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 ....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mushrooms and Peaches

Dizzy was enjoying life in Washington Circle--his new home now for a couple of weeks. After an arrest for dunking himself in the reflecting pool on The National Mall, and then a couple of trips to the hospital for heat stroke, he had ended up here. He liked being close to the hospital, and though the stream of tourists and passers-by was much smaller, he was the only one playing music and doing serious panhandling, so it was actually a somewhat lucrative arrangement at the moment. And the mushrooms! Gigantic hallucinogenic mushrooms! He was loving those. (Actually they were not hallucinogenic, but they had a marvelous placebo effect on him, which led to great bouts of musical composition on his trumpet.) Today he was working on a piece he called "Pigeon Rhapsody in Blue", and it was his finest work in years.

A block away, Dr. Khalid Mohammad was in the George Washington University Hospital emergency room treating his tenth victim of mushroom poisoning from the gas station near P Street Beach in Dupont. The victims were all denizens of Dupont Down Under, who had discovered the mushrooms on a late, late night foray up from the underground--gigantic, psychedelic, Wonderland mushrooms that had beckoned to them from the grassy border of 22nd Street. The only person who had not fallen ill was the one who had, instead of eating them, ground them up and smoked them out of a hashish pipe. (In a week, he would have bronchial mushrooms sprouting from the spores inhaled into his lungs, but right now he felt fine while he waited in the visitors' lounge, singing "Puff the Magic Dragon" over and over to the consternation of the other visitors.) Nurse Consuela Arroyo went out to give him an update on his companions, heard the exuberant refrain about the dragon that lived by the sea, and returned to the E.R. without speaking to him.

Over in Dupont Circle, Sebastian L'Arche had just talked to an Iraqi war comrade from Dupont Down Under about the recent mushroom tragedy, and was now walking five dogs up to the Colombian embassy, where he picked them up one by one and deposited them on the other side of the fence to eat the peaches strewn all over the grass. The golden retriever was not too interested in eating them, but cheerfully fetched them over to L'Arche, who reached through the fence to grab them and put them in a plastic bag for the rabbits he was taking care of at home. A sleepy guard watched from a window: he had already taken home as many peaches as his wife and neighbors could handle, and still passers-by continued to find peaches to pull off the tree. He had asked once who planted the peach tree and was told it had grown by itself after somebody spit out a peach pit, but he didn't believe that.

After a few minutes, L'Arche called the dogs back so they wouldn't eat themselves sick, then headed up to the S Street astroturf dog park--where he was quickly gaining great cache as a dog whisperer after such amazing successes as coaxing the schnauzer to stop peeing on red shoes and teaching the Australian shepherd that nobody needs to be rounded up in a space that small. It was almost too easy: in fact, now that his summer help was back in high school, he was going to need to hire more people if he acquired any more clients. A young woman wearing a sundress and cowboy boots exclaimed to her companion, "This is the guy!" Then she called to L'Arche,"Hey, you gotta help this dude with the puggle." L'Arche unfastened all his charges' leashes, then approached the two people discussing the puggle, which was lying on her back and staring at the sky. L'Arche whispered to the puggle, who rolled back to her feet to bark her answer to L'Arche.

"She feels very insecure here," L'Arche said to the owner. "At home, she's repeatedly told that she's the cutest thing ever, then you get here, and she has to listen to people praising a lot of other cute dogs. She's coming to grips with the fact that there's more to life than aesthetic beauty. She likes to stare at the sky and ponder the meaning of life." The two said nothing for a moment, then burst out laughing. L'Arche realized he needed to dumb it down for them. "If she's ignoring the other dogs, just pick her up and hold her, and whisper in her ear that she's the best dog ever. She'll be fine."

The owner looked dubious, but the woman in the sundress and cowboy boots picked up her buddy's puggle and whispered in her ear that she was the best dog ever, and the puggle wagged her tail in delight. "Can you teach me how to be a dog whisperer?" the young woman asked, and L'Arche decided to give this some thought.

Several miles to the west, Charles Wu, his father, and brother finished eating the clandestine peaches they had smuggled into Great Waves at Cameron Run, and were ready for a great adventure. Wu (who for once was not noticing the admiring stares of females lusting after him in his red Speedo) and his father (whose pale and flaccid torso dressed in plaid boxers not designed for swimming was also getting stares) together hoisted invalid Phillip into the wave pool and seated him carefully on an inner tube. Phillip--a serious professional with a respected career--laughed in delight at the previously unknown pleasure, fully aware but not caring that others might mistake him for a "retard". Thirty feet away, Henry Samuelson watched this scene incredulously, certain there was more to it than met the eye. (There was not.)

Back in Washington, Chloe Cleavage received a surprise call: her cousin Chloris Cleavage (the actress) was coming to town, and there was never a dull moment when she was around!

Over in the river, Ardua of the Potomac was getting nervous: Washington Water Woman had slain two real estate demons and was close to slaying the third....Then things would get serious....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menacing

Sebastian L'Arche had two dog leashes in each hand as he walked briskly down Foxhall Road towards the Georgetown shore of the Potomac River. The clapboard houses and neighborly front porches gave way to wild tangles of unkempt urban forest--a mixture of old growth trees and invasive vines. Occasional clumps of manmade litter broke up the stretches of green, but the dogs did not slow down for serious sniffing until they arrived at a massive spill of food items and bottled water in the middle of the sidewalk. L'Arche looked around with more curiosity than apprehension, suspecting this was more likely to be the scene of a yuppie's accident and unwillingness to pick up the same than an actual mugging (which is what he would have suspected in some other neighborhoods). He sat down, opened the food containers, and let the dogs eat to their hearts' content; then he opened the water bottle, took several swigs himself, then poured the rest into the dogs' mouths one-by-one. The humidity blanketing the city was heating up fast, and he wiped his face with his sleeve. (How quickly he had become accustomed to having teenage boys doing a lot of the dogwalking for him this summer, but they would be back in high school soon and he needed to get reacquainted with all his clients' dogs.) He avoided taking most dogs too close to the river (Lucky Charm had been the exception), but he was not in the mood to continue onto M Street; he watched for a pause in the traffic, then trotted the dogs quickly across the street towards the thin stretch of woods that stood between them and the Potomac. Behind them, the two British tourists were satisfied that they had gotten good video footage for their documentary about homeless people foraging for food in the streets of Washington; the woman puffed contentedly on her cigar as the man in the "not too bloody likely, mate" t-shirt examined the recording.

The four dogs trotted onward, sensing another human being hidden in the trees before them. Monarch butterflies flitted around searching for riparian nectar. Gulls circled overhead, watching for careless river rats to leave the marsh for shorter grasses. Twenty feet away, Glenn Michael Beckmann aimed his shotgun at the two brown pelicans feeding near the shore and was preparing to pull the trigger just as the dogs found him and L'Arche hollered, "HEY!" The shot went fifteen feet wide as Beckmann turned himself and his shotgun on L'Arche in rage, then slowly lowered his shotgun after the four dogs started barking and tugging at their leashes. L'Arche backed away slowly, the two men staring at each other's eyes until a thicket of trees completely separated them; then L'Arche pulled the dogs into a quick trot in the opposite direction.

Out on the river, Marcos Vazquez's reverie on Ardua of the Potomac was shattered by the abrupt boom of the shotgun, and he turned the Coast Guard vessel around.

(Washington Water Woman regrets the brevity of today's posting and hopes to return to fuller storytelling after she slays the real estate demon currently menacing her.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Resurfacing (Part Two)

Former Senator Evermore Breadman was enjoying his meat and potatoes, with a generous helping of Boston cream pie standing by for dessert. His wife never let him eat like this, and he stuck to salads and chicken breasts when dining with the leanest/meanest attorneys in Washington. Breadman was staring out the window of the Federal Reserve Board cafeteria, which had a panoramic view of the Washington monuments that was something to behold. His eyes (and ears) had glazed over a quarter-hour earlier, when FRB economists Luciano Talaverdi (from Italy) and Fen Do Ping (from China) had begun debating the finer points of price elasticity in industrial capital improvements. But that was not a problem: Breadman had long ago mastered the art of feigning interest in what other people were saying, and Charles Wu would extract the points most salient to business investment and share them with Breadman later. What was important today was that Breadman was finally inside the Federal Reserve Board--an organization with more power than the Trilateral Commission, more secrecy than the Freemasons, more brainpower than a gaggle of Nobel prize winners, and more untouchables than Eliot Ness had in his finest hour. It was only a matter of time. "Assumptions are trouble, right Senator?" said Talaverdi. Breadman's three lunch companions laughed, and Breadman joined in. "'Assume' makes an ass out of you and me, right Senator?!" added Talaverdi. (More laughter.)

"Senator Breadman would be the first to tell you how problematic that assumption is," said Wu. "In fact," he added, "Senator Breadman doesn't put much weight on economists' assumptions because he has made a career of upending them. They don't call it 'Capitalism Hill' for nothing." The two economists laughed; Breadman stifled a frown and forced a smile, still uncertain where this was heading, much less from whence it had sprung. "I will predict right now that your major assumption of how the new consumer financial protection agency will lead to less risk-taking and a long-term era of low interest rates will never stand as long as men like Breadman have clients that demand significant returns on their investments. There may be new guards posted at the hen house, but they are still out-numbered by the foxes." The foreigners were unfamiliar with such an expression, but the image of the metaphor was universal enough, and they nodded thoughtfully. Breadman was not certain he liked being compared to a fox in a henhouse, but he trusted Wu well enough--a man who had already made Prince and Prowling a 300% return on its investment in opening a branch in Beijing. (Breadman didn't know that half of that income had come from renting out Prince and Prowling "white men" to a variety of business ventures in China that liked to showcase their Western "investors" at publicity events.) Out of the corner of his eye, Breadman saw the FRB's General Counsel enter the dining area, flanked by his top advisors on the new consumer protection division. Wu dropped a spoon on the floor, bent over to retrieve it, and quickly activated and aimed his sophisticated listening device at the General Counsel's chosen dining table. (The General Counsel's office had been bugged for weeks, but it was now apparent to Wu that a surprisingly large number of discussions and decisions were made over lunch.) Wu sat back up and dug into his carrot cake.

Several miles to the East, Dr. Devi Rajatala was munching on a carrot grown right outside her office in the Friendship Garden of the National Arboretum. (They had lost quite a few to rabbits, but the children had been so delighted with seeing wild rabbits that she had only made a half-hearted effort to fence in the vegetable patch.) She was reading another letter from The Warrior about former Friendship Gardener Angela de la Paz, currently code-named "Cinderella" and living in a (mostly) secret facility in Kansas. "I fear Angela is changing," The Warrior had written, though Dr. Rajatala refused to believe it. "I managed to speak to her a couple of times, very briefly, and she doesn't want to go back to Washington. She said she is learning amazing things here, things she could never learn anywhere else, and when she is old enough, she will be sent on important missions." Could somebody like Angela really be brain-washed? It didn't seem possible. Then again, she was only 15. "I warned her of the dangers, but she said she has learned fighting skills that I could only dream of. I have been a warrior for hundreds of years, and she won't listen to me! She told me stories about other girls that have been trained there, girls code-named Rapunzel, Pocahontas, Cleopatra, Snow White, and Wonder Woman. When I asked where they are now, she told me 'they are legends'. I told her 'legend' usually means 'dead'." Dr. Rajatala got up to throw the green part of the carrot into the scrap bin she kept for supplementing Rani's diet, still holding the letter in one hand and reading it while she walked. "I told her I could bring her back to Washington if we worked together, but she said no. I asked her, 'Don't you ever want to see your grandmother again?', but she said her grandmother would soon be dead no matter what she did, and Angela would save a lot of lives once she went out on missions." Dr. Rajatala finally put down the letter for a moment and stared off into space, trying to conjure up the girl who would rather draw a diagram for her sickly (but doting) grandmother about the difference between seed reproduction and spore regeneration than see a movie like "Salt", the girl would would rather have a foot race with a donkey than ride a moped, the girl who would rather live in a shed with her mother than live in a two-bedroom apartment in foster care. It was too painful, thought Dr. Rajatala about Angela's life, especially after the violent murder of Angela's mother. That's why they picked her--a girl who would gladly trade in her memories and identity in exchange for a shiny brass ring masquerading as a new life. Dr. Rajatala picked up the scrap bin and went outside to feed Rani and kiss the donkey's head.

Several miles to the north, John Doe's sister kissed his head. The experimental surgery at the National Institutes of Health had done nothing to relieve his temporal lobe epilepsy, and it was now time for him to go home. John had spent much of the last few weeks watching the videotape of the doctors cutting his head open like a soft-boiled egg, but he was now satisfied that the gray matter on the video had nothing to do with who he was as a person. It didn't matter that he had a host of forgotten memories trapped somewhere in that gray matter, or that his previous identity as a high-powered Washington player was trapped somewhere in there, too: the only thing of importance was that the doctors had not blocked his ability to get visions from God. Someday his (so-called) sister would understand that. "Life is like a giant magnolia tree," he said to her reassuringly, and she nodded with a grim smile, sick to death of hearing his seizures translated into philosophical gobbledy-gook.

Several miles to the south, Bridezilla was in the Prince and Prowling ladies room flushing the toilet. The toilet had to be flushed twice before she placed the sanitary protector on it, then twice afterwards. Then she would flush the sanitary protector down, then flush the toilet twice more. Then she could put down a new sanitary protector and sit down. The remaining number of necessary flushes depended on whether she farted, pissed, or pooped--or some combination of those. Over the weekend, somebody had dropped a journal article about obsessive-compulsive disorder on her chair, but she had just thrown it away, assuming it was left on her chair by mistake. She finally finished her business and went out to begin the careful washing of her hands, which sometimes took five minutes. She had spent a lot of time after her canceled wedding reading health articles, especially articles about germs. The guy she was dating now was from India, which had more human parasitic germs than any other country on Earth; although he had a natural immunity to most of them, she had to be extra careful. She smiled, remembering the first time he had spoken to her: she had just approached her car in the apartment parking lot and had stopped to examine a broken heel on a red leather shoe when he walked up to her with double-sided duct tape fished out of his car trunk and offered to fix the shoe for her. She had never fallen for a foreigner before--not even an American who looked Italian or Greek--but he was one of those northern Indians with the paler skin and narrower noses who could almost pass for white, and he was really quite handsome. While he worked on her shoe (like a knight in shining armor, she thought), she remembered seeing him the day she tossed her wedding cake off the balcony, but if he remembered that, he did not say. She also remembered him subsequently flirting with her at the pool as he flaunted his overly gym-chiseled body, but he did not allude to that, either. He invited her to dinner at the most expensive restaurant in Arlington, so she knew immediately he was a serious prospect. Since then, they had been on several dates, and when she finally kissed him, she discovered that it was quite nice--she was just worried about the germs from India. She frowned at the faucet, realizing she had lost count and had to start her hand-washing ritual all over again.

A few miles to the North, Henry Samuelson had just finished making his first contact with Charles Wu's mother in Hong Kong, determined to find out the truth about the half-breed and the British "family" members staying with him. Samuelson hung up the payphone and generously spread Purell all over his hands, contemplating carefully the answers she had given to his only mildly inquisitive questions.

Nearby, a catbird imitated the groaning sound of a giant tow truck lifting and pulling a stalled firetruck as a flock of starlings flew off to check in with Ardua of the Potomac.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Resurfacing (Part One)

Laura Moreno took a deep breath and re-entered the Prince and Prowling workroom after her long exile at the rented office space in Silver Spring. Then she wrinkled her nose, quickly regretting the deep breath. She put her things down and looked around for the source(s) of the odor. Suspect #1: moldy pizza crusts in a forgotten pizza box on the center table. Suspect #2: a heap of musty clothing and stinky shoes shoved onto two shelves with a hand-written note reading "Dress for Success". Suspect #3: another dead rodent trapped in the ceiling. She walked around sniffing it out. No. She looked down: the third smell was coming from the blood stain nobody had ever cleaned out of the carpet. She took the pizza box and the stinky shoes to the kitchen trash and returned with plastic bags for the donated clothing. Then she searched her boxed-up personal belongings until she found the air freshener; she sprayed it liberally around the room, then headed to the CVS to find the strongest carpet cleaner they had.

A few miles to the south, Glenn Michael Beckmann (erroneously) cursed out the Pakistani taxi driver for over-charging his fare from National Airport. "You should be in Guantanamo," he screamed, as the man quickly drove away. Beckmann had just made $20,000 in three weeks by conducting training sessions for anti-immigrant militias in Arizona. Always aim for the head: if you shoot them anywhere else, they have a chance to scream. Show no mercy for women and children: terrorists always hide behind women and children, and the terrorists are such scumbags that the women and children are better off dead, anyway. Do not trust the Arizona state troopers: they are completely infiltrated by the ACLU and the feminazis. Beckmann was very pleased with himself: he was becoming a nationally recognized leader and sought-after speaker among Oath Keepers, Birthers, Patriots, and Skinheads. He didn't notice that all the elevators were shut down again at Southwest Plaza because he always took the stairs--even with two heavy suitcases--because you never want to be trapped in a box under any circumstance. He entered the stairwell, shoved aside the man in the wheelchair who was fondling his private parts [actually just trying to adjust his urine bag in private while waiting for an elevator to get fixed] and headed up the stairs.

A few miles to the north, Liv Cigemeier and Momzilla were enjoying a joint baby shower at International Development Machine. Momzilla, in fact, had not been to work in months, claiming a hostile workplace (for no valid reason) and a high-risk pregnancy (a complete lie). It had infuriated her to be invited to share a baby shower with Liv, but since Momzilla was expecting twins, she knew she would get at least twice as many gifts. [Alas, this expectation would prove to be wrong (causing real distress to her womb), but for now she was eating a cupcake and basking in the attention as well as could be expected while some of the people were actually cooing and fussing over Liv.] Liv, who actually was experiencing some complications in her pregnancy, sat uncomfortably in the conference room chair, smiling pleasantly but eager to return to her cubicle, where she could kick off her shoes and put her feet up. She had been sleeping eleven hours/night until the baby got too large for her to be comfortable anymore, and her fatigue and blood problems would not allow her to work much longer. Liv's boss smiled at her and passed her a gift to open, seeing (thankfully) that she was not going to be comfortable enough to play any of the silly baby shower games his assistant had planned. Momzilla finally realized that her long absence may have been a strategic blunder--did their boss now like Liv?! "The doctor said I'm doing much better now!" Momzilla abruptly called out (much to the surprise of her husband, who had been told in no uncertain terms that he had to take time off from his White House job to drive her to and from this baby shower). "He said I could work from home. You can give me a project before I leave," she said to their boss, then smiled. Liv continued opening her first gift in silence.

A mile away, the Rahm Emanuel wannabe was in a White House men's room, crying muffled sobs into a wad of paper towels after having just learned that his August vacation was canceled until he finished screening political appointees. "But that's not fair!" he had managed to cry out before being silenced with the stoniest death stare he had ever seen in the West Wing (and he had seen quite a few). It's not my fault, he now sobbed silently to his wad of paper towels. I was working on health care, and financial reform, and that damned oil spill! He stifled his sobs as another gentleman came in to do his business. JC Penny black leather. (He knew who it was--identifying people from the size and make of their shoes as seen beneath a partition wall was one of his gifts--not that he ever used it for illicit purposes--no, only for knowing whether to rush his business and take advantage of a joint hand-washing opportunity or delay his business and avoid the same. Right now, he was delaying his business no matter who it was.) The man finally finished, and the Rahm Emanuel wannabe resumed sobbing into his wad of paper towels. It's not my fault! Anybody can find a Supreme Court nominee--they always give me the hardest ones!

Back at Prince and Prowling, Laura Moreno was in the ladies room washing her hands. Behind her, another occupant of the ladies room was flushing a toilet for the tenth time in a row. Laura exchanged glances with the hand-washer beside her, but she simply rolled her eyes. After they exited, Moreno asked if it was a bulimic. "Honey, nobody can throw up ten times in a row, day after day after day. It's one of those OCD things--she just can't stop flushin'. It's a cryin' shame." The woman walked away, and Moreno stared back at the ladies room door. She quietly pushed the door back open to peer at the shoes under the partition--green crocodile leather pumps. Bridezilla?! An obsessive-compulsive disorder? FLUSH!

Over in the river, Ardua of the Potomac just laughed at the hundreds of extra gallons of water being pumped through daily, and rose up near the surface to see what else was happening.

COMING UP NEXT: Resurfacing Part Two--catch up on Angela de la Paz, Charles Wu, the financial wars, and much else!