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, March 17, 2013

Desperados, desparecidos, and droneros.


Congressman Herrmark was in a hurry to finish up at the office so he could go see the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  It was his idea to have an emergency budget revision meeting after learning that the Sequester had cut his office budget by 8.2%, but he had expected Chief of Staff Ann Bishis to get through this a lot quicker.

"You can't cut my subscription to Ebony!  They've been very good to me!"

"Congressman, they published one photo of you in five terms," said Bishis.

"It was a really good photo--and racially diverse!"

"Just because you and Gayle King were both at a hospital fundraiser on a Lake Michigan yacht is not a good reason to keep subscribing to Ebony."  She gave him her stubborn look, and he caved.

"What is this?" he protested, pointing at row 47 on the spreadsheet.  "Purchasing a water filter and giving up bottled water?  You know that hydrofracking is destroying the drinking water in this country!"

"Bottled water comes from the same places--just filtered.  We can do our own filtering:  it's more economical, and it saves plastic."

"I get a lot of money from the plastic people!"

"The plastics association?  They weren't that generous in the last campaign.  We got a lot more from Still Waters Run Deeper."

"Oh, yeah.  Hmmmm.  Maybe they can sponsor our bottled water?  Each bottle label can say 'Still Waters Run Deeper.'"

"They made a campaign contribution.   They're not NASCAR sponsors."

Sometimes Congressman Herrmark suspected that Bishis was being what the kids would call "snarky", but he had a tremendous fear of appearing humorless in front of his young staff, so when he was in doubt about the comical value of a staffer's statement, he just changed the subject.  "Is this nickel and diming really gonna work?"

"Well, I think we will have to leave the legislative correspondent position unfilled, and spread those responsibilities around," said Bishis.

"Do you think people will be willing to do the extra work?"

"Probably not.  We'll have to do more form letters and robo-signing."

"Maybe the twins can help out?  Their English is a lot better."

"You pay them out of personal funds!" exclaimed Bishis, suddenly panicking about the job security of her cousins from Greece.  "And they need to stay focused on your security!"  (They were his personal bodyguards.)

"Well," said Congressman Herrmark, "sometimes nut jobs write me letters!  Put 'em on it!"  (The truth was, the repeated blackmail about Mia had kept him from advocating against hydrofracking for a long time, so the death threats from the natural gas industry had stopped.)

"OK," said Bishis, anxiously.  "That's what we'll do."

Not far away, another strained negotiation was going on--this one, between Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson and her brother.  "You seriously want to go see a movie about the Anacostia River?" she asked.

"You're in real estate!" her brother exclaimed.  "Don't you care about the rivers in this town?"

"The Potomac is fine, and the Anacostia is filthy--everybody knows that."

"They're both filthy, and they could both be clean if more people cared!"

"Look, I'm perfectly willing to go to the Environmental Film Festival, but can we at least pick something a little...prettier?  Ooh!  How about this Alaska film?"

"So, as long as we still have pretty rivers a million miles away in Alaska, that's good enough for you?"

Button abruptly changed the subject.  "So, you happy about the new Pope?"  (Button had recently instituted a pro-Argentina policy at the Heurich Society, and their first operation had been using their influence in the College of Cardinals to get Pope Francis elected out of Argentina.)

"What do you mean?" asked her brother.

"He's from Argentina!" Button exclaimed.  "Land of your ancestors!"  ("Ancestors" was the euphemism Button had come up with to gloss over their newly learned truth that he had been stolen from an Argentine political prisoner and adopted out to Button's parents.)

"Well, his ancestors were Italian, and my ancestors were Spanish.  And he wasn't exactly on the same side as my parents during the Dirty War!"

"But he's poor and rides the bus!"

"So do half the people in Washington!  It's hardly a qualification to be Pope!"

"Well, I think it's exciting!"  (She decided not to tell him about her grand effort with the Papacy, and to look for some other pro-Argentina enterprise to win back his affection.)

Meanwhile, the ghost of Henry Samuelson (their deceased father and former Chair of the Heurich Society), was back at CIA headquarters, poring over surveillance information.  Ghost Henry's Ghost CIA had scored a major victory in Afghanistan:  capture of a drone bomber!  The drone was currently on the ground in a shady airport in Kazakhstan--guarded by some scary ghosts and a cooperative local man who had neutralized the remote control function from the living CIA.  Whom to bomb first?!  Ghost Henry had not been this giddy since...well, since dying.  He continued poring through the surveillance information, but most of it involved targets that the living CIA was probably going to bomb anyway.  Ghost Henry wanted a target they would never have the balls to go after!  Julian Assange in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London?  Hee hee hee!  Hamid Karzai?  Oh, too sweet!  Donald Trump?  Now that was the kind of hit the Pentagon should give out a drone pilot medal for!  (Turning the old Post Office Pavilion into a luxury hotel for his pimping, gambling friends was an affront to every patriotic Washingtonian.)  No, the first target of the Ghost CIA-piloted drone would be....

Also reviewing CIA drones at this hour was the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope at the State Department--except now everybody was calling him "P.P. Blu-Prag", which sounded like "pee-pee blue fag" but which was actually short for "Point Person for Blunt Pragmatism".  (Not that this was on his name plate or anything--it was C. Coe Phant who had started it!)  He had duties now like "read this policy briefing from Secretary of Defense Hagel and translate it into State Department English".  He had read the current briefing five times, and it was as careful and vague as they come, but if you read carefully between the lines, one could possibly, slightly, infer that U.S. troops were trying to track down a CIA drone bomber missing in Afghanistan--either that or Hamid Karzai had failed to show up on League Night and the American team had forfeited the bowling match.  (P.P. Blu-Prag had started a Pentagon-State bilingual dictionary for himself, all written on small index cards that he moved in and out of the State Department in his lunch bag, but it would take awhile to master all this.)  Hmmm, he thought.  What if somebody got word to the remaining Project R.O.D.H.A.M. operatives in Tajikstan to be on the lookout for the drone?  Last week, the A.D.A.f.H. had finally brought in ex-girlfriend Eva Brown to tell Secretary of State Kerry all about Project R.O.D.H.A.M., but Kerry’s reaction was to kill the project ("how can I justify this in our Sequestered budget?!"), put A.D.A.f.H. on Chuck Hagel liaison duty, and get things moving in a more pragmatic direction.  If Project R.O.D.H.A.M. could ride to the rescue on this, how awesome would that be?!  He would be a hero--more importantly, his ex-girlfriend would be really, really happy with him.

Back at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Glenn Michael Beckmann weaved slowly through the crowd looking for his target, but a giant inflatable panda bear wearing a green hat distracted him....Then some dancing children, and their music....Then the drums....After awhile he could not remember whom he was supposed to kill today, so he fingered his loaded guns nervously, worried his enemy would sneak up on him at any minute.  On a nearby tree branch, a catbird screeched car alarm sounds until an aggravated Beckmann threw a big stick at her.  A flock of starlings took over the vacated tree branch, and Beckmann briefly thought about pulling his guns on them, but something about their kaleidoscope wings and cold eyes froze him where he stood.

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