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, August 24, 2013

March on Washington stops traffic; politics go on as usual.

"Ugh, I can't believe they even invited anybody from Congress to speak here!" said Professor Buddy Lee Trickham.  "I loathe and despise Congress!"

"Everybody hates Congress, but you can't throw out the baby with the bathwater," said Bridezilla,

"Are you calling that Congressman a baby?" laughed Trickham.

"There are good men in Congress--you just have to know which ones," said Bridezilla (who didn't like any of today's speakers).  "I still don't understand why you feel it is a Southern duty to attend the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington!  My ancestors never had slaves!"

"Your ancestors had indentured servants tending their tobacco fields, and that's hardly something to get on a high horse about!" lectured Trickham.

"Still, no slaves!" pouted Bridezilla (who had once kissed a black man at a wedding reception and now felt perfectly immune to conversations about racism).

"The Civil Rights movement was about what was still happening in this country--especially in the South!"

"Are you lecturing me, sugar?" asked Bridezilla, batting her eyelashes in the expert way she had learned from her beauty pageant coach many years earlier.

"You are maddeningly attractive when you're indignant!" cooed Trickham.  "I don't know why you don't do trial work--Virginia juries would just eat you up!"  And with that, he threatened to toss his attorney girlfriend into the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool, but this was a rather idle threat as they were well in the back of the crowd.  He kissed her, and her ego soared.

"Maybe I will do some trial work--just for you!" said Bridezilla.

Much further up in the crowd, Peri Winkle's urban guerrilla field trip members were also a little bored with the chosen speakers.  ("I wish Jay Z were here."  "Or Kerry Washington!")  The Washington Post "Metro" reporter was dismayed by how little moved the teenagers were by the historic event.  The truth was, they were little moved by anything he had shown him in the past few years of radical outings.  No matter what he showed him about the ecology or politics or sociology of their home city, it was all just another diversion for them--another show.  Fashion and music and sports--and being famous for fashion and music and sports--mattered far more to them than he cared to admit.  And while his mentoring had helped land a few of them Post college scholarships in recent years, most of them still saw the world through a filter he would never understand.  To them, Jennifer Lopez and LeBron James were just as important to society as Sonia Sotamayor and Barack Obama.  And none of today's careful speeches seemed in any danger of electrifying a generation....He yawned, and realized how wonderful it would be for a musical act to come out now....

A few miles to the north, the Heurich Society members were still straggling into the Brewmaster Castle conference room after their horrific commutes around the March on Washington traffic.  ("Why didn't you warn us?")  Henrietta Samuelson said it wasn't her fault--she had asked to meet on Thursday.  ("Well, you didn't tell us about the march today!")  She reminded them they were in the business of intelligence gathering and operations--it hardly seemed her responsibility to let them know about facts that were easily ascertainable from every news outlet in the city.  ("If you call a meeting, you have a responsibility to schedule it when there are no impediments to our arrival!")  Samuelson thought most of these old men should have given up their driving licenses and switched to riding Metro years ago, but she struggled for a better response than that.  ("You'd better have a plan for Syria, after what we went through to get here!")

"You know, you're not the ones who got gassed last week!" the exasperated Chair retorted.  "Maybe you should count your blessings!  And since at least two of you had a hand in getting those chemical weapons into Syria, perhaps you should share with the rest of us what your plan is?!  Or are you happy with the arrival of a U.S. warship ready to pour gasoline on the flames of Middle East violence?"

"Sometimes I wonder if you have the stomach for this work, Button," hissed the former Chair.

"Maybe not," said Samuelson.  "My father told me to have Angela kill you if you ever crossed me, but I'm just not cold-blooded enough, I guess."

The two locked furious gazes for what seemed a very long time, without a sound heard in the room except intermittent squishy noises from one unfortunate jelly doughnut caught in a mouth at the time.  At long last, Condoleezza Rice crackled over the speakerphone:  "Well, we've all thought about that from time to time, but our mutual interests are too compelling.  Why don't we start with the latest status reports from our current agents in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey, shall we?"

A few miles to the east, Charles Wu was visiting the bedridden Angela de la Paz again in Dr. Devi Rajatala's home.  (His young daughter had already finished her three-minute visit, so Delia was now exploring the rest of the house, under the watchful eye of Dr. Raj.)  "I know they're talking about Syria today," said Angela.

"I'm sure you're not missing much," said Wu.

"You know, they have more influence in the Middle East than you think they do," said Angela.

"No doubt, but it will never be enough.  There are too many generations of revenge woven into the tapestry of their history, stretching all the way back to the time the fertile crescent lost its fertility and the nomads fought their way out of the cradle of civilization."

"I'm surprised to hear a Chinese person talk about the cradle of civilization being there," replied Angela.

"I deal in facts--not myths," said Wu.

"Fact: " said Angela, "far more have died in Syria from conventional weapons.  Why is a chemical weapon an excuse to invade?"

"I have no idea," said Wu.  "Only people who have never been in a battle would think chemical weapons are uniquely uncivilized."

"But you've never been in a battle?" challenged Angela.

Wu sighed deeply.  "A couple," he said at last, and that was true.

"And you've dealt in nuclear secrets," she challenged again.  (He made no reply.)  "And the U.S. is the only country that has ever dropped nuclear bombs."  (He nodded.)  "And Obama and the CIA drones are killing people all over the entire world."

"And you unleashed a young demon on the Taliban," replied Wu.

"Are you talking about Eeteebsse or me?" she asked.

"You're no demon," Wu said.

"But I'm just as hypocritical as everybody else," said Angela.

Wu carefully recrossed his legs.  "Nobody can get everything they want in the world," he said, "least of all, a world that they want.  That's why it's important to prioritize."

"Everybody says all you care about are money and loose women," said Angela.

"Clearly not, or I wouldn't be spending my Saturday afternoon bringing you flowers," smiled Wu.

"You just want to use me," said Angela, who distrusted herself for wanting to believe he really was a more decent human being than Henry Samuelson.

"I think we can accomplish goals together, even if our priorities are not the same.  And I don't think getting out of bed will necessarily mean you are ready to get back to work for the Heurich Society."  He got up to go.  "Call me when you're ready."

"I might not be combat-ready until after I have this baby:  it's a high-risk pregnancy."

"Your chi has never been higher," said Wu.  "I think this is the year you'll learn how much you can do without lifting a finger."  He went out to collect little Buffy Cordelia, and told Dr. Raj to let Angela drink as much as she wanted of the Chinatown herbal tea he had brought from Lynnette Wong.

Back at the Brewmaster's Castle, the former chair of the Heurich Society headed out to his car to phone Solomon Kane about taking care of Button Samuelson--and pinning the blame on Charles Wu.  The War on Error was your biggest error of all, you little bitch.

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COMING UP:
Climate deniers the Koch Brothers hire Prince and Prowling to set up the winning combination of shell corporations to fulfill their dream of purchasing newspapers and editorializing about the beauty of pollution for the rest of their (toxin-shortened) lives.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Diary of Glenn Michael Beckmann

Today I went to the namby pamby zoo, by accident.  I was hunting deer in Rock Creek Park, and the last few weeks of mild weather made me go soft!  The humidity hung all over me, like in that rainforest jungle we trained in at Camp LeJeune before heading off to invade Panama.  [Note from Washington Water Woman:  false memory.]  I was hot and thirsty, and hiked until I found a water fountain at the namby pamby National Zoo.  A boy pointed at my bow and arrows (slung across my back), and his namby pamby mother pulled him away from me.  What would they ever do if confronted by animals outside of these namby pamby cages?!  Soft--everybody's gone soft.

Too many animals in one place--a hot, sticky place.  The smells were nauseating.  I tried to go to the men's room to wash my face, but that was the smelliest place of all.  I stumbled out and tried to find my way back to the forest.  I saw cheetahs lying lazily in the grass.  In the yard next to them:  a zebra!  The cheetahs were too lazy to go after the zebra!  And the zebra was nonchalantly rolling in the dirt, without the slightest concern for the cheetahs fifty feet away!  It was a disgusting and unnatural thing.  Lap dogs masquerading as wild animals!  The horror!

I am alone, utterly alone.  Hounded by NSA surveillance, I destroyed my cellphone and computer.  My last message to my faithful blog readers and the men of the Hunter-Gatherer Society?  "I will hand out photocopies of my blog once a week, standing next to the Mahatma Gandhi statue--the last place the Feds would ever think to look for me!"  Fourteen showed up the first Friday, then nine, then four, then none.  I am alone.

But I can't blame the men for being too lazy to  show up and pick up copies of my blog.  No, I know the truth!  My blog has become confused and perplexed.  Too many conspiracies!  I can't keep track of them all!  This is how they keep us off balance and subservient.  The Middle East is the biggest conspiracy of them all!  The Saudi petro dollars are pulling every string, and Obama is just another puppet, but one of the men who showed up at the Gandhi statue two weeks ago asked me to explain what the Saudis are making Obama do, because everybody in Egypt is unhappy with him, and everybody in Syria is unhappy with him, and so who is the real enemy?  How can we be hated by both sides of a civil war?! Is everybody our enemy now?  Because he heard that Christians are being slaughtered in those lands, and he and his brother want to go on a crusade to protect them, but how will they know which people to kill?  Because my blog didn't explain which people in the Middle East we good Christian Americans should be giving missiles to and which ones we should be killing.

So last week I wrote about the neo-Marxian conspiracy, and how the Saudis own the State Department building and charge rent for it, and how Edward Snowden is not in Russia at all but actually in a top-secret CIA prison in Poland, and how plastic recycling is a complete scam because they burn coal over and over and over again to heat the plastic and melt it and chop it to pieces and melt it again just to turn it into pellets, and how zombies from the United Nations are secretly taking over Congress, and how post-Gothic neo-Bellum literature is making all the great Southern writers turn over in their graves, and how drones are telling Coca-Cola Corporation every time we drink a Pepsi, and how Donald Trump and his demon spawn Ivanka are going to turn the Old Post Office into a den of thieves and harlots financed by Saudi petro dollars, and how the Federal Reserve Board sold the secret military base on the moon to fund the bailout of Wall Street, and how that Girl Hurl blogger is a man-hater who wants to teach women how to clone themselves and then get rid of all the men, and how a cabal of dead slaves and other ghosts are secretly running the White House.  But nobody showed up!  I waited all day, but nobody came, and I had to leave the stack of blog photocopies next to the Gandhi statue, under a rock.

But I still don't know what to write about the biggest conspiracies of our day--like, is Bradley Manning a hero or a traitor?!  Because he made Hillary Clinton look bad, which is awesome, but he dumped on a lot of soldiers, which is unworthy.  And why are the Feds going after JPMorgan and Bank of America all these years later, after they were in bed together during the Big Bailout, huh?!  I have no idea!  The conspiracies are becoming so intricate that even I, the country's most patriotic conspiracy theorist, cannot see behind the curtain!  And are Obama and the lamestream media conspiring to hand the next election to Hillary "hairy legs" Clinton, or is Obama conspiring with the National Security Council and the CIA to declare martial law and cement his dictatorship forever?!  I don't know!  And people are hungry for the answers, which I MUST find!

I have contacted M.I.T, Sarah Palin, and the country of Bolivia about designing a secret internet that the U.S. government doesn't know about, but I haven't heard back from any of them.  I am trying to get in touch with Steve Jobs (who is NOT dead, but secretly living in a bunker and definitely working on designing his own private internet), but my associates who had leads on him in Alaska and Idaho haven't found him yet.  So I am turning to this genius I found named The Tarantula, and he's going to design an encryption system for me, so that I can start blogging on the web again!  It's going to all be in code, and only my trusted followers and members of the Hunter-Gatherer Society will know the code!  It's going to be totally awesome.  The whole thing is going to be a fake lifestyle blog, where I talk about exercise tips, fashion, and whether kids should drink chocolate milk.  If I say "death to trans fats" or "khaki is the new beige", only my followers will understand what I'm really saying!

And I need to find a new hiding place for this diary!  I can feel something evil living here at Southwest Plaza, but I haven't found it yet.  (But I'm not going to name the new diary hiding place in my diary because then somebody might get a hold of it.)

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NEXT WEEK:  
The Heurich Society schism grows deeper and more deadly.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Most Unfortunate

Golden Fawn and her husband, Marcos Vazquez, were walking carefully across the rocks, high above Great Falls of the Potomac.  "It's The Warrior," said Golden Fawn, pointing up in surprise, and they climbed a little higher to reach him.

"Fancy meeting you here!" said Vazquez, pulling his wife up to a safe perch.

"I knew many people would come today," said The Warrior, "because of the newspaper story."  (Vazquez looked at Golden Fawn in surprise, and she shrugged.)  "You have come, too."

"Yes," said Golden Fawn, sipping from her water bottle.  "Marcos was interviewed by the Post, but they didn't put any of it in the story.  He emailed the reporter today, and supposedly it's because the Coast Guard does not patrol the Great Falls, but I think they just didn't like what he said."

"Well, it's not like I told them about Ardua!" exclaimed Vazquez, pulling his wife's medicine bag from his backpack.  "I just said every sailor knows there are some waters you just don't mess with."

"And you mentioned Loch Ness and the Bermuda Triangle!" added Golden Fawn.  "Thank Heavens they didn't publish any of your quotes!"  She started pulling items out of her medicine bag, arranging them carefully inside the circle of stones and oak twigs The Warrior had already arranged. 

Vazquez wasn't sure any of this would help with the drownings, but Golden Fawn's breast cancer was gone and she was full of vitality and eagerness again.  He put his arm around her waist and watched quietly as the prayers began.  A catbird on the cliff behind them starting imitating their chanting in a screechy voice, and they all turned to look at her.  Vazquez reached for a stone to throw at her, but she suddenly stopped and took flight before he could throw it; he couldn't see the pink warblers which had chased off the catbird, but Golden Fawn and The Warrior nodded their thanks and returned to their prayers.

Several miles to the south, Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson was fielding testy questions from the members of the Heurich Society in the upper floor conference room of the Brewmaster's Castle.  ("Why don't we have Snowden yet?"  "What is wrong with our operatives in Russia?"  "Why haven't you sent Angela de la Paz to kill Putin and nab Snowden?"  "Why are we still funding Project Cinderella--what has she done for us lately?") "She's in bed--she was bleeding for eleven days!" exclaimed Samuelson.  "She has a problem pregnancy."  She hadn't been planning to tell all these old men about it, but somehow it just came out, and there were several moments of silence as they all looked down nauseously and nervously at their doughnuts.

"Well," crackled Condoleezza Rice over the speakerphone at last, "that is most unfortunate."  (Samuelson looked at the speakerphone with mistaken gratitude.)  "I thought her mentor had trained her better than that.  Who's the father--that dead Australian commando?"

Samuelson (whose own father had been Angela's mentor) yelled, "none of your damned business!"  Then she unplugged the speakerphone in a fit of anger.  "Next question?!"

A mile to the south, former Senator Evermore Breadman was having a testy meeting of his own in the 8th floor conference room at Prince and Prowling.  "I'm not happy about this case!" he exclaimed, "and I'm blaming you, Cigemeier!"  (Bridezilla breathed a sigh of relief.)

"With all due respect--"

"Do you actually think I'm done speaking already?!" hollered Breadman.  "Everybody said International Development Nerds was a sexy nonprofit, and we would get great p.r., and we would meet amazingly influential people, and what happened?  First of all, we donated $50,000 to their organization.  Then we sponsored that damned art show fundraiser, which was a $20,000 loss!"

"That can all be deducted--" began Bridezilla.

"Quiet, missy!  And as if that's not enough, their damned President is as guilty as a Mormon meeting his mistress for coffee in a Starbucks!"  (Bridezilla giggled politely at what she thought was a joke, but Breadman just glared at her.)  "The man literally stole money collected to build orphanages!"

"That hasn't been proven--"

"Shut up, Cigemeier!" yelled Breadman.  "The man stole money collected to build orphanages!  Who does that?!"  [Breadman had voted a dozen times in the U.S. Senate to cut funding for the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program, but that was completely different.]   "Guilty, guilty, guilty!  He doesn't have enough money to prove he's innocent, so he's guilty!"

"But their liability insurance--" began Bridezilla.

"Their insurance company has fired us!" growled Breadman. "Said we were charging too much money for too little results!  The Nerds have taken their case to Goode Peepz!  It's an insult and an outrage!  Now I want you to collect on their outstanding invoices ASAP," he said, pointing at Bridezilla, "even if it means camping out at that damned insurance company's office for days--so bring your laptop and wear red dresses!"

"Yes, sir!" chirped Bridezilla, who was starting to wonder if she had been demoted from partner back down to associate.  (Can they do that?)

"And you!" exclaimed Breadman, pointing at Cigemeier.  "You're going to develop our drone practice."

"Drone practice?" echoed Cigemeier.

"What's your problem--aren't you a little young to need a hearing aid?"

"What's a drone practice?" asked Bridezilla.

"Don't any of you read the D.C. Bar journal?  It's cutting edge law, and we're going to dominate it!"

"Who will our clients be?" asked Cigemeier, who could not imagine serious money in a drone practice, and was unaware of his law firm's ever having previously attempted to dominate cutting edge law before.

"Charles Wu is our first client--I've already drafted the first contract.  If you do a decent job finalizing it, Cigemeier, I imagine he'll refer other clients."  [Breadman was, in fact, wildly wrong in this assumption since no drone owner is interested in helping anybody else get drones.]  "Here are your files," he added, handing the Wu contract file to Cigemeier and the Nerds billing file to Bridezilla.  "Go!"

The two junior partners trotted quickly out of the conference room, afraid to delegate any of this to summer associates--or any associates, for that matter.

Up in Cleveland Park, Liv Cigemeier had also just found out that her husband's law firm was no longer representing her employer, International Development Nerds, in an email from the acting director.  The email went on to say that the continuing bank account freeze made it necessary to let go some of IDN's employees who were already on unpaid leave--including Liv Cigemeier.  She was thanked for her service--particularly on the Girl Hurl campaign--and wished all the best for the future.  Cigemeier reread the email three times, then burst into tears.

Out in the Cigemeier backyard, the real estate demon living in the shed giggled derisively at the misfortune, then lay down for a well-deserved nap.

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COMING UP: 
 Catching up with militiaman, blogger, and conspiracy theorist, Glenn Michael Beckmann.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Ill-suited.

"They're tired of him," said Federal Reserve Board economist Luciano Talaverdi, zipping up his pants.

"Same old same old," replied FRB economist Obi Wan Woman, who had been trying to linger in the moment a little longer, but, no, now it had passed.  She sat up and scooted off the Round Table in the Research Library.  (Talaverdi winced at her plebeian American jargon and wondered at her lack of hygiene...and splinters.)  "But Bernanke had a good run--he did save the country and probably the world from sliding into another Great Depression."

"Yes, I suppose," said Talaverdi, "but what has he done for us lately?"  He put his (cursed) Rolex back on, pulled out his laptop, and sat down to await the Camelot Society meeting in 45 minutes.

"I had a funny dream last night that you were appointed the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board!" said Obi Wan Woman, belting her tunic.

"What's so funny about that?" sniffed Talaverdi.

"Well, for one thing, you're Italian," she said.

"That's not against the rules."

"For another thing, you showed up at the swearing-in ceremony looking like a gigolo."

(Now he was really offended.)  "Oh, and you know how gigolos dress?  And you pay them enough so they can afford the same Armani suits I wear?"

"Luciano!  Honestly, sometimes I think you have no sense of humor!"  (He glared at her to prove the point.)  "I meant you were just really hot.  You were getting sworn in, but you were winking at all the women there, like you just couldn't wait for it to be over.  You were so eager to start screwing everybody in sight.  That's why the dream was so funny!"

Talaverdi flashed his fake smile at her and made a mental note that it was time to find a wife--he was clearly not going to rise any further in his career if people perceived him like that.  (And this puttana would certainly not be in the running.)

Several miles to the north, Charles Wu was examining his summer suit collection:  Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers....His measurements hadn't changed since he was 19 years old, but faint lines were showing in the vain man's handsome face, and something had to be done about the 20% drop in flirtation he had been receiving since the arrival of his daughter.  Was he flirting less, subconsciously?  Was he too preoccupied with parenting?  Would a wardrobe change help?

"Liv is here," called Mia, from the hallway.  "I'm leaving."

"Alright," answered Wu, annoyed that his promise to let Mia take GED classes had led to the hiring of a babysitter who, of all things, was a married woman from the house next door.  He sighed, disgusted with himself, and then felt disgusted at this bizarre and unknown feeling of disgust for himself.  She's good with Delia! he scolded himself.  That's what's important!  I can find women anywhere.  Indeed, he had always been able to find women anywhere, but the problem was now they kept finding out about his daughter.  Of course, Buffy Cordelia was a total babe magnate for most women, but those weren't the women Wu was interested in.  I'm not traveling enough, he theorized to himself, and this was a new theory with both evidentiary support and a less humiliating feel to it.  I need to talk Mia into watching Delia while I take a long weekend in New York or Atlantic City.  He cursed the fact that the nanny's back-up babysitter was a married woman who would never be able to come away for a weekend.

"Delia smeared strawberries all over her dress," called Liv Cigemeier from the hallway.  "Do you want me to put stain remover on it?  It says 'dry clean only'.  I didn't know they made 'dry clean only' clothes for toddlers--how crazy is that?!"

"Don't worry about it," said Wu, finally deciding on the ivory linen suit custom-made in Hong Kong.  He had back-to-back meetings this afternoon with Yellow Man and C. Coe Phant, and he was still waiting on the latest intelligence about Edward Snowden's movements in Russia.  "She smears fruit on all her dresses."  He chose the woven leather Argentine loafers,  a lavender shirt, and a Calvin Klein retro tie.

"Sorry, she heard your voice, and insisted on going in," called Liv, staying behind the half-opened bedroom door as Delia toddled into the master bedroom.

"Look at you, messy girl!" he laughed, squatting down to her level.  He unbuttoned the dress, turned it inside-out, and put it back on the girl.  (All her dresses were designer reversibles.)  "There!"  He gave her a big hug and prodded her back out into the hallway.  "Daddy's got a big day of strategic intelligence sharing," he whispered to her on the way out.

Back downtown, Bridezilla was curled up sideways on her psychiatrist's couch.  "It's still early in the relationship, but I just thought it would be healthier for me to consult you sooner, rather than later, don't you think?"

"Mmm," nodded Dr. Ermann Esse, agreeably.

"Is that a Tommy Hilfiger suit?" she asked.  (The shrink shook his head no.)  "Really?  It's a nice knock off!  I desperately want to get Buddy Lee into better suits, but he is only a professor, and I suppose they don't have a lot of money.  Where did you get that knock-off?"

"I don't recall," said Dr. Esse.

"I might have to get some knock-offs of my own!  I've had to stop wearing silk to the office!  Can you believe it?!  They've installed new motion-detector water faucets that are a complete nightmare!  I have to dance around for five minutes to keep the water flowing, or it just stops!  I'm bobbing and weaving from one faucet to another, splashing water all over the place.  Five minutes!  How does that save water?"

"I don't know," said Dr. Esse.

"Look," she said rolling onto her back and hugging a pillow to her chest, "do you think it's normal for a boyfriend to get an invitation to go to a birthday party for the President of the United States, and not invite his girlfriend?  I mean, I know we haven't been dating a very long time, but still!  What do you think?"

"Oh, my," said Dr. Esse, "I get that sort of question ALL the time!"  ("Really?!")  "Oh, yes!  Goodness, you have to submit the date's name for a security clearance a month in advance!  I can assure you, there is no need at all to feel insecure about his not taking you to the White House birthday party."

"Oh, that's fantastic!" cried Bridezilla, sitting up.  "I feel so much better.  But what about money?"

"What about it?"

"I don't know if I'm making more money than he is.  Professor salaries have a lot of variability."

"And this is important to you?"

"Of course!  I want to buy him better suits, but I don't want to hurt his feelings or anything.  Or maybe he just has terrible taste in suits--maybe it's not about money at all!  I mean, he is from Mississippi--not white trash mind you, but definitely from the wrong side of the railroad tracks."

"Hmm," nodded Dr. Esse, writing a few notes.

"I was thinking of measuring him in his sleep, and then having a suit made for him for his birthday.  But he's an English professor!  Maybe style is personal and expressive and important to him.  And I asked Cigemeier about it, and he said you never tell a man how to dress unless he asks or you're married, but I'm not sure he knows what he's talking about because I don't even think his wife tells him how to dress.  And women buy ties and sweaters for men all the time, so this would just be a step up:  buying a suit.  Because he's a genius, and everything that comes out of his mouth is brilliant, but I do worry that people see his suits and think 'used car salesman', like his daddy."

"Did you think that about him, before you learned about his father?"

"Well, no, we were at the Folklife Festival--he had on shorts and--"

"So he wears shorts to the Folklife Festival and he wears suits on days he is at the university?"

"Yes," replied Bridezilla.

"Then he sounds like a grown man perfectly capable of dressing himself appropriately.  Gifts of ties in the summer and sweaters in the winter are traditional because they are non-threatening.  You are telling me you are concerned that he may badly perceive your decision to choose a suit for him.  This shows to me that you have grown significantly in sensitivity and the ability to imagine what other people are feeling."

"It does?" asked Bridezilla.

"It does!" said Dr. Esse triumphantly.

"So I can't buy him a suit?" asked Bridezilla, crestfallen.

"You can buy him the most brilliant, gorgeous, expensive tie he has ever seen in his life," said Dr. Esse.  "And when he sees that tie, he will either break up with you because he's making less money than you are, or he will buy a new suit to go with it."  (Dr. Esse knew this from personal experience because he had a lot of ex-girlfriends and had sold many such ties that were too good for his suits--although in his case, it was because he didn't like spending money on suits and preferred to put all his money into playing the stock market with tips his Washington clients inadvertently gave him.)

"Oh, thank you!" cried Bridezilla.  "That makes so much sense!"  She got up to go.

"I thought you wanted to talk about your long-term goals:  running for public office, starting a family?" said Dr. Esse.

"Oh, it's much too beautiful a day for that!" said Bridezilla, skipping out.

Not far away, U.S. Attorney Atticus Hawk was completely oblivious to the beauty of the day--or the shabbiness of the old suit he had thrown on absent-mindedly to head into the office today.  Bradley Manning had been convicted of every count except aiding the enemy, and now Hawk's boss at the Justice Department was expecting Hawk to make up for that with a devastating and brutal litany of damages--to maximize Manning's prison sentence.  Hawk scanned his security card and walked briskly to the elevator, a pile of late-night notes stuffed into his briefcase.  Nobody could expect me to get him convicted on that, Hawk reassured himself.  Nobody can blame me for that.  Nobody can question my patriotism.  His stomach churned uncontrollably, and his brain screamed for the drugs he could no longer take.  He unlocked his office door, threw his suit jacket on a pile of boxes, and sat down angrily at his desk.

High above him, a flock of starlings basked in the sunlight on the Justice Department roof, too relaxed and lazy today to do the demon's bidding, but Ardua of the Potomac never had far to look for replacements.

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COMING UP:
The fate of International Development Nerds.