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, July 23, 2011

On Life Support

Congressman Herrmark was slaving away at his office despite the heat, despite everything. He smelled blood in the House waters, weakness in the waves, and opportunity in the air. This was a time when the nation cried out for new ideas and new leadership, and anybody with math skills and a vision could float an idea to save the country. Therefore his staffer with math skills was hard at work, and his staffer with vision was also hard at work. Meanwhile, Congressman Herrmark was in his office with staffer Ann Bishis working on the speech he would make whenever his debt plan was ready. "Where's the part about hydrofracking and the Halliburton loophole?" he asked, and Bishis pointed to the second page. (The only requirement he had given his staffers was that the budget plan include funding for hydrofracking clean-up in his home state--but if they could also slip in earmarks for veterinarians, convenience store owners, greyhound racing, commodities brokers, and t-shirt vendors, all the better.) Then his cellphone rang. "WHAT?!" He dropped the papers from his hand and clutched the edge of his desk, the cellphone still pressed against his ear. At the sound of Herrmark's shout, his bodyguards rushed into his office. "She's at GW on life support!" he gasped.

A couple miles away, Congressman John Boehner was also flat on his back, his psyche flatlining. He had four pieces of Nicorette gum in his mouth and a large sheet of bubble wrap spread out over his stomach so that he could pop the bubbles one-by-one. Dr. Ermann Esse was charging three times the usual rate because of having to risk overheating his Mercedes Benz by driving it downtown on a sweltering Saturday, but he had to admit to himself that this was great fun. "What happens if I don't show up at the White House?" Boehner asked his psychiatrist. "What if somebody else has a breakthrough when I'm not there? Will my constituents understand? I mean, I promised them we would not raise taxes. I'm a man of my word!" He briefly pulled the bubble wrap sheet to his face to wipe some sweat off his brow. "It's a matter of principle!"

"If the debt ceiling is not raised, will Congressmen still get their salaries?" asked Dr. Esse, who was pondering whether the Nicorette gum actually undermined his stern rules about no prescription drugs for his patients. A real-live nervous breakdown might be what this man needs.

"Is that supposed to be funny?!" shouted Boehner, but Dr. Esse shook his head no and professed his ignorance about these things. "Spending has to be cut!" shouted Boehner, and Dr. Esse nodded sympathetically. (He had written many letters to Medicare about why they should stop reimbursing for psychotropic pharmaceuticals, but nobody ever responded to him.)

"Tell me some more about the dream you had with the Marquis de Lafayette, where he said that the U.S. has a long history of not repaying national debts to France and other countries, and that economic growth depends on cheap immigrant labor, and--"

"That wasn't a dream! It was a nightmare!" (Pop, pop, pop.) "How am I supposed to walk into the White House and tell them we need to flip the bird to China, and then tell my constituents we need to open the Mexican border? How!?"

"Perhaps the answer lies with the Marquis de Lafayette. Why do you think he is the one that appeared to you in the dream?"

"Because Lafayette Park is next to the White House, and I've been there a dozen times in the past month! I'm having nightmares about it! You've gotta help me!"

Dr. Esse had forgotten that was the name of the park next to the White House, and he was bitterly disappointed to realize that Boehner's subconscious was not, in fact, reaching deep into his pedagogical formation to draw timeless lessons from the past. He discreetly drew a big X over his notes and turned the page.

Not far away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was also busy drawing X's over his note pad in his Prince and Prowling office across the street from the White House. He had barely allowed himself five minutes out of his schedule to celebrate the opening of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week with no director and a laughable budget--there were simply too many other things going on. How do you tell Rupert Murdoch's secretary you don't have time to return his calls when you've done $700,000 worth of lobbying for his corporations in the past two years alone? ("Tell him the pie and the hot Chinese wife boosted his public relations more this week than anything I could have dreamt up!") How do you tell Charles Wu--who gave you a fecal transplant!--that you could not possibly spare him to leave Washington right now unless it was to head to the Prince and Prowling office in Beijing? He had punted Harry Thomas Jr.'s final negotiations to Cigemeier, and the D.C. Council member was not happy about having to repay the city $300,000 for funds diverted from youth programs to pay for luxury cars and personal vacations, but there were only so many hours in a day for Breadman! And then Michael Bloomberg had announced on Thursday he was giving $50 million to the Sierra Club to take coal-fired power plants out of America's cities, causing Breadman's energy clients to blow a fuse (so to speak).

And still--still!--the budget negotiations dragged on. Breadman had faxes and printed emails spread out over every surface in his office, and more taped to the walls. He had fielded over 500 phone calls from clients this week about what was going to be axed in the budget, and another 200 from Wall Street financiers about the impact of a debt default. His personal assistant had been back and forth to the White House negotiations four times already today, and the boy looked like he was having a heat stroke when he rushed in with another folder of hand-written notes from across the street. "Sometimes I envy those authoritarian bastards in China!" Breadman said cheerfully, motioning his assistant to his own private frigobar (stocked with cold beer and wine coolers). The assistant loosened his tie, but it was too late--he crumpled to the carpet in a dead faint.

A mile away, a girl listed only as "Mia" was finally stabilizing at George Washington University Hospital. Dr. Khalid Mohammad was writing notes on her chart while nurse Consuela Arroyo continued to adjust ice bags and monitor vital signs. The neighbor who had called 911 had seen the girl stumbling around Congressman Herrmark's front yard before collapsing in a petunia bed at noon. Body temperature brought down from 105 to 101. Pulse raised from 25 to 53. Dr. Mohammad scratched his head. Authorities had entered Congressman Herrmark's open front door to discover that the air conditioning was broken. Though the neighbor had never seen the girl before, he said that the Congressman initially seemed quite distraught when the neighbor phoned to tell him an ambulance had picked her up from his front lawn. Now the Congressman was saying he had never met her before today--that she was an agency cleaning woman he had let into the house before heading to the office this morning. But the girl had no uniform on--only a short cotton nightgown. Dr. Mohammad was hoping she could say more than "I'm Mia" in a little while, but she was asleep for now.

Out in the emergency room waiting area, Charles Wu approached the admissions desk in a crisp white linen suit and opened his briefcase to present his credentials as an officer of the Chinese embassy, as well as the fake Chinese passport he had put together for the girl after Congressman Herrmark's bodyguards had emailed him her photo. Her passport listed Charles Wu as her emergency contact, and Wu indicated he would take charge of the girl after her discharge. The nurse checked on the girl's status and told Wu it would probably be awhile. He asked to see her, and was ushered into her room. He fondled her head tenderly, discreetly placing a small herbal patch behind her ear, and she woke up ten minutes later. Wu smiled reassuringly at her, confident he would have her out of here in two hours. He spoke a few simple words of Chinese to her, guessing correctly that she would understand them as a second language, and she nodded. He would take her to Lynnette Wong, where the girl would be safe and well-cared for. And then I'll decide about Congressman Herrmark!

Back on Capitalism Hill, Ann Bishis reentered Congressman Herrmark's office to tell him that the bodyguards' friend had phoned to let them know that everything was taken care of. "Who is this Charles Wu? What's he gonna do with her?"

"He's with the Chinese embassy," Bishis said. "The press will get nothing on this. It's over." The numbers-cruncher and vision guy meekly approached the open door to bring their debt proposal to Herrmark, but Bishis waved them off. "I think the proposal is almost ready," she said, as Herrmark took another swallow of whiskey. "I'll bring it in shortly." And with that, she left him alone to pull himself together, told the staffers to leave the proposal with her and go to lunch, and sat down to talk to her Greek cousins about the amazing Charles Wu.

A mile away, another overheated duck landed in the center of the river in search of a spot of cool water, only to find the fires of hell rising up all around Ardua of the Potomac.

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