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 ....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back to Work

"She's a bitch on wheels!"

Laura Moreno looked up to see the new contract attorney from Seattle walking into the workroom.

"First she yelled at me for using a chair with wheels to move boxes, then she yelled at me for writing with a marker on the boxes, then she yelled at me for stacking the boxes at the empty secretary station, then she yelled at me for the missing box she found under the conference table." Laura shook her head in sympathy with the livid young man. "I even brought her coffee from Starbucks this morning--her tepid 'thanks' was the only civil word I've heard out of her all day!"

"You can't take it personally," said Moreno, who was yelled at by the paralegal-from-Hell within five minutes of first meeting her.

"She's a bitch and a half! If she ever spoke like that to an associate or a partner, she'd be out on her ass!"

"But she doesn't," said Moreno. "We're the dogs she likes to kick. All you can do is keep as much distance from her as possible."

"How?" he asked.

"The only thing they care about here is getting it done quickly and billing it to the client. Just try to focus on the work like a laser beam. If she SLOWS you down in any way, let the partner know."

"The partner?" he asked incredulously, not even having enough nerve to let an associate know, or even Chloe Cleavage.

"It's either that or let it roll off your back," said Moreno, who was so burnt out at Prince and Prowling that she had actually started fantasizing about getting fired. "The only way to win is not to care." Even as the words escaped her lips, she realized she sounded like a heroin junkie in a film she once saw.

"OWWWW!"

The two contract attorneys rushed out into the hallway to see who had screamed; it was Charles Wu, who had abruptly paused to examine a new painting on the wall and gotten rammed in the back of his legs with a box cart pushed by the paralegal-from-Hell.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly, recognizing Wu as a frequent visitor. Wu nodded without saying anything, then limped off to see former Senator Evermore Breadman. "What are YOU looking at?!" she then screamed at the two contract attorneys staring at her, and Moreno pulled her companion back into the workroom before he was tempted to open his mouth.

Not far away, Wu was limping into Breadman's office.

"What happened to you?!" exclaimed the former Senator.

"Nothing," said Wu, whose chi was so powerful that the pain was already subsiding and no bruise or scratch would remain. "I found a solution for you," added Wu.

"For Congressman Herrmark?" asked Breadman, hopefully.

"Oh, not for that," said Wu. "The mediation on the river case."

"You got the fix in with the mediator?" whispered Breadman, his eyes shining in glee.

"Umm, no--something better," said Wu, who had never thought injecting bribery into a case of this magnitude was worth the risk to his reputation. "Your client's in-house counsel just got a job offer that she could not refuse, so she's off the case. The new counsel will file for a contin--"

"That's just a delay," said Breadman. "It's brilliant--don't get me wrong, I'm grateful--but my client is still going to have to pay 45 years of legal fees eventually. We have to persuade the mediator to do the right thing!"

"This will give me time to get to know the mediator," said Wu. "Put some ideas into her head."

The former Senator was dubious, but Wu had never failed him yet.

A few miles away, Congressman Herrmark was returning to his office after voting against raising the debt limit. Ann Bishis said, "you need to call--", but Herrmark waved her off and headed straight to his private office. He closed the door and locked it because he needed time to think. He sat down on the leather couch, then kicked off his shoes and lay down. He stared at the ceiling and pondered the deal he had just been offered in exchange for support on closing the Halliburton loophole--it seemed too good to be true. He wished Mia were here to rub his feet...or his shoulders....

Several miles to the west, the 5G consultants of Bo-Oz were being interviewed by the General Counsel at Booz Allen, who had been warned that Justice Department subpoenas were on the way. After her more general questions were deflected, she got straight to the point: "Did you, or did you not, give International Development Machine $5 million to harvest eggs from Afghan women for the purpose of selling them in Europe and North America?"

"The project was a reproductive health project," said Fen Do Ping, the former Federal Reserve Board economist who had been recruited by the Bo-Oz team just before the IDM project was launched. "We did nothing illegal!" he whined, but the others--who had grown up in the U.S. and watched plenty of cop shows--remained silent.

"Fine," said the General Counsel. I will isolate Ping later and get him to squeal on the others. "I'll be in touch." She stood up to signal them to leave.

Meanwhile, the General Counsel's nanny was in Rose Park watching her charge play on the swings with the other children under the care of the members of Nannies United to Take Y Chromosomes (N.U.T.T.Y.) At first overjoyed by the news that a domestic worker had successfully seduced a man as powerful as Arnold Schwarzenegger, they had become increasingly downcast at the social backlash. They were also distressed that it appeared Schwarzenegger had never had any relationship with his love child. While money was a terrific motive and something they were never loathe to discuss, the truth was that they also believed their lovers cared more for them than their wives. They were all uneasy, but nobody dared verbalize what was on everybody's mind.

A few miles away, Dubious McGinty stepped out of the air-conditioned comfort of his secret lair in the Bridgeman's quarters, felt the hot sun hit him immediately, then looked down into the Potomac. Sometimes he wondered how good it would feel to jump into that cool river water smack in the middle of a hot, hot day, and enjoy it as God intended--without a goddam demon swirling all around you and trying to suck out your soul. It was quiet today, all the Rolling Thunder motorcycles gone and the holiday revelers back to work. Another pointless Memorial Day, honoring war veterans in every possible way but the one that would actually matter--ending war. He spit at Ardua of the Potomac and walked back inside.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Patriot Act-ors

Sebastian L'Arche walked slowly up to the dog and Federal Reserve Board police officer stationed on 21st Street and identified himself as the contractor who was supposed to take a look at the yellow labrador. "You're the dog whisperer?" asked the officer, and L'Arche nodded. "Go on," the officer said to his golden retriever, giving her the signal to inspect (sniff) L'Arche, but the retriever instead lay down on the sidewalk and rolled onto her back. "Huh," said the officer, as L'Arche squatted down to scratch her belly. "Alright, come this way."

A few miles to the east, Atticus Hawk was pretending to organize things in his Justice Department desk drawer as Ava Kahdo Green sat in his visitor chair examining a green espadrille shoe she had taken off her right foot and railing about the renewal of the Patriot Act. "I can't help but agree with Rand Paul and Dick Durbin on this one," she said, fussing over some raised stitching which was irritating the back of her ankle.

"Well--"

"I mean, if we have a reason to spy on somebody, why not go to a judge to get the warrant? The NSA could be spying on anybody at any time, for any reason, for no good reason. Most Americans still don't get it--they think it's somebody ELSE being spied on, somebody that deserves it." She looked up at him and smiled provocatively, sensing the rebelliousness hidden in his quiet and reserved demeanor.

"Well," said Hawk (who had changed his home and cellphone numbers half a dozen times in the past two years when he was afraid that the CIA torture investigation was going to nail him), "it's natural for any organization to want to maximize its own power." He was moving rubber bands from one side of his desk drawer to the other. "So, of course, we want to see more warrants and FBI-like procedures. CIA doesn't. NSA doesn't. Supreme Court has washed its hands of it."

"They didn't wash their hands of the Arizona mess! How the hell does a state have the power to set immigration enforcement laws?"

"Well--"

"People who look a certain way have to walk around with identity cards now! What does that sound like to you? South Africa under apartheid, that's what! Or Nazi Germany! Let's take people with green cards and force them to wear arm bands with a big 'G' symbol, for God's sake."

"They don't use green cards anymore."

"You know what I mean!" It exasperated her that he was so secretive about his work and his views and, well, anything she tried to get out of him, but the more mysterious he remained, the more obsessed she got with him. He had a just-the-facts, ma'am way of speaking with her that drove her wild. "If it's patriotic AND un-American, then whose fatherland are we hailing?"

Over at the Lincoln Memorial, Glenn Michael Beckmann was also railing against the Patriot Act, having forgotten that many years earlier he had mailed death threats to every Representative who had voted against it. "We are the Hunter-Gatherer Society. We have existed from the beginning and will exist to the end. Nobody can stop our right to hunt and gather." Holly Gonightly was two steps behind him, her clandestine video camera quietly recording everything. She handed out flyers, buttons, and bumper stickers, but she let Beckmann pocket the cash donations so that she could never be accused of violating any laws during her undercover investigation. "This unconstitutional government is spying on EVERYBODY!" he shouted at some Chinese tourists he suspected of being Viet Cong. Then he grunted and leaned down to scratch a mosquito bite on his ankle, coming within a quarter-inch of accidentally shooting himself in the foot with the gun he had strapped to his shin under his camouflage pants.

Meanwhile, FBI officials were closing in on International Development Machine. They stepped off the elevator into a nondescript hallway, verified the name on the suite door, and walked briskly in, guns drawn. The commanding officer demanded to know where the president was.

"President Obama?" she asked in a whisper, her hands up in the air.

"The president of International Development Machine!" the c.o. barked.

The receptionist pointed in a vague direction behind her, and the c.o. motioned for his officers to proceed. They repeated the question three more times until Liv Cigemeier pointed them to the boss's office. The c.o. marched in and told him he was under arrest, then recited federal statutes the president was accused of violating. "What did he do?!" demanded Momzilla to a petite female officer standing in front of Momzilla's desk.

"He purchased eggs from Afghan women," she said.

"Eggs?"

"Human eggs!" The officer glared at Momzilla. "He paid corrupt Afghani doctors to harvest eggs from unsuspecting women, then used heroin smugglers to get them out and sell them for huge profits in Europe and North America."

Momzilla turned to Liv in amazement, her palms turned up in bewilderment.

"5G consulting," whispered Liv. "Bo-oz...." Her voice trailed off, and all was silent as the president of International Development Machine took the long walk out of the office, his head held down.

Back at the Federal Reserve Board, Sebastian L'Arche was finally face-to-face with the yellow labrador, who had quite a lot to talk about.

Perched outside the Federal Reserve Building palace, a raven watched in silence.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mega

MOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Calico Johnson awoke with a start from his post-golfing nap and nearly fell out of his hammock.

MOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

He turned to look behind him and saw a huge cow staring at him from the other side of the hydrangea bushes. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, but she was still there. Then she lowered her head and began grazing on his Potomac Manors estate.

Several miles further south along the Potomac, Nick and Costas were teaching Charles Wu how to play flamingo football. "Very simple," said Nick. "Girls against guys," said his twin, Costas. "Guys play on one leg to make it fair," said Nick. (Wu had done a few undignified things in his spying career, but Wu had never had to stoop to using one-leggedness as an excuse to grope and tackle girls. There has to be an easier way to spy on Congressman Herrmark.) "Mega fun!" added Costas, as he demonstrated to Wu how (moderately) adept he was at hopping around on one leg with a football under his arm. "Great American invention!" concluded Nick. "Like hydrofracking!" said Costas, and the twins burst out laughing about their boss's obsession with hydrofracking.

"It's not funny!" said a young woman they had met last night at their boss's "Gasland"-viewing house party. "We need to stop it!" she said earnestly.

Wu gently put his hand on her shoulder, looked deeply into her eyes, and said, "We will!"

The young woman smiled, reached down to tickle Costas behind his flamingo leg, tore the football from his grasp as he collapsed in laughter, and ran off with it. (Wu started hopping after her, but he wasn't fast enough.)

A few miles to the east, John Boehner was weeping softly on the couch of psychiatrist Ermann Esse. "It's just a moving paper fantasy!" cried Boehner. ("Does he know he's quoting from 'Hair'?" jotted Dr. Esse on his note pad.) "WE have the power of the purse string! THEY hit the debt limit! Geithner is stealing money from other pots! Where's the outrage? We're facing a dying nation!"

("Definitely from 'Hair'", jotted Dr. Esse.) "Are you wearing smells from laboratories?" asked Dr. Esse, pen poised.

"What the hell are you talking about?! Are you listening to me?!" ("Patient continues to show no awareness of the source of his thought processes," wrote Dr. Esse.) "They call ME a 'blowhard dufus', but it's Geithner! Geithner, Geithner, Geithner!"

(Dr. Esse wrote down: "and Brady Bunch--Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!") "Wasn't Biden the 'blowhard dufus'?" asked Dr. Esse.

"Your questions aren't making any sense!" protested Boehner, reaching for another tissue. "This country is in MEGA trouble! Why did Stephen Colbert have a former flight attendant on his show to talk about the budget? It should have been me!"

"Your office declined; she's with the Tea Party Express."

"You're missing the point!" exclaimed Boehner. "I almost wish the world WOULD end today. Hey, don't write that down!" he exclaimed with a scowl, and Dr. Esse held his pen in limbo above the note pad. "You know who has the number one trending conservative blog right now?" (Dr. Esse shook his head.) "Glenn Michael Beckmann! They say even Dick Cheney is reading it! Last week Beckmann wrote that there is a conspiracy of cheap pens which don't work to prevent patriots from spreading the good news about the Hunter-Gatherer Society! They say Sarah Palin is their President! And they're meeting today to hunt black squirrels because they're 'genetically engineered spies from Canada'!" (Boehner used his fingers to indicate the latter portion of the sentence was in air quotes.) "And people are reading this! He wrote that it was the Hunter-Gatherer Society that took out Osama Bin Laden--not the Navy Seals!"

"If you could just fix ONE issue today," interjected Dr. Esse, "what would be your number one priority?"

"Get the truth out! This country is in MEGA trouble!"

"Is it the truth that the country is in mega trouble, or that you, John Boehner, Speaker of the House, have a mega solution?" This was a sincere question on Dr. Esse's part, but Boehner screwed up his eyes in suspicion.

A couple miles away, the Camelot Society was also discussing the country's mega problems in the Federal Reserve Board Research Library, seated around the round table. Economist Luciano Talaverdi was in a bad mood--if asked, he would say it was because of lingering economic issues, but the truth was that "Obi Wan Woman" had been on a sex strike since the arrest of IMF President, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (AKA "Dominant Trash Can" in certain FRB circles).

"What kind of socialist rents a $3,000/night hotel suite for just himself?" asked the economist from Mexico.

"The kind who wants to sneak up on maids and attack them!" said "Obi Wan Woman".

"Alright!" interjected Talaverdi. "The agenda today is choosing the next IMF chief and aligning fiscal policy with Fed policy. What should we do first?"

The economist from India looked at his watch and wondered if there was any hope of making the ambassador's dinner party tonight.

"Is it time to take the paradigm beyond liquidity?" asked Obi Wan Woman, who had recently been reading Thomas More's opinion that autocrats who control all the wealth are jailkeepers, not rulers.

The economist from India sighed.

Back in Potomac Manors, a tall blond had followed the trail of her cow across a pasture, through the boxwood boundary, and onto the property of Calico Johnson. "Mega Moo!" she called out happily when she spotted the cow eating Johnson's pampas grass, and Johnson emerged from behind a hickory tree to take a look at her. "I'm so sorry!" she said. "I guess I'm gonna have to build a fence," she added, extending her hand to greet her new neighbor.

"That won't be necessary!" exclaimed Johnson, clasping her hand warmly. "I love cows!" he lied.

She laughed and told him she had just moved down from Wisconsin and could not bear to part with the cow she had raised as a girl.

"Just don't ask me to milk her!" Johnson said.

"Oh, she's old and barren now," said his new neighbor, who was anything but.

"'Mega Moo' you called her?" The cow looked up at the repeat of her name.

"She had the loudest moo on the farm," his new neighbor said. "But I will build a proper fence if she's gonna be a bother."

"Not at all!" said Johnson. "Welcome to the neighborhood, Mega Moo!"

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac swam slowly by, relishing the end of her confinement, and Mega Moo threw up.

********************

NEXT WEEK: Another international financial leader is arrested!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nitty Gritty

We will never be, never be a-ny-thing but loud...and nitty gritty...dirty little freaks....

Former Senator Evermore Breadman glanced into Bridezilla's office at the surprising burst of song lyrics coming out, shook his head, and then kept walking towards his own Prince and Prowling office.

Bridezilla was humming along while briskly rubbing hand sanitizer all over her hands and reviewing the guest list for her June wedding. She had books on mortgage securities law piled up for show, as well as a stack of files that she would eventually do something with later in the day, but right now she desperately needed to cut twenty more people from her side because the number of her fiance's Indian relatives coming over was much higher than expected. She glanced over at the framed photo of him and thought about how many people had commented on his handsomeness even as they had picked up the framed photo to get a closer look at the racially vague face. He had an Indian name which functioned fine in English--Jay--so the only people that knew he was from India were the few who had met him. Of course, everybody knew he was RICH, because she volunteered that information in subtle but abundant ways. He was, she had eventually found out, the richest software developer in Northern Virginia--having developed virtual reality training programs for every branch of the U.S. military. He could not tell her a lot of details about his work, but she was telling everybody she knew as a given fact her own conclusion that he had trained the Navy Seals with a virtual reality program for invading Osama Bin Laden's hideout. I'm so proud of you, she thought, as she looked at his picture, and she really was, but a seed of doubt had been sown in her mind by a half-drunk comment/joke at Friday evening's happy hour that Bridezilla's fiance was in it for the green card. She knew Jay had a medium-high security clearance level and was already on the immigration fast track, but that comment kept gnawing at her. Why DOES he want to marry me? I'm pretty, I'm smart, I--. And then she couldn't think of anything else. He had very little interest in her work, though she couldn't blame him for that since she didn't herself--and anyway, she was fairly certain he expected her to have babies and stay home soon enough. He didn't care what schools she had gone to. Her friends never knew what to talk to him about. He saw through her when she tried to feign interest in playing video games with him--even the one he had designed as an engagement gift, which was all about winning points by obtaining merchandise from every store in a shopping mall in a race against the clock. And then there was...this.... She looked at the hand sanitizer bottle on her desk, not entirely certain that he did not think her cautious ways a phobia, rather than prudence. Does he really get me?

Over in former Senator Evermore Breadman's office, his mood was jubilant: President Obama had just greenlighted oil drilling in Alaska! This is why he was always telling his clients you can work with any politician, any Administration--you just have to know how to go about it. Sooner or later they ALL become pragmatists --that is to say, they realize that swing voters want to have their cake and eat it too...and then diet fanatically...and then get more cake...and then exercise fanatically...and then get more cake....(And nobody markets cake the way Big Oil does--with the help of hysterical television newscasters greeting every ten-cent rise in gasoline prices with more passion and horror than they express in reporting casualties from Iraq or Afghanistan. And with Breadman's being just one of the 800 Big Oil lobbyists in Washington, there was no chance that Congress would strip Big Oil of its tax breaks any time soon.) And then there was the strategic brilliance of counseling his nuclear power clients to release their local radioactivity data and blame it on the Japanese meltdown, insisting to ignorant reporters that it had blown in from halfway around the globe. Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's alarming safety report had been released Thursday with no significant political reaction! And Breadman's financial institution clients were also happy because of the Administration's anemic response to the Republican slash in funding for financial oversight--after all, what do laws matter if you aren't letting the bureaucrats set up the rules to implement them, or pay anybody to enforce them? No: Big Oil, Big Nuke, and Wall Street were easily sliding back to business as usual.

But the backlash against hydrofracking was still giving him conniption fits. Congressman Herrmark had still not introduced the rumored bill against it, but he HAD put forward an earmark to clean up the hydrofracking damage caused in his home state--including, of course, the damage to his parents' blown-up vacation home. If this earmark survived, it would draw more attention to the fact that gas drilling was being done in the U.S. under an exemption to the Clean Water Act. It was essential that mainstream America never learn of the Halliburton Loophole--not from the environmental conservation groups who would not shut up about, not from Sundance Festival darling "Gasland", and not from inside Congress itself! Herrmark had to be brought back in line, at any cost. Breadman had actually been surprised that Charles Wu agreed to do some consulting on Congressman Herrmark's hydrofracking policy plans, since most of his dealings with Wu had been about international commercial affairs, but Wu had never said no to him on anything (not even the fecal transplant!). I really need to stop worrying about this and wait for Charles--he's never let me down yet.

Not far away, Liv Cigemeier was unpacking the lunch she had brought for her husband, Prince and Prowling's newest partner. (He had just been offered the partnership to prevent him from defecting to rival firm Lye, Cheit, and Steele, and Liv had decided that there was no reason they couldn't still spend a lot of time together on the weekends.) Today she had brought along a pile of bills, greeting cards, mending items, and reading material to while away the afternoon together in his big new office. He scarcely cracked a smile when she opened up the gourmet spread, and she asked him what was wrong. "I thought I would get more interesting work after making partner," he said. "It's more interesting, but not for the right reasons." Liv asked her husband what he meant, but he said he couldn't really talk about it. Even if he could have talked about it, he would not have wanted to talk about it. First there were the dozen different cease and desist orders he had been assigned to file against professional trouble makers the Yes Men, even though he personally agreed with everything they were doing. Then there was the real estate contract for D.C. City Center involving the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co.; it didn't seem that long ago that Qatar-based Al Jazeera network was broadcasting beheadings of Americans and his wife could not stop saying, "What the hell is wrong with these people?" Why was the city government taking Qatari money? It was bad enough the federal government was in a love-hate relationship with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but he didn't see why the city had to operate this way, even in this economy. Now he was being asked to "clean up" the regulatory paperwork for a massive garbage dump that environment activists were calling "Mystery Mountain"--except he could not FIND any regulatory paperwork, and it looked like the activists were right in calling it an illegal dump, so did the senior partners know that and want him to CREATE fake paperwork, or should he tell them he could not find any?

"Mustard?" Liz smiled at him as he looked up, but she could see into his soul, and he knew that she knew....

Over in the workroom, Laura Moreno was working on the three sub-prime mortgage lending class actions that Bridezilla was "supervising". The newest contract attorney (a young whiz kid from Seattle) was telling her how he had suggested to Chloe Cleavage that they could get through the defendants' email discovery a lot faster if they did mass searches to clear out obvious junk, like amazon.com emails. "Chloe," he said, "just stared at me like I was from outer space!" Moreno just nodded; she didn't trust him enough to commiserate on the absurdity and inefficiency, nor to tell him that Chloe Cleavage had once spent four hours on Facebook, then batch-tagged two-thousand MP3 files as non-responsive. "Anyway," he said, "Chloe said you needed to talk to me about my timesheet." Moreno explained to him that she was sorry to report he was going to be docked pay for the three hours the computer system was down on Thursday. "What?!" he said, incredulous.

"Chloe says she told me to tell you that day to take an extra-long lunch."

"You never told me that! You KNOW you didn't."

Moreno nodded again. "I didn't tell you because she didn't tell me that until today. But it doesn't matter what I say."

"Did you stick up for me?"

"Yes, but there's nothing I can do," said Moreno.

"So now I might come to work and just not get paid?!" Moreno nodded and said she was sorry, but he stormed out of the conference room, not understanding that Moreno was just the messenger.

A few miles away, Charles Wu was out on the Potomac River with the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club. It was hard to ignore the Greek beauties toughing out the cool breeze in bikini tops, but he was here to connect with Nick and Costas, Congressman Herrmark's twin bodyguards. The twins were fending off all Wu's attempts to make conversation (as they would equally have preferred to be chatting up the girls), but their expressions grew a little more animated when Wu said, "Is it true Congressman Herrmark went on a fact-finding mission to the Marianas Islands? I went there once as a boy, and there's not much to see but factories, girls, and girls in factories!" The twins gave each other a strange look, and Wu knew he had struck a vein.

Deep in the water, Ardua of the Potomac's appetite had come back, and she opened her mouth and reached gleefully for sustenance as the Pink Dolphins hung back and pondered the future of the river.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Watery Grave

Angela de la Paz sat on Theodore Roosevelt Island, her wetsuit still dripping water from her swim through the river to get a good look at Ardua of the Potomac. She was staring into the water thinking about when she was a little girl and they had told her that her mother had drowned in this river...but it had turned out to be a lie. Now they were saying that Osama bin Laden's corpse had been dropped into the Arabian Sea. She believed it was true and yet....

Out on the river, Charles Wu was rowing hard--something he hadn't done since his university days in England until the day before the royal wedding when he had met up with some old college friends. He had brought his father as his "plus-one" to the wedding, and the eternal bird-watcher had spent most of the ceremony examining ladies' hats through small (but not entirely discreet) binoculars. Wu, never a fan of hats, had spent most of the ceremony examining the backs of ladies' unadorned heads. ( A half-breed himself, he had a slight fetish for taking in the range of hair colors from black to white, but for some reason which Wu had never comprehended, English women had the worst dye jobs in the Western world--stringy, lifeless, margarine coloring with enormous dark roots. Perhaps Kate would encourage more Englishwomen to return to life as a brunette.) It had been a shockingly dull affair until his phone vibrated and he read the cryptic message from Project R.O.D.H.A.M. about the "pigsty"--a code word meaning that Osama bin Laden's hideout had apparently been located. He had put the phone back in his coat pocket and turned to his father, wanting to say something, but he couldn't. So he had stared at the prince in his military uniform and the princess in her obscenely expensive wedding gown and thought, the world will once again be safe for democracy...or freedom...or--And then the music started up again, and this was a glorious thing because...because....He turned to his father again; he would never be able to tell his father how many times the British government had paid him handsomely and gratefully for his service to the United Kingdom...in Hong Kong and beyond. But why can't I?, he had thought. I don't want to take my secrets to the grave. He suddenly realized he had stopped rowing and was just floating past Roosevelt Island. Wu saw the unusual sight of a girl in a wetsuit, and briefly pondered making a landing, but she looked a bit young, so he started rowing again.

Angela recognized him immediately as Charles Wu because of her infiltration of Project R.O.D.H.A.M., but she could see that he didn't recognize her. He was a legend in the Project, handsomer and more effective than James Bond himself. The most ass-kicking feminists she had ever met would all start absent-mindedly playing with their hair and licking their lips just at the mention of his name. And they trusted him with their lives--everything he had ever told them or done for them proved true. But Angela didn't trust anybody with her own life, least of all her employer, the Heurich Society. They were annoyed with her abrupt departure from the Middle East, but she was frustrated at the slow progress of revolution. On her way out of the Brewmaster's Castle, she had heard Henry Samuelson remind the others that she was young, after all, and it was to be expected that she would still have streaks of idealism. Wu was out of sight now, and she stared at the water. Idealism. She shook her head. They don't know me at all. The Warrior had found her the day she returned, and he had told her about Ardua of the Potomac and the unborn Eeteebsse, and that destiny was calling her. Destiny. She was not even 17 yet. She had not even had a real kiss yet--one that wasn't a lie. She could count on one hand the number of people she had loved, and they were dead. She didn't remember 9/11, and she wasn't sure that killing Osama bin Laden would make the world a better place--there were still thousands more like him, and millions of people killing for other reasons. She was starting to want something bigger. She was starting to wonder if Project R.O.D.H.A.M. was the way to go.

Several miles to the east, Golden Fawn was sitting on the grassy field behind the National Museum of the American Indian, picnicking with The Warrior and her husband, Marcos Vazquez. Tourists had stopped by a few times to photograph The Warrior (who did look slightly like somebody who had stepped out of a 19th century painting) and Golden Fawn (everyone's idea of a perfectly lovely Pocahontas), but the three did not even notice because they were absorbed in conversation about what the enigmatic Angela de la Paz might decide to do about Ardua of the Potomac. "Do you really think she has the power to do something about Eeteebsse?" asked Vazquez, a Coast Guard officer who, to this day, still had moments of incomprehension that demons were a daily topic of conversation with his wife.

"Yes," nodded The Warrior.

"But does she believe that?" asked Golden Fawn.

"Yes," nodded The Warrior.

"She's so young," said Vazquez. "How can she be the one to decide if the Prophecy is real?"

The three were silent for a minute, pondering the Prophecy. {Ardua will become pregnant. She will die in labor, but the child Eeteebsse will plunge the Potomac area into an unimaginable darkness a thousand times more evil and dangerous than the horrors of Ardua's reign.}

"The young have clearer minds," The Warrior said at last, his own mind still undecided about whether Eeteebsse should be killed in the womb or allowed to destroy the horrific Ardua from within.

Suddenly a raven alit on their blanket and began whispering to Golden Fawn and The Warrior. "What is it?!" asked Vazquez, but the two just closed their eyes and clenched their fists.

A couple miles to the west, Dizzy abruptly dropped his trumpet with a clang onto the sidewalk and turned around to look past the Lincoln Memorial out to the Potomac. On the other side of the Tidal Basin, The Beaver cowered behind a pedal boat, John Doe fell down on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in an epileptic seizure, and the pink dolphins swam frantically in circles. The river rats swam for shore, and the ducks abruptly took to flight.

Over in Chinatown, a jade rabbit abruptly fell off a shelf in Lynnette Wong's Chinatown shop and shattered on the floor.

At the National Arboretum, Rani the donkey began braying loudly and arborist Devi Rajatala looked up to see for the first time pink warblers singing on a tree branch--just like the ones Angela de la Paz used to tell her about.

In Southeast, Sebastian L'Arche slipped into a trance as his houseful of animals all began whispering to him at the same time.

In Georgetown, the leader of The Seekers felt faint and lowered his head to his desk, while the Shackled took flight from the site of the old slave wharf and circled restlessly above the Potomac like the starlings already doing the same. Charles Wu's muscles suddenly went limp, and he stopped rowing under the Key Bridge and turned to look behind him--at what, he did not know.

And finally Angela de la Paz clambered out of the water and up onto the Virginia shore. She pulled out the organ transplant carrying kit she had hidden in the bushes, opened it up, and dropped Eeteebsse into it. She pulled off the wetsuit and threw it back in the river. She picked up the case and walked to the rental car she had left on Daingerfield Island, which she immediately drove to National Airport to catch her chartered flight.

Deep in the Potomac, Ardua was still panting in pain from the moment Angela de la Paz had ripped the deadly baby out of her womb and abruptly swam off with it. And for the first time in her existence, Ardua passed out.

***********************
Happy Mother's Day! (cue diabolical laughter)

Washington Water Woman is heading back out of town but will return to blogging in mid-May.

Coming up: where is Angela de la Paz taking Eeteebsse?