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, January 23, 2011

Hearts and Minds

It was the first meeting of 2011 for the Washington chapter of Sense of Entitlement Anonymous. (They had all shared a tacit understanding that self-control and sacrifice were contrary to the spirit of the holiday season.) Dick Cheney had offered to host this time, knowing that his heart was in such bad shape that his wife Lynn would feel obliged to see to the housecleaning and refreshments. He was explaining how he didn't want a pig heart transplant: "Am I wrong to think that a man who has done as much public service as I have should be at the top of the list for a human donor?"

"You should go to Iraq," said Bridezilla, who had taken to wearing surgical gloves to avoid touching germs and, on occasions like this, white silk gloves on top of those. "I'm sure you would be on the top of the list for human donors there: what U.S. soldier would not die happy knowing his heart was going to you?" She smiled smugly because she was the first person to think of this obvious solution. Calico Johnson agreed this was a great idea and, more importantly, stated it was not an excessive sense of entitlement for the former Vice President to feel he deserved a human heart transplant.

A couple others nodded, but some members remained silent, including Judge Sowell Ame: he had seen his fair share of humanity's pathos parade through his court, and while he let most of it float over his own walled-off heart, he could imagine quite a few of society's ailing masses that could make better use of a human heart transplant than an elderly, retired politician. (Ame was also feeling a tad guilty about the news that a 45-year-old Justice Department attorney had keeled over and died from a heart attack brought on by the shock of Ame's ruling for the Old Dominion Boat Club and against the U.S. Government in a lawsuit that had languished in various stages of appeal for 50 years until the Ghost of Christmas Future had visited Ame in a dream and showed him the evil that would befall the U.S. Government if it actually won the case. Ame would not be feeling so guilty about the Justice Department attorney's death if Ame had not placed a $10,000 bet with Justice Prissy Face that the Justice Department would finally give up, and not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.) "I think we should talk about people's sense of entitlement in the court system--like that stupid British woman who sued Simon Cowell for insulting her singing on television."

"We're not here to talk about other people's sense of entitlement!" scowled Cheney, who was aggravated that nobody seemed very concerned about the condition of his heart.

"Well, aren't I and other judges entitled not to have to hear stupid lawsuits from people with a false sense of entitlement?"

"Sure," said Calico Johnson, who had been sued dozens of times since becoming a real estate mogul. "Let's go back to letting people settle their grievances through violence!"

"Really, Judge Ame," said Bridezilla, "judges have nobody to blame but themselves--you have the power to toss lawsuits as frivolous!" (Bridezilla had filed about 300 motions to have lawsuits dismissed as frivolous, but the Prince and Prowling attorney had only prevailed on one--and she was fairly certain that the senior attorney had bribed the judge in that instance.)

At that point, Lynn Cheney floated into the room in a red velvet and leather full-length ball gown she had gotten marked down from $1,700 to $300 at Filene's basement, and she handed out steaming cups of Irish coffee from the antique silver tea service she had bought for $22 at the Christ Child consignment shop in Georgetown. She had smoothed plenty of ruffles over the years with her special recipe (hint: Nyquil and a pinch of chewing tobacco), and she always seemed to know the precise moment to appear. (The beverage was well-received; her outfit, not so much.)

Across the river, the Heurich Society was having its own meeting, but these members were in a fairly happy mood. First of all, Angela de la Paz had succeeded in her first mission--taking Baby Doc Duvalier from France back to Haiti. Secondly, Angela de la Paz had already opened up new channels of communication in both Egypt and Syria, and the Heurich Society was sitting on the pulse of the repercussions of the revolution in Tunisia. Finally, the state visit from China turned out to be a non-event. "It's time to refocus on Project Prometheus and Project Cinderella," Henry Samuelson reminded the chair, who resented not being allowed even ten minutes to drink champagne and revel with his comrades over a heady week.

A couple blocks away, Congressman Herrmark was brunching with Congressman Issa, who was explaining to Herrmark how his AIG subpoena on the Federal Reserve Board was just the beginning of his ten-step plan to eviscerate the Fed and save the world. Herrmark's new bodyguards, Nick and Costas, stood back-to-back behind his chair, jointly performing a repetitive 360-degree scan of the restaurant--though more than one lovely lady did cause them occasional distractions. (Several patrons tried to guess who this V.I.P. was that needed two muscular bodyguards who looked like they had just stepped out of a Greek casting call for "Troy", and one patron thought he looked like the 2008 Upper Class Twit of the Year, though grayer.) "Is the Fed really so bad?" asked Congressman Herrmark, whose fortune was safely in the hands of the Fed's favorite investment bankers at JP Morgan Chase--except for the three million that had quintupled in a hedge fund.

"Wake up! Do you know how long we've been off the gold standard? And that's just the beginning! I'm telling you, we need to rehab the Fed from top to bottom. AIG!" And then he snorted.

"Hmmm," said Congressman Herrmark, "you know, I'd be happy to give you my support on that if I could get your support against hydrofracking."

Congressman Issa stabbed his sausage so hard that a fork prong broke off onto the china plate. "You better figure out whose side you're on, Herrmark!" The hostility in his voice took Herrmark aback, and even prompted concerned looks from Nick and Costas. Two tables away, a Halliburton lobbyist took a cellphone photo of the Congressmen, then wrote some notes on his hand.

Over at George Washington University Hospital, Dr. Khalid Mohammad had thought he saw it all until two-dozen copycats with self-inflicted stabbing wounds went through the emergency room within 24 hours of internet news aggregators' blasting the story about tripping on bath salts. Despite the chilling stories about people who had hallucinated so maniacally that they had slashed themselves with knives (some to death), the atttendant mention of three-day binges of salts-sniffing had sounded intriguing enough to attract the attention of two residents of the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged, five residents of Dupont Down Under, and an entire girl scout troop from McLean. Now he was on his fifth case of hypothermia caused by copycat polar plungers who had read about yesterday's jump into the Potomac River to raise attention to global warming and decided to try it for themselves today--without, unfortunately, the warming station that had been set up the day before at the pre-planned event. If triage were done for stupidity, it would be a very different emergency room.

A couple miles away, the Coast Guard's Marcos Vazquez had just pulled another man from the icy Potomac waters, and, like the ones before him, he wasn't ranting about the cold--he was ranting that something had tried to pull him down to the bottom. (Vazquez knew it was Ardua but said nothing to his partner or to the chattering men they were treating.) Scanning the area for more copycats, they spotted a fully naked Charles Wu heading in for a dip at National Harbor, but by the time they got their boat over there, he was already back on shore and inside a battery-warmed sleeping bag drying off. Wu's father waved off the Coast Guard boat, and as it sped away, Charles Wilkinson Montgomery marveled at the physical specimen his son had grown into--a man who could have been an accomplished athlete in a dozen different sports had he not been more drawn to intellectual and commercial pursuits. There was no doubt he had been born with the most robust, healthy, unbeatable DNA of the family, while his recently departed brother had been cursed with the weakest, sickliest, most doomed DNA imaginable. What was scary about the past week was that the more his remaining son seemed to vent his rage and grief in extreme physical activity, the more agitated Wu became. Montgomery really had no idea how to comfort his son...or his recently reconciled wife. In fact, none of them knew how to comfort each other. It took three days of conflict before the three had finally agreed that Phillip should be flown back to England and buried where he had grown up--where his friends and colleagues all lived. While the men were asleep this morning, Wu's mother Ha Ling had left a goodbye note for them and snuck outside to hail a taxi to the airport to fly back to Hong Kong. Tonight, Wu and his father would accompany Phillip on his final worldly journey without the mother Phillip had only known in the final months of his life. Wu emerged from the sleeping bag fully clothed, thanked his father for handing him the thermos of hot tea, and the two walked in silence away from the river.

Deep in the Potomac, Ardua was seething: her morning sickness had made her too ill to pull down even the weakest humans in shock, let alone lay a single tentacle on Charles Wu. And yesterday, the Beaver had told her that his investigation of the Prophecy was still rather fuzzy, but the Prophecy apparently said that Ardua would conceive of a demon even greater than herself and would die in childbirth bringing it into the world--but that progeny would then succeed in plunging the entire Potomac area into an evil darkness unimaginable even to Ardua herself. "I will die for nobody," vowed Ardua to herself, "least of all this child of him." She slunk over to the Tidal Basin where she could glare across the water and the Mall at the White House--where President Obama's bitterest of hopelessness tears had washed down the shower drain, survived the journey through the wastewater treatment plant, and then wound its way through the Potomac River to the womb that Ardua had never known she possessed. Deep inside her, the bitterest of dying hopes--which should have filled her with glee--fed upon her own acridity and grew larger and stronger every day. And the angrier Ardua became about it, the stronger the baby grew. "This cannot stand," she said to nobody but herself, for she knew nobody could (or would) help her: she would have to deal with it on her own.

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