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 ....

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas

"I need somebody to talk to," said Atticus Hawk.  "There were a stack of your business cards at--well, that's not important."

"A bar?" asked psychiatrist Ermann Esse.

"I don't drink very often--that's not actually my problem."

"What is actually your problem?"

"Your card says drug-free psychotherapy."

"That is correct."

"I failed my security clearance many months ago because I was on too many prescriptions."

"Yes, I have helped many people in your situation.  Are you out of work now?"

"No, I cleaned up and am back at Justice," said Hawk.

"The Justice Department?"  (The attorney nodded.)  "Did you go through some type of rehab?"

"No--well, I guess so.  It was gradual.  I met a woman who had, ummm, herbal supplements that she mixed herself.  I was able to pass the urine test on those."

"But they are no longer helping you?" asked Dr. Esse.

"She left town."

"Hmmm."  Dr. Esse made a note--he believed three other new clients had come to him for the same reason.  "Well, I do not use any herbs or drugs of any type.  This is raw therapy, confronting your deepest emotions.  Is that something you want to try?"

Hawk realized he was holding a couch pillow protectively over his own stomach.  He tried to put it back, but could not will himself to do so.  "The nightmares have come back."

"Hmmm," said Dr. Esse, flipping his pad to a fresh page.  "Tell me about the most recent one."

"I'm watching Kathryn Bigelow torturing the President of Pakistan to find out where Osama Bin Laden is.  It looks like Guantanamo, but there are sugar maples outside in full color, not palm trees.  The President of Pakistan starts screaming like a girl, and then I realize it IS a girl--it's that little girl Malala.  Bigelow rips one of Malala's ears off and demands to know where Bin Laden is.  Then Prince Harry runs in, shoots Bigelow, grabs Malala, and runs outside to put her in his rescue helicopter.  There are paparazzi trying to take photos of Malala's breasts because her shirt is in shreds and falling off.  Then my boss comes in and tells me I need to write the memo for Eric Holder justifying all this.  I am trying to stop Bigelow from bleeding to death with my bare hands, and my boss then says, 'And don't get any blood on the memo.'  Blood on the memo?!  Can you believe it?!  And then I woke up, except my heart kept pounding for another ten minutes because I knew I had to go to work to write a memo almost as bad."

After a few moments of silence, Dr. Esse realized Hawk was done.  "Well, Mr. Hawk, I have to ask you first of all, have you ever considered looking for a different job?"

"Have I mentioned I had a stress-induced heart attack?  And that was before my boss committed suicide."

"That is truly traumatic, Mr. Hawk."

"And now they're spying on me," added Hawk.  (Dr. Esse used to make a "paranoiac" notation when clients said this sort of thing, but he found since moving his practice to Washington that this was more likely to be true than not.)

"Maybe it's time to consider looking for a different job," said Liv Cigemeier's husband, several miles to the north.  His wife gave him a wry smile, then turned back to her home computer.  Frustrated, the Prince and Prowling partner walked back into the kitchen to resume cooking for the out-of-town guests already in transit.  "I'm just saying," he called out over his shoulder, "could anything else make you this miserable on Christmas Eve?"

Cigemeier refrained from answering the question and turned back to the emergency grant proposal her boss had assigned her to submit to the National Rifle Association:  "School Protection Pilot Program:  Kandahar Province, Afghanistan".  The sad truth was, she had worked on stupider projects than this at International Development Machine, but it made her wildly heartbroken to think that she was never going to work her way up to a position where she could actually be the one making choices and designing projects.

"And where's good ole Augustus?" called out her husband, referring to IDM's president, Augustus Bush.  "Back in the Caymans?"

"US. Virgin Islands," she called out, getting annoyed that he kept interrupting her.  (I don't interrupt him when he's working at home!)  "What's your P&P bonus going to be this year?" she called out, suddenly wondering if that's what he was trying to tell her--that they could afford for her to take some time off to look for her dream job.

"Enough for a house down payment this spring, if you get a raise," he called out.

Her heart sank, unreasonably.  Truth was, he earned five times as much as she did even before the bonus.  It was one thing to let him subsidize her when she was idealistic and wanted to save the world, but what had she really accomplished?  And why should he want to subsidize what she was doing--if this was it?  She stared at the computer screen for a moment, then turned off the computer to join her husband in the kitchen.  "I love you," she said, reaching with one hand for an apron and the other hand for his face.  He kissed her and stayed silent.

Back downtown, Bridezilla leaned way back on Dr. Ermann Esse's couch, exhausted from her extracurricular budget negotiations with John Boehner.  "The dream is always the same, Doctor.  There's something I need to figure out.  It's a little tricky, but I'm hopeful I'll figure it out.  And I know that once I figure it out, everything else in my life will make sense--EVERYTHING.  In each dream, the thing I have to figure out is different, but I always expect the same result:  that after I solve this, everything will fall into place and be how it should be."

"And do you ever figure it out?" asked the psychiatrist.

"Of course not!  If I did, I wouldn't be here," protested Bridezilla.

"Do you ever ask for help?"

"Sometimes there is somebody there that I think is going to help, but it never works out," replied Bridezilla.

"Is it always a man?"

"No!  Of course not!  One time I was asking my maid of honor for help because I couldn't get the bridesmaid dresses just right, and then she disappeared for three hours just before the wedding.  She showed up with these crazy black and white bridesmaid outfits that looked like zebra ballerinas on parade, and it was too late to change them!  So there they were, my bridesmaids, marching into the church like transvestites on Bravo, and all of a sudden, they all ripped the dresses off!  They were designed to be ripped off, quickly like show biz costumes, and underneath the hideous black and white dresses were beautiful dresses in coral pink chiffon.  Everybody in the church clapped, because it was very dramatic."

"So things worked out in that dream?"

"No!  What are you talking about?  People aren't supposed to clap for your bridesmaids at your wedding:  they're supposed to clap for you!"

"Hmmm....Do you have any other examples of this type of dream."

Bridezilla rolled over and curled up in the fetal position because thinking about some of those dreams was like dragging a rusty rake through the depth of her psyche.  "The worst are the ones where I haven't finished school yet, and I'm trying to figure out what to study:  because I know that if I just figure out the right thing to study, my whole life will fall into place.  But I don't--and I feel like I'm so close to figuring it out, and this enormous peace of mind is about to settle all over me, but then it doesn't."

"Sometimes people put too much reliance on their formal education.  There are many opportunities throughout life to keep learning what you need to move forward."

"Really?  Because I don't know anybody moving forward."

A couple miles to the south, Glenn Michael Beckmann was sleeping fitfully in his Southwest Plaza apartment after a late night of church-hopping.  (He and the Hunter-Gatherer Society had been doing armed patrols to make sure no mangers had been vandalized by godless Muslim communist types.)  He was dreaming that Wayne LaPierre had tapped Beckmann to lead the NRA's new program to train schools in armed defense.  First demonstration?  The elementary school Beckmann had attended in Oklahoma.  He's walking in with pistols holstered on both hips, another holstered to his right ankle, and three assault rifles slung over his shoulder.  Then his old principal sees him, and Beckmann reaches into his pocket to pull out the prepared speech written for him by the NRA, but the principal panics and throws a stapler at him, and Beckmann jumps to the side to avoid being hit, but it's NOT A STAPLER--IT'S A HAND GRENADE!  A young girl throws herself on the grenade and tells everybody else to run, but she's the little girl Beckmann had a crush on, so he tries to drag her off, but then she turns into Michelle Obama and bites him in the ankle.  He tries to shake her off his leg, but they both blow up.

"AAAARGH!"

Beckmann jumped out of bed and made a mad dash for the door, but it had five dead bolts on it, and he was wide awake before he got to the third one.  "Damned Obamas!" he cursed, stumbling into the kitchen for some eggnog to spike.

Back downtown, Ermann Esse's final patient of the day came in:  Didymus.  (Dr. Esse did not know that Didymus was the ghost of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.)  "There's a new sheriff in town, and he scares the bejesus out of me!" declared Didymus before he even sat down on the couch.  "His name is Henry, and he's got his own little army of CIA goons messing with the Middle East.  The place is BEYOND tinderbox!  The last thing we need is a rogue CIA agent--let alone a whole cadre of them!  I'm having nightmares every night!  I've tried to tell him what I learned from mistakes in Vietnam, but Henry doesn't want to listen!  How can I get through to him?!"

"Maybe you are not the right messenger:  maybe he needs to hear this message from somebody else?" suggested Dr. Esse.  (Dr. Esse did not understand that Henry was also a ghost--the ghost of CIA operative Henry Samuelson.)

"There's NO TIME, Doctor!  I'm getting desperate!"  Didymus looked around uneasily and leaned in to whisper to the psychiatrist.  "I think it's one of these Hitler choices:  if you have a chance to kill Hitler before the bloodbath, when you KNOW there's going to be a bloodbath, do you kill him?  It's like Victor Hugo said:  'during a wise man's whole life, his destiny holds his philosophy in a state of siege.'  Is it too late to reason with him, to explain calmly what I know he needs to know?  Do I turn myself against my own philosophy and become a monster to prevent an even worse monster?"

"I think, Didymus, that we need to take a step back here.  You have locked yourself into only two choices, but there are many, many more than that.  Now first, you must tell me, have you taken a concrete step to purchase a weapon or formulate a plan to harm this Henry person?"

"I'm the Secretary of Defense!  I've got every weapon known to man!"

Delusion getting stronger, jotted down Dr. Esse.

The door suddenly opened, and the cleaning lady started walking in, then apologized.  "I thought already gone," she said, turning around.

"We'll be finished at 1 p.m.," Dr. Esse said.

"We"? thought the cleaning lady to herself.  Who's "we"?

Outside Esse's window, an agitated catbird began imitating an ambulance siren.  Down in the bushes, the sparrows felt a damp chill settle around them, so they huddled and fluffed their feathers to ride out the storm.  And an infected duck took flight to return to Ardua of the Potomac, who was having an enjoyable nightmare of her own.
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Next week:  The Lion, the Snitch, and the Warthog.

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