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, August 07, 2011

Coming Back

The Camelot Society of the Federal Reserve Board had always been a sober group until now, but when economist Luciano Talaverdi pulled champagne and orange juice from his cooler, nobody turned him down. (The sales girl had asked him what he was celebrating, and he had said, "It's a new year.") Fen Do Ping was visiting for the first time since he had been unceremoniously "furloughed", and he merrily helped himself to a mimosa and a plate heaped with pastries. Ping never worried about the big picture anymore, and was telling everybody his new insights about the "invisible hand" and how well the economy would be doing if everybody just focused on earning money for themselves, like his coworkers at Booz Allen Hamilton. "Earning, earning, earning!" he kept saying. "This is what I was trying to explain before--it can't be about liquidity! Liquidity is an illusion--it is like building a water pipe without paying any attention to where you are going to get water!" (Obi Wan Woman gave Talaverdi a stern look, but in these times of uncertainty, Talaverdi had insisted that they needed to start thinking outside the box.)

"What about Standard & Poor's?" somebody asked.

Ping shook his head. "Parasites!" he hissed. "Those agencies gave AAA ratings to mortgage-backed derivatives that were worthless! Who takes them seriously now?"

"Everyone!" exclaimed Obi Wan Woman.

"The government should have indicted all of them!" shouted Ping, getting more animated from the champagne. "In China, their leaders would all be in prison or dead for treason!"

"Ping!" exclaimed Talaverdi, kicking him under the table.

"Yes, yes, well, we are in America, I know! They have a First Amendment right to say whatever they want about the credit worthiness of this great country, so you are playing a losing game with them. You have to stop fighting for liquidity and start fighting for earnings!" He pulled out copies of a Booz Allen Hamilton report prepared for a mysterious client in Los Angeles and said, "you can't tell anybody where you got this!" (He had redacted all the Booz Allen Hamilton references.) He then passed out the report, entitled "Ninety Million Young Asians Are Ready to Immigrate to the United States: Gentlemen, Start Your Taxing Engines!" (Obi Wan Woman's mouth dropped open, and a half-chewed piece of croissant fell out into her lap.) "I also have a study on tax revenue from legalizing marijuana, but that has already been delivered to the Treasury Department. I am giving you first crack at this one!"

In the basement, two stories below the Research Library where the Camelot Society was meeting around the round table, Sebastian L'Arche had been called back to work again with the troubled yellow labrador. I don't understand what I'm guarding! the dog whispered to L'Arche. There are dark forces here--ghosts and goblins!--but they have me sniffing copier paper deliveries and Verizon technicians! Madness, madness everywhere! They took me to Master Bernanke's office three times last week just to play with him because he was so distraught! I tried to warn him, but he couldn't understand me! L'Arche had been staring silently into the motionless dog's eyes for a good five minutes, and the FRB police officers were pacing restlessly. How can I protect Master Bernanke? If I bark, they look for explosives. They don't see what else is there! L'Arche nodded his head, then pulled the dog close to whisper in its ear: "Master Bernanke does know, but sometimes you cannot run away--sometimes you have to stay and stare down the demons." The dog lay down, dejected and demoralized, and L'Arche lay down next to the dog, nose-to-nose. "Everybody has their job to do, and yours is to look for explosives. You are just one dog--you cannot protect everybody from everything, even if you want to. But you can do your job!" The dog exhaled deeply, licked L'Arche a few times, then stood up at attention. L'Arche arose, told the officers that the dog would be fine, but if they didn't mind, he would stop by once a week just to check on the dog. They nodded, he patted the dog on the head, and then he departed.

Several miles to the east, Atticus Hawk also had his job to do, and no matter how hard he tried to change it, he was still the Justice Department's torture specialist. He was on his upteenth reading of U.S. District Judge James Gwin's ruling against Donald Rumsfeld handed down on Tuesday, and his recent vacation was already a distant memory. "The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad." Hawk rubbed more lime on the space between his thumb and forefinger, sprinkled salt on it, and sucked it. "The stakes in holding detainees at Camp Cropper may have been high, but one purpose of the constitutional limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement even domestically is to strike a balance between government objectives and individual rights even when the stakes are high." Hawk repeated the lime juice and salt ritual he had adopted on vacation and shifted his gaze to the other side of his desk, where he had the photo and dossier of the lawsuit's unnamed U.S. citizen trying to hold Donald Rumsfeld personally responsible for his imprisonment and torture in Iraq after serving as an interpreter with a military contractor. Army veteran, Hawk snorted. Why do they always trot that out, like it proves they're innocent patriots?! He left the Army to make more money! He snorted again, and repeated the lime juice and salt ritual.

"You need to stop doing that," Ava Kahdo Green said, after opening his door without knocking, and he raced to cover up his papers. "Your blood pressure's gonna go up from the salt." She sat down in his guest chair and offered him some dried acerola. Not more health food, he groaned inwardly. (He could really go for his ex-fiancee's fried okra right about now.) "It can't be that bad," she said cheerfully, propping up her trendy gladiator sandals on the edge of his desk, not caring whether he could see up her skirt or not. "I'm a little bored with the Deepwater Horizon, to tell you the truth. What are you working on?"

"Oh, something even less interesting," he assured her, but his bloodshot eyes told a different story.

A few miles to the north, Angela de la Paz's bloodshot eyes told a different story: jet lag, fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia...and a residual allergic reaction to exotic explosive materials. She rubbed her eyes and looked over her shoulder at the dust being kicked up by the Meridian Hill futbol players, which was also not going to help. She turned back to read the plaque about the Joan of Arc statue, a gift from France. You're like Joan of Arc, she remembered Henry Samuelson telling her during her training in Kansas, and she had looked up Joan of Arc on the internet, but she had not understood until much, much later. The funny thing was, she knew now that it was just a bullshit thing he had said to her, not meaning it, but it was truer than he realized. She saw the pink warbler alight on Joan's head, but the bird was slow to sing her welcome-home song to Angela. The warbler cocked her head back and forth a few times, started a trill, then stopped, then flew away, and then came right back. Angela sat down on the ground and leaned her head against the stone, but found it only a few degrees cooler than the warm, damp air weighing her down. The pink warbler hopped down onto Angela's knee, and Angela stretched out her finger, and after a minute of contemplation, the bird hopped onto the finger, but remained silent. "I was supposed to get away from all this," Angela whispered to the bird. "But guess what? There are poor people everywhere. And men who beat women. And sick children. And knives and guns and drugs. And no matter how many bad guys you kill, it's never enough."

Henry Samuelson watched her talking to her own finger and approached cautiously. "Welcome home, Angela," he said, and she looked up in surprise--not surprise that he had found out she was home, but surprise at the rapidity.

"I'm on vacation," she said, as if that were enough to make him stop talking to her.

"I know things overseas have been very stressful, but it was you that took on all those extra, unauthorized missions. You still don't understand the big picture, Angela. That's why you need us to choose your missions for you." He could see anger building up in her eyes and decided that would be all he said today. "Why don't you take a real vacation," he said, "someplace away from here."

"It's all the same," she said flatly.

"Maybe everything is all the same in the Middle East and Afghanistan, but there are still some wonderful places out there! How about Hawaii, hmm?"

"I'll go to Norway," she said, because Norway was the first place she thought of that would be like the diametric opposite of Hawaii.

Samuelson nodded encouragingly, but wondered if she was going to try to assassinate the crazy mass-murderer of children. "OK, whatever you want! You deserve a vacation. I know somebody there who can teach you to ski." She decided to go to Argentina instead, but didn't tell him--he could find out later.

Two miles to the south, Golden Fawn sat crossed-legged in the Lafayette Park grass, facing the White House and praying for rain--not the rain that was already on its way from the clouds gathering in Virginia, but for a spiritual rain. "Something is wrong," she whispered to the raven sitting attentively in her lap. He's protecting Wall Street moneylenders and defendant Donald Rumsfeld and the military industrial complex. He's changed. She held amulets in both her hands, but she knew it was not enough: she had to get inside.

But you can get to Ardua of the Potomac, whispered the raven, and the girl is back--she can help you.

A catbird flew off to report to the demon in the river, only flinching a little at the screech of the raven behind it.

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