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, July 15, 2012

Squeeze Play

Sebastian L'Arche walked up slowly and carefully to the boa constrictor wrapped around Judge Sowell Ame's niece.  Behind him, Judge Sowell Ame was finishing up a cellphone call, only half paying attention to the examination.  The teenager was stroking the snake affectionately.  "Uncle Sowell didn't know I was bringing her for the summer--it was a surprise!" she said.  "But he had warned me that he had an occasional rat problem here, so a friend of mine gave her to me as a surprise.  She's really sweet!  And she did eat some rats in June, but lately she seems to have stopped eating, and she's acting more lethargic."

"She sleeps with it!" interjected Judge Ame, shoving the cellphone back in his pocket.  "Kids today!"

"Do you think she ate all the rats, and I need to start buying more food for her?" asked the teenager.  "I tried to give her ham, but she wouldn't eat it.  Do you think I need to buy raw rats?"

"There's no way we're bringing MORE rats into this house!" exclaimed Judge Ame.

There was a reason they called L'Arche the dog whisperer and not the snake whisperer, but he had a pretty good hunch forming.  "I'm going to sedate it so that I can examine the bowels."

"Grrrrosssss!" she said, kissing the snake.

L'Arche readied his syringe (expertly filled by Becky Hartley, who was waiting in her truck outside the Georgetown home during this job), then jammed it quickly near the snake's head before taking a quick step back.  The snake hissed and started uncoiling, and L'Arche and the judge backed quickly away from it.  "Oh, you poor thing!" exclaimed the girl, kneeling on the rug where the boa constrictor was moving slowly and erratically before finally laying her head down and passing out.

L'Arche knelt beside the snake and felt carefully down the length of its torso and into the bowels.  "It's been fasting," said L'Arche after the examination was complete.

"Why would she do that?" asked the teen.

"It wanted to empty out its bowels in preparation for eating something larger," said L'Arche.

"Oh, God!" exclaimed Judge Ame.  "There's something else in the house besides rats?"  He started looking frantically around.  "A possum in the attic?  I'm always hearing weird noises up there!"

"No, sir," said L'Arche.  "It's preparing to eat your niece."

"What?!" cried out the judge and his niece in unison.

"Its bowels are probably empty enough now," said L'Arche.  "I think it would have crushed her in her sleep and then swallowed her."

"She would never do that to me!" the girl yelled.  "You're not even a real veterinarian!"

"I'll pay you $500 to chop its head off!" exclaimed the judge.  "I've got a good butcher's knife in the kitchen."  

"No, you can't do that!" wailed the girl.

"Oh, stop being such an idiot," snapped the judge, embarrassed that this animal expert had all but accused him of reckless endangerment of his own niece.  (He was already picturing the snake with the girl trapped inside, leaving him to face the wrath of his sister flying into town from Atlanta.  And he could go to jail!)  "We're killing the snake!"

"You could possibly donate it to--"

"No, we're killing it!" hollered the judge.  "I'm going to get the knife!"  He ran out of the room, leaving his niece in tears, whimpering that "Bella" would never, ever, ever hurt anyone.

Several miles to the east, Glenn Michael Beckmann was on a killing spree of his own, a flag-killing spree.  The patriot was fed up with seeing feudal robber barons, corporate whores, and slumlords flying their own standards side-by-side with the American flag!  His current target was the BMW flag flying at the corner of New York Avenue and 14th Street.  Die foreign automobile scum!  Before the security guard inside could even put down his sandwich, Beckmann had toppled the BMW flag pole with a grappling hook and set fire to it with a blow torch.  He raced over to the Metro Center station and descended into the tunnels to make his escape, only to find a pack of people irritably waiting for the delayed Red line train.  He ran to the escalator to make his escape via Orange or Blue, but another throng of people foiled him down there.  He pushed his way angrily down the platform, waving his blowtorch menacingly at anybody who would not make way.  Then he found a pillar to lean against as he checked over his list of condemned flags:  BMW, check; Brawner, check; Clark, check; Sidley Austin, check; Sofitel, ___; Washington Post, ___ (that one could be tricky).  He was still undecided about Harry's:  it was flying a lot of foreign flags, but it was doing so in a rather shabby manner.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a young boy approaching the blow torch resting against his leg, and he growled at him to scram.

Further to the east, another patriot was on a mission.  U.S. Attorney Atticus Hawk put down his Wall Street Journal as U.S. Attorney Ava Kahdo Green approached his Eastern Market brunch table.  "What do the Wall Street Jackasses have to say today?" she asked playfully, sitting down for what she thought was her first date with Hawk.  

"Nothing the New York Tighty-Whities won't get around to reporting eventually," he retorted, nodding at her folded-up New York Times.

"Sorry I'm late," she said.  "Metro--"

"Yeah, yeah," Hawk said.  He was fairly recovered from his heart attack, but she could see he had not eaten much of his food.  He also sounded tense, and she was worried that her lateness had already ruined their date.  "Have a croissant," he said, and pushed the little croissant place over to her.

"Thanks," she said, and tried to smile sweetly at him, but he was looking all around at the other diners (though all far away from the table he had chosen), as well as people walking by on the sidewalk. 

"I found out about your Guantanamo pro bono work," he said, abruptly turning his gaze to her as she halted the croissant's entrance into her mouth.  "Goode Peepz law firm isn't the most discreet partner you could choose for violating your legal duties to the Justice Department."

"I haven't!" she protested, slamming down the croissant.  "I don't do any Guantanamo work for Justice!  There's no conflict of interest!"

"Come on, Ava!" said Hawk.  "Gimme a break!"

"I swore in law school I would never let being an attorney stop me from being a human being!"

"Those people are scum, and they don't deserve any help!" exclaimed Hawk.

"If they're so guilty, why can't they be tried in a court of law?" said Green.

"I'm not here to get into sophomoric debates with you!  I'm here to warn you that you'd better cut your ties before somebody else finds out!"

"Are you threatening me?" asked Green.

"I'm warning you!  The Justice Department has enough to worry about with the War on Terror, without having to worry about the loyalty of their own attorneys!"

"Is that what you spend your time worrying about:  the War on Terror?  Is that what gave you the heart attack?  Is that why your boss killed himself?  This is America! We make plenty of mistakes, but we're not supposed to be the ones that lock you up and throw away the key!  We've got our own frickin' Gulag down there!  Do you know there were nine U.S. citizens locked up down there for years?  They couldn't see their families--six of them were taken in cases of mistaken identity, for Christ's sake!"

Hawk said nothing, staring at the coffee cup he was jiggling; he had made up his mind beforehand that he would not debate the issues with her because there was too much risk of revealing state secrets.

"Christ!" she exclaimed, her pulse pounding.  "That's what you do, isn't it?  That's why you're always covering up your folders, locking your drawers, locking your office door."

"That's standard policy for national security work," he said, finally meeting her gaze.

"And having a heart attack?  How standard is that?  And suicide?"

"That's beside the point," he said.

"Not when you think being a human being is the point," she said, standing up.  "Thanks for the warning:  you're a good guy.  I'll cut ties with Goode Peepz law firm and be a good little girl at the Justice Department, OK?  Have a nice day."

Hawk watched her walk away.  Being a human being.  It was like a mantra, meme, and truism all rolled into one.  Being a human being.  Human beings have heart attacks.  Human beings commit suicide.  Being a human being.  He reached for the uneaten croissant he had tried to give to her, filled with chocolate and almonds, her favorite.  I try to be a nice guy.  He decided not to eat it, in case she changed her mind and came back.  He looked around at the other diners, who were too far away to have heard their argument, but not too far away to have seen her slam the croissant down and storm off.  They think it was a lover's quarrel, being a human being.  They don't know--after all this time, most people still don't know how hard it is to do this.  Then he realized she was the only human being who had physically touched him since he left the hospital and his new boss shook his hand.  It's like I'm the one in solitary confinement.  He resumed staring at his coffee cup"The quiet realization that something inside that was sick for a long time was now dead.  Where is that from?" 

"Brideshead Revisited," said a passing busboy (with a brand new Ph.D. in English literature), and Hawk was startled to realize he had uttered the question out loud.

Several miles to the west, Mayor Vincent Gray was sitting anxiously in the Prince and Prowling office of former Senator Evermore Breadman, trying to pull his thoughts together more elegantly before speaking them out loud.

"You've come to the right place, Mayor Gray," said Breadman, not bothering to wait for what Gray was obviously going to say.  (Breadman had voted against D.C. home rule when he was in the U.S. Senate, but that was a long time ago, and a paying client was a paying client.)  "It's not your fault that your associates made mistakes.  Politics is an ugly business, and it's hard to surround yourself with smart people in this town!  Well, actually, everybody is smart, but common sense, well that's pretty rare."

"Common decency, integrity--" Gray began, then faltered off.

"Exactly!" said Evermore (with no conviction).  "A man like you needs to get out of politics.  There's too much mud-slinging.  There are much better ways for you to serve the community, and if you follow my advice, we will navigate you there as smoothly as a toy boat in a bathtub!"

"But I want to finish my term," protested Gray.

"Hmm, well, let's examine the facts, and we'll see what's feasible, alright?  After all, you want to do what's best for the community in the short run AND the long run, and sometimes that's a tough task to balance.  And, of course, you have to take care of yourself first, because that's the way to have the freedom to serve the community."  (Breadman was serving the community by double-billing this hour to both Mayor Gray and a coalition of anonymous people who had hired him to get rid of Gray.)

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac wrapped herself around a few rebellious ducks and squeezed them to death for refusing to do her bidding.  Then she again sank to the river bottom to plot her next move. 

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