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, July 31, 2011

Girl Power

Lynnette Wong was ringing up another customer at her Chinatown herb shop. She had to admit that business had really improved after Charles Wu became her "partner". Aside from the immediate cash infusion, he had steadily been spreading her business cards all over Washington, and she was selling herbs to the kind of customers she had never dreamt of--chefs working for ambassadors, lawyers working for Senators, personal trainers working for hedge fund millionaires, Foreign Service officers preparing to head overseas, generals, spies, and celebrities. The hardest part was selling to the Chinese embassy, but Wu picked up those herbs himself so the Taiwanese Wong never had to deal with her arch-enemy. Well, that was the hardest part until this week--when Wu had delivered her the young girl from Southeast Asia for safekeeping. Wong had argued vociferously that the girl needed to be returned to her family, but Wu had insisted she did not want to go home. Wong closed the cash register and stole a glance at Mia, who was sitting in a chair in the back room embroidering. The girl's Chinese was barely better than her English, so it was not really possible to have a heart-to-heart with her. Mia had told Wong she was 18, and that's what her fake Chinese passport said, but this was indubitably a lie. The girl was too scared to look anybody in the eye, and Wong feared it would be weeks, if not months, before they could have a real conversation. But her sleep was improving, along with her appetite, and for the timebeing, Wu was leaving her in peace. Wong, in fact, knew everything about her that Wu did--everything except what leverage Wu was going to get out of this human trafficking rescue, and when. But Wu was in China right now and had promised Wong that nobody would come looking for Mia.

"Hello," said Holly Gonightly, as she entered the herb shop. (Gonightly had been monitoring Mia from a slight distance ever since she had heard the police scanner report of a young girl picked up in Congressman Herrmark's petunia bed. She was at the GWU emergency room when Charles Wu had walked out of there with the girl in tow and had followed the two to Chinatown, where the girl had been deposited at this herb shop. She had sent friends into the shop every day for the last week to try to figure out what was happening to the girl, but there were no signs of a sweatshop, let alone a brothel. Gonightly had been researching Charles Wu, a wealthy businessman from Hong Kong who was co-owner of this shop, but she could not determine his connection to Congressman Herrmark. But she knew there was a big story here, and today she was making her move.) "Do you have any lucky bamboo?" asked Gonightly, who didn't know the slightest thing about Chinese herb shops. Behind her the television cameraman entered the store separately, a hidden camera tucked into his fanny pack.

Several miles away, Congressman Herrmark was sitting in the Jacuzzi in his man cave, the tub filled with cold water, and the bubble machine turned off. He was sniffing an apron balled up in his hands above the water level, the only thing he had left that smelled like Mia--well, it smelled like the dumplings she used to make him, anyway. His bodyguards had burned every piece of Mia's clothing in the fireplace the day she had been ripped out of his life. They still wouldn't tell him where she was--only that she was in a safe and happy place, and it was for Herrmark's own protection that he not know anything else. She was in a safe and happy place here! He sniffed. I rescued her from the Marianas Islands--I didn't do anything wrong! (Sniff.) He took the balled-up apron and slowly lowered it into the water, then released it to open up and float on top of the water. It could have all gone down much worse--worse for me, worse for her. (Sniff.) She was the only pure and sweet thing I had in this city! (Sniff.) He grabbed the scrub brush and started working furiously on the heels of his feet, fretting about how his chief of staff was letting Ann Bishis and her cousins (his bodyguards) take more and more control of his operation. They're too young, he fretted, and inexperienced. And yet he knew they had saved his ass last week...and what that meant.

Downtown, most Congressional Representatives and Senators were actually still focused on the debt ceiling negotiations. Across the street from the White House, former Senator Evermore Breadman had been forced to move his operation into a large conference room--where five attorneys, seven legal assistants, two lobbyists, one secretary and four couriers were working non-stop to produce, analyze, and share information back and forth from the White House across the street. Breadman's hardball and blackmail tactics had taken a good one-hundred Representatives (including that maverick Congressman Herrmark!) and thirty Senators out of the mix, and his strategy to build up Mitch McConnell's role above John Boehner's appeared to be working. He had Charles Wu at the Prince and Prowling office in China now, poised to handle any Chinese awkwardness that might arise. But, but, but--he took another swig of iced tea laced with bourbon and herbs from Lynnette Wong in a desperate bid to make every synapse in his brain keep operating at peak performance without a breakdown in his vital organs--when did this get so hard?

"I've got an idea," said Bridezilla as she abruptly entered the conference room out of nowhere. She was drenched in sweat, having just jogged all the way from her apartment in Virginia downtown to Prince and Prowling. "Sorry about the perspiration, y'all!" (She sniffed her own armpits and made a funny face.) "I know I need a shower, but I just had the best idea about all this!" (Her personal trainer, Armando, was standing in the doorway counting his own pulse and admiring his newest prodigy: he had promised her that he could strengthen her immune system, but even he was amazed at the progress she had made in nutrition, stamina, and strength. He also thought she was the sexiest kickboxer he had ever coached!) "I got some contacts over on the Hill, and this is what I think we should do." She turned over the page on the flipchart in the corner, picked up a Sharpie, and started outlining her key points. ("Isn't she the one that said Sharpies emitted chemicals that entered the nasal passages and disrupted the endocrine system?" "Shut up! This is good!" "She just sniffed her own armpit!" "Shut up!") Former Senator Evermore held a handkerchief over his nose, too overcome with nausea to interrupt the brazen woman who had once told him he should lobby for a bill to require public restrooms to have security cameras with monitors making sure that everybody leaving a toilet washed their hands.

Back in Chinatown, Holly Gonightly was asking Lynnette Wong to explain various herbal remedies on display, but Wong kept glancing back at the other customer browsing the store--and getting closer and closer to the back room doorway. "What are you doing?" Wong suddenly shouted at him.

"She's here!" the television cameraman said.

"It's the girl from Congressman Herrmark's house!" Gonightly said. "Who is she? Why are you hiding her here?"

Wong ran into the back room and put her arms around Mia. "Why can't you leave her in peace?!"

"How many other girls are you trafficking here?" snarled Gonightly.

"I am trafficking nobody!" shouted Wong. "This girl is safe here! She will go home when she is ready!" Wu had told her not to discuss Mia with anybody, and she was fairly certain that these were reporters, but she didn't know what to do.

"How old is she?" asked Gonightly.

"I eighteen," said Mia, who knew that part cold. "I clean Hermmark house one time only. Now here." Her hair was washed and neatly braided. She had no make-up on, and a long cotton dress that revealed nothing. There were no dark circles under her eyes, and she smiled at the strangers. "You on TV!" she added, suddenly recognizing the television reporter who was rarely featured on air because she was TFFT (too fat for television). Mia smiled again.

Gonightly hesitated briefly. At last she pulled out her business cards and handed one to each woman. "Yes, I'm Holly Gonightly. If you ever want to tell your story, please contact me." With that, she signaled to the cameraman to go, and they departed.

Mia leaned into Wong for an embrace. "OK," Mia said. "No worry. Nice lady!" (Mia remembered seeing Gonightly the day before, playing with puppies and kittens in a segment about pet adoptions.) Wong exhaled deeply.

Over at the White House, Glenn Michael Beckmann scanned the crowd of tourists. He had been trying for two weeks to plan a revenge attack for the debt ceiling crisis, but he still could not quite wrap his brain around it, and his blog postings on the subject were, admittedly, not his best. Of course, it was clearly President Obama's fault...mostly. But there are other people involved in this evil, and they all must pay! And Beckmann was not going to do anything as sloppy as that amateur in Norway, who actually thought getting arrested and becoming a martyr was a wonderful thing! NO! It was vital to live to fight another day. Beckmann looked back and forth nervously between the crowd and the sharpshooters on the roof, feeling the call of destiny to intervene in this CRISIS...but how?

In a nearby cherry tree, a catbird suddenly began imitating the machine-gun-like sound of a toddler's rapid-fire giggle, and Beckmann pivoted in agitation, reaching for his holster. A flock of starlings flew off to report to Ardua of the Potomac, while the White House ghosts continued to fly in and out, giddy and high from weeks of feasting on the slow nervous breakdown in the Washington balance of power.

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