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, March 01, 2013

The Sequester Linings Playbook


"It's really not such a big deal," said Bridezilla, sipping her amaretto green tea espresso with a hint of vanilla.

"NOT SUCH A BIG DEAL!" bellowed former Senator Evermore Breadman.  "The sequester was never supposed to HAPPEN!"  He was glaring at her as if she and her friendship with Congressman John Boehner were chiefly to blame.  (But this just made her more radiant.)

"Maybe we should--" began Prince and Prowling's managing partner.

"NO!" exclaimed Breadman.

"What about--" began another Prince and Prowling partner.

"NO!" exclaimed Breadman.  "You're all going to listen to ME now!  When I was in Congress--CIGEMEIER!"  (Cigemeier looked up sheepishly from his smartphone.)  "Are we BORING you?!"

"I thought Pakistan had sent nuclear bombs into India, but I guess it was a hoax," said the young partner.  (He was actually reading his wife's latest "Girl Hurl" Tweet, but this was one of the pre-planned excuses he always kept ready during partner meetings.)  "I agree with John."  (There were three partners named "John", and this usually worked, but none of them had actually spoken yet.)

Contract attorney Laura Moreno then entered the room with a tray of bread slices and placed it in the center of the conference room.  "She dropped the lunchmeat tray, and it spilled all over the carpeting."  (Moreno was talking about the 50-year-old employee from El Salvador who had run off crying.)  "She's afraid to come in."  (The managing partner grabbed a piece of rye bread and started chewing on it.)  "There's the tray with the mayonnaise and mustard and pickles," she said, nodding at a nervous secretary entering the room.  "I'll go get the dessert tray."

"It's like Lent for everybody," said Cigemeier.

"No, it's a perfect example of what is wrong with federal tax and spend habits in this country," declared Bridezilla.  "All this automatic bread and mustard and pickles, but where's the meat?  Neglected and dropped, that's where!  Man cannot live on bread alone!"

"But," said the managing partner, dramatically waving his half-eaten slice of rye in the air, "isn't the sequester protecting the meat while forcing the government to get rid of the mustard and pickles?"

"Pickles are good for the immune system," said John #1, who plucked a pickle from the tray and stuck it in his mouth for emphasis.

"And we still have dessert!" said John #2, eyeing Moreno's second entrance into the conference room.

Breadman leapt to his feet.  "Have you all gone MAD?!  This is Prince and Prowling!  Since when do we have to do-it-yourself cold sandwiches at a catered luncheon?!"  (He glared at the managing partner.)  "We are the BEST in Washington!  We have standards!  We eat HOT lunches!"

"That is exactly why Washington is in trouble," said Bridezilla (who was now planning to eat two blondies and a mini pecan pie for lunch).  "Pretending things are necessary which are not necessary."  (She knew her boyfriend's important job at the Defense Intelligence Agency was safe from sequester--because everybody doing important things would still be paid.)

"I have two-dozen clients with federal contracts on hold right now, and guess what?" exclaimed Breadman.  "They don't want to pay my bills for lobbying the past three weeks because it was [air quotation marks] USELESS!  I have been working the Hill a long, long, long time, gentlemen, and I have NEVER been called USELESS before!"

The senior partner who happened to be a woman stood up, vigorously grabbed a brownie , and exited the conference room without a word.

"You said 'gentlemen' again," said the managing partner to Breadman.

"SHUT UP!" yelled Breadman.

A couple miles to the east, Atticus Hawk was examining his carryout bag for the elusive pickle when his boss came into his Justice Department office.  "We got you back on security clearance work in the nick of time, Atticus!  You might have been furloughed."

"I heard Obama is going to fudge the Executive signing."

"Don't they all?"  He dropped a thin file on Hawk's desk.  "We have a Kerry-Hagel issue you need to take a look at."

"Already?"

"It takes time for them to work their way through all the top secret memos and get on the same page.  They're in disagreement over what this one means."  (He was pointing at a page of hand-written notes Hawk was already perusing--notes from a phone conversation.)  "I need you to consolidate a few things, pull 'em together."

"Sounds good," said Hawk, who had a bad feeling about it.

"I have a bad feeling about this," said Obi Wan Woman to Luciano Talaverdi, a few miles to the east.  "Congress doesn't really understand the spending cuts.  Each Congressman only knows their own committees and their own districts.  None of them are seeing the big picture--and they don't trust the people who do."

The Italian economist stopped sniffing the acceptability of his mustard and looked out the window of the Federal Reserve Board cafeteria on another gray winter day in Washington.  "This government is so different than what I grew up with," he said.  (Obi Wan Woman stifled a yawn.)  "If we were in Italy, the government would have folded and new elections would have been called."

"We just had an election," said Obi Wan Woman.

"But you have three branches of government here.  They can just block each other:  it will never work."

"What do you mean, 'it will never work?'"

"Your democracy," said Talaverdi.  "The most important decisions are being made by the Supreme Court and by Administration officials behind closed doors in secret memos.  They spy on anybody they want to, they use drones to kill anybody they want to, they have a Soviet-style trial going on in Guantanamo right now that most Americans are completely unaware of because these idiot reporters are more interested in whether the White House threatened Bob Woodward."

"I don't understand what you're saying!" exclaimed Obi Wan Woman.

"You think you Americans are immune?  You are sliding into dictatorship!  The most powerful people in Washington are going to hold onto the money they have, and the rest will continue to get weaker.  Unemployment will rise, crime will rise, the middle class will demand financial stability, and the government will get more authoritarian."

"So you think Obama is a fascist now?!  Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?"

"Not him, no, but that's the direction things are going.  If Congress cannot agree to do anything, the people's power is gone."

She shook her head, knowing he was always gloomy when the sun wasn't shining.  "I'm gonna go get you some frozen yogurt," she said.

Over at the White House, twin pre-schoolers were poking reluctantly at their (non-frozen) yogurt.  "It's good for your immune system," said their mother, the White House butler.

"Are you gonna lose your job?" asked Regina.

"Reggie!  Why on Earth would you ask that!?"

"Bridge said the squatter is coming," said Ferguson.

"The sequester, Fergie," said Clio.  "It won't affect me."

"Why not?" asked Regina.

"Bridge is worried about his job--he said it's just gardening," added Ferguson.

"Well, it's just a drop in the bucket--won't make no difference to the budget, and what would tourists say if the garden went to pot?"

"He said everybody's gotta cut somethin'," said Regina.

"What'll happen if they cut you, mama?" asked Ferguson.

The HIV-positive butler sighed, thinking about how rested she would feel after getting away from this stressful place.  She rubbed her eyes, and the twins took advantage of the lull in watchfulness to flick their yogurt onto the wall (which was the same color as the yogurt), but they weren't fast enough.  "Reggie!  Fergie!  You clean that up this instant!"

Ghost Dennis shook his heads at the brats and flew back to the West Wing.  He had so many things to talk to President Obama about, but it was getting harder and harder to catch him alone.  Before he could make it out of the East Wing, a delegation from The Shackled interrupted him.

"Leave it alone," they said in unison.  "The time has come for change."

"Not like this!" exclaimed Ghost Dennis.

A couple miles to the north, construction workers were sprawled over the roof of Harris Teeter, making repairs and arguing about the sequester.

"This country has never been run on the up and up," said the graduate school dropout, crouching down to take a closer look.  "It was built on stolen land, then money borrowed from France and never paid back, then slave labor, then child labor, then cheap immigrant labor, then money borrowed from China and never paid back."

"Yeah, you got it all figured out, Einstein," laughed the foreman.

"All I'm saying is, why do people say this is a rich country?  This country has been cheating from the start!  And it's still cheating--we've got slavery again, for God's sake!"

"Well, at least you're getting paid, Einstein," said the foreman, who suddenly slipped and started sliding down the roof.

"Boss!"

But it was too late:  the safety rope snapped where the rats had gnawed on it in the night (the spot accidentally smeared with mayonnaise). The foreman plunged to the ground, breaking his back and both legs.  The furloughs in the Social Security Disability office would soon create a backlog so large that he would not see disability payments until 2015; his scream thus announced the first real pain felt by the sequester.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac floated serenely, fascinated by the slow-motion disintegration of the so-called republic.

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