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, 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!"

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