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 ....

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tonics for Ardua

Arborist Devi Rajatala was working in the Friendship Garden at the National Arboretum. Teenagers on winter vacation were taking shredded hardwood leaves and pine needles from the groves and using them to mulch their flower and vegetable gardens. "Pinch back those blooming daffodils," Dr. Raj called out to nobody in particular. Angela de la Paz walked over to the confused daffodils and pinched them back. "Thank you, Angela." Angela asked why they had come up so early. "Well, we had a stretch of cold weather, then we had very warm weather again, so they thought winter was over." Angela asked about the blooming cherry trees and got a similar answer.

"Is it global warming?" Angela asked. "They said on the news that the polar bears were just listed as threatened."

"Well," said Dr. Raj, "it might be, but sometimes you just have autumns like this."

"But it's real, the global warming?"

"Yes, it's real," replied Dr. Raj. "The climate will change everywhere, not just in the North Pole."

"So maybe the pink warblers I saw aren't in your book because they came from somewhere else, because of global warming?"

Dr. Raj hesitated. "I really think you were just seeing another bird in a funny light. There are no pink warblers listed anywhere."

"Maybe they mutated from the global warming?"

"Well," conceded Dr. Raj, "mutation is always possible." Dr. Raj didn't know that Angela was now seeing pink warblers on a daily basis, and they had nothing to do with global warming.

Over at the National Museum of the American Indian, Golden Fawn finished up her work on the leadership conference, then stopped at the Shoshone Bird Woman exhibit on her way out to study again the young girl's amazing adventure with Lewis and Clark. Golden Fawn's grandmother had told her that the pink warbler of her dreams was a spiritual sign, but nobody but Golden Fawn herself would be able to decipher what the sign meant. Still, grandmother was certain it had something to do with fighting Ardua. What use is that? So she saw a pink warbler in her dreams--so what? All it did was aggravate her now. Sacagawea changed the history of America simply by leading a few white men around, but Golden Fawn didn't have anybody to lead. She had no clue what she was supposed to be doing about Ardua.

Over on the drawbridge, Dubious McGinty was pouring kerosene into the Potomac, trying to blind Ardua. Nothing seemed to work, but he couldn't give up. He emptied the cannister and returned to the abandoned watchman's quarters to turn on NPR. They were talking about the death of Gerald Ford. Gerald Ford? That name sounded familiar. Oh, yeah: he was President when Saigon fell. Dubious vaguely remembered hating the guy, but couldn't be bothered with it now. Dubious knew now it was Ardua that was doing all this crap in Washington.

Over in Chinatown, former Senator Evermore Breadman was rushing out of Lynnette Wong's shop with his colon herbs, on his way to meet the party planners for the Gerald Ford bash. It was all good to him--he could make money on anything in this town, even a Presidential funeral. Lynnette's secret attempts to flush Ardua's influence out of his system were failing. She frowned, realizing that she needed to make another trip to the river banks to study Ardua some more. Breadman absolutely reeked of Ardua.

A new customer walked into Lynnette's shop. "Charles Wu," he introduced himself. This was no country bumpkin flown in to construct the new Chinese embassy in Washington: his English was of the Hong Kong variety--as was his silk suit, linen shirt, argyle socks, and patent leather shoes. He absolutely reeked of Ardua. "I need a ginseng tonic," he announced. She nodded silently, then turned her back on him to mix up the tonic. She threw in the anti-Ardua herbs, even though she had no faith in them: they would have to do for now. She turned back to Wu and handed him the bottle.

"First bottle always on the house," she told him. He smiled broadly, thanked her, and departed. Wu was a Chinese-British double-agent. He was very happy about his new assignment in Washington, where the river banks did not reek of chicken shit, diesel fuel, and rotting haddock. After nine years of being a double agent, Wu still hadn't decided whose side he preferred, but he felt invigorated in this city. He opened the bottle and swallowed the contents in one swill, then carefully placed the bottle in his attache case until he could find a recycling bin. He knew it was superstitious to keep taking the herbs his grandmother had taught him, but he convinced himself that it was merely a ploy he would use to infiltrate the Chinese dissidents in Chinatown. When a man announced colon trouble, nobody ever suspected him of lying, even if his father had been an Englishman.

Over at the Watergate, Condaleeza Rice was sitting in her red leather recliner, sipping her ginseng/gingko/sesame/celery/anise smoothie and adding lies to her draft memo on Iran. She looked out at the darkening water and did not realize that she was smiling.


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