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 ....

Monday, May 26, 2014

In Their Own Way

Luciano Talaverdi had sacrificed his entire Memorial Day weekend to tend to his sick girlfriend, Helen Yellen--and all she had was a cold!  She had run a fever for four days over the silly virus, and he was starting to doubt whether her body had the stamina to bear children.  Now she was begging him to pick up a pet listed as a giveaway on Freecycle.

"What kind of people would name their dog 'Petro Pig?'" the Federal Reserve Board economist asked.

She shrugged her shoulders.  "We could call it 'Pietro.'"

"You can't name a dog after a saint!" said the Italian.

"We could call it 'Pig,'" replied Yellen.  He looked at her dubiously, and she started to pout.  "They said it's very loving.  Don't I deserve to have some affection when I'm house-sitting for Bruce Springsteen and you're here in Washington?"

"Alright, bella!" he said.  (At least it would get him away from the sick bed and out into the sunshine!)

Several miles away, Charles Wu was basking in the sunshine at former Senator Evermore Breadman's barbecue and pool party.

Breadman--wielding the grilling fork like an épée--was in a particularly ebullient mood.  First of all, he was out of the hospital after getting shot at Bridezilla's wedding.  Secondly, Prince and Prowling had absolutely crushed Goode Peepz law firm on the Amazonian oil spill litigation--and Goode Peepz, found to be fraudulent by a bribed judge, had been ordered to pay all attorney fees for Prince and Prowling's fossil fuel client.  (The P&P billing rate immediately rose 25% after that.)  Third, his pal Wu (currently admiring his own seersucker-suited reflection in the sliding glass door) seemed to be getting back to his old self.

"So how's your mother?" Breadman asked.

"Oh, she went back to Hong Kong," Wu replied.  "I found an English nanny, and I think she's going to work out splendidly."  Mrs. Higgety-Cheshire had been, in fact, the only candidate from the nanny agency who both passed his own background check and fit all his requirements:  old, traditional, boring, content.  He would not have any more young, unstable women caring for little Delia except for Angela de la Paz--who was, in fact, currently monitoring Mrs. Higgety-Cheshire on the nanny cam, as she had been for a week, to give Wu the total assurance Angela's own sense of telepathy could not bring him.

"That was a sorry business," Breadman said, smiling because he was happy that now they had transitioned to a socially acceptable point in time in which he no longer had to mention any sympathy for the suicide of the former nanny.  "My children all had Salvadoran nannies until I became a Senator; then my wife insisted we get an English nanny.  Ironic, isn't it?  Because I think the Salvadorans were actually American."

Wu smiled at the American's curious sense of irony and took another swallow of his gin and tonic.  "Like a flag pin," he said, because he was, in fact, a wee bit drunk.  (He was going to add something about Mia's not being Salvadoran, but realized there was no point.)

Back in the city, Angela was bored with watching the nanny cam (how could anybody play patty-cake for a half-hour straight?) and turned her attention back to her sleeping son, in the Cigemeier house next to Wu's.  Delia was in good hands now:  this she knew.  Was her baby?  She knew giving him up for adoption was the right thing to do, but she also knew there were things only she could teach him.  She closed her eyes to enter his Dreamtime, then took his Dreamtime self by the hand.  It's time for you to meet your father.  They floated only an instant, and there was Major Roddy Bruce.

"Look at that handsome devil!" Ghost Roddy said.  Lucas looked at him thoughtfully.  "And smart, too!"

"Every parent says that," Angela said.

"And every grandparent, too," said Angela's mother, drawing near them.

"And every great grandparent," said Angela, smiling at the arrival of abuela.

"Precioso," cooed the ghost of Abuela.

"This is your family in the Dreamtime," said Angela to Lucas.  "You can always come to us, whenever you need us.  We're not like the Cigemeier's, but they will love you in their own way."

This was supposed to be my Dreamtime, thought Laura Moreno, sitting down for a minute at Felix Cigemeier's Prince and Prowling partner desk downtown.  Relax, unwind, get a paid holiday because I'm a staff attorney now.  She finished the hand-written note to Cigemeier, then headed back to her office--where she had been all weekend, painstakingly combing through badly imaged electronic documents which should have gone straight to a forensic accountant.  "They've been turned over for attorney eyes only," Cigemeier had said, but she knew that was a lie--Prince and Prowling wanted to bill as many hours of work on this as they could, and would postpone hiring the forensic accountants until they absolutely had to.  With the state-of-the-art underground bunker ("SOTA-BUNK") review center still under construction, and no chance of hiring contract attorneys until it was completed, and staff attorney Chloe Cleavage out on indefinite medical leave for her bullet wound, it fell to Moreno alone to label each document "Money In" or "Money Out"--as if this were a magic talisman that would find where the deadbeat had hidden his assets among his thirty different limited liability corporations and off-shore accounts.  She had tried to explain to Cigemeier that every balance sheet she looked at said money was coming in AND going out in equal measure, but, unwilling to admit he did not understand accrual accounting, Cigemeier had given her nonsensical instructions that she was desperately trying to follow.  She looked at her current document--a list of credit card expenses all listed as "deposits"--and wanted to hang her head and cry.

Over on Capitol Hill, Luciano Talaverdi arrived at a row house which had seen better days.  "I'm here about the dog," he said to the woman who answered the dog.

"It's a pig," she said, opening the door to Talaverdi.  "Its owner went off to Africa with the Peace Corps, and our schedules are all too hectic to take care of it."

"What do you mean it's a pig?"

"It's a pot-bellied pig."

"The ad said it was a dog!"

"No, it didn't," she said.  "PETRO PIG!  It's very smart--comes when it's called."

"I can't take a pig!  That's disgusting!"

"No, he's very clean--unlike the petro pigs he was named after--all those sleazy Congressmen on Capitalism Hill who suck at the teats of the fossil fuel industry, and pretend climate change doesn't exist!"  At that moment, Petro Pig trotted confidently into the front foyer and quickly entered the crate he was pointed to.  "He's very obedient and loving--we're just all too busy to take care of him.  It's so cool that Helen is taking him to Bruce Springsteen's house!"

With that, Talaverdi found the crate handle shoved into his hand.  "But--"

"I can't wait to see the photos of him at Bruce's house!  I already connected to Helen on Facebook."

Talaverdi walked out onto the front stoop, and Petro Pig immediately grunted at the feeling of heat and humidity outside.  Then Talaverdi grunted.  Then they both grunted.  Up in an oak tree, a cat bird started imitating their grunting sounds, and an annoyed Talaverdi hurried to his car.

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COMING UP:  Bridezilla's secret engagement.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Ides of May

Washington Water Woman is a little overwhelmed right now, but she's keeping notes and expects to write a long blog post over Memorial Day Weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2014

All Rise

"All rise!"

The people in Judge Sowell Ame's courtroom dutifully rose for three seconds, then sat down again, for the arraignment of Angela de la Paz for attempted murder of the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia.  The Ambassador--who had, in fact, suffered a (thwarted) assassination attempt after Angela was in custody--was not in the courtroom, but plenty of glowering Saudi men were.  Despite the fact that every detective who had questioned Angela recommended dropping the charges, and two U.S. attorneys had already been replaced after protests from the Saudis, a new prosecutor was on hand to make charges.  

Also in the courtroom:  Solomon Kane, Dr. Devi Rajatala, Lynnette Wong, Liv Cigemeier, Camisole Silk (in disguise), Charles Wu (also in disguise), the Warrior (who looked like he was in disguise, but actually always wore buckskin and feathers), and Golden Fawn--who had read about the arrest in the Washington Post "Metro" section.  In attendance was also the author of that story:  Perry Winkle.  Felix Cigemeier, of Prince and Prowling rose to speak for Angela.

Meanwhile, over at the Federal Reserve Board, economist Luciano Talaverdi was having difficulty writing his latest White Paper for Janet Yellen:  "The Red Herring of Income Inequality".  First of all, he was not entirely certain that he understood all the nuances of the American use of "red herring", but he could not find a more appropriate phrase with such a colorful tone.  Secondly, his mother was emailing him every two hours, asking him when he was going to propose to Helen Yellen, whom he had taken to Italy for a two-week Easter vacation.  He liked her just fine, but her connection to the Federal Reserve Chair was, he now knew, far too tenuous to increase his influence.  And he felt more pity for her, than passion.  But she's the best shot I have!  He knew if he did marry her, there was an excellent chance that Janet Yellen would come to the wedding.  And she didn't seem to be reading any of his White Papers!  He deleted the latest email from his mother, and pulled up his paper again.  "Although some have asserted that the United States is still, in effect, only a colony, with a large class of indentured servants beholden to the empire of corporate America rather than the British Empire, this is merely Dickensian revisionism.  While it is true that the world's richest one percent control half of global wealth, the United States is still the best place to create new wealth."  ("By sucking more fossil fuels out of the ground and ruining our climate!")  Helen had argued that with him many times.  ("First it was indentured servants, then African slaves, then cheap immigrant labor--and now they're making a ton of money for destroying our climate!") Talaverdi knew now that Helen was mainly a house sitter for rock stars (rather than a true asset manager!), but she had taken one economics course at a community college and therefore insisted on arguing with the Italian economist about everything!  Of course, a true intellectual knows that criticism forces one to hone a sharper argument, but he was not sure he could stomach that in a marriage.  He sighed, picturing the endless fights they would have about how to raise the bambini.  

Over on Capitol Hill, Congressman Herrmark was calculating his options for getting funding to build a New Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria.  It had nothing to do with his constituents back home, nothing to do with the Holier Than Thou Caucus, nothing to do with repealing the Halliburton Loophole, and nothing to do with his campaign to clean up the fracking which had destroyed his parents' vacation home--but his Chief of Staff had never before asked him for a pet project, and he felt he owed it to her.  Her cousins were his bodyguards, and somehow they and Ann Bishis had helped him avoid what would have been (an unjustified!) public scandal about that Mia girl from Asia.  He had tried to get it into the defense budget, but that donkey already had too many tails pinned on it.  He was either going to have to get an earmark from Homeland Security or get it designated a National Monument.  "How does the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club feel about hosting undercover Coast Guard officers?" he asked Bishis.

Meanwhile, the ghost of Henry Samuelson was finally back at the CIA, after a lengthy and difficult Ghost CIA mission to extract his daughter Henrietta ("Button") from a dangerous mission to Crimea.  Ghost Henry was still pissed off that the Heurich Society had pressured Button to immerse herself in the Black Sea Revolution Project--an extremely risky project in every sense of the word.  Worse, he knew she was still too naive to understand all the implications of this reckless plan engineered by that bloodsucker, Condoleezza Rice!  So-called Russia expert!  All she knew was from books and memos!  Rice had never lived and worked behind the Iron Curtain as he had.  But no matter how hard he tried, Ghost Henry could never get through to Button--she never heard a word he said.  Now here he was in the CIA Director's office again, trying for a breakthrough with John Brennan.  "Listen to me!" Ghost Henry shouted, and Brennan suddenly jumped out of his chair and screamed for security.  Great:  now I need to go back to whispering.

Back at the courthouse, the prosecutor was finished speaking, and the Saudi men burst into applause.

"Order in the courtroom!" shouted Judge Sowell Ame, who picked up his gavel and threw it at the turbaned contingent.  The Sergeant-at-Arms marched menacingly over to the shocked Saudis, retrieved the gavel, and silently handed it back to the judge--who, this time, pounded it on his desk.  "Order in the courtroom!"  And without further ado, he turned to Angela de la Paz and her attorney, Felix Cigemeier.  "How do you plead?"

Angela rose slowly, fixed her gaze on the judge, and focused her supernatural power on convincing the judge to free her.  "Not guilty," she said.

"Not guilty!" repeated the judge.  "Case dismissed!"

"Your honor?!" protested the shocked prosecutor.

"Case dismissed!"

"Is there a finding?"

"Case dismissed!  That's the finding!"  Judge Sowell Ame pounded his gavel a final time, then rose to leave.

"All rise!" cried the Sergeant-at-Arms, but this time only Angela's friends jumped to their feet.
_______________________________________________
COMING UP:  Charles Wu hires a new nanny.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mayday, Mayday

Charles Wu woke up exhausted after his busiest Saturday in a very long time.  First he had needed to plant robotic millipedes in all fifty consulates open Saturday for the World Embassy Tour--thank goodness Angela de la Paz, Apricot Lily, and Camisole Silk had all been available to help.  Then he had arrived as early as possible to the White House Correspondents' Dinner to show off his date:  D.C.'s most beautiful 2-year-old, his very own Buffy Cordelia.  Delia had served her purpose well, disarming even the most guarded and cynical politicians and charming the secrets out of many an influential journalist.  More importantly, she had scored her single father a handful of business cards with private cellphone numbers--numbers he would be able to start phoning as soon as he was able to convince his mother she could go back to Hong Kong.  He rubbed his eyes, remembering that he had made at least one contact he could call immediately--Cokie Roberts had a recommendation for a nanny.

Angela de la Paz, in fact, had done her share of the embassies, but not before sensing a plot to assassinate the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia.  Upon informing him of her special intelligence on the subject, the Ambassador had promptly had her handcuffed, and called the D.C. Police Department to come pick her up for attempted murder.  Even a few months earlier, Angela would have resisted violently, or at least escaped from prison after being locked up, but she no longer felt like a rolling tumbleweed.  She had a son now, and needed to remember there might be consequences:  she had already been at the scene of a suspicious suicide and did not want to become a perpetual person-of-interest to the D.C.P.D.  But after 24 hours with no visit from a lawyer, she was starting to think that using her one phone call on Lynnette Wong might have been a mistake.  Finally, her jail cell was opened, and she was out on bail.

"I'm sorry it took so long to put the cash together," said Wong.  "Are you alright?"

"It's OK----I'm fine."

"What are you gonna do now?"

"I still need to save the Ambassador--that's what my vision told me to do."

"You can't go near that embassy again!"

"I know--I think Apricot Lily will do it for me."

"And then what?  You'll still need a defense at arraignment.  You need Charles to hire you an attorney."

"An attorney?  No, I have enough powers of persuasion--they'll drop the charges."

"Are you sure?  You've never tested your powers like that before."

"I'm sure."

Meanwhile, the police had not been able to arrest anybody for the gun rampage at Bridezilla's [non] wedding to Buddy Lee Trickham, since most of the witnesses had suffered memory impairment from the special tear/nerve gas Glenn Michael Beckmann had tossed during his client's getaway.  The best witness was the cameraman who had been knocked out somewhat earlier by Wince--he was stumbling groggily out of his van when he saw Beckmann and "John Smith" hop into Beckmann's car and zoom out of the parking lot.  But the grogginess prevented him from giving more than a vague description of the car (black SUV) and the two men ("very lumpy white guys").  The wedding guests could barely remember a thing, though Bridezilla herself  distinctly remembered Wince jumping in front of her to take a bullet--while her own fiance', Trickham, had done nothing to save her!  (She didn't know about the slow reflexes of tenured English professors.)

Now here she was, picking up Wince from George Washington University Hospital.  "You're gonna be just fine, honey doodle!  I got all your favorite foods at home, and non-alcoholic beer, and the Wall Street Journal, and "House of Cards" on Netflix, and--"

"You didn't have to do all that."

"Nonsense!  You're a hero, and you deserve all that and MORE!  And I bought a new swimsuit to wear while I'm giving you your sponge baths!"

"How's your fiance' gonna feel about that?"

"We broke up!  I told you at least five times already!  You're the one that took the bullet for me.  Are they sure you only took a bullet in the shoulder, and not in the brain?" she teased.  "You're so forgetful."

"Yeah," Wince said, trying to remember where she lived and what it would look like there.  "Just the shoulder.  I'm just tired."

"You'll feel better after the sponge bath!" she whispered close to his ear, but he seriously doubted that.

Still in the intensive care unit, Chloe Cleavage, former Senator Evermore Breadman, and Prince and Prowling's managing partner were all in stable condition.  "You really dodged a bullet," said the latter (with a willful sense of irony) to Felix Cigemeier, the junior partner who had brought by his baby boy to make visits and spread cheer.

"I'm very thankful," said Cigemeier, and he was--especially that his wife had not been harmed.  "Nurse Arroyo says you and Chloe will probably be out in a few days, and they're still hopeful the Senator will be out by the end of the week."  ("Harrumph!")  "Perry Winkle of the Washington Post wants to interview Prince and Prowling about the gun rampage and all the lobbying we've done on gun rights."

"We have no statement!  I told you that already!"

"I don't think this story is going to die.  There are a lot of rumors flying around."

"Like what?"

"One gunman or two?  Was one of the injured P&P attorneys actually shot by friendly fire?  Jilted lover or lovers of Bridezilla?  Enemies from Goode Peepz law firm, or Lye, Cheit and Steele? Anarchists who hate our work for corporate America?  The Teamsters?  The gay lobby?"

"The gay lobby!  What did we ever do to the gay lobby?"

"Bridezilla posted something on Facebook about how it would be an abomination before God to allow diddles at her wedding.  It may have been a typo for fiddles."

"What the Hell are diddles?!"

"Um, you don't want to know."

"Look," said the managing partner, "it's probably just a disgruntled contract attorney--we laid a lot of them off last year."

"But murder?  Mass murder?  Surely there must be a bigger motive!"

"Never underestimate the capacity of a contract attorney to get pissed off at Prince and Prowling.  Before you joined the firm, we once had a contract attorney leave dismembered chicken parts all over the 9th floor, and then we found a decapitated lamb in the kitchen sink."  ("Oh, my God!")  "And one time, we found that a porno video virus had wiped out the entire computer network.  ("Maybe that was an accident?")  "It was released at 3 a.m. on a Sunday!  Only a godless temp would be looking at porn on a Prince computer at that hour!"  ("Um--")  "And one time a contract attorney forgot a semi-colon on a privilege log, and Judge Sowell Ame laughed openly at us in court!"  ("Well, that's not so bad--")  "You need to interrogate all the contract attorneys!"  ("We haven't hired them back yet; SOTA-BUNK is still under construction.")  "Then it's one of the ones we fired, no doubt!"

A few miles away, at Southwest Plaza, "John Smith" had stopped by to give Glenn Michael Beckmann a bonus payment, and a gift of whiskey, for his bodyguard services the weekend before.  "Nobody's come after me!" he shouted with glee to Beckmann.  "I made a clean getaway, thanks to you!"

"Just doing my job, sir," replied Beckmann, with a flourish and a graceless bow.

"Four people in the hospital!" Smith declared happily.  "Well, one of them was not from Prince and Prowling, but he loves Bridezilla, so screw him, too!"

"Screw 'em all!" agreed Beckmann.  "Hey, you never told me what this was all about."

"Sorry, Mr. Beckmann, but if I tell you, I'll have to kill you!"

"Ha, ha!  Alright, have it your way!  But can you give me any kind of hint at all?  Giuliana won't speak to me, and maybe I could get her back if she understood why we had to do it."

"That woman blogged yesterday that you're smellier than a skunk, stupider than a worm, and uglier than Squiggy, the 20-pound Chinese Crested/Japanese Chin mutt with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.  And she said your blog about turning shell casings into glitter was domestic terrorism, and you should be labeled an enemy combatant and shipped to Guantanamo.  I don't think there's much chance of getting her back."

"You're right!  To hell with her!"

"Don't worry--I'll fix you up with my cousin from Germany?"

"Germany?!  I don't date foreigners!"

"Man, I wish I had an apartment this big," said Smith.  "This is sweet!"

"Yeah, I don't know why more people don't live at Southwest Plaza!" exclaimed Beckmann.

(The crack dealers in the pool house, prostitutes in the stairwells, and real estate demon living in the parking garage could not agree more.)

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COMING UP:   Angela de la Paz meets Judge Sowell Ame.