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, May 03, 2008


Dr. Ermann Esse was captivated by the deep neurosis gripping his 10 a.m. Saturday appointment, White House staffer #4. (Dr. Esse was up to nine White House staffers now, though he was uncertain as to how many of them knew about each other's psychiatric treatments.) #4 had been up all night, utterly unable to sleep after the news had broken that President Bush had shattered the modern historical record for most unpopular President. "More unpopular than Richard Nixon!", #4 kept wailing. #4 was taking it very, very, very personally. Dr. Esse asked him why this disapproval of Bush upset him so. "It's my fault!!", #4 shouted, incredulous that Dr. Esse could not see this. (Dr. Esse did not understand the chain of command in the White House Administration, but it did seem to him there was an excessive amount of people who thought it was all their own fault.) Dr. Esse asked #4 if he thought that 71% of the American public specifically disapproved of #4. "They would if they knew it was me that...." Dr. Esse carefully took notes on yet another explanation of who had advised whom to do what and when.

"Do you believe that the President is right?" #4 immediately responded in the affirmative. "Would you rather be right or popular?" #4 hesitated--he had seen this question on the White House personnel assessment form, and had always thought it was a trap. "Do you think the President would rather be right or popular?" #4 said, "right". "Well, then," Dr. Esse continued, "the President should be satisfied. If you are serving the President, and he is satisfied, then you have done a good job. After all, the President does not have an unfavorable approval rating of you, does he?" #4 was very confused now. "Well, does he?" #4 shook his head in the negative. Dr. Esse leaned in closer. "Well, then, that leaves us with two possibilities [for this neurosis, but he did not say that part out loud]: either you have an unfavorable approval rating of your own for the President, or you have decided that you are the servant of the people in the opinion poll. Since you have already said that you believe the President is right, this [neurosis!] must mean that you subconsciously have decided that you are supposed to be serving the public instead." Dr. Esse leaned back in his chair, pleased with himself. "You must reconcile your actions with your thoughts, you must live the life you think." #4 nodded like a zombie, though he had no idea what Dr. Esse was telling him to do. "Alright, go home and think about this, and we will discuss it again next Saturday." #4 strolled out into the bright sunshine and for a few moments forgot he needed to go into the office today. When he got to his car, he saw a catbird throwing himself repeatedly against its own reflection in the rear-view mirror.

A few blocks away, Atticus Hawk was whistling as he walked into his Justice Department office. He had met a girl! Well, a woman who was already a mother, but...he liked her. Last night had been their first "Date Lab" date, set up by The Washington Post. He had told nobody he knew about it, and most of them still did not know because it would be awhile before they would be profiled in The Washington Post Magazine. Actually, most of his friends only read The Washington Times, and might never know! He didn't want them to know: she was obviously a lower class native Washingtonian with no education, and his friends would all look down on her. They had no idea why "Date Lab" had matched them--all they had come up with was that they had both spent most of their childhood in South Carolina, both missed fried okra, and both detested the summer tourist season. A genealogist could have told them that they shared a common ancestor (a rice plantation owner who had raped a young slave girl two centuries ago), but neither they nor "Date Lab" had figured that out. Why do I like her? Hawk was still puzzling over that question, which he felt he might have to answer sooner or later to somebody. Mostly it was because she was awe-struck by his intelligence, good manners, and southern gentleman charm, but he was incapable of perceiving that his fondness of her was related to her nascent adoration of him. Well, she's very pretty. He had never before thought himself capable of thinking that. He opened up his email and started printing out the items he needed to work on today. She's...different. He was bored with dating Stepford Wives-in-training, truth be known. She's appreciative. She was obviously not a regular patron of nice restaurants, and actually showed genuine gratitude for and pleasure in the meal they shared at Le Paradou. She's--his phone rang. He took a deep breath, but it turned out to be his boss, not another reporter asking why it took six years to determine the innocence of Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj and release him from Guantanamo. "I know," Hawk answered. "I'm on it." A determination of "innocence" was not what had happened, but that's how the press was reporting it. Innocence--you can never really prove innocence. He picked up his red pen to start marking up the draft memo he had written the afternoon before, not realizing that his subconscious had a theory that Jai Alai was an Innocent.

Several miles north, Charles Wu was dreaming that he was walking on a colossal scaffold girding Earth. He had to walk all the way around the planet, and the scaffold was not that wide. Gravity had been suspended, so if he fell off the scaffold, he would fall into space and float away. Up in the distance, he could now make out the moon--which appeared a thousand times larger than he remembered it to be. He was looking at the bottom of it, wondering if it, too, had lost its gravity, and if people were walking on the bottom of the moon and falling off. He was terrified, and woke up. Halfway around the world, forensic accountants had started to trace the trail of the depleted $29.8 million Singapore bank account once controlled by Ching Chi-Ju for the purpose of luring Singapore to give diplomatic recognition to Taiwan in exchange for an infusion of economic development aid. Wu didn't really believe they would ever succeed in tracing even one dollar of it to his own Swiss bank account, so he made no connection between his nightmare and the breaking scandal in Taiwan. He stared at the ceiling for a moment, vaguely recollecting that he used to have nightmares about the moon when he was a child, then got up to make a mimosa and turn on his computer to see the Olympic torch ceremonies in Hong Kong.

Over in Chinatown, Lynnette Wong was glued to her backroom computer, relegating shop sales to the high school student who occasionally came in on Saturday mornings: the Dalai Lama representatives were meeting with Beijing officials today, and she did not want to miss a minute of breaking news on it. China had already sentenced thirty Tibetans to prison for the monk-led uprising, which China blamed for 22 Tibetan deaths; the Dalai Lama's camp had put the death toll at more than 200. "We all look at the same moon each night," her mother had been fond of saying when Wong's father had talked about Chinese politics and Chinese dissenters. Her father had always responded--pointedly in Cantonese instead of Mandarin--"so do the deer and the tiger".

Lynnette heard her name called and walked into the store, where she found a new client asking for help with the cracked and blistering skin on his left hand. She pushed up his sleeve to examine it and saw it--the Rolex. She shook her head in frustration and told him he needed to get rid of it. "It's a Rolex!" he cried. "What are you talking about? Am I allergic to platinum" She hesitated between telling the truth and telling a lie, then agreed with him that he was allergic to platinum. She made him sit down in the back of the shop and remove the watch while she prepared an ointment for his left hand. A couple minutes later, he was closing his eyes and relaxing as she massaged what looked, felt, and smelt like vanilla buttercream frosting into every nook and cranny of the hand. She propped a small box under his forearm and instructed him to keep his hand in the air for a quarter hour, and then he could put a cotton glove on--he should use the ointment every four hours until the hand healed, and never put on the Rolex again. "Thank you!" he replied, already having decided to get the Rolex lined with something else. She instructed her helper how much to charge the man for the ointment and gloves, then returned to the back of the store. Some day I am going to have to have a serious talk with Breadman.

Hovering outside the store, a few of the Shackled discussed the newest owner of the cursed Rolex as a flock of starlings crowded out a family of sparrows from the crumbs dropped to the sideway by the cafe patrons next door.


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