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 10, 2010

Honor AND Duty

They were like two kids at a candy store: triple agent Charles Wu and former Senator Evermore Breadman had all-access passes for every meeting and reception of the World Bank / International Monetary Fund conference in Washington. Never had Wu dreamt that he could survive the rigorous background check of the Federal Reserve Board, nor had Breadman ever dreamt he could get over the rigorous intellectual hurdle of a Fed consultancy contract--but here they both were with FRB all-access passes, taking notes and whispering asides with Chinese economist Fen Do Ping and Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi. Breadman had already emailed three digital photos to his frame shop guy, and by Tuesday afternoon his Wall of Me at Prince and Prowling would be rearranged to spotlight the shots of him posing with Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and Zhou Xiaochuan. (The latter had not immediately attracted Breadman's interest, but Wu and the economists had convinced him that China's central bank governor was one of the most financially powerful men in the world.)

But the men were ready for a break, and headed over to the Fed marble palace for croissants slathered in honey butter and a tour of the artwork on loan from the Banque de France. Fen Do Ping struggled to understand the placard descriptions of what appeared to be a gallery of paintings depicting French buildings and bridges on fire. Luciano Talaverdi, assuming the paintings to be France's symbolic (and not-too-subtle) indictment of the Fed's role in current international economics, was denouncing the display under his breath. The visual bombardment of flames was starting to give Breadman Vietnam flashbacks, so he focused his gaze on his food plate and eavesdropped intently on a nearby discussion of whether the much forecasted currency war with China would materialize or not. Wu felt his phone vibrating again, and pulled it out to see another text message from his father--this time with the words "URGENT, URGENT, URGENT" leading off the message. (Hmmm...maybe it's not another hyperlink to a story on the World Socialist Web Site.) Fifteen feet away, a member of the Heurich Society--who just also happened to be a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board--watched Wu keenly and dabbed honey butter off his upper lip.

Across Constitution Avenue, Dizzy had temporarily returned to the National Mall to try to score donations from the throngs of people enjoying the warm weather--particularly the bankers and economists playing hooky from their meetings at the IMF and World Bank. Unfortunately, there are few people more tight-fisted than international doom-and-gloom bankers and economists carrying only small amounts of U.S. dollars in their wallets. The Japanese were the most polite, often bowing to the trumpeter before walking past. And the British ones considered themselves very hip to U.S. jazz music, and tended to snap their fingers and bob their heads as they walked past the trumpeter. But the Saudi delegates representing OPEC took a wide berth around Dizzy, disgusted that a criminal vagrant such as this had not been removed from the public place before the meeting, and secretly concerned that they were feeling a tinge of primal response to the music. Finally a female delegate from Brazil broke into a quasi-samba dance for two minutes, then threw a couple dollars into Dizzy's trumpet case. "HALLELUJAH!" Dizzy screamed, and the startled Brazilian jumped backwards. "Somebody finally figured out what the f--- I'm doing here! It was like I was playing music for my own enjoyment! It's about TIME!" Twenty feet away, the Saudi delegates shook their head in disgust--one at the crazy vagrant and the other at the indecent dance display from the uncovered woman (who reminded him of a belly dancer he had once seen during an errant period of his youth, before he became a husband of three and father of eleven). Dizzy finished his rant and paused to drink some water since there was no longer anybody near him. "Maybe I'll go check out those pink ladies," he said to himself, taking notice of the breast cancer walk-a-thon slowly building up for the final rally at the Washington Monument.

Over at the White House, the Rahm Emmanuel wannabe was still in shock over the sudden departure of his role model. (And why did Pete Rouse accept being named "Interim Chief of Staff"? Emmanuel never would have accepted something so insulting!) It was a struggle, but the wannabe had finally completed his report to Rouse on why so many Presidential appointments were still not named--"....illegal immigrant nannies, spousal tax return anomalies, need to put woman in position, need to put minority in position, need to put ally from Western state in position, longer screening process for nominees who did not attend Ivy Leagues, insurmountable ideological gaps...." He had left out some of the other reasons though--the refusal to respond to emails drafted in clown font, the prejudice against fat people, the dozen nominees who had walked out on interviews with Emmanuel because they couldn't tolerate his potty mouth, the half-dozen female nominees who had made passes at Emmanuel (who was, as the wannabe knew, the hottest White House Chief of Staff ever), the three male nominees who had made passes at Emmanuel, the two nominees who had thrown their coffee mugs at Emmanuel....The wannabe sighed, and yet he was also starting to feel a weight coming off his shoulders. This has been hard. The beautiful weather was beckoning, but there was no way he was going outside while the solar power fanatics were outside the fence trying to deliver roof panels to the White House in one of many "10-10-10" climate change actions around the country today, so he decided he would clean out his files and prepare for the fresh start with his new boss. "Ummm, hi, how ya doin?" It was a Pete Rouse wannabe standing sheepishly in the doorway. "I have a letter for you." The Pete Rouse wannabe gently lay the letter on the Rahm Emmanuel wannabe's desk (having printed it out for his boss fifteen minutes after the Rahm Emmanuel wannabe's report had reached Pete Rouse's email in-box). "It's been real--take care." And with that, he was gone. The Rahm Emmanuel wannabe felt his stomach acid leap up into his esophagus, hesitated for a moment, then tore open the termination letter. Ten minutes later, he was outside at the demonstration calling for the White House to show more commitment to renewable energy.

A couple miles to the west, Charles Wu was riding in a slow-moving taxi and cursing breast cancer walkers, IMF protesters, 10-10-10 activists, and everybody else delaying his return home--where Henry Samuelson had dropped off Wu's mother after picking her up at the airport. According to his father's urgent-urgent-urgent text message, the woman had mysteriously and abruptly shown up downstairs and buzzed the apartment temporarily rented for Charles Wilkinson Montgomery and his second son, Phillip, giving the elder Montgomery the shock of his life. She had refused to go up to Montgomery's apartment, and demanded to know where Charles was. Montgomery had taken his extra key and taken her to Wu's apartment to await his return. For all Wu knew, the two were yelling and screaming at each other, or throwing things, or sitting in miserable silence, or--in truth, he had no idea, and could not picture them together. What he could picture was his invalid brother, now sitting alone in the other apartment, contemplating the astonishing possibility that his mother had flown all the way in from Hong Kong and would still refuse to see--or acknowledge--her second son. These things don't happen to me. Rage was slowly filling him up, as he felt the headiness of spying on international money managers slip away, overcome by dysfunctional family psychology that ate up his chi and left him feeling...helpless. He exhaled deeply and stared at the ceiling of the cab. What am I supposed to do? From somewhere deep in his childhood, the voice of a neighbor answered him: "You are the first-born son: the honor and the duty are both to you."

A catbird screeched her imitation of the cacophony of downtown car honking while a pink warbler slowly flew above Wu's taxi all the way home.

Next week: the unexpected visits of more than one mother.

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