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 ....

Friday, July 08, 2011

Sticky Matters

Liv Cigemeier sat down at the long table in the conference room of International Development Machine for the first full-staff meeting with their new president, Augustus Bush, who hailed from the little-known U.S. Virgin Islands branch of the Bush family tree. Counted in the small number of people who did know about Augustus Bush was Liv Cigemeier--because Bush's first wife had been Cigemeier's graduate thesis advisor. Cigemeier--unlike her coworkers--therefore knew that Bush was a pothead libertarian poser who had raised campaign money for George W. Bush by smuggling drugs from the Caribbean into Miami, and she knew that Bush's children all worked undercover for the CIA (something their mother had learned by spying on them herself), and she knew that Bush's second wife was a Cuban emigre (and "probably a Fidel Castro double-agent", according to her advisor), and she knew that the United Kingdom had tried to extradite him to the British Virgin Islands on charges he had murdered British Nationals (alleged al Qaeda operatives) but the extradition had failed, and she knew that he believed white Anglo-Saxon Protestants were destined to bring order to the world. What Cigemeier did not know was why he got offered this job or why he took it. He was currently rambling about the failures of the Peace Corps, UNICEF, Oxfam, Save the Children, CARE, and Catholic Relief Services to deliver "value on their investments". He stood up with a blue marker to write on the board, but he didn't write any words--he just drew a star. (Momzilla was staring in amazement at his Bermuda shorts and gray hairy legs until he sat down abruptly and she thought she had missed something.)

"One star," he said in a peculiar accent. "That's all IDM gets today." A few people around the table nodded sycophantically even though they had no idea what he was talking about. "Liv?" He gestured to Cigemeier, and she opened the box he had given her to pass around the table--a box of small American flags on little sticks. "Everybody take two." He waited until everybody had them, then asked how many stars were on the flags. Nobody answered at first, afraid that this simple question was some sort of trick question. "COME ON!" ("Fifty?") "WRONG! Forty-nine! These flags were made before Hawaii became a state. THAT was the beginning of the great American decline! Hawaii wasn't fit to be a state--it's a Third World island that to this day would be producing nothing of value if the British and Americans hadn't colonized it." (Momzilla, a Chinese-Brazilian-American, was staring at him with her mouth wide open.) "International Development Machine could be making a difference in the lives of many inferior peoples, but YOU have to set your mind to it." (More mouths were agape now.) "Every time I see that IDM has improved its operations, I'm gonna walk in here and draw another star on the board. Every time we win a grant or a contract, another star. But every time we lose a bid, I'm gonna take a star away. You're lucky I'm starting you out with one, because some would say I should have started you out with a negative number, but that's not the kinda boss I am. When that board has 49 stars on it, I'll pass the torch. Now take off your shoes." He followed this by kicking off his own docksiders and bringing his bare feet up onto the table. "What do you need: an engraved invitation?!" He motioned to the stunned audience, and they dutifully began removing shoes and stockings until he saw an array of bare feet propped up on the table. (He did find the bad aroma an unfortunate byproduct of the exercise, but it would be over soon enough.) "Now take your flags and clean your feet." He proceeded to pick up one small flag and rub it a few times over his left foot, then took his other small flag and rubbed it a few times over his right foot, then tossed them both down on the floor. "It's OK!" he hollered. "They're old flags--there's nothing illegal about using them to clean feet!" Momzilla was the first to do it, thinking she was going to pass out if she had to keep smelling all the feet--she wiped her sticky feet rapidly, then returned her feet to the floor under the table; others followed. A few minutes later, it was all over, and Augustus Bush was nodding. "That's what happens when Americans do charity work in ungrateful territories. No more!" With that, he got up and left.

A few miles away, mouths were also agape around a conference table at Prince and Prowling, where a dozen people had just been handed new legal agreements and biological sample kits. "It's very simple," said the paralegal-from-Hell who had been tasked with explaining the biological sample kits. "I am going to walk around the table right now and cut hair samples at the base of your neck, and those will go in the red bag [she held one up]. Directly after this meeting, I will escort the women into the ladies room to take their urine samples [she held up a yellow cup], and Ben will escort the men for the same purpose." She pointed superfluously at Ben, who smiled wanly. "You will also need to do a stool sample [she held up a brown package], and you will simply have to notify us when that is convenient so that we can escort you into the bathroom for that, too. So go ahead and sign the form, and then we can get started." Bridezilla--who was feeling nauseous at the thought of dust mites, hair lice, and fecal bacteria being transported willy nilly around the law firm--could not believe what she was reading. Prince and Prowling's newest partner--Liv Cigemeier's husband--could not believe what he was reading. Chloe Cleavage--who had done her faire share of tests for pregnancy and communicable diseases--could not believe what she was reading. Laura Moreno--who had suffered a number of affronts and indignities over the years as a contract attorney at Prince and Prowling--could not believe that there were actually other people being ordered to do this.

"Forget it!" Bridezilla snapped. "For a goddam oil company? Are you OUT of your mind?!" Bridezilla was not glaring at the paralegal-from-Hell, whom she was fairly certain knew how to kill people with a staple gun and make it look like an accident; no, Bridezilla was staring at the senior partner on the case, whose eyes popped open at the outburst. (After three failed engagements and being passed over for partner again, Bridezilla was widely known to be on the edge, but she had never attacked a partner before.) "They should be thanking GOD that a reputable law firm is willing to represent them at ALL! Take a DRUG test for a goddam OIL company? And sign an agreement that they can share our personal information with whomever they NEED to? I'm not giving this goddam OIL company my DNA so they can start cloning me and God knows what else!"

"This is not an OPTION!" warned the senior partner. "Start cutting the hair," he said to the paralegal-from-Hell, and she immediately walked over to Laura Moreno, whom she was certain would submit. As she reached up one hand to tilt Moreno's head forward, she was surprised by Cigemeier on her right, who abruptly ripped the scissors out of her hand and stabbed them into the wall.

"Not without a full partners' meeting," Cigemeier said. "And if we have to do it, EVERYBODY in the firm has to do it!"

"It's just for people working with this client--"

"Then everybody's working with this client, or nobody's working with this client," snarled Cigemeier.

"I voted against your making partner," the senior partner said.

'You could always do the whole oil company assignment by yourself--then take the rest of the year off," said Cigemeier.

With that, the senior partner stormed out, and Bridezilla burst out laughing. She had not laughed this hard in a very, very, very long time. "I never liked that oil company," she said, wiping tears from her eyes. "They have the dirtiest restrooms on Earth."

"That is so true!" said Chloe Cleavage.

And they have the worst oil spill record in the world, thought Laura Moreno, but she said nothing except a quiet "thanks" to Cigemeier, then exited the conference room.

A block away, the White House butler was making preliminary preparations in the conference room that would host Sunday's budget summit with Congressional leaders: she plugged in the electric air freshener discreetly behind the credenza, pulled two short vases out of the credenza and placed them at either end of the table to await the flowers that Bridge would cut from the White House garden Sunday morning, dry-polished the silver candlesticks and damp-polished the wood, and then signaled her twin pre-schoolers that they could start the vacuuming. She sat down to rest for a few minutes while Ferguson and Regina chased the Rumba robot around the room, shouting, "Go, Rumba, go!" (The Rumba had been purchased to make the HIV-positive butler's job a little easier.) Clio closed her eyes and leaned her head back into the corner chair, her feet tucked under her so that Rumba could get under her chair as well. Just the namecards left--no, they said no namecards this time....She was trying to go through her task list mentally, but it was no use--she would have to return to her office to look at the written list again because she had forgotten to put it in her pocket. Meanwhile, the twins saw their opportunity and seized it: they had heard President Obama say he wished he could nail those Representatives to their chairs until they reached an agreement, so they were going to squirt Gorilla Glue all over the chairs while their mother's eyes were closed.

Then Rumba sucked up a large binder clip and burped loudly, causing Clio to open her eyes. "Reggie! Fergie!" She jumped to her feet and ran over to collect the glue bottles from the twins. "What do you think you're doing?!" She looked down at the puddles of Gorilla Glue in dismay, knowing there was no way to get it off the chairs cleanly. "It will dry clear, I suppose," she said softly to herself. "It won't have any stickiness left by Sunday." She glared at the twins, who had lined themselves against the wall like prisoners awaiting the firing squad, and she wagged her fingers at them. "I can't let you be for two minutes!" she railed. "You'll be the death of me!" She turned off Rumba, announced they were finished, and pointed them to head for the door.

"She doesn't understand the importance," whispered a White House ghost to Regina.

"We'll come back Saturday night," whispered another White House ghost to Ferguson.

Then Bo arrived out of nowhere to bark at the White House ghosts until they got annoyed and fled back to the Oval Office to do some more whispering in there.

A few miles away, Congressman Herrmark was miffed (again) that he had not been invited to the budget summit on Sunday. He just did not understand why his party's leadership could not see that he was a rising star with brilliant ideas and the steely resolve to see them through. He knew Congressman Issa had it in for him, but he had demonstrated his budget patriotism by abandoning his quest for an earmark to clean up his home state from the hydrofracking damage (specifically, his parents' vacation home), and he should be rewarded for that! What was the point of acting like a statesman if nobody was going to give him statesman powers? True, his bodyguards had mistakenly roughed up some tourists from Ohio whom they had mistaken as Halliburton spies (assassins), but nobody could blame his bodyguards for being cautious, and if Boehner was holding that against him, well, screw him! Herrmark was starting to think he should have taken the back-scratching deal offered a month ago, but it looked like a trap and it was too late now--the moment had passed. He sighed, and wished he could phone Mia and hear her soft voice, but he had ordered her never to answer the telephone, so he couldn't. Well, at least I can spend the weekend with her, he thought, since I won't have something more important to do. And maybe I'll have the boys take her to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival for a couple hours, get her out of the house. He smiled at his own benevolence and signaled his bodyguards he was ready to go down to the cafeteria to eat lunch, then he frowned remembering who had canceled a lunch appointment with him.

Back at Prince and Prowling, Laura Moreno had just finished reviewing 200 documents loaded by Chloe Cleavage into the database: thirty of them were copies of correspondence between the partner and opposing counsel, two of them were memos Cleavage had written about a different database, ten were images of CD-ROMs, 150 of them were twenty years old and completely irrelevant, and the rest had only one important document. (Cleavage had loaded them into the database while on speakerphone with her cousin Chloris Cleavage, a Hollywood actress who had just been shortlisted to play Anthony Wiener's sexting partner number four.) And now Moreno had to write in detail what had been accomplished with the ten hours she had spent in this database in a way that the senior partner deemed acceptable for billing to the client or Moreno was not going to get paid. Suddenly the paralegal-from-Hell came into the workroom with the hair scissors and everything else. "It's time," she said, like the nurse from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

"You wave those scissors at me one more time, and I'll call the police to report a violent assault," Moreno said quietly, playing the only possible trump card she could--she might be the lowliest lawyer at Prince and Prowling, but she knew that the paralegal-from-Hell did not know the legal definition of criminal assault and would keep the scissors out of her face until somebody was consulted on it. The paralegal-from-Hell retreated without saying a word, hatred gleaming in her eyes, and Moreno knew there was a 50-50 chance she would end up fired over the weekend, but that no longer seemed the worst fate in the world.

A couple miles away, Glenn Michael Beckmann was casing the Smithsonian Folklife Festival for a possible Saturday bombing, but most of the other people on the Mall were having a lovely time--most.

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