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, February 23, 2014

Like the Great Lakes--

Like the Great Lakes, Washington Water Woman has been completely iced over!  She is, however, keeping copious notes, and hopes to return to blogging soon....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Death By Chocolate

Glenn Michael Beckmann was heading back to his apartment at Southwest Plaza with a carful of sweet memories and weapons after days of wheeling and dealing at America's Gun Show, out in Chantilly, Virginia.  First, he had sold his (fake) antique Colt 45 with the (walrus) ivory handle for a ridiculous $4,500, then he had bartered five AK47s for a used rocket-propelled grenade launcher (it would look great on his balcony, though he wasn't sure the range was long enough to hit the Capitol), then he had swapped a hand-made bow and arrow for three Glocks stolen from the Fairfax County Police Department.  After that, he had met with several of his conspiracy blog followers to discuss future plans for the Hunter-Gatherer Society, including a drone strike on Sky Drive to stop it from stealing their computer documents and hiding them in The Cloud.  (That would be tricky, naturally, since, first, they would have to locate The Cloud, and second, they would have to steal a drone.)  In addition, he had lined up half a dozen actual paying customers for his new business, Beckmann's Bad Asses (code name, Beckmann's Floral Cushions)!  Still, there was a tiny hole in his heart that all the guns 'n ammo in the world could not fill, and he was very disappointed that he had not gotten lucky at America's Gun Show, so he decided to stop off at CVS to gorge himself on clearance bin Valentine chocolate.

Across the Potomac River, the denizens of the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged were also gorging themselves on clearance bin Valentine chocolate, while Freddy Ritchings (AKA Brother Divine of the International Peace Movement) was preaching to them about his brand new religion, the Church of Twitter.  "The pen is mightier than the sword, my friends, but the hashtag is mightier than them all!"  ("Amen!")  "Wondering what God says to you about sin?  Simply enter #sin, and God will speak to you through Twitter!"  (Ritchings paused to do just that on the group home computer, and then let the others gather round to see what popped up on the screen.)  "Now, see, that one with the halo avatar looks pretty good, but it's actually about waffles--you must beware of the false prophets!"  ("Amen!")  "Now here's a photo of a beautiful woman, but her Tweet is appealing to man's vanity--you must beware of Eve's apple!" ("Amen!")  ("Hey, what?")  "Twitter is not for the weak of heart--you must cast your seed on holy ground, and fight through the weeds to find the fruit." ("Amen!")  ("What's this Tweet that says #SIN is Service Industry Night?")  "Beware of the man with a huge, gnarly chunk of wood in his eye, telling you he needs to remove the splinter in yours!"  ("Amen!")  "Now, here is one that speaks loudly to me, clearly the voice of God!"  ("Never underestimate your ability to #sin better than Satan.")  "I will reply, my friends!  I will reply!"  (Ritchings showed them how to reply to the Tweet with his own Tweet:  "To #sin is human, to forgive is #BrotherDivine!")  ("Ooooooh!")  "A new hashtag is born, and at the end of this day, I will have dozens, no I say to you, hundreds of Likes and Retweets, and God's glory will march forth and multiply the loaves!"  ("Amen!")  ("Can we look up #alienabduction?")

Back in Washington, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was heading into his State Department office after a frustrating lunch with his ex, Eva Brown.  (#valentinesdaysucks)  The Eva-shaped hole in his heart had never gone away, and he had foolishly thought the timing of the lunch invitation meant something, but, no, all she had wanted to talk about was Project R.O.D.H.A.M.'s failure in Syria--which she blamed on a lack of funding.  The Syrian peace conference was a joke because nobody wanted peace there except the refugees:  it would be civil war until too many young men were dead to continue the fighting.  "We need an arms embargo on Syria!" she had pleaded, and she was right, it was the absolutely only chance of stopping the bloodshed--but reality and logic did not go hand in hand in the Levantine, and certain people were making a lot of money selling weapons there.  He picked up the latest cables from John Kerry (currently in China), then went to work preparing for the backlash on Kerry's declaration that climate change was a weapon of mass destruction--a bag of clearance bin Valentine chocolate his only companion.

Back at the Southwest CVS, lifestyle blogger Giuliana Sunstream was losing control at the Valentine candy clearance bin when a camouflage-attired Glenn Michael Beckmann approached rapidly from her left and plunged his hand into the fray.  His fingers brushed her wrist--and the cursed Rolex--and they both looked up, and their eyes met.  She waited breathlessly for him to move his hand away from her wrist, but he didn't...nor did she move hers.  "I know you," she said.  "You write that lifestyle blog, and run Beckmann's Floral Cushions."

An impish smile took hold of him.  "And you write that NoMa blog," he said.  "The photo doesn't do justice to your stunning American beauty."  He tickled her wrist under cover of the pink Hershey's Kisses bags, and she looked down, and then back up at him.

"You look different, too," she said, but she was wrong.  He looked exactly like his online photo--a pudgy militia man with an old-fashioned haircut and crazy eyes.  The difference was he had touched her cursed Rolex, and her pheromones and hormones were going berserk.  "I'd love to learn the secret to how you got so many Twitter followers," she whispered seductively.

"Maybe I'll tell you all my secrets," he answered, then he grabbed her and started kissing her for several minutes until the store manager asked them to take it outside.

Across the Tidal Basin, Mia was sitting on the Jefferson Memorial, shoving Dove Promises into her mouth and basking in the sick glow she mistook for love from Ardua of the Potomac:  she was possessed.  (Most people in Washington are possessed, but she was really possessed.)

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COMING UP:  Angela de la Paz decides her baby's fate, and Laura Moreno settles into her new life at Prince and Prowling.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Look into the crystal...too late.

"Of course you should do it," said Mia, nonchalantly.  "I don't even know why you're hesitating at all."

Angela de la Paz had just finished meeting with her espionage boss, Charles Wu, and had stopped for a visit before leaving.  "But children are so wonderful!" she said, adding more Legos to little Buffy Cordelia's castle under construction.

"Eh," said Mia, "they're OK."

"Are you feeling alright?  You seem different since we went to Asia."

"I'm fine, just sick of studying, sick of everything," said Mia, nonchalantly adding a Lego so Delia would stop staring at her expectantly.

But now Angela was staring at Mia intensely.  "But you love Delia!  I know you don't want to be a nanny forever, but--"

"It's just a job--I don't love her.  And you won't love your baby because it'll just cause problems for you and make your life hard and remind you that Roddy is dead.  You should definitely give up the baby, and I bet Charles will give you a big cash bonus, too--he wants to give the baby to that Prince and Prowling partner, so he's got his reasons."

With that, Angela felt a shiver go down her spine, and hurried out of Wu's house.

Several miles to the south, Angela's baby was also the topic at the Heurich Society meeting in the Brewmaster's castle.  

"She's seven months' pregnant, and the operatives are still afraid of her?"

"Nobody wants to take a contract with us because they don't want to go up against her."

"We're not asking anybody to go up against her!"

"It doesn't matter!  They think if she stopped working for Heurich, then we're enemies with her, and they're still terrified of her."

"She's a fat blob!  How could they be scared of her?"

"They say she's visiting people in their dreams, like Freddy Krueger."

"That's ridiculous!" exclaimed Samuelson.  "Find us some new operatives!  I'd like to be able to run a mission this month that involves more than sabotaging the Olympic snowflake rings!"  She glared at the former CIA agent who had spent $30,000 on his petty attempt to embarrass Vladimir Putin at Sochi.

A couple blocks away, the managing partner of Prince and Prowling was wining and dining Laura Moreno at Scion in a desperate attempt to get the lawyer back to work.  He had brought along Cigemeier (the only likable partner the firm had) and his wife (who seemed increasingly uncomfortable with the tone of the meeting).  P and P was in desperate straits since, on the one hand, former Senator Evermore Breadman had insisted on all the contract attorneys' being fired until the D.C. Bar magazine scandal died down and, on the other hand, Bridezilla had promised Bank of America that the firm would have no problem analyzing 20 million e-documents getting produced from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.  Turned out that nobody at P and P--not even overpaid staff attorney Chloe Cleavage--knew Discovery Raider as well as Laura Moreno.  Moreno was the only one who could possibly save this contract!  

"We'll make you a Staff Attorney this time, with your own office," said Cigemeier.

"And health insurance if you agree to bill 50 hours/week--that's way less than other firm attorneys have to bill," added the managing partner (who didn't appreciate Liv Cigemeier's scowl).

"You're the best expert we have at running the searches," said Cigemeier, "and you're the only person we've ever had who knows how to open Rich Text Files without crashing the computer."  (Liv couldn't believe this is how--or why!--her husband was asking this attorney to come back to work there.)

"And a raise, of course," added the managing partner, "and two paid holidays per year--you can pick them."  (Liv scowled at him again.)

What nobody at the table knew was that Chloe Cleavage had begged, bribed, and blackmailed hiring managers all over town not to hire Moreno anywhere--and so they had all started claiming conflicts of interest, even though Moreno had only worked on a handful of cases during her many years as a P and P peasant.

What Laura Moreno did know was that she had just sold her grandmother's antique crystal collection to pay the rent, and Craigslist was full of ads requiring your own iPhone, speaker phone, computer, and car--not to mention “job” ads saying “unpaid, but maybe we’ll pay you later”.  Moreno was worn out.  Self esteem was a thing of the past.  This was her life now.  "OK."

At the other end of Scion, Luciano Talaverdi was telling his date, Helen Yellen, about what life was like now at the Federal Reserve Board.  "She's great!" he said again, in his umpteenth compliment of Janet Yellen.  "Best boss ever, and brilliant economist!"  Helen smiled politely--these kinds of dates had become very common lately, but Talaverdi was definitely the cutest of the (misguidedly) ambitious ones. "So you said you didn't know her much growing up?"  Helen shook her head no, as she had on all the other dates, but then something different happened.  "You know, no offense, but your English seems just a little bit un-American.  Where did you grow up?"

"You're one to talk!" she laughed at the Italian.

"No, no, my English is terrible, I know, but, really, where did you grow up?"

And something about his accent and his deep brown eyes and his Giorgio Armani cologne and the pinot grigio got to her, and she opened up.  "I was born in the U.S., but my father was a Brazilian diplomat, and my mother was from Greece.  She died when he was on assignment in Germany, and he married a German woman.  Later they were divorced, and he married an Argentine woman when he was on assignment there, but then he died, and she ended up marrying into the Yellen family, and that's how I became a Yellen.  Then my stepmother died.  I spent most of my childhood in boarding schools--Europe, South America, the U.S.  Are you crying?"

Talaverdi was, indeed, crying.  The man who had never spent a day of his childhood away from his mamma thought he had just heard a description of Hell.  "You are an orphan!"  He grabbed both her hands across the table, forgetting all his ambitious plans of marrying his way into the Washingtonian elite.  "You must come with me to Italy for Easter!"

A block away, Angela de la Paz was knocking back slices of Alberto's pizza for her growing baby.  She had phoned Lynnette Wong and Golden Fawn about the adoption request, but she was no closer to a decision.  Solomon Kane was trying to tell her he would support her no matter what her decision was, but she had grown up in a sea of broken homes and had no illusions about how well men took care of other men's babies.  "I need to see the Warrior," she said at last, and he nodded as if he understood what that meant, even though he didn't have the foggiest idea.

Back at Charles Wu's house, he felt it was a 50-50 chance whether Angela would agree to let the Cigemeier couple adopt her baby.  If she agreed, he was 80% certain that would buy Cigemeier's silence about his unfortunate awareness that Wu had delivered some American intelligence to a Chinese government minister.  These were not the best of odds, but his chi had triumphed over the odds repeatedly throughout his life.  Still, he knew Angela's chi was greater.  But she shouldn't keep the baby, anyway--she's too young!  (He did not, of course, think her too young to be a spy.)  He finished up with his email and headed out to have dinner with his little girl--whom he found smearing peas all over her high chair tray while Mia was elsewhere.  "Where's your nanny, sweetheart?"

But Mia was outside in the cold, tossing breadcrumbs to her new friends...the starlings.  And they were whispering terrible things to her.

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COMING UP:  Sick love is in the air!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Super

A very jetlegged Liv Cigemeier, with an encouraging nudge from her husband, headed towards a female cluster at the Superbowl party being hosted by former Senator Evermore Breadman, while her husband made a beeline for Charles Wu.

"So how did the rest of your trip go?" asked Cigemeier, who had flown back commercially from Asia days before his wife returned with Wu on a private charter.

"Excellent!  I trust you found your time at Prince and Prowling's Beijing office fruitful?"

"Excessively fruitful," said Cigemeier.  "I learned a great deal about doing business in China."

"I'm so glad to hear it!" replied Wu.

"I learned, for instance, that our client got a government contract after you met privately with a government minister."

"That's true--lobbying is just as important in Beijing as it is D.C."

"I met with that government minister, myself, and he seemed to be under the impression that I had additional information to pass along to him.  I thought at first he was looking for a bribe, but then it became very clear what he was looking for."

Wu drained his cocktail carefully before speaking.  "We're all in the business of information management and client services, aren't we?"

Cigemeier said nothing.  For one thing, he was still uncertain whether espionage was merely something Wu did on the side, or if it was more than that.  He kept staring at Wu.

"I can see you're uncomfortable with what you learned," Wu said at last.  "I think I know how to make you more comfortable with it."

Over in Liv's new female cluster, the ladies were admiring Bridezilla's diamond earrings.  "These are vintage 1920s, from New Orleans!"  (They were actually vintage 1950s, from New York City.)  "Buddy Lee comes from a very wealthy old family in Alabama."  (His father was a used car salesman in Mississippi.)  "He just keeps giving me these precious family jewels every excuse he gets!"  (She had actually purchased them herself, at an estate auction in Maryland, after selling her Rolex to generate financing for the gifts she felt people should perceive her fiance was giving her.)  "I am the luckiest girl in Virginia!"

"It's a shame we can't certify the older diamonds as ethically mined," said Liv, who had just spent the better part of a week touring post-typhoon rebuilding projects in the Philippines.  She flashed a saccharin smile at Bridezilla, hoping to kill the Marie Antoinette party conversation once and for all.

Several miles to the east, lifestyle guru Giuliana Sunstream was also hosting a Super Bowl Party (for $150 admission price).  The guests had all arrived, the food was exquisite, the widescreen plasma was fired up, and the Seattle/Denver hybrid cedar/sage aromatherapy was in place.  But something was wrong:  Sunstream was standing on the balcony staring at the setting sun and scratching a sudden rash under her new Rolex.  She was sure she could see the injured snowy owl flying off into the sunset.  "Fly, darling, fly!" she whispered.  "The snowy kingdom to the North awaits you!"  Her toy Maltese, "Vegas", looked up at her in bewilderment.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac was also enjoying the sunset--because she loved the coming darkness.  Tonight she would complete her possession of the trusted one, and Angela de la Paz would never see it coming.

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COMING UP:  Charles Wu finds a way to buy Cigemeier's silence.