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 ....

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Putting the Carter before the horse.

"He's not British, you see," said Cedric, who was using his liberal leave from the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged to call on Charles Wu's English governess.  "'Ashton Carter' sounds like a British name, but he's not.  He's not a lord or anything."

"Yes," said Mrs. Prudence Higgety-Cheshire, uncertain where this was going.

"I knew your husband, you see," said Cedric.

"Yes," repeated the governess, pouring herself more tea.

"He was a British spy."

"How did you know that?" asked Mrs. H-C in surprise.

"Well, I was, too," said Cedric.  "I was a British spy--well, I was an American spy posing as a Brit for awhile.  Well, that's not the important part."

"What is the important part?" asked Mrs. H-C, stopping to smile at little Delia, who was chattering to herself while working on her Peter Pan coloring book on the living room coffee table.

"Your employer is also a spy."

"Yes, I know that," replied the governess.

"But not a British spy--he's a Chinese spy!"

"He's from Hong Kong," said Mrs. H-C, "and his father is English.  Hong Kong was British before it reverted back to China, you see.  That's why he's such a valuable spy."

"He gives secrets to the Chinese!" protested Cedric.

"Well, of course!  He has to feed them little bits to get other bits out of them.  Are you sure you understand how this works?"

"I can protect you!" exclaimed Cedric, dropping to his knees.  "I love you!  I can take you to my family's nuclear bunker in Idaho!  We have enough canned beans there to live 20 years, easily!  There's also an old VCR with all the James Bond movies on tape.  Or do you prefer Sherlock Holmes?  Dad put in some of that, too."

"A bunker in Idaho!  Good heavens!"

"I love you!" exclaimed Buffy Cordelia, jumping up for a hug from Mrs. H-C.  (That was the only part of the conversation that had made much sense to her.)

"The Chinese spies are the biggest threat on the planet!  Why do you think Putin is running his submarines all over the place?  He can't compete with Chinese espionage!  He needs to scare people the old-fashioned way!  Don't you know it was the Chinese that hacked Sony and framed North Korea?  The Chinese are hacking everybody!  They are also secretly programming the Food Network with subliminal messages about communism--and don't get me started on what happened after the Chinese took control of Bravo!  The spider in my bedroom told me about that."

"Yes, well, that might very well be, but I don't see why I should have to go to Idaho.  It sounds like a dreadful place."

"But you can't trust Wu!" Cedric proclaimed.  "And I love you!  You need a real man in your life again!"

The governess looked at Cedric, who had dried oatmeal in his hair and was wearing his sweater backwards.

"Really, sir, this is very kind of you, and I'm sure my late husband would be grateful, but you're a bit of a mess.  Why don't we sort you out first, and then we can discuss Mr. Wu."

A few miles away, they were also discussing Defense Department nominee Ashton Carter at the Brewmaster's Castle in Dupont Circle.

"We absolutely cannot allow anybody named 'Carter' at the Pentagon!  It sends the wrong message," said the international arms dealer.  "What if people start talking about human rights again?"

The former CIA agent shuddered.  "And 'Ashton'--what sort of name is that?  It sounds like that gay guy from 'Gone With the Wind', doesn't it?!"

"Don't be ridiculous!" exclaimed the Heurich Society chair, Henrietta Samuelson.  "Does anybody have a serious objection to his nomination?"

"He's a physicist," crackled Condoleezza Rice over the speaker phone.  "They can't be trusted--they believe abstract hypothetical concepts are real.  Why didn't the Senators question him about defending the Earth from asteroid strikes?  Because he would have argued that we could stop asteroids with a string theory singularity!"

"What does that mean?" asked the investment banker.

"Nothing!" exclaimed Rice.  "Absolutely nothing!"

"Well, he's pro-Argentina, so he's got that going for him," said Samuelson.

"I'm not comfortable with this nomination!" protested the former CIA agent.  "I say we derail it!"

"We could end up with somebody worse," said the former U.S. Congressman, "or a woman!"

"What?!" hollered Rice over the speaker phone.

"First Loretta Lynn and now Jimmy Carter," said the investment banker, shaking his head.  "Back to the 1970s we go, and then inflation."

"Loretta Lynch and Ashton Carter," said Samuelson, shaking her head in annoyance.  "If nobody has a real objection, we need to move on to other business.  I know one of you was involved in that insane pass call at the end of the Super Bowl!  Who was it?  You know how I feel about wasting our resources on sports!"

A mile away, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was discussing Ashton Carter's nomination with former Senator Evermore Breadman in his Prince and Prowling corner office.

"His name just gives me the heeby-jeebies," said McConnell.  "'Carter!'"

"Why do I keep hearing this?" exclaimed Breadman, throwing his hands in the air.  "The GOP is in control of Congress, now!  You can do more with your lives than hating Democrats and hating Obama nominees!  What's the policy going to be?  Hating Cuba and wanting to bomb ISIS does not constitute a cohesive defense policy!"

McConnell gasped.  "Evermore!"

"Look," said Breadman, who was more than capable of making money with any political party in power, "what about the Navy corruption scandal?  That's the sort of thing my clients worry about!  That's the sort of thing that motivates them when it comes time to drop cash into the PACs!  When a new sheriff comes to town, he might change contracting rules!  He might embolden the Inspector General!  You need to be prepared to bring the right kind of oversight!"

"Well, I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," muttered McConnell.

"I've got honest businessmen losing money because military officers are taking bribes from foreigners!  How the Hell did that happen?  It's just wrong!  The Pentagon needs to stop doing business with Fat Leonard and show some love for American contractors!"

"Um, okay," said McConnell, unsure where this was going.

"The Secretary of Defense is only as good as American oil men and weapons manufacturers can make him, Mitch!  My clients are happy to do their part, but you boys need to do yours, too!"

A mile away, in Foggy Bottom, Dr. Khalid Mohammad was in the cafeteria taking a break from emergency room duty at George Washington University Hospital.  Nurse Consuela Arroyo sat down next to him, noting his untouched food and two empty coffee cups.  "Not sleeping?" she asked.  He shook his head.  "Maybe we should talk about it."

"What's there to talk about?" asked Mohammad.  "My cousin was burned alive in a cage by ISIS.  I left Jordan because I was a coward."

"You're a doctor!" Arroyo said.  "There was nothing you could have done!  You're trying to bring your relatives here--"

"Because I gave up on Jordan!  I gave up on my homeland!  Others still fight for it."

"We're not all meant to be fighters or martyrs.  The world needs doctors, too."

"The Americans gave Jordan fighter planes, and a Jordanian pilot is dead in Iraq."

"He didn't die in vain," said Arroyo.

"Didn't he?  Now there will be a new Secretary of Defense, but nothing will change.  There has never been peace in the Middle East in two thousand years.  They just invent new ways to kill each other."

"And we invent new ways to stitch them up," said the nurse.

Dr. Mohammad burst out laughing.  "Do you have any idea how absurd your optimism is?" he asked.

"It's called faith," she said.  "Lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness.  You are a doctor, and you do good in this world."

It's never enough, he thought, but he didn't say it out loud.

Back in Cleveland Park, Mrs. Higgety-Cheshire had finally succeeded in chasing away her eccentric suitor a few minutes before her employer arrived from the airport with his father, Charles Wilkinson Montgomery.  She let little Delia run outside to meet them and watched from the doorway as Montgomery scooped up his only grandchild in his arms.  Wu carried his father's bags in, and she told him tea was ready.  Wu nodded without a smile, and she wondered what they had talked about in the car.

Out on the river, veteran Dubious McGinty had fallen asleep in the 14th Street Bridge watchman's quarters, reading Internet articles about Ashton Carter on the old laptop that reporter Perry Winkle had given him.  McGinty was dreaming about Vietnam and Robert McNamara and a song that a Chicano used to sing when he was smoking reefer.

        They say in the morning, the fighting will stop.
        They say in the afternoon, the war will be over.
        They say in the evening, the enemy will surrender.
        But it's Pascual who's working on it.

Ardua of the Potomac laughed as she swam under the bridge, looking for her next target.

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COMING UP:  Luciano Talaverdi marries Helen Yellen!

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