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 ....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not Funny

Pain...ful...ly...slow.

Former Senator Evermore Breadman was trying to type an email, but something was wrong.

"Just wait a few minutes: your computer is probably installing automatic updates," said the disembodied voice on the speakerphone.

I...hate...weekend...tech...support.

Breadman watched the pinwheel of death spin again.

They can put a man on the moon, but they can't give us a computer system that works right.

"Well," said the disembodied voice, "they didn't have to put a man on the moon one billion times per hour."

Did I speak out loud? Now Breadman was unsure if the tech. support person had heard him, or if he had hallucinated the tech. support person's response.

"Fine," Breadman said, and hung up on tech. support. The pinwheel of death was still spinning, so he picked up his list of agitated clients he needed to return phone calls on: Romney's campaign director (can we get Gingrich on slander?), Gingrich's campaign advisor (Stephen Colbert just transferred his SuperPAC to Jon Stewart!), Speaker of the House John Boehner (we need to immediately shut down that recess appointment at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau!), and "Freddy Ali" (we need to talk!).

Breadman did not even know Freddy Ali was still alive, since they had barely spoken since Iran/Contra days; his lower intestines groaned in anxiety over what might be behind the Freddy Ali call. He picked up the phone to call Charles Wu instead. ("Evermore! Can it wait ten minutes? I can call you right back!") Evermore heard a click, then hung up the phone, stunned: Wu had never hung up on him before. Was that a baby crying?

A few miles to the north, Charles Wu was glaring at Mia. "Why did you answer my phone?"

"I was just handing it to you," she replied.

"You hit the Talk button!" Wu said.

"It was an accident!" Mia answered.

Delia increased the volume of her crying, so Mia carried the baby away from Wu and started singing her a lullaby. Wu was about to protest that Mia had strict instructions only to speak to the baby in Chinese or English, but something made him hold his tongue. He walked to the kitchen, opened a wine bottle, and started pouring it directly into his mouth. The sound of Delia's crying was The Most Horrible Sound he had ever heard in his life. It made his blood pressure shoot up, his veins throb on his forehead, his stomach churn, and his fingers clench. He was furious! But not at Delia, never at Delia. He turned to look at his baby--slowly quieting down, her eyes starting to close in surrender to Mia's lullaby. Mia got up slowly and walked Delia to the baby's room to put her in her crib. Wu left the wine bottle on the counter and walked over to sit on the recently vacated couch. He picked up his silk suit jacket, examined the spit-up all over it, then threw it on the floor.

"You need to pay me more money," Mia said when she returned. "And $50 bonus every time you yell at me."

Wu laughed out loud, pulled his wallet out, and handed her ten $50 bills. "Go out to lunch."

"Sometimes she only sleeps ten minutes," Mia warned.

"I'll give her some wine."

"Not funny!" Mia wagged her finger at him.

Wu laughed again. "Go! Go!" He watched Mia grab her coat and hat, then head out the door with one last wag of her finger, and he laughed again. I am so buggered. He knew he should call back Breadman, but he tiptoed into the baby's room to look at her sleeping. Delia was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life, and he still wasn't sure if this was simply a fact or a reflection of his own egotism. She only cried when she was hungry or tired, but those minutes seemed like an eternity to him, and her minutes of serenity went by far too fast. I need to tell my parents. The thought kept returning to him. I am so buggered. He stole a glance at her chest to make sure her lungs were going up and down, then looked back at her face. Wu had already set up a $5 million trust fund for Buffy Cordelia Wu, but he did not have a clue what her future was. I can't do this with a baby. He had spent the past year rebuilding the foundations of his spy network, reestablishing ties of trust after the skittishness caused by Wikileaks, and cementing a working relationship with Secretary of State Clinton. The U.S. had troops in Australia and no troops in Iraq, and Wu had every hope that he could once again shift his focus away from the Middle East (too many male spies) and back to Asia (beautiful women spies!). And here was Mia, now working full-time for him: sure, he had to hide much of what he was doing from her, but she was no snoop, and the little tidbits he left out in plain view were designed to gradually entice her into the wonderful world of espionage. And Lynnette Wong could not protest at all because Mia was in Wu's company as a nanny!

Delia made a sound, and Wu quickly checked her pulse and breathing, but she was fine. This is nuts! This was not on his 2012 to-do list. I have to tell my parents: I'm their only living son, it's their only grandchild. He exhaled deeply, running through the entire sequence in his head again. They would insist on visiting immediately. They would want to know what Mia's true story was--his father would needle him about her being a young illegal immigrant, and his mother would not want Delia cared for by a south Asian. Not to mention how much more cramped the spy operations would be with both his parents visiting! And what if Ma refused to leave? How could she look at your face and then leave? And the questions they would ask about Delia's mother, whom Wu still could not remember at all! What if she returned to reclaim the baby? What if her relatives did? Wu could not be dragged through an American court under any circumstance--he'd have to give up custody. Which would be for the best, for everybody concerned, so there's no point in telling my parents. He gave the circus animal mobile a soft spin over Delia's face, then his phone started ringing, and he raced out of the baby's room.

Several miles to the east, Wu's other theoretical pupil--Angela de la Paz--was visiting The Warrior at the National Arboretum. He felt silly using cold winter nights as an excuse to sleep in arborist Devi Rajatala's office, but he was over 400 years old, and there were not a lot of places around Washington he could camp with a real fire. (People in campgrounds made him uncomfortable, and he didn't have modern camping gear.) Angela and the Warrior were out getting a little fresh air in the warmest hour of a frigid day, watching donkey Rani graze peacefully behind the Friendship Garden shed.

"You can take away a songbird's song, but that does not make it into a hawk," said The Warrior. Angela groaned inwardly, tired of his mythological imagery talks. "A songbird is not meant to fly great distances and hunt large prey."

"So I'm supposed to stay here and eat worms and birdseed?"

"They had no right to take away your song, Angela. That was your greatest power. You need to get it back," he said quietly.

"I didn't feel very powerful. I couldn't save Mami or Abuela!"

"But you did save them!" the Warrior protested.

Angela knew he was talking about their hearts or souls or something like that, but nobody who was over 400 years old had a right to be nonchalant about other people's deaths. Still, she could never be angry at him--at least he didn't try to exploit her talents for his own gain. She knew he wanted what was best for her, even if he had pie-in-the-sky ideas about what that was, not to mention no clue about the modern world. "I don't know how to kill Ardua of the Potomac!" she suddenly exclaimed. "I could barely control her spawn!"

"Ardua will never be defeated by weapons or brute strength, Angela. The pink dolphins, the pink warblers, and people like you--those are her mortal enemies."

"Could you be more specific?"

"It is not my task, Angela. I wish I knew all the answers. You were called to this. I am just a warrior."

Angela's cellphone buzzed with the message from Dr. Rajatala that lunch was ready, and they turned back towards her office. A singing pink warbler accompanied their path, but Angela neither saw nor heard it.

A few miles to the west, Ann Bishis and her twin cousins (Nick and Costas) were ice skating at the Sculpture Garden. "She gives me the creeps," said Bishis, complaining about Congressman Herrmark's new Chief of Staff. "She acts like a zombie."

"What's a zombie?" asked Nick before leaping into a double toe loop to impress a pretty girl nearby.

Bishis translated it into Greek.

"Walking dead?!" exclaimed Costas, winking at a redhead. "She's not so bad!"

"You're not around her as much as I am! I'm telling you, there's something wrong with her! And I think she trashed my spirit animal."

"Your pelican?" said Nick. "Come on! It was probably the cleaning lady."

"Why does everybody always blame the cleaning lady?! My mother is a cleaning lady."

"We know!" said Costas.

The three couldn't shake off any more cold, so they headed off to get hot chocolate and muffins, while sparrows huddled under the small bushes, watching for breadcrumbs to fall their way.

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