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, December 29, 2011

Did You Hear the One About the White House Tourist?

....He thought the men on the roof were WORKING ON IT!

Yes, there are still people in this country who do not know we have snipers on top of the White House...24/7. Some cities have a little less terror (or horror?) than we do!

Washington Water Woman is heading to one of those friendly places to ring in the New Year, but tune back in next year to find out--

* who becomes an accidental parent,
* how Congress becomes more frightening than it already is,
* the fate of the cursed Rolex,
* the fate of Mia,
* the fate of Anonymous Shell Corporation,
* Herman Cain's new secret life in Washington,
* who's on Glenn Michael Beckmann's hit list,
and
* many unpleasant surprises.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Longer Days, But Colder Nights

The Seekers sipped coffee in a chilly room on the Georgetown campus and compared unwanted gifts they had received from their congregations during the month of December. The rabbi swapped his fancy shaving kit ("What--they think I'm too hairy?") for the Jesuit's Washington Redskins tickets (the Jesuit had a crappy razor, and could not stand the Redskins). The Lutheran minister swapped his Ghirardelli chocolates ("What--they think this is better than German chocolate?") for the Buddhist monk's alpaca wool mittens (the Buddhist was allergic to wool, and felt any type of chocolate could give a glimpse of Nirvana). The Hindu priest swapped his Nook ("I already have an i-Pad!") for the Methodist minister's fruit and nut basket (she was allergic to nuts). Then the Imam swapped his hand-woven prayer rug ("Always with the prayer rugs!") for the Quaker's espresso machine (she couldn't tolerate caffeine). With that out of the way and contentedness in their hearts, they put aside their possessions and began to discuss the spiritual growth (or lack thereof) they had seen in their followers in recent months.

A few miles to the east, former Senator Evermore Breadman was thrilled to be in his Prince and Prowling office, away from his irritating in-laws and discontented wife--who could not even feign joy at receiving a diamond and sapphire necklace. Things had been a bit rocky at the law firm since the abrupt death of partner emeritus Wolfgang Prowling, and despite a modest attempt at investigation, Breadman was certain he was still the only person who knew that it was really Chloe Cleavage who had caused the heart attack. He had not believed there was any fruitful way to pin it on her, though he could not help second-guessing his silence when the old man's will terms came out and everyone heard that he had left a quarter-million dollars to Laura Moreno so that she could open her own law practice. Breadman was walking a fine line, summarily dismissing the gossip against Moreno without explaining why he harbored no suspicions of her. In any case, despite the gossip about her, Moreno was still showing up for her pathetic little contract attorney job--though with a resigned look on her face, since she clearly did not believe that her bequest could survive the legal challenges brought by Prowling's children (who refused to accept that their father could have been in his right mind when he had only left $3,000,000 to each of them). The important thing, Breadman reminded himself, was that Prowling had actually done a good job of running Operation Koch: the public relations and lobbying activities of Prince and Prowling had gotten back on track, and the Koch Brothers themselves were particularly pleased at how well Prince and Prowling had done in suppressing the news story that the research study funded by the Koch Brothers to debunk global warming had actually led to their biased researchers' shocked admission that, in fact, they were now convinced global warming was real. The law firm had managed to avoid committing to any Republican candidates while it was still wildly unclear who would emerge on top. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau still had no director, the Halliburton loophole was still in effect, the Occupy movement was losing steam--really, thought Breadman, things are going in the right direction. He finished his custom-made Chinese herbal cleanse tonic and got up to start his end-of-year document-shredding.

A couple miles away, Chloe Cleavage had bigger things on her mind than Wolfgang Prowling's death (which she knew now they were never going to pin on her). She was unpacking her luggage with no effort to be quiet, irritated at finding "Pierre" sound asleep in her bed. He had refused to go home with her for Christmas because "it was important to maintain the protest at OccupyDC", but here he was, sleeping half the day away (or more!) in her comfortable bed. She could see that more of his stuff was now piled up in the corner of her bedroom--mostly dirty clothes that she suspected he was hoping she would get tired of looking at (or smelling) and wash them herself. She had also seen a lot of liquor bottles in the recycling bin, and plenty of glasses in the sink (apparently it was against his principles to put them into the dishwasher, or wash them himself), and she suspected he had entertained somebody while she was out of town. She pushed her now-empty suitcase into the back of the closet and slammed the closet door, but he didn't even flinch under the covers. She went out into the living room to turn on the television to see what channel he was last watching: ESPN. She hit the Last Channel button to see if it were a news channel, but, no, it was MTV. Judging his habits in bed, she suspected he would have been watching the Playboy Channel if she had it. She sat down on the couch and stared at her Christmas tree. The truth was that she was glad to know he was not a fanatically idealistic socialist; on the other hand, if it got any colder, he might completely abandon his tent in McPherson Square and move in here. A jobless drifter who cooked and cleaned for her, talked trash about capitalism only a couple of times a day, and wowed her in bed would be satisfactory, but now she doubted she could even hope for that little from him.

Cleavage's condo neighbor, Golden Fawn, was also sitting on a couch and staring at a Christmas tree. Her husband, Marcos Vazquez, lay silently with his head in her lap, two weeks after being diagnosed with amoebas in the brain. "It's a miracle he's alive," she had heard nurse Consuela Arroyo say at least a hundred times during his stay at the George Washington University Hospital, and Golden Fawn knew it was true. She also knew her husband's salvation had not come from anything the doctors or nurses had done, because those were no ordinary amoebas--they were amoebas sent by Ardua of the Potomac when Vazquez had dived out of the Coast Guard cutter to retrieve the drowning man from the river. No, his salvation had come from the prayers of his mother, the strong medicine of her grandmother, and her own fretful incantations. Golden Fawn heard laughter from the kitchen and was amazed that his mother and her grandmother were finally getting along. Vazquez had said this was the best Christmas ever, and in a way he was right.

A few miles away, Angela de la Paz was sitting in the front row of Sacred Heart (or "Sagrado Corazon", as her abuela had always called it). Most of the mid-day worshippers were gone, and she was surveying the cotton ball snow covering the manger. "Fake snow is stupid," she said to her companion. "There's nothing in the Bible about snow. If it were that cold, Jesus would have frozen to death the first night in that manger." Charles Wu was capable of feeling comfortable in almost situation on Earth except this one--a church--but it had been her suggestion. He nervously looked around at the stained glass windows, sculptures, painted tableaux, and Christmas decorations. He had never understood where that kind of inspiration came from--aside from the fake snow, everything in the church was breathtaking.

"People like to see Bible stories in ways they can relate to," Wu said at last. "The winter solstice was chosen as Christ's birthday so that Christians could supplant pagan solstice ceremonies with the Nativity story--Christians in countries where it snowed in December." Angela de la Paz wondered if the day would ever come when she could just say something without some adult telling her why she didn't get it. "But you're right," said Wu, after she remained silent. "The fake snow is stupid. But maybe that's because we're sitting in the front row. From further back, it probably looks better." She remained silent. "Sometimes you need to take a broader perspective to see the whole picture and how things fit together."

"You mean geopolitics?" Angela said, impatiently. (At least Henry Samuelson knew how to get to the point.)

"Yes," Wu said, watching an elderly woman kneeling in front of the creche, arms uplifted.

"The Heurich Society said all you care about is money," said Angela.

"I'm not the one who's a paid assasin," said Wu, craving a drink.

"I'm not a paid assasin!" exclaimed Angela, and the praying woman turned around in shock.

Wu grabbed Angela by the elbow, yanked her to her feet, and marched her quickly away from the front of the church. "You're what, now, 17? You think you know it all? You think you know who deserves to live and die? You think you know how to make the world a better place?"

Angela de la Paz (the trained assasin) suddenly broke free of his grasp, and after a rapid succession of karate moves, had Wu on the floor with her foot on his neck. Wu, whose Kung Fu expertise could have at least delayed this result, had let it happen without defending himself. He stared up at her without fear, though she could not read exactly what it was she saw in his eyes. She took her foot off his throat, stepped back, and let him stand up. They were in the middle of the center aisle of the large Catholic church. "Why should I trust you?"

"Because you don't distrust me," said Wu. "And when the stakes are this high, that's as good as you can get."

"Well, I want more," said Angela, turning for the exit.

"And you think that makes you different?" said Wu, stopping her in her tracks. "It's not easy to identify friends--if somebody's not your enemy, maybe that should be good enough."

"Maybe," she said, resuming her departure.

Outside the church, a pink warbler pondered what song to sing for Angela, and a flock of starlings flew off to report to Ardua of the Potomac on what they knew she would not want to hear about--these two getting together.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Dreams (a shrink's journal)

(from the journal of psychiatrist Ermann Esse)

______________________
Christmas Dreams 2011
______________________

(1) Imploding Campaigns (from a Mitt Romney campaign advisor)--


I dreamt that Newt Gingrich leaves his current wife for a Fox News reporter named "Fluffalicious". Then Rick Perry is caught in a hunting lodge cleaning rifles with Sarah Palin--might have been a sex scandal, but Perry accidentally shoots his right foot off. Palin does a drive-by to drop him off at a hospital emergency room, but somebody videotapes her with a camera phone. Then Michelle Bachmann and her husband are caught on tape having sex in front of a gay man to try to convert him. Then a Ron Paul video surfaces showing him teaching his son Rand at age ten how to recite the Bill of Rights while smoking a bong. Then unemployment rises to 40%. Best dream I ever had!

(2) The Wedding (from Bridezilla)--


The testosterone and human growth hormone is finally out of my system; all the facial hair is gone; I've never gone to law school; I'm twenty-two years old again and engaged to Blake Bloodsworth Blevins, III, of Hampton Roads, Virginia; we've won a contest to have our wedding paid for by Donald Trump; the wedding day comes, and it's absolutely perfect, and I'm the most beautiful bride in history, and Blake is the handsomest groom in history; then we have the most amazing honeymoon in history; then we can't remember where we're supposed to go after the honeymoon, so we just sit in the parking lot at Dulles Airport watching the snow come down, suntanned and confused because we have no idea what comes next. When I wake up, I'm still happy, but sort of dazed. Then I remember I'm a partner at Prince and Prowling, I've been engaged three times, I'm still single, and I hate everything about my life. Then I take a pill to go back to sleep.


(3) Zombie Democracy (from Speaker of the House, John Boehner)--


I walk into the Virginia Congressman's office, and he has salted Virginia peanuts on the credenza, so I open a packet, but termites crawl out! Then I walk into the Iowa Congressman's office, and he has a hot popcorn machine, so I try to scoop out a bag of it, but the machine starts shooting out sparks, then it catches on fire! Then I visit the Oregon Congresswoman's office, and she has dried berry packets out on the table, so I open a packet of those, but maggots fall out! So I can't take it anymore, and I run back to my own office. The smell of the Christmas tree greets me, and I start feeling better. I look at the photographs on the wall and the award plaques that chronicle my amazing career. I look at the coffee table book about Ohio. I look at the guest book to see who has signed in today. I retreat to my private chamber to take a nap. When I wake up, the heat is off, and I feel cold. I go out to see what is going on, but all my staffers are missing! The Christmas tree ornaments are all gone, and hundred-dollar bills are pinned all over the tree! The coffee table book about Ohio is gone, and the coffee table is covered with glossy reports on the fifty largest corporations in America. The photos on the wall are all photos of campaign contribution checks, and the award plaques are all about the most skillful uses of untraceable SuperPAC money to purchase campaign attack ads. I start feeling sick because the air is smoggy from the coal burning in the fireplace where my sofa used to be, and I see a neon sign flashing on the ceiling celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the abolition of EPA and OSHA. I stagger out into the hallway to see if the air is any better, and I am happy to see that my staffers are finally returning from lunch with the lobbyists. But something is wrong, and they look like a mess, with ketchup all over their faces. Then I realize it's BLOOD, and they're all ZOMBIES! They chase me down the hall and finally tackle me to the ground, and just before they start eating me, I hear Jack Abramoff's voice calling out, "I'm glad we can count on your support, John!" Then Condoleezza Rice shows up and tells me that, if I want, she can turn me into a vampire, and then the zombies won't eat me. I'm just about to say "yes" when my youngest staffer sinks her teeth into my right hand, and I wake up screaming.

(4) A Trillion Dollars Later (from "Didymus", the ghost of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara)--

I see a hideous monster or demon rise up from the Potomac River; its name is Ardua; for a brief moment, the demon's belly becomes illuminated like an x-ray, and I see dismembered soldiers inside; a catbird alights on the demon's head, and it's screeching out imitation gunfire and explosion sounds; a flock of ducks flies over ahead, and suddenly all their feathers fall off and flutter down to the river; the catbird calls out, "A trillion feathers for Narnia! A trillion dollars for Iraq!"; the naked ducks crash into the water and are devoured by river rats. Just before I wake up from the nightmare, pink dolphins jump out of the water and ram Ardua of the Potomac in the head, and she howls in pain and sinks to the bottom of the river.

(5) God Bless Us, Everyone (from new patient, Luciano Talaverdi, FRB economist)--

I'm back in Italy. My mother has decided to run for President of the Republic because she says it's time for common sense and old-fashioned values. My father asks her if she means the old-fashioned fascist values, or Julius Caesar, or maybe something in-between, like Machiavelli? She slaps him with a salami, and I tell her she is being a cliche, and she says, "What do you know, Mr. Fancy Pants?! We worked hard to send you to university, and then you abandoned us to go work for the Federal Reservation Board [Federal Reserve Board, Momma!] in America, and what do you do? Just drive people crazy!" [We're trying to prevent the world from going into a depression, Momma!] "What do you know, with your fancy pants and fancy shoes?! You are in the one percent, Luciano!" [Momma mia, no I'm not!] Then my father tells us to shut up because he's trying to watch the Italian version of Scrooge on television. Then I run out of my parents' house screaming, and I've turned into an ant! I am a tiny ant on the sidewalk, and the other ants and I are trying to grab crumbs before giant people shoes step on us. I cry out, "No, this is a mistake, I am an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, we are important, I am important, my girlfriend dresses like Obi Wan Kenobi, and I dress like Gianni Versace (but not in a gay way)." Then my mother comes out of the house, complains about the ants on her sidewalk, and she turns on the hose to wash us away. The last thing I hear is my father shouting out, "God bless us, everyone!" Then I wake up in a cold sweat.

(6) My Dream (by Dr. Ermann Esse)--

Barbara Walters is interviewing me as one of the five most fascinating people of 2011. I explain to her that my insistence on treating Washington patients without the use of psychotropic medicine forces them to confront their inner demons more rapidly: the process is painful, but they progress much faster. She says it's clear I am making a difference because Washington's community and national leaders are setting a shining example of rational enlightenment for the whole world. Then she says in all her years of reporting, she has NEVER been more inspired by Washingtonians than in 2011. After the interview, I go to sign my book ("Real Power is Brain Power") at Politics and Prose Bookstore on Christmas Eve, and the line is out the door and around the block. Then a pink warbler flies into the store out of nowhere and whispers in my year, "2012 will be even better! Merry Christmas!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lobbying for Dummies

___Jack Abramoff:
Wine them, dine them, take them to sporting events, pit a new client's interests against the previous one's....A 10,000% return on their investment answers all other questions....Am I a hypocrite? Is a hypocrite's hypocrite sincere? Are a crocodile's tears dry?

___Anne Millbrooke:
"Don't mix your issue with the elected official's campaign financing."

___former Senator Evermore Breadman:
"Hand them the contribution check from your client before you shake hands."

___Anne Millbrooke:
"Check your elected official's party, voting record, constituent pressures, responsiveness...."

___Ann Bishis, special assistant to Congressman Herrmark:
"Chocolate, flowers, jewelry, concert tickets, handbags, Harry and David fruit baskets with cookies, lunch in a nice restaurant, use of your Delaware beach house in August. Sometimes they don't have time to shop and just bring cash, which is a little tacky, but I understand--in Washington we're all very busy people."

___Anne Millbrooke:
"Use personal experience and feelings to support your point."

___Henry Samuelson, ex-CIA, member of the Heurich Society:
"Use your personal knowledge of THEM against them."

___Anne Millbrooke:
"Don't apologize for taking the elected official's time: it's a citizen's right to meet with official."

___Congressman Herrmark:
"Thanks for stopping by, but my next appointment is here." (And HE brought a campaign contribution!)

___Anne Millbrooke:
"State your cause clearly, directly, and briefly in your own words."

___Charles Wu, secret agent:
"Charm, maneuver, and manipulate until they arrive at the logical conclusion. Flirt with women. Massage male egos. Never let them know who or what else you're working for. And dress for success."

___Anne Millbrooke:
"Build a relationship: 'No permanent friends, no permanent enemies.'"

___John Boehner:
(to his therapist) "Lobbying? Nobody even pays attention to me anymore! All they talk about is Mitt, Newt, Michelle, Perry. Why don't you go talk to those freshman Republicans who packed the Defense authorization bill with earmarks after campaigning against earmarks!? I can guarantee you they learned something about lobbying last year!"

___Washington Water Woman:
(Should I wear the cheap suit because it's newer, or does the more expensive 10-year-old suit look better? Will they look at my shoes? What if I get nervous and ramble?) "This program operates with an annual $123 million deficit, and it only benefits a handful of citizens." (And that handful turn around and use that money to buy their U.S. Senators and Representatives, but I can't say that!) "It's harmful to the environment as well as discouraging more profitable economic enterprises which would employ a hundred times the number of people." (Now they're thinking, "Don't confuse with me logic!") "The association does NOT speak for most of them, let alone all of them. Phasing out this program will NOT endanger their way of life." (Did I fall on the third rail? He doesn't know what a third rail is because he's never ridden a subway!) "Thank you for your time." (Oops, was I not supposed to say that? Does this Congressional bill have a snowball's chance in Hell?)

___Ardua of the Potomac:
"Puny humans, with all your groveling for crumbs on the floor! Veni, vedi, venci!"

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Third Way Out

An ear-splitting scream reverberated through the Prince and Prowling penthouse suite: it was the unmistakable screech of Bridezilla, simultaneously high-pitched and nasal, with just a drop of old Virginia drawl. She had just discovered partner emeritus Wolfgang Prowling slumped over in his wheelchair, his head tilted awkwardly to the side, his glassy eyes staring at nothing. (Of course, her version of the "discovery" would later be called into question.) The Sunday workforce who heard the shriek, and the others who heard it through the grapevine, gradually gathered around the limp old man. Nobody checked his pulse, breathing, or heartbeat--let alone contemplated starting CPR. Laura Moreno had brought the defibrillator from the kitchen, but former Senator Evermore Breadman had demanded that nobody without proper training attempt to use it. By the time the ambulance arrived, Prowling's heart had been stopped for at least eleven minutes. As the workers tried to focus on reviving the man, they were (as they would later tell the investigators) distracted by wild accusations flying around them. "I saw him coming out of Senator Breadman's office, cursing about the Washington Post's expose on presidential pardons!" "Well, I saw him coming out of Cigemeier's office, cursing about how a man had to win a major trial before becoming partner in his day! He had a pile of folders in his lap that looked too heavy for him." "Well, I heard him in Bridezilla's office telling her that it was a mistake to make a woman a partner before her childbearing years were over. Then she offered him a slice of cheesecake, and he said, 'What are you trying to do--kill me?!' Then he rolled out of her office, his face all red!" "Well, I saw him leaving Laura's office, swearing about how they had a bunch of nancy pants, law review , law clerk twerps running the show while the only hard worker of the operation was holed away in a foul-smelling workroom that he couldn't even wheel his wheelchair into without running over mouse droppings or even an actual mouse! And then he reached down and used a file folder to scrape something off his right wheel, and he was panting." (When questioned by the investigators about how certain they were--as it seemed unlikely that EMTs could remember such specific comments in the middle of reviving a comatose patient--they replied that this happened every time somebody had a heart attack in a major law firm in D.C.)

A mile away, the Heurich Society had a few senior members of its own whose hearts were perilously close to coronary incidents as they heatedly debated world events. They were divided over Australia's decision to sell uranium to India, they were divided over the implications of Russia's elections, they were divided over how to address the U.K.'s violent exit from Iran, and they were divided over the three-eyed fish floating in a jar of formaldehyde in the center of the table. ("How do we really know it came from the Anacostia?" "It's larger than the three-eyed fish caught near the Argentine nuclear power plant." "We're lucky our source got a hold of it before the Washington Post did!" "We're going to have worse problems than three-eyed fish if Project Prometheus doesn't do more to mitigate climate change security problems!" "You mean like freeing climate change refugees from desert slave-traders?! Cause God knows that's on the top of my list!")

"GENTLEMEN!" It was Condoleezza Rice, hollering over the speaker phone. "When did anybody ever tell you this was supposed to be easy?! We have to fight for what we want! And if we're not getting it, we need new plans and new personnel."

"What are you proposing, er, suggesting?" asked the Heurich Society Chair, staring at the speaker phone as if it were a ticking time bomb.

"New leadership," Rice said in a softer voice.

"I agree," said Henry Samuelson, not bothering to look anybody in the eye as he continued to watch a small flock of starlings in the tree branches swaying outside the window of the Brewmaster's castle.

Silence ensued as the Chair looked around the table to see who was going to challenge him for leadership, but most eyes were fixed on the three-eyed fish at the center of the table.

"Herman Cain," said Condoleezza Rice over the speakerphone. ("WHAT?!") "He's already agreed to do it. He's green on foreign affairs, but a fresh perspective is what the Heurich Society needs to regain its original focus."

"That lamebrain doesn't even know the difference between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan!" protested the Chair, who suspected Rice's relationship with Cain might be deeper than she was saying (though he would never say that out loud in a thousand years).

"Neither do we, anymore," said Samuelson, turning away from the window. "Maybe it's time for us to re-learn a few things. Maybe the world's been changing faster than we've been willing to admit. Every time I think it's time for me to sit down with my daughter, explain to her the facts of life--I mean, the world--and ask her to join me in my life's work, I have trouble summing up what I need to tell her. And that's because it keeps changing."

"Adapt or die!" exclaimed the Chair. "You have said this more than anybody!"

"But adapt willy nilly, carelessly, randomly--like a fish growing a third eye?! We don't need a third eye, gentlemen! We need a third way!" concluded Samuelson.

"What do you mean by that?" asked the Chair.

Samuelson wasn't sure what he meant by that, since the words had just flowed logically, one after another, out of his mouth, but he would let Herman Cain figure that out. "Project Third Way," said Samuelson. "I move that we immediately launch Project Third Way, to be led by Herman Cain."

"I second the motion," crackled the speakerphone.

Ten minutes later, the members were filing out of the conference room--most carefully wrapping up their doughnuts in napkins to eat later, since the sight of the fish had been nauseating. "You should take the fish home as a souvenir," remarked Samuelson with a smirk on his way out.

"Laugh now, old spook! We'll see who laughs last!" whispered the Chair.

A couple miles to the south, Dr. Khalid Mohammad came out of the George Washington University Hospital emergency room and looked in vain for former Senator Evermore Breadman until nurse Consuela Arroyo told him they had placed the Senator in an office so he wouldn't have to sit in the waiting area. Dr. Mohammad asked why, but Arroyo just shrugged. Dr. Mohammad entered the office to find Breadman in the middle of a phone call about the Republican primaries, but he hung up and turned attentively to the doctor. (Breadman's first thought was how the old coot would have demanded a WASP doctor if he could have.) Dr. Mohammad explained that there was nothing they could do, and Wolfgang Prowling had been pronounced dead on arrival.

"But why?" asked Breadman.

"We could not revive him--"

"No, I mean, why did he have the heart attack?"

"Well, sir, he was quite elderly. We could do an autopsy if you like, and I'm sure we would find some hardening of the arteries and--"

"No, I mean, did something trigger it?" asked Breadman.

"Well, a number of things might have--"

"Doctor," said Breadman quietly, "I thought I saw a wet stain on his crotch."

"Sometimes the elderly have bladder control problems, sir, or it could have happened during the heart attack," said Dr. Mohammad.

"He didn't smell like urine," said Breadman quietly. "Can you check?"

"You want me to test for semen?" asked Dr. Mohammad, who was tired of all the stupid requests he had gotten since CSI had first gone on the air. "Why?"

Breadman was not accustomed to dealing with people who did not accede to his requests. "I need to know!"

"Alright, sir," said Dr. Mohammad. "Now if you could assist the nurse in completing the next-of-kin information, I would be most grateful."

Back at Prince and Prowling, everybody else had gone home except Chloe Cleavage. "It wasn't my fault," she said to herself for the upteenth time, mindlessly rearranging binders and dusting her shelves with a wet rag. "The guy was always crabby! I was just trying to make him happy!" She knew the only reason she was still employed at Prince and Prowling was because she had sex scandal tapes of a few of her trysts, but this was different. For one thing, she wasn't totally sure he had welcomed her advances, since mostly all she heard was "hmmmphhh?!". And then the other thing was, now he was dead. "It wasn't my fault! They can't touch me! And even if they do, I'm rich now because I sold my eggs for a million dollars, and I have my condo, and everything will be fine. They all wanted him out of here anyway! They should be thanking me! Not that it was my fault, because it wasn't."

Out in the Potomac River, Ardua awoke from a beautiful dream she was having about Mayor Gray's Sustainability Initiative's falling prey to egotism, acrimony, red tape, and shattered dreams for dozens of city employees and hundreds of idealistic citizens. "I will sustain you, Washington," yawned the demon. "I need you alive!" And she laughed in the depths of the river, as the three-eyed bottom-feeders slowly spread north in search of new food.