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 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!

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