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, April 27, 2012

River of Dreams

Chloe Cleavage walked slowly out of Prince and Prowling with her cousin, Chloris Cleavage.  Chloris--an actress--was in town for the upcoming White House Correspondents' Dinner.  "Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan!" Chloris said again.  "There will be so much publicity!  My career could really take a big jump.  If only I could find out what they're wearing."

"Just bribe a maid at their hotel," said Chloe quietly.

"Ha, ha!  That's funny!" said Chloris, whose method of helping Chloe deal with the accidental death of her boyfriend, Pierre, was total-distraction-all-the-time.  "Look at those birds!  Look at those flowers!  Look at this guy--is that David Axelrod?"

"You know about David Axelrod?" asked Chloe.

"I Googled 'white house celebrities' before I came--your office is so close to the White House!"

"Pierre longed to be invited to the White House to meet the President," said Chloe, wistfully.  (It was like the time that Wolfgang Prowling had died, and Chloe knew she wasn't directly responsible, but somehow it kept haunting her.)

"I'm going to try to get a photo of Pierre autographed by the President, just for you," said Chloris.  (Chloe made a funny noise in her throat, but no words came out.) "Look at that hideous coat!" exclaimed Chloris.  "Have you ever seen anything so revolting?!"

 A couple miles away, Liv Cigemeier was thinking the same thing.  (Have I ever seen anything so revolting?)  Bo-Oz Consulting's secretive 5G experts were in the midst of a lengthy presentation to International Development Machine, and they were currently showing close-up photos of dismantled pigeon eggs.

"The egg white is used for protein supplements, the egg yolks are used for omega-3 supplements, the shells are used for calcium supplements, and the egg albumin is used like collagen in cosmetic and medical products.  Pigeons, as you know, are freely available in nearly every city on the planet.  Their eggs can be harvested by our clients for free, meaning pure profit after processing.  Vive l'oeuf!  Viva el ovo!"

"They still have labor costs and machinery costs, don't they?" asked IDM's only economist.

"Our proposal to USAID is that they grant the money for the machinery and training costs.  The poor people get no direct salary, but a share of the income," said the Bo-Oz consultant.

"A share?" asked Augustus Bush, President of IDM.

"Perhaps 50% to IDM, 25% to Bo-Oz, and 25% to the laborers.  There are pigeon eggs almost everywhere there are poor people:  you can set this up in any country on Earth."

"But who wants supplements from pigeon products?" asked Momzilla. 

"That's the beauty of it!' exclaimed the Bo-Oz consultant.  "You can call them 'dove eggs', because it's basically the same thing."

 "If you can do this anywhere in the world, it will be easily replicated all over the place," said Liv Cigemeier.  "The prices will plummet on the products sold."

"Well, USAID will probably only pay enough for a few projects, anyway, and only for a couple of years.  You'll get good money upfront."

"And so will the poor people!" boomed Augustus Bush, rising from the table.  (His progress since moving from the U.S. Virgina Islands to Washington had not been as meteoric as he would have liked, and this project was not exactly going to help him leapfrog over his relative, Jeb Bush, to the top of any Vice-President wish lists, but he was a patient man.)

A couple miles to the east, Judge Sowell Ame--not a patient man--was in his Superior Court chambers.  This is it.  He had read the briefs, he had read his clerk's memoranda, he had read the previous judge's clerk's memoranda, and it was inconceivable that any additional pleadings could be filed on this river case--which had dragged on for decades.  He popped another Oreo cookie into his mouth.  Hundred-year anniversary of the Oreo cookie.  Sowell!  Concentrate!  He tossed the half-eaten Oreo packet onto the couch.  More like a love seat.  Ha!  Just once I'd like to have the nerve to tell the attorneys, "Sit down on the love seat!"  They hate sitting there--too crowded.  Sowell!  Concentrate!  He took several deep breaths and prepared to make his Decision.  I've been leaning against Prince and Prowling's client ever since I first saw this, but what Friends of the Potomac Pelicans says really makes sense.  If I rule in favor of P.P.'s client, it's going to piss off some very powerful people; on the other hand, there will be some happy non-profits, and P.P. itself.  He stared at his diploma for a moment, then pulled out a nickel from his drawer and did a coin toss.  Head's!  P.P. wins it!  His gut told him it was the right decision.

 A couple miles to the south, Coast Guard officer Marcos Vazquez checked the latest weather forecast for his shift on the river tomorrow, and he didn't like it.  On the other hand, turnout would be smaller, which meant less possibility of mischief from Ardua of the Potomac.  Is this what it's come down to?  I actively hope for fewer people in boats?

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Don't let the demon of D.C. keep you off our beautiful river!

http://potomacriverkeeper.org/set-sail-clean-water

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oil and Water

The men of the Heurich Society passed around Irish coffee to hearten themselves against the bitter gray skies and dreadful news out of Argentina, but it was not enough.  Henry Samuelson got up to close the velvet curtains of the upper meeting room of the Brewmaster's Castle, then sat back down.   He told the butler to bring in some candles after he was finished passing around the doughnuts, then got down to business:  "If I had still been in the CIA, we would have known Fernandez was going to nationalize the Argentine oil."

"And you would have overthrown the government?" asked the former Heurich Society chairman.

"Don't get smart with me!" hollered Samuelson.  "We all know that we have to protect our own interests.  We've got the Bush clan and neo-Nazis buying up private lands in Paraguay and Argentina to control the fresh water aquifers.  Hugo Chavez is dying in Venezuela, setting up a huge power vacuum to come.  Videla admitted that the Argentine dictatorship made thousands of political opponents disappear violently between 1976 and 1983.  And what's the U.S. government doing?  Hiring hookers in Colombia!  Who's minding the store?  Our interests have not been in this much jeopardy in South America since Allende was elected in Chile."

"Didn't you adopt your daughter in Argentina in 1980?" asked the former Heurich Society chairman.

"That is not the point," said Samuelson through clenched teeth.  "We CANNOT allow class warfare to erupt again in South America.  I propose we move Project Cinderella south of the border.  She's sick of the Middle East anyway."

Angela de la Paz (AKA Project Cinderella, among other things) had already visited Argentina once on a secret vacation, and would soon be surprised to learn she was going back.  Several miles east of the Brewmaster's Castle, she waved goodbye to the last of the Friendship Gardeners--who had sharply abridged their Earth Day activities at the National Arboretum due to the chilly rain--then followed Dr. Devi Rajatala back to the arborist's office.  "We really needed the rain," Dr. Rajatala said for the upteenth time, and Angela nodded again as she curled up in a chair and waited for Dr. Raj to make hot chocolate for her.

"I can drink coffee now," said Angela.

"Yes, you're all grown up," said Dr. Rajatala with a friendly dose of sarcasm that Angela had become accustomed to.  (Dr. Rajatala continued making hot chocolate.)

"My mom went to Seattle once.  She said the weather was just like this, and the people told her it always was.  Who could live in a place like that?"

"Every place has its own problems," said Dr. Raj.

"No sunshine?  That's unbearable," said Angela.

"They get some sunshine--how else would the trees and plants grow?"

"I suppose."  Angela was bracing for Dr. Raj to tell her again how she needed to go to college and learn stuff, but Dr. Raj just handed her the mug with a smile.

"Everything needs both water AND sun to grow strong," said Dr. Raj.

Here it comes, thought Angela.

Back on the western side of town, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was happy to be in his State Department office on a Sunday afternoon because he now had his best assignment in years:  plotting a USAID program to help impoverished Africans utilize newly discovered aquifers hidden under the Sahel and Sahara.  "Poverty breeds terrorism," he had heard many, many times, and some philosophers claimed that it was harsh, dry climates that bred the most fanatically violent forms of religion in the world.  I can really make a difference! he thought.  Soon they'll stop talking about the Arab spring and start talking about the Arabian springs of water gushing from the desert!

"Do you really think springs of water will start gushing from the desert?" Charles Wu asked his spy companion, a few miles north of the State Department.

"Well," said Slow Man, pausing to sip Musette sangria after a stirring rendition of "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia", "my sources tell me that speculators have already swooped in to buy a lot of those GIS-mapped properties."

"Buy them from whom?" asked Wu, who had already performed "Cowboys and Angels" as his karaoke requirement for getting intel from Slow Man.  "Who owns the deserts?"

"From whomever they can--bribed government officials, tribal leaders, sheiks, businessmen."

"And how good are those land titles?" asked Wu.

"Cheaply bought, to be sure, but if somebody actually strikes water, they'll probably generate enough cash to defend their little fiefdoms.  Cash, then guns, then little Thunder Domes all over northern Africa," said Slow Man.

"So these are a number of different buyers?" asked Wu.

"I don't have all the details," said Slow Man.  "Some Al Qaeda, some communists, some neo-Nazis, some business speculators, some arms dealers, some Somali refugees, some drug dealers."

"And do some of these land titles overlap?" asked Wu.

"Ha, ha, ha!  Now you're seeing the picture!" said Slow Man.  "Nigeria cries how it needs its $80 million national debt forgiven, then we find out that one oil state governor there pocketed at least $130 million himself!  So I ask you, is it more equitable for the people to let their governments spread the water wealth, or are they better off letting the, shall we say, private sector carve it up?"

"Equitable?" said Wu.  "What you're talking about sounds like years--maybe decades--of armed conflicts."

"I am only the messenger," said Slow Man.  "Thank God I do not have to decide these things."

Several miles to the west, Ardua of the Potomac celebrated the coldest, dreariest Earth Day she could ever have hoped for.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Interruptions

Television reporter Holly Gonightly looked through the camera to make sure the shot was what she wanted: five nannies seated in a semi-circle on the steps of the Library of Congress [subliminally suggestive of the U.S. Supreme Court], brown paper bags over each head, the sunlight casting shadows behind them. "Please go down the line, and everybody say 'testing, testing, testing'." The nannies dutifully repeated the words down the line. The cameraman then played back the tape so that Gonightly could hear how their voices sounded through the paper bags. (Dramatic!) "OK, I think we're ready to go!"

Nanny number two abruptly sneezed, then removed her bag to blow her nose. Gonightly exchanged worried glances with her cameraman, then positioned herself to begin the expose.

"Holly Gonightly reporting from Capitol Hill." She was wearing new shapewear to avoid looking TFFT (too fat for television), and special makeup to have a thinner-looking face. "Please tell me the name of your organization." She stuck the microphone into the first nanny's face/bag.

"N-U-T-T-Y. That stands for Nannies United To Take Y-chromosomes."

"And what is the purpose of Nutty?" asked Gonightly.

"Not 'nutty'!" said the third nanny. "It's N-U-T-T-Y!" (She rolled her eyes out of habit, forgetting nobody could see them.)

"The purpose," said the first nanny, "is to position ourselves into an economically viable future by replacing the mothers of our charges."

"Stealing their husbands?" asked Gonightly.

"Don't twist our words!" said the third nanny.

"Stop interrupting!" said the fourth nanny.

"I have just as much right to talk as anybody else!" said the third nanny.

"OK, everybody will have a chance to talk, but let's go one-by-one. Nanny number five, you work for a family of five in Eastern Market." (Quick check of cheat sheet.) "The father is Chief of Staff for a U.S. Senator, and the mother is a paid lobbyist for a Fortune 500 corporation. If the father divorces the mother to marry you, and you become a stay-at-home mother with only part-time custody of the three children, won't he expect you to get paid work outside of the home?"

"What?! Of course not!" said the fifth nanny.

"He will be paying child support, and no longer have the income of his wife to make the mortgage payments. How exactly will your situation improve?"

"That is not the point!" interjected the third nanny. "We are the ones that take care of the house and the garden and the meals and all the lovely things that make his home a castle!"

"And take care of the children?" asked Gonightly.

"Of course! The children! It's all about the children," said the third nanny.

"It's not our fault the economy is destroying women's chances!" said the second nanny. "Obama's policies made 92% of women lose their jobs!"

"No," said the first nanny, "92% of the jobs lost were women's jobs. We would have better jobs if it weren't for Obama."

"So you do not like taking care of children?" asked Gonightly.

"Of course we do!" said the third nanny. "And you [looking at the second nanny] became a nanny during the Bush Administration!"

"Our jobs are hard," said the first nanny. "For instance, we were all expected to work yesterday to take the kids downtown for the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, and Saturday is supposed to be a day off! They gave us extra pay, but that doesn't make up for the extra exposure to pollen--I slept eleven hours last night! And I'm still sneezing."

Gonightly returned to the fourth nanny. "What about love?"

"I love the kids, and I love their father! But their mother is evil."

"Why is she evil?" asked Gonightly.

"Because she works outside the home!" said three nannies in unison.

"So do the fathers," said Gonightly.

"If those women would stay at home with their kids, then single women would be able to get jobs!" said the third nanny.

"It's Obama's fault, just like Romney said," said the fifth nanny.

"Do you feel you speak for all nannies?" asked Gonightly.

"Oh, no," said the first nanny. "Some nannies are too ugly to land a man, so they just take care of the children."

"Reporting from Capitol Hill, this is Holly Gonightly!"

In the midst of the small crowd of onlookers that had formed on the sidewalk to watch this intriguing event stood Congressman Herrmark's Chief of Staff--a woman. She was appalled by the entire interview. She had worked hard to get where she was, and being a woman was not nearly as much of a handicap as being a zombie. I know a Senator's chief of staff with a lobbyist wife and three children, she thought [though this description actually fit quite a large number of people on Capitol Hill]. I should eat her. She was thinking, of course, of eating nanny number five, but, in truth, she really could not stand that lobbyist wife. What if I eat her instead? Will he marry that ninny nanny? It had taken her years to learn how to use her special skill set to advance her own professional objectives, and she shook off these sudden impulses. I need to keep my eye on the prize. (All of her killings had to fulfill at least three out of five potential purposes on her kill-criteria list, and it was also important to prioritize.)

A mile to the south, Glenn Michael Beckmann also had a kill-criteria list, but he kept it all in his head. Trapped indoors by season allergies [which he blogged about as germ warfare set loose on the city by the United Nations], he kept himself busy with his home inventor kit. Today's project: create a Taser field that can be added to your automobile so that you can electrocute homeless men that approach with donation cans while you are stopped at an intersection, or those pesky children out in Arlington and Alexandria who start rubbing wet rags on your windshield before you agree to the "wash". Deep in the bowels of Beckmann's apartment building, the Southwest Plaza demon focused most of its energies on Beckmann because so many other people had moved out of their units. (The demon had yet to learn the balancing act of being a leech without destroying the host.) Suddenly the paranoid schizophrenic next door began screaming about aliens invading his bathtub. Beckmann could not and would not tolerate these interruptions. He got up, grabbed the pistol holstered at the side of his Lazy-Boy recliner (the other Lazy-Boy holster held the TV Guide), shot several times through the wall at his neighbor's apartment until the hollering stopped, reloaded his gun, then put the gun back in the holster. He rummaged in his work cabinet for the spackle, filled up the holes in his wall, then went back to his electrocution project.

Several miles to the north, Chloe Cleavage (one of the Southwest Plaza residents that had gotten away) was sitting in her condo Lazy Boy recliner, staring in disbelief at Pierre (a former resident of Occupy DC). Pierre was kneeling before her, a ring in his hand, proposing marriage. Cleavage found the ring (inherited from his grandmother) hideous, but that was not the worst aspect of the proposal. "We could go live in Shenandoah National Forest, off the grid, livin' off the land as Nature intended!" (He really just wanted to marry her to get on her Prince and Prowling health insurance plan, but he thought a more romantic and over-the-top proposal would serve his purposes best.) "I could build a little cabin for us with my own bare hands, and--"

"Stop! Just stop!"

"Of course, my love!" he said, hopeful.

"We have nothing in common!" exclaimed Cleavage.

"Just what the birds and bees have in common, my love, and isn't that all that Nature calls for, ultimately?"

"I'm going to the office," she announced, and stood up without another word.

He watched in silence as she grabbed her bag and headed out the door, then he buckled over in pain from the kidney stones and gallbladder stones that had first started developing when he was abstaining from drinking water to minimize urination while camped at McPherson Square. "Aaaaargh!" Feeling dizzy, he staggered up and out to the balcony to get a fresh breeze. Suddenly overcome with nausea, he leaned over the balcony railing to vomit, then was too dizzy to stand back up. His feet gave way, and he grasped at the railing in vain before plunging to his death several stories below. A flock of nearby sparrows jumped up in alarm, but the nearby starlings just watched in silence.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Hearts and Minds

Atticus Hawk was talking quietly with his parents when Ava Kahdo Green entered his ICU room at George Washington University Hospital with another fruit basket. Hawk's mother looked at the woman suspiciously, since her son had said nothing to clarify the nature of their relationship. Hawk's father nodded politely, took the fruit basket, placed it on the table next to Hawk, and offered Green his seat.

"No, please," she said, motioning for him to sit down again.

"My heart is fine," he said, and motioned again for Green to sit down, which she did. She pulled a vitamin jar out of her bag. "These are vegetable-based omega 3s--no fishy taste."

Hawk smiled in thanks. He had lied to all of them, saying cholesterol, plaque, and blocked arteries had led to his heart attack and by-pass operation--but none of that was true. He didn't even have an operation! His heart attack was from stress, pure and simple, but he was too ashamed to tell them that, and had requested Dr. Mohammad and Nurse Arroyo to keep his charts hidden from their view. "They might let me out on Monday," he said, and he could feel his blood pressure rising immediately at the thought of going back to the Justice Department.

"It's a disgrace," said Hawk's mother. "Drive-by heart surgery! Then kick 'em out the door! A decent, hard-working boy like Atticus! While welfare mothers get to stay in the hospital as long as they like!"

"Why don't we go get a cup of coffee and let the young people chat," said Hawk's father, aggressively pulling her up from her chair and escorting her out of the room.

"Mom's just upset," Hawk said, apologetically, too tired to think about health care systems. "Did you bring me anything from my boss?"

"What?! Of course not! You're going to be on bed rest for a long time," said Green.

All Hawk could think was that he was going to have another heart attack if he did not hear from his boss soon. Now that Philip Zelikow's State Department memo against the legality of torture was finally out under FOIA, and Steven Bradbury's White House memo condoning torture was out, it was only a matter of time before Hawk's Justice Department memo would be made public...then the other memos. I just know my boss is going to throw me under the bus! "Maybe I should be an attorney in Guantanamo," Hawk said suddenly.

"What?!" Green had been to Guantanamo three times, but she had never told him that. "Is this the Percoset talking?" she asked nervously. She had been secretly helping Goode Peepz law firm represent detainees for years--something which could make her lose her job and get disbarred.

Hawk had been thinking maybe he could defect to Castro's Cuba, but perhaps she was right: maybe it was the Percoset talking? I need to defect to the opposite of Cuba. "What is the opposite of Cuba?" he asked.

"Ummm...Miami?"

"No, a foreign country! Grenada?"

"Atticus, you just need some rest, and then we're going to work on healthy living habits, OK?" Green smiled sweetly at him.

"Thanks," he said, and meant it, though he had no real hope. It's like I'm being slowly tortured to death.

A mile away, Bridezilla pouted petulantly in the Prince and Prowling workroom. "It's like I'm being slowly tortured to death," she sighed. One of the partners was on a 3-week honeymoon to Australia and Fiji, and she was annoyed that he had left a 25-point memo of instructions to be followed in his absence. "What a control freak!" Laura Moreno said nothing--Moreno was the only person in the entire firm who was following the instructions correctly. "I would never do that when I go on my honeymoon!" (No, you would let everything fall apart.) "What does this mean?" asked Bridezilla, pointing to instruction number fourteen.

"'Cross-reference the Master Strategy Binder index'? After you complete each analysis, you need to--"

"I know what cross-reference means," snapped Bridezilla. "What is the Master Strategy Binder?"

"It's the blue binder with the yellow tabs that he put on your secretary's credenza next to the printer."

"I thought that was the Strategic Defense Binder?"

"No, we have the Strategic Defense Binder in here. Do you want it?" asked Moreno.

"Of course not!" snapped Bridezilla. (I can't believe I had a crush on you when those body-building supplements gave me a lesbian hormonal imbalance. You're so irritating!) "I'm a partner now! I shouldn't have to do this!"

"Would you like me to do it?" asked Moreno.

"Of course not!" snapped Bridezilla. "A real attorney has to do it! I'll make Daniel do it." With that, she swept out of the workroom.

"Daniel?" asked the other contract attorney temporarily sharing workroom space with Moreno. "He hasn't even been admitted to the Bar yet."

"But he's an associate," replied Moreno, uttering the magic word. "She'll tell him to do it, then he'll ask me how to do it, then he'll do it wrong. Then when the partner comes back from the honeymoon, he'll have me re-do it."

"Of course," nodded the other contract attorney. "They're all the same." (She had worked in fifty different law firms since entering the D.C. Bar.) "Large, soul-less, billing machines with expensive and over-sized artwork, 75 types of caffeinated beverages, fake recycling programs, hundreds of Word templates for trial-delaying procedural motions, dozens of partners biding their time until one of their ivy-league schoolmates appoints them to a federal agency, and people like you and me stuffed away in oxygen-deprived cellars where our brains slowly atrophy."

Moreno pondered this for a few minutes. She had always thought Prince and Prowling was an especially onerous place to work, but were they really all this bad?

"Though I've never worked in a law firm that smelled like dead rodents before," the woman added.

"They're going to end your assignment tonight," said Moreno suddenly, ignoring orders from Chloe Cleavage to keep mum about it. "You're going to get the call after you leave. I thought you might like to know so you can pack up your personal things before you leave tonight."

"Thanks!" the woman said. "I really appreciate it."

"I'm going to leave now so you can max out your hours today finishing up the Strategic Defense Binder," said Moreno.

"You're not worried about my going postal?" asked the contract attorney, with a sad smile.

"It wouldn't bother me much," said Moreno. "Also, since I won't be here, you can take your timesheet to Chloe Cleavage's office, and maybe she'll offer you a drink. She usually brings out the daiquiri machine by 3 p.m. on Saturdays."

Not far away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was pouring Scotch for the visiting Koch Brothers. "Look," he said, "just because Stephen Colbert won a Peabody for his SuperPac reporting does not mean that America is waking up to the power of SuperPacs. It's important not to overreact to these sorts of things. It is the liberal media, after all."

"We are paying you a lot of money--"

"The truth is I need more," gambled Breadman. "More SuperPacs, more Cayman Island corporations, more Delaware corporations, more lobbyists working for me. The problem is, gentlemen, that we have lost the young people. There are only so many jobs you can outsource to the 3rd World before you are left with a sizable number of underemployed and overeducated young people. They need to have hope, so we need to control the message boards all over this country."

"Hope for--"

"Hope for anything!" exclaimed Breadman. "I need more people working on this."

A block away, the White House butler was sitting in the rose garden, watching her twin pre-schoolers practice for the Easter Egg Roll. "Now, we're not gonna have a repeat of last year's behavior, right?" Regina and Ferguson nodded solemnly. "You're gonna make me proud, right?" The twins nodded again, then started whispering in their secret twin language. (They had buried Thomas the Tank Engine cars all over the grounds to serve as secret talismans ensuring their victory.) "This is not about winning, and it's certainly not about doing anything to make other children cry!" The twins nodded solemnly. "You're gonna look very pretty in your Easter dress, Reggie! I can't wait to send the photos to grandma. And you'll look handsome, too, Fergie!" The twins smiled like angels, still plotting mayhem in their hearts, under the expert tutelage of the White House ghosts.

A few miles to the west, Atticus Hawk's boss was driving across the Roosevelt bridge to visit his underling in the hospital, when Ardua of the Potomac sensed her opportunity. She dispatched some poisoned ducks to fly low over his car while she assailed him from below. Feeling ill, he cut his visit to the city very short, circled around, and was soon on the bridge heading back to Virginia. I should have gone to the hospital, he thought, but he just wanted to go home. He felt the panic seize him again on the bridge, and was frantically increasing his speed as he raced westward. Twenty minutes later, his wife returned from lunch with a friend to find he had hanged himself under the basement stairs. The note he left was understood by nobody who saw it: "Stay away from the water!"