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 ....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The Freaks from Dupont Down Under slowly made their way back to their home beneath the city streets, still puzzled about Mayor Fenty's appearance at the Grand Opening of dc Bread & Brew.  What was the big deal?  What did the mayor care about that little place?  And was it a coincidence that the place opened up right next to the orthodox Jewish restaurant that was rarely open?  And just a couple blocks from that new Dupont Circle CVS that was suspiciously small and lacking entire sections like toilet paper?  And just a couple blocks away from that alley the police car hangs out at for no apparent reason?  And just a couple blocks away from that International Square food court that says it's open on Saturdays, but it's actually never open on Saturdays?  And how come Tony M. never came around anymore—was it true he had moved to Indianapolis?  (He used to come to this place a lot, before it became “dc Bread & Brew”.)  They clutched their purloined balloons, their tongues still lolling in the taste of raisin scone and chocolate croissant samples, and prepared to tell their subterranean neighbors how the mayor's handlers wouldn't let them close enough to ask any questions.

A couple of miles to the east, Atticus Hawk was enjoying the therapeutic rhythm of his document shredder.  The countdown was on now, and he still did not know if he was going to keep his job at the Justice Department or not—but he was certain he would no longer be referred to as the “Torture Specialist”.  Right now he was working on the file of Muhammad Saad Iqbal, a Pakistani recently released from Guantanamo with no charges filed after six years of detention.  Iqbal had repeatedly passed lie detector tests, but the torture had continued until...well, until the Bush Administration knew that any lawsuit filed about the detention would have to be handled by the next Presidential Administration.  Hawk paused to rub Ben Gay on his left jaw joint because it was inflamed and misaligned from nocturnal mouth-clenching (according to the dentist).  He was supposed to wear a nightguard in his sleep now, like some kind of nerdy freak.  He shoved some more papers into the shredder.  Maybe I'll take up smoking in my sleep next.  He suddenly wondered if Iqbal also slept with a nightguard.  Hawk felt the mechanical teeth engage, tug, and chew, and then he felt better.

A mile away, Laura Moreno was getting a lecture on non-billable hours by Chloe Cleavage.  “Billing this year has got to be fierce.”  (Translation: “Bill the clients up the wazoo.”)  “You can't have a week with only ten billable hours.”  Moreno tried to point out that there was down time the previous week when she was waiting for additional work, and that she had voluntarily taken some time out of the office, but Cleavage waved off her objection.  “If you don't have work to do, then make up for it when you do.”  (Translation: “After the new assignment begins, do fifty hours for the week--even if that is only starting on Thursday.”)  “And you need to stop putting non-billable time down every day.”  Moreno tried to ask what she was supposed to do with records-keeping time, paralegal-from-Hell time, unlocking-the-door-five-times-a-day-for-former-Senator-Evermore-Breadman time, jumping-through-hoops-to-order-supplies time, accepting-flowers-and-candy-for-Bridezilla time, trying-to-get-the-dead-rodent-out-of-the-air-vent time--and all the other things that could not be billed to the client--but Cleavage again waved off the objection.  “Put all your non-billable time on Friday to make it simpler for the accounting department.”  (Translation: “It better not add up to more than half an hour for the week.”)  Moreno furrowed her eyebrows and gave Cleavage her best disapproving look, but Cleavage would have none of it.  “This is a client-driven business, and the partners just wanted me to remind you of that as we start the new year.”  (Translation: “They just fired a dozen attorneys on Friday, and you barely made the cut.”)  Cleavage flashed a saccharin smile, then abruptly walked out of the workroom, coughing up a little dust as she left; she was going to go back to her office and order some new v-necked sweaters online, and this whole hour would be billed to the client currently assigned to Moreno.  Moreno dialed the Help Desk (for the fifth time) to find out why the law firm's network had not allowed her to print a single document since the start of 2009, and pondered whether to write it down as technical problem time or bill it to the client.

A few blocks away, the Permanent Peace Vigil had been moved yet again, and the Vigilist was starting to think they could no longer call it the Permanent Peace Vigil.  He was now at the far northeast corner of Lafayette Park—as far as possible from the current President and the incoming President both.  Tourists rarely made it to this corner, but Dizzy had moved his trumpet operation to the northeast corner, and that was helping.  Dizzy was good at bullshitting the tourists, telling them, “this is the state song of Hawaii,” or “this is the song the Obamas danced to at their wedding” (yesterday it was “Three Times a Lady”, but today it was “Sweet Love”, or “this is Barak's favorite show tune,” (yesterday it was “Impossible Dream”, but today it was “Climb Every Mountain”).  And he had copied the AFL-CIO and written a big sign that said, “Welcome!  Sasha and Malia!”  The Vigilist had to admit to himself that it would be really cool if the Obamas saw the sign, or heard the trumpet, or even got out of the car because they wanted to check out the Permanent Peace Vigil on their way back to the Hay Adams for the night, but so far, they hadn't.  The Vigilist looked up hopefully as a few visitors from California approached, but they were miserably cold and barely paused to make out the tune before rushing off in search of a Starbucks.

A couple of miles away, Marcos Vasquez was leading a Coast Guard exercise on the Potomac, wondering if Ardua knew how many death threats the Obamas had gotten about the upcoming inauguration.  Unfortunately, she did.


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