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, October 03, 2010

California Dreaming

Liv Cigemeier was sorting out her receipts and notes from the sustainable development conference she had just attended at Berkeley. They had never paid for her to go to a conference before, and she knew the trip was offered to her as a sympathy gift for the miscarriage a month earlier. She would type up the trip report on Monday and work on the expense report on Tuesday. It was good to have to-do lists planned for every day of the week. The problem with staying at the hotel was a lack of to-do lists, which led to watching reruns of television shows that were so old that she had watched them during a different stage of her life, before marriage. The conference was badly planned and not a good use of her time--or anybody's time. Sometimes people meant well but accomplished little. Or maybe the conference was a huge success but she was incapable of realizing that. She didn't totally trust her perceptions anymore. Suppressing her feelings had resulted in her not knowing from day-to-day if she was actually happier than she realized or unhappier. She did know she was happier when her husband met her at the airport and held her in his arms for a long time. She glanced at him across the room, and he quickly shifted his gaze back to the stack of Prince and Prowling files he was allegedly working on while finding it hard not to stare at his wife and struggle for things to say. She loved his silence because there was nothing to say and anything said could only make it worse.

Downtown, Bridezilla was at the office struggling with her own stack of Prince and Prowling files and the need to improve her billable hours after getting distracted with all that unexpected dating in September. She paused again to look at the photo of her and her new boyfriend taken on the sightseeing boat that had toured the San Francisco peninsula. While it was true that flying in his private jet actually did save a lot of travel time, the surprise trip had still required taking off a lot of time, and she suspected that the powers that be may not have believed her sudden bout of "strep throat". (There was a kernel of truth to that story, since she had, in fact, thought for a couple of hours that she had strep throat, though the emergency room physician [who had instantly recognized her from the recent shredded pinkie episode] had quickly assured her that the white speck on her tonsil was simply food lodged in a crevice.) She put the incriminating photo into her drawer and tried to focus on doing some actual work, but it was hard to stay motivated now that she understood her new boyfriend was ridiculously rich. She was accustomed to boyfriends (and fiances!) spending money on her, and had even been taken to California before, but the Ramada in Pasadena was a whole different experience than staying at the Handlery in Union Square. Her boyfriend had actually let her spend one entire day simply shopping! (And he paid for everything, of course.) They rented electric bicycles another day and rode all over the hilly city, which made her feel (for no obvious reason) like she was starring in "Charlie's Angels" (the movie, not the television show)--though she did not say that to him because he was from India and she had learned that he rarely understood comments like that. In the evenings they would dine at fancy restaurants, then swim leisurely small circles in the tiny heated swimming pool under the stars. (In Pasadena, the pool water was cold, and the stars were muted by haze drifting over from Los Angeles.)

Bridezilla realized her mind was wandering and stopped to re-apply hand sanitizer. (She hadn't thought as much about germs in California--perhaps because people seemed healthier and happier than in Washington.) She inhaled the alcohol deeply while her hands dried, trying to sharpen her mind's focus, but these files all seemed so pointless now. What if he asks me to marry him? I could be like that sari-wearing White House party-crasher from "Real Housewives of Washington"! But we would get real White House invitations. And we could set up a foundation, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and I would be on the board of directors! She realized her mind was wandering again and picked up her cup to splash water in her face just as former Senator Evermore Breadman walked by her office, thinking, again, that she had to be the most hormonally unbalanced woman he had ever seen. Then he remembered being told he had ovaries a couple weeks earlier, and frowned at his own hormonal imbalance.

A few miles away, Golden Fawn Vazquez was a little unbalanced herself, sitting on her balcony, watching the mysterious helicopter circle their block for the sixth time. She was thinking about the mysterious sawdust appearing all over her pots and pans, with no sign of termites. And she was thinking about the mysterious inability of caulk to remain adhered to their bath tiles. And she was thinking about the mysterious way her chives had grown like gangbusters while her cornplant had died immediately after the move. And she was thinking about how lousy their dishwasher was, and how disappointing it was that this condo they had purchased in a building without a real estate demon nonetheless aggravated them in countless ways. But mostly she was trying hard not to think about her brother, whom she and her husband had spent ten days searching for in California after he had gone missing--and how their search had ended at the Ramada in Pasadena, where they had tracked down her brother's ex-girlfriend (a front desk clerk), who told them he had decided to live in the desert and stay off the grid for awhile because modern society was weighing him down with too many encumbrances and he needed a period of simplicity to reconnect with his spirit animal and find his next path. And Golden Fawn was trying not to think about how hurtful this had been to her grandmother, who had been worried sick about him for two months, and how in God's name her brother could think his spiritual path was independent of the flesh and blood who had raised him. And Golden Fawn was trying not to think about how much she had wanted her husband to call in every law enforcement favor he could to track down her brother, but you could not arrest a man for being a selfish jerk. And Golden Fawn was trying not to think about how the boy she had grown up with had turned into a man she barely knew or understood.

Then the raven alit on her balcony railing, and the thoughts she had been suppressing about her brother all rushed to the surface. She whispered to the raven, then went back inside to deal with the sawdust and the caulk and the dishwasher, because these are the problems given to us so that we have something to work on when we have no idea how to work on the bigger problems. When her husband Marcos returned from work, they would move the furniture away from the windows so that the mandatory window replacement could take place, and he would again tell her it was no big deal, and remind her of all the reasons they were happy in their new place because he was the master of not sweating the small stuff and had long ago told God he would never complain about anything ever again if she survived the breast cancer. (But she still wanted one day without any problems--just one--but that was an illusion.)

Back at Southwest Plaza (where the real estate demon was still alive and well), Glenn Michael Beckmann awoke from his mid-day nap disappointed to realize he was not actually in California helping the Governator machine-gun hippies and members of the nursing union. The starlings on his balcony then flew off to report to Ardua of the Potomac, because one thing she still did not understand about humans was their dreaming. (This was because she never really slept.)

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