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, March 31, 2012

Go Fly a Kite

"We should really be at the office," said Atticus Hawk, as he helped Ava Kahdo Green untangle her kite string.

"This only comes once a year!" she said, and winked at him.

"But the law never sleeps," he said, and sighed at the sight of the now untangled kite string--which meant he had to start running into the wind again.

"Go!" the U.S. Attorney ordered her Justice Department coworker, and he obediently took off again. "It's good for your heart," she whispered to herself, and she meant that in both senses of the word.

"Hey, Ava!" Green turned with a start to see her pro bono acquaintance from Goode Peepz law firm walking up to her. "My son's going nuts!" He pointed out a young boy with a red kite running spasmodically in and out of the Cherry Blossom Festival kite crowd. "Who's your friend with the kite?"

"He works at Justice--he CANNOT meet you!" Green exclaimed.

"Ohhhh...OK. See ya later!"

Hawk was already trotting up to her. "Who was that?" he asked jealously, even though he had been ignoring her romantic advances for a very long time.

"One of my neighbors--he ran off to catch up with his son. Hey, keep moving!" But it was too late, the hawk kite she had bought him had already fallen back to the ground.

"Can we go now?" asked Hawk.

"One more time!" she ordered him.

Ten yards away, Buffy Cordelia Wu was devastated to see the hawk kite drop to the ground. "That's alright, Delia--look at the red one over there!" Charles Wu took his baby's head gently in his hands and pivoted her view until she caught sight of another kite and the smile returned to her face.

"As I was saying," said the Condor (who was trailing a helium-filled kite balloon so he wouldn't have to run to blend in with the crowd), "the Shiite arms flow into Syria--"

"What?" said Wu, straightening up and suddenly remembering he was a spy and this was important.

Twenty yards away, "Shear Madness" actor Bucky was prancing around theatrically with a Lady Gaga kite, and Bridezilla was laughing in spite of herself. "J'adore l'amour!" he sang, swiveling his hips at her, and she laughed again. "I don't wanna be friends!" he sang, and trotted straight at her, but she dodged the collision at the last minute. "Are you afraid of grass stains?!" he hollered, and then wrestled her to the ground. "Your problem is that you live in W.A.S.P. World," he said, suddenly very serious. "You need to open up and experience more of life." He kissed her passionately, as Lady Gaga fell down on top of them.

"I don't live in W.A.S.P. World!" Bridezilla protested, pushing off Lady Gaga. "I was engaged to a Hindu, and then--"

"What?!"

"I was!"

"So what happened? Why didn't you marry him?" asked Bucky.

Bridezilla puzzled over this but remained silent. (Because I felt safer in W.A.S.P. World?)

Not far away, John Doe was sitting in his portable lumbar-support fold-out chair, trusty Lucky Charm by his side. The visions had become very frequent. The doctors told the amnesiac they were from his temporal lobe epilepsy, but he knew he was an autistic-mystic-shaman now. Everything falls away....Soon only one thing will remain. He turned tenderly to Lucky Charm, the only one who understood his visions when he blurted them out in tongues...but she had no voice to translate them to anybody else. He had tried to have her describe them to the dog whisperer, but Sebastian didn't understand them, either. You gave me nothin'--now it's all I've got. He looked up at a butterfly kite. Nobody makes pupa kites, but you have to be a pupa first. His eyes lost focus as a hundred kite colors swirled and merged in the sky above him. Lucky Charm felt the seizure coming on, so she wrestled him down to a safe, fetal position on the ground.

Not far away, Golden Fawn was watching the kites with as much delight as baby Delia. Soon her husband would finish his Coast Guard shift and they would have their first spring picnic on Roosevelt Island. He was all recovered from the amoebas in the brain, and things were really good at work, and--

A sudden scream grabbed her attention, and she turned to see an epileptic twitching on the ground. She ran over to where he lay, but nobody could get near him because the dog wouldn't let them. Then Lucky Charm saw Golden Fawn and let her kneel beside them. The man was mumbling something in Osage! Her uncle's wife knew Osage, but Golden Fawn only knew a little. "The new prophecy"?

Fifteen yards away, Glenn Michael Beckmann was watching the epileptic convulse and speak in tongues. It's a sign! He looked up at the sky, and a sudden parting of the kites looked like the Heavens splitting open and shooting a shaft of light down on the special one. The new Messiah! Then he noticed the squaw-looking woman, and the unnatural way the dog lay over the man and glared at Beckmann. Oh, no! What if it's an anti-Christ?! He instinctively felt for his gun with his right hand and his dagger with his left. But what good are these against an anti-Christ? He looked up at the Heavens for an answer, and saw a nuclear mushroom cloud. (It was actually a jelly fish kite, but he saw it as a nuclear mushroom cloud.) But how? What do I do?

A few blocks away, the White House Chief of Staff was asking himself the same question: But how? What do I do? And Ghost Dennis patiently explained it again.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Watered Down

Charles Wu walked slowly around the front yard of his new Cleveland Park home, doing one more inspection with his security consultant. The spy had told the real estate agent that price was no concern--just find me a house with a tall fence. It was, in fact, a lovely house, but Wu's eyes were currently inspecting the security cameras, the windows, the doors, and the tiny little bushes and rows of flowers put in to replace all the high shrubbery that could have hidden assailants. For himself? No, he had never feared anything for himself--but baby Delia was another matter! The agent tried to jimmy a basement window, immediately causing the alarm to sound, and Wu nodded with satisfaction. Then the agent again showed him how to turn off the alarm with the portable device, and they went back inside to conclude their business.

Ten minutes later, Wu was pacing alone through the interior, furnished almost entirely from an estate sale held the previous weekend in Maryland. He knew he had overpaid for some of the imported Chinese antiques, but he didn't care--they were beautiful, and fitting for his daughter. He walked up the stairs to the second floor, circled the large hallway, and returned downstairs to circle the entire first floor again. The feng shui is really good. And then he did one final inspection of the distillery room--the need for which was what had prompted the house purchase in the first place. The machinery was guaranteed to distill and recover a maximum of ninety gallons of water per hour, and distilled water was the only water that his Delia would henceforth drink and bathe in. A baby is 80% water. The shock of the words still rang in his ears. It was not just the pollution in the Potomac River, or even the drug residuals which were turning fish into hermaphrodites: Wu had always felt there was something seriously wrong with the Potomac River, and he was not going to let it constitute his little girl.

Several miles to the north, Ardua of the Potomac was bored with the Cherry Blossom Festival, bored with the White House, bored with Congress, bored with international intrigue, bored with violent robberies and murders, bored with her whole life. She had wreaked thousands of years of terror in this place--slowly at first, but then with increasing strength and fury as the human population multiplied all her around her. But she wanted more. She stretched her tentacles past the Tidal Basin and deep into the Chesapeake Bay. Ardua of the Atlantic, she whispered to herself. Piracy, Noreasters, the Bermuda Triangle, another Titanic, oil spills, and [she shivered with delight] HURRICANES. Like many demons, she longed to possess and kill the very humans that gave her strength and meaning. Can I do it? A demon had never before possessed an entire ocean, but few had been fed a steady diet of bitterness, hypocrisy, corruption, hatred, and violence like Ardua had been.

Not far away, one of Ardua's favorite people--Dick Cheney--lay recuperating at George Washington University Hospital. Dr. Khalid Mohammad was quietly examining Cheney's chart outside the private room, since everybody understood that the sight of an unfamiliar Muslim might cause Cheney's newly transplanted heart to go into immediate coronary arrest. "Who watered down the IV solution?" he asked the nurse, and Consuela Arroyo explained the request had come from Cheney's personal physician. Dr. Mohammad frowned and reexamined the most recent notations from the nurse, but he knew better than to go up against Cheney's personal physician. "Let's prepare an injection," he said, looking around carefully,"just as a back-up, in case he needs a quick boost." The nurse nodded, relieved that Dr. Mohammad was on duty, since something about the former V.P. rendered all her prayers impotent.

Several miles to the north, Cheney's removed heart was sitting in formaldehyde in Henry Samuelson's apartment--up on the mantelpiece, in a Venetian glass jar, next to his other prized possessions. The former CIA operative had dreamt many times of carving it out with a knife himself, but in the end, it was some skilled surgeons who had done it. No matter, I've got you now! He loved staring it, a glass of scotch in his hand, ruminating over all the different things he might do with it. But alas, old friend, more urgent matters call. He went to the kitchen to get more ice for the scotch, then went into his study to contemplate the Heurich Society's next move in Syria--where President Assad was in his own Game of Thrones with Qatar's gleeful state-owned Al Jazeera, a surprisingly dangerous and audacious propaganda machine. I wish I could send over Angela de la Paz, he thought ruefully, but if I try to give her another lesson about the Shiites and the Sunnis, she might pull a knife on me.

A mile away, high in the restored tower of the National Cathedral, the Seekers were gathered to celebrate the Earthquake recovery, and to discuss yesterday's Reason Rally on the National Mall. "There is one particular Atheist I have grown very concerned about," said the Jesuit priest.

"I know of whom you speak," said the Jewish rabbi.

"The atheism evangelist," said the Baptist preacher.

"She is pointing the way to a world without spirituality, and everything she touches turns to gold!" said the Buddhist monk.

"Why does Allah allow her to prosper so?" said the imam.

"I fear Babylon has risen again," said the Episcopal priest, who was walking around sprinkling holy water on the walls. "We are not living in God's kingdom."

The Seekers exited the now darkened tower, unaware that the holy water had already seeped outside the walls and was dripping down over the gargoyles, washing away the starling excrement.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Fevers

Dizzy sneezed a third time, and laid his trumpet down--his hay fever had never before interfered so much with his troubadour act. He pulled a bandanna out of his pants pocket and blew his nose, then he quickly tugged at his sleeve to cover up the Rolex peeking out. You're bad for business! He had seen brighter blue skies and bigger cherry blossom displays, but things at the Tidal Basin were coming along. He sneezed again and sat down in annoyance. I know it's you, you damn bitch! he screamed silently at Ardua of the Potomac, but ever since the Rolex had come back into his life, he was silently screaming at a lot of other people, too. Ten feet away, some Toronto tourists were bent over taking photos of two bumblebees mating, and Dizzy jumped up to yell at them: "Can't you let the damned bees get it on without getting in their face?! The startled tourists hurried away, and Dizzy glared at the bumblebees. Don't you have more sense than to chase away my paying customers!?

On the other side of the Tidal Basin, Liv Cigemeier and her husband were walking slowly along the path towards the Jefferson Memorial, not talking and not taking photos. You're allergic to your husband's RNA: that's not exactly what's happening, but it's the best explanation we can give you. Your body is never going to carry an embryo--his child--to term. Your body is rejecting his RNA. They were both replaying the doctor's words in their minds over and over again, but never out loud. There are other options--. At that point Liv had jumped up and left the doctor's office: she knew what the other options were, and she was sure none of them would cement and lock their marriage in place the way having a baby would. She was terrified to ask him what he wanted to do, and he was terrified to ask her what she wanted to do. He kissed her again on the cheek, and they continued walking in silence--both more loved by the other than they remotely suspected.

A few miles away, Atticus Hawk was in his Justice Department office, oblivious to springtime, oblivious to anything except the latest hunt-to-kill memo he was working on for a U.S. citizen now labeled an enemy combatant in Yemen. He would scarcely be aware of nature at all except for the recent ant infestation in his office, which was getting worse. Ava Kahdo Green needs to stop bringing me snacks in here! Hawk was allergic to ants, and this was becoming a problem. He smashed a few to the left with his Jefferson Memorial snowglobe, then refocused on the computer screen. A few minutes later, he scratched his leg, and jumped out of his chair at the feel of dozens of ants on top of his thigh. He brushed them off his leg, jumped around, then found more on his shirt. He started ripping all his clothes off, then mis-remembered "drop and roll" as the emergency instruction for getting rid of ants. He rolled naked around his office carpet, but this just picked up more ants. Pretty soon he was covered in a thick, black layer of ants. He could feel himself going into anaphylactic shock. I'm going to have a heart attack! Then he realized this was not the biggest problem. They're eating me! He lay flat on is back, twitching in agony as layers of skin starting coming off. They're almost at the blood layer! Please, eat my neck first--sever the spinal cord! Several ants massed on top of his nose, and he stared at them, cross-eyed, paralyzed in fear. Then they started spitting on him.

"Atticus!" Green tilted the bottle and poured more water on Hawk's face. "Wake up!"

Hawk sat up with a start, and began brushing his naked skin again.

"Stop that! You were having a nightmare!" She grabbed him by the hair and started shaking his head. "Wake up!" Hawk blinked several times, looked down at his naked body, looked around his body, and saw no ants. "You're working too hard!" She poured the remaining water into his mouth and made him swallow it, then she got back up to close and lock his office door. She sat down next to him on the floor and put her arms around him. "Everything's gonna be OK."

A mile away, Sebastian L'Arche was back at the White House, squatting down to greet his old friend, Bo. "So you've got hives, do you?" the dog whisperer said out loud, then he whispered something into Bo's ear.

"The vet thinks it's a peanut allergy," said the White House butler, Clio. "Somebody dropped candied peanuts on the floor, and he ate them...a week ago." She exchanged glances with her twin pre-schoolers, Regina and Ferguson.

"A week ago!?" L'Arche whispered with Bo some more, then looked up. "Tell me about the bunny." The twins gasped, amazed that L'Arche had figured it out. "Bo says that possessed bunny was the scariest thing he's ever seen!"

"It's true!" exclaimed Regina.

"And now we can't even say the word out loud!" exclaimed Ferguson.

"Bunny," Clio said quietly, and Bo groaned and huddled closer to L'Arche. "And I think he's getting scared every time he hears similar words--like 'sunny' [groan], 'funny' [groan], 'honey' [groan], 'money' [growl]. I mean, the President's a good man, but sometimes he has to talk about money [growl]. And I don't know how we're gonna put up Easter decorations, I don't."

You're smarter than this
, L'Arche whispered. I went through Hell serving in Iraq, but you think I throw a conniption fit every time somebody says the word? And words that rhyme with 'Iraq'? Now that's just superstitious nonsense! You know you're stronger than the White House ghosts, and whatever possessed that bunny, you killed it! You killed it, Bo! That means you won! I know it ain't easy livin' here, but they need you!

Bo ran around in circles a few times, barking loudly, then sat silently next to the dog whisperer. "Reggie, Fergie, you come here and help me pet Bo." The twins joined him and followed his lead in slowly rubbing down the dog. A few minutes later, the hives were gone. "Alright." L'Arche took some kisses from Bo, then handed him off.

A couple miles to the east, the State Department's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was rubbing down his own arms and legs as he entered Lynnette Wong's Chinatown herb shop, trailed by television reporter Holly Gonightly and her cameraman. "We are now following the Assistant Deputy Administrator into a Chinese herb shop as he makes one last desperate attempt to get rid of the hives covering his body since the massacre in Afghanistan."

"It's got nothing to do with the massacre!" he exclaimed, turning to glare at the reporter, who had discovered his story by accident as he was leaving the George Washington University Hospital emergency room. "I'm allergic to everything--that's what Dr. Khalid said!" (He didn't like saying 'Dr. Mohammad'.)

"Allergic to everything!" repeated Gonightly into the camera.

"Allergic to everything?" said Wong. She grabbed the man's wrist and examined his pulse.

"For all intents and purposes," the hived one said. "If I weren't on steroids, I'd still be in the hospital. Another flare-up and I'll become a bubble boy."

"The threat of a lifetime consigned to be lived inside a sterile, plastic environment: that is what we are dealing with today!" said Gonightly. (This is a great story! Nobody will notice I'm too fat for television because they'll be trying to spot his hives.)

Wong motioned the hived one to sit in a white plastic chair next to the counter. She put on some plastic gloves, pulled out her acupuncture needles, and placed three on the back of his neck, just under the hairline.

"Acupuncture!" exclaimed Gonightly, who couldn't think of anything to add. (I wonder what happened to that girl, Mia? I don't see her around.)

Wong went to the tea station, scooped out herbs from various canisters into a mug, then poured boiling water into it. She set it aside and squatted down below the counter where neither the camera nor the reporter could see her. She extracted one of Charles Wu's blood samples from the dried ice chest and drew it up into a syringe. Only Wu's chi will save this guy! Thank God he's O-positive. She kept the syringe out of sight as she passed the tea mug through the quick-cooling chamber Wu had purchased just last month, then brought the mug to the hived one. "Drink it all down," she said.

"Herbal tea!" exclaimed Gonightly, who couldn't think of anything to add. (Should I ask about that girl?)

"I feel all tingly," the hived one said, and Wong quickly inserted the syringe through the seat back opening, straight into the adrenal gland near his left kidney. "AHHHH!" he said, feeling waves of something flow through his body. Wong dropped the syringe surreptitiously into her smock pocket, then removed the acupuncture needles.

"The hives are disappearing!" exulted Gonightly, and her cameraman moved in closer. "His arms, his face, his neck!" The civil servant lifted up his shirt to examine his belly, and they all watched as the hives faded right before their eyes.

"A Chinatown miracle!" exclaimed Gonightly. "How do you feel?"

"Good!" said the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope.

(Really, is that the best you could come up with?!) "He feels totally overwhelmed and joyful, thanks to ancient Chinese wisdom. And this civil servant is returning to the State Department instead of becoming a bubble boy! Reporting live from Chinatown, this is Holly Gonightly!"

A few miles to the east, Charles Wu was watching Angela de la Paz watch baby Delia getting her diaper changed by Mia. "She had a reaction to Desitin, so we're trying Butt Paste," said Mia. Wu was wondering if he could get them both to be spies and both to be nannies.

Back at the White House, Bo was running energetically through the East Wing, chasing ghosts from every room he entered--chasing them until they fled in disgust, flying over to the Tidal Basin to see how Ardua of the Potomac was doing with the tourists.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So much hatred, so little time

Dizzy entered the Shops at 2000 Penn, sat down on the third bench in the commons area, and set down his trumpet case. He checked his Rolex for the time and glanced at the locked inner doorway to Cleary Gottlieb. He opened his case, pulled out his trumpet, and started to play an original composition. A few minutes later, an associate approached the door, pausing to toss a quarter into the open case before pressing his key card to the electronic reader; the associate kept a wide berth of the presumably smelly homeless man, therefore failing to see the hand written note in the trumpet case reading "Dreary Rot Dweeb must die!".

At the other end of the Shops at 2000 Penn, Charles Wu was feigning interest in the St. Patrick's Day card collection at CVS while his mole at Cleary Gottlieb spilled the beans on the law firm's lobbying efforts against new Iran sanctions. (Luis was a son of a bitch who was happy to stab his own client in the back in order to make some quick cash on the side.) Wu carefully put back a maniacal leprechaun card packed with ten fifty-dollar bills directly in front of Luis. Luis picked it up and exited the greeting card section, whistling "Teenage Dream" and thinking about the woman that scorned his advances and how funny it was that she never knew he spit into her water bottle several times a day. He extracted the cash, shoved it into his back pocket, dumped the leprechaun card on the bread shelf, and headed over to the magazine section to pick out something raunchy.

A mile to the north, the Heurich Society also had Cleary Gottlieb on their mind. "The project has been compromised!" Chairman Henry Samuelson exclaimed, glaring in particular at the former Heurich Society chair. "I warned you not to trust anybody at Leery Pot Plebe: they're a bunch of bleeding-heart, hippie liberals in alpaca clothing!"

"Henry, really! You're the one that's always saying there's nothing more valuable to us than a hypocritical liberal!"

"They're too tight with the Democrats!" hollered Samuelson.

"He's no Democrat, and the only things he's tight with are his Versace skinny jeans and the skinny billfold he keeps in them!" yelled back the former chair.

"You can cover it with Versace, but it's still an asshole!" retorted Samuelson (though he had no idea what "Versace" was).

"Gentlemen!" It was Condoleezza Rice's voice crackling over the speakerphone. "It's over and done with! Your rage is wholly disproportional to the amount of damage he might do. Could we please channel your anger in a more fruitful direction?"

The two men glared at the speakerphone, reunited in their hatred of the Bloodsucker, while the Brewmaster Castle butler nervously hovered outside the meeting room with a fresh pot of coffee. "I'm taking him out!" whispered Samuelson, his hand momentarily over the speakerphone microphone.

Back on Pennsylvania Avenue, Chloe Cleavage would have kissed Samuelson on the mouth had she known he was planning to kill the person who had gotten Pierre fired from Cleary Gottlieb one day after he started there as a legal assistant. (I'm telling you: the guy lied about me! He recognized me from Occupy DC and made up some shit about me to get me fired. I didn't do anything wrong!) She shoved aside her Prince and Prowling coffee mug and added "new bedroom carpeting" to her list of things she was planning to buy after Pierre was gainfully employed and no longer crashing in her condo. She shoved the list back into her bag, wishing that stress would reduce Pierre's magnificent libido--the only thing stopping her from tossing him out on his cute butt.

A block away, a very weary Hillary Clinton was meeting with the White House Chief of Staff and National Security Director, International Women's Day already fading from her mind. "I have no more diplomatic options left: if you can't rein in the soldiers in Afghanistan, you need to pull them out."

"There have been slaughters on both sides," said the N.S.D.

"Save your talking points for your speechwriter!" replied the Secretary of State. "If our reason for being in Afghanistan is to trade slaughters, we have no reason to be in Afghanistan!"

"And you can save the sermons for somebody else!" retorted the N.S.D.

"He opened fired on women and children that were asleep!" Clinton exclaimed. "If the Army can't keep sociopaths out of the ranks--"

"How DARE you! You think they're sociopaths when they arrive there? The goddamn place makes 'em that way!"

"All the more reason to pull out! The U.S. is accomplishing NOTHING in Afghanistan!"

The Chief of Staff finally threw up both hands, and the two quieted down. "I will convey your sentiments to the President," he said quietly. "But you have GOT to deal with the situation we are facing RIGHT NOW!"

Ten minutes later, Clinton was motoring down Pennsylvania Avenue, too tired to return to the State Department. At the 20th Street stoplight, she looked over at the Cleary Gottlieb law firm--which had unwittingly produced half a dozen Project R.O.D.H.A.M. operatives in Afghanistan in the past two years, and wittingly sent thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to President Obama. Friends don't matter anymore, she thought. SuperPACs and killing machines are our destiny.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac was celebrating International Woman's Day by searching for embryos of feminine anger and fertilizing them to grow into full-size parasites of hatred--just like what happened with Angela de la Paz.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A Killing at Pennsylvania Avenue

"Those are the witnesses?"

"Yes, sir," said the White House butler.

The Secret Service Agent folded his arms over his chest and looked them up and down. "How did they get in here?"

"They live here, sir."

"Huh?" (The Secret Service Agent had never been in the East Wing.)

"They live here, sir."

"You said that already." He turned to the witnesses. "What are your names?" With that, the witnesses took off running. "Goddammit!"

A couple miles to the east, the Capitol Police were also dealing with a killing: the bodily remains had been found stuffed into a worm composting box kept behind the cafeteria. "This is why Boehner banned cafeteria composting!" exclaimed a Republican Congressman from Idaho.

"Get him out of here!" shouted the detective.

Washington Post reporter Perry Winkle (who had also been lunching in the House cafeteria when the screams erupted) crouched lower behind the glass recycling bin.

"A liver, two kidneys, and the lower intestine--that's all?" asked the detective.

"Yes, ma'am," said the forensics officer.

"We need to do a lockdown and start searching for the rest of the body," she replied. Suddenly a paper airplane sailed clumsily through the air towards the detective, then landed a yard away from her feet. Nobody moved, except for nervous eyes looking around for the sender. "Would somebody pick it up?!" the detective finally hollered.

One of the police officers bent over to pick it up, unfolded it, and read aloud the message written on it: "The victim is probably Congressman Duffeldooly's legislative assistant, missing since Monday night. Ask Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff about her! She's a zombie! She probably didn't eat those organs because they're gross."

Back at the White House, the Chief of Staff was sitting in his office, contemplating assassination attempts in Syria, Israel, Iran, and Pakistan. Is it too late to bring back the Ottoman Empire? "NO!" shouted Ghost Dennis, and the Chief of Staff jumped out of his seat.

"Who said that?!" (Ghost Dennis was standing right in front of him, but the Chief of Staff could not see him.)

A head popped into the doorway. "Sir?"

"Do we have the new exit strategy for Afghanistan yet?" asked the Chief of Staff.

"Is it too late to bring back the Soviets?"

"Ha, ha," said the Chief of Staff.

"You can't talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand!"

"Stop singing!" ordered the Chief of Staff.

(Back in the East Wing, the murder witnesses were still on the run....)

A block away, Laura Moreno had her nose pressed to the grindstone in the Prince and Prowling workroom. Nobody in the entire firm had said a word to her about the lawsuit that had succeeded in voiding the huge inheritance Wolfgang Prowling had intended for her, but one thing was clear: they were never going to fire her...ever. She would be a temporary attorney at Prince and Prowling until she quit or died: no health insurance, no holidays, no vacation days, just toil-toil-toil until she dropped. And I'm one of the lucky ones. She stole a glance at the contract attorney who had been working at the next table since Monday...and whom would probably be unemployed again within two weeks. She's worked for half the law firms in this town, and most of the temp. agencies. Nobody will give her a permanent job, even though she's really good. Moreno saw the temp start bopping her head to the music coming through her headphones. Why?

Upstairs, Bridezilla was enjoying a surprise visit from her new boyfriend, Bucky, an actor in the Kennedy Center's "Shear Madness" production. She was still munching from the lunch he had brought her as he recreated for her the most recent improvisational turns occurring in the murder/mystery/comedy. "Die, die, die!" he shouted gleefully, as he grabbed the scissors from her desk and began stabbing the dirt in her ficus tree pot.

"Don't!" she hollered, remembering her gun was still buried in it.

(Too late.)

"Wow, those roots are strong!" Bucky was examining the dented scissors in wonder.

"Sing me the alibi poem again!" she exclaimed, removing the scissors from his hand.

Back at the White House West Wing, the witnesses had finally been cornered outside the wine cellar.

"We just--." The Secret Service agent bent over to catch his breath. "We just need to tell the President what happened. Did the dog really do it?"

The twin preschoolers exchanged glances, then looked over to their mother, the butler.

"Reggie, Fergie, you need to answer the agent. What happened to the Sidwell bunny? Malia needs to tell her classmates how it died."

"It was Bo, but it was an accident," said Regina.

"The dog chewed up the bunny...by accident?" asked the agent.

"It was possessed!" said Ferguson.

"Bo was possessed?" asked the agent.

"No, the bunny!" said Regina.

"Bo was very brave," said Ferguson.

"Right." The agent looked around at the other adults in the room. "What happened was that the bunny got into the vents and crawled into a rat's nest, and the rats chewed her up. Got it?" Everybody nodded and started heading back upstairs, except for the butler's family.

"Go on," said the butler. "Bridge will have washed the blood off Bo by now. Go and play." The butler leaned back against the wall, watching her twins head for the stairs. Maybe this HIV has made me crazy. Why can't I ever understand my kids?

Back in the West Wing, Ghost Dennis was trying to explain to the White House Chief of Staff why everybody has to die, but nobody has to kill; however, the Chief of Staff kept jumping up and exiting the office every time Ghost Dennis opened his mouth. This haunting thing is tricky!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

In the right place at the wrong time.

Former Senator Evermore Breadman was getting tired of Congressional lobbying. (How could he get legislators focused on making money when they were obsessed with birth control and post offices closing down in tiny towns?) He was in a bad mood. Charles Wu had canceled lunch with him! (What was going on with Charles?) He listened to the voicemail again: "In the midst of an emergency--can't make it to pee pee--very sorry." (It still sounded like "pee pee", though Breadman had eventually figured out that Wu was seeing "P.P.") Nobody called Prince and Prowling "P.P."! He pulled open his snack drawer--God forbid anybody saw him going to lunch by himself!--and selected a Clif's Builder bar, golden raisins, and medicinal rice puffs from his Chinatown herbalist. He put the rice puffs into a large bowl, poured vodka over them, and got started.

A few miles to the east, Judge Sowell Lame was reviewing the Final Order (third draft) written by his law clerk in the matter of Wolfgang Prowling's will challenge. A total of $18,000 had come into his possession from three different sources--one of them a P.P. partner with no money to gain in the disputed will nor the penultimate will. The small amount of the bribes was disappointing but perhaps a traditional percentage--it wasn't as if he could consult with other judges about it. It seemed disloyal to screw over Laura Moreno, a young member of the D.C. Bar who could really use the boost of an inheritance, in favor of Prowling's socialite children with no obvious inclination to contribute to society, but....the truth was, P.P. partners could be a little ...frightening. He looked up at the large photo of himself getting sworn in as a judge and suddenly recalled a scrap of conversation he had overhead in the men's restroom one day: "Nobody puts up a statue inscribed, 'He did what was legally required of him.'" He turned to the last page of the Final Order and picked up his pen to sign it. Nobody puts up statues for judges, anyway.

A couple miles away, Angela de la Paz was visiting with Dr. Devi Rajatala. "Ladybugs already," the National Arboretum arborist said, bending over some small saplings. She shook her head and stood up to look at the larger trees. "March 1st, and there is way too much blooming."

"Is it really so bad, Dr. Raj--global warming?" asked Angela. "I hate winter." She was standing in a patch of sunlight, away from the shade of the trees, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun on her face.

"You need to go to college," said Dr. Rajatala.

"Not you, too!" exclaimed Angela. "None of that matters now."

"Not understanding the world doesn't matter now?"

"I understand enough to survive--that's all that matters," said Angela, not looking at Dr. Rajatala. "The Heurich Society is freaked out about global warming because of looming droughts and massive refugee movements. I think people try too hard to change things. Sometimes things just happen."

"And some of those things are insects thriving and migrating. Ladybugs are fine, but mosquitoes carry diseases, then birds carry diseases, then--"

"Yeah, but it's the same result--some people live, and some people die," said Angela.

Dr. Rajatala pulled Angela out of the sunlight and down to the ground. "Look at this ladybug," she said, pointing to a sapling. "She doesn't have a lot of choices in her life, but you're not a bug. You're a human being, and you can make choices. We can all make choices." Angela stared at the ladybug, hating it because it didn't miss its mother or miss its grandmother or have to make choices. "One of my choices is to care about YOU, Angela. You know that, or you wouldn't be here." Angela made no reply, instead getting up to walk over to pet Rani, the grazing donkey.

Two acres away, Charles Wu was pushing a baby stroller and talking about Iran and Syria with the Condor.

"Delia is a great cover!" the Condor said again. "I don't know why you don't use her more often."

"She's my daughter! She's not a cover!" Delia's hands were bouncing in excitement at the greenery whizzing by her. "I think I need two full-time nannies. What am I supposed to do when Mia is sick?"

"Just do this!" said the Condor. "That's what I'm saying! She's a great cover!"

"Just tell me about the Shia arms shipments into Syria so I can get her home for her afternoon nap. If she falls asleep in the car, everything gets screwed up!" Wu could see Henry Samuelson in the distance, pretending to photograph something on the ground. (Terrific.)

Samuelson was, indeed, not faraway. (His new digital camera went into "sleep" mode so often that he had resorted to clicking constant shots of his shoes just to keep the camera awake.) "Goddamn!" He decided he had enough photos of Wu's companion and shoved the camera back into his pocket. (The baby was unexpected, but hardly worth photographing.) He was heading off in the other direction, back to his car, when he suddenly espied Angela de la Paz petting a donkey. You're supposed to be infiltrating the Basque separatists right now! What are you doing in Washington?!

Several miles to the west, Ghost Dennis was brooding about another close encounter with President Obama: whenever Dennis got up the nerve to say something important to the President, the moment somehow passed by too quickly. I've seen a lot, Dennis would think. I know a lot. And some of this life or death stuff, he needs to know. But the Shackled kept pulling him back, telling him, "The living need to live their own lives!" The Shackled were on a crusade to get ghosts to stop haunting Washington, but the way Ghost Dennis saw it, the battle is never over.