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, January 20, 2012

Against the Wall

For a histrionic bunch of people, the Heurich Society actually did not call a lot of emergency meetings, but they were having one today. "A motion to remove Herman Cain from chairmanship of the Heurich Society is on the table," said the vice-chair. "Do we have a second?" ("Seconded," came the disembodied voice of Condoleezza Rice from the speaker phone.) "Discussion," said the vice-chair. The discussion was fast and furious. ("What's there to discuss? He's doing a joint rally with Stephen Colbert in South Carolina today!" "So?" "So!? This guy has no clue about staying under the radar, not to mention priorities, not to mention--" "Some people do high-profile events to distract attention from their low-profile events." "He's wading into the SuperPAC debate, and doing so with Stephen Colbert, of all people. It's unacceptable!" "I say let him have his fun! We're trying to move in a new direction this year--let's see where his leadership takes us." "Where it takes us? Are you out of your mind? The guy's an egomaniacal publicity-hound!" "Cain or Colbert?" "Cain!")

Henry Samuelson abruptly stood up and threw a jelly doughnut against the wall. Discussion ceased as everybody watched the red jelly drip slowly down the wallpaper. ("Hello?" said Rice on the speakerphone. "Am I still connected?") "Yes!" barked Samuelson. "The only pertinent question is whether Herman Cain is the right person to lead Project Third Way! I was the one that nominated him, and I am man enough to admit I made a mistake. I should be the one leading The Third Way. I move to end debate and call the vote."

A few minutes later, Samuelson was walking out as the Heurich Society's new Chairman; he didn't notice that he accidentally brushed his coat sleeve in the red jelly on the wall.

A few miles to the east, Judge Sowell Lame was returning to his chamber, disappointed that another personal injury case was settled out of court mere minutes before trial. How am I ever gonna move up if I can't write any opinions? His law clerk answered the nonverbalized question by handing him a thick file with a pleading clipped to the top. "It's the river case, sir, your honor," said the clerk, a nervous fellow who was grateful to have gotten his clerkship renewed for a third year because he dreaded the idea of looking for a job during a recession. "Pleading from Goode Peepz law firm."

"Who?"

"An intervenor, your honor, sir," replied the law clerk.

"An intervenor?!"

"For the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria--they're completely separate from the Old Dominion Boat Club--and also for Friends of the Potomac Pelicans".

"Potomac Pelicans?!"

"It's quite interesting, actually, sir, your honor," stammered the law clerk. "A pair of brown pelicans ended up here after Hurricane Katrina, and they have a lot of fans. The Friends of the Potomac Pelicans are worried about their ability to nest."

"And the Poseidon Adventure?"

"Poseidon Auxiliary, sir. Greek maritime traditions, very interesting stuff, your honor, sir." (The clerk knew that Judge Sowell Lame hated complicated cases, and intervening parties had just made this case even more complicated.) "I think you can--"

"You think you know what I should do?!" barked the judge.

"No, sir, your honor," replied the law clerk, aware that his right eye had just begun twitching. "I was merely going to say I think you can read the new pleading before lunch--it's not very long, sir."

"Fine!" barked the judge, who knew his entire afternoon was free because of that stupid personal injury settlement. "Check these intervenors' citations and get me a memo by 3 p.m.!"

"Yes, sir!" replied the law clerk, and then he departed Judge Lame's chambers.

Goode Peepz Law Firm, Prince and Prowling, and Lye, Cheit and Steele: I hate you all, thought the judge, painfully aware these parties would never settle out of court in a million years and he was going to have to render a decision reconciling Maryland common law, Virginia common law, federal statutes, the U.S. Constitution, maritime law, and now, God forbid, the Endangered Species act and the maritime journeys of Odysseus and Jason the Argonaut? "Today it ends!" he declared out loud, now realizing if he procrastinated it any further, even more intervenors might come out of the woodwork. Why couldn't you remove this to federal court, like normal people?!

Not far away, Ann Bishis was placing cardamon and oregano leaves in the drawer with her spirit animals, two stuffed animals recently purchased from Friends of the Potomac Pelicans. She silently began a prayer to Hera, then abruptly shut the drawer when she saw Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff coming. The woman had a thick layer of pancake makeup which, Bishis believed, hid her decomposing flesh. She always wore kid gloves, too, claiming that they added elegance and class to any outfit, but Bishis knew the gloves were also hiding decomposing flesh. The chief of staff handed Bishis a file without a word and continued her circuit through the small outer office. (She rarely spoke a word, preferring to give all instructions by email--to avoid letting people hear her raspy voice, of course.) The heavy scent of the zombie's perfume lingered in the air, and Bishis bolted out into the corridor until it dissipated. (Hera protect me from the zombie!) Bishis had been trying to get her cousins, Herrmark's twin bodyguards, to talk to the Congressman about the new Chief of Staff, but they were not as convinced as Bishis that she was actually a zombie--they thought they should at least reserve judgment until summertime, when the Chief of Staff would have to ditch the turtlenecks and heavy tights and actually start showing some flesh. After all, she hadn't tried to eat anybody--that they knew of!, Bishis had pointed out.

A few miles to the west, former Senator Evermore Breadman was rushing back to his Prince and Prowling office after his lunchtime massage, tenser than before. There ought to be a law against your massage therapist's telling you about a co-worker's suicide during a massage session! How is that supposed to relax me? Why can't people just take happy pills? What's the world coming to when a Brazilian massage therapist kills himself over a gay lover spat? If a gay Brazilian massage therapist can't be happy, who can?! Breadman's troubled thoughts ceased at the sight of Charles Wu waiting patiently in his office.

"The pleading was filed this morning," Wu said, clutching Breadman's hand warmly. "And some money was made available in his morning personal injury case, so it settled out of court, freeing up his day. The clerk assured me that Judge Ame would look at the pleading today."

"Oh, Charles, forgive me, but you're so naive!" laughed Breadman. "This case has dragged on for 45 years! Nobody is a bigger fan of your work than I am, but please don't get that hopeful about it!" Nonetheless, Breadman pulled out some bourbon glasses and prepared to toast the event. "Still, setting up Friends of the Potomac Pelicans was brilliant, just brilliant! And getting the Potomac Auxiliary to hire Goode Peepz law firm--this was much better than my idea!" (He didn't remind Wu that his own idea had been to bribe the mediator, whereas these new intervenors knocked mediation entirely off the table!) "To justice!"

"To justice!" echoed Wu.

Back in Judge Ame's chambers, the river file was putting him to sleep (despite his clerk's cheery assessment of the newest pleading). "This is too hard," was what the quiet voice in his head was saying, but he was fairly adept at protecting his ego by reframing that as "poorly written pleadings". He put it aside to see what else was sitting on his desk, and quickly found a real gem: a family in Ledroit Park was suing a candle manufacturer for not putting an adequate warning label on their product about how leaving a lit candle unattended could burn down an entire house. The family sought $700,000 in compensatory damages for the house, and $7,000,000 for pain and suffering (though nobody was home at the time the house burned down). Wow: this could be the end of civilization as we know it. Nobody would be safe selling anything to anybody! I could make national headlines with this case! He examined the defense motion for summary judgment. Nobody would blame me for granting it, but what if this goes to trial? I'll be in the national news!

"Your honor, I finished the--"

"Find me a treatise on negligence!" Ame interrupted.

"Sir?" asked the perplexed law clerk.

"Negligence! A treatise on negligence!"

The law clerk stepped behind the judge's office and pulled a treatise from the third shelf. "Here you go, sir, your honor." The judge yanked it from the clerk's hand and motioned him to leave his chambers.

A couple miles away, Dubious McGinty was high above the Potomac River, shoring up insulation in the bridgeman's quarters. "You'd like nothing better than for me to come out here in the middle of the night to batten down the hatches, slip on some ice, and fall in--wouldn't you?--you evil bitch!" He gave an Italian salute to the demon living beneath him in the river, but Ardua of the Potomac just laughed and laughed.

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