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, September 28, 2013

"A Streetcar Named Denial"


"A Streetcar Named Denial"
 by Buddy Lee Trickham, Ph.D.
 
A three-act play in minimalist, post-Gothic, neo-Bellum. 
 (ROUGH DRAFT)

ACT ONE

Curtain rises on a Virginia courtroom.  The defendant is wearing over his face a paper bag with a photo of John Boehner pinned to it.  Blanche du Zilla rises to make her opening statement to the jury--which consists of seven figures with paper bags over their heads.  (The paper bags have smiley faces painted on them.)  Blanche is wearing a red silk suit and crocodile boots.  She is fanning herself with a "Southern Living" magazine. 

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Mr. Carpetbagger will try to tell you that my client is a heartless, crazy, fundamentalist Christian home-schooler who broke his son's arms.  But I'm here to tell you that life is like a box of non-responsive documents:  sure, most of it is completely irrelevant rubbish which benefits nobody at all, but if you dig deeper, and really look hard, you will find the most unexpected gift of all."

"What is that?" cries Don Giovanni, rising from the gallery to blow a kiss to Blanche.

"Silence in the courtroom!" exclaims the judge, pounding his gavel.  The judge is wearing a paper bag painted with a caricature of George W. Bush.

Blanche opens a bag of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and tosses one to Don Giovanni.  Then she approaches the bench and tosses a doughnut to the judge.  Then she returns to the jury.  "This trial is about what it means to be an American!"  The jury applauds wildly, and she tosses them the rest of the Krispy Kreme bag.  "Better to cut out your eye than go to Gehenna with both evil eyes intact!"  The gallery applauds wildly.  "Better to ascend armlessly to Heaven on the wings of the angels than to crawl down into the fiery pit on your own hands and knees!"  The judge joins in the clapping.  "Only Americans know how to go to Heaven, and I know that this jury will do their American duty!"  With that, the judge, jury, and gallery all rise to give Blanche a standing ovation.

Curtain falls.

ACT TWO

Curtain rises on Howling Wolf conference room.  The walls are hung with pretentious, over-sized, abstract paintings, and a three-foot sculpture of a three-headed wolf sits at the center of the table. 

"You mean to tell me that Blanche du Zilla is out in the Virginia Colony doing pro bono work all morning?" thunders former Senator Balthazar Rouge, who has a paper bag over his face painted with dollar signs for the eyes, nose, and mouth.  "She is spending hours of her day billing nobody?!  Have we learned nothing from the International Development Nerds fiasco?!"

A young associate with a paper bag over his head painted as a serious face answers him.  "She desperately wanted to get trial experience, Senator Rouge, and she thinks it's alright because her team has already billed $17 million to Dead Dinosaur Diesel this year."

"Ha, ha, ha!" bellows Rouge.  "I love that case!  "We've insulted the Republic of Pizarro, filmed their so-called Indians speaking fluent Spanish, disgraced all the class-action attorneys at Goode Peepz law firm, and scared their expert scientists so much they've run for the hills to become 7th grade teachers!  But that's the problem, isn't it?  What else can we do?  It's been twenty years, and we're about to win this arbitration:  the other side will give up on cleaning that spilled coal, and Dead Dinosaur billables will be no more.  Blanche should be out there finding new clients!  Possibly in Iran."

"Some attorneys are concerned about the legal precedents the case has set," adds an attorney with a paper bag over her face--the paper bag has a photo of Scarlett O'Hara pinned to it.

"Oh," says Rouge, "like getting Judge Lame Boy to adopt our 70-page brief as his 70-page opinion?  Ha, ha, ha!  That's the wave of the future, my friends!  Judges are too lazy to do that much research themselves, and all the budget cuts have eaten away at their clerk positions."

"Precedents about attorney-client privilege, sir," says the young associate with the serious-face paper bag.  "There's a rumor that Gibson Dunn has already had to turn over three partners' computers, and one of the emails showed one attorney saying, 'it's time to shit or get off the can,' and the other attorney saying, 'I vote for shit', sir."

"Gibson Dunn?!"  hollers Rouge.  "Attorney-client privilege is only supposed to be overcome for fraud--like with those idiots at Goode Peepz!"

The Scarlett O'Hara bag girl says, "they're saying Howling Wolf has lowered the bar so much on the fraud question that--"

"It's not about lowering the bar:  it was a one-time bribe to Judge Lame Boy, wasn't it?" hollers Rouge.

With that, the three-headed wolf sculpture explodes to reveal a hidden recorder at the center of the table labeled "NSA-FBI-CIA-DHS".

Curtain falls.

ACT THREE

Curtain rises on the Virginia courtroom.  Blanche is speaking to the jury.

"Everything Mr. Carpetbagger has said to you about my client is sound and fury signifying nothing!  Why?  Because, Mr. Carpetbagger asked for an extension on his Reply Brief Memorandum Appendix Exposition of Enumerated Witness Factoids and Minutia so that he could observe Rosh Hoshanah, and the Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure Regarding Minors do not allow such special treatment--not even for fancy, Northern prosecutors in Calvin Klein suits!" 

"I object, your honor!" cries the prosecutor, rising to his feet.  "Those rules are meant to protect minors, not send them back to their parents for more abuse!"

"Objection overruled!" shouts the judge.

"I have always depended on the kindness of judges," says Blanche.

"Stella, how could you?!" cries the young boy with two arms in casts, and he rushes the bench to rip the paper bag off the judge's face, revealing a woman.

"He's possessed!" cries the defendant (John Boehner bag face).  The defendant pulls out an assault rifle and shoots up the whole room. 

The only people that do not fall down dead are Blanche, Don Giovanni, and Professor Genius.  Professor Genius rushes to Blanche, takes hold of her hand, and runs out of the courtroom with her. 

The defendant turns to point his gun at Don Giovanni.

Curtain falls.

NEXT WEEK:
Looming Federal shutdown has no bearing on National Security Agency--which will continue to spy on everybody from the President of Brazil to Cap'n Crunch.  Despite their omnipresent spying, the NSA will fail to bust an underground pornography racket in D.C.--which will be exposed by TFFT television reporter Holly Gonightly....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"That's a beautiful gun you've got...."

It had been a long time since Bridezilla had buried her handgun in her ficus tree pot at Prince and Prowling.  Even though the Managing Attorney's attempt to blow his own brains out had failed because the gun wasn't loaded, it still made her feel awkward.  Then came that awkward conversation about workplace violence with her boyfriend, Buddy Lee Trickham, after the Navy Yard massacre.

"He said where he grew up, shotguns were for hunting ducks and menacing trespassers!" exclaimed Bridezilla to the other members of Sense of Entitlement Anonymous (D.C. Chapter).  "And rifles were for hunting deer, and anybody who carried a handgun was just a sissy-boy too scared to get in a fistfight!  Well, I'm NOT a sissy-boy, and I DON'T want to feel awkward about my gun anymore!" wailed Bridezilla, pulling it carefully out of her Prada purse.  "I cleaned and oiled it, like Wince had taught me, and I've got my bullets, and I am so thankful to Dick for inviting us to his home today for a special meeting with target practice afterwards!"  She beamed at Dick Cheney (whose blood pressure was still rising from the sissy-boy remark), and used her gun like a finger to salute to him.

"Good for you!" said real estate tycoon, Calico Johnson (who kept having recurring dreams about machine-gunning Donald Trump to death--but there were reasons for that which we won't go into here).  "Everybody keeps talking about that guy's security clearance as the problem, but people can go crazy like that!"  (He snapped his fingers.)  "They were in a military facility!  Somebody should have shot back at him instantly!  There are definitely not enough people carrying handguns."

"Tell me about it!" replied Congressman John Boehner.  "If my Majority Whip were allowed to carry a gun, that goddamn Tea Party wouldn't be terrorizing my staff all the time!"

"And the real terrorists," said Cheney.

"You don't think the Tea Party are real terrorists?!" exclaimed Boehner.  "You've been out of political office too long, my friend!"  (He was sure his blackmailer was in the Tea Party, but he hadn't yet figured out who it was.)

"Are there real terrorists terrorizing your staff?" asked a member of N.U.T.T.Y. (Nannies United to Take Y-Chromosomes) to the Speaker of the House.

"You don't even remember 9/11, do you?" asked Cheney disdainfully, and the girl shrank bank from his mean-old-man glare.  "But I suppose you've heard of those terrorists at the shopping mall in Kenya?!"

"Oh, yes!" said the girl (who had briefly dated Calico Johnson while waiting for her charge's father to get divorced and marry her).  "People just out shopping, minding their own business, gunned down in cold blood!"  She shuddered, and Luciano Talaverdi put his arm around her consolingly...but his eyes were fixed on Bridezilla.

Meanwhile, over at the impromptu memorial at the Navy Yard gate, television reporter Holly Gonightly was interviewing people as they came by to leave flowers, ribbons, and hand-written notes.  ("Are you here for the coworkers or for the family members?"  "If you could speak to the shooter now, what would you say to him?  Do you think we should have more gun control?")

A few yards away, Washington Post "Metro" reporter Perry Winkle was asking similar questions, followed closely by several adolescents on an Urban Guerrilla field trip.

"She's too fat for television," whispered one of them  "She should be at the Post, and you should be on TV!"

Winkle turned around and slapped the boy.  "What is wrong with you?!"

"You just used violence!" said a startled girl, who had been on several Urban Guerrilla field trips with Winkle before.

Winkle had been dying to punch somebody for days, but he didn't know how to explain that.  "I'm sorry--I lost my temper.  Just think how much worse it would have been if I had a gun!"  (But the boy was too angry to hear that.)

Sitting on a campstool nearby, conspiracy theorist Glenn Michael Beckmann was also reporting on the scene--using his new laptop, secret identity, and coded "lifestyle blog" language distributed only to his loyal blog leaders.  "White and red flowers in abundance, but NO SIGNS OF rose petals, chokecherry twigs, muslin handkerchiefs, or witch-shaped Pez dispensers.  I can smell Old Spice and Garnier Fructis shampoo, but nobody--I REPEAT, NOBODY--is wearing German perfume.  No clear pattern emerges in footwear, but this is to be expected when the seasons are changing."  (That last sentence was not in code--Beckmann just had an obsession with linking people based on their footwear.)  "ABSOLUTELY NO DANCING, but there is one man speaking loudly about Be-Bop."

A few miles to the north, Angela de la Paz was examining a hemp baby sling at the Green Festival, followed by a lovesick Solomon Kane.  "So you don't use guns anymore?" asked the contract killer.

"I've got other skills," said Angela, who wasn't sure yet what to do with Kane.

"They said  in Afghanistan--"

"I don't want to talk about Afghanistan," she said, strapping the sling around herself.

"So you're just gonna give it all up because of this baby?" asked a befuddled Kane.  "Or are the other rumors true--the ones that say you don't need guns because you can use magic?"  He pulled out his wallet to purchase the baby sling for her.

"Thank you!"  Angela smiled sweetly at him as they headed over to the food vendors.  "President Obama preaches against gun violence in the U.S., but he sends jets and drones to bomb people everywhere else he can get away with bombing them.  'Might makes right':  that's what Dr. Raj says.  If the message to Assad in Syria is, 'do what we say, or we will bomb you', how is that different than a gang member in Chicago pointing a gun and saying, 'do what I say, or I'll shoot you', huh?  It's all the same."

Kane (who didn't like to remember how he had gotten into this business, but now did it for the money) replied, "it's not all the same.  Do you really think shooting Osama bin Laden in the head is the same as shooting a Chicago teenager in the head?"

"There's a lot of people willing to kill--kill for money, kill for revenge, kill for their country.  But where are the people willing to die?" she asked.  

"What would you die for?" Kane asked her.

"For this baby...for people I care about."

"But nobody can kill you--that's what everybody says."

"They've killed my heart a hundred times," she said.  "I tried to fix that by killing bad guys, but it's like trying to wipe cockroaches off the face of the earth.  You can't kill them all."

"But if you don't kill as many as you can--"

"You need to change them into something else--that's the only way," she said, and her magic washed over Solomon Kane like a warm tropical breeze.

Back at Dick Cheney's place, the members of Sense of Entitlement Anonymous (D.C. Chapter) headed down to his bunker shooting range.  Each aisle had its own video projector so that you could make your target look like anybody you wanted.  (Cheney often projected Hillary Clinton, but he wasn't going to choose her today.)

"That's a beautiful gun you've got," said Leonardo Talaverdi, with his best bedroom voice and bedroom eyes.  He placed his hand over Bridezilla's and slowly pulled the gun out of her hand.  "But I think you can handle something bigger--something Italian."  He placed his Beretta into her hand with a caress.  "Why don't you try this one."  Bridezilla felt giddy, and fumbled with the touchscreen until she managed to pull up a nurse labeled "Obamacare".  "Go on!" smiled Talaverdi seductively, as he stepped back to give her space...and admire her.  (A month of fruitless Internet dating had interfered so severely with the economist's professional duties at the Federal Reserve Board that the Camelot Society had staged an intervention on him Thursday, asking him if he were on drugs, or was he deliberately trying to sabotage the financial prognostications of the Open Market Committee?  It was then his thoughts had turned to Bridezilla--she was always eager to get married, and she was the perfect blend of professional and trophy wife to give his professional and personal standing in Washington the push it needed.)  He smiled as the flustered woman shot wildly at the heart and mind of "Obamacare" (missing widely).  We'll be married before Bernanke is even gone!

Behind the wall of bullet-riddled target sheets, Cheney's real estate demon oohed and ahhed in pleasure at the orgy of violence and hatred saturating his body. Moving in here was the best decision I ever made!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just a Quickie

Atticus Hawk carefully rinsed his bathtub with hot water, expecting to see white brilliance emerge to greet him, but it was still…yuck.  Stupid Quickie.  He glared at the battery-operated scrubbing device that was supposed to have rendered his bathtub hygienic again, then he looked back at the tub.  Well, it’s SOMEWHAT better.  He scanned the surface, estimating how many more sessions this would take, then glared at the Quickie again.  Can’t use abrasive cleansers with the Quickie!  I don’t have time for this!  He got up to head over to the Justice Department.  Stupid paranoia!  Hawk had given up his cleaning  lady a long time ago, when the FBI had first started investigating him over the mysterious disappearance  of his girlfriend, Basia Karbusky—who had now dropped to 17,271 on the Most Wanted List.  He knew the NSA and FBI had all his phone calls, emails, and internet searches, so what could a spying cleaning lady actually do to harm him?  He didn’t want to find out:  he was no longer on probation at the Justice Department, and he wanted to keep it that way.

Several miles to the west, former Senator Evermore Breadman was also in a testy mood.  “We are ALL upset about it, Gary, but sometimes weird things happen that even Prince and Prowling cannot predict.”  He reached into his bottom drawer for the Chinatown herbs he liked to mix into his scotch, and accidentally dropped the phone.  “Sorry about that, Gary.”  He took a few gulps while his weapons contractor client continued to whine about the abortion of a surgical strike mission in Syria.  “Believe me, nobody is a bigger fan of quickie surgical strikes in the Middle East than I am, and I totally agree that’s the best way to move your business forward in this political climate, but if Russia didn’t flex its world power every now and then, it would be even HARDER to justify the budgetary line items for your munitions factory.”  He drained his glass and leaned back in his chair.  “This is going to cheer you up:  the Holier Than Thou Caucus has drafted legislation calling for more bombing in Yemen, to punish them for the whole child bride thing.”  He looked out his window at the White House, barely visible behind the summertime tree foliage.  “Well, it IS hard to target dirty old Neanderthal men, but apparently the CIA does have a method.”
Over on Capitol Hill, Congressman Herrmark was having brunch at Hawk ‘n Dove with some other members of the Holier Than Thou Caucus.  “I think it should be illegal for an American public relations firm to represent a foreign country!” declared the Congresswoman from Tennessee.  “Those people should all be executed for being Russia’s spin doctors!”
“I think every country in the world has a p.r. firm in the U.S.,” said Congressman Herrmark.  “Well, at least every country that actually wants to be heard in Washington.”
“Well, it’s disgusting!” said the Congressman from New Mexico.  “Ghost-writing an op-ed for Vladimir Putin!  What’s the world coming to?”
“Well, he DID have a point,” said Congressman Herrmark.  “Christians are all equal in God’s eyes.”
“Are you OUT of your mind?!” exclaimed the Congresswoman from Tennessee.  “The only thing that man worships is HIMSELF in a topless photo!”  (The Congressman from New Mexico had a good laugh at that.)

“Still,” said Congressman Herrmark, “it was Kerry’s idea to ask for all the chemical weapons.  I think it’s a win for America!”
“You Midwesterners are so naïve,” said the Congressman from New Mexico.  “Bomb first—verify second!  That’s what Ronald Reagan said!”
“Reagan was a Midwesterner,” said Congressman Herrmark, “and he never said that.”
Over in Cleveland Park, Liv Cigemeier and her husband were also finishing up their brunch.  “What are you saying?” Liv Cigemeier’s husband asked her.  “You don’t even have time for a quickie?!”
“You should have gotten up earlier!  I’m babysitting Delia in fifteen minutes.”

“That’s enough time!” pleaded her husband.
“Maybe for Neanderthals.”
“Jeez!  Look, why can’t you just babysit during the week, so we can have more time together on the weekend?”

“Charles has a very erratic schedule, and his nanny is taking classes and doing homework—"
“I don’t like it,” said her husband (who mostly didn’t like the fact that Charles Wu was rich, single, and handsome). 
“Well, we’ve got a killer mortgage, and I’m trying to bring in as much money as I can, or we’re never going to be able to furnish this house.  You know I don’t want to go back to International Development Machine.”
“At least it would be a 9-5 schedule again,” said her husband. 
“It will destroy my ego to go crawling back there!” she said.  “They’re offering me LESS money than my previous salary!”
“Well, they’re pissed you abandoned them to go work at International Development Nerds.”
“Thank you, Captain Obvious!”  She regretted it as soon as she said it.  “Look, they do terrible work there.  I’m not even sure they’ll let me continue the Girl Hurl blog.”

“Well, I don’t think babysitting for the next-door neighbor is a great long-term career plan!” said her husband, who was no longer in the mood for a quickie.
Liv Cigemeier sighed and began clearing the table.  The truth was, Wu had already started paying her extra for delivering and picking up packages, and he often dropped her and Delia off at very fun and unusual places—like embassy piano concerts and private country clubs.  She was starting to wonder just what kind of business Charles Wu was really in, but she didn’t dare broach the subject with her husband, a Prince and Prowling attorney.  She needed to figure it out herself, first.

Several miles away, Atticus Hawk arrived in his Justice Department office to begin work on the assignment dictated to him Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.:  legally justify everything the National Security Agency has ever done.  Hawk had been pondering this task for nigh 48 hours now, and was still uncertain if this was a reward for getting the Guantanamo detainees under control or a punishment for not getting a death sentence for Bradley Manning.  Neither, a voice in his head said.  You are the BEST.  The FISA Court is caving to democratic pressures, and more revelations are on their way.  YOU are the only one that has the savvy, the experience, the institutional knowledge, and the killer instincts to justify everything that NSA has ever done.  You are the APOLOGIST OF THE CENTURY!  The little pep talk inside his head hiccupped at that moment, as Hawk struggled to find a better synonym for “apologist”.
A mile away, White House butler Clio was rinsing her bathtub with hot water, hoping the Quickie scrubber had worked, but her tub was still…yuck.  She took a rag and wiped off the Quickie parts, then wiped the stray water from the side of the tub.  Then she went back to bed to lie down.  Another thing they don’t tell you when you are diagnosed with HIV:  clean your tub a little bit every week, because you will NEVER have the strength to scrub off a year’s worth of grime.  She readjusted the ice bags on her shoulders.  She had never, ever, asked one of the cleaning staff for help in her apartment, but if she offered them a little money, there was nothing wrong with that, right?  Except the gossip….Her HIV status was widely known, but it was NOT widely known how much she was struggling with it.  I’ll just buy a clean bath mat to put down on the tub, she thought.  Nobody needs to know.
Hovering in the corner, Ferguson and Regina lamented their mother’s suffering.  Sometimes they wondered if it wouldn’t be better to help her die, so she could be free of all that pain and fatigue in her body, and live the carefree life of a ghost, like they did.  But Bridge always yelled at them every time they brought up the subject.  “Nobody ‘cept a fool ghost thinks it good to be a ghost!” he would say.  “Only a fool ghost, who can’t remember where it’s been, and don’t yet see where it’s supposed to be goin’!”  They sighed and flitted upstairs to see if Sasha and Malia were around to play with—President Obama just wasn’t any fun anymore. 

COMING UP:
Bridezilla’s love life heats up, causing unexpected damage to the Federal Reserve System.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Diary of Ghost Henry Samuelson

(As dictated to frontal lobe epileptic and amnesiac John Doe, a self-described autistic shaman.)

I saved my daughter's life last week!  Do you think she's grateful?  Do you think she brought flowers to my grave?  NO!  She had a major freak-out when Angela de la Paz told her that I had blown the whistle on that assassination plot!  I had thought dying would bring us closer together, but Button wants even less to do with me now than when I was alive!

Sometimes I wonder if I really was kicked out of Purgatory.  Maybe this is Purgatory?  I'm finally head of the CIA, but it's only the Ghost CIA.  We totally unleashed those chemical weapons in Syria, and do we get any credit for it?  NO!  We are this close to igniting WW III in the Middle East--and clearing out about 20 million people so that we can take control of all that petroleum--and who's gonna get credit for it, huh?  Not me!  It's enough to make a ghost want to get hold of a neutron bomb!  I mean, all this dancing around--kiss the Saudi asses, kiss the Qatar asses, arm Saddam Hussein against Iran, turn on Saddam Hussein, arm Egypt, turn on Egypt, ignore Kuwait, invade Kuwait, avenge Lebanon, ally with Lebanon, arm the Taliban, destroy the Taliban, destroy Al Qaeda, arm Al Qaeda Junior--the Ghost CIA doesn't have to do worry about any of that crap, right?!  We can do whatever we want!  And I say, gas 'em all!  But will I ever get credit for it?!  NO!

And it's great I don't have to deal with all those Heurich Society twits anymore, or Condoleezza Rice the Bloodsucker, or Dick "the dick" Cheney, but most of the time I have nobody to talk to except this brain-injured freak!  (No offense, John.  Wait, don't put in that part.  Don't put in this part!  These are just things I'm saying to you off the record!  Expunge!  Jeez, can't you--?  Never mind!)

(Where was I?  Right, nobody to talk to.)  Hardly anybody can hear me!  And Obama is the worst of all!  Every time I whisper something in his ear, he jumps halfway across the room, like I have the bubonic plague or something!  People think former CIA operatives have no feelings, but we're still human beings!  (What?  Well, I think ghosts are human beings!)  I finally have full access to the White House whenever I want it, but it's sooooo hard to get Obama to listen to me!  Isn't that Purgatory?  Sometimes I can get John Kerry to listen to me, but he seems very suspicious ever since I accidentally caused his wife's seizure.

Oh, and I have a hand-picked spy and assassin trained to my exact specifications under Project Cinderella, but Angela de la Paz does the exact opposite of what I tell her half the time.  And the longer I'm dead, the more insubordinate she gets!  And instead of seducing her way to the best-kept secrets in the world (which is what all that plastic surgery was for!), she went and fell in love with an Australian--of all the useless things to do!  AND got herself pregnant.  And lately she hasn't even been killing anybody!  Charles Wu has got her thinking she can just use mental mojo or something--boss people around! 

I tell you, it's driving me crazy!  Of course, can I say that to the other ghosts?  I tried to confide to the ghost of Robert McNamara.  (You don't know who that is?!  He was Secretary of Defense and bombed Cambodia!  Well, yeah, it was years ago, but--oh, never mind that!)  He told me to go see his psychiatrist, Ermann Esse!  First of all, just because a guy says, "this is driving me crazy!", doesn't mean he's actually crazy!  Secondly, McNamara doesn't even know he's dead himself, and a ghost!  He calls himself "Didymus"!  Thirdly, Dr. Esse doesn't even know Didymus is a ghost!  Esse is a complete moron!  He tried to get Didymus to get on the Internet and play resilience games with Jane McGonigal for cognitive evolution, but Didymus doesn't even have opposable thumbs anymore!

You know, I thought I would have a lot of free time after I died, but I'm busier than ever!  I can't call anybody on the phone--everything has to be in person!  I'm flitting all over this town, back and forth, just trying to get people to listen to me.  And, sure, I can sneak up and spy on anybody I want, but I can only be in one place at a time!  And, you would think I could play a practical joke every now and then--have some fun?!  I can't get my hands to do anything except poke people!  I've found out most ghosts are just whisperers like me:  to become a real poltergeist would be lots of fun, but it apparently takes decades of training and practice, and who's got the time for that?  I've got a Ghost CIA to run!  You think I wouldn't love to find a way to empty out Charles Wu's bank accounts or insert porno pictures in Susan Rice's PowerPoints?  Too few hours in the day.

But I take my job seriously--somebody has to!  Shaping the world to be exactly what it's supposed to be is the most important job in the world!  And while it's true that the Ghost CIA doesn't have as much firepower as the living CIA, we can SEE more.  That's what saddest of all:  I thought people would trust me more, now that I'm dead!  John Doe said maybe because I'm dead, people think I'm a little too blase' about death and killing, but I was just as blase' when I was alive!  You have to kill a lot of undesirables to get a world that's secure and peaceful!  It's always been that way--I didn't make the world that way.

(Alright, well I guess that's all for now, John.  Do you have time to go visit the Speaker of the House?  I've heard Boehner's Bunker has 20 kinds of salty snacks and 8 kinds of whiskey, so you'll probably get a good epileptic seizure and shamanistic vision out of it.  And who am I kidding?!  Without cash to hand 'em, you're gonna have to put on a pretty good show to get him to listen to me!  Why are you writing all this down?  We're done with the diary today!  Stop!)

**************************
COMING UP:  A confused (and haunted) Congress wheels and deals on the Middle East, the Justice Department tasks Atticus Hawk with legally justifying everything the National Security Agency has ever done, and Liv Cigemeier contemplates accepting new job offers from Charles Wu or International Development Machine.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Spare the Rod

Angela de la Paz was finally out of bed, and doing light chores with Dr. Devi Rajatala at the National Arboretum.  "Alright," said Dr. Raj abruptly, "that's enough."

"I feel fine!  It's only been an hour."

"Get back in the shade," said Dr. Raj.  "I'll be back in a minute, and if you've done any more work, Rani will tell me!"

Angela looked dubiously at the donkey to see if she would really tattle on her, and decided not to take any chances with Dr. Raj.  She lay down flat on her back, on the moss under an oak tree.  Pink warblers were singing in the branches above her.  The baby inside her was growing now, and she knew it.

"It's important," said John Doe, and Angela jumped up in surprise.  "Ghost Henry says his daughter is in danger."

"Button is in danger?!"

"Solomon Kane's been hired to kill her and--"

"Kill her?!"

"Yes, and--"

"Who is he?  Who hired him?  Ow!"  (Ghost Henry had just poked Angela sharply in her right kidney to get her to shut up and listen to his spokesman.)

"The former chair of the Heurich Society wants her dead, and Kane is supposed to pin it on Charles Wu."

"Where's Kane now?  Does Henry know?"

"Of course," said John Doe.

A few miles away, Congressman Herrmark was exiting the cold, patriotic aesthetic of a Capitol Hill Episcopalian church into the hot Washington sun.  He couldn't remember the last time he had spent a Labor Day weekend in D.C., and going to church with "friends" from the Holier Than Thou Caucus was scarcely tolerable.

"We need to decide on this Syria vote over brunch--it's a tricky one," remarked the Congressman from Colorado (a state with plenty of Christian fighter pilots who loved bombing Muslims).

"Well, I heard Qatar was funding Al Qaeda rebels in Syria, just to build a gas pipeline and stick it to Saudi Arabia," said the Congresswoman from Tennessee, trying to remember where she had parked the car.  (She was the designated driver--no mimosas for her.)

"Israel is supporting Iran on this one," said Congressman Herrmark (based on the analysis done by his Chief of Staff, Ann Bishis, using intelligence her twin cousins had obtained from their wrestling coach in Greece).  "Obama and the Intelligence Committee will never tell us the truth."  He climbed into the backseat so he could scratch himself unnoticed.  "I think we should abstain on the vote--it will come back to haunt us with our constituents one way or another.  Anything that happens after we bomb Syria will be blamed on us."

"We didn't form the Holier Than Thou Coalition to sit on the sidelines!" exclaimed the Congressman from Colorado.  "Now we've all prayed for guidance about Syria, and I'm sure the correct path will become apparent to us by the time we finish eating.  The Axis of Evil has shifted, and we need to figure out where it is!"  He pulled down the sun visor to check on his pimple cover-up in the vanity mirror. 

"Yes, that's true," said the Congresswoman from Tennessee. "Axis of EvilIf children have been bombed in an unconventional way, we simply can't stand for that.  Now, conventional weapons blowing up women and children is a completely different story--like the stray drone strikes--completely within the rules of decent, civilized societies."

Congressman Herrmark rolled his eyes.  "Sometimes I think it's like the U.S. has made a bad marriage in the Middle East, and we just don't know how to get out of it."  He loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt.  "It's like we've got half a dozen assholes as brothers-in-law, you know?"  (The two Representatives in the front seat exchanged glances with each other but said nothing.)

A few miles to the west, Bridezilla was struggling to finish up at Prince and Prowling before her date with Professor Buddy Lee Trickham.  Despite her best efforts all week, she had been unable to become lead counsel on a single case that was actually heading to trial.  ("Prince and Prowling doesn't go to trial, and when we do, we send people with experience, missy!  People that will put the fear of God into our opponents!")  Worse than that, she had been stuck on Koch Brothers duty all week, setting up a string of Delaware shell corporations so that the next time they tried to buy a newspaper, none of the climate change watchdogs would notice--and the Koch Brothers were rude, had chronic coffee breath, and kept wandering the halls hoping to get another glimpse of Chloe Cleavage's famous assets.  Finally, on Friday, the papers had been signed and they were gone.  Bridezilla then grabbed the first pro bono litigation case the P&P pro bono coordinator had suggested to her, and was delighted to discover it was on freedom of religion!  Only now that she was finishing up her first client meeting did she realize that she was defending a man for beating the crap out of his son during their "home-schooling" lessons. 

"So by 'spare the rod' you mean--"

"You can't spare the rod!" exclaimed the bug-eyed man.  "The Bible says so!"

"The Bible doesn't say that, sir."

"Of course it does!"

"I think we may have to consider a plea bargain."

"What the Hell!?"

"Sir, there's no call for that kind of language!"

"You're supposed to be helping me!"

"You broke both his arms!"

"I've seen 'Law and Order'!  You're supposed to be defending me!"

Bridezilla--who had taken on this case for the sole purpose of fulfilling her boyfriend's prophecy that she could charm a Virginia jury into believing anything--now realized that criminal law was not her cup of tea.

A couple miles to the north, Angela de la Paz found Solomon Kane eating lasagna and playing cards in the upstairs back room at Dupont Italian Kitchen.  "I need to speak to you," she said, looking right at him.

"I thought you were out of commission," said Kane (who recognized her from a photo).

"You were misinformed."

"Gentlemen," said Kane apologetically, and he got up to leave with Angela.  "I was definitely misinformed," he said to her, as they headed down the stairs.  "How did you know?"

"That's not important," she said, as they walked slowly down the sidewalk, away from the crowd of diners outside.

"In my line of business, there's nothing more important for me to know," said Kane.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," she said, and then she pulled him around to look him straight in the eyes.  "You're not going to touch Button.  Are we understood?"

As Kane stared into her eyes, he remembered hearing her nickname from Egypt:  "she whose gaze must be avoided". 

"Are we understood?" she repeated.

"Yes," he said, starting to smile.  "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."

"Huh," said Angela, and then she left him there and headed off to find the man who had ordered the hit on Button.

A few miles to the south, President Obama was back in the East Wing, trying to help Malia with her homework, but he couldn't get the voices of the White House ghosts out of his ears.  "Sssssyria...Ssssssyria...Sssssyria.  You are the last of the Knights Templar, Barack--everyone is counting on you."

An hour later, Angela de la Paz had disarmed his security system and found the former chair of the Heurich Society in his den watching football.  "Solomon Kane has switched sides," she said, and he jumped up, a Magnum in his hand.  She glared at him, and he dropped the gun.  "It's time for you to leave Washington.  Sign a power of attorney for Button to sell your house--I'm sure she'll get you a great price."  He stared at her, a little drool coming out of his mouth.  "I'm sure you have a nice little cabin with a bomb shelter somewhere out there--Idaho, maybe?  Or are you more of a Wyoming guy?"  He started trembling.  "I'm gonna watch TV while you pack.  GO!"  With that, he scurried off in blind obedience; she sat down on the couch and picked up his bowl of potato chips.  "Huh," she said to herself.  "I guess this is the chi Charles was talking about."  Deep in the basement, the resident real estate demon fell into a panic and fled the premises.