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 ....

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.

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