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 ....

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Not Exactly

Liv Cigemeier and her husband posed under the cherry blossom tree as an obliging tourist took their photo for them--a social reciprocity being repeated all around the tidal basin. It scarcely counted as a lovely spring day, but they would take what they could get. Liv was over the moon because her boss had told her on Friday that they had just received a $5,000,000 project for International Development Machine to work with women in Afghanistan. The donor was anonymous because of the danger of the project, and Liv imagined it was Angelina Jolie or perhaps the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (She couldn't have been further from the truth.) Her husband was also in a good mood because he was being courted by another law firm and getting ready to play hardball with Prince and Prowling.

A few miles away, the managing partner of Prince and Prowling was reviewing the situation. It was bad enough that half the senior partners had been through his office during the past two weeks to ask if what happened at Howrey could happen here! (Of course not!) Then there were the multiple sexual harassment suits they had settled because of Chloe Cleavage and her leverage against former Senator Evermore Breadman. Bridezilla--once the eye candy that every partner wanted to bring to depositions--now spent all of her time holed up in her office with four air purifier machines, a private printer and fax machine so she never had to touch one that anybody else had touched, and a gallon-sized jug of hand sanitizer on her desk. Then there was "temporary" workhorse Laura Moreno, who was the most profitable attorney at the firm (defending three class actions on sub-prime mortgage lenders virtually herself!), but if he ever hired her she would probably go out on disability straight away; as it is, her health was not going to support her much longer and he was going to lose her one way or another. But the biggest problem of all was the new law firm courting his practice groups: Lye, Cheit, and Steele. He was certain Cigemeier would need a raise to stay at Prince and Prowling, maybe even an early bump onto the partner track. The others were still a toss-up. He put aside the personnel files to take a break and peruse the recommendations of the interior decorator for how to make the law firm's aesthetic more universally appealing. The illustrated portfolio included a photo of an 300-pound elderly woman with a big toothless smile, a decaying tobacco barn photographed from three different angles, several self-portraits of African-Americans from the east side of town, a painting of coal miners with soot on their faces, a photo of a factory floor circa 1900 with women and children working on machines, a needlepointed American flag in a red frame, a photograph of American fighter planes over Pakistan, a bust of George Washington, and a double-portrait of founding partners Prince and Prowling depicted as Tragedy and Comedy. He closed the portfolio, walked out of his office in search of Laura Moreno, found her in the workroom as usual, handed her the portfolio, and asked her to decide what Prince and Prowling should purchase. "I'll send a note to the partner that I had an emergency this morning and you were the only one around--take your time." Moreno took off her arthritis gloves and started paging through the appalling portfolio trying to figure out if this was a joke or a trick.

A couple of blocks away, Charles Wu was staring at the Tree of Peace in the foyer of the Organization of American States. It was only a century old, but apparently in the context of a young country, this was considered quite an old tree. Had there ever been a year since 1492 when guns were not being fired somewhere in the Americas? His eyes looked up as Eva Brown continued the small tour, showing her young, adopted, "Chinese" (Tajik) daughter the flora sections for the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and then North America--where Wu stood by the Tree of Peace. Wu had not seen her since they were in western China together, but he was not surprised that the Secretary of State had sent her today. "Did you finish law school?" Wu asked politely, though he already knew the answer and she knew that he already knew the answer. She shook her head and started talking about Libya as her daughter wandered off, waving a fairy wand randomly and bopping her head to a song she was quietly humming to herself. Wu's second small-talk question was going to be about the young girl, but the moment had already passed.

Back at the Tidal Basin, Golden Fawn and her grandmother were also braving the chilly breeze--not to view the cherry blossoms, but to keep an eye on Ardua of the Potomac. Golden Fawn's grandmother had made her decision: they needed to kill Eeteebsee in the womb, because if he was born, he would be a more powerful and terrible demon than his other mother had ever been, In all her years as an Elder of her people, she had never had to make such a decision--it was like making a deal with the devil. It didn't help that when Golden Fawn had introduced her grandmother to The Warrior that he had disagreed completely, saying that he had seen prophecies come and go, and trying to prevent a prophecy always had unforeseen consequences. He had also told them that becoming a killer would change them forever, and they would need powerful medicine to withstand the danger to their own souls. Finally, he had asked them to await the return of the girl, Angela de la Paz, because he believed it was her destiny to destroy Ardua. "The cancer is thinking about coming back," said Golden Fawn's grandmother, who had very unscientific ideas about why Golden Fawn had gone through a breast cancer fight a few years back. Golden Fawn looked at her grandmother, but she said nothing more; it had always been this way, with her grandmother saying something plain and simple and expecting Golden Fawn to understand a hundred other things from it. It had been good preparation for marriage, Golden Fawn thought, and a smile briefly crossed her lips, and then another cool breeze stung her eyes, and she recalled the problem at hand. Are we strong enough to kill this baby? she wondered. Maybe we will have no choice but to wait for Angela to return. "It's going to rain," her grandmother said, but they did not get up to leave.

Several miles away, Mia wiped her hands on the cherry blossom apron Congressman Herrmark had given her (in a brief fit of guilt about not taking her to see the cherry blossoms in person), then picked up the plate of chopped vegetables to dump into the skillet, where she would stir fry them with ginger and soy sauce. The first few days she had been here, he had tried to give her an American cookbook and show her how to use the microwave oven, but had quickly given up on it--he didn't have time to teach her every little thing. So it was his bodyguards Nick and Costas who taught her to use the washing machine and the ice maker and the toaster. She still would not use the dryer, and the men continued to find wet clothes hanging all over the house, but they were patient with her, since she was probably only 14 or 15, and very far from home. Congressman Herrmark had told his bodyguards she was a maid from the Philippines, but they knew he was lying. He had picked her up on his trip to the Marianas, and she was probably from Laos or Cambodia. When they had told their cousin Ann Bishis about it, she had hesitated for a minute, then said, "well, I'm sure this is a better life than she had in the Marianas". The girl slept in the bedroom of Congressman Herrmark, though once when he was in the shower, his bodyguards saw her curled up asleep in the wing chair, so they really were not sure what was going on in there. She didn't have any bruises, so they couldn't exactly say there was anything wrong...not exactly. Nick got out the plates while Costas poured another cup of coffee for Congressman Herrmark, who was catching up on his hydrofracking reading in the dining room and thinking how delicious lunch was smelling. Outside the dining room window, a raven watched him intensely until Congressman Herrmark noticed it, got aggravated, and threw a pencil at the window to shoo it away.

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