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, January 04, 2009

Listen and Learn

Perry Winkle was re-inspecting the crime scene, trying to understand why Dubious McGinty was insisting that Ardua of the Potomac had been responsible for beating the homeless man to death.  They were in Foggy Bottom, not too far from the river, glad the sun was still shining through the chilly air.  Winkle had been assigned by his Washington Post editor the task of writing an in-depth “Metro” article on the waterfront's homeless community, and it wasn't going to be easy.  The police were certain that the elderly Japanese man was only one of many homeless to be attacked by the presumed gang of adrenaline-junkie sociopaths, but if anybody had actually survived such an attack, they weren't talking.  No witnesses, no descriptions, no clues—just two corpses.  McGinty motioned to Winkle to follow him, and they walked a careful path from the crime scene straight down to the water.  “You see, you see?” questioned McGinty, but Winkle didn't see anything.  Sometimes McGinty wondered if Winkle was really meant to be a reporter.

Suddenly they saw Lynnette Wong at the water's edge.  Her eyes were closed in prayer, and she didn't hear their approach.  When the incantations were complete, she threw the amulet into the river, and Ardua shuddered and winced in pain.  Lynnette opened her eyes.  It's never enough.  The tears welled up in her eyes as she recalled the night they found her father's body beaten to a pulp at the very same spot as the Japanese man.  Never at night—not because Ardua is stronger at night, but because both her puppets and her victims are weaker at night.  She opened her eyes and saw the pink dolphins surface in solidarity with her.  Why was he here at night?  She wiped the tears away, wondering how she was ever going to figure out how to do more than wound Ardua.  

On the other side of the river, the Warrior watched all this through his binoculars with great interest.  He had killed a lot of Ardua's minions, but had never wounded her in the slightest.  What was this Chinese girl doing?

A couple miles to the east, Bridezilla was on the couch of Dr. Ermann Esse.  Her dreams were getting worse.  “I was at Prince and Prowling, but it was different.  For one thing, it was in Costa Rica.”  Dr. Esse raised his eyebrows appropriately.  “And we were preparing for some huge party—like an inaugural ball, but different.  There was a huge backyard—I mean huge, like several miniature golf courses.  There were monkeys and jungle birds and ponds with lily pads.  I was in charge of getting it ready.”  Dr. Esse asked if this was her vision for her wedding.  “No!  This was Prince and Prowling!  I was getting the backyard ready, then I had to go to the firm's law library to find some old law books for a partner.  When I say old, I mean old.  They were disgusting—they were literally covered in dust and wet mold.  And I had to photocopy gooey pages!  It was gross to the max.”  Dr. Esse began to feel nauseous.  “Then I discovered some flying brooms--” (Dr. Esse raised his eyebrows again) “--like in Harry Potter.”  Dr. Esse wondered why she thought of Harry Potter rather than a female witch.  “By then, it was two in the morning.  I tried to flag a taxi outside, but I couldn't get one, and there were other people from Prince and Prowling trying to get a taxi, so I was worried it would take forever.  I decided to fly home on a broom.”  Dr. Esse asked why she didn't call Wince for a ride.  “Wince?  Look, I just told you that I dreamt I flew home on a broom!  And I was worried that people from Prince and Prowling would see me, but I was exhausted and didn't care—I just wanted to get home!”  Dr. Esse again commented that he found it interesting that she had not thought to call her fiance for a ride; Bridezilla threw her hands up in the air, wondering what she was paying him for.  What would Wince think if he knew I were here?  Dr. Esse was saying something else, but she missed it—she was remembering what it felt like to ride the broom.

A couple blocks away, Laura Moreno staggered wearily into the workroom for another round.  The holidays had come and gone with barely a pause.  She was racking up plenty of overtime pay, desperate to create a hedge fund against the rumors that they would all be laid off any day now.  She had been trying to work every day they had work for her to do, but now she was wondering if it was all a subterfuge—was the threat of getting laid off planted by management to get them all to work over the holidays?  She certainly didn't see much evidence of associates or partners killing themselves for some theoretical deadline.  

The only senior employee she saw regularly was former Senator Evermore Breadman—working day and night to cement the Bush legacy of public land giveaways to private companies, relaxed industrial and pollution regulations, and public appointments based on loyalty with no regard for competence.  Breadman had also convinced Bush to pardon all ten of the names he had submitted himself, and pocketed a hefty pile of thank-you fees for that.  But today, unbeknownst to Moreno, he was actually on the phone with his colleagues in the Beijing branch, trying to work out an effective settlement for the milk company clients sued by the families of tainted milk victims.  He was trying to explain to them that sometimes throwing a little money around was not enough—you had to throw a lot of money around.  As Moreno walked past Breadman's “wall of me” photographs, she heard through his shut door the raised voice coming over his speakerphone:  “The families are too greedy!”  Then she heard Breadman shouting, “Our clients put melamine in baby's milk, for Christsake!  Some clients you just cannot defend—all you can do is represent them.”  Moreno stopped in her tracks, amazed at Breadman's attack of conscience.  Even he has his limits.  But Breadman also knew that the worse the clients were, the steeper their legal learning curves, and the more fees for Prince and Prowling.

A couple of blocks away, Che Flaco and Che Gordo were knocking back tequila sunrises at Off the Record, satisfied with their progress in procuring Hay Adams spies for the imminent (albeit brief) sojourn of the Obama family in the hotel.  They felt a little guilty about the listening devices planted in the mattresses, but the Secret Service would probably have found anything else.  The modern world was going to turn upside down...or maybe it was going to collapse...but either way, for a couple of weeks, they would do their best to be at the epicenter.  Outside and across the street, Dizzy and the permanent peace vigilist were sitting in Lafayette Park.  “Something ain't right there,” said Dizzy, staring at the hotel.  The vigilist had heard Dizzy say this sort of thing so many times that it went in one ear and out the other.


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