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 ....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat, More or Less

Charles Wu walked slowly into Lynnette Wong's Chinatown herb shop, amazed at the rows of empty shelves. He waited until the shop had emptied of customers, then approached Lynnette--who was boxing up something behind the counter. "Why are you going out of business?"

She was amazed that a man so intelligent in so many ways could be so obtuse about day-to-day living. "People are economizing, buying cheap stuff off the internet. I'm behind in my rent, and have to clear out whatever's left at the end of the day."

Wu was amazed that a businesswoman could be so stubborn. "You should have told me," he said. "Who's your landlord--Calico Johnson?" She nodded almost imperceptibly. "I'll go see him and take care of it"

"It's too late," she said. "My lease is up."

"Don't worry--I can talk him into another lease."

"I don't have the money."

"I told you I would take care of it." Wu was gathering a few bottles from around the shop, then pointed behind the counter and asked for "the usual." He handed her several thousand dollars in cash (more or less--he didn't count it out) and told her he would return on Monday to discuss her supplier accounts. "Take a day off tomorrow!" he said, picking up the bag she handed him.

"I'm not sure a partnership is a good idea."

"It's never a good idea," Wu agreed, leaving Wong more confused than ever, but Wu needed to expand his legitimate business enterprises in Washington, and this was a no-brainer for him. As far as he was concerned, revenue would continue going to Wong, but he would have another business to put on his tax return. She probably wouldn't like it, but he'd bring by a few papers for her to sign, and she would realize that nothing was going to change in her operation of the shop, more or less. "This will be a win-win situation," he said, on his way out.

Wong looked after him with misgiving. I'm not really in business with somebody from Hong Kong, am I? the Taiwanese-American thought.

"It wasn't my idea!" Henry Samuelson was on the defensive at the meeting of the Heurich Society in the Brewmaster's Castle. "Anyway, I thought you all knew already!" The other members seated around the table were staring at the CIA alumnus with their arms folded across their chests. "How could you not know that Wally was getting CIA money?!" He was referring to the recent reporting that the CIA had, since 2001, been giving money to Ahmed Wali Karzai--a more-than-suspected heroin druglord who just happened to be the brother of Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai. "There aren't a lot of options in Afghanistan, you know! We wouldn't be in this mess if Reagan and his Freedom Frighters--"

"Freedom FIGHTERS," the chair interjected.

"--his Freedom FRIGHTER buddies hadn't armed the Taliban to the teeth against the Soviets! We should've let them continue slaughtering each other!"

"Nobody--not even the Heurich Society--can tolerate that level of instability in central Asia!" said the Chair.

"Well, Wally is as stable as they come! Even the Bloodsucker knew that," retorted Samuelson, who nodded to the speakerphone on the table, but no response came from Condoleezza Rice, who did not realize Samuelson was referring to her. The other members fell silent, and it became apparent that Samuelson did not realize what he had called her out loud.

"This does not change anything," Condoleeza Rice said at last, baffled by both the initial uproar and the sudden silence. Her voice crackled over the speakerphone like an impatient schoolmarm: "Project Eliminati needs to move forward!"

A couple miles away, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was fielding his third angry phone call of the day from Hillary Clinton. "Yes, Madam Secretary." He was not taking it personally, but her fury was wearing him down. "Right, got it," he tried to assure her, but he was uncertain what she really expected him to do about CIA communications to the State Department. He hung up the phone and looked at the framed photo of his girlfriend (Eva Brown)--whom he had, until this morning, assumed was really working in Afghanistan for the CIA during her brief stint allegedly working for the State Department in Asia. What were you really doing there, Eva?

A few doors down, "C. Coe Phant" then took his own third phone call of the day from Clinton, but the conversation was much quieter. "I understand," he said. She wanted him to make some adjustments to Project R.O.D.H.A.M. "However, if we try to gather more intelligence on the CIA, we're going to put our agents in more danger, and also draw resources away from our primary purpose." Clinton raised her voice, trying to make him understand how dangerous the CIA was to their primary purpose. "Well, the fact that the news has come out surely signals that President Obama--." She cut him off, and he listened carefully. "Alright," he said at last. He gathered his thoughts for a couple of minutes, then wrote a drop note for Charles Wu indicating that Phant needed to talk to Camisole Silk and Apricot Lily about Afghanistan operations.

Not far away, Ann Bishis was in a Metro tunnel under the Potomac River, returning from a morning of sailing with the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club. Greek men are all the same, more or less, she was thinking, but she still felt a life imperative to marry one. (The one that she thought was cutest might actually have been Albanian, she suspected, or even Serbian, and that wouldn't do at all.) Every outing was the same: as soon as the boat would leave the dock, they'd all start drinking and singing, only a couple guys would stay sober enough to take care of the sails, the rest of the guys would end up cursing the river or wrestling on the deck, and the women would talk in Greek about the pointless jobs they were doing until they could get married and have Greek children. Bishis was getting tired of sailing with the Greeks, though she did not realize that it had nothing to do with being Greek, and plenty of other sailboats experienced the same phenomenon when crossing Ardua's demonic waters. She narrowed her eyes at a man in the back of the Metro car who was pulling off his pants. He was partially obscured by a seatback as he proceeded to fold up the jeans carefully, then unzip his suitcase to put them in. Then he took his socks off and put those away. Then he put a fresh pair of ankle socks on. Then he put much longer socks on, but he rolled them from their knee height all the way down to the ankle. Then he pulled out shin guards and wrapped them around his shins, then he rolled the long socks over the shin guards and all the way up to his knees. Then he zipped up the suitcase and stuck his legs in the air to do hamstring stretches. He was completely oblivious to (or pretending to be oblivious to) the stares of every woman in the car--all impressed with his arm and calf muscles, and wishing the rest had not been obscured by the seatback. Bishis was starting to wonder if finding a Greek husband was really helpful to pursuing other goals in her life

A few miles to the east, Laura Moreno dragged her reluctant body into Prince and Prowling, where another round of trial preparation was under way. Prince and Prowling never went to trial, and protected their clients from the ordeal by a strict policy of Mutual Assured Destruction: namely, Prince and Prowling would invest gargantuan quantities of resources into building up the trial arsenal of weaponry in order to drive the opponent to risk bankruptcy doing the same, then bring the case to the eve of trial, at which point the other side would blink first, certain of their inability to withstand the onset of nuclear winter that Prince and Prowling was ready, willing, and able to unleash. The entire process was a game of legal "chicken" which ensured that the legal dispute would be resolved by force, rather than legalities or (even worse!) truth and justice. Moreno's job on this Saturday was to enrich some more legal uranium, more or less. She put down her bag and looked around at the barren workroom walls (from which she had been pressured to remove all decorations) and the smooth work table (from which she had been pressured to relocate all her files and office supplies to the floor) and exhaled deeply, knowing she would not know fresh air for some time to come.

A block away, White House butler Clio was finishing final stitches on the Halloween costumes for her twins, Ferguson and Regina--who were going trick-or-treating as Batman and Catwoman--while they played in the next room with Regina's new Barbie dolls, Grace and Trichelle. The White House ghosts were fascinated by the blackest Barbies ever, but the twins were not as reverent, as they merrily pulled off the heads and swapped bodies with Malibu Stacy and Wonder Woman. "Reggie! Fergie!" Clio exclaimed with disappointment, as she entered the room; she had thought she had finally found some dolls that her twins would not mutilate. The ghosts were disappointed too, more or less.

Back at the Potomac River, Ardua inhaled deeply and waited impatiently for darkness to fall.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Powers That Be

Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Rosanne Cash, the Roots, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, David Byrne, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, T-Bone Burnett--Atticus Hawk was scanning the list of musicians' names and comparing them with his remaining memories of Guantanamo files long since shredded. The Justice Department attorney once known as the Torture Specialist remembered the memoranda about enhanced interrogation techniques which employed constant play of loud music, but he could not understand why the soldiers and interrogators would have chosen such obviously liberal songsters. And now those stupid liberals were backing a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the National Security Archive to see all documentation on musical interrogation methods! Did he really have to spell out everything?! Should he have told those morons to use artists like Ted Nugent and Keith Green?! Even Eminen probably wouldn't have cared if his music had been blared at locked up terrorists day and night! Or they could have blared Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley! Elvis was a veteran! Atticus Hawk was sweating: he knew he had shredded his own files on the subject, but how many other people had memoranda with his name on them telling them it was OK to bombard prisoners with American pop music 24 hours/day?

Hawk decided to call up his old law school roommate, Wince, who was currently clerking for "Justice Prissy Face" on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Hawk couldn't help but chuckle as he made the call, remembering the first time he had heard Wince's fiancee's nickname for the Justice.) "Hey, dude! What's up?" The relaxed voice of Wince was comforting to Hawk, as he started whining about the FOIA request, the musicians, and the renewed call from veterans and retired military officers for President Obama to keep his promise to close down Guantanamo in his first year in office. "Dude! Chill out! They can't sue for royalties unless the music was played for profit."

"Are you listening to me? It's not about royalties! It's about digging for more documents on Guantanamo!"

"You're golden, man! You worry too much! You didn't do anything illegal."

"Illegal? Do you think that's all that matters with the powers that be?"

"Man, I don't have time for this! Come on! You know we're up to our ears in oral arguments here, and Bridezilla says she's leaving me 'cause I haven't set a date and her biological clock's going off! Just deal!"

Hawk heard a click and felt...let down. He wished he could call his girlfriend to talk about it, but he had told her a long time ago that all his work at Justice was classified. Bridezilla? (The latter portion of Wince's sign-off finally hit him.) What if Jai leaves me, too? What do I have to show for my life? He looked at the framed photo of himself with Jai and her little boy that he kept in his drawer. She likes Rosanne Cash. What am I gonna do?

"What am I gonna do with you?!" A couple miles to the west, Bridezilla was in her Prince and Prowling office, giggling on the phone with her new fiance. "I'm gonna pee in my pants if you don't stop!" She didn't bother looking up at Laura Moreno as she deposited a new witness binder on the polished desk, then beat a hasty retreat before the groan escaped her mouth. "Hee, hee, hee!" (Moreno had never heard a nasal voice that high-pitched and squeaky--a voice that might have been blared 24 hours/day to torture prisoners in Guantanamo.) "I gotta GO!" (She really did have to look at that binder.) "I'll see you tonight!" She hung up the phone, beaming. She had first met her new fiance in a Facebook tea party political protest group, then met him for drinks at the Hilton--where it was love at first sight when she saw the blond-haired blue-eyed boy wearing a Rush Limbaugh t-shirt under a Ralph Lauren navy blue blazer. And now they were engaged to be married in April! (She had broken her engagement with Wince via Facebook.) He was a Marine Corps veteran, totally manly, serious about his career with Weapons 'R Us (a growing Pentagon contractor), and ready to start a family. Bridezilla opened the witness binder and stared blankly at the table of contents as visions of organza and lace danced in her head.

Not far away, visions of coal-fired power plants were dancing in the head of former Senator Evermore Breadman, who had several clients extremely unhappy with the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to settle a lawsuit by agreeing to issue rules for curbing mercury and other smokestack emissions linked to respiratory health problems. "Look," he was saying on the phone, "those EPA rules aren't due until November 2011. We have plenty of time to deal with it." Inspectors can be bought off, legal loopholes can be found, emissions data can be rigged.... "Let me call you back in a week after I have time to formulate a plan, OK?" Breadman had more urgent concerns, such as the fact that H.R. 3126 had been reported out of Committee for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 must not reach the floor for a vote! But there wasn't much Breadman could actually do about that, so he needed to line up House votes against it--something he found distasteful and almost beneath him, but sometimes necessary. He rose to put on his navy blazer and catch a taxi to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressman Herrmark's aide, Ann Bishis, first on his agenda. (Herrmark may have been voted 2008 Upper Class Twit of the Year by the Secret Society of Monty Pythonites on Capitalism Hill, but he was no pushover when it came to casting votes in the House: Breadman had his work cut out for him.)

A few miles to the east, Ann Bishis was lighting a candle on top of her filing cabinet next to a circa 200 B.C. clay figure of a pelican. (She had twenty minutes before Congressman Herrmark's chief of staff returned, and nobody else complained about her burning candles.) Bishis said a silent prayer to Glaucos that Senator Breadman be pulled into her professional network like a slippery eel is trapped in a pelican's mouth, as her bemused coworkers shook their heads at her mysterious collection of animal pottery and mini statuettes.

A couple of miles to the west, Didymus was standing in front of Dr. Ermann Esse's collection of animal pottery and mini statuettes. "These are all blasphemous," Didymus announced in an only mildly roused voice, his arms crossed in front of his chest. The psychiatrist explained that they were gifts from clients, and he paid no attention to what they might represent, but the ghost of Robert McNamara remained suspicious. "You should get rid of them, or you're going to get in trouble with the Powers That Be," Didymus said on the way back to the couch. Dr. Esse smiled condescendingly and steered the conversation back to Vietnam. "I'm tired of people comparing everything to Vietnam!" Didymus said. "Things were different then! We didn't know as much!" Dr. Esse had given up trying to separate Didymus from his delusion that he was the ghost of McNamara, because it was clear that Didymus was working through some serious Vietnam baggage. Dr. Esse pointed out to Didymus that if the military leadership of the war had been challenged more by the civilian leaders, they would have known more about strategic decisions. "I've already admitted that!" said Didymus. "How much penance does one man have to do?! When will they stop comparing everything to the Vietnam War?!"

A few miles to the west, another State Department employee was quietly recruited into Project R.O.D.H.A.M. by a team determined not to let Afghanistan become another Vietnam.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Washington Anti-Horror Blogs?

(washingtonhorrorblog.com has been temporarily hijacked by optimists of the worst sort!)

1) International Day of Climate Action!!!!!

(in D.C.--)

Date/time: Saturday, October 24, 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm


International Day of Climate Action!!!!!

(in Afghanistan! --)

Let's say you occasionally despair for the future of the planet. In that case, the place you need to be this week is the website for
Every few minutes, something new arrives at our headquarters, where young people hunched over laptops do their best to keep up with the pace.
News that activists in Afghanistan—Afghanistan—have organized a rally for our big day of action on October 24. They'll assemble on a hillside 20 kilometers from Kabul to write a huge message in the sand: "Let Us Live: 350."

CommonDreams.org is an Internet-based progressive news and grassroots activism organization, founded in 1997. We are a nonprofit, progressive, independent and nonpartisan organization.

3) Learn about the professional climate liars.


4) Sign a petition:


5) Find an idealistic job or volunteer opportunity:


6) Find people where you live who are embracing all the possibilities that life brings! (Yes, leave your computer and go meet some people/groups in person!)


7) Pay attention to the world!


8) The world is mostly ocean!

www.oceana.org www.oceanconservancy.org

9) Shop smarter!


10) Trick or Treat for UNICEF!


11) Join the re-use revolution!


12) Get some real science!


13) "Sometimes it takes a [FUNNY!] lie to expose the truth." movie event 10/23 - 10/29


Volunteer in D.C.!

pro bono work, schools and youth, environmental work, human rights campaigns, helping animals (for disabled), homeless shelters, women's shelters, foster care, homebuilding projects, weatherization projects, tutoring English, teaching illiterate to read, visiting elderly shut-ins, help immigrants and refugees

Post your favorite Washington do-gooder idea here!

(NOTICE! WashingtonWaterwoman apologizes for that disgusting pile of hope, and promises to return to horror-ific postings as soon as she removes the sticky sugar from the keyboard.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No Small Words

Judge Sowell Lame was staring down from the Superior Court bench at Golden Fawn, whose defense attorney had told her in no small words to wear a suit and no braids in her hair for this court appearance.  Golden Fawn had no explanation for why marijuana had been found in her medicine bag except that the Southwest Plaza management was probably trying to frame her because she and her fiance were constantly complaining about housing code violations.  Her explanation for the other substances in the medicine bag was a vague "for ritual purposes" statement.  Lame glanced over at the handsome fiance sitting behind the defense table in a crisp U.S. Coast Guard uniform adorned with medals.  What kind of medals do you get for being in the Coast Guard?  The defense attorney had raised some very strong points about the (in)admissibility of the marijuana into evidence in the first place.  On the other hand, Lame was wondering if these two troublemakers hadn't planted the marijuana themselves the day before the federal inspection in order to frame the building managers for framing them.  Now I'm getting into the realm of speculation.  Lame was not inherently opposed to intuition as a force in deciding law cases as long as there was some type of support for the finding.  The U.S. Attorney cleared her throat, nervous about the judge's darting eyes and lapse into silence.  Lame looked at her in surprise, then looked at Washington Post reporter Perry Winkle waiting expectantly in the back.  I don't wanna get in the paper for this one.  Lame was already rising to his feet and raising his gavel as he granted the defense attorney's motion to dismiss. 

"Hi, I'm Perry Winkle with The Washington Post.  Do you have a few minutes to talk?"  Vasquez answered "no" for his fiancee and tried to shepherd her past him; the last thing they needed was one of their bosses reading about this arrest.

"It's about Ardua."  Golden Fawn and Vasquez turned back and saw that this statement had not come from the reporter but from a wild-eyed old man wearing a coat that was too big for him.  "I've seen what you can do to her.  You ain't the only one, but you're one of the best."  Dubious McGinty was much better washed and shaven than usual, but they could see the wildness of the streets still hovering over him.

"Can you tell me what you know about Ardua?" asked the reporter.  Vasquez asked for the reporter's card, then said they were in a hurry and had to get to work.  "Call me anytime," Winkle said as they walked away from him.

A few miles to the west, Congressional aide Ann Bishis was hobbling painfully in her black pumps down a lumpy Georgetown sidewalk looking at house numbers until she finally found Senator John Kerry's red brick house on O Street.  Her boss, Congressman Herrmark, had asked her to take care of this errand last night, but she was smarter than him and knew that more witnesses were likely to spot her activity and deem it suspicious at night than by daylight.  She stopped, looked carefully around, then tossed the package over the wall into the side garden.  She didn't know what was in it and didn't care--though if pressed for a guess, she would probably have suspected some sort of stern warning about Kerry's energy bill, or maybe about the health care bill.  "OWWW!"  The package had hit somebody!  Bishis took off running down the street as she heard the unmistakable sound of Senator Kerry's voice lofting over the wall:  "Who's there?!"  She paused to rip off her shoes and hurl them behind a bush, then ran as fast as she could until she managed to turn the corner before Kerry had made it out of his garden gate.  She ran a little further, then crouched down behind an enormous boxwood, muffling her panting with her hands.  She heard some distant dog barks but nothing else.  She began praying to Hera to protect her, and her breathing slowed down, and her heart stopped racing.  Favored one.  After several minutes, she got up and hurried off to find her car, as a red-faced Senator on the other side of the block iced his head and called the police to examine a suspicious package.

Several miles to the east, Charles Wu discreetly left a small package on a park bench, then walked slowly over to the Woodrow Wilson Memorial--where he would pretend to read idealistic quotations while waiting for the package to be picked up and a different one left in its stead.  He could see out of the corner of his eye that "C. Coe Phant" was already making his way to the package, so Wu relaxed and headed inside the shiny marble foyer.  The truth was, he was still a little unsettled by what had been negotiated in Singapore.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times--for spies.  He knew there were two sources of power in the world:  people and money.  But money was a negotiable tender that he could spend wherever and however he liked.  His increasingly complex cultivation of human contacts between here and Asia was getting more and more difficult to manage.  (And he had lost his favorite taxi driver and African intelligence source to the Leon Swain Taxicab Commission sting!  How could that guy be so stupid?!)  And though he would have laughed at anybody that screamed "New World Order!" or conjured up "Streetfighter"-style images of elite international security platoons that could liberate (or take over?) an entire country, the blend of Interpol intelligence with blue-helmeted-boots-on-the-ground was capable of causing a really major shift in power in a lot of previously anarchic places.  And hardly anybody knew about it.  Wu walked up to the next Woodrow Wilson inscription:  "We are not put into the world to sit still and know; we are put in it to act."  Then he felt the burden of how much he knew.

Lurking behind a huge white pillar, Henry Samuelson glared at Wu, who had no right to be basking in Woodrow Wilson's words!  Behind another pillar, "John Doe" was having another frontal lobe epileptic seizure, then began speaking in tongues--prompting one of the Shackled to look down with interest even as an irritated Samuelson walked quickly away without hearing Doe's prophecy about the Eliminati.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Day of Discovery

"Now will you listen to my plan?"  It was Condoleezza Rice, who had used the Columbus Day holiday break to fly into Washington for a Heurich Society meeting.  "Obama's got them eating out of the palm of his hand!"  She was referring, of course, to the Nobel Peace Prize committee and all it stood for.  "We cannot lose sight of what's really important, even if naive people around the world do!"  She had been campaigning for twenty minutes for the Heurich Society to cancel the Ming Dung Plan (secretly authored by Charles Wu) and institute her new plan:  the Eliminati.  "Governmental ministers from countries all over the world--including the U.S. and China--are meeting in Singapore as we speak to unite Interpol intelligence with United Nations peacekeeper manpower to form the first truly global police force."  Henry Samuelson was clenching and unclenching both fists, partially upset by what she was saying and partially upset that "Frank" had forgotten it was his turn to bring the doughnuts.  "It has come to this:  the spies of the world will be controlling an international army of mercenaries."  The Chair was salivating with anticipation as Rice continued.  "The mercenaries will do what the spies dictate, all in the name of United Nations peacekeeping."

"Isn't this mostly about drug and slave trafficking?"asked a former Undersecretary of State.

"Wrong!"  Rice's nostrils flared in contempt.  "That's what they want us to believe!  But we know better.  We already have three men in Interpol, so we are well on our way."  She was, in fact, counting Charles Wu as one of her men in Singapore, though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also counting him as one of her men in Singapore-- as were the British Foreign Secretary, several smugglers in Hong Kong, and Wu's official handler inside the Chinese Communist Party.  "Will somebody second my motion to cancel the Ming Dung Plan and institute Project Eliminati?"  Rice was intoxicated with the brilliance of her own plan...and that sweet something she felt every time she was back in Washington.

A couple of miles away, Ardua of the Potomac had been mutually energized by the visit from Condoleezza Rice until Golden Fawn and Marcos Vasquez had appeared on the water.  Columbus Day was Golden Fawn's least favorite holiday, and Vasquez had whisked her off to kayak to Theodore Roosevelt Island as soon as his Coast Guard shift had ended.  It was a chilly day, but Golden Fawn had lit a fire and burned seven different sticks of incense against Ardua in it; she felt warm and hopeful with Vasquez's arms wrapped around her, and Vasquez knew it.  He pulled her face towards him and asked if they could stop the insane wedding planning and simply elope.  After a brief conversation and several kisses, the happy couple decided to elope to Cape Lookout in North Carolina.  They huddled closer and blissfully awaited the sunset.

Back at Golden Fawn's apartment at Southwest Plaza, the building management team was making an unannounced visit to check that her unit (along with all the other units on her floor) was ready for the "surprise" federal inspection starting tomorrow.  (Southwest Plaza management had been tipped off by their inside man.)  What the team had discovered was an ungrounded electrical outlet, a malfunctioning smoke alarm, mouse droppings inside the brand new cabinets (which had been installed in a manner that had ripped out most of the walls behind them), fissures in the balcony (which had been completely demolished and rebuilt the year before), and four leaks.  Then they had discovered Golden Fawn's medicine bag, which they were now suspiciously sniffing.  "I dunno," said one dullard.  "She's an Indian chick, ain't she?"  "What will the Feds say if it's weed or hashish?"  "I dunno--what's hashish?"  

"Shut up, both of you!"  The assistant property manager had long suspected that Golden Fawn and her boy scout boyfriend Vasquez were the ones egging on the Feds.  "Just paint over those leaks--hurry up!"  The assistant property manager carefully pulled out a bag of marijuana she kept in a lead container inside a hidden pocket of her briefcase and dropped it into the medicine bag.  "Game on," she whispered to herself.

A few miles away, Sebastian L'Arche was in the White House attending one of many birthday parties thrown for Bo, who had just turned one.  The White House ghosts were in a mellow mood--partly because of the Nobel Peace Prize, and partly because the long stay of The Gipper and Lucky Charm with White House butler Clio had worked wonders in teaching Bo how to show those ghosts who was boss.  But Bo still would not swim, and for a Portuguese water dog not to swim was simply embarrassing.  L'Arche had often contemplated telling President Obama that it was precisely Bo's extraordinary water senses that kept him out of the local water because he could feel the demonic taint caused by Ardua of the Potomac, but L'Arche was uncertain how to get Obama to believe it.  L'Arche had also thought about telling the First Lady or the girls, but he suspected this would result in lifelong surveillance from the Secret Service.  He was certain he could have told Clio the truth, but she was suffering enough in her life as it was.  As for the twins--who were currently smearing birthday cake frosting onto the wall--he actually suspected that they knew all about it.  "Some might say they're bad to the bone," said Bridge as he sidled up to L'Arche and nodded over to Ferguson and Regina, "but it's not their fault.  They were born here, and they just feel it all."  L'Arche, who had never seen a dog that liked Fergie or Reggie, nodded slowly.  "They feel it all, hear it all, smell it all--but they don't really know nothin' about evil....But it knows them."  A shiver went down L'Arche's back as he watched the twin toddlers whisper to each other and point conspiratorially at Bo.  In a dark corner, one of the Shackled watched in silence.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Civics and Civilization

Mayor Fenty was reading press clippings on his way to his next photo opportunity.  He preferred driving himself around his hometown, but he had relented today to the aide who said the mayor really needed to catch up on his paperwork.  The aide continued to proffer memos and reports to Mayor Fenty one-by-one, and Mayor Fenty continued to decline them based on the aide's description alone--that's fine, I trust him, whatever she wants to do, tell him it's never going to happen--then he would go back to reading press clippings.  He paused for a moment, frowning with genuine frustration over Perry Winkle's report on Monday's D.C. voting rights lobby day on Capitol Hill, then moved on.  "Ahem," said the aide.  "There is also an inquiry from a blogger about your involvement in some kind of international activity called 'Operation Fenty'."  Mayor Fenty looked up in alarm, which surprised and dismayed the aide.  "She says her source is telling her that your secret overseas trips have all been at the behest of a secret society."  Mayor Fenty's eyes grew wider.  "Normally I would not respond to such an inquiry, naturally," the aide continued, with increasing discomfort, "but she had some audio in which men were, in fact, discussing something called 'Operation Fenty'."  Mayor Fenty told him not to answer her until the mayor could listen to the audio, which was not the reply the aide was seeking.

Over on Capitol Hill, legislative aide Ann Bishis was setting up another fundraiser for Congressman Herrmark.  Since leaving her humble state law school in the midwest, she had worked her way up from being a lobbyist's receptionist to being a city councilmember's press assistant to her current post.  Each climb up the career ladder had brought a cut in pay, which was something her midwestern family just did not understand, so this time she had lied to them and told them she was making $80,000/year.  Her family thought that her Capitol Hill street address meant she had a townhouse of her own, whereas, in fact, she was sharing a house with five other people.  Even so, making ends meet was tough, and she had earned more than a few extra bucks conducting unauthorized paid tours of the Capitol--in fact, she had developed a niche market of lusty tourists who would pay her a pretty penny for the privilege of having sex in her boss's office.  (She knew she could get fired for it, but it seemed perfectly legal, so she preferred it to her last moonlighting gig, which was being paid to sleep with her Circuit Court clerk housemate from Louisiana, who was actually gay and paying her to sleep in his room occasionally either as an attempt by him to go straight or merely as a ploy to deceive certain other housemates that his occasional male overnight visitors were actually old friends from college.)  Ann Bishis sighed.  She was good at setting up fundraisers, but she didn't understand why it was 75% of her job.  She had actually only gotten to work on one House bill the entire year, and was starting to have serious misgivings that the path she was on would actually get her somewhere someday.  She knew one of her law school classmates was interning on the Senate Judiciary Committee and doing substantive work, though she had also heard that he was not getting paid anything and had pilfered a bunch of jewelry and silver from a senile grandmother, which he was now selling on eBay.  She dialed the number of the pork processing plant owner who had benefitted from an earmark a few months earlier, and was pleased to hear that he would be able to attend the next fundraiser.

A couple of miles to the west, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was using his lunch break to chat on the phone with his girlfriend Eva Brown, who had returned to American University Law School for the fall semester.  She was still insisting that her work overseas had been clandestine and she could not talk about it, though he had gotten her to affirm that she had been part of something called Project R.O.D.H.A.M.  Whatever it was, it had changed her a lot:  she had lost 25 pounds, was obsessed with martial arts, jumped out of her skin every time a door slammed or a tire wheel squealed, and had filled her iPod with mysterious Asian music.  She had a tattoo of a dove on one shoulder and a moon on the other.  But the biggest change was that Eva had come back with a two-year-old adopted daughter--allegedly from the far western corner of China, but the Administrator suspected she was actually a Tajik from Afghanistan.  "How's she doing?" he asked, and Eva said her daughter was fine.  The Administrator had been planning to propose to Eva upon her return to the United States, but the adopted daughter had shoved that plan to the back burner--not that he would be unwilling to adopt the girl, also, but the fact that Eva had adopted the girl without discussing it really bothered him.  She said she had to meet her study group but hoped he would stop by to see her after work.  He hung up the phone, wondering if he knew who she was anymore.  Then he looked at his latest directive from the Secretary of State and wondered the same thing about her.

A couple of miles to the east, Judge Sowell Lame was hearing oral arguments regarding a possible injunction at Southwest Plaza--something about balcony demolition (he was bored to tears, and distracted by the mysterious presence of young people in the back row).  "Your honor," stated Southwest Plaza's counsel, "the demolition work is complete, so the motion to grant an injunction is moot."  ("I'll mute you, you vomitous mass!" somebody in the third row muttered, though only a handful of people heard it and laughed.)  The tenant association counsel explained to Judge Lame that the injunction would have been to prevent the defendant from sealing up people's windows and balcony doors in violation of the housing code ventilation provision, but that the delay in this hearing had allowed the defendant to do so, and now the tenant association was seeking compensation for the housing code violation.  Judge Lame asked what the damages were, and the tenant association's plaintiff explained that people had been put in harm's way by the lack of ventilation, the lack of escape route, and jackhammering of their balconies.  Judge Lame pointed out that being put in harm's way is not the equivalent of being harmed.  The attorney stated that every single resident had been deprived of use of their balcony for months with no reduction in rent, but was unable to demonstrate to Judge Lame that use of the balcony was a guaranteed clause of their leases.  The attorney told Judge Lame that a woman on ordered bed rest because of a high-risk pregnancy had given birth prematurely, and even after that happened, the jackhammering had not stopped.  Judge Lame reluctantly asked the defense attorney to respond.  "We did what was legally required of us," stated the defense attorney.

"Well, they don't erect statues in this town with inscriptions reading 'he did what was legally required of him'!"  This time the outburst came from Golden Fawn, and it was quite loud; her fiance Marcos Vasquez quickly pulled her back down to her seat.  Then Judge Lame started to laugh, declaring that was a good one, though he quickly recovered his composure and ruled the motion moot.  The defense attorney asked about damages, and Judge Lame said that would, of course, have to wait until trial--but that he strongly recommended the parties settle.  

"We're ready to go to trial!" called out the tenant association's attorney as Judge Lame exited the courtroom, but Judge Lame ignored the outburst.  The defense attorney smirked, and the two co-counsel sitting behind him also smirked--until Golden Fawn came up to them, held up her hands, and started chanting something sternly in their direction.  This time, Vasquez did not hold her back, much to the amazement of the other Southwest Plaza residents in attendance.

"Can it, Pocahontas!" said the defense attorney, and Vasquez (in his U.S. Coast Guard uniform) leapt up from his seat to go kick the man in the head, and then two other Southwest Plaza residents ran over to spit on the defense attorney after he fell to the floor.  "This is outrgeous!" he exclaimed, looking around for assistance, but the court personnel were all gone.  "I could have you disbarred!"  The plaintiff attorney (who was not in danger of being disbarred but was, nonetheless, dismayed by the turn of events) pulled back the man who was unzipping his fly to piss on the defense attorney.  "You people are animals!" shouted the defense attorney, now back on his feet.

"That's what happens when you cage people up," said Golden Fawn.  "If we were dogs, the Humane Society would have gone after you, but we're just people," she added, then resumed the chanting that nobody understood except Vasquez.  In the corner, one of The Shackled trembled, afraid that humanity's experiment with civilization and rules was failing, and everything would once again be determined by violence.  The ghost trembled because he was not entirely uncertain that would be a bad thing.

In the back row, the middle-schoolers who had accompanied Perry Winkle on this most recent installment of Urban Guerrilla Field Trips jumped to their feet for a standing ovation.