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, November 25, 2012

Dimmer and dimmer.

The light went off again punctually, seven minutes after the last time it went off.  Atticus Hawk spun 360 degrees in his Justice Department chair, the motion sensor picked him up, and the overhead light went back on again.  His girlfriend thought it was hilarious that the FBI knew how to set up clandestine spy operations all over the country but could not master the technical specifications of a standard energy-saving lighting system.  ("I don't work for the FBI," he had said.  "I work with attorneys."  "Sure you do!" Basia had said, because she knew all her clients lied to her or stayed mum about the exact nature of their work, and he was her client before they started dating.)  He had brought in a desk lamp this morning, but the bulb had already burnt out.  Because the Justice Department's incompetence interrupted his work every seven minutes, he rebelled by goofing off every seven minutes.  (Not much of a rebellion since he was, in fact, working on a Sunday, but still....)  This time, he opened up an email from Basia which was forwarding FBI knock-knock jokes--

* "Knock-knock!"
* "Who's there?"
* "FBI."
* "FBI who?"
* "We don't have to answer your damned questions!"

* "Knock-knock!"
* "Who's there?"
* [silence]
* "I've got a gun in here!"
* [door blown open with dynamite]

Are these supposed to be funny?  Hawk frowned, uncertain whether he had lost his sense of humor or Basia didn't have any.  She was an unusual woman, to be sure, but she did make him laugh occasionally.  It also unnerved him that she kept joking about his being involved in reading the email diary of Paula Broadwell's sexcapades, because the idea of treating David Petraeus like that was atrocious.  He was only involved in reading Jill Kelly's emails with the other general, and only the small portion that the FBI wanted legal backup on.  He turned back to his computer to type a few more sentences justifying the investigation leader's interpretation of Eric Holder's protocol regarding national security considerations to be weighed  in reading personal communications between civilians and military officers with high-level security clearances.  Most of the footnotes cited internal Justice Department memoranda and Attorney General letters to the President of the United States, so Hawk had to be careful not to use circular reasoning.  (He also couldn't cite actual facts.)  He painstakingly drafted two more sentences, then the overhead light went off again.

Several miles to the west, Basia Karbusky was trying to persuade Mega Moo to head into the north pasture, but the old cow was reluctant.  "You're getting soft, Mega Moo!" she teased her pet.  "It was a lot colder in Wisconsin!"  Mega Moo bellowed ferociously at this insult, even though it was true:  on cold days she preferred staying in the barn and having hay brought to her.  "Are you going to make me buy hay all winter?  You'll get horribly fat--and bored!"  Mega Moo bellowed again, but walked on to the north pasture, deciding she would reserve her rebellions for temperatures below 40--but it was barely 40 today!  Karbusky did a small repair job on the pasture fence, then went back to her lab to finish the drug batches she was selling in this afternoon's appointments:  one new customer from the White House and three repeat customers from the State Department (read "CIA").  Her morning appointment was a no-show, and she was starting to worry about this pattern.  Her clients were always satisfied for about a year:  got the mood-altering effects they needed, passed all their drug tests, kept their security clearances, and passed her name to friends and colleagues.  Then after about a year, some of them would suddenly be no-shows.  She would call and email (circumspectly) with no reply, then after a few weeks do some internet sleuthing and discover they had gone missing.  If they were sick or dead because of her drugs, Karbusky would probably have been traced, so the only logical explanation was they had gone off the pills and had some sort of reaction.  But why were they disappearing?  She put on her lab coat, rechecked her Nazi grandfather's notebook, consulted her own notes, then got to work.  This is it, she thought.  If one more client goes missing, I am going to have to move on--but where will I go?  Life had been good here--her booming business, her large spread in Potomac Manors, her devoted boyfriend.  She reminded herself that her grandfather had probably moved a dozen times before settling on the farm in Wisconsin, but this did not comfort her.

As it turned out, Karbusky's theory was wildly incorrect.  In fact, her morning no-show had shown up, but he was very disoriented and ended up on Calico Johnson's Potomac Manors estate next door.  He broke down Johnson's back door, triggered the house alarm, tripped on a throw rug, stumbled into the family room, screamed at a terrified Johnson near the fireplace, then ran out through the front door.  Johnson never even had a chance to swing the fireplace shovel at him--which seemed more disappointing upon later reflection than it had at the time.  Johnson was also disappointed (embarrassed) that he couldn't come up with a good description of the man--he just kept telling the police that the guy was clumsy and filthy!

Back near Capitol Hill, a different crime scene was under investigation.  "Oh, come in Detective!"  Sebastian L'Arche took a sideways look at Becky Hartley--who had recently, uninvitedly, begun adding "Pet Detective" to her advertisements of the Dog Whisperer's services, then walked into the surprisingly grungy home of a Pennsylvania Congressman.  "Please excuse the mess," said the Congressman, giving a dirty look to his wife, who smiled plastically at the Pet Detective and his lovely assistant.  "So this is what happened," the Congressman began.  "We stayed in town for Thanksgiving to do some entertaining--well, really, it was a farewell party for some of our friends from the Romney campaign--"  (His wife coughed suspiciously.)  "ANYway," the Congressman said, "people found out we were staying in town, and then we ended up pet-sitting a bunch of dogs.  They'll all be picked up tonight or tomorrow, but before they go, we want to know who's responsible--so we never have them in our home again."

"Responsible for what?" asked L'Arche.

"Oh, didn't she tell you?"

"We came straight from another case," lied Hartley.

"SOMEbody opened the fridge and ate ALL the leftovers while we were at CHURCH this morning!  We came home to find a mess of plates and Tupperware all over the kitchen floor.  WHAT is wrong with people?  It's no wonder we're going over the Fiscal Cliff, if Congressmen don't even know how to raise their DOGS with discipline!"

"I could NOT agree more," said Hartley.  "My father's a veterinarian in Dallas, and--"

"The kitchen's this way," interrupted the Congressman's wife, who had kicked off her church shoes earlier and was shuffling around in Land's End fuzzy slippers.  The four walked to the back of the row house, where half a dozen dogs were lying on the floor, leashed tightly together and chewing on toys.  "The leftovers were fine for three days, then suddenly THIS!"  (She pointed to the mess on the floor.)  "So we tied them up."

"Are you going to match saliva?" asked the Congressman.

"No," began the Dog Whisperer.

"Yes," interrupted Hartley.  "Detective L'Arche will examine their teeth, take saliva samples, and compare them to the saliva found on the plates."  (L'Arche looked at her in amazement.)  "Now, you realize one or two might have been instigators, but once the food was out, they all naturally would have eaten some.  The question is, which ones ate the largest shares?  Detective L'Arche will also examine their bellies."

L'Arche asked for some Baggies to take saliva samples, and started working on the dogs one-by-one, whispering to them as he went along.  They all confirmed it was Senator Malarkey's standard poodle that had opened the fridge and pulled all the food out, but L'Arche would save this piece of information for his final report--understanding Hartley's judgment call that these were not people who would actually pay for him to whisper to the dogs and then identify a culprit.  He did say, based on the feel of the belly, it was probably Malarkey's poodle, but they would confirm by comparing the saliva samples taken from the dishes on the floor.

After they got to Hartley's pickup truck, she joked that he was always blaming it on poodles.

"It was a classic poodle power grab!" said L'Arche.  "They always have something to prove because the others make fun of the ribbons in their hair."

Several miles to the west, Bridezilla was Skyping with an old sorority sister living in California.  Are you wearing CUDDLE DUDS?! the woman exclaimed.  Is it because of cramps?

"I don't have cramps!" exclaimed Bridezilla.

"You're letting yourself go," said her sorority sister.

"I'm not going anywhere until dinner tonight!  What possible difference does it make?"

"So I don't count for anything?" protested her sorority sister.

"Look, if you want to leave your church dress and pearls on all day, that's your choice," said Bridezilla, "but I have a lot of work to do before I meet with John again."

"Boehner?!  You're having dinner with Boehner tonight?"

"Yes--and some of my friends on the Hill," said Bridezilla.  "We'll be looking over some more budget proposals."

"What are you going to wear?  It's already three!  You need to start getting ready!"

"It doesn't take that long to get ready!" protested Bridezilla.

"You need to curl your hair and do a facial scrub, and then--"

"Thanks a lot!"

"I'm only trying to help!" said the sorority sister.

"They're more interested in my social circle's influence on the Hill," replied Bridezilla.

"If there are men at the party, believe me, they'll spend just as much time thinking about your cleavage."

"Too bad I don't have any," said Bridezilla.

"That's why you need to curl your hair and do a facial scrub!"

Bridezilla finally extricated herself from the conversation and thought about her last meeting with Boehner--who had been instrumental in lifting her out of the doldrums caused by her most recent breakup.  He had told her, "a true gentleman will treat you as a woman first, then a princess, then a goddess, then a woman again."  She had been pondering this a lot lately, wondering if she had broken off all her relationships at the fourth stage.

"That's it!" she cried aloud.  "That's how we have to make Obama feel!"

And out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac was feeling pretty good herself....

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