thankful they were substance-free), then sat down next to her and patted her pregnant belly. "Momzilla said my face looked yellow," she said. Her husband groaned.

"Your face is glowing like it's never glowed before! Don't listen to that dingbat. Her idea of a beautiful pregnancy is one in which she spends $5,000 on maternity dresses. Now let me get you something to eat."

She went to the bathroom to clean off her face, but did not make it back to the kitchen--stopping to lie down on the couch instead. "I'm so tired," she said just barely loud enough for him to hear her. He walked out to find her lying on the couch, eyes closed, and realized she was not glowing anymore. What was that thing...? He had spent months trying to get her to stop worrying about every possible problem that could occur with her pregnancy, and a horrible fear grabbed a hold of the deepest part of his gut. Her cousin had--what was that thing? He put both hands over his face. Anemia?

Over at the Potomac River, Ann Bishis was a little late in showing up for the Sunday outing of the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria, but everybody quickly saw why: she was rolling an enormous crate on a dolly across the ramp. The excursion leader stopped her before she boarded the boat. "What is this?!" He heard a squawk and peered into the crate. Bishis explained that it was a pair of brown pelicans rescued from the Gulf, and she was going to release them on the river. "Are you kidding me?!" She shook her head. "Where did you get those? No, I don't even want to know. They're not native here!"

"None of us are," she said, and rolled the dolly around him. The pelican was her spirit animal, and it was her sacred duty to make sure they survived. She prayed to Hera as the boat launched, and when they were a mile downstream, she opened up the crate to release the birds. The pelicans--hungry, anemic, and still fragrant with Dawn dishwashing liquid--bolted out of the crate, flew confusedly around the boat for a few seconds, then took off over the water. Bishis watched them fly a short distance, then land near the marshy shoreline, and she smiled.

A mile beneath them, Ardua of the Potomac was not amused.

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