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 17, 2010

Primal

The Drum Circle was under way at Meridian Hill Park, and Sebastian L'Arche was explaining its therapeutic benefits to his pupil, Becky Hartley, who was tapping her cowboy boots and watching the dogs carefully. At first L'Arche had nothing in common with the young Texan and nothing to talk about except animals, but she really had a gift, and he needed the extra help now that his summer helpers were back in school. Hartley was the daughter of a Dallas veterinarian who specialized in prescribing pet Prozac; she was working in D.C. for a pharmaceutical company and moonlighting with the dog whisperer on the side. "The drumming has an immediate effect on the sympathetic nervous system: it commands attention and diverts the creature's conscious mind away from anxiety-filled thought patterns." Hartley nodded in agreement, watching two twitchy Dachsunds wagging their tiny tails in a trancelike state and a Great Dane chewing a rubber bone in rhythm with the drummers. "It's good for monkeys, too, but I haven't had a monkey in awhile." (He was remembering the coal lobbyist who had insisted on taking his wife's pet monkey into the hot tub last spring--that had required a couple months of pet therapy.) "It's important to hold the leash tight: too much freedom can also be frightening." He could just as well have been speaking of the Afghanistan war veteran who was twirling erratically in the center of the drum circle, nearly falling over several times. "The dogs feel the primal force of the drums, but like all sentient creatures, they know primal forces are both creative and destructive." Hartley looked confused. "You can't live with it, you can't live without it," said L'Arche, and Hartley nodded. "It's inside and outside of all of us," L'Arche added. Hartley smiled because her dogs had stopped pulling at their leashes and were now perfectly in harmony with the rhythm.

A mile to the north, Charles Wu's mother was strolling around Target with her son, walking in perfect rhythm with the repetitive squeak of the cart wheel. "Everything's so cheap here!" she said, still incredulous that 90% of the merchandise in the store was made in China. "Look at this!" she said for the twentieth time, and he dutifully nodded his head in amazement at a trick-or-treat bucket shaped like a pumpkin. Wu had toured plenty of Chinese factories, but his mother was still amazed at all the mysterious Americana which had been manufactured in China and shipped to America. She watched as a child reached into a candy bowl display and an animated hand jumped out to grab at the shrieking child. "Let's get this!" she said, laughing. "Phillip will love it!" Wu actually agreed, grabbed one off the shelf, and tossed it into the shopping cart. His mother had still not admitted that Phillip was also her son, but she was getting there. On Monday she had made Charles take her to Chinatown to buy all the proper ingredients for her to make her lucky dumpling soup for Phillip. On Tuesday she had insisted on going back to Chinatown to pick up herbs from Lynnette Wong to make a paste for the back of Phillip's neck, insisting that he couldn't walk because his father didn't know how to take care of him. On Wednesday she had insisted that Phillip go for acupuncture. On Thursday Charles had summoned all the courage he had and said simply, "Ma, can't you just hug him?", which had led to her disappearance into the bathroom for ninety minutes. On Friday she had finally agreed to sit and have a chat with her ex-husband, Charles Wilkinson Montgomery. Saturday had a lot of awkward silences, but tonight they were going to have dinner together as a family--well, at least with all four of them in the same room at the same time. From behind the skeleton costumes, a frowning Henry Samuelson was watching Ha Ling scoop up candy corn and beginning to think he may have wasted his money flying her out from Hong Kong. Wu caught sight of him and almost smiled because Samuelson's intentions had backfired so spectacularly--but Wu was not nearly confident enough about everything to muster the smile.

Marcos Vazquez's mother was also strolling around Target with her son, both of them relieved to have separated Teresa from her daughter-in-law, Golden Fawn. At first the unexpected visit of Teresa had meant lots of home-cooked meals, scrubbed tubs and sinks, spotlessly dusted furniture, and immaculately pruned houseplants. Then Teresa's rheumatoid arthritis had kicked in, leaving her on the couch most of the time, dependent on her son and daughter-in-law. And slowly the nit-picking began (this soup could be warmer, this bread is stale, this couch is lumpy, that music is weird, it's too dark in here, it's too light in here, it's too cold in here...) until Golden Fawn had retreated to her bedroom, protesting that if they were going to have an elderly relative live with them, her grandmother was needier than Teresa Vazquez. And then Marcos had brought up the rheumatoid arthritis, and Golden Fawn had claimed Teresa was exaggerating it to get sympathy, and they had argued about that. And Golden Fawn was suspicious about why Teresa was being vague about how long she was staying, and Marcos had pointed out that they had a spare bedroom in their condo and it was no big deal. And then Golden Fawn had again said it would be more just to invite her grandmother to live with them, and Marcos had countered that she should, the two women could keep each other company, and she had accused him of not being serious, and he had insisted he was being serious. Teresa Vazquez examined a bronze candle holder carefully, thinking that a larger votive shrine would bring more peace to her son's home-she was worried that her son was no longer a good Catholic, and who knew what that pagan woman had him doing? Dark spirits were always gathering around her daughter-in-law, and she needed to protect her son.

A few miles further north, Liv Cigemeier awoke with a start from her afternoon nap on the couch: it always ended the same, with the labor pains and pushing the baby out, but the baby was dead. Her husband was watching her from the desk, his hands poised in mid-air above his laptop. "You OK, babe?" And she nodded and headed to the bathroom, just as she always did, trying to shake off the real feeling of the dream. And he looked back at his Prince and Prowling memo, just as he always did, trying to shake off the real feeling of her dream.

Next week: Glenn Michael Beckmann tries to blow up Green Festival!

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