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, May 31, 2009

Getting Better

"What do you mean you got suspended for calling him an asshole?"  

Liv Cigemeier looked anxiously at her husband, who had just returned to Silver Spring from his trip to Ohio to take depositions for a pharmaceutical lawsuit being defended by Prince and Prowling; she was not detecting sympathy in his eyes.  "That guy's a creep!  I told you he was always looking at photos of girls on the internet.  Last week I had to listen to him talk about his dog watching him in bed with his girlfriend--and the guy's married to somebody else!  He goofs off half the day, every day, he lied about being fluent in Arabic--"

"What happened on Friday?"

Liv took a deep breath.  "He started screaming at me because I had lowered some blinds.  Then it escalated.  The whole thing was over in five minutes.  He told me I was insane, and I called him an asshole.  Momzilla corroborated that I had called him an asshole, but she pretended she didn't hear anything he had said, or even that he was screaming at me.  And they don't believe me about the girly photos."  She took another deep breath, but her husband said nothing.  "It's just an excuse for them not to pay me for a couple of weeks.  Two of our foundation grants dried up, they can't fire Momzilla because she's pregnant, and they won't fire that asshole because he threatened to bring a hostile workplace lawsuit."

"You need to stop calling him an asshole."

"Well, he is!"

"Do you know how many assholes I work with at Prince and Prowling?  It's like everybody should list "Member of the Asshole Bar" in their bio on the website!"

"People at Prince and Prowling swear all the time!  You told me your own secretary calls that paralegal-from-Hell a 'bitch and a half' at least once a week, and nothing happens to her.  I lose my temper for five minutes, and I get crucified?!  They conspired against me because they know I'm doing twice as much work as the two of them combined.  And you know Momzilla was pissed off that I attended that State Department meeting during her dental appointment instead of rescheduling it for her, so she saw a good excuse to get her revenge on me.  And International Development Machine isn't going to fire me because they need me to do the work!  So I just get suspended for two weeks until more grant money is released, and then they'll expect me to work day and night to meet the July 1st deadline on the Afghanistan program report because, believe me, Momzilla and that asshole are going to procrastinate it until I'm back in the office."

She took another deep breath, and her husband walked over to the kitchen counter to thumb through the mail that had piled up for him while he was out of town.  The optimistic young woman that wanted to save the world was no longer the person married to him.  He stared blankly at a small stain on the wall, thinking about the bitter and cynical person sitting on the couch, waiting for him to comfort her and take her side.  Then he thought about who he was when she married him, and how he would have defended her and comforted her instead of telling her to suck it up.  That guy is an asshole.  He remembered meeting the asshole at the holiday party and seeing him take a champagne bottle and stuff it into his duffel bag.  And what kind of an asshole throws a hissy fit for being called an asshole?  He thought about what he would have done if he had been there, and he had to admit to himself he probably would have punched the guy out for screaming at Liv.  He looked down at the pile of bills.  We have enough money.  He returned to the couch and put his arm around Liv.  He could see the tears in her eyes.  "It's OK," he said, and he meant it now.  "I can probably take a few days off--not the whole week, but we can probably leave on Wednesday or Thursday and go get a beachhouse.  And you're right:  in a couple weeks, your boss is going to see how much he needs you, and that he has bigger problems, and that you're his best employee, because you are."  Liv looked into her husband's eyes, and she knew he meant what he was saying.  He pulled her close and kissed her hair and made it better.

Many miles to the west, across the Potomac River, the Chair of the Heurich Society was paying a visit to former Vice President Dick Cheney--who had purchased a home in McLean instead of returning to Wyoming.  Cheney wanted to rejoin the Heurich Society, but the membership was sharply divided.  He can give us additional intelligence.  He's a loose cannon!  He can expand our contacts overseas.  He's courting media attention instead of avoiding it!  The two were seated on the cheesiest patio furniture the Chair had ever seen.  The Chair was nibbling disappointedly at the lame food Lynn Cheney had prepared for them, while Cheney was throwing breadcrumbs to a flock of starlings in the grass.  The guy's had multiple heart attacks, and he still doesn't want to retire to Wyoming for his golden years?  Henry Samuelson had said that Cheney was a certifiable megalomaniac, and it was very possible that Samuelson would challenge him for the Chairmanship if Cheney were brought back in.  "What is it, exactly, you would like to do as a member of the Heurich Society, if you were to return?" 

Cheney turned away from the starlings and looked at the Chair with shiny eyes, his heart racing with excitement.  "I want to make things better."  He could feel a surge of energy as Ardua of the Potomac called out to him from just below the surface of the water flowing past McLean on its way to the sea.  Cheney felt like a new man.  Feeding the birds made him feel connected to the land itself--made him feel a part of the natural history of the world, not just the manmade history.  "There's so much left to do."  The Chair took another sip of generic cola and recrossed his legs.

Meanwhile, over in the city, Laura Moreno was looking over Angela de la Paz's shoulder, guiding her through the internet research she had to do if she did not want to flunk her grade.  Sometimes, Laura wondered if simple things like this weren't worth far more than the hundreds of hours of legal pro bono work she had done for the family (which almost seemed pointless now).  The girl had been in tears when she told Laura over the phone how difficult it was for her to complete her homework assignments this semester without access to the internet at home and with her grandmother's strictness about how late Angela could stay out at the library (which had computer waiting lines and time limits, anyway).  Laura watched the destitute girl clicking away on Laura's home computer with the high-speed connection, opening up window after window of the knowledge she needed to access to complete the extra-credit assignments that would pull her grades back up from the sudden nosedive of 2009.  Angela had always loved school and done well at it, but Laura knew what an uphill battle remained for Angela to become the scientist she dreamed of being.  "We're going to do this more regularly next semester, OK?  School will be better next year!"

Several miles to the east, Charles Wu was in Lynnette Wong's herb shop in Chinatown.  She wanted to know how Senator Pelosi and the rest of the delegation had been received by the Beijing government last week.  "It didn't have much effect, as far as I know," he said.  "They're more interested in Secretary Geithner's upcoming visit to discuss all the money the U.S. owes Beijing."  Lynnette shook her head in disgust, and Wu knew she had been hoping to hear that Pelosi's presence had generated some real improvements in human rights.  Wu could not really understand people like Wong, who seemed to formulate their beliefs in an alternate reality where things like money had no relevance.  As she handed him his bag, he handed her the cash plus a large tip.  She nodded her thanks, but it bothered him that her eyes expressed no real happiness or gratitude.  "Things are better there than a few years ago," he said before heading out.  "It's a ship with over a billion passengers:  it can only change course slowly."  She shook her head, amazed that such an intelligent man could espouse such an absurd viewpoint.  A catbird outside her window began imitating the sound of a police siren, and she went outside with the vinegar spray to make her one small blow against evil for the day.


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