Washington Horror Blog

SEMI-FICTIONAL CHRONICLE of the EVIL THAT INFECTS WASHINGTON, D.C. To read Prologue and Character Guide, please see www.washingtonhorrorblog.com, updated 6/6//2017. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Men in Veils

"I dreamed that I entered the Chamber, and all the men were in veils!" exclaimed Congressman John Boehner.  "I could see the faces of all the Congresswomen, but the men all had veils over their faces!  What does that mean?"

"What do you think it means?" asked his psychiatrist, Ermann Esse.

"I don't understand what I'm paying you for if I'm supposed to come up with all the answers!" protested the Speaker of the House.

"Let's start with your initial reaction, and I will help you explore it."

"Well, obviously, the first thing is, have the secret Muslims taken over the Congress?"

"But in--"

"Yeah, I know!  It should be the women in the veils.  So everything is backwards of how it should be."

"And it should be that women are the ones in veils?"

"If the secret Muslims are in power, yeah!  But what if they made a deal with the women in Congress to take over?  I mean, if they're willing to do suicide bombs, maybe they're willing to do veils in order to take over Congress?  The secret Muslims could make a deal with the women to take over Congress.  A lot of people want to take over Congress, you know!"

"Yes, my patients tell me that all the time," sighed Dr. Esse.

(Boehner suspected there might have been some sarcasm there, but he let it go.)  "All I know is, Congress doesn't feel right anymore."

"In your dream, or in reality?"

Boehner hesitated for a minute.  "Both."

"What do you think the women are trying to accomplish by making a deal with the secret Muslims?"

"To take over Congress!" said an exasperated Boehner.

"But what would they do after taking over Congress?  What is their purpose?"

"What do they need a purpose for?  It's Congress!  That's the purpose!"

Down in McPherson Square, conspiracy blogger Glenn Michael Beckmann was also thinking about secret deals as he exited the Metro station and made his way back to 16th Street NW.  It had all begun with his unfortunate Scientology phase, and then he had noticed the Scientologists' proximity to the Freemasons.  Then, he had noticed they were also close to the AFL-CIO and the American Chemical Society.  Then he had realized the Swedenborgians and the Christian Scientists were on the same street!  And, worst of all, the National Education Association!  All lined up on 16th Street above the White House!  He knew he was onto something big when he had asked the American Chemical Society to explain why their lobby smelled like vanilla, monkey sweat, formaldehyde, and pepper spray, and they had asked Security to usher him out!  Everybody knows that the NEA is obsessed with vanilla, the Freemasons use monkey sweat in their rituals, the Swedenborgians use formaldehyde to make time stop, and the AFL-CIO has placed mind-control agents in the nation's pepper spray supply.  And now it was obvious that the American Chemical Society had its fingers in everything--and the White House was just a puppet in all of this!  Today he was going to attend the Swedenborgian Sunday service, and if he saw Ted Cruz there, it would all make sense.  He pulled a Bedouin dust scarf over his face as he approached the building.

Back in Dr. Esse's office, the Speaker of the House was out, and Luciano Talaverdi was in.  "I dreamed that I visited her at Prince and Prowling," began Talaverdi.  (Dr. Esse had learned a couple of weeks ago that the Federal Reserve Board economist was romancing Bridezilla, another patient of his, so he had to track carefully the information each was separately giving him.)  "All the men had scarves wrapped completely around their faces, and they were being led around the offices by robots."

"Where were the women?" asked the psychiatrist.

"I found them in the conference room.  Bridezilla was presenting a PowerPoint explaining how the robots had replaced the contract attorneys, and then the robots had replaced the paralegals, and now the robots were gradually replacing the male associates and partners."

"But the robots were not going to replace the women in the law firm?"

"No:  if the law firm had no female employees listed, it would get in trouble with the government."

"So the women were just there as tokens?  The robots were going to do all the work?"

"Bridezilla was explaining that Prince and Prowling actually only needed to provide their clients a few hours of legal analysis per week:  the rest of the billing could be for taxi rides back and forth to Capitol Hill or the courts, filing the same campaign contributions and delaying motions over and over and over again.  It was a mass production system, like a factory."

"Hm," said Dr. Esse.  "And how did this dream make you feel?"

"What do you mean?!" exclaimed Talaverdi.  "It was a complete nightmare!  In my world, men are important--and they think all day, and analyze the economy, and make policy decisions!  We cannot be replaced by robots who do the same thing over and over and over again!  Quantitative easing requires nuance!"

"So did you take any action in your dream?"

"I asked Bridezilla to leave with me--I told her it was a heartless, soulless place, and she would lose her mind there!"

"And what did she say?"

"She laughed and said she loved my Italian flare for the dramatic!"

"She didn't take you seriously?"

"No!"

"Do you think she takes you seriously in real life?"

"Most of the time!  But she is a hard woman to understand!  I gave her my Rolex yesterday because she was late, and she just laughed!  That is a $1,000 watch!"

"I thought you got it as a gift."

"That is not the point!  She laughed!"

"Some men would think making a woman laugh is an excellent strategy," said Dr. Esse.

"She laughs like a hyena!"

(Dr. Esse started sketching Bridezilla as a hyena.)  "Do you have any concerns that the next Chair of the Federal Reserve Board is a woman?"

"Of course not!  I love women!"

"Yes, my patients tell me that all the time," sighed Dr. Esse.

Out in the waiting room, "Didymus" paced nervously.  The ghost of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara couldn't shake his recurrent dream of being placed on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity.  The judge, prosecutor, and jurors all had gas masks veiling their faces, even though the defense attorney kept telling them there was no need for it.  ("It's been almost seventy years!  The nuclear fallout is gone!")  The prosecutor pointed vaguely in the direction of Didymus, and told the jury that some things could only be seen with eyes covered.

"Are we here to condemn Iran for its nuclear program?  No!  Are we here to condemn North Korea for its nuclear program?  No!  We are here to condemn the United States--the only nation that has ever committed an act of nuclear genocide!"


"We are not the genocidal ones!" protested Didymus.  "We were saving lives when we dropped those bombs!"


"Saving lives by not having to invade Japan?  That is like saying using drones to kill 30,000 people in Asia and Africa is saving American lives by not having to invade Asia and Africa!  Acts of genocide against other races to 'save' your own people!"


"You are getting it all wrong!" protested Didymus.  "And it wasn't me, anyway!  That was before I was Secretary of Defense!  Why am I on trial?  I didn't kill the Japanese!"

"Why is anyone on trial?!" exclaimed the veiled prosecutor, unintentionally facing a wall.  "Crimes against humanity will not be tolerated!  Execute him!"

With that, the jurors stood up and lifted rifles to aim at Didymus, but with the gas masks on, they had trouble locating him.  Didymus bolted for the window, desperately trying to smash it open with a chair.

"Didymus!" exclaimed Dr. Esse, upon exiting his office.  He apologized to Talaverdi, saying his next patient was having sleepwalking problems, but all Talaverdi could see was a chair floating in mid-air next to a window.

Outside the window, a catbird flew back and forth, taunting the confused ghost inside with shrill cries that sounded like air siren warnings.  Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac happily contemplated the blind leading the blind.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sagittarius

Hong Kong's preeminent spy, Charles Wu, was backstage during the Cavalia/Odysseo intermission, hoping to seduce one of the graceful Canadian acrobats--but they were much more interested in taking turns holding and petting little Buffy Cordelia.  ("C'est la plus jolie bebe' en Washington!" said a lovely young blond.)  Delia, for her part, was clamoring to be let down to run over to the magical horses.  "Laisse-moi!", said a young redhead, taking Delia in her arms and leading her carefully away from the restless stallions over to a tranquil black gelding.  "Voila'!"  Wu sighed in happy resignation, outshone again by his young daughter.  In truth, October had been an excellent month--first with getting back in John Kerry's good graces after the mutually beneficial trip to Asia, then getting back in Mia's good graces by reuniting her with her sister in Southeast Asia, then eliminating rival Glenn Defense Marine Asia by exposing their bribery recipients, and (oh, yes!) finally playing his blackmail card against John Boehner to get the House vote to end the Shutdown in the eleventh hour. Delia was now rubbing noses with the gelding, and the redhead was winking at Wu. Life was sweet! 

Over in the lounge, Buddy Lee Trickham and Bridezilla were drinking cheap wine and discussing the horses they had grown up with, compared to the multi-talented herd they had just witnessed.  They had a lot in common, Bridezilla had to concede to herself, but she couldn't help imagine what it would have been like to watch the show with Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi instead:  she could hear in her mind the sound of his voice gushing over the lyrical pageantry of the exquisitely designed show, comparing various scenes to Roman mythology, and telling her she had eyes that flashed with the excitement of a white stallion--

"Hon?"

"What?" she asked.

"Never mind," said Professor Trickham, attributing her distracted air to the post-Gothic, neo-Bellum's female obsession with symbols of pre-industrial agrarian elegance and privilege--e.g., finely bred horses.  (Bridezilla made more of an effort to focus on what Trickham was saying, but her mind wandered again:  to her triumphant creation of the Mitch McConnell Kentucky Kickback--another political victory for the Prince and Prowling junior partner, but one which was known only to a select few.)  "Hon, are you tired?"

"No!" cried Bridezilla, who just realized she must have sighed.  "This show is absolutely stunning and gorgeous!  Thank you so much for bringing me here!  But it was such a long week at work--what with the Shutdown, and our military contractor clients' getting antsy."

"Of course, babe!  But we're here to relax and rejuvenate!  You aren't billing anybody right now, so forget about 'em all!"  (But Bridezilla did not want to forget about her triumph--or Talaverdi--and her mind continued to wander.)

Sebastian L'Arche and Becky Hartley were also backstage during the intermission of Cavalia/Odysseo, courtesy of the VIP tickets some grateful clients had given them.  (Hartley had cured their cat's constipation with animal acupuncture, and the Dog Whisperer had cured their dog's fear of Miley Cyrus music.)  "I still don't understand how those women could hang on scarves!" declared Hartley.  "I do a hundred crunches a day, and I can barely--"

"That horse is really unhappy," interrupted L'Arche.

"Him?  Oh, he just needs to be fixed!  My daddy is not gonna believe it when I tell him a third of the horses in this show are stallions!  These people are just cruisin' for a bruisin'!"

"No, it's something else," said L'Arche.

"What, the biting?  Stallions do that!" said Hartley.

L'Arche ignored her and walked over to the feisty Lusitano, which was ignoring his trainer's attempts to get him in line for the rehearsal sequence before intermission was over.  "Shhhh," whispered L'Arche, placing a hand behind Jazzy's twitching ear.  "Tell me."  The trainer stood back, amazed that the stallion had stopped moving and was staring deeply at L'Arche--L'Arche had not even spoken to the horse in French!  L'Arche stroked the horse for a couple of minutes and whispered some more words into his ear; then he gently nudged Jazzy back to his trainer.

"He'll be alright now," said L'Arche, and he walked away quickly.

"What was it?" asked Hartley, sprinting after him.

"Just another ghost," said L'Arche.  "I told him this region is full of them, but they won't bother the horses."

But it wasn't just another ghost:  it was the ghost of Henry Samuelson, spying on Charles Wu--convinced Wu was meeting a secret contact here.  Everybody knew that Arabs were obsessed with horses, and if the Heurich Society was not responsible for Saudi Arabia's turning down the U.N. Security Council seat, then who was?  Ghost Henry flitted restlessly around the tent, determined to find out what Wu was up to.

Several miles away, Angela de la Paz was running up and down the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, in sync with the pink warblers flying above her head, and the pink dolphins playing in the Tidal Basin beneath her.  She had done it on a dare from Solomon Kane, and it had worked!  She had flown to New York, crashed a United Nations reception, introduced herself to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.N., and convinced him to turn down the Security Council seat.  Chi!  The baby inside her was growing bigger, and she was going to have to change her workout routines soon.  She went into a handstand, then carefully walked down the steps on her hands.  She sat down for a few modified crunches, then stopped to catch her breath.  She could feel Ardua of the Potomac half a mile away, reaching up to the 14th Street Bridge to give the E.P.A. Administrator a whack of cancer; Angela closed her eyes to concentrate until she felt Ardua sink back into the muck.  Then she looked at her watch and got up to go get ready for her date with Kane at Odysseo.

Out in the river, a furious Ardua lashed out at everyone in sight, infecting another dozen ducks and a hundred more river rats with her evil hatred.  That girl can't be everywhere in this city!

******************************
COMING UP:  Men in veils.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Love in the Time of Choler

Angela de la Paz was walking restlessly around Dupont Circle, a lovesick Solomon Page close at her side.

"So this Heurich Society has secret meetings where they decide how they're going to change the course of human history?" asked Kane.  ("Yep.")  "They meet in the Brewmaster's Castle?"  ("Yep.")  "Then they send you and other operatives to do their bidding?"  ("Yep.")  "So why did that guy want me to kill Button Samuelson?"

'Oh, now you care, after you already agreed to do it?!" exclaimed Angela.

"How many times do I have to apologize about that?!  It's nothing personal."

"I understand--I really do.  I used to go on assignments like that, but it got to be too much.  You know what Charles Wu told me?  He told me that the population of the world has tripled since the Heurich Society was formed.  They're simply too small to keep up with it--you can't control everybody."

"So why are you still working for them?"

"Because Button is nice to me, and she's the Chair now, so it's a little better."

"Is that enough?" asked Kane.

"For now," said Angela (who had not yet told Kane she was a lot more dedicated to her moonlighting gig as a demon-killer).

A block away, the Heurich Society had already discussed and rejected half a dozen ideas for ending the government shutdown.  "Alright," said Samuelson, "we have a motion to start a new war.  You have the floor."  She looked at the speakerphone, waiting for the Bloodsucker to speak.

"I believe," said Condoleezza Rice, "that an actual invasion on U.S. territory is the only thing that could bring together the Republicans and Democrats at this time."

"Been there, done that," sighed a former CIA operative.

"You don't actually mean on U.S. territory?" asked a former U.S. Congressman.

"My suggestion is to stage it on the Marianas Islands,"said Rice (the Bloodsucker), "with strong hints that Hawaii is next."

"Hm, that seems doable," said a mad scientist.  "We could even do a small hydrogen bomb there!" he added, gleefully.

"I don't know," said the former Congressman.  "Obama's from Hawaii, so the Republicans might not rise to the occasion."

"What about Puerto Rico?" asked Samuelson.

"Too many witnesses there," said the former CIA operative.  "We could possibly stage something in the British Virgin Islands--there is a branch of the Bush family tree there that might help out."

"But it's too close to the mainland for a hydrogen bomb," said the mad scientist, dejectedly.

(Condoleezza Rice was rolling her eyes, but nobody could detect that over the speakerphone.)  "Alright, let me rethink my proposal for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I'll feel out the Bush clan there.  What about Project Cinderella?  Can we rely on her to help with this?"

"Of course," lied Samuelson.  "She'd do anything to get the Federal government running again."

A few miles to the east, coroner John Constantine and Ann Bishis were also discussing the government shutdown, while touring the Spy Museum (on their third date).  "Here's the thing," said Bishis, Chief of Staff to Congressman Herrmark, "guys like my boss are just innocent victims in all this."

"Really?" scoffed Constantine, sarcastically.

"Some Reps. are media darlings, some Reps. are major party fundraisers, some Reps. have undue influence because they're in swing states.  Herrmark is just a run-of-the-mill Rep. who works the room and gets people to vote on his stuff because he votes on their stuff.  Right now there's no stuff."

"By stuff, you mean an actual ability to find money for new pork?"

"Pork is such a pejorative term!" protested Bishis.

"I think Congressmen have more sense of entitlement than anybody else feeding at the Federal trough!"

"You're so cynical!" she protested again.

"Wasn't he voted Upper Class Twit of the Year?"  Bishis smiled--not because she was proud of that, but because this meant Constantine liked her enough to do research on her boss!

Over in Cleveland Park, Liv Cigemeier and her husband were taking advantage of the warmer weather to take an evening stroll around their neighborhood.  "I think Senator Breadman might really have a heart attack if this shutdown doesn't end soon," said the junior partner from Prince and Prowling, squeezing his wife's hand.  "He's so pissed at Ted Cruz that he took their photo down from his Wall of Me and stomped it to pieces!  Then he put it in the kitchen sink and set it on fire."

"Who did he use to fill that gap in the Wall of Me?" asked Liv.

"A photo of him and Dolly Parton taken at the Country Music Awards."

"Shut up!" Liv laughed.

"Seriously!  Then somebody pasted a cropped shot of Chloe Cleavage's head on top of Dolly Parton."

"You're lying!"

"No, I'm serious!  Look, actually there's something else I want to talk about."  (Liv looked at him with extreme alarm.)  "I think you've gotten too attached to Delia."

"Well, I'm her babysitter!  There's nothing wrong with that!" protested Liv.

"What I mean is, we haven't really talked in a long time about our little problem getting pregnant.  I think we're past that now, and should think about adoption."

"But we don't have the money now!" exclaimed Liv.  "I'm not even working full-time!"

"That's why it's the perfect time to adopt," said her husband.  "You can stay home with the baby."

"You know it could be years before we get a baby, don't you?  The only way we could adopt quickly is with an older child."

"We'll figure it out!" said her husband.  "If you want it, we'll figure it out!"

"Of course I want it!" sobbed Liv, pressing herself against him.  (Not far away, the real estate demon living in their backyard tool shed bristled in anguish and alarm.)

A few miles away, a dazed and confused Bridezilla had just finished dining in the apartment of Luciano Talaverdi, who was desperately trying to woo her away from Buddy Lee Trickham.  Bridezilla was wandering nervously around his apartment, looking at his paintings and knickknacks so that she could avoid sitting down on the inviting Italian leather sofa.  "Buddy says Congress is putting on Bread and Circuses, just like they did in ancient Rome when they were trying to distract the people from their impending doom," she said in a high-pitched voice (though less nasal than usual because of the strong contingent of garlic in the home-cooked meal--incidentally, one of the many reasons she was trying to avoid kissing him).  "Except they forgot the bread, and are just doing the circuses."

"Nobody in Rome ever did anything this petty and stupid," asserted the Italian economist, opening a Skype connection on his computer.

"Buddy and I were talking today about what it would be like if Columbus landed here today, in 2013:  would he think this crazy country is worth discovering?  He was Italian, right?"

"Yes, but he landed in the Caribbean--not in North America."

"Well, you know what I mean," said Bridezilla.  (He really didn't.)

"Come here:  I have a surprise for you!"  (She walked over to the computer, baffled.)  "My friend is going to sing you a song on Skype."

"Buona sera!" said Andrea Bocelli.  "I can't see you, but I know you are the most beautiful woman in Washington!"  Bridezilla thought she was going to faint, but Talaverdi pulled her down onto his lap for the mini concert, and she sank limply into his arms.

Out on the Potomac River, a furloughed Golden Fawn was enjoying being a stowaway on her husband's Coast Guard vessel.  It was finally clear enough to see some stars, and the political craziness was sucking up so much of Ardua's time that the river was almost peaceful tonight.  "Thank goodness you're an essential worker!" she said again to Marcos Vazquez (whose crew was discreetly hanging out on the other side of the boat).  "At least we have one paycheck coming in."  She leaned in closer to him, starting to shiver in the cooling night air.

"They'll work it out," said Vazquez, who was actually expecting increasing violence and mayhem in the days to come, but he would never say anything to worry his wife.

"I think I had a breakthrough researching Ardua today," she said, of the demon writhing twenty feet below them.  "The cycles of evil--the way evil reverberates and grows, like an echo in a canyon."

"You'll figure it out," he said, though he doubted that, too.  He loved her more than life itself, but he had no idea how to protect her from the evil she had sworn herself to destroy.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

October Heat

Washington Post "Metro" reporter Perry Winkle was having lunch in the Union Station food court with several young teenagers after their Urban Guerrilla field trip to the city morgue.  A few had opted to get only milkshakes, and those who had ordered food were having trouble getting it down.  "Really shakes you up, doesn't it?" asked Winkle.

"The autopsy reports were the worst," said one girl.  "That two-year-old had bruises all over his body!  How can somebody beat a tiny child like that?"

"How can you beat anybody like that?" asked another girl.

"I'll never forget the sight of that corpse--I mean, man--with the burn marks all over his body," said a boy.

"He must never have burned himself before in his entire life, because it hurts so much," said a girl.  "If I were gonna kill myself, I wouldn't do something that hurt so much."

"He saluted the Capitol--he was making a statement!  Like that guy who started the revolution in Tunisia," said a boy.

"You could still shoot yourself, instead--that would be better," said a girl.

Finally, a boy who had been very quiet turned to Winkle.  "The people that worked there seemed kinda...happy?"

"Yeah, I noticed that," said Winkle, who was typing furiously on his laptop.  "I should have asked them why, but my guess is, when you're dealing with dead people every day, it makes you pretty happy just to be alive."

"I don't feel happy," said a girl.

"You would if you went there every day," said a boy, trying to convince himself more than her.

"Maybe 'happy' is not quite the right word," sighed Winkle.

A couple miles to the west, Congressman John Boehner was also pondering happiness.  "It's not fair!" he wailed to his psychiatrist, Ermann Esse.  "The government is supposed to be shut down, but there goes Obama, blowing up terrorists overseas again!  Why does he always get to play the hero?"

"Hm, said Dr. Esse, "you are perceiving President Obama as a hero?"

"I didn't say that!" protested the Speaker of the House.  "I said he's playing a hero--the real heroes are the Navy Seals!  It's not right that Obama gets credit!"

"Why do you think he gets credit?"

"Because he's Commander in Chief!  And we can't take money away from military crises."

"Yes, you can."

"No, we can't!  It would be political suicide!"

"Ah, well that's different," said Dr. Esse.  "The truth is, you can do whatever you like with the budget.  It's just a matter of whether you will win reelection later."

"How can you say that?!  Like it's just paying a speeding ticket or something!"

"Why do you want to win reelection?" asked Dr. Esse.

"Because it's my destiny, and I am a hero to my constituents!"

"Are you actually a hero, or are you playing a hero?"

"Whose side are you on?!" demanded Boehner, jumping up from the couch.

"If you do the right thing, then you are a hero.  If your constituents deserve to have a hero representing their district, they will reelect you.  You must also face the possibility that your constituents do not deserve a hero, or do not know how to recognize one."

"Well, what should I do?" wailed Boehner, starting to cry.  "I'm being blackmailed!"

"Blackmail?  Hm.  Have you contacted the FBI?"

"Of course not!  They might be the ones blackmailing me--I don't know who it is!"

"Well, what are their demands?"

"I don't know!  They haven't demanded anything yet!  It might be the Tea Party.  If these phone records get out, I'm totally screwed!"

"Hm," said Dr. Esse, putting his pen down.  "A blackmailer who has not yet revealed his agenda--and yet, he has inspired great fear on your part."

"I didn't say I was afraid!" protested Boehner.

"Well, the blackmailer is terrorizing you--"

"Yes, like a terrorist!"

"You need to hire somebody to find out who it is," said Dr. Esse, picking up his pen again.  "Why don't you call this person."  He wrote down a number on a piece of paper.  "His name is Solomon Kane, and he has eliminated many blackmail threats for my clients."  The astonished Speaker of the House took the piece of paper, examined it carefully, then stuck it in his breast pocket.  "Next time, perhaps we should talk about what is in your phone records which makes you so uncomfortable?"  Boehner nodded noncommittally before heading back to Capitol Hill.

A few miles to the north, Liv Cigemeier and her husband were unknowingly in the Cleveland Park home of Boehner's blackmailer, Charles Wu.  "Are you snooping around?" asked Liv, after her husband returned to his laptop in the sitting room after a long absence.

"Maybe I wanted decorating ideas," he said, unconvincingly, giving a resentful look to Buffy Cordelia--who was currently sitting on the rug building towers of blocks with her babysitter.

Liv furrowed her brow.  Something about working for Wu really bothered her husband, but she could not figure out what it was.  She thought this would be a relaxing weekend (and easy money!), since Wu was in Asia for the international meetings, but her husband seemed resentful about the whole thing.  "After Delia's nap, we can put on our suits and take her out to the kiddie pool."

Her husband knew that Wu had dealings with his Prince and Prowling law partner, former Senator Evermore Breadman, but he didn't know what those deals were about.  "Sure," he said, smiling at his wife, "the distilled water swimming pool.  You used to look down on the pretentious things rich people bought."

"It's healthier!" replied Liv.  "A gold-plated kiddie pool would be pretentious."

Her husband watched her in silence, wondering if this was the right time in their lives to revisit the pregnancy issue and start looking into adoption.

Back downtown, TFFT television reporter Holly Gonightly and her crew were descending into the tunnels of Dupont Down Under, hot on the heels of the District of Columbia Police she had tipped off at the conclusion of her undercover investigation.  ("Go, go, go!")  The cameraman struggled to keep up as his assistant jogged alongside, adjusting the light and boom.  ("Open up!")  The police officers were shouting at a series of dark and smelly blankets hanging as makeshift tent walls under some subway grates; then one of the officers ripped a blanket off its hooks.  ("Drop it!")

Gonightly leaned in.  "Secret video cameras, pointing straight up the sidewalk grates, under unsuspecting passersby!" crowed the reporter, triumphantly.  "These two men have been filming up women's skirts, posting crotch photos on internet porn sites!"

"These are artistic renderings of Washington's finest women!" protested the older of the two, as his younger partner placed the video camera on the ground.  "We've posted Lara Logan, Mary Cheh, and Nancy Pelosi's daughter!"

"Hey!" said the younger man, pointing at Gonightly.  "She's that reporter that's too fat for television!"  (With that, a female officer hit him on the head with a baton, sending him down to his knees with a whelp of pain.)

"There you have it!" exclaimed Gonightly (who was accustomed to getting remarks like that, and having to edit them out of the film later).  "Two more criminals busted by tenacious investigative reporting!  This is Holly Gonightly."

Up at street level, Ann Bishis momentarily heard shouting as she passed over a sidewalk grate, but continued walking along with her date--John Constantine, from the coroner's office.  The food at Pain Quotidien had been fine, but it was the cheapest date she had been on in years.  With 800,000 federal workers on furlough, lobbyists not in a spending mood, and K Street attorneys boring her to tears, she had really gone out on a limb for this blind date.  He wasn't bad-looking, and did not have a morbid sense of humor as anticipated; the truth was, he was actually a very cheerful and pleasant guy.  "Hey!" he said, with a twinkle in his eye.  "It's getting so hot out!  Why don't we raid a closed Monument:  we could jump into the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial!"  Bishis was surprised, since he had just told her that he had done the autopsy on National Mall Burning Man, but she happily agreed.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac turned her delighted attention away from the squabbling Executive and Legislative branches, and sent out another flock of infected ducks to visit the Supreme Court for its new session of sucking more life out of the dying Bill of Rights.

COMING UP:
Love in the time of choler.