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 15, 2009

Three Truths and One Lie

Momzilla was basking in the glow of her International Development Machine office baby shower.  Her baby registries were at Saks Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz, and Elegant Child of Beverly Hills.  Since her coworkers' average salary was $35,000/year, they had only scrimped together enough to join in on one small gift from each of those three extravagant stores.  The party-planning committee had tried to make up for that shortfall by using scrap paper to generate some two-hundred hand-colored decorations (in the baby's theme, Disney Princesses) and hand-icing two-dozen box-mix cupcakes (with the baby's colors, pink and gold), but this was only serving to elevate Momzilla's excitement to a dizzying level from which it was bound to crash.  Liv Cigemeier--who had unsuccessfully suggested skipping the registries altogether and purchasing handmade baby clothing and toys from one of their village pilot programs in Afghanistan--was relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate, full of both pity and disgust for the unborn child.  The much-talked-about-but-never-before-seen husband of Momzilla had actually taken a break from his so-called "high-powered" job at the White House to attend this shower, under the very mistaken idea that his devotion and brawniness would be essential for getting loads of baby booty home.  So few gifts were present, in fact, that the party-planning committee had been forced to cancel the traditional game of baby gift bingo and, instead, was passing out newborn-sized diapers for everyone to write inspirational messages on--the kind of messages that would make a mother laugh out loud when she reached for the diaper at 3 a.m.  Cigemeier used her purple magic marker to write (anonymously) "shut the blinds--I'm naked!", an inside "joke" not intended in any way to make Momzilla laugh, but which caused Momzilla's husband to burst out laughing when he saw it, and wonder why Momzilla loathed this woman among all other coworkers.  A few minutes later, Momzilla opened her first gift--an FAO Schwarz box containing exactly one silver-plated rattle--and mustered a wan smile.

A mile away, Atticus Hawk was sitting at his Justice Department desk, reviewing his portion of his boss's legal memo advising Attorney General Eric Holder not to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether Vice President Dick Cheney had illegally orchestrated the CIA's use of torture.  Hawk used to introduce himself at parties as the torture expert, but that now seemed a long time ago.  President Obama himself had said that he wanted to look forward and not backward, but he had also disingenuously declared it would be Eric Holder's decision, ultimately.  Hawk--who had once written the legal authorization for awarding quarterly cash bonuses to outstanding Guantanamo interrogators (the "Highly Useful Soldier Honorarium" program, AKA "H.U.S.H. Money") was reading his paragraph on the high cost of mounting a Special Prosecutor investigation (after all, Special Prosecutors had a financially vested interest in keeping the investigations going as long as possible).  On the other hand, the longer the Democrats kept investigating Bush-era torture allegations, the longer Hawk's services would be vital to DOJ--after all, you do need somebody to tell you where the bodies are buried (figuratively speaking).  He looked up at the framed photo of himself with Jai Alai and her son (a photo taken on the Chesapeake Bay at twilight, leaving the skin color match-up of the three ambiguous to the viewer) and wondered if he would ever have a job he could tell her about.

A few miles north, Button Samuelson was showing Calico Johnson the peeling walls in an Adams Morgan apartment building, and explaining why they had to be stripped before repainting.  "Well, first of all, there are some patches of mold that need to be remediated.  Secondly, they were painted in oil, so we need to strip them before we can repaint in acrylic."  He asked what was wrong with repainting in oil, and Samuelson (surprised) explained that oil-based paint fumes were too toxic to use in poorly ventilated hallways.  Johnson's eyes narrowed in the way that always made Samuelson uncomfortable.  "So," she continued, "the costs will be 60% higher than originally budgeted."  Johnson asked if it was actually illegal to repaint in oil, and Samuelson replied that she wasn't sure, but it was standard management practice not to.  Johnson's eyes narrowed even further.  When did Button become such a know-it-all about building management?  Caljohn Mgmt. LLC isn't gonna make money for me if she starts worrying about standard building management!  He smiled patronizingly at her and advised her to postpone the hallway renovations until he could find more experienced contractors.  Then he checked the time on his (haunted) Rolex and said he had to go.  From the other side of one of the peepholes, Angela de la Paz's decrepit grandmother stared out at the two suits, wishing her granddaughter were there to tell her what they were saying.

Over at the State Department, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was reviewing CIA reports on whether Al-Qaida cells were really poised to strike against Chinese investment projects in North Africa in retaliation for the death of Muslim Uighurs in Urumqi...and whether this would be a good or bad thing for U.S. interests in the region.  He had recently been reading some curious blog postings on this subject (not knowing they were from Condoleezza Rice), but he hesitated to pass anonymous opinions to Secretary of State Clinton.  The funny thing was he had no idea what U.S. interests in that region really were.  Things seemed to be getting murkier all the time--or was it him?  He looked at the framed photo of himself and Eva Brown, wishing he had proposed before she went to Afghanistan.  Then he picked up the report authored by two people code-named "Camisole Silk" and "Apricot Lily", and read three truths and one lie.


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