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, October 20, 2014

The Prize

Luciano Talaverdi was on a mission.  He had been up all night with insomnia, fretting about his life in America.  All the blood, sweat and tears he had put into becoming a leading economist had led him to this fork in the road.  Working his way through Sapienza University in Rome, winning the Rhodes Scholarship to the London School of Economics, doing the post-doc back in Rome at the Food and Agriculture Organization, publishing his first book at age 27, coming to work at the Federal Reserve Board....

This is no good.

He walked out, rushing to the next place.  It was useless!  After rising and rising and rising in the field of economics, he had to admit that he was completely stalled. The Washington Post had rejected his latest op-ed ("Why a warming world needs a World Bank of Water"), Slate said he was too liberal, Salon said he was too conservative, and USA Today said his ideas for writing a weekly column on economics were not a good fit for their (ignoramus!) audience.  And to add insult to injury, that Germanic "stand-up economist", Yoram Bauman, was stealing Talaverdi's best Italian jokes!  Now he would never be able to publish "Mamma mia, that's a spicy margin!"   Talaverdi had to do something desperate if he wanted to escape the rank and file economics cadre of the FRB and become a game-changer.  He checked his phone again, then made a sharp right.  He was running out of time!  The U.S. elections were coming, and he would have another chance to influence an impressionable batch of political ignoramuses with his monetary and fiscal brilliance--but only if he could manage to be in the right place at the right time!

And there it was--he had found it!  He rushed in.  All that glitters is not gold....The choice of a lifetime....

A few miles away, Talaverdi's girlfriend, Helen Yellen, was dropping off Petro Pig for another mid-day stroll with Sebastian L'Arche (AKA the Dog Whisperer of DC), after his morning celebrity appearance (and live-tweeting) at "Opportunities for Curbing Methane Pollution", hosted by the Center for American Progress.  Her pot-bellied pig had become very attached to L'Arche during that long weekend when Yellen was away, so she liked to hire L'Arche a few times a week.  And Yellen knew that everything people said about the Dog Whisperer was true, because when he dropped to his knees and whispered in Petro Pig's ear, Petro Pig would quietly snort and wiggle his tail.  Her boyfriend could barely tolerate petting the pig at all, but L'Arche would do Eskimo kisses and everything!

Petro Pig whispered to L'Arche that Talaverdi was completely mistaken about Peak Oil, but L'Arche was fairly certain that everybody was mistaken about Peak Oil, so he just nodded sympathetically.  Then Petro Pig whispered that Talaverdi's ambition was darkening his soul, but L'Arche didn't want to be too alarming to Yellen.  "Petro Pig says Luciano has been very tense lately."

"Yes!  Oh, my God, that is so true!  Ever since they announced the Nobel Prize in Economics, he's been so jealous and depressed!  I keep trying to tell him that goes to older people who've been at it much longer, but he wants so much."

With that, Yellen set off to meet Talaverdi at the Inter-American Development Bank art exhibit, "Flow".  He rarely left the Federal Reserve Board palace at lunch time, but he had surprised her by agreeing to this--because it was at a humongous bank, she figured.  She got on the little Vespa he had bought her and started zipping her way downtown.

Meanwhile, Talaverdi was almost ready.  He had phoned his mother in Italy to be certain she was on board with the whole idea, and now he was yammering on the cellphone with his psychiatrist, Dr. Ermann Esse in the back of an Ethiopian's taxi.  "Yes, but that's...alright...I see....Is it normal to feel hope and terror at the same time?  OK."  He finally hung up, and the driver caught his eyes in the mirror.

"I remember that feeling," he laughed, shaking his head, but Talaverdi was fairly certain it was not the same feeling.

 A few minutes later, the two sweethearts were kissing in front of a very disturbing painting that Talaverdi could just glimpse out of the corner of his eye.  "How's the exhibit?" he asked her.

"A lot of wild stuff!  Come and see this!" exclaimed Yellen, taking him by the hand.

Raised on a diet of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci, Talaverdi was not a natural aficionado of Caribbean art, but the Italian economist had not expected to see the Inter-American Development Bank exhibiting films of naked women being marked by a plastic surgeon or pouring makeup over themselves.  "Is this...feminist?" he asked.

Yellen just laughed and pulled him along.  After he had seen everything, he realized this was not the appropriate place he had hoped for, but his heart was pounding out of his chest, and he couldn't wait another minute.  He pulled his sweetheart back to the exhibit with the beaded sneakers on the floor, knelt down in front of her, and pulled out the engagement ring.

The security guard shook his head, puzzled that they always picked the sneakers.  He carefully took a cellphone photo to add to his collection, which he was eventually going to exhibit as "Tying the Knot".

Three stories above them, a Brazilian economist finished reading another report about Amazonian deforestation, wrote down some notes for the Nobel Prize-winning work he was planning to publish next year, and headed out for lunch.

A hundred feet above him, a flock of Baltimore orioles passed over Washington on their way back to the Caribbean, accelerating their pace as they sensed a flock of evil starlings trying to chase them out to Ardua of the Potomac.

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COMING UP:  Washington's secret haunted house party!

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