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, July 30, 2016

The Veil

Dr. Khalid Mohammad was sitting on a chair next to his wife, Yasmin, at the local swimming pool.  Though she seemed more comfortable at home, and had not put a veil back on since their wedding, she was still wearing a head scarf in public.  He had purchased her a very modest swim suit with a skirt, but she was still wrapped up in a terry cloth robe.

"You see how they are," Khalid said, gesturing to the swimmers.  "Once you are in the pool, nobody sees the legs.  You can have a swim cap on your hair, and the swimming is good exercise."

"I can do the treadmill at home," she said.  She did not like arguing with her husband, but it had been an exceedingly difficult psychological journey to recover from her radicalized father's beatings for "dishonor"--the last one of which had cracked her skull and nearly killed her.

"Swimming uses all the muscles of the body better, and is the best thing to keep a strong back," said Khalid (again).  He was secretly hoping she would also find it a very liberating feeling to glide through water again--something she had not done since before puberty.

"I've been doing the yoga," she said (again).  She really did not like arguing with him, especially now, after their recent return from the sad funeral in Jordan for his cousin--murdered in her own country by an extremist Iraqi refugee for not wearing a hijab in public.

"Yes, I know you have."  He squeezed her hand affectionately.  "You can wear the robe to the edge of the pool and then hand it to me."  It had taken weeks of heat for Khalid to just get her to the pool at all, so he was feeling fairly optimistic.  Her father was back in Turkey, finally abandoning his ties with the CIA for good and joining Erdogan's regime to crack down on dissenters.  Khalid was fairly certain that his father-in-law would never be allowed back inside the U.S.

"Maybe," said Yasmin, who knew that Khalid wanted her to be able to take their future children swimming.  Khalid and Yasmin had watched television together a few days ago as Khizr Khan spoke to the DNC Convention about his son, Humayun--a Muslim who was born in the United Arab Emirates but grew up in Maryland and died a hero saving fellow American soldiers in Iraq from a suicide bombing.  Yasmin had been trying to imagine raising a son here, seeing him go to college, seeing him be a quiet Muslim like her husband.

"Okay," said Khalid.  "I'm going to swim a bit; then I'll come back."  It had bothered Khalid tremendously that Mrs. Khan had stood silently next to her husband with a head scarf on while he did all the talking about their deceased son, but at least some of her hair had been showing and there was no veil.  Khalid knew he was being slightly cruel, but he thought Yasmin would rather come into the pool then sit alone.  He felt somewhat hypocritical pushing her to be a certain way, and yet just letting her be would mean letting her keep the habits which had been beaten into her, rather than help liberate the woman she really was.  He loved that she had enough self-confidence not to do whatever he asked of her, but he also knew this particular type of resistance came from her father's brainwashing.  He got up and walked a few steps, then heard her call for him to wait.

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was sipping from another glass of bourbon on the rocks, staring across his Prince and Prowling desk in amazement at the calm demeanor of junior partner Bridezilla.  "The veil has come off," he repeated.  "Not just for the DNC.  You understand this, right?"

"Of course," said Bridezilla, who was calmly petting Thelma and Louise, the conjoined guinea pigs sitting in her lap.

"Donors are clowns, sure, but you can't say that!  What if somebody hacks into our SuperPACs?"

"They won't."

"Of course a political party has a vested interest in the outcome of the parties!" Breadman exclaimed.

"Of course."

"But the SuperPACs?  Lord Almighty, what if our SuperPACs get hacked?"

"They won't," replied Bridezilla, annoyed that he took the Lord's name in vain.

"What makes you so sure?"

"Our PACs are too secret," said Bridezilla.  "And most of the files are paper, or stored on memory cards.  We don't have email servers."

"Right, right, no email," said Breadman, leaning back in his chair and rubbing his temples.  He had not been this nervous since his final reelection campaign--run during a time when you had private dinners with millionaires' cutting checks, and only your chief of staff knew what was promised and what was snickered about later.  "But what about the Russians?"

"They want the embarrassing emails," said Bridezilla.  "They're not even looking for SuperPACs."  (She knew this because Charles Wu had asked the Tarantula to set out several honey pots to see if hackers were looking for SuperPACs, but nothing happened.)

"But the Dems have always been better with technology.  Why haven't the Republicans been hacked?"

"I think they probably have," said Bridezilla, "but it will be released strategically."

"Strategically?!" cried Breadman, rifling his hands through his thinning hair.  "What the Hell is the Wikileaks agenda, anyway?"

"Julian Assange is a misogynist masquerading as mankind's savior," said Bridezilla.  "Smart people know better."

Breadman suddenly realized he had no idea what Bridezilla was talking about.  Is it possible I'm not as smart as I thought I was?  I don't know better!

"I don't know," said the Tarantula (again), tapping on the keyboard and staring at his computer screen while Charles Wu paced nervously behind him in the hacker's NoMa loft apartment.  "I did try to make the first one look like a Russian hack, but then other things happened."

"If Donald Trump is colluding with Russia--"

"There's no evidence of that!"

"He owes money to the Russian mob," said Wu, sitting back down beside his prized hacker.

"It's not the same thing."

"I know it's not the same thing!" cried Wu.

"Don't yell at me, dude!"

"Sorry."

"Look, there's a lot at stake in this election.  Trump doesn't even want to be President!  His son told Kasich that he could be in charge of domestic and international policy if he joined the ticket as Vice-President!  How wacky is that?  Trump literally wants to be a figurehead!  It doesn't matter how many veils are pulled away from this phony--he still has supporters!  Freakin' Nazis!"

"Please tell me something I don't already know," pleaded Wu.  His contacts in Beijing were apoplectic about the idea of Russia's swaying the U.S. election.

"I need more time."

There was also high anxiety in the Southwest Plaza apartment of conspiracy blogger and militiaman Glenn Michael Beckmann.  "I need more time!" he shouted at temporal lobe epileptic "John Doe", who was relaying messages with the ghost of Henry Samuelson--who had swung back into the anti-Trump camp after the Donald invited Russia to hack American computers.

"He must be assassinated!" cried John, trying to gesticulate in the same way that the ghost did.  "He's a Russian mole!  Or the Manchurian Candidate!"

"That's China," said Beckmann (who was confused about a lot of things but did know that China was a different commie menace).

"That's not the point!" exclaimed John, who was normally very adverse to Ghost Henry's violent tendencies but feared that Donald Trump would institute Nazi eugenics and kill all the disabled people in the country.  "Trump cannot be trusted with the nukes!  And the Ghost CIA can only do so much!"

"What about the real CIA?" asked Beckmann.  "They have plenty of assassins."

"Not against the Secret Service!" cried John.  "Their assassins have to stay behind the veil!  They can only kill overseas."

"Likely story!  Well, I have to capture that dummy first.  I think with the dummy--"

"Forget about the dummy!" cried John, expressing Ghost Henry's frustration with Beckmann's insistence that a satanic dummy living somewhere in YouTube land needed to be found before any action could be taken against Trump.

"Find me the dummy!" retorted Beckmann, red in the face.

"Fine!  The dummy is in the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged."

Beckmann's jaw dropped.  "You knew all along!  You knew I wanted that dummy!"

"You can't assassinate Trump with a satanic dummy!"

"No, but it can talk that dweeb Donald Trump, Jr., into killing his father!"

John Doe was speechless, waiting for Ghost Henry's reply, but Ghost Henry's spectral jaw had dropped.

Back at the pool, Khalid had returned to the side of his wife, who had pulled her robe halfway off.  She was thinking about Khizr Khan.  ("You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”)   She was proud of her husband, a doctor who had saved her life and the lives of many others.  She wondered if their children would ever be proud of her.  A good Muslim woman would raise her son to be like Khan's son--fearless, selfless, serving others.  What could she do behind a veil?  Nothing.  And she did not want to raise a son who would scorn women who did not wear veils--even kill them!  She looked around, but nobody was paying attention or looking at her bare arms.  Some people had stared at her head scarf, but now that she had the bathing cap on (which covered all her hair), nobody was staring.  She took the robe off, and Khalid watched her as she looked around to see who was staring--nobody.

"We'll run and jump in fast!" said Khalid, smiling, and she smiled back.  He took her hand, they got up, ran to the pool, and jumped.

*****************************************************************
COMING UP:  ASPIRE!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Some surprising secret plans!

The Heurich Society was not in the habit of supporting Democratic candidates, but, even with Dick Cheney at its helm, was now having a serious discussion about stopping Donald Trump from taking control of the White House.

"Nothing's more important than the money!"

"And the power!"

"And the freedom!"

"How can he criticize Hillary for something that Pence also did, and when confronted with the hypocrisy, say he doesn't care?!"

"Why don't his supporters care that he's a proud hypocrite?"

"Why do his supporters think he gives a shit about anything except aggrandizing his own DNA pool?"

"The man's a Nazi!"

"That's an insult to Nazis!"

"He'll freeze our assets!"

"We will lose decades of work building networks in OPEC countries!"

"Who will take care of my yard if he gets rid of the Mexicans?"

"Shut up!" hollered Cheney, massaging his wacko replacement heart muscles with his right hand.  "This is not the time to panic!  We have never put stock in democracy, anyway.  We've got dozens of key operatives in the military and intelligence branches.  We have 100% control of the Overseas Contingency Operations, for God's sake!"

"What are you suggesting?!"

"Let him win!  Then we blackmail the Hell out of him once he's in office.  If that doesn't work, he's out."

The upper floor conference room of the Brewmaster's Castle fell silent except for the Army colonel chewing ice and the international arms dealer scratching his stubble.  Several eyes looked to the speakerphone, but Condoleezza Rice was uncharacteristically quiet.

After several minutes, the international banker pushed back his chair and stood up.  "No."

"No?!" screamed Cheney, turning red in the face.

"No.  We've increased all our financial holdings under the Obama Administration and still retained tremendous influence in world affairs.  The conservative choice is Hillary Clinton."

"How the Hell can we project power in the world if that broad is wearing the pants in the family?  She's going to be sitting down with Russian and Chinese leaders while Bubba is holding tea parties in the Rose Garden?  We'll be the laughing stock of the world!  No offense, Condi."

"We'll be the laughing stock if we let a charlatan and his coterie of yes men and sluts take over the White House," said the international banker calmly.  "No offense, Condi.  And if you actually expect the Heurich Society to put its resources into electing Donald Trump, I will put our financial resources at the disposition of somebody else."

Three men jumped up and pulled their guns on the international banker, while another four pulled their guns on the first three.

"ORDER!  ORDER!" screamed Cheney, pounding his fist on the table until he had a heart attack and slumped in his chair.

The ghost of Henry Samuelson, appalled that he had suddenly found himself siding with his arch-enemy Cheney, held his spectral breath waiting to see if the man who had murdered his daughter was finally dead.

Condoleezza Rice, who had not seen the guns drawn and could not see that the current silence in the room was due to the men falling silent while a defibrillator was applied, finally spoke.  "What I want to know is, who fed the DNC documents to Wikileaks?  What exactly is their agenda?"

Their agenda, as it turned out, was to air the dirty laundry before the DNC convention so that it would be quickly subsumed, and not come to light in an untimely fashion in the fall.

"I've taken a big leap of faith on this one," Charles Wu said to Bridezilla, who was still serving as an occasional consultant to his SuperPAC.  "Nobody really wants to see how the sausage is made."

"People would rather eat bloody sausages than shit on a spatula," said the Prince and Prowling junior partner in a tone of bitterness he had never heard from her.

"I didn't know he was already married," said Wu honestly, switching to the topic they needed to address.

"But you did know he had a secret life in Singapore and plenty of other places," said Bridezilla.

"He said you liked the fact he was a mysterious foreigner."  Wu was uncomfortable with this sort of conversation and got up to feign interest in the blooming bougainvillea gracing the corner of her office.

"I didn't even know his real name!"

"Neither did I," said Wu, honestly.  He knew she was an intelligent woman about many things but not her own heart.  He gently touched the blossoms, keeping his back to her.

"What did you know about him?" she asked.

Wu suppressed a sigh and returned to the guest chair.  "He fed me intelligence about OPEC countries to help me make business decisions."  (This was true, though only a fraction of the truth.)  "I think he was in love with you, for what it's worth."

"Who do you really work for, Charles?"

"Myself and my daughter.  I'm a selfish man.  I have clients that I may or may not agree with, like your law firm."

Bridezilla bit her lip, realizing there was no moral high ground to take in response to such a statement.  She took a bonbon out of the expensive box of chocolates he had brought her and ate it while he got up to look at the bougainvillea again.  "You're right," she said at last.  "I did like the fact he was a mysterious foreigner.  Now I'm surrounded by strangers in my own country more mysterious to me than you or him.  People ready to vote Adolf Hitler into the White House.  My grandfather didn't die in Italy so that fascists could take over this country."  (And bigamists! she added to herself, with a newly found horror of men who take on a new wife every decade or two.)

Wu returned to the guest chair, and she offered him a bonbon.  The crisis in their working relationship was over.  "So let's talk about what we will spend money on in Philly," said Wu.

"Hillary must win," said Bridezilla quietly, thinking with sadness about the era which now seemed eons ago--the era when she worked closely with John Boehner.  "And Tim Kaine," she added, though she had never voted for him before.

Out at Trump National Golf Course in Virginia, Nazi descendants Barbara Hellmeister and Ernest Ironman were dealing with their own angst about the upcoming Presidential election.

"But your grandfather would have wanted Trump!" exclaimed Barbara.

"No, not Adolf Eichmann!" argued Ernest, who was fed up that his pregnant lover was too fat and tired now to satisfy his needs.

"Trump has Hitler DNA!" retorted an exasperated Barbara.  "I've run the biological analysis four times!"  She was amazed she had ever thought she could bring out the Aryan greatness in this hillbilly.

"His blood is too impure!"

"So was Hitler's!"

"Trump has recklessly bred with Eastern European scum!" exclaimed Ernest (who had some suspicious West Virginian ancestry of his own).  "He has a daughter named 'Ivanka' dying her hair blond to try to pretend she is an Aryan, and yet she married a Jew!"

"All this screaming is not good for the baby!" pouted Barbara, showing a rare maternal streak.  "I am going out to soak my feet!"

It was too hot for members to come golf today, so she was able to leave their underground bunker freely and head to the pond where Ardua was currently residing.  Ardua had regained her strength feeding on the fascist energy of Trump's club, but was not yet ready to slither her way back into larger waters.  Ardua sucked affectionately on the wicked toes of Barbara Hellmeister, but was undecided what to do about the sudden rift between the couple she had been hoping to inspire for a major killing spree in Virginia.  And what about Tim Kaine?  Was Ernest onto something?  Perhaps further down the line, Ardua could actually have more influence over a Virginian!

Back in Washington, conspiracy blogger Glenn Michael Beckmann was stoked on cannabis purchased at the housing project across the street, and the lovely interaction it made with the prescription psychotropics already circulating in his brain.  He was rewatching the most recent video of the day put on by the popular YouTube channel, "Larry and Gary".  Larry, as usual, had filmed the video in front of the shared computer at the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged (while nobody else was in the room).  And, as usual, the video began with typical comedian banter between Larry (an exceedingly bad ventriloquist) and Gary (an exceedingly bad dummy).  Then, as usual, they ended up in a big argument (this time it was about immigration policy as it would be applied to ventriloquist acts from terrorism-compromised countries), followed by Gary's putting his little dummy hands around Larry's neck.  Then, as usual, somebody (this time it was Theresa) interrupted the fight, pulled the dummy off Larry's neck, and threw it on the floor.  Gary's mouth continued to move by itself for another minute.

Beckmann had been convinced for weeks that Gary was truly evil (maybe even as bad as that zombie chief of staff he had beheaded some years back) but had been undecided what to do about it.  Today, he finally realized what he needed to:  kidnap the dummy so that he could unleash it on unsuspecting enemies.  (The enemy list--subject to daily revisions--was kept on a dry erase board next to the television.  Top of the list?  Ivanka Trump's husband.)  He pulled up his conspiracy blog (disguised as a lifestyle blog) and typed in code a call upon his followers to locate where Larry and Gary were to be found.

Over in Cleveland Park, Marcos Vazquez's mother made the difficult decision to give destiny a hand by slipping secret herbs to Golden Fawn to get her pregnant, but the herbs would do much more than that.

********************************************************************
COMING UP:  The veil.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A legend in his own mind, a hero in his own heart!

A lot of people were upset about the Brexit vote, but not Cedric, a resident of the Arlington Group Home for the Mentally Challenged.  "Rule, Brittania!" he had been exclaiming repeatedly for weeks.  Despite several heated conversations about it with the ghost of deceased CIA officer Henry Samuelson, Cedric was so certain that (despite the lack of slavery-powered colonies which had previously built the Empire) Britain was again taking its rightful place as an independent Superpower, he had regressed to again believing he was a British spy.  He had sneaked out to ride a bus, Metro train, and another bus to arrive at the door of Charles Wu's Cleveland Park house and make another rescue attempt on behalf of Cordelia Buffy's English nanny, Mrs. Prudence Higgety-Cheshire.

"Oh, bother!" cried the nanny when she saw Cedric enter the backyard. Mrs. H-C was wearing a matronly swimsuit, sitting in a most undignified manner in the kiddie pool, and aiming the hose at little Delia and Delia's visiting friend while they dashed about the yard giggling.  "You can't just show up here unannounced!"

"Well, you never take my phone calls!" Cedric protested, sitting down on a patio chair and wiping a handkerchief across his sweaty brow.

"How many times must I tell you that I am not interested in your well-intended advances!"  She stopped shooting the hose as the two young girls ran over to examine Cedric and the stuffed bear he had placed on the seat beside him.

"That's Aloysius," said Cedric, and the girls giggled.  "He doesn't like being laughed at!"

"Cedric, they're four years old!  They giggle fourteen hours a day."

"My name is--" began Delia's friend.

"Don't tell him your name!" interrupted the nanny.  She was fairly certain Cedric was harmless, but there was no need to throw precaution to the wind.  "He likes to play a game of trying to guess your name."

Cedric did not like children at all, and barked at them to leave him alone, whereupon Charles Wu emerged from the house with a drugged bottle of cold beer to offer the annoying former member of the Heurich Society.  (Charles would call one of his Pakistani taxi driver contacts to take him away later.)

"Thank you, Charles!" Cedric said, suddenly forgetting he was supposed to be rescuing Prudence from this dangerous spy (who had done something now completely slipping Cedric's mind).

Charles sent the girls inside with the nanny to eat lunch, and sat down to tell Cedric he had switched sides.

Down at the White House, Ghost Dennis was arguing with members of the Shackled about the outcome of the summit on police and race relations.

"I told President Obama it would lead to nothing, and it hasn't!" said Ghost Dennis.

The Shackled disagreed.  They had been around for centuries, and argued that progress was slow but definitely happening.

"This country is descending into madness!" exclaimed Ghost Dennis.  "He can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results."

"It's not like before," said a member of the Shackled.  "Africans were lynched with impunity.  Now there is accountability."

"It's just a dog and pony show, and then the cops always get acquitted," protested Ghost Dennis.  "Can't you see the President needs to shift course?  If only he would sit still long enough to hear my five-point proposal.  He always brushes me away like a fly!"

Over on Capitol Hill, Congressman Herrmark was holding a meeting of the Bicameral Anti-Zombie Caucus.  "Are they zombies?" was the question on everybody's lips, but nobody was really certain whether the names touted as Vice-Presidential candidates were undead or not.

"They are probably safe for now," said Herrmark's Chief of Staff, Ann Bishis, who was passing around a plate of lemon squares and a stack of memos outlining Herrmark's plan to monitor Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for signs of brain rot.  "You really can't beat Secret Service protection."

"We still believe that the zombie pandemic has been contained to the legislative branch," added Herrmark, "but, of course, we take nothing for granted.  Personally, I think Trump is probably immune--I don't think any zombie would find his brains palatable enough to eat.  We do need watch the others."  Herrmark knew that what he was doing was more important for democracy than anything a Vice-President could do, and so did not feel the sting of envy so many other politicians were experiencing right now.

Over at the FBI headquarters, self-professed autistic shaman "John Doe" was again being interviewed about blog posts he had recently written, predicting a police massacre in Texas, a killer bus in France, and a bloody Ottoman insurrection.  "That's not my name," the total amnesiac said, again refusing to acknowledge incontrovertible proof of his identity.  The FBI had verified the massive gang-related brain trauma which had caused the insomnia and temporal lobe epilepsy, but he was definitely not autistic.  But who could have such accurate visions?  He made everybody nervous.  "They just come to me," John said, again.  "Ghost Henry's been trying for a long time to force them, because he says my visions always come too late to be of any use."  (The FBI was still trying to confirm whether a "Henry Samuelson" ever worked for the CIA; the interrogators never discussed whether they believed he was currently a ghost or not.)  "And I think he's right.  I post my visions in my blog, but I can never get wide readership.  I tried doing YouTube videos.  CNN and Fox are always interviewing so-called experts who make predictions that never come true, but mine do!  It would be nice if somebody put me on TV to warn people!  I mean, I don't care about the money, because I'm a shaman, of course."  (All his bills were paid by the relatives he refused to acknowledge were actually his.) 

"Tell us about the driver of the bus in Nice," the lead investigator said doggedly, pointing to a photo.  "When did you first learn about him?"

"I told you," he repeated.  "I fell down in a fit and saw the fiery truck.  I never saw him."  He had waited until the cup of decaf coffee had cooled down, and started drinking it now, but he had mistakenly received the real stuff.  "A prophet is never welcome in his own time, they say.  But then, what's the point of being a prophet?"  (The lead investigator sighed; it was like this every time.)  "I struggle with that sometime.  I wrote an essay about it once for Reader's Digest, but they never printed it."

"You must have seen the driver!"

"I don't know anything about the driver!"  With that, the caffeine hit John's nervous system like an electric shock, and he went into an epileptic trance that nobody could snap him out of for ten minutes.  When he came to, the first thing he said was, "The dogs, too?"

Down in Southwest, conspiracy theorist Glenn Michael Beckmann's nervous system was having an overload of its own.  Beckmann had failed to assassinate Donald Trump before he got Secret Service protection, failed to fly to Alaska to make a paternity claim on his love child with Bristol Palin (how could they put a patriot like him on the No-Fly List?!), failed to get Sarah Palin arrested for assassinating Antonin Scalia, failed to discover Darja's killer, and failed to formulate a plan to protect America's police forces from retaliation.  He took a deep toke of reefer and closed his eyes to recall past glories when he was serving in Iraq [in his imagination], killing illegal aliens and terrorists [partially true], planting bombs against ___ [can't remember, but they deserved it!], invading Cuba [not even close], and leading the Hunter-Gatherer Society in its successful eradication of germ warfare [not] monkeys [only one] from Kingman Island.  "I will rise again!" he cried to the mouse scurrying across the floor, and picked up a book on Attila the Hun to throw at it.  And then the mouse reminded him of vermin in general, and he realized what he needed to do next.

The mouse ran out to the open balcony, where it was quickly attacked by the feline ghost pack run by Condoleezza's deceased pet, Pippin, and plunged to its death on the sidewalk below.

**************************************************************
COMING UP:  Some surprising secret plans!

Prince and Prowling's women on the verge of a nervous breakdown!

Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam!

Bridezilla pulled off her goggles as the gun range target sheet flew towards her for review.

"You hit all the vital organs again, ma'am," said her shooting instructor.  "Why don't you take a break?"  She had been there for ten hours on Saturday, and had shown up promptly at 11:30 this morning (after church services) ready to go again.

"What?" protested the Prince and Prowling junior partner.  "I just got here!"

The shooting instructor knew that the gun range owner was going to come in on Monday, see the massively depleted inventory of bullets and target sheets, and seriously reconsider his unlimited target practice membership plan.

"We could try blindfolded shooting," suggested the instructor, trying to slow her down.  "It's good practice for shooting in the dark."

"Blindfolded shooting?" exclaimed Bridezilla, incredulously.  "I'm an attorney!  I'm not going to shoot at somebody I can't see!"  She tore off the target sheet and reloaded her gun for the next one.

The shooters this morning were mostly white people preparing for the spread of the deadly race war engulfing America, though there were also a few people subconsciously preparing to shoot up Muslims, politicians, gays, bosses, or ex-wives.   Bridezilla was uncharacteristically apolitical this week, picturing only one face on the hundreds of targets she had shot up:  husband Marco Pel.  "Don't even know his real name!" she muttered again.

The instructor had tried in vain to figure out if she was really going to gun down her husband or was just blowing off steam:  after several protests about invading her privacy, she had finally told him she had no husband, it was all a sham, and she would get an annulment as soon as all the damned vacationing Virginia judges would get back to their dockets!  The instructor had seen these skinny Virginia belle types before, but usually only for a couple hours the weekend after a husband had purchased them a small handgun for their designer purse.  He had never seen this type of behavior, and was writing up a report for his boss even though he knew nothing would come of it.

Another target sheet flew towards them, with the genitals blown to bits, and he sipped from his water bottle instead of commenting.

Further down the legal totem pole of Prince and Prowling, staff attorney Chloe Cleavage was also becoming increasingly unhinged.  She was sunbathing on her condo building roof with cousin Chloris Cleavage, an actress who had stopped by for a visit after completing a bit part as "Waitress Number Two" in a movie filming outside Baltimore.

"I guess I should take the train up on Monday to New York, to prepare for the audition," Chloris was saying for the tenth time, even though the audition for an antiperspirant commercial was not scheduled until Thursday.  "I could stay with Mitch or Michael, I suppose."  Chloris was always referring to a score of men just dying to pin her down, and Chloe was silently rolling her eyes again.  "Michael is definitely a better cook, tee hee!  But Mitch, well--"

"Whatever!" cried out an exasperated Chloe, who had now forgotten all the gratitude previously felt for the period Chloris had come to stay with her after the broken arm.  "You know how many guys have me on speed dial?!  Two dozen, at least!"

"Well, that's great!" said Chloris.  "What are you hollerin' at me for?  Which one do you like the best?  Wait, two-dozen?!"

Chloe grabbed her thermos to sip from the frozen margarita and stall.  "Well...."  She took another sip, suddenly overcome with bitterness that a prince had never arrived on a white horse for her.  (Well, not a handsome rich one, like she wanted.)  "Devon, I suppose," which was the name of a firm client, and the princeliest name she could come up with.

"Ooh, what's he like?"

Chloe thought about the first time she had accidentally run into an attorney visiting from Devon.  Staff attorneys at P&P were never supposed to mix with clients, but when he saw her silicone enhancements and figured out she was working on his case, he had stopped by her office on the way out.  One thing had led to another, and then he had left her with a fifty-dollar bill on her desk.  Somehow, this had now happened with attorneys visiting from three other clients, none of whom objected when she also billed the time to their employers.  Then she had started getting cellphone calls from other men they knew, and she now had a guy visiting her apartment almost every night of the week!  She had raised her price to $300, but this had led to even more phone calls as her reputation as a "high-priced call girl" spread.  And she turned away ugly guys, which made the guys reaching her bedroom (or office chair) crow about their experiences even more! 

Am I really the sort of girl a man will never want to marry?  She had anguished to herself over and over again.  My cousin is at least out there pursuing her dream!  I can't even remember why I went to law school!  What have I become?

"Chloe?  Hey, slow down on the margarita, girl!"

Chloe put the thermos down beside her.  "Devon is...well, he's hard to describe.  He makes me feel...wanted."

"Goodness, that is not enough, Chloe!  Trust me!  Guys are always wanting, wanting, wanting.  But what are they giving?  You gotta find somebody who will help your dreams come true!"

I don't have a dream, Chloe thought.

Downtown, further down the P&P totem pole, long-time contract attorney Laura Moreno was putting in the repeated weekend overtime hours she needed to pay her health insurance premium, but she was in an uncharacteristically good mood because tonight was another meeting of ASPIRE:  Attorneys Serving Public Interest Radicals Everywhere.  It had been years since her drudgery work at Prince and Prowling made her too exhausted to do pro bono work or look for better job opportunities, but ASPIRE made her feel energized!  The leader--who only went by the name "Max" to avoid harassment from reactionary trolls--was the most charismatic man she had ever met!  She really felt she could move mountains for him!  Though most of the members were attorneys, he had also attracted paralegals, legal assistants, secretaries, accountants, political activists, and scores of other professionals united behind his vision of shifting the intellectual energy of the nation's legal sector away from serving corporate America and towards serving common America.  What neither Laura nor anybody else in the young organization knew was that Max was really serving Evil.

Closer to the bottom of the Prince and Prowling totem pole than she felt she (even though a non-employee) should be, the wife of former Senator Evermore Breadman had followed him to work to spy on him, incredulous that he would pass up a yacht excursion on a gorgeous day like this simply because "it's an election year, dear!"  She was aware of his occasional philandering, and had cheated on him in revenge a few times, but she felt they were both getting too old for that nonsense and needed to get closer to the dignity she saw in others of their age--who were learning to play bridge and taking grandchildren to baseball games.  She had gotten Laura what's-her-name to let her in under false pretenses, and was creeping around on her husband's floor.  Every time she got near his office, she could hear his voice on the phone in what sounded like legitimate calls (though she had never before heard him refer to Donald Trump as a "sperm whale with diarrhea", President Obama as "the Wizard of Clods", and Hillary Clinton as "living proof that voodoo dolls work").  Still uneasy, she poked through his secretary's desk and his legal assistant's files.  She poked through forgotten food in the kitchen fridge and forgotten output in the central printer tray.  She went downstairs to the firm library and upstairs to the penthouse.  Then she accidentally stumbled across the office of Chloe Cleavage--a name she had heard whispered every year at the firm holiday party.  She rummaged through everything until she found the smoking gun:  four boxes of condoms!  "What kind of slut keeps four boxes of condoms in her office!"  [Chloe had ordered a crate of them from Amazon because she had run out of nearby drugstores she was willing to buy more at.]  She grabbed all of them and raced to her husband's office.

"What kind of woman is this?!" she shouted to her shocked husband, throwing the condom boxes on his desk.

"I need to call you back, Mr. Speaker," he said quickly, hanging up the phone.  "What on Earth?"

"Is that what they're called these days?  [Air quotes--]  Staff attorney?"

"Um--"

"Don't 'um' me!"

"Are those from Roderick's office?" Breadman asked, though he doubted it.

"Chloe Cleavage!  How often do you sleep with her?  Are you crazy?  She could blackmail you!"

Chloe had already blackmailed him, but he wasn't responsible for this quantity of condoms, and a surge of testosterone-fueled jealousy rose in him even as he struggled to calm down his wife.

"I don't know what all those are for!" he said honestly.  "I don't have time for that!  Believe me:  I wish I did!"  He regretted that last part as soon as it was out of his mouth.

"Well, maybe I can give you a quickie before you call back Mr. Ryan!" she screamed.

"Um, alright," Breadman said, relieved.

"Ga, you're disgusting!  You think I'm going to do it on a sticky leather chair!  Satin sheets!  Satin sheets!  Satin sheets!  Dignity!"  She kicked over both his guest chairs, then dumped a potted plant onto his couch for good measure.  "Act your age!"

Back at the gun range, a sudden migraine had finally put an end to Bridezilla's personal blitzkrieg across the stack of target sheets.  "Sometimes pets can help with extreme stress," the instructor said to her, surprising even himself.

She looked at him suspiciously.  "Some men are scared of strong women!" she declared, marching off in a snit, determined to find a female shooting instructor, even though she was good enough to be a psycho sniper now.

Nonetheless, an hour later, she was returning home with miniature Siamese-twin guinea pigs, little conjoined freaks she had adopted from the local animal shelter.  "I'll call you Thelma and Louise," she told them.  (In time, she would change their names to "Flower Girl" and "Maid of Honor".)

Outside her window, a catbird wondered whose side they were on. 

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COMING UP:  
A legend in his own mind, a hero in his own heart!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Longing for Freedom (but freedom from what?)

Calico Johnson had come home early from Atlantic City because of the lousy weather.  Megamoo, as expected, was huddled in her outdoor pagoda, refusing to graze.  "Come on!  This is ridiculous!  You need to graze now before it really starts raining!"  Megamoo, as expected, let out a loud bellow but refused to budge.  I've got acres and acres of grass here!  I'm tired of buying hay for you!"  There was a time he used to invite friends, colleagues, hot women, and real estate clients out to his Potomac Manors estate, but the two horses and one (very loud cow) made it a little too farm-like and not enough party-like.  He tried to push Megamoo (who had been cured of bovine narcolepsy, but was currently being treated for arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and [Johnson had some doubts about this one] dissociative identity disorder), but she simply let out another loud moo.  Johnson had recently sold a pricey (but haunted!) home to the Obamas, and the astonishing political rise of Donald Trump had reminded him that he was a major player himself and should not be wasting his time in animal husbandry.  "I only took you in for Basia's sake!" he grumbled to the geriatric cow, recalling bitterly his infatuation with the neighbor who had--according to the FBI--burnt down her own home.  "And it's obvious she's never coming back!  I have no qualms about turning you into hamburger!"  Megamoo lay down on the concrete in protest.

President Obama, meanwhile, was at the White House preparing for another USO event to honor military families.  He and his wife had signed the real estate contract (for a haunted house!) the same day he had signed the law opening up more records to Freedom of Information Act requests.  (They would still be answered too slowly to affect anything he was doing in office.)  But he knew his legacy was in jeopardy.  So many advisors had told him that Donald Trump's Republican nomination would guarantee Hillary Clinton's election in November, but why is this FBI investigation dragging on so long?  And how could my Attorney General have been stupid enough to talk to Bill Clinton at an airport?  Sometimes it seems like--

"Don't worry," the familiar voice whispered in his ear.

It was Ghost Dennis, but Obama still did not know that, and his skin crawled.  Sometimes it seems like there is a conspiracy of evil to destroy everything, and--

"I know," the familiar voice whispered in his ear.  "But I'm playing the long game."  (Ghost Dennis had been there since dying in an "accident" during the Nixon Administration.)

The President plugged his ears.  "I will never surrender to evil!" he said out loud, not understanding that evil doesn't need a formal surrender.

Over at the CIA's secret underground facility, beneath the Washington Times headquarters, Dr. Ermann Esse had tried without success to free himself from bondage to the CIA's secret enhanced interrogation program by addicting himself to prescription pain killers in order to fail the random drug tests they made everybody take.  However, instead of firing the psychiatrist, the CIA had placed him in lockdown for a rapid and painful cold-turkey withdrawal.  The shrink who had made a career of not prescribing psychotropics for his patients was now a poster child for "this is your brain on drugs"--writhing in agony on the floor, pulling his hair out, scratching his forearms, banging his forehead against the cinderblock wall, and periodically crying out to anybody who might hear him to take pity and give him a pill.  How had it all gone so horribly wrong?! (Dr. Esse had a lot of memory loss surrounding the period in which he had been wearing the cursed Rolex.)

The cursed Rolex was currently adorning the wrist of previously average and normal Kevin "Monkey" Mundy, a DC water employee now obsessed with panning for gold and diamonds in the Potomac River and its tributaries.  The Nazi-descendant couple, Barbara Hellmeister and Ernest Ironman, had invited him out for an ironic 4th of July celebration in their secret bunker at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia.  Ernest was insecure about Monkey's friendship with the couple, even though Barbara was due to give birth to his child in late September.  Therefore, Ernest, who had been raised in obscurity in West Virginia, had decided to surprise Monkey with a young bride of his own--whom Ernest had picked out after several trips to Northern Virginia's shopping malls and bus stations.

"I thought it was time for you to get married," said Ernest, as Monkey walked in.  Much to his surprise, Monkey saw a girl dressed in a red, white and blue sundress, rubbing her bare arms against the cold and damp.  "Her name is Brittani spelled with two i's.  She's already pregnant, so if you say you're the father, you can marry her--but you should do it right away, because the stupid government just raised the age of marriage in Virginia."  Brittani was only fourteen.  She was not actually pregnant, but she had already run away from home to be with a boyfriend who had subsequently dumped her for another girl.  She was a little chubby, so when Ernest had asked if she was pregnant, she had impulsively said yes in a ploy for sympathy, food, and/or money.

Barbara, who believed their own baby would be an example of Aryan greatness, did not at all approve of encouraging these two genetic mutts to marry each other and produce any offspring (hers, his, or theirs), but she knew that Ernest was jealous about Monkey, so she had not stood in the way.  She handed Brittani a sweater, now that Monkey had already gotten a look at the girl's cleavage.

"Hi!" cried out Brittani, who occasionally felt special and excited about all that was happening, and thought Monkey was kinda cute.  "I made potato salad!  I can cook all kinds of things.  I made chocolate chip cookies, too, but those are for later."

Monkey had not dated since having his heart broken by his college girlfriend.  He had first poured himself into a local government career, and then, lately, all his passion had flowed towards finding the secret treasurers hidden in the water.  But now he felt his pulse quicken at the sight of this girl and the sound of her voice.  Maybe the Taliban and ISIS are right about child brides?!  All his (corrupted) instincts were saying yes!

"Just call in sick tomorrow," said Ernest, seeing the lust in Monkey's eyes.  He handed Monkey a cold beer, and took the bag of chips, brownies, and fireworks from him.  "Spend the night here, and we'll all go to the Courthouse first thing in the morning!  She already has a white dress ready."

"Sure, why not?" Monkey found himself saying, momentarily forgetting his obsession with gold and diamonds.  (But it would return.)

Back in Washington, British special agents Nigel Blackthorne (code name "Prickly") and Richard Mollington (code name "The Third") were trying to enjoy local lifestyle guru Giuliana Sunstream's 4th of July party, but the marijuana-and-cinnamon lemonade was not enough to cut the gloom cast from the gray, damp skies.  Giuliana had most of her guests now engaged indoors in a patriotic game she had invented (Hamilton hip-hop charades), but Prickly and The Third were still sitting on the balcony, commiserating about the Brexit vote.  The main Brexit problem, of course, was that special agents would all lose easy access to every country in the European Union, and the easy access that in turn gave to entering Russia or the Middle East.  The secondary problem was that too many people in England were unable to accept that their country was a declining world power:  without a string of colonies to prop it up, England was going to be just another small European country.  A nuclear arsenal could do nothing about the narrow economy (which the security establishment had been lamenting for years).  Haiti and Somalia had freedom from excessive government bureaucracy, and what had it gotten them?  The strongest economies in the world all had strong governments.

"Come on, you sourpusses!" exclaimed Giuliana as she opened the balcony door to summon them inside.  "I know you didn't come to my Freedom Fest to sit out here by yourself staring at the drizzle!"  She squeezed both of them on the shoulder at the same time, bending over to let them smell the perfume she had hand-crafted herself at a Scents-Your-Purpose event she had hosted the previous weekend.  "Come in and join the fun!"

A flock of starlings quickly descended to take over the now empty balcony, chattering away about how easy it was to crush the human spirit.

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COMING UP:  Prince and Prowling's women
on the verge of a nervous breakdown!