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, February 27, 2011

Energy Futures (Che, Chi, and Cha Cha Cha)

"You look tired," said Che Flaco, as they walked over to the park near Sacred Heart Cathedral after buying pastries and pop from the Salvadoran vendors outside the church.

Charles Wu pondered this comment for a moment, uncertain how to respond since nobody had ever said that to him before. He examined his pastry curiously, but could see Che Flaco and Che Gordo digging in enthusiastically, so he took a small bite as they all sat down on a bench. "It's been a really, really, really busy week," he said at last. He remembered seeing the dark circles under his eyes when he got up this morning and looked in the mirror, and he now realized that's what the comment was about. He had been running himself ragged all week between his contacts for the British, Chinese, and American governments, and his sources. He was in taxis every day listening to the African grapevine out of Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria. He was running searches on the listening devices he had planted all over the sources of power in Washington. This used to be fun, even exhilarating; now--.

"There was a lot of surprise when China went along with the U.N against Libya," Che Gordo said. He suspected Wu had been a decisive force in that vote, but Wu made no comment. "But Gaddafi is still surrounded by too many yes-men to face the truth."

"I thought Gaddafi was surrounded by beautiful ninja women," said Wu.

Che Gordo and Che Flaco laughed out loud--this was more like the Wu they were used to. "Yes," Che Flaco said, "he's got his female bodyguards. A lot of women still support him because he gave them more rights than they used to have--and more rights than most Arab women have in other countries. But having as much freedom as the men have inside a dictatorship is still a very small amount of freedom."

"It's the corruption, really," said Che Gordo. "People get tired of being poor and exploited." Wu was always hearing things like this from the Che's. "And seeing the same man on top for decades--after awhile, you wonder, why? Why should he be on top of our country?"

Wu was really too tired for this and just wanted to get some actual intelligence. "How strong are the rebel forces?"

"Strong," the Che's said in unison. "But it's gonna be bloody," added Che Flaco, "and it's not over in Egypt, either."

"I hear there's a girl," said Wu. "What's that about?" Wu and Project R.O.D.H.A.M. were well aware of Angela de la Paz's "infiltration" of their Egyptian cell, but he wanted to know if it was true she had been operating in other countries in the region.

"She came out of nowhere," said Che Flaco. (Che Gordo just shook his head and continued chewing.) "And she moves with lightning speed--people, walls, locks, guards, even borders are like nothing to her. And nobody knows what she looks like because if that veil comes off, the witnesses are all found dead. Some think she's from Mossad--a trained Palestinian double agent."

"Some?" said Wu. "What do the others think?" He knew she was no Palestinian, but Project R.O.D.H.A.M. had no real handle on her.

"Lebanese, Italian, Greek, Brazilian, maybe a Venezuelan operative from Hugo Chavez," said Che Gordo. "Some think she's the unknown granddaughter of Carlos the Jackal."

"What does she really want?" asked Wu.

"What does any woman really want!?" laughed Che Flaco.

A couple miles to the south, Lynnette Wong came out of her storeroom to model another dress for her friend who was minding her Chinatown herb store while Wong was showing her the gowns she had picked up from Macy's. "Oh, that midnight blue is beautiful on you!" her friend said. Her friend had also said the jade green, apple red, and champagne-colored gowns were beautiful. Charles Wu had handed her a Macy's gift card to pick up a dress for tonight's Oscar party, and it was not until she went to the store that she found out it had two-thousand dollars on it; she didn't know if he wanted her to get a two-thousand-dollar dress, or if she was supposed to get new shoes, make-up, and jewelry, too. In fact, she had no idea whatsoever why he was going to this benefit for the American Red Cross, nor why he had invited her--he had told her it was important for businessmen "like them" to show civic spirit, but in the past he would have used the $2,000 to write a check. She knew he didn't LIKE her like her, but he had been acting strangely ever since his brother died and his parents left. She shrugged her shoulders and looked to her friend for a more specific comment on the dress, but the shop bell rang as a customer entered the shop, so Wong returned to the storeroom to try on the lemon yellow silk dress.

Over in Dupont Circle, the Heurich Society was meeting in the Brewmaster Castle, and they were the only ones who really knew what Angela de la Paz wanted--or, rather, what she had been ordered to do for them. Arab refugees were on the run, oil prices were shooting up, and the Clinton State Department was scrambling like a Chinese fire drill. "Obama is feckless," cackled Condoleezza Rice over the speakerphone, gleefully crowing about how the Obama White House was cringing as the House of Representatives used its Power of the Purse like a bag of quarters to beat up everybody they didn't like. "We can re-shape the face of the Middle East NOW!" added Rice. Henry Samuelson smirked, feeling exuberantly vindicated about Project Cinderella and Project Prometheus.

On the other end of Dupont Circle, Charles Wu had made his way over to Trio's to meet with the Condor to catch up on petroleum futures. "Mmmmmm," said the Condor, as Wu sat down, because the Condor was already happily eating--nothing cheered him up after a tumultuous week of petroleum futures like a delicious meal at Trio's. "Try this," he finally mustered after swallowing, pushing his plate towards Wu, who waved it off politely and assured him he would order the same thing. "The Listening Session was brutal," the Condor said, shaking his head grimly. "I think the EPA is going to do it. They let the Sierra Club set up a table right outside the hearing room, for God's sake! The nonprofits and think tanks are all behind EPA, and some of the utility companies have crossed over--the efficient ones, the co-generation experts all have an advantage if this goes through. And Shell's argument that U.S refineries were operating on 'thin' margins and would surely be crushed by foreign oil imports if they had to bend to any more regulations from EPA went over like a lead balloon. I don't think it helped that baby dolphins were washing up on the Gulf Coast this week--dolphins conceived right before the BP oil spill."

"But if Congress strips EPA of the power--"

"The House is being run by yokels right now, and they don't understand that the courts have already decided that EPA is mandated to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. They can make all the de-funding attempts they want, but the Senate is not going to go along with gutting the Clear Air Act, and as long as it's on the books, the EPA will have to deal with court orders."

Wu stifled a yawn. He knew--he really did know--that Wednesday's relatively obscure hearing in the small Ariel Rios conference room about establishing new source performance standards was extremely important to the fossil fuels industry, but it was all so...tedious. "What about Libya?"


"Wait, what did you say about baby dolphins?" asked the waitress hovering behind the two, frowning.

A few miles away, Golden Fawn was in the bridgeman's quarters with Dubious McGinty, looking down on Ardua of the Potomac. She was chewing the sunflower seeds sacred to her people and spitting the husks into the water. (She had offered some to McGinty, but they made his gums hurt.) It had been a cold, cold winter, and she and her husband had just gotten back from a week's respite in Puerto Rico, where Marcos Vazquez's mother had finally returned to live after months of turning Golden Fawn's life upside down. The arguments about whether Europeans had deliberately slaughtered American Indians or innocently wiped them out through the spread of disease, Teresa's decision to surprise them with a complete make-over by Closet Maid and the ensuing three weeks of renovations to clean up and repair the damage, the draperies that burned up after Teresa fell asleep praying before her shrine to the Virgin Mary to cleanse the home of evil, the three successive pairs of dogwood trees that died within hours of the condo company's planting them in the front garden, the electrical outlets that shorted out every time Teresa insisted on plugging in her ancient hair dryer, the broken washing machine which could not handle the stress of laundering Teresa's full set of linens on a daily basis because everything in the home felt corrupted and evil to her--Golden Fawn felt like she was slowly coming out of a strange, strange dream. So many times she had tried to explain to her mother-in-law that she agreed about the demons, but Teresa was going about it all wrong. So many arguments. And finally they had flown to Puerto Rico, sunbathed, swam in the ocean, and stopped talking about Washington for a week. Now Golden Fawn was back. "Yes," she told McGinty when he first found her on Roosevelt Island praying, "I know she's pregnant." This was her second visit since then, but she was still undecided who was the larger threat--Ardua or the unborn child prophesied to destroy her. "He came to me in a dream last night," Golden Fawn said. ("He?") "Yes, it's a boy. His name is Eeteebsee. He asked me to help him kill Ardua after he is born." ("Should we?") "I don't know yet."

Back in Chinatown, Charles Wu showed up at Lynnette Wong's shop hours early for their date to the Oscar party. "Can you give me something to help me sleep a little while?" he asked, and she gave him some herbs and the key to her apartment so he could go upstairs and sleep. She had never seen his chi so low--he was like a completely different person. I better wear the orange gown, she thought, stifling an urge to go tuck him in.

Out in the Potomac, Ardua looked up at Dubious McGinty and Golden Fawn on the bridge overlook above her, groaned and rolled over.


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