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 ....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Live and Let Die

"Light as a feather, stiff as a board," the twins chanted in unison, as they tried to levitate Bo in the White House gardening shed. "Bo!" Bo was rolling on his back, trying to work the kinks out of his spine. "This is serious, Bo!" said Regina, putting her hands on her hips. "Sit still!" said Ferguson, as he tried to force Bo back onto his stomach. A fly buzzed around the pre-schoolers momentarily, then flew back out into the sunshine. "Light as a feather, stiff as a board," the twins chanted in unison, sticking their fingers under Bo and trying to lift him up.

"Reggie! Fergie! WHAT are you doing?!" It was Bridge, who had a pretty good idea what they were doing. The twins said nothing as Bo leapt up to greet the White House gardener. "Well?" he said, petting the dog.

"They said Ronald Reagan was rolling over in his grave," said Regina.

"We thought if he came back, it would help," said Ferguson.

Bridge squatted down to give them a hard look. "We got enough damn ghosts around here without you two conjurin' up more! You let that man rest in peace! Gonna take a lot more than Cantor and Boehner and that political coward McConnell to make Mr. Reagan roll over in his grave. No sir! That man didn't care 'bout budgets, I'll tell you that much. You wanna help President Obama, you bring that dog back to the West Wing--he needs a friend in there."

Two miles to the north, Charles Wu was seated at the base of the Meridian Hill waterfall. The ducklings were nowhere in sight--probably all grown up now. He sipped green tea as he listened to Apricot Lily and Camisole Silk report on Afghanistan. "Cinderella was at Karzai's funeral," said Lily, just loudly enough for Wu and nobody else to hear, "but I don't think she was involved." "I think he shook down one too many people one too many times," said Silk, with her compact out to powder over the dark circles under her jet-lagged eyes. "It was only a matter of time before somebody decided it was cheaper and smarter to pay off a bodyguard," added Lily.

"And President Karzai?", asked Wu.

"President Karzai is genuinely shaken up," said Silk. "Nobody's happy in Afghanistan," said Lily, "so there is no alliance, no ally that can be trusted completely." "I don't know how anybody lives in that place," said Silk, putting away her makeup. "Men full of hate, women full of fear, maybe the babies are happy for a few months of their lives."

"Could we ever understand?"

"Maybe not, but Project R.O.D.H.A.M. is doing well there," said Lily. "They move carefully from village to village, striking quickly, in and out."

"How well?"

"It's not enough, of course," said Silk, "but they believe they are laying the foundation for women to mount a sustained self-defense." "And it appears that Angela de la Paz is trailing Project R.O.D.H.A.M.," said Lily. "As soon as tribal elders mount a retaliatory witch hunt and sentence somebody, the elders die in mysterious circumstances." "Always looks like an animal attack," said Silk, "but people KNOW it's no regular animal."

"What is she doing?"

"It's a mystery," said Lily, "but people think it's a demon--well, the men think it's a demon."

"What am I supposed to tell Clinton?"

"Whatever Cinderella's doing, it's way beyond what Henry Samuelson could have taught her," said Silk.

"If they really think it's a demon, that will only strengthen the religious nut jobs," said Wu. "They'll crack down harder, and they'll look for more scapegoats to stone to death."

"I don't think so," said Silk. "It's giving hope to the women." "But," said Lily, "I don't think she should be recruited for Project R.O.D.H.A.M. She's plenty effective as a solo agent, and there's probably nothing to gain on either side." "In any case," said Silk, "I have a feeling she was heading to Pakistan to look for the Mumbai plotters."

The Asian spies espied their limo and got up to go, apologizing that they didn't have more time. Wu could not ask them why because he was rarely able to keep them on his payroll these days, bogged down as he was in Arab affairs and Prince and Prowling assignments. He moved into the shade and slowly sipped his green tea, awaiting the next arrival.

A couple miles to the east, Bridezilla was bogged down in her own Prince and Prowling assignment: representing another foggy-memoried accountant in yet another SEC deposition. Sometimes she wished these guys would just freak out and start pleading the Fifth Amendment on every question so that she could totally space out or read a magazine hidden in a manila folder, but, no, if that were the case they would have hired a criminal defense firm, not Prince and Prowling, and so she had to sit through the tedium of accounting questions, followed by the tedium of halting, rambling, vague answers that satisfied nobody. She could barely stay awake, and sometimes just interjected with "objection" in case it was necessary. After a few puzzled looks from the SEC attorney, she started winking at him and playing with her hair to discombobulate him, but her flirting had no effect on him, so she had to conclude he was gay. "Can we take a break?" the witness suddenly asked, planning to phone the partner at Prince and Prowling to request somebody else be sent over ASAP. Bridezilla did not even wait for the SEC attorney to agree--she was already on her way out the door to get some fresh air, since SEC's offices had none.

Meanwhile, Liv Cigemeier was also craving some fresh air after being handed her new assignment at International Development Machine: writing a call center grant proposal for Afghanistan. "This 5G consulting is revolutionary stuff," Augustus Bush had told her after two days of presentations from Bo-Oz, the division of Booz Hamilton that Cigemeier had thought was defunct after the criminal investigation about human egg harvesting that had driven out the former president of IDM and resulted in the hiring of Bush. "Women can do this with their burka-things on, no men in the room, earning one dollar an hour, the kids can be there, everybody wins." Cigemeier had tried to point out that few Afghan women spoke English, but Bush would hear none of it. "Aw, everybody speaks English, young lady! This'll be a good job for them!" There was no way USAID would fund it, or any reputable foundation--Cigemeier was going to have to find some small foundation for the seed money. She felt sick to her stomach--she knew the only way to get out of this was to propose an alternate location...or quit. There was no way she could submit a grant proposal for this with her name on it--she would be tainted forever.

"The original idea was refugee camps," said Momzilla, abruptly entering Cigemeier's cubicle. "Bo-Oz suggested setting up customer service call centers in Pakistani refugee camps because they speak English. Nobody else was helping those refugees after the floods because everybody hates Pakistan now, and Bo-Oz said this was a way to bring Pakistan back into civilized society." (Momzilla had set the conference room phone on speaker phone and dialed into it for the entire meeting Bush and Bo-Oz had conducted. "Input: Pakistani refugee labor, marginal cost, no bargaining rights, three thousand men taken out of Taliban recruitment field, win-win-win.") "But Augustus hates Pakistan," added Momzilla. (Cigemeier nodded, not sure what to say.) "I think you should propose Tunisia instead," said Momzilla. "There are Libyan refugees there who know Arabic and English, and they could take customer service calls for the Arab world as well as Anglo-speaking customers. I think they would do it for a dollar a day--it's either that or risk death on a boat to Italy."

"Would you like to take over this assignment?" asked Cigemeier.

"Sure!" said Momzilla. (Cigemeier rejoiced, and yet wondered if her days at International Development Machine were numbered.)

A few miles to the west, Luciano Talaverdi also had Bo-Oz's 5G consulting on his mind. He was eating lunch on the Federal Reserve Board balcony, listening to fired economist Fen Do Ping in his Bluetooth telling him how great life was at Booz Hamilton, how much money he was making, how interesting the projects were. (Ping had squealed on several co-workers during the IDM egg-harvesting investigation, and felt a personal obligation to recruit some replacement staff.) Still, moving to Bo-Oz would mean no more meetings of the Camelot Society around the round table, no more leading the free world, no more glowing articles in the Washington Post praising the Fed for smart lending and raising up to $100 billion in revenue for Treasury to fight the deficit, and no more late night trysts with Obi Wan woman in the lower stacks of the law library. "Maybe next year," said Talaverdi at last; it was good to know there were options out there.

Not far away, Ardua of the Potomac awoke from her mid-day nap and contemplated whom she would feast on this afternoon.

Coming up: a twist of fate for Congressman Herrmark.


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