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, November 29, 2009

Fresh Starts

The Rahm Emanuel wannabe was back in the West Wing. He loved holiday weekends because he would receive huge gobs of (temporary) power while others went off to have fun. He had already figured out who Emanuel should fire for the State Dinner security breach, and had communicated with several nervous bankers about the rumors of widespread financial collapse in Dubai. He had spent ninety minutes exploring the secret government URL he had finally been given access to, and read the inner-inner preparatory papers for the upcoming Copenhagen climate change summit. But the fun was over, and he had to turn his attention back to Emanuel's pointed memo regarding the fact that only 55% of the Administration's political appointments had been filled. The wannabe was proud of a lot of his guys (like that young whipper-snapper he was placing at the U.S. Agency for International Development), but the complaints were getting louder: too little, too slow, too political, too inexperienced, too young, too elite, too Ivy League, too out of left field.... The entire Generation X was complaining they had been leapfrogged by Generation Y (who could barely remember the 1980s, let alone the 1970s), while the Baby Boomers were complaining they were being discriminated against because they did not answer emails via PDA. And there were (take your pick) too many/few white men. You can't please everybody. Emanuel's voice reverberated in his head. We are all here to serve the President. The wannabe picked up the stack of folders submitted for a position at the Department of Transportation and began screening. Naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan?! I don't think so.... He tossed the folder aside, then hesitated, then picked it up to take a closer look.

A few miles to the south, Calico Johnson was unlocking the door to the two-story penthouse apartment he had gotten for Chloe Cleavage at Southwest Plaza. She had been in the hospital for a day after she burned her apartment to a crisp on Thanksgiving, and had then been staying at his mansion in Potomac Manors, Maryland, while Johnson's property manager (and another sometime girlfriend) Button Samuelson had been ordered to find someplace ASAP before Chloe dug her claws in too deep. Chloe gave him a saccharin smile as she walked through the doorway and looked around at the huge sunlit apartment and soaring loft. "Freshly painted!" he crowed, and she was amazed to see that the main areas were buttercream, the bedroom was pink, the bathroom was teal, and the kitchen was wallpapered in a bright strawberry pattern. He didn't tell her that half the walls had been covered in months-old black mold four days earlier; he merely told her about the half which had been smoke-damaged in (ironically!) the fire that had occurred in this building on Thanksgiving, too--and that the renter had not had the patience to await repairs. Chloe had been devastated when she realized that Johnson was not going to let her live with him, and had felt almost sick when they pulled up to this disaster scene of a building that was half burnt to the ground, but she could see now it was the largest and most beautiful apartment she had ever had--and he said she didn't have to pay any rent! Hope returned to her heart, and she gave him a big kiss.

A few floors away, Marcos Vasquez gave Golden Fawn Vasquez a big kiss. The newlyweds were doing the final clean-up of his fried apartment, doing one final search for salvageable items. He was entirely serene because he had already moved into her apartment, which was on the side of the building mostly spared--which meant that all the things dear to her were spared, and all the things dear to him were already there. The rumor was that the trash chute arsonist had struck again, and with so many people cooking on the same day, the smoke smells had not caught anybody's immediate attention. The construction dumpster had also been on fire, though the rumors were conflicting as to whether this had been the arsonist or merely somebody throwing burning things out their window straight into the dumpster. But none of it really mattered to the Vasquez's, who had finally decided it was time to buy a place of their own. Golden Fawn spoke no more about the real estate demon living beneath the building, even though they both knew it was still there--she had decided it was not meant to be her fight. "Look!" Marcos had found a necklace beneath a sofa cushion and handed it over to Golden Fawn. It was not hers, but she held her tongue--it probably belonged to the last woman Marcos had dated before Golden Fawn, and she didn't care. She put it around her neck and smiled.

Back near the White House, Laura Moreno re-entered the Prince and Prowling sweatshop, which was officially back in business. Prince and Prowling was paying her an extra dollar per hour to supervise the sixty attorneys brought in for the latest investigational emergency, and it was not fun. Her first challenge: not enough chairs. She wasn't sure why P&P had the money to rent all these computers, but could not shell out sixty bucks for a decent chair so that people did not have to sit in metal-backed conference room chairs or discarded wing chairs. She had taken advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to raid quite a few empty offices for decent desk chairs, because she didn't see how else she could ask people to sit and work for eleven hours/day. The thought that this might have repercussions for her did not enter her head because she, like the rest of the attorneys, was starved for oxygen. True, it was less stuffy after somebody figured out how to switch the system from heat to air conditioning, but this was a high price to pay, with several sniffling and coughing attorneys working in winter coats. Three team leaders had been selected under her who liked to play solitaire on their computers and admonish everybody else to slow down their document review pace--don't go more than fifty documents/hour!--even if they had fifty viagra spams in a row. (It was Chloe Cleavage who had selected those team leaders according to one of her standard rubrics: two cute guys and one ugly woman.) Moreno walked around the room answering questions, then exited to check on the attorneys in the next room being paid $70/hour to review documents in Hungarian. As she walked in, three of them abruptly shut down their internet connection so that she would not see them entering entire paragraphs into Google Translator; this caused them to accidentally lose two hours' worth of database coding that had not been properly saved. A lone Hungarian woman and a young man who had served in the Peace Corps in Hungary continued working hard to earn their pay, asking themselves if they had an ethical obligation to report the others to the D.C. Bar. Moreno already had; she had also reported them to the senior partner a week ago, but only one had been fired, and that was for claiming a half-hour lunch break when the keycard log showed he had been out of the building from 10:30 am to 3 pm. Moreno handed some candy bars to the Hungarian and the Peace Corps veteran and said nothing to the others.

Across the street, the homeless lined up in Urine Park for the mid-day soup and sandwich truck, a childless pair of ducks waited for crumbs, and a catbird mocked the artificial bird noises emanating from the World Bank building to scare away pigeons.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Something's Cooking

Chloe Cleavage was on her third sweater of the day because she owned no apron. The lavender sweater had been done in by grease splatters when she was basting the turkey, the pink sweater was attacked by flying mashed potatoes, and she was determined to make the pecan pie without harming her red sweater. (She could not put on a sweatshirt because Calico Johnson had been very noncommittal about what time he would turn up.) She was starting to think maybe she understood the concept of the apron now, and would get one someday in the future, but it was too late today. This was it! Her big chance to snare Mr. Moneybags for a more committed relationship! Never having actually cooked a Thanksgiving meal was no deterrent to this quest. She popped the pie in the oven just as Johnson rang her up to say he would be there in an hour. She finished arranging the table (including the flowers she had bought herself, just in case he did not bring any--he was a very busy man), then lay down on the couch with cucumber slices on her eyes.

Across the Potomac, in Virginia, Bridezilla was bustling around the kitchen in the house (her future home!) of her new fiance. She did think it was a little weird that all his windows had shades, blinds, AND curtains, but he insisted that his Marine Corps operations had been of a nature that he could have potential enemies hunting him down at any time. Bridezilla was planning to open up at least the windows next to the front door before her parents came--after all, a house needed some natural light at two in the afternoon, and she didn't want her parents thinking her new fiance was some kind of a caveman! True, there were some stuffed animal heads on the wall, but she was certain that these would be moved to the basement after their wedding next April. Not that she objected to his frequent weekend hunting trips (she found this far manlier than her ex's constant weekend legal memo-writing absences), but , naturally, you could not have chintz-covered couches and lace curtains co-mingled with antlers and such. She smiled as he stole a spoonful of sweet potato pie filling before she stuck it in the oven, then only took half a bite and offered her the rest of the bite. (Like we're sharing wedding cake at the reception!) His cellphone rang, and with an "oh, it's my brother in Georgia!", he exited to go finalize a Weapons 'R Us gun deal with some Italian buyers (who were fronting for Somali pirates)--just a little quick cash while they were waiting for another Pentagon contract to come through.

Back in Washington, Angela de la Paz was in the Adams Morgan apartment kitchen cooking with her grandmother. The Warrior had kept his promise and brought Angela here on a day when he knew she would be safe--safe from her uncle, safe from prying eyes, and safe from the misguided social worker that had put her into hellacious foster care. The Warrior had declined the invitation to stay, but had promised to return by 4 p.m. to pick Angela up. Her grandmother did not understand why Angela could not stay, probably because she could not face the truth about her son, Angela's uncle. Angela kept assuring her grandmother that things were fine, she was doing well in school, the Warrior was taking good care of her, and she was safe, but Angela knew things in her life were not as they should be, and she did not know how to fix them. She hated not being with her grandmother. She still missed her mom, and had been having dreams lately that her mother was still alive--had not drowned in the Potomac as reported. She wished she was a grown-up and could get a house, and all the people she loved could live there. She said none of this to abuela, and kept a smile up because this was a day to be thankful for what they had.

Several miles to the south, a third of Southest Plaza was already burned to the ground as firefighters battled to put out the remaining flames. Out on the sidewalk, Golden Fawn was huddled with her new husband, Marcos Vasquez. His mother was leaning on Vasquez's arm and tut-tutting in Puerto Rican Spanish. Golden Fawn's grandmother and cousins were huddled nearby, shaking their heads in dismay. It was clear that Vasquez's apartment was toast, but they could not yet tell if Golden Fawn's would make it. The newlyweds were trying not to grin, but couldn't help it--they hated this place so much! Now, without a doubt, they knew it was time to move out and move on. Destroying the real estate demon living in Southwest Plaza was simply not Golden Fawn's destiny, and they needed to turn their attentions elsewhere. They stole another happy kiss, then resumed trying to contain their joy, aware of the misery all around them.

A hundred feet away, property manager Button Samuelson was on the phone with Calico Johnson discussing the fire. "I think that troublesome Indian woman and her fiance might have something to do with this. They seem to be smiling."

"Don't even go there," replied Johnson on his cellphone, pulling up to Chloe Cleavage's apartment building up in Northwest. "Any allegation of arson will just delay the insurance. Try to put some blame on fire hydrants--that's a safe excuse these days." He exited his sports car, walked around to the front of the block, and was surprised to see ladder trucks deployed and firefighters hosing down some flames on the east side of the building. Is she on the east side? Only a dozen residents were in town and evacuated from the building, including Chloe--who was currently lying on an ambulance stretcher inhaling oxygen. (It was her burning candle that had ignited the too-dry baby's breath in her centerpiece during Chloe's nap.) Why hasn't she called me? He looked down at his cellphone with growing alarm, then started running towards the ambulance where he now saw a low-cut sweater-clad victim on a gurney. Chloe! She smiled up at him, and he said, "Don't worry!" She drifted happily off into consciousness, sure that this was it!--her sugar daddy would surely invite him to move into his mansion now.

Over at the Heurich mansion (the Brewmaster's Castle), the less than nuclear-family-powered members of the Heurich Society were holding their annual Thanksgiving dinner, a "Killer Bunnies" game set up on the table in-between the Virginia baked ham, Waldorf salad, yams, and apple pie. A grumpy Henry Samuelson was supposed to be dining with his daughter, but she had called an hour earlier to tell him one of her properties was on fire, and he was unleashing his frustration by taking the game a little too seriously. (It didn't help that he was the only one who had not had a cocktail before dinner.) "Hah!" he yelled in glee, as his killer bunnies took out a few more opponents.

Over on the Potomac, the fog lingered above Ardua, just the way she liked it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frustrated Helpers

Sebastian L'Arche was walking carefully into the National Zoo bird facility beside "John Doe", a frontal lobe epileptic learning to use Lucky Charm as his helping dog. Not only could Lucky Charm sense when Doe was about to have an epileptic seizure, Doe knew that Lucky Charm could see the visions and ghosts that Doe saw. Doe was also hopeful that Lucky Charm would someday understand Doe when he spoke in tongues. They stopped in front of the flamingo enclosure, where a new flamingo mother was absent-mindedly regurgitating crop milk onto her sated and sleeping baby, whose feathery back was quickly covered with pink goop that looked like a spilled strawberry milkshake. L'Arche looked carefully at Doe--who had told L'Arche that "primal" scenes often prompted him to have seizures--but apparently a misdirected maternal feeding was not primal enough.

Over at the White House--where strawberry milkshakes, strawberry smoothies, and strawberry SlimFasts were all flowing--a Rahm Emanuel wannabe was presiding over another round of "not good enough to be an Obama political appointee". "Look," the wannabe said sternly to nobody in particular. "This is a clear violation of Rule Five: you cannot trust people who use clown font."

"It was only in his email--not in his resume," protested the applicant's advocate.

"NO! Next?"

"Here's somebody to, umm, bolster the team at Treasury." The nervous staffer proffered a cover letter and resume from a Stanford-educated M.B.A. with experience at the World Bank and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The staffer knew that their last appointee at Treasury--a thirty-year-old with years of experience campaigning for Barak Obama and not doing much else--had apparently prompted some ugly gossip about Obama's handling of TARP funds.

"Did she work on the campaign?"

"She donated the maximum, and volunteered for the campaign in New York."

"Are you kidding me?! That's not even a battleground state!"

"Sir," the staffer cleared his throat again, then spoke in little more than a whisper. "There are some career people at Treasury using the K-word."





"Kangaroo court?"

"NO! Katrina! Hurricane Katrina!"

The wannabe put down his pink stuff. "Huh? Why are G-Men talking about Katrina?"

"You know--are qualified people in charge in case a hurricane comes along--metaphorically speaking. I'm not saying that, but there are career people there who are." The staffer's left eye was twitching, and the other staffers fidgeted nervously.

The wannabe's face turned red. "You have the audacity to compare Obama's political appointees to that joke at FEMA?!"

"Not me!" protested the staffer. "But career people there--you know, they just want to see more bankers and lawyers and people that, umm, have more relevant background.

"The PEOPLE are running the Treasury now!"

"Sure, but some of the people could be bankers and lawyers--"

"Next!" The wannabe put out his hand and waited for another file to be placed there.

Over in the East Wing, President Obama was proofreading another speech while Bo gnawed contentedly on a chew toy nearby. When men take by force what they cannot take by reason.... Obama looked over at Bo, who now knew almost as many state secrets as Obama did--but not as many as the White House ghosts. Truth will spill out like emotional lava.... Obama had already invoked the state secrets privilege to hide some of the very things he had previously complained were hidden by President Bush before him. The age of the mugwump will never return.... Obama didn't like being told his Administration was becoming Nixonian in the White House and in the Pentagon, but he was the Decider now, and the voices whispering ideas in his ears never stopped. death to America.... He blinked his eyes, surprised to see a terrorist chant in his speech draft. ...death to Americans without health insurance.... He again glanced at Bo, who was now baring his teeth (for no apparent reason) at a ficus tree in the corner. The ghost hovering above the tree vanished, Bo went back to his chew toy, and Obama went back to his speech.

Several blocks away, Atticus Hawk was in a good mood: he was almost finished with his brief on the White House's updated state secrets privilege doctrine, his past as a DOJ torture expert was better protected than he previously thought, and Jai Alai would soon be leaving the zoo and heading downtown to pick him up for dinner. Who knew you could be reasonable? Hawk mock-saluted the photograph of President Obama on the wall. Maybe these terrorist trials in New York will be fun!

Back at the zoo, a crowd (including Jai Alai and her son) was gathering around John Doe--who was lying on the ground in a catatonic state. Lucky Charm was sprawled over Doe's legs, but this was for comfort, not restraint. Periodically, Doe would speak in tongues, then lapse into silence, then speak some more. The crowd was debating whether to call 911, but Sebastian L'Arche continued to reassure them that it was simply an epileptic seizure. A bored Calico Johnson took his date by the hand and urged her to continue their trek to the Amazon exhibit, but Lucky Charm had just figured out what Doe was saying--haunted Rolex!--and Lucky Charm leapt to her feet and lunged for Johnson's wrist. "Lucky!" L'Arche grabbed the dog's leash in the nick of time and let Johnson continue on his way (after a few choice words on Johnson's part). A minute later, Doe woke up, remembering nothing, and not understanding that dogs can get frustrated, too.

COMING SOON: "Chloe Cleavage owns no apron", "the house is on fire", and other Thanksgiving tales!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Have A Nice Day

Former Senator Evermore Breadman stared at the incoming number on his cellphone in dread. Not the Dalai Lama again. He drummed his fingers on the dark wood of his Prince and Prowling desk, mentally calculating how long he could keep playing phone tag with the Dalai Lama. He should be asleep at this hour. But Breadman knew that this meant the Dalai Lama was determined to reach him. "Hello, your Holiness! How good to hear from you!" He stared blankly out the window at the warm sunshine as he picked up his herbal tea with his other hand. "Yes, my colleagues in Beijing have been doing their best, but you know how it is." Breadman had been telling the Dalai Lama for months that senior partners in the Beijing office of Prince and Prowling were lobbying the Chinese government on Tibetan issues, but this was a lie. "I think your trip to Tawang has already blown over." The Dalai Lama's trip to the Indian province claimed by China had not really blown over, but China was now focused on the arrival of President Obama. "I hope it was a spiritually moving journey for you!" But the Dalai Lama had not phoned him about anything happening in Asia--the Dalai Lama wanted to ask Breadman to stop lobbying the U.S. Senate against health care legislation.

"Your health is always in my prayers," said the Dalai Lama. "Now I am asking you to see that other people's health is in your hands, and should also be in your prayers."

Former Senator Evermore Breadman sat silently for a moment, remembering the day the Dalai Lama had prayed over his intestines after they had posed for the photo hanging outside his office [on his "Wall of Me"]. That was a nice day. It was a funny thought--not the sort of thought likely to pop into Breadman's head.

"I'll see what I can do," said Breadman.

Several miles to the east, Charles Wu boarded the Old Town Trolley at Union Station, nodded and winked at "Jazzy Jan", and made his way to the back of the trolley--where C. Coe Phant was quietly staring out the window and pretending not to acknowledge Wu's arrival. It was a busy time in Asia, and, satisfied that nobody was watching, the two men swapped their respective copies of "Parade" magazine and began reading the notes the other had written in the respective margins. Wu looked up as Jazzy Jan resumed her narrative upon pulling away from the curb. In front of Wu was a 300-pound Minnesota tourist taking up two seats. To the right was a German woman with Parkinson's disease, using one hand to hold down the other one on her lap to stop it from trembling; her adult daughter looked on grimly. A couple seats up was a Brazilian child--smiling, chattering, and violating the rules against sticking body parts out the window. Behind the driver was a honeymooning couple from Canada, holding hands and listening serenely to the tour talk. Wu was thinking about the racist comments his Hong Kong mother had made about President Obama's upcoming visit to China--the sort of "racist without being racist" comments the Chinese were always making. His Chinese mother's never explained anger about his absent English father had not curbed her pride when the Englishman had decided to pay for the bastard to attend university in England. Wu, who had never felt he fit in anywhere, now suddenly realized that most people in America did not "fit in"--almost everybody seemed to stand out in one way or another. It was like a forest with a hundred kinds of trees, or a garden with a thousand different flowers. In contrast, China was still very...Chinese...and it was one place that Obama was not going to have star power. He pulled a small steno pad from his breast pocket to write down a few cryptic answers to C. Coe Phant's questions about Project R.O.D.H.A.M.--including the fact that he was confident that neither Beijing nor the White House were onto it yet. Across the aisle, Henry Samuelson--disguised with a beard and Houston Astros baseball cap--watched Wu carefully.

A couple miles to the south, Golden Fawn and Marcos Vasquez were sitting on their balcony at Southwest Plaza, just back from their weeklong elopement/honeymoon to the North Carolina Outer Banks--where they had got married at Cape Lookout. It was a cheap, out-of-season vacation with surprisingly good weather, lots of sailing, and happy dolphins cavorting in demon-free waters. They still had not called their families to tell them about the elopement, and the afternoon was simply too warm and perfect to spoil. A raven alit on the railing to tell Golden Fawn something, but she waved it off--she was wrapped up in a cocoon of emotional warmth she simply could not and would not shake off...not before Monday morning, anyway.

The raven flew back to the Friendship Garden at the National Arboretum, where the Warrior had shown up with Angela de la Paz--who introduced him as her grandfather, much to the surprise of Dr. Devi Rajatala. The Warrior had seen places like this before--woods and meadows with the smell and feel of human interference all over them--but he did not mind this place so much. For one thing, it obviously made Angela very happy to be here, and he did not see a lot of happiness in her. For another thing, he liked Dr. Raj; he sensed something in her that he sensed in very few modern people--a transcendent quality, as if she could have lived in any time or any place on Earth, and she would have made a difference. He watched as Dr. Raj showed Angela how to balance the basket loads on Rani (the donkey) and then lead her from the shed. A raven alit on a fence post near the Warrior, and the two nodded at each other silently.

Several miles away, Ardua of the Potomac was fed up with warm sunny days and happy people, and longed for the sharp winds of December to arrive.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Health Scare

Guest Blogger: Congressman Herrmark-

"I am very sad to report that insane/communist/terrorist/femi-nazi/tree-hugging/welfare-mother-loving/medicinal marijuana types have passed a health insurance bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is not why we tore down the Berlin Wall 20 years ago! I fought it as valiantly as I could, my brothers--we must now pray for the Senate to stop the madness!"

Guest Blogger: Former Senator Evermore Breadman--

"I am too ill to write in my blog this week. Please pray for me to the patron saint of lobbyists."

Guest Blogger Lynnette Wong--

"There aren't enough herbs in China to cure Breadman now."

(Washington Water Woman will return this weekend.)