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 ....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

An Informed People

"I don't understand why we have to have our meetings on weekends," sighed Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson, looking around at the Heurich Society members munching on Baskin and Robbins ice cream cake in the upper floor of the Brewmaster's Castle.  "Most of you are retired!"   ("Because my wife thinks we're playing golf!"  "I don't like to drive into the city on weekdays!"  "How else can I get out of antiquing in Frederick?")  "Could we please try doing a meeting at a different time--how about Wednesday nights?"

"I'm not missing 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit'--that woman is hot!"

"Yeah!  Her mother was Marlene Dietrich."

"No--it was Jane Mansfield."

"Gentlemen," cackled (crackled) Condoleezza Rice from the speaker phone, "Henrietta is Chair of the Heurich Society, and it is her prerogative to call the meetings whenever she likes!  You know how important it is for her to do her little real estate thing on the weekends!  It is really disgraceful that her departed father didn't leave her a better financial legacy, but, well, we all know he was an erratic genius."  ("And he never took a dime from the Soviets!"  "Are you implying the rest of us did?"  "Don't be an ass!")  "Gentlemen!  The point is, the poor thing has to show houses for a living, and we should support her in that."

"Um, thanks," said Samuelson.  "The next meeting will be Thursday at noon--"  ("I'm not missing 'General Hospital!'"  "It's not on at noon!"  "Well, how I am gonna get home in time?"  "Don't you have a doodad?"  "You mean a DVR?  You can't use those!  Then the government tracks everything you're watching!") "Gentlemen!" hollered Samuelson.  "Email me a list of the shows you don't want to miss, and I will get you DVDs of them--not even the cable company will know you've seen them."  (Hmm, she's craftier than I thought, thought some of the octogenarians present.) 

"Can we talk about the chemical weapons in Syria now?" asked the former chairman.  (He was personally responsible for two-thirds of them getting to Syria.)  "They could fall into very dangerous hands."

"Yes, let's," said Samuelson, narrowing her eyes.  "I wonder who made the shitload of money trafficking them in there in the first place?"

"Maybe he traded them for information, not money!" retorted the former chairman, narrowing his eyes in return.

"Well, if he had been smart, he would have gone for the money, because the information was useless, wasn't it?" replied Samuelson.  (The longer her father was dead, the more desire she felt to distance him and his legacy from these power-hungry pigs who wanted to control the world without breaking a sweat.)  "Fortunately for us, we now have new information out of Syria...."

That new information was not from Heurich Society agent Angela de la Paz--still holding fast to her vow not to return to the Middle East...and currently on a mission in Mazza Gallerie.  "I'm not sure this is really the ideal place to buy a dress for the White House Correspondents' Dinner," said Angela de la Paz, modeling another black spaghetti-strap dress for her boyfriend, Major Roddy Bruce.  "I don't know what I'm doing."

"You look great in everything, babe!" said Bruce sincerely, but Angela smiled wanly and retreated to the dressing room again.  (The man had trained in the Australian Outback, jumped out of airplanes, slogged through East Timor jungles, kayaked in crocodile-infested waters, climbed Ayers Rock a dozen times, faced enemy fire in Indonesia, and run three marathons--but the Neiman Marcus lights and smells had rendered him an exhausted lump of male flesh scarcely able to hold his head up as he sat in despair on the floor and leaned against the wall which countless men before him had slumped down on.)  "The red one was best, wasn't it?" he pleaded with the hovering sales girl.

"Some women do not like to call attention to themselves," she replied.

"What's the point of a hundred women all wearing the same black dress?" he asked in desperation. 

"They're not all the same black dress," she protested without conviction.

Bruce wasn't even sure why they were going:  neither of them thought Conan O'Brien was funny, they both hated formal affairs, and the tickets were obviously another attempt from Charles Wu to seduce Angela into the glittering world of the D.C. power elite.  "Hello?!"  Angela was now standing in front of him in a pink puff of lace and ruffles.  "You look like a princess!"  She beamed, then the sales girl beamed, then Bruce felt a surge of victorious adrenaline that propelled him to his feet to do a very hick Aussie hooray that was sweetly embarrassing to everybody present.

A few manikins away, Washington's premier amnesiac, John Doe, was stealthily watching the scene from behind a DKNY (off-the-rack) creation.  "Some people think I'm out of touch because I'm a shamanistic autistic savant, but those two are really in love."

"Who cares?!" wailed the ghost of Henry Samuelson (former chairman of the Heurich Society, deceased father of Button).  "I've got to win her back!"

"You never had her!" said Doe to Ghost Henry.

"She was my Pygmalion!  I made her everything she is today, and she repaid me by stealing my Predator drone!"

"You trained her to be a secret agent, assassin and spy, but that's not everything she is today."

"She's not supposed to be wearing pink--ever!"

"She looks like a princess," sighed Doe (who used to be a cunning tax attorney, among other things).

"She's a killer, you brain-damaged loon!"

"Hey!  There's no call for that!"

"You need to go talk to her!  Tell her you had a Biblical vision, and she needs to get back to the Middle East!"

"She wasn't in my Biblical vision!  I told you:  it was Ryan Lochte beating up two of the four horseman, and then Kim Kardashian knocked the third horseman off his horse, and she was riding the horse with her hair covering her pregnant belly--but not covering her breasts--and then--"

"It's just symbolism!  You're too stupid to interpret it--that's why you need me!"  With that, Ghost Henry poked John Doe sharply between the eyes, and Doe sank slowly to the floor in a hazy cloud of temporal lobe epilepsy.  "Aargh, they're getting away!"  Ghost Henry floated after the young lovers, abandoning Doe and his "Israel" mumbles to a crowd of people uncertain whether to call an ambulance or Homeland Security.

Back in downtown Washington, militiaman and conspiracy theorist Glenn Michael Beckmann had his own White House Correspondents' Dinner mission.  He was riding his Segway back and forth between the White House and the Washington Hilton, stopping every now and then to pull his laptop out of his messenger bag and type furiously into his blog.  Homeland Security agents had already kicked him out of the Hilton lobby--ostensibly for wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a photo of Paris Hilton and the words Fashion Terrorist--but Beckmann knew it was really because half of DHS were undercover Islamist agents, and Boston was only the beginning!  "What will the scene of carnage be like tonight if true patriots like me are not there to protect the innocent?" he blogged.  (By "the innocent", he was mostly referring to his girl, Megyn Kelly.)  He looked back suddenly, and the Secret Service agent tailing him tried to switch on his nonchalant face and pretend to hail a taxi, but Beckmann knew!  "What a moral dilemma!" he blogged to his followers, most of whom hailed him as leader of the Hunter-Gatherers (although Sarah Palin was their secret President).  "Should I kill this agent and risk capture by the Enemy Within, or wait until tonight when my patriotic duty might be even biggerer?"

"God, he can't even spell!" wailed Dick Cheney, reading Beckmann's blog on his suburban home computer.  "Why does this jackass have a million more readers than I do?!"

"Not Beckmann's blog again, honey?!  You know what it does to your blood pressure!"  Cheney's wife, Lynn, turned off the computer and tweaked his twitching nose.  "Get out in this beautiful sunshine!  What ever happened to those fellows you used to golf with--you know, before the White House years?"

"They were jealous of how smart I was!" bellowed Cheney.  (It had been more than a decade since the Heurich Society allowed him into their secret meetings.)

"Yes, dear, everybody is--it's the cross you have to bear.  Why don't you go outside and pick some flowers for me, like you used to do back in Wyoming?"

Cheney smiled, submitted to a kiss, and went outside to sulk.  Back in Wyoming he would buy wildflowers from a 10-year-old Mexican girl for 50 cents.  Here he was, a man who had been leader of the Free World, reduced to picking flowers for his wife on a Saturday afternoon!  Why couldn't they see he still had so much to give?!  Not like that dingleberry Dick Rumsfeld, writing Washington Post op-eds about high school wrestling!

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac wallowed in the mud, primping and preening for Washington's unholy coalition of ego-stroking, vapid celebrities, jingoistic journalism, and mouthpieces for manufactured consent.  So much pride and prejudice concentrated in one place at one time!  It made a demonic girl giddy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Peace on Earth Day

Psychiatrist Ermann Esse had Justice Department lawyer Atticus Hawk on speakerphone from Guantanamo.  "My worst nightmares are coming true!"

"Please calm down, Mr. Hawk," said Dr. Esse, who had squeezed Hawk into tiny breaks in his schedule several times since Friday.  "Nothing has happened to you."

"Nothing has happened to me?!  The U.S. Senate is calling for American citizens to be labeled Enemy Combatants!  I knew this would happen!  I've been having nightmares about this for years!"

"It is perfectly normal to have nightmares about things that frighten us, but that doesn't mean they are going to come true."

"They sent me down to Guantanamo!"

"As a Justice Department Attorney, Mr. Hawk."

"They could declare me an Enemy Combatant at any time and I'll be on the other side, getting water-boarded!  I know how this works!  I wrote most of the memos!"

"And you probably also know that two U.S. Senators cannot change laws by themselves."

"I'm outside the U.S. right now!  The Army could say I'm helping the enemy on a foreign battlefield!  Oh, God, I can't take this anymore!"

"Well, perhaps you can't.  Have you thought about quitting your job?"

"Quitting my job?!  You're supposed to be helping me!"

 "There may be a fundamental disconnect between your core beliefs and the requirements of your position.  This creates a central conflict in your psyche--"

"I know that!  But if I quit my job, I'm even more vulnerable!"

"Then let's focus on the goals you need to accomplish in order to complete your mission in Guantanamo."

A couple miles from Dr. Esse's office, Liv Cigemeier was thinking about her own goals as she settled into her first day at International Development Nerds.  She knew starting on Earth Day was a good sign, and she had not felt this alive and committed in a long time!  She was a Twitterverse (international development galaxy) star with her Girl Hurl Tweets, and it was obvious that IDN was keen on pursuing some of her policy ideas.  No more unethical ideas from Bo-Oz Consulting!  No more inappropriate suggestions from Augustus Bush!  No more self-serving implementation from Momzilla!  No more corrupt coalitions and alliances to win aid contracts!  This was going to be the job she dreamed of during graduate school!

"Whoops, sorry!  That's a senior-level executive wastepaper basket.  Somebody put it in here by mistake!"  With that, the office manager picked up Liv's large wastepaper basket, plopped down a medium-sized wastepaper basket in its stead, and retreated from Liv's office as abruptly as she had entered.

"What about a recycling basket?" Liv called out after her, but it was too late.  Her new email account was not set up yet, so she started poking through her in-box to see what was there.  Hmm.  A (presumably rich) software developer from Northern Virginia--referred to only as "Jay" in this proposal--had developed a virtual reality game for poor people to play.  The game would teach them how to rise above their status, as Jay had (rising from his middle-class beginnings in India to become a very wealthy American citizen).  The game would be set up in cybercafes installed in communities vulnerable to recruitment of young men to radicalized Muslim cells.  The young men would play the game and learn about capitalist methods of advancement.  This virtual reality game had already been tested at Guantanamo, and though it was not a success there, the input from that experience had been used in the beta version tested in Pakistan with great success.  Hmm, she thought again, her brow starting to furrow.  Virtual reality?  Does that include deforestation*, earthquakes, polio?  And what about the status of women?

A couple miles to the north, Charles Wu was, in fact, addressing the status of Asian women--under the sudden and relentless questioning of his nanny, Mia.  "This is a dead-end job!" she exclaimed.  "Don't you care about my lack of education?!  Doesn't that bother you in the least?!"

Charles Wu--who had rescued Mia from a life of hidden slavery with Congressman Herrmark, dabbed a napkin on the corners of his lips and pushed his lunch plate away.  "Mia, I--"

"You didn't even offer to let me visit my family when we were in Asia!"

"You said you never wanted to go back there!  You said they sold you to human traffickers from the Marianas Islands!"

"Not all of them!  I have a sister!"

"Well, you didn't tell me you wanted to see your sister!"

"You should have known!"

Now Charles Wu could be a real S.O.B. when large amounts of cash were available, but in cash-free human interactions, he could be a real softy.  And he loved women--loved women!  It had pained him greatly to see Mia's emotional breakdown during their trip to Asia, but he had never pried into her feelings.  He was now thinking maybe he should have.  "I can see you are still dealing with a lot of fear and anger, and if you want to talk to somebody about it--"

"A fruit loop doctor?  You think I'm crazy?!"

"No!  But you might have post-traumatic stress disorder."  (Wu was sure now he would never succeed in turning her into a spy--not a reliable one, anyway).  "What if I pay for some counseling, and then if you still want to visit your sister, we'll plan another trip."

"What about my education?"

"If you give me a serious proposal about what you want to study, I'll pay for your education after Delia starts kindergarten.  But you don't even have a high school diploma, so it's going to take time." 
With that, Mia burst into tears.  Wu didn't normally embrace women he was not going to bed with, and he feared making a catastrophic blunder.  "Why don't you take the rest of the day off--go visit Lynn."  Mia nodded, then fled to her bedroom to get herself together.  Wu pulled his lunch plate back and glanced at the clock:  he might get in one more hour of work before Delia awoke from her nap and distracted him with her charm offensive the rest of the day.  I'll take her out in the jogging stroller--do a full circuit of Rock Creek Park, with a stop at the National Zoo.  With that, he tucked back into his lunch, making a mental note to reschedule his information exchange with Che Gordo and Che Flaco.

Meanwhile, militiaman and conspiracy theorist Glenn Michael Beckmann was already celebrating Earth Day in Rock Creek Park by leading the Hunter-Gatherer Society in a particularly violent assault on invasive species.  "If it came from Viet-NAM, spray it with na-PALM!  If it came from Red CHINA, DDT might be FINE-A!  If it came from Ko-REA, lots and lots of u-REA!  If it came from Cuba--oh, hell, use your machete!"

Up in the trees, the robins fled west for Virginia, while the orioles hightailed it east to Maryland--but the starlings just sat and stared in silence.

***********************
*Washington Water Woman congratulates Earth Day Pakistan for planting 50,000 trees today!

HAPPY EARTH DAY! 
www.earthday.org

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Drumbeat of Violence in America

"Look, it's bad enough Prince and Prowling is billing us over a million dollars for the Senate lobbying, but what's this 44 cents?!"  The Vice-President of the Gun and Ammunition Alliance waved the bill in Bridezilla's face, with the .44 portion of the $1,001,000.44 invoice highlighted in yellow.

"That was for a stamp," said Bridezilla.  "My paralegal is meticulous about billing accuracy."

"I'm not paying the 44 cents!" he fumed.

"The gun lobby scored total victory in the Senate this week, sir!  I expected to see you a little more chipper!"

"For these prices, I'd expect to see Rand Paul and Marco Rubio shooting paintball at each other and singin' the Marine Corps song on the floor of the Senate!"

"Well, sir, considering we were up against hysteria-driven opinion polls of 86%--"

"And Lisa Murkowski naked mud-wrestling with Mitch McConnell on Fox News!"  (Bridezilla arched her eyebrows and said nothing.)  "Well, you know what I mean," her client said, a little more quietly, "if you put that kind of money in their pockets."

"Prince and Prowling does not put money in the pockets of U.S. Senators, sir!"  (Actually, most of the money went to former Senator Evermore Breadman's salary, and he put the money into, well, not pockets per se, but that's a long story involving political action committees, Charles Wu, and shell corporations in the Cayman Islands....)  "However, our clients' satisfaction means everything to us, so I'd be happy to take $1,000 off the bill."

Before her client could answer, her boyfriend, Colonel Alexander Wolfbugler of the Defense Intelligence Agency, burst into her office with a bouquet of red roses.

"Oh, honey!" exclaimed Bridezilla.  "I thought I wasn't gonna see you until you found the Boston terrorist!"

"I have read 17,000 emails since Monday afternoon, and they were all irrelevant!" he exclaimed, with a wild look in his eye and tomato sauce encrusted into his 3-day beard.  "They told me to take a day off to shower and rest my eyes."

"My hero!" exclaimed Bridezilla.

"When are you gonna take that shower?" asked the Gun and Ammunition Alliance V.P., wrinkling his nose.

"I just had the Pentagon barber shave my head, and then I ran through the armored vehicle car wash."  (Wolfbugler dropped to both knees, then clumsily raised one knee back up.)  "Life is too short!"  (He tossed the roses in Bridezilla's lap and fumbled in his breast pocket.)  "We're never gonna catch all these damned terrorists!  If we put off the rest of our lives, they've already won!  Will you marry me?"  (He extracted a Target jewelry box and popped it open to reveal a tiny diamond ring.)  "Now, I know that's a cheapo ring, but that's because I want to buy you an armored vehicle, a state-of-the-art bullet-proof vest, and a briefcase with a built-in explosives detector and alarm system.  I am never gonna let you spend a day of your life unsafe, baby!"

Bridezilla looked up at the people now in her doorway:  her paralegal was giving the thumbs up sign (she had bet on a May wedding in the annual Bridezilla office pool), but Bridezilla's secretary was giving her the thumbs down sign (he had bet on September).  She looked over at her client, who stood up and said, "Lye, Cheit, and Steele warned me it would be like this at Prince and Prowling!"  (He left the office in a huff, shoving his way past the growing gaggle of gawkers.)

"We could live in a CIA safe house," added Wolfbugler.  "I would just have to label you a terrorist informant."

(Bridezilla's mind was already on its way, and she just heard "house".)  "Could we have a May wedding?" she asked, demurely.  (Her secretary was waving his arms vigorously and shaking his head.)

"Do we have to wait that long?" asked Wolfbugler.  "Why not tomorrow?"  (Now the paralegal was waving her arms and shaking her head.)  "Oh, wait, I have to go back to work."

(All Bridezilla heard was "why not".)  "Oh, darling!"  She crouched down on the floor with him.  "Yes!"

"May!" shouted Bridezilla's paralegal, pumping her fists in the air.  "She's saying 'yes' to a May wedding!"

"She can't possibly have the wedding of her dreams next month!" protested the secretary.  "Not unless she holds the reception at Prince and Prowling!"

"God no!" said Wolfbugler, pushing his kissing fiancee away and turning to the interlopers.  "This office is across the street from the White House!  Are you out of your minds?  We'll hold it at the fake mosque convention center in Virginia.  It's a CIA thing, but I can pull some strings and get a free afternoon there."

"What about Musharraf?" asked former Senator Evermore Breadman, who could not care less about Bridezilla's latest wedding plans.  (He was pulling the peons out of Bridezilla's doorway.)  "Do you think he'll flee Pakistan?"  (He was trying to glean some Defense Intelligence Agency information out of Wolfbugler's befuddled state:  Musharraf wouldn't be the first wealthy dictator-in-exile to seek the counsel of Prince and Prowling!)

"Ummm...."

Meanwhile, a different security-related drama was unfolding a couple miles away at the office of Congressman Herrmark, who had placed himself in lockdown.  "Call the cops!  Call the FBI!"

"Sir, I think your bodyguards can handle this," said Ann Bishis, Chief of Staff.

"My bodyguards!?  Are you out of your mind!?  First Boston, now Texas!"

"Those are completely unrelated--"

"And the gun lobby victory, financed by domestic terrorists!"

"No, sir, really--"

"Call the FBI!"

"OK!  OK!"

She closed his office door behind her, leaving one bodyguard (cousin Nick) inside and taking the other (twin cousin Costas) outside.  "This has spiraled out of control!" she whispered, pulling him into her own office and shutting the door.

"All I did was push the envelope under his front door on Monday morning, like you said!" whined Costas.

"I know, I know!" exclaimed Bishis.  "Let me think!"  (She had written a vaguely threatening letter from "the frackers" after the Representative had speculated that he might shift her twin cousins from security detail to legislative correspondence after the Sequester slammed his staff budget.)  "OK.  Go buy a disposable cellphone, and hire a voice actor to call Congressman Herrmark and say he's the FBI guy conducting the investigation.  Here."  (She wrote down "William Smith" on a piece of paper.)  "This is the agent's name."  (Costas looked at his cousin--an attorney--dubiously, having gleaned from television shows that it was illegal to impersonate a federal officer.)  "Tell the actor it's a birthday prank.  No, wait!  Don't tell him he's an FBI officer.  Just tell him to pretend he's a bodyguard.  But I'll tell Herrmark that William Smith of the FBI is on the case and will phone him."

"What if Herrmark asks questions?"

"Tell the actor to get off the call quickly, saying he'll call back later with more information.  Tell him we're only paying for a one-minute acting job.  Then I'll feed Herrmark messages about it until he calms down."

Costas went out with some residual anxiety, but their livelihood was at stake and there was no way they were going back to Greece!

Over at the White House, butler Clio also had security on her mind.  She was catching up on inventory and thinking about what she would have been telling her own twins about Boston.  She would have told them that President Obama wasn't home today because he went to Boston to pray for the victims.  And Ferguson would have asked her about bad guys, and Regina would have asked about guns, and Clio would have been thinking that the no-voters in the U.S. Senate had just as much blood on their hands as the terrorists--and they were worse because they did it for gun lobby money, not even a misguided but sincere belief.  But that was too complicated to tell pre-schoolers.  Guns are bad.  Bombs are bad.  That's what you tell pre-schoolers.  She sighed, trying to think about Fergie and Reggie as ghosts.  Were they grown up now?  Were they in Heaven?  Were they wise?

Not quite, thought Ghost Dennis, who had met a lot of ghosts at the White House, but none like Fergie and Reggie.

And so the drumbeat of violence in America continued pushing the perpetual parade of pugnacious policy in Washington, much to the delight of Ardua of the Potomac.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

It's all in your head.

White House butler Clio was starting to feel more comfortable with psychiatrist Ermann Esse, but it was still a little jarring every time he said, "It's all in your head."  The Obama Administration had been extremely supportive after her HIV diagnosis, and immediately offered to pay for psychiatric care after gardener Bridge had been forced to admit that Clio thought her twins were still alive.  Ferguson and Regina had been born in the White House during a security lockdown and had been allowed to live there with their mother (and father, before he had taken off) for years.  The twins had always been a handful, with seriously naughty tendencies by age two, and both the West Wing and East Wing staffs had grown accustomed to hearing Clio's scolding cries of "Fergie!" and "Reggie!".  After the twins' death, Clio could still be heard muttering their names with frequency, but her coworkers had believed this was part of a natural grieving process.

"But they seem so real, Doctor."

"It's all in your head," Dr. Esse replied.  (Clio winced a little.)  "Have you ever seen anybody else talking to them?"

"Well, they play with the Obama girls sometimes."

"Did you ever see the Obama girls speak to your twins?"

"Well...maybe not."

"What about your family?"

"I don't see them much--they blame me for driving my husband away."

"How does that make you feel?"

"I didn't drive him away!  They always blamed me for everything.  And I don't want to talk about them!"

"Alright, but it might be relevant to why you're having trouble letting go of your children."

"Reggie and Fergie just seem so real, Doctor."

"It's all in your head."

Outside the White House, Bridge was putting in some overtime on the garden:  he wanted to keep up the quality despite his reduced budget, and that would mean a lot more manual weeding and starting things from seeds.

"But why is Mommy so different now?" asked Ghost Fergie, watching a honeybee examining the tulips.

"She knows y'all are ghosts now," he said.  "She had blocked all that out--the day you died, everything."

"That was a long time ago," said Ghost Reggie.

"Yep, she blocked it out a long time, but enough is enough," said Bridge.

"Well, I don't want people telling her she's crazy!  It's not fair!" said Ghost Fergie.

"I know, I know," Bridge said, gently watering his seedlings.  "But most people can't see ghosts or talk to ghosts, so they think that sort of thing is crazy."

"But it's not fair!" said Ghost Reggie.

"Look," said Bridge, rubbing his lower back, "nobody's gonna fire her as long as she only talks to you in private.  The important thing is that she has to move on with the grieving process and accept the fact that you two are never gonna be more than three years old.  But it was traumatic the way y'all died--it ain't an easy thing to sit with."  (It didn't seem so bad to Regina and Ferguson--one minute they were chasing ghosts around on the roof, the next minute they were floating away from their bodies on the ground below.  True, the security officers had done a lot of screaming, and their mother had fainted dead away after being called to the scene, but they comforted her after she woke up, and things seemed to go back to normal, more or less.)  "Now you two are not really children anymore, even though you act like it.  You need to start thinkin' 'bout movin' on."

"Nobody else does," said Ghost Fergie.

"I know, I know," said Bridge.  (How am I gonna get them to understand that it ain't normal for all these ghosts to be hangin' around here?)

A few miles away, the members of Sense of Entitlement Anonymous (D.C. Chapter) were gathered in Congressman John Boehner's basement (bunker) for their annual griping session about paying federal income tax. 

"It's all in your head," said Judge Sowell Ame to the Speaker of the House.  "No damn fool is gonna try to pass a gun tax to replace federal income tax."

"You mark my words!" retorted Boehner.  "These are frantic times!  When Rand Paul teams up with Patrick Leahy to get criminals out of prison, all bets are off!"

"That alliance makes perfect sense," said former V.P. Dick Cheney.  "It certainly doesn't mean 'all bets are off' in Congress!"

"You support them?" gasped Bridezilla.

"Of course I do!" said Cheney.  "The War on Drugs is too expensive:  we need that money to fight the War on Terror!"

"Those are both inept wars wasting too much money," said Federal Reserve Board economist  Luciano Talaverdi.  "They are causing monumental labor and capital distortions in the market."

"I agree," said Mayor Vincent Gray.  "Have you seen my Sustainable DC plan?"

"Oh, yes, it's fantastic!" said Talaverdi, sarcastically.  (But his Italian tone of sarcasm was undetectable to the Americans.)

"It's pretty much all neutral for real estate developers," said Calico Johnson.  "Fiscal spending policy doesn't cause us distortions."

"No," said Judge Ame, sarcastically.  (Sarcasm duly noted.)  "Your damned, sub-prime, mortgage-backed derivatives did a good enough job of distorting the real estate sector all by yourselves!"

"Could we get back to talking about taxes now?" asked one of the members from N.U.T.T.Y. (Nannies United to Take Y-chromosomes).   "I didn't make any quarterly tax payments last year because I thought Fred was going to leave his wife and marry me."  ("I told you he never would!  It was all in your head!")  "Shut up!  Anyway, what's gonna happen to me?  Do I have to go to jail?"

"Only if drugs were involved!" said Judge Ame.  "Or your accountant is from the Axis of Evil."

"I don't think so," she said.

"What percentage of your tax bill can you pay tomorrow?" asked Talaverdi.

"Don't worry about it," said Johnson (who was finally ready to start thinking about getting a new girlfriend).  "I'll pay your taxes for you."  (He winked at the distressed N.U.T.T.Y. girl--who was half his age--and she smiled in surprise.)

A few miles away, Justice Department attorney Atticus Hawk was packing his suitcase for a flight down to Guantanamo.  They're trying to kill me, he thought.  They never forgave me for the drug test.  They never forgot I dated somebody on the FBI Most Wanted List.  And I know too much.  He tossed in several tubes of extra toothpaste, hoping to use it to bribe prisoners to stop the hunger strike.  They'll still want to brush their teeth.  Orange-Mango from Tom's of Maine will taste like food, and then they'll be hooked!  He also tossed in three bottles of Maalox, but those were for himself.  What if they're not planning to kill me?  Maybe they're just going to label me an enemy combatant and toss me in a cell!?  He grabbed all his blue ties and rolled them around his anti-perspirant can.  That doesn't make sense!  Why would they do that?  They know everything you know.  It's all in your head!  Nobody's out to get you!  You need to take charge down there and put some law and order in place!  This is your big chance to shine!  He tucked his Arabic phrase book inside a pants leg, then fainted in a dead panic.

Back at the White House, Clio flashed her ID badge, then swiped herself in.  She tried to walk quickly to her office, but Ghost Dennis immediately tried to detain her.  No, you're not real, it's all in my head!  ("Please!" pleaded Ghost Dennis, "this is important!  I need help with President Obama--")  Leave me alone!  You're not real!  She barricaded herself in her office and checked her prescription supply--all from her other doctors, since Dr. Esse did not believe in psychotropic medicine.  I'll just take a sleeping pill.  They can't talk to me if I'm asleep.  (Out in the hallway, Ghost Reggie and Ghost Fergie told Ghost Dennis to leave their mommy alone:  "Just 'cause she can see us doesn't mean she wants to see you!")

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac shuddered with delight as the psyche of Washington frayed just a little bit more.

**************************
COMING UP:
 Congressman Herrmark receives new death threats!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Shouts and whispers.

"Mamma!"  Federal Reserve Board economist Luciano Talaverdi was on the phone trying to placate his Italian mother, who was berating him over America's looming cuts to Social Security.  "Obama, mamma--"  He looked up pitifully at Obi Wan Woman, who was sitting in his guest chair shaking her head.  "Culpa nossa?  Mamma!"  He was, well, fed up with the Fed's taking the blame for everything and getting credit for nothing.  After a few more (loud) minutes, he convinced his mother that (a) the Fed had nothing to do with balancing the budget on the backs of pensioners and (b) he would pray for Pope Francis.

"Has she been reading 'The Alchemists'?" asked Obi Wan Woman.

"I wish."

Over at the White House, butler Clio was preparing for today's event on gun violence while her twin pre-schoolers shot water pistols at Bo.  "Fergie!  Reggie!  Stop shooting the dog!"

"He likes it!" protested Ferguson.  (This was actually true, because Bo was proud of overcoming his fear of water.)

"And we missed him!" added Regina.  (Also true.)

"I don't want to return a wet dog to President Obama!  Wet dogs smell bad!"

Smell bad? reflected Ghost Dennis.  That's a good idea!  Maybe generating a pungent odor at the event will make people remember this better than the last gun control event.  He floated off to the West Wing cleaning closet to see what he might be able to rustle up.  Whispering in their ears just isn't enough in this town.

Several miles to the north, the Dog Whisperer who had helped Bo was back at the Potomac Manors estate of Calico Johnson.  "Mr. L'Arche, this cow has me at my wit's end.  It was bad enough spending the money to build the state-of-the-art heated barn, which wasn't good enough for her, and then letting her live in my basement until winter passed, but it's 80 degrees outside, and Mega Moo still won't go outside!  This is ridiculous!"

Sebastian L'Arche motioned for Johnson to quiet down because Mega Moo was mooing soft and low.  "Mmmm," said L'Arche, encouragingly.  Then he frowned as Mega Moo continued.  "Mmmm."  (More mooing.)

"You see!" interrupted Johnson.  "Basia named her 'Mega Moo' because she was the loudest cow in Wisconsin."  (He choked up a little, thinking of Basia Karbusky.)  "Now she barely talks to me."

"Mr. Johnson," said L'Arche, continuing to stroke the geriatric cow, "Mega Moo has post-traumatic stress disorder from the fire, and from the disappearance of your neighbor.  She feels vulnerable when she's outside because her bovine narcolepsy has returned and she never knows when she will fall asleep and tip over.  She needs to get away from this place."

"What?!  What do you mean, 'get away?'"  (Mega Moo was all he had left of Basia!)

"She needs a new life," replied L'Arche.  "I could take her to the National Arboretum:  the Sequester took out their lawn-cutting service, and they could use her to trim the grass.  You could visit her whenever you wanted."

Johnson was a billionaire real estate mogul who purchased tree-lined properties if he had an inkling to look at trees.  (Visit a public arboretum?!  And subject Mega Moo to becoming an unpaid public servant?)  "That's not very dignified!" protested Johnson.

"Dude, you have a cow in your mansion's basement!"  (L'Arche instantly regretted using the word "dude"; then he realized Johnson might have been talking about the cow's dignity rather than his own.)  "Look, you're obviously fond of Mega Moo, so why don't you give her a chance to get back out in the fresh air and moo her lungs out?"

Johnson moved in to stroke the cow.  "Is that what you want?  A fresh start?"  (It was like Basia--even though she had never actually dated him--was leaving him all over again.)  "What if I rented out this place and took her to one of my other properties?"  (Johnson was now looking at L'Arche.)

"Well, yeah, that would probably work.  But I need to take her somewhere else in the meantime."

"OK, OK,  Take her to the Arboretum, but tell them it's only temporary!  Basia asked me to take care of Mega Moo--she's my responsibility."

Several miles to the south, Dr. Devi Rajatala blew more blood into yet another facial tissue:  it was as if the pollen itself had become violently evil.  She shook off her funky mood and returned to mowing the grassy knolls of the National Arboretum.

Up in the trees, the starlings--sated with the seeds they had scared the sparrows off--flew violently through the male trees, shaking out pollen all over the National Arboretum, just for fun.  A catbird shouted out a perfect mimicry of the lawn mower, while a raven watched silently from a distance.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Too Hot to Handle

The Prince and Prowling partners made their way through the hot buffet line quickly and efficiently, satisfied that former Senator Evermore Breadman's protest against cold DIY sandwiches had succeeded.  They sat down and proceeded to discuss important Partner matters.

"Cigemeier!" exclaimed the managing partner.

The junior partner looked up apprehensively from his mashed potatoes--he had never been the first item on the partners' meeting agenda before, and he did not consider it a good sign.

"Philippe Cicchini--"

"Who?!" asked Bridezilla, startled by the foreign-sounding name.

The managing partner glared at her.  "He's a 1st year associate!  He's been here for months!"

"What practice group?" asked Breadman.

"That's not the point!" exclaimed the managing partner.  "He brought something very alarming to my attention this morning.  He came in very early--"

"That is alarming!" joked Breadman, and everybody made sure to laugh.

"--and he saw Cigemeier naked in the men's room, doing peculiar things."

"Oh," said Cigemeier.  "That's just hot yoga.  I found the control for the men's room thermostat, and I crank it up and do my hot yoga before anybody else comes in.  I can't crank our heat that high at home."

"Chickini said 'peculiar things,'" said Bridezilla.

"Cicchini," corrected the managing partner.

"It's yoga!" protested Cigemeier.  "Stretching and strength exercises.  If you do it in a very hot environment, your muscles and connective tissue have super elasticity.  Anyway, Bridezilla does ballet in the ladies room!"

"Can't you find a sauna like a normal person?!" protested Breadman.  (But he didn't care what Bridezilla was doing in the ladies room; in fact, he and his wife had separate bathrooms because female plumbing was disgusting.)

"Look, I never saw anybody come in that early before," said Cigemeier.  "It won't happen again."

"See that it doesn't!" exclaimed the managing partner, who was already stuck with Chloe Cleavage on the P&P payroll the rest of her life because of all the naked blackmail photos she had.

A few miles to the east, Justice Department attorney Atticus Hawk had his own hot button issue to contend with:  fallout from the death toll incurred by the rogue Predator drone in Asia.  "We can't pretend it never happened," his boss was saying, pacing nervously around Hawk's office.  "Four of those kills were U.S. citizens."

"CIA agents," added Hawk.

"They're still U.S. citizens!" gasped Hawk's boss.

"I didn't say they weren't," protested Hawk.

"Well, what are you getting at?"

"Nothing!  I'm just going over the facts here in this memo."

"Look," whispered Hawk's boss, sitting down in the guest chair, "right now the CIA doesn't know if it's better to call it an inside job or admit they lost control of a drone.  You need to write a memo reinforcing the checks and balances in place for the termination orders and making it clear that these rogue killings were an aberration, and that U.S. citizens are not at risk."

"Who's this memo for?" asked Hawk.

"Address it to the President--no, address it to File," said Hawk's boss, getting up to pace around the office some more.

"What about the people that recovered the rogue Predator?  Are they under investigation?"

"Ha!" exclaimed Hawk's boss.  "That's classified.  I don't have a clue how that drone was recovered!  And the CIA is shitting in their pants because the casualty list doesn't point to any obvious suspect--that's what my buddy tells me."

"OK," said Hawk, thoroughly baffled.  "I'll write a memo reiterating that the Predator drone program has checks and balances to ensure no targeting of U.S. citizens.  But why couldn't they disable it?"

"Classified," sighed Hawk's boss, and with that, he was gone.

Hawk reached for the antacid in his bottom drawer, terrified the nightmares would return--the drones, the detention, the torture, Basia's burning up in an explosive fireball.  It was just a rogue, he told himself.  Just a rogue.

Not far away, a rogue job offer had just bombed International Development Machine:  it was from International Development Nerds, and they wanted to pilfer "Girl Hurl" thought leader Liv Cigemeier.  "You are revolutionizing the social media world," said the recruiter, watching with satisfaction as Cigemeier munched happily on her Founding Farmers salad.  "Are you sure you don't want some wine?"

"No, thanks," said Cigemeier.

Hmmm, I hope she's not pregnant, he thought, noting her wedding ring.  "We can offer you a 30% raise, an extra week of vacation, a trip to the United Nations in October, and three international development conferences per year."

"That sounds fantastic," said Cigemeier, trying not to reveal her runaway enthusiasm.  "But it's important that I can work on more than gender issues:  climate change, biodiversity, sustainable--"

"Oh, yeah, of course!" the recruiter said.  (The Nerd board of directors expected a 300% rise in charitable donations and a 50% rise in development contracts by signing her:  international development rock stars didn't come along every day!)  "And the 'Girl Hurl' Twitter account--you're sure you have legal control over it?"

"Oh, yes," said Cigemeier.  "My husband's a law partner, and he made sure of that."  (We're buying a house this year!)

"Great!  Great!" said the International Development Nerds recruiter.  (She'll probably be on maternity leave within a year.  Damn it!  But she could blog at home, maybe--or take the baby on the road....)  "When can you start?"

"Let me just talk it over with my husband, and I'll let you know this weekend.  But I could start two weeks from Monday."

Back at the Prince and Prowling luncheon, a proud and happy junior partner was reading the jubilant text from his wife, Liv.  "Cigemeier!"  He looked up nervously at the managing director.  "What's happening with the Bumblebopper malprac--"  (Audible gasps from around the conference table.)

"The Bumblebopper incident," said Cigemeier, "was handled by Chloe Cleavage.  She really stepped up and identified the weak link on the team.  He's gone, and he signed an exit agreement accepting responsibility for the slight deviation in quality control."

"Chloe handled it?" asked the managing partner, narrowing his eyes.

"Yes," said Cigemeier.  "We have everything under control now, and the client is satisfied."

"That's excellent news," said the managing partner, with a sinking feeling in his stomach.  (Cleavage has botched another case, and she blackmailed a contract attorney to take the blame!?  Oh, God, I need to find another job before Bumblebopper sues us for malpractice!  Does Bridezilla still have a gun in her office?  What if Cleavage blackmails the wrong person, and he kills her?!

"Are you alright?" asked Bridezilla to the managing director.  "You look nauseous!  Too much gravy?"

"Umm, yes, too much gravy.  Meeting adjourned."

Out in the Tidal Basin, Ardua of the Potomac stretched her tentacles out to the cherry blossom tourists, and darkness trespassed on their souls.