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 ....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Slithering

Charles Wu presented "C. Coe Phant" with a Year-of-the-Snake souvenir from Hong Kong:  a platinum silver cobra of a paperweight, decorated with ruby eyes and a stream of orange sapphires trailing out of its mouth in the shape of a forked tongue.  A hidden camera the size of a grapefruit seed was lodged carefully in the back of its throat, but the feature pointed out by Wu was the slight curvature of the tongue.  "You can keep paperclips there."

"That's a beautiful work of art," said the State Department bureaucrat. "Thanks a lot, Charles."  He placed it back in the gift box and turned back to his F Street Bistro soup.  "How was your trip to China?"

Wu was not going to tell him about the four different attempts at arranged marriage his mother had made for him, nor the three women he had secretly spent time with, nor the repugnant Indonesian shipping mogul who had offered money to purchase Wu's gorgeous baby girl as a gift to his barren third wife, nor the story he had made up about the tragic death of his American wife to save face with conservative government officials, nor the unexpected emotional breakdown of his nanny upon her first return to Asia years after being trafficked out of it.  "Excellent trip!  Delia had a wonderful time, spoiled constantly by my mother.  Her nanny had not been back to China in years, and also had a wonderful time."  Wu did not tell Phant that he had left them all in Hong Kong during his quick side-trip to Beijing so that he could also do the secret third trip to the Tajik base where Project R.O.D.H.A.M. still operated.  "I met with the new president of China," he said, in a quieter voice.  "Turns out we have some mutual friends."

"That sounds promising," said Phant, with a Cheshire grin.

"And the ladies naturally wanted to know what will happen with Project R.O.D.H.A.M.  They will probably run out of money in three or four months."

"Ahhh, Project R.O.D.H.A.M."  Phant finished his soup with a silent slurp and regarded Wu carefully.  "Clinton didn't tell you?"  (Phant had been out of the loop for quite some time, with Wu reporting straight to Clinton ever since the State Department Wikileaks.)

"She told me she was retiring from Project R.O.D.H.A.M., but was hopeful that Kerry would continue it eventually." 

"Kerry's an excellent man--excellent man," said Phant rather loudly before dropping his voice, "but I believe it might be a little too early to brief him on that particular project.  Naturally, he has his own priorities."

"And the President's priorities," added Wu.

"Hmmm?  Oh, yes, of course.  I dare say the President's perspective on the world is not exactly the same as it was four years ago, or even two years ago.  We are all feeling our way slowly."

Wu doubted that very much, but volunteered some additional news out of Beijing to start shoring up his position at State.

Meanwhile, over at the State Department, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was busy shoring up his own position.  The key component of his strategy was that he was going to be the one that told the new Secretary of State all about Project R.O.D.H.A.M. and its success stories--or, more precisely, his ex-girlfriend, Eva Brown, a Project R.O.D.H.A.M. alumna, would.  (She didn't know what had shocked her more--the fact that her ex had found out about Project R.O.D.H.A.M. or the fact that he wanted Clinton's pet project to continue into the Kerry years.)  This would serve the purpose of tricking Brown into spilling everything she knew about Project R.O.D.H.A.M. to Kerry as well as to himself, thereby making him Kerry's chief liaison to the project.  (What the A.D.A.f.H. did not know was that his radical ex had been at John Kiriakou's pre-prison farewell gala the night before, and was also planning to talk to Kerry about that.)

Several miles to the east, U.S. Attorney Atticus Hawk was briefing his boss on the National Security Agency tapes from John Kiriakou's pre-prison farewell gala at the Hay Adams.  "You would have liked it," said the Justice Department lawyer.  "Good music, good food, good cocktails, and lots of liberal women."

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!"  (Hawk's boss had never seen his high-strung underling joke around before and wanted to encourage it.)  "But, seriously, how many speeches about enhanced interrogation at Gitmo?"  (Hawk's boss never used the T-word.)

"Just the usual bleeding heart nonsense," replied Hawk.  "What's the American way, what's a true patriot, my Republican grandparents would be rolling over in their graves if they knew the CIA was involved in this, yadda yadda.  I think Kiriakou was the only actual operative there."

"What about his wife?"

"Not a problem," said Hawk.

"Who was there from Code Pink?"

"The usual suspects.  Honestly, the whole thing was bizarre--like an Oscar night party.  The guy's going to prison, and he's acting like he won an award."

"Well, we should've nailed him for more," said Hawk's boss.

"Absolutely," said Hawk, who didn't mention that a poorly disguised Ava Kahdo Green had also been at the party.  (He owed her that much.)

A few blocks away, John Boehner was stealing glances out his window, searching for more snowflakes while pretending to listen to another lobbyist talk about the danger of The Sequester.  ("The defense industry alone....")  LA LA LA LA LA LA continued playing in Boehner's head as he tuned out her words until her lips stopped moving.  "Not my problem," he said, rising to his feet with a sad shake of his head.  He shook her hands, then slumped back into his seat while his Chief of Staff showed her out. 

A minute later, he returned to tell Boehner the next lobbyist was different.  "They donated heavily to your campaign."

"What?!" asked Boehner, genuinely confused.  "I thought you never let anybody in who hadn't donated to my campaign!?  What do you think this is:  a public library?!"

A couple of miles to the west, an annoyed Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson was walking into the upper conference room of the Brewmaster's Castle for an emergency session of the Heurich Society.  "This better be short and sweet!" she growled.  "I have a lot of clients on Friday afternoons!"

The Good Ole Boys rolled their eyes at her pathetic excuse for a career (real estate), and the former Chair told her they could not risk further delay on choosing the next Pope.

"Excuse me?"

"Well, naturally, we don't choose the next Pope, but we have enough Cardinals in place that we should be able to sway it if we get them acting together."

"Why the Hell do we have Cardinals, and why the Hell do we need to be involved in that?!"  (Samuelson was beyond dumbfounded.)

"Power, money, influence:  you really don't understand what the Heurich Society is about, do you?!" sneered the former Chair.

"What else is on the agenda:  fixing the Oscars?  Freeing Pistorius?  Choosing Donald Trump's next apprentice?"

(The former Chair had, in fact, fixed a few Oscars in his time, but that was more of a hobby.)  "The power of the Pope is something you need to understand, Madam Chair.  In the history of Western civilization, few institutions have stretched their influence into as many corners as the Papacy."

"Is this where you start whispering about the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, and the DaVinci Code?" asked Samuelson, sipping her power smoothie.

"What do you think this is?" demanded the former Chair, pointing to a crucifix the group always used as a paperweight.  "It was taken from Pope John XXIII during his reinterment in 2001."

"That is really gross," frowned Samuelson, shoving aside the remains of her smoothie.

The former Chair pressed a hidden mechanism on the crucifix, which then opened up to display a secret message written inside.  "The message is written in an angelic language that pre-dated all recorded human language.  Only an elite few are ever allowed to read it and pass it on."  (He didn't tell her that the Heurich Society was not originally on the list.)

Samuelson shuddered, reluctantly waiting for the translation.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac laughed as Coast Guard officer Marcos Vazquez rescued Dubious McGinty from his most recent "fall" into the frigid waters.  A flock of infected ducks looked down silently from the bridgeman's quarterdeck high above the river.

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