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 ....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Calico Johnson sat down with sometime girlfriend and sometime employee Button Samuelson in the L'Infant Plaza office space housing Caljohn Management, and handed her the thick Washington Post section entitled "Notice of Real Property Tax Sale".  She spread it out on the (illegally cut and exported) mahogany wood conference table and read silently for a few minutes.  "I don't understand," she said.  "How can a property on Washington Circle sell for $186?"  She had become a real estate agent during the boom cycle, but sometimes he was still amazed at how much he had to teach her.

"That's just a minimum starting bid," Johnson said.  "That's all the Office of Tax and Revenue needs to cover the back taxes.  The bids will go a lot higher:  if they don't, the banks holding the mortgages will step in to protect their own interests--unless the current owners step in.  We have a lot of work to do between now and September 9th."  By "we" he meant mostly her, though he had devoted several hours to poring over the list, a street atlas by his side.  "You need to check out all the properties highlighted in yellow and fill out one of these forms."  He handed her a stack of simple questionnaires about physical condition of the property and neighborhood details.  "Actually, you'll be able to eliminate some of these online simply by looking up the zip codes."  He handed her a list of zip codes he would not touch.  "Cross out anything with an automatic strike against it."  She started flipping through the Notice; there were hundreds--no, thousands--of yellow highlights...also some orange ones, which she pointed to.  "Those are owned by a corporation.  I need you to fill out a different form on those--I might negotiate directly on those, work out a deal to get those corporations out of the auction list."  He leaned back in his chair and watched her continue to thumb through the listings, an awestruck expression on her face.  She had probably been responsible for getting borrowers into many of these properties, but he did not comment on that.  "This is your top priority for the next two weeks."  He was fingering his haunted Rolex and salivating at the thought that he might own 25% of D.C. real estate by the end of September.  She was fingering a ten-dollar earring and thinking how surprised the Nanchotank would have been that that their ancestral land of several square miles was now subdivided into hundreds of thousands of individually owned slices--most not even directly touching the ground beneath them.

A few blocks away, Golden Fawn was curled up in her desk chair at the National Museum of the American Indian, reviewing some new pieces that were being added to the Nanchotank collection.  One of them had arrived in an anonymous padded envelope with a cryptic note reading:  "For Golden Fawn--a ceremonial Nanchotank necklace".  The arrowheads strung on brittle buckskin had already been authenticated as Nanchotank, but she could find no clue about the center pendant.  She carefully removed all the pendants, laying them out in perfect order in a shallow pan of lukewarm vinegar water, then retrieving them one-by-one to be laid again in perfect order in a shallow pan of rubbing alcohol.  This time she massaged each piece through her fingers to remove body oils and attached dirt, then she retrieved them one-by-one to be laid out again on a floursack towel to dry.  She pulled out a supple string of fresh buckskin and checked it for length against the brittle one.  Her eyes wandered back to the mysterious pendant, which she picked up and began reexamining under a nearby microscope.  It was then that she noticed the hairline crack--a very symmetrical hairline crack.  She reached for a thin plastic tool and wedged it gently into the crack until the pendant (locket) popped open.  Inside was a piece of dried-up human placenta, an amulet carved from bone, and a raven claw.  A quiet voice whispered in her ear to take the necklace because it would help her fight Ardua.  She thumbed through the photo portfolio pertaining to the Nanchotank collection and concluded that the necklace's absence from the display would be negligible.  She restrung the necklace on the fresh buckskin, tied it around her neck, then moved the pendants under her blouse.  The two Departed hovering above her nodded in satisfaction and flew away.

A few miles away, Liv Cigemeier was editing a grant report at International Development Machine.  Every foundation's shrunken Wall Street endowment meant more hoop-jumping for the non-profits depending on their largesse.  Each paragraph of the grant report had to be painstakingly reviewed and edited to unprecedented levels of perfection.  Every dollar spent had to be accounted for and justified in minute detail.  The full-time grant writer had been laid off, and Liv was on her own.  And every five minutes, somebody else came by to ooh and aah over the baby reclining in a bouncy seat anchored to her desk with a guardrail consisting of a heavy-duty stapler and a large New York City snowglobe.  He's the cutest thing ever!  How old is he?  Who is he?  (Yes, he is!  Three months.  My neighbor's son.)  Liv and her husband had babysat for Zeke many times, but they were shocked last night when the baby's single mother telephoned them to say she was not coming back for awhile.
It was currently the accountant admiring the baby--tickling his tummy, murmuring Bangladeshi nursery rhymes, bouncing his toes.  Momzilla had not come into the office yet and had no idea that Liv and her protege had suddenly eclipsed Momzilla's maternal reign.  "Don't touch his nose," Liv gently warned the accountant, seeing a looming pinch from the corner of her peripheral vision.  "He really freaks about his nose."  The accountant (a mother of three) ignored the warning and pinched Zeke's nose gently, eliciting a shocked gasp and outcry, followed by hysterical arm twitching and what would have been teeth-gnashing if Zeke had any teeth.  Liv re-saved her document, unbuckled Zeke, and announced it was time to change his diaper.  She started singing "Sunshine" and leaned his red face into her shoulder, where his hysterical sobs quickly subsided into contented murmurs.  Coworkers watched with approving eyes as Liv headed to the ladies room, Zeke in one arm and the diaper bag dangling from the other.   As  she walked past the receptionist, she nodded to Momzilla (who was showing off her latest fetal ultrasound) and then heard the receptionist start telling Momzilla all about Zeke.   Isn't he adorable!  And Liv is soooo good with him!  Momzilla's jaw dropped in horror, and her mind quickly turned to revenge.

A few miles away, another brood of haunted ducklings followed their mother out of the Potomac River and into Washington, D.C.


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