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, June 19, 2016

Singapore Surprise

Angela de la Paz, as it turned out, was having a harder time with Father's Day than with Mother's Day.  She was thinking about the late Aussie commando who had been father to the son she had given up for adoption.  She had seen him a couple times in the Dreamtime and knew he was at peace, but it seemed wrong that he never got a chance to see his son on Earth.

"What do you think?" smiled Dulles Samuelson (who wast not at all thinking about his adoptive father, or the Argentine father he had never known).  Dulles showed off the cleaned-up houseboat, Singapore Surprise, which he had just moved into.  "See, I got some hammocks, petunias, tomato plants.  I took out that navy plaid in the interior and replaced it with turquoise."  (He had noticed she wore turquoise a lot.)  "I know sometimes you go out of town for work, but you could stay here whenever you want."  He was hoping that would be all the time, but he didn't want to push his luck.  "Roommates," he added, though he was pretty sure she knew he was hoping for more than that down the road.

Angela sat in the hammock, giving him a smile but no promises.  She loved the feel of the rocking boat and the swaying hammock above the demon-free river.  (She knew the Warrior had located Ardua of the Potomac out in a pond at Trump National Golf Course, but that felt like a thousand miles away.)  "This is a perfect day," she said, which was a lie, but she did feel really good in the sunshine looking at the unexpected sweetness which was Dulles.  (Neither of them had any clue what was still hidden on the boat by the previous owner, a Navy admiral going to prison for corruption.)

"That's the one," said Marcos Vazquez, pointing to Singapore Surprise as they sailed past it in the catamaran they had rented for Father's Day.  "When the Admiral was in town, he always stayed there--never bought a house anywhere."

"Or that's what he told them," said Golden Fawn, smiling.

"He had to cough up plenty of that bribe money," said Vazquez.

"Sure, just not the money he already spent."

"Well, he never had the reward of the true love of a good woman!" exclaimed Vazquez, leaning over for a kiss and accidentally pulling the sail the wrong way.

"Dad!" cried Joey Bent Oak from the other side, where he had been letting his step-grandmother use the binoculars, but the sail was quickly righted.

A few miles away, that was not the case.  "How am I going to get this ship righted?" asked Congressman Paul Ryan, who had taken to talking out loud to his Thaitastic masseuse because she barely understood English.

"Yes," she said, as always.  (She did not let him distract her from the hard work of realigning his joints and ligaments.)

"Two GOP governors' saying they won't vote for Trump.  Surely Lindsay Graham and John Cain will start a #NeverTrump movement in the Senate!  And then what?"

"Yes."

"Oof!  I mean, I don't think his foreign policy is going to be totally nuts when he has actual national security professionals giving him daily briefings, right?"

"Yes."

"Nobody respects me.  Could you believe those Democrats revolting about gun control, throwing a hissy fit in the House after that moment of silence for Orlando?"

"Yes."

"Oh!  Maybe Hillary would be alright on foreign policy, but she'll never sign any of our domestic bills!"

"Yes."

"Gaaa!  Honestly, considering how much people hate both of them, you would think more dirt would have been dug up on both of them!"

"Yes."

"Well, at least that socialist didn't win the Democratic nomination.  Oof!"

"Socialist, yes."

The Speaker of the House looked up in surprise.  Why does she know that word?  Maybe she's not Thai at all?  Maybe she's Chinese?  "Ah!"

"Yes," said the woman, who had been born in Singapore.

Not far away, Charles Wu had not yet returned home to the Father's Day surprises he knew the English nanny had helped his daughter prepare.  Right now, he was still stuck at Froggy Bottom trying to redirect "C. Coe Phant's" China advocacy at the State Department.

"When the economy stalls, the government--"

"You mean the Communist Party," interrupted C. Coe Phant.

Wu did not like being interrupted, particularly by somebody he had paid plenty of money to over the years.

"The rulers of China have a stalled economy, and whenever citizens feel financially pinched, they complain more.  This leads to more government reaction."

"Like making Hong Kong booksellers disappear into black hole prison sites?"

"Yes!" said Wu, who had grown up in Hong Kong and had spent many years carefully balancing his work for Hong Kong against his work for mainland China.  "Things are not going well domestically, so the government is cracking down on opposition and seeking to score nationalist victories by expanding naval power."

"In international waters," said C. Coe Phant.

Was was about to ask "whose side are you on?" when the triple agent remembered how much he dreaded that question himself.  "I know this is not an easy time to advocate for Beijing.  I'm only asking you to keep hammering the intelligence analysis that the government is anxious about domestic economic grumbling.  Any increase in human rights diplomacy would be counter-productive at this time."

"I suppose they're upset that Obama met with the Dalai Lama?"

"That is the least of their concerns--the average Chinese doesn't even know it happened."

"But what about Singapore?" whispered C. Coe Phant.  "Forbes calls it Asia's most influential city, and some are saying that Beijing hackers are trying to undermine it.  Is it true?"

"Of course not," said Wu, but he wasn't going to tell him what was really going on there.

A few miles away, U.S Attorney Atticus Hawk was in his Justice Department office, ignoring the beautiful June day to make more progress in the Panama Papers investigation.  He was following a thread that seemed to wind its way back and forth around the globe several times, linked to a man with several aliases.  Then he pulled up Facebook on his phone to check something about his old pal Wince's former fiancee--the name of her husband.  "Marco Pel!"  He looked back at his computer.  "You have been a very bad boy."  He hesitated a couple minutes, then decided to text Wince a link to a public registry.  "Don't ask me how I stumbled across this, but Bridezilla's husband, using a different name, has a wife in Singapore."

Back on Singapore Surprise, Angela smiled at the pink dolphins splashing nearby, pushing out of her mind the battles still to come.

*****************************************************************
COMING UP:  Washington Water Woman is heading out of town, so please be patient in waiting for her next post!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Running With the Pack

Ghost Pippin had been haunting the Supreme Court for several months, terrorizing judicial clerks, secretaries, security guards, cleaning staff, librarians and the Justices themselves--not that any would admit it!  This was a semi-rational place dedicated to declaring the law of the land, and nobody here wanted to say they were knocking on wood, carrying rabbit's feet, leaving out cat treats and toys, crossing themselves, throwing salt over their shoulders, or closing their eyes when riding alone in elevators.  The former pet of Condoleezza Rice was bored with it:  spreading scary mojo at the Supreme Court, though perhaps having serious effects on judicial outcomes, gave no immediate gratification to Ghost Pippin.  The heat of summer was back, and Ghost Pippin returned to the streets to assemble a new pack of feral feline phantoms to run with.

Back at Thaitastic, the therapist was again massaging the hell out of Congressman Paul Ryan.  "Uh," he grunted, knowing he was even more tied up in knots than last time after the pummeling he had received at Mitt Romney's CEO gathering for endorsing Donald Trump.  "Oof."  She was pushing his spine forward while pulling both his arms back.  My hands were tied behind my back! he repeated to himself.  I'm the leader of all the Republicans!  "Eh!"  He thought back to a simple time when he only had to please campaign donors in his own little corner of Wisconsin--reasonable people.  "Oh!"  When a woman CEO tells me Trump is like Hitler and Mussolini, and I have no counter-argument, what the Hell am I doing as Speaker of the House?  Speaker for what?  For whom?  "Gaaaa."  The therapist had him pressed down on the futon again, yanking his legs around.  And now dozens of people massacred in Orlando in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history!  Here comes the NRA apocalypse!  "Jesus!"

Over on Capitol Hill, Sebastian L'Arche was training some high school students who would be helping him do additional pet-sitting and dog-walking during the summer months when so many Congressional Representatives and their staffers were out of town.  "I'm not giving you any pit bulls, but you need to learn to recognize them.  If you see a pit bull in a dog park or anywhere else you are walking dogs, stay away from them."  The teenagers were surprised to hear the locally famous Dog Whisperer caution against a particular breed--they thought it was a myth about pit bulls.

"It depends on how they're raised," said L'Arche, "but if  I don't know who raised them, I have to assume the worse."

"Man, you bigoted!" laughed one of the teens.

"People have different colored skin:  that has nothing to do with their brains.  In-breeding for specific dog traits has led to very different brains.  Pit bulls have a killer instinct, and if they haven't been trained against it, there's nothing you can do when it's triggered."

"What other dogs we gotta worry 'bout?"

"Dogs have a pack instinct.  We're going to walk these two over to the dog park now, and I want you to observe silently all the interactions in the dog park.  I want to hear who you think the leader of the pack is.  Pay particular attention when dogs are coming or leaving, because there might be another play for power."

"Like biting and shit?"

"Get out of the habit of swearing--clients don't want to hear it.  If they think your language is careless, they'll think your work habits are also careless."  The teens rolled their eyes at him.  "And don't do that, either.  You can swear and roll your eyes on your own time.  When I'm paying you, don't."

They were at the park now, and L'Arche unleashed the dogs and watched the teens observing how one hung back a bit while the other ran straight into the fray of dogs trotting around.  L'Arche spotted a Doberman he had never seen here before, but she was timid.  It seemed to be a Rottweiler/shepherd mix that was leading the pack, but his charge that had hung back--a border collie--had finished assessing the group and suddenly started running circles trying to round them all up.  L'Arche laughed because he had seen this happen so many times before.  "Barking does not prove much," said L'Arche to his new employees.  "Sometimes it's the quiet ones."

Then a King Charles spaniel in the far end of the park started growling, and L'Arche turned to look.  "Growling is much more important than barking," said L'Arche.  "That means they are on full alert and ready to pounce."

"On what?"

"Sometimes you won't know," said L'Arche, but he did know:  it was the pack of ghost dogs running with the Gopper and Ghost Anatoly (inhabiting a Samoyed phantom).

When are you going to move on? he whispered to the approaching leader of the pack, the Gopper Ghost.

Too much left to do, said TGG, sitting down at L'Arche's feet.

It's not your job, whispered L'Arche, who had spent a lot of time with TGG (and his sire, the Gipper) before TGG was killed by the Zombie Caucus in Congress. 

Why haven't you warned the people? asked Ghost Anatoly, a human ghost trapped in a canine specter after a traumatic murder.

L'Arche sighed so deeply that the teens turned to look at him, but the Dog Whisperer was not even looking at the pack in the dog park at all.

Some people can hear the truth, but some can't, L'Arche whispered.

You're afraid, said TGG, and L'Arche had no response; the ghost pack trotted off towards Capitol Hill.

"It's gotten kinda weird in there," said one of the teens, drawing L'Arche's attention back to the living dogs.

L'Arche moved into the center of the pack, surrounded by confused dogs--some pacing nervously, some growling, one howling.  He squatted and whispered to them not to fear the ghost pack.  He put his hand under the howling chihuahua, who immediately quieted down and put his little snout into L'Arche's palm.  They are caught between two worlds, but they only want to do good.

The teens and everybody else watching (many of whom were familiar with Sebastian L'Arche) smiled and shook their heads at the now quiet pack of dogs.  L'Arche then stood up and clapped his hands.  "Run!" he cried, and they obediently took off.

Out on Kingman Island, Glenn Michael Beckmann's pack of Hunter-Gatherer Society he-men were running quickly after a wounded monkey who had pulled the arrow out of its haunch and was painfully trying to escape.  Beckmann soon ran out of breath and left it to the younger, more nimble members to finish it off.  Where the Hell did that monkey come from?  Beckmann was ignorant about a lot of things, but he knew their usual prey on Kingman Island was not monkey.  He took a gulp from his thermos of Long Island iced tea.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  Despite having a secret love child with Bristol Palin, Bristol had married somebody else last week!  Sarah Palin had abandoned the Hunter-Gatherer Society to support Donald Trump, a man who couldn't kill a mouse without summoning bodyguards!  Captain America was saluting Hydra!

"Damned fascists!" shouted one of the hunters after tripping over some abandoned beer bottles.

Oh, my God, we lost to the fascists!  Beckmann looked around wildly.  He had always thought the Federal Reserve Board would destroy the country, or illegal aliens, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but fascists?!  Then he remembered he was supposed to have assassinated Donald Trump for Ghost Henry.  It's too late!  The fascists have planted Ebola monkeys to wipe us all out!

"Don't eat it!  Burn it!" hollered Beckmann to the men walking back with the triple-stabbed and now dead monkey.

"But we always eat what we hunt," whined Melvin, "and I've never tasted monkey before!"

"Ebola!  Zika!  Mad cow monkey brain disease!  Burn it!"

"Damn it!" said Howard.  "I might as well be shooting at the National Rifle Association target range if we ain't gonna eat it!"

"Yeah, those people will shoot fifty gays in a nightclub just for fun, not even for eating."

"Damned waste of ammunition."

"And now the whiny people will try to come for our guns again."

"Let 'em try!  I got my cross-bow."

The chatter died down when they saw Beckmann smearing mud on his face for better camouflage.  "Nobody's leaving Kingman until we find all the fascist monkeys!"

A few miles away, the White House ghosts were discussing the looming nomination of Donald Trump.

It's a sign of the Apocalypse!

It's a sign that this country is going to the dogs!

It's a sign that I need to get out of this place!

No way!  I'm staying!  I'm gonna haunt that man to death if it's the last thing I do!

Gardener Bridge listened carefully, spraying water on the roots of the rose bushes.  No, sir, it ain't gonna come to that.

************************************************************
COMING UP:  Singapore surprise!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Secret Addictions

Dick Cheney's thoughts turned to this more and more often.  At first it was just a wild fling, something to do while his wife was out of town.  But in May, when the rain never seemed to stop and the skies always seemed gray, he found himself craving it more and more and more.  He tried to turn to other distractions--like using secret Heurich Society resources to tamper with the stock market or playing that Donald Rumsfeld Churchill solitaire game--but nothing ever felt as good as this.  He parked his SUV with the tinted windows, examining all the mirrored 360-degree views to see who might be out there to see him at a place like this.  Then he got out of the car.

A few miles away, Congressman Paul Ryan's chauffeur pulled up his own tinted-window SUV to the Apolline in Dupont Circle.  The Secret Service assisted the baseball-capped, casually dressed Speaker of the House out of the car, into the lower level of the building, all the way to the door of Ryan's secret refuge.  He smiled sheepishly at the stone-faced agents and walked inside for his appointment.  Ever since accidentally finding and impulsively purloining a Groupon printed out by one of his junior staffers, the Speaker had discovered the only thing in Washington that made him feel good:  Thaitastic!  He smiled at the familiar face (whose name he still mispronounced), went into the private room to undress, then lay down and waited for the magical moment when she would press her knees into the pressure points in his buttocks.  Ahhhh!  He could hardly breathe when she was on top of him like this, but it didn't matter--he could breathe the other twenty-three hours of the day.  Ahhhh!  She poked him, prodded him, twisted him, stretched him, kneaded him, curled on top of him--and it was all guilt-free for him!  Not that he really wanted anybody finding out about this--well, they wouldn't understand, would they?  He had been begged and pleaded with to take over as Speaker of the House, but nobody--NOBODY--could have predicted to him that he would be forced to endorse a sack of shit like Donald Trump for President.  Every choice he made felt wrong; every sight he saw felt wrong; every move he made felt wrong.  Except here:  she took his breath away, and when she was done with him, for a brief time, it all felt right.

A few miles away, psychiatrist Ermann Esse had come up with the only solution he could see to extricating himself from effectively being blackmailed into doing secret prisoner interrogations for the CIA:  he would take drugs until he failed a security pee-in-a-cup test.  He had prided himself on rendering drug-free psychotherapy for years--with a large clientele of Washingtonians who needed serious help but could not risk drug tests at work--but now he was desperate to get his previous life back.  After briefly considering an array of illegal substances, he decided it would be safer and more convenient to prescribe himself an addictive pain killer.  He did careful research on which had the most accidental overdoses, which showed up most reliably on urine tests, and which were easiest to recover from; then he selected Vicodin.  The problem was that, since he was not working in a hospital, he would have to fill his own prescription at a pharmacy, and they would never agree to handing over a ton of pills.  Therefore, he devised a plan to fill prescriptions for three different pain killers at three different pharmacy chains in Washington, and supplement this with some over-the-counter remedies.  He figured it would take two or three weeks to become seriously addicted, and he hoped to fail a urine test before then.  He read all the medication insert warnings one more time, rechecked the pill-popping schedule he had planned out for himself, then filled a glass with water.

Out in Virginia, Bridezilla had not decided to extricate herself from her current situation, but she was starting to wonder if it was off somehow.  She sat down at her home computer, turned on the private browsing mode, and ran a search for sex addiction to husband:  thousands and thousands of results.  She looked around self-consciously, even though she knew Marco was out.  They had had sex in almost every room in the apartment this weekend, as well as the car on Friday night.  "I couldn't talk to him about anything," she read on one sight.  "I only felt married when we were having sex."  She unconsciously ran her fingers through her hair, yet consciously knew she had not even read those sentences without suddenly wanting to have sex with him again.  For months she had felt this was totally normal for newlyweds, but his recent one-week business trip to Europe had left her so messed up that she couldn't even get out of the airport parking lot Friday night before jumping his bones.  Yet she had not missed talking to him at all:  in fact, they had only emailed and texted each other, with no phone calls all week.  The things she used to enjoy--shopping, Facebooking, editing her fifteen-year plan for becoming Governor of Virginia--no longer held any appeal for her.  Even her recent reinstatement as a partner at Prince and Prowling had done very little to elevate her mood--until she and Marco had celebrated it in bed.  She felt dirty.  I'm married--why do I feel dirty?  And then a little voice started nagging her:  ARE you?  ARE you married?

Over in upper Georgetown, "Mama Vazquez" was looking over the ground-floor bedroom that her son and daughter-in-law had prepared for her.  "It's time," Marcos Vazquez had finally said to Golden Fawn on the phone from Puerto Rico during an emergency trip to visit his mother, and she had agreed.  Between her worsening rheumatoid arthritis, fear of the Zika virus, the increasingly frequent home robberies because of the island financial crisis, and the arrest of a caregiver for tying Mama Vazquez down while she went out to the apartment swimming pool, the situation was no longer acceptable.  Marcos had sold off the furniture and kitchen items, shipped the linens, clothing, artwork, and personal things ahead, then flown with his mother back to Washington.  There was a time when he had assumed he would eventually use his Coast Guard seniority to get a transfer back to the island to take care of his mother, as her only son, but Golden Fawn had changed all that.  Mama Vazquez said she was tired and wanted to lie down, so they left her alone in the bedroom.  She looked at the paintings hung on the walls, the framed photos and bric-a-brac that Golden Fawn had arranged on the dresser top, the books their adopted son had arranged on the shelving, and her familiar bedspread lying on top of the unfamiliar bed.  She opened her purse and pulled out one of her last remaining marijuana-laced brownies from its heavy layer of plastic wrap and chewed it carefully.  Tomorrow she would get a taxi while they were all at work or school to go see one of those doctors that prescribed medicinal marijuana.  She was ashamed of how badly she wanted it, and never wanted to tell them.

A few miles away, Dick Cheney--who also never wanted to tell his family about it--slowly approached the magical room.  He was wearing a duck-hunting cap pulled down low, a white t-shirt, overalls, and a fake beard.  He forked over his money and went over to stand patiently in line.  He pulled out his phone to play Donald Rumsfeld Churchill solitaire, but he was too excited and put it back in his pocket.  There was nobody there his own age, but he didn't care.  At last it was his turn, and he walked through the door.  Then a smile spread over his face as he saw his first butterfly--blue, bold, beautiful--at the exhibit on the upper floor of the National Museum of Natural History.  Then he forgot everything else.  The ghost of Henry Samuelson, who had followed him in there, shook his head in disgust.

***************************************************************
COMING UP:  Running with the pack!