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 ....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

300

"They aren't just in cartoons, kids," said Washington Post reporter Perry Winkle.  "Teenage mutant ninja turtles really do exist."  The two canoes comprising today's urban guerrilla field trip slowed to a floating stop as Winkle pointed to a deformed turtle sunning itself on a tree limb.  "Toxic pollution and endocrine disruptors have transformed the Anacostia and other rivers into chemical experiments."  Winkle reached quickly to grab the young turtle, and its family members snapped in anger and dismay.  "Look," Winkle said, turning it over to expose its genitalia.  "Deformed because of mutation."  (He had heard a couple of suppressed chuckles at the word 'genitalia', but then silence:  the adolescents were examining the turtle carefully.)  "It will probably be unable to reproduce, or its descendants will also have mutations."

"But some mutations are good, right?" asked a bright middle-schooler.

"Sometimes spontaneous mutations can be beneficial, such as giraffes getting longer and longer necks, but mutations caused by pollution generally are not--they cause body parts to grow without symmetry or proportion, such as leaving you with only two toes on your left foot and no toes on your right foot."  (He was talking about toes, but he was thinking about the Congressional staffer he saw decapitated the week before--did I really see maggots crawl out of the inside of her neck?  Could it really have been a zombie serial killer?)

"Or your wanker won't wink," said another, prompting a burst of giggling.

"That's correct," said the "Metro" reporter.  "And the human species is not immune:  sperm levels have declined in many tested populations around the world."

"Have you had your sperm level tested?" asked another, prompting another burst of giggling.

"Oh, I've already fathered 300!" he joked, putting the turtle back on the log so he could start a splash fight.

Several miles to the northwest, Calico Johnson was cantering his horse "Ninja" around his Potomac Manors neighborhood--a horse the realtor had purchased for the sole purpose of having an excuse to see his lovely neighbor more often, since her barn was the only place he could board the horse.  Basia Karbusky had even helped with some additional training that the former racehorse needed in its slow recovery from the nervous breakdown it had incurred last spring.  Nonetheless, Johnson had made no progress whatsoever in seducing the tall blond from Wisconsin, and she only grew more and mysterious in his eyes.

He halted Ninja behind a small grove of ash trees where he could spy on the car pulling up to Karbusky's property--a nondescript American sedan with Virginia plates.  "It's the Chicago White Sox guy," Johnson said to Ninja (or himself).  "Always on Sunday, always wearing the baseball cap."  He knew it wasn't a lover because the man was never in her house more than ten minutes, but it was still driving him crazy.  Karbusky had told him she had "inherited some money" in his first attempt to find out what she did, and he had initially accepted that, but had grown more suspicious lately.  The organic gardening consultant he could believe, and even that freaky "dog whisperer" she had brought out to treat her cow's bovine narcolepsy, but she now had half a dozen visitors per week, all in nondescript sedans, all staying no longer than ten minutes.  What were they up to?  He was perplexed about all of them, but the White Sox guy was the good-looking one, so Johnson was jealous of him.  He knew if he brought the horse in now, the guy would be gone by the time Ninja was unsaddled.  And what if I timed it so that I was just walking up when White Sox is leaving?  What would I learn, anyway?  Nothing.  Johnson had brought up the issue at the last Sense of Entitlement Anonymous meeting to see if people thought he should hire a private detective--or, even better, if somebody like John Boehner or Dick Cheney could dig up some information on the woman--but they had laughed out loud at him, saying if he couldn't even spy on the woman next door, who could?  Johnson stayed long enough to watch the baseball-capped fellow come back out (ten minutes later), then he led Ninja into a canter back towards the eastern pasture.  I need to stop thinking about her!

Back at Karbusky's property, the woman closed the door and watched through a window until her client's car was no longer visible.  Then she walked into her office and sat down to count the money.  She separated out $300 for some shopping trips this week, then put the remainder in her safe.  She tapped her fingers on the desk nervously, fairly certain that she had seen Johnson's horse again in the ash trees.  Maybe I should just ask him out on a date and get it over with?  Act like a nut job so he never wants a second date.  A couple of clients had asked her out recently, but she never mixed business with pleasure.  What pleasure?  She was getting more and more paranoid, spending most of her time in the house or out in the barn taking care of Mega Moo.  This can't go on forever.  She sighed and returned to the laboratory to prepare the next client's order.

This will go on forever if I don't get rid of it, thought Dizzy.  He was glancing unhappily at the cursed Rolex sitting on his wrist, fretting about the ugliness in his life since he had put it there.  Dizzy was still carrying around his trumpet case, but he hadn't opened it in days.  He found himself walking back to McPherson Square, where it had all begun.  He walked past the Occupy DCers--a small crowd now, all familiar with the mercurial trumpet player and his inexplicable Rolex.  Suddenly he was face-to-face with a tall Italian-looking fellow in skinny jeans and a boat-neck tank top made of red silk.  Impulsively, Dizzy pulled the Rolex off his wrist.  "$300," Dizzy said, "and it's yours."  Luciano Talaverdi (a Federal Reserve Board economist) looked rapidly around, then picked up the Rolex to examine its authenticity.  "Alright!" he said, not even bothering to bargain, and he pulled the cash out of his wallet and handed it to Dizzy.

 A few minutes later, Talaverdi was lying on his psychiatrist's couch, asking if Ermann Esse thought it was wrong for him to buy the Rolex.  "It might not have been stolen," said Talaverdi.  "It might have been pawned--I mean, we are in a recession."  The shrink nodded without saying anything, and watched as Talaverdi read aloud the initials engraved into the watch.  "I'll do an Internet search to see if anybody posted something," Talaverdi said.

"And contact the police?" asked Dr. Esse.

"No, of course not!  They would just say there had been a theft reported, and then keep it for themselves."

"Are you certain?" asked Dr. Esse.

"Yes, I'm certain!" protested Talaverdi, who disbelieved most of the things his mother had told him about the Mussolini era, but had retained a life-long hatred of police officers.  Anyway, I have more important things to discuss."

"Hmmm?" said Dr. Esse, encouragingly.  (He was billing at triple rate to come into the office on a holiday weekend.)

"I started working on a letter to the editor," Talaverdi said, "like you suggested.  But every time I try to explain what the Fed is doing, I go on for pages and pages and pages.  How can people like us, with Ph.D's, summarize so many years of knowledge in a way that simple people can understand?"

"Indeed!" said the highly educated psychiatrist, who rarely said more than a dozen words to his patients.

"I tried to make 3 points, then it became 10 points, then it became 30 points.  I think I would need 300 points to outline what the economy needs and how the Fed is operating!"

"What is your theme?" asked Dr. Esse.

"What do you mean?  I just told you the theme?"

"If you had a title, for example, what would the title be?  Or the subject line in an email?" asked the shrink.

"The End of Hyperbole."

"Do you mean this ironically?" asked Dr. Esse, genuinely perplexed.

"What irony?" asked Talaverdi.

A couples miles to the west, Angela de la Paz emerged from swimming with the pink dolphins in the Potomac, an axe in her hand.  She dropped it beside the Warrior on the shore of Roosevelt Island, then sat down to catch her breath.  The Warrior picked it up and examined it slowly.  "It is new," he said.  I have probably seen 300 axes since the white men brought steel to America, but this one has an enormous amount of embedded evil for something so young.  Maybe we should throw it back."

"Throw it back?!" asked Angela, incredulously.  "I took it from Ardua, and I gave her some parting whacks with it on my way out!  I'm not giving it back to her!"

"Do you remember the last time you took something from Ardua and tried to use it for your own purposes?" asked the Warrior.

"This is hardly the same situation!" protested Angela, but she didn't like displeasing the Warrior.  "Of course, I don't really need it.  I suppose I could just bury it on this island for now.  Ardua would just find somebody else to take it if I tossed it back in the river."

"Yes, you are probably right," nodded the Warrior, pleased with her.  "Let us go bury it now.

Deep in the river, Ardua of the Potomac seethed over the loss of the evil axe, but she was determined to get it back.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Interconnected

Charles Wu smiled as he looked out the window at Delia sitting up on a blanket in his backyard.  His nanny, Mia, had already reported a few unsolicited offers to make Buffy Cordelia Wu an infant model, but the spy could not tolerate any added scrutiny of his personal affairs.  He yawned, bored with listening in on the G8 summit he had bugged at Camp David.  His mind wandered, and he again began gloating about how pleased Hillary Clinton was with his behind-the-scenes role in persuading Beijing to release Chen Guangcheng for a flight to the U.S.  It felt good to be working on Chinese issues again!  Wu had been thinking lately of scaling back on his European and Middle Eastern intelligence work, but everything was so interconnected--at least, that's what people kept telling him.

"It's too interconnected now!" Henry Samuelson was saying at the Heurich Society meeting a few miles away.  "The Administration does not understand the potentially catastrophic chain reaction of failures which might occur!  The U.S. openly siding with the Sunni Arab League against the Shia in Syria?  This will isolate Iran even more!  Without the Iranian counter-balance in the Middle East, all bets are off."

"What are you proposing?" said the former Chair of the Heurich Society, in a sneering challenge to Samuelson.  "Letting Iran have a nuclear bomb as a counter-balance?!"

"Me?  You want me to propose something?  When did this stop being a Society and start becoming the Samuelson-solves-everything club?!  Who came up with Project Occupy?  Me!  Who came up with Project Troll?  Me!  Who came up with Project Cinderella?  Me!"

"Gentlemen!" the speakerphone crackled.  (It was Condoleezza Rice, phoning in from California.)  "I have a proposal concerning the upcoming NATO meeting in Chicago  How many people do we have attending?"  (The Chair and former Chair glared at each other in silence, both thinking the same thought:  what the hell does NATO have to do with it?)

Across the River, Cedric was building a model nuclear bomb out of bottle caps and aluminum cans.  "Rice and lipstick, Rice and lipstick," he sang, "they go together like oil and dipstick."  The social worker on duty at the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged was baffled by a lot of things that came out of her charges' mouths, but this song was uncharacteristic of Cedric.  (He doesn't even like rice!?)  Cedric abruptly looked up at Hue Nguyen and said, "We had a long talk on Friday about it."  (He was obliquely referring to a phone call with Condoleeza Rice.)  Then his eyes returned to the task at hand, and he resumed singing:  "Rice and Arabs, Rice and Arabs--they go together like blood and scarabs."

Back in D.C., the mentally unstable Glenn Michael Beckmann raced through the Gangplank Marina, jumped awkwardly into a yellow kayak, and began paddling furiously after the Flying Scot sailboat which had just picked up Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff and was heading north.  Beckmann had been spying on her for four days, and was convinced that she was part of the United Nations conspiracy which had poisoned his apartment at Southwest Plaza and would soon ban guns, pick-up trucks, American history classes, and roast beef sandwiches.  (It was all so obviously interconnected, but it took last night's dream to put it all together.)  He could see the blue and purple windbreaker she was wearing to cover up the layers of skin coming off her arms, and the billowing cotton skirt she was wearing to cover up the layers of skin coming off her legs.  You'll never set foot in D.C. again, you U.N. zombie!

Steering the Flying Scot were Herrmark's twin bodyguards from Greece:  Nick and Costas.  Their cousin (and fellow Congressional staff member), Ann Bishis, was seated nervously next to the chief of staff.  It was Ann's idea to take the suspected zombie out on a boat:  if neither sun nor wind succeeded in forcing her to expose her limbs, the twins would "accidentally" capsize the boat and let the god Poseidon decide her fate.  (Bishis was also praying to her spirit animal, the pelican, for aid and guidance.)

Back at the Gangplank Marina, Washington Post "Metro" reporter Perry Winkle--who had also been following Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff since hearing her called a serial killer--finally found a speedboat owner to take him out in hot pursuit, and they raced away from the dock.  He could see the sailboat was momentarily stalled, waiting for the wind to pick up.  Then he realized there was a kayak heading straight for the sailboat. 

I've got you now, you damned zombie!  Beckmann dropped the paddle into the bottom of the kayak as he glided right up to the sailboat and picked up his axe.

Nick ducked, and Costas pulled Ann down, unintentionally giving Beckmann a clear shot at the chief of staff, who turned around in puzzlement too late to see the blade coming for her neck.  The zombie's head went flying into the Potomac River, and the zombie's body slumped down into the sailboat--with hundreds of maggots crawling out of its neck.  Ann screamed, Nick vomited, and Costas cried out to Athena to save them.

"I should kill you all, but since you weren't in my dream, let this be a warning to you!" screamed Beckmann, still brandishing the bloody axe in the air.  Then he dropped the axe into the river, picked up his paddle, and started heading back to the pier.

Winkle's rented boat captain had cut the motor at the first sign of the axe, and the two men flinched as Beckmann raced past them.  "I need to interview those people," said the reporter, pointing to the three people still on board the sailboat.

"Like Hell!" exclaimed the captain, who promptly started his engine and launched his speedboat away from both the sailboat and the kayak.

Twenty feet below them, Ardua of the Potomac gleefully swallowed the zombie head and set aside the axe for some future purpose.  She stared upward, waiting patiently for the humans to throw the zombie body down as well.  (She liked it when zombies terrorized the humans, but she never let any food go to waste.)  I will have to find somebody to make up for the loss to the ranks, mused Ardua, but that Beckmann is just too much fun!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Downwardly Mobile

Laura Moreno trudged reluctantly past Urine Park and into the Prince and Prowling office building.  Ever since Judge Sowell Ame had tossed out Wolfgang Prowling's will which had bequeathed her a quarter million dollars, she had sunk into a deep, deep funk.  She knew more about the law firm's cases than any associate there, but even the first year associates awaiting Bar admission were earning three times as much as she was...after all these years.  She swiped her keycard and headed to the workroom to spend another Sunday afternoon toiling in obscurity.  Her salary had not gone up since the Senior Partner raised it the second month she was there--all those years ago--before the office administrator had put him in his place and forbade any more raises.  Her health care costs had doubled, her housing costs were up 40%, her food costs were up 25%, and she had taken to wearing stained and torn clothing to work because she couldn't afford to buy new clothes.  I used to be an intelligent person--why can't I find my way out?

Not far away, Bridezilla was thinking the same thing:  I used to be an intelligent person--why can't I find my way out?  She was sitting in her Prince and Prowling partner's office staring at the photo of herself as homecoming queen in the high school yearbook she kept bookmarked to that page.  She was not worrying about her health care, housing, food, or clothing costs:  she was baffled that she was still single.  Her current boyfriend, Bucky, was a Kennedy Center actor, so she suspected half of what he said to her at any particular time was probably a line from a play or movie or television show, but it still rattled her when he said things like, "if you really wanted to be married, you'd be married by now."  What does that mean?  Can't a girl be picky?  She sighed at the homecoming queen's perfect skin, timelessly lovely hairdo, and movie star quality gown.  It was true, several guys had asked her to marry them, but here she was, single again, and Bucky might be a bi-sexual for all she knew.  He knows more about hair gel than I do!  She sighed again.  He was sweet, and being with him was a lot of fun, but her life was not going forward.  "You're so smart!" Bucky would say to her often.  "Why don't you become a professor?  Or open your own law firm?  Or go work for some huge corporation?  This work is too boring for you!"  He pictured her taking the world by storm, like Hillary Clinton or Sandra Day O'Connor.  He doesn't get it.  She didn't want respect:  she wanted adoration.  (Dr. Ermann Esse had told her that months ago, and it was finally sinking in.)

Down the hall from Bridezilla, former Senator Evermore Breadman had finally jumped on the Romney Bandwagon, and had already raked in $20,000 in consulting fees this week alone.  "The truth is," he said to the speakerphone on his desk (and the campaign ad writer on the other end), "you can't really say that's illegal unless a judge issues an order saying it's illegal."  ("I'm asking you, as an attorney, to tell me it's legal!?")  Breadman rolled his eyes.  "It doesn't matter!  It hits its mark long before there's an order to yank it from the air."  ("But we could get penalized and fined?")  "It's just a speeding ticket, my good fellow.  They call it a political race because you need to get further faster than the opponent!  Keep your eye on the prize!  You're not trying to earn merit badges or respect:  you want the masses to adore your candidate!"  Breadman got off the call and reached into his bottom drawer for a little whiskey pick-me-up, wondering if he needed to speak directly to Romney about shaking up his campaign leadership. 

A few miles to the east, Atticus Hawk reached into his bottom drawer for a candy bar pick-me-up and discovered that somebody (presumably Ava Kahdo Green) had replaced his potato chips, candy bars, and beef jerky with a drawerful of dried apricots, almonds, granola, and whole wheat crackers.  His new boss had banned him from attending his old boss's funeral ("too stressful!") and banned him from returning to work ("you're not having a heart attack on my watch!"), and today was the first day he had snuck into the Justice Department since being in the hospital.  The former torture expert continued rifling through old memoranda as he listened to the Guantanamo hearings replay.

"You shouldn't be here!" Green protested, walking briskly into his office.  (She had persuaded the security guard to let her know if Hawk entered the building.)

"My new boss screwed up the--"  He froze, realizing he could not discuss it with her, and she froze, hearing what was playing over his computer.  They stared at each other in silence for a few moments.

"Well, how do you feel?" Green asked, sitting down nonchalantly in a guest chair while he flipped papers upside-down without much subtlety.

"Pretty good," Hawk lied.  "I was curious about the Guantanamo hearing and, uhh, well...."

"Sure, it's been intense."  (This was an understatement, as Green had secretly done about fifty hours of Guantanamo detainee pro bono work in the past month with Goode Peepz law firm.)  "Nothing in law school prepared us for this."

"No," Hawk agreed, then there were a few more moments of silence.  "Thanks for the snacks."

"You're welcome!" Green said.  "You should have told me you wanted to come in.  I could have given you a ride."

"You would have refused to give me a ride," Hawk said with a wan smile.

"Maybe," Green said with a sweet smile.  "Well, don't push yourself," she said, getting up.  "I'm coming back in an hour, and you'd better be gone!"

"Agreed," said Hawk, who was feeling sicker by the minute.

A mile to the west, Federal Reserve Board economist Luciano Talaverdi was lying on Dr. Ermann Esse's couch, feeling sicker by the minute.  "Why are they still there?!" he exlaimed, referring to the shrunken but not defeated Occupy DC encampment in McPherson Square, outside the offices of his psychiatrist.  "And now there's an 'Occupy the Fed'!  Can you believe it?  The liberals hate us, the conservatives hate us, the libertarians hate us!  We're just a central bank!  Every country has one!  We're doing the best we can!"

"Do you really think everybody hates the Federal Reserve Board?" asked the shrink, dubiously.

"No, not everybody," conceded Talaverdi, "but my own mamma in Italy refuses to send me her home-made biscotti!  She says America is destroying Europe to keep up American living standards!"

"Interesting," said Dr. Esse (who knew nothing about monetary or fiscal policy).  "Sociological surveys show that Europeans are much happier than Americans."

"Because they're living in a dream world!" exclaimed Talaverdi.

"And you think Americans are more in touch with reality?" asked the shrink.

"Absolutely!" said Talaverdi.

"So Americans are a better judge of the Federal Reserve Board?" asked the shrink.

"No!  Americans are too ignorant to understand what the Fed does.  But they're right that the economy is rotto."

"Hmmm," said the shrink.  "So what I'm hearing is that you are unhappy because Americans do not understand and appreciate your work."

"And want to end the Fed!" exclaimed Talaverdi.

"So perhaps you should direct some efforts to educating the American people about what the Federal Reserve Board does and what other measures are required to restore the economy."

"Ha!  Maybe if I can get Kim Kardashian to talk about it!" said Talaverdi.

"Hmmm, yes, that might be difficult," said Dr. Esse.  (He picked up his special notebook dedicated to all the comments his patients made about Kim Kardashian, and jotted down a few words.)  "Well, I think it's important for us to find an attainable goal to start with.  How about writing an opinion piece for the Washington Post?"  (He recommended this to a lot of his patients.)

"They won't publish me!  I'm just an economist from Italy.  I don't even have an Ivy League degree!"

"Well, you can start small, with a letter to the editor about 'Occupy the Fed' and such things," said the shrink.

"We're the Fed!  We shouldn't have to--" he paused, frozen by Dr. Esse's head-shaking.

"That's what everybody in this town says," Dr. Esse whispered, as he leaned in closer to his patient.  "A hundred-thousand voices trying to scream over each other.  'We're the State Department!'  'We're the FBI!'  'We're the Supreme Court!' 'We're the White House!'  'We're the Senate!'  'We're the World Bank!'  'We're the Pentagon!'  You see, that's why it's about balance of power.  If we had a dictatorship, there would be no competition of ideas.  You are living in a democracy."

"The Occupy people don't think so!"

Outside, Dizzy closed up his trumpet case and stormed away from McPherson Square.  Damned hippies!  Every time he started getting money from the tourists, one of the Occupy DCers pointed out that the street musician was wearing a Rolex.  None of their dammed business!  I'm going over to Urine Park.  I'm done playing for ungrateful people!  He shook his fist at the young people as he marched off.  If I had a claw hammer in my trumpet case, I'd be doing you like that Petworth boy!  Since obtaining the cursed Rolex, Dizzy's income had plummeted 75%, his trumpeting had become tinny, and old friends were calling him "jerk" and "crazy old coot".  He knew he was going to have to sell it, but every time he took it off his wrist, he had a panic attack.  "I hate you all!" he bellowed out as he made his way down K Street, and people parted like the Red Sea in front of him.

A flock of starlings arose to report back to Ardua of the Potomac that everything within a two-mile radius of the White House was full of dark, negative energy, and the demon rejoiced.

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Washington Water Woman is heading out of town this coming weekend, and will return to blogging in a couple of weeks.