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 ....

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.

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