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 26, 2013

Memoria Mori

The wedding planner paced nervously around the Alexandria church--which was decorated flawlessly, but only 10% filled forty-five minutes before the ceremony.  In her experience, this meant that guest turnout was likely to hover around 60% at best.  Not that this was her fault!  The first set of wedding invitations had been for a picturesque white chapel down in the Tidewater region, but when it was impossible to find a reception hall and adequate overnight accommodations for D.C. guests, Bridezilla had given up on her dream of being married at home and conceded to her fiance's booking of the suburban Virginia fake mosque conference center for the reception.  Colonel Alexander Wolfbugler had made it clear to the wedding planner that most of his guests were routinely called away by national security emergencies (notwithstanding Obama's wish that the War on Terror were over!) and even "yes" RSVPs should be treated as "maybes", but the wedding planner had been hoping for more support from the bride's side.  She took one last look at her watch and then began texting the temps she sometimes hired to fill out empty ceremony seats--she would have to eat the cost herself, but the show must go on!

A mile away, Bridezilla sat and watched anxiously as her maid of honor held the blow dryer over Bridezilla's repainted fingernails, after the last-minute decision that the Cool Sangria was clashing with her Passion Fruit Pink lipstick.  Bridezilla stared at the drying layers of Pink Poodle, seized with anxiety that she had, again, made the wrong decision.  "Maybe I should have kept the Cool Sangria, and changed my lipstick instead?"

"No, hon," cooed the maid of honor, in her soothing Tidewater debutante voice, "the Passion Fruit is the perfect lipstick color for your face.  The lipstick is more important!"

"I know it's more important, but we should have tested more combinations!"

"There was no time, hon!  You needed your beauty sleep!" purred the maid of honor--a minor league Virginia beauty queen winner, like Bridezilla.  "Baggy eyes are enemy number one to a radiant bride!"

"Oh, why did I rush this?" wailed Bridezilla.

"'Cause Alexander could die fighting terrorists, and life is too short to wait!" replied the maid of honor (who didn't realize that the colonel was out of combat, and worked at a desk in the Defense Intelligence Agency).  "Remember, hon:  the marriage is more important than the wedding!  My wedding wasn't perfect, but look how happy I am!"  (Bridezilla looked dubiously at her maid of honor--who had been two months pregnant at the time she married a naval officer in a Newport News Holiday Inn, three days before he left for another six months on a nuclear submarine.)  "I didn't even have time to buy a dress!"  (Bridezilla remembered all too well the sight of Mrs. Sugarbarrel using needle and thread to alter her own wedding dress to fit her daughter, while bridesmaids emptied out their garment bags on the four-poster bed to see if they could cobble together three that looked at least vaguely like a matched set.)  "Well, I just couldn't be happier!" concluded the former Miss Sugarbarrel, laying down the blow dryer and patting her swelling belly with satisfaction.  "I think it's your big-city lawyerly ways that make you just fret and worry and find something a little tiny bit amiss in every situation."  (Bridezilla's eyes flew open wide in outrage.)  "Well, um," whispered the maid of honor, realizing her remark had been interpreted in the worst possible light, "what I mean is, perfectionism sometimes needs to be taken down just a teeny-tiny notch when you've got time pressures to worry about, right?"

Several miles to the east, Laura Moreno was walking dejectedly into Prince and Prowling to redo a perfectly fine research project that Bridezilla had rejected as not thorough enough just before she left the office at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.  She stopped by the new state-of-the-art document review room (one workstation per four square feet) to see how many contract attorneys had shown up so far, and found only one:  a 25-year-old from New York who was confiding in staff attorney Chloe Cleavage how terrified he was that his girlfriend might accidentally get pregnant.  Without turning away from the $6,800 painting she was examining on the east wall (the partners were simultaneously using the temps' sweatshop to exhibit fine art for sale--and claim a tax deduction through some arts patronage charity), Chloe Cleavage told the fellow nobody needed to worry about that with her because she had sold all her eggs to a fertility clinic for a million dollars!  "I'm rich AND baby-proof," she added, turning to wink at him.  "If I had a boyfriend, I could buy him this painting!"  Moreno silently left them (and the million dollars' worth of pretentious art) to head back to her workroom (which had no art on display except the GreenPeace calendar Moreno had hung over the hole in the wall which had mysteriously appeared above the step ladder one day).  (Moreno had her suspicions that late-night trysts were happening in the workroom now that the dead rodent smell had worn off, but it was none of her business.)  She sat down at the table with a sigh, opened the file folder marked "Project Elastic Plastic", and began reading Bridezilla's hand-written comments on the draft research report.

A couple miles to the west, Dubious McGinty had a long list of things to do before commemorating Memorial Day tomorrow.  The Vietnam Veteran urinated over the guardrail of the drawbridge, spit down on Ardua of the Potomac for good measure, smiled at the blue sky, then sat down in the bridgeman's quarters with his well-worn copy of "Reader’s Digest How to do Just About Anything" (published in 1986).  He turned to the index to look up "x-ray photographs of coffins", but couldn't find it.  Then he tried "remember where you put your army photos", but couldn't find that.  Then he tried, "taking photographs from your photographic memory", but that was also not in the index.  He sighed in frustration:  usually this book helped him a lot (the "Mice as pests" and "Mice as pets" sections were invaluable for squatting in an abandoned control room above a river), but today he was having no luck.  "I'm gettin' old," he said to the mouse he thought was his pet, Cambodia, but which was actually the pest, Pol Pot.  "Sometimes I can see their faces, but sometimes I can't.  And they were the best buddies I ever had!"  (Pol Pot had turned some old photos into a nest last week, and scurried off with a guilty look on his face.)  "I know they're at peace now, but I still miss 'em!" he hollered at the retreating rodent.  Then he thought about the newer veterans, the ones that never had the empty, scared look in their eyes because they just buried it deep and made their eyes stare at their cellphones all day long--the magic boxes that distracted them by day but fell silent by night, when the darkness pressed in.  "Someday their magic box will go quiet," he said softly to himself, staring at the television which had mysteriously stopped working three weeks ago.  "Then they'll have to think about the damned death again."

Back in Alexandria, Bridezilla's stone-faced father took her firmly by the arm and started marching her up the church aisle as if this were not her wedding but the grim Vietnam War memorial service he would have to attend tomorrow.  He was sick to death of paying for these fiascoes and never getting a rich son-in-law in return.  Bridezilla tried to slow him down to the pace of the Bach piece being played on the harp, but he was determined to marry her off as quickly as possible this time.  (Fortunately, this battle with her father distracted her from noticing the large number of paid strangers in the pews--but, unfortunately, she did notice the absence of soldiers lined up with rifles arching over her head, since the minister had confiscated the rifles and hidden them behind the organ.)  Bridezilla's father plopped her unceremoniously next to the Colonel and took his seat quickly.  Bridezilla looked into her lover's face and saw a complete stranger:  the wedding planner had covered up his gray hairs with Grecian Formula, injected Botox into his forehead, waxed his face to a smooth sheen, and covered his pale lips with a manly wine-colored stain.  The Visine was wearing off, and his hungover eyes were slowly becoming bloodshot again.  "What did you do last night?" she whispered, completely ignoring the minister's opening words.

"Just a couple of beers at Fred's house--then we got paged and had to go back to the office."

"Am I to understand you were up late last night WORKING, the night before our wedding?" she hissed.

"Honey, that's my life!  You need to accept that!"

"You're supposed to be on vacation now!  We're flying to Europe tomorrow!  You didn't get paged at all, did you?  It was the others, and you just HAD to go along with them!"

"Now you're accusing me of lying?!" protested Colonel Wolfbugler.

"You have a problem!" she whined.  "You're an adrenaline junkie, aren't you?!"


"You heard me!"

At this point, the minister decided he was not going to marry these people, and tried to whisper this quietly to them, but they brushed him off.  However, Bridezilla's psychiatrist, Dr. Ermann Esse, had prepared for this possibility by bringing a blow dart tipped with a strong tranquilizer.  (Though the shrink strictly refused to prescribe psychotropic drugs to any of his patients, he was, in fact, always prepared for neurological necessities.)  The darted Bridezilla made a funny little noise, then slumped down into the arms of her quick-responding, adrenaline-juiced fiance.  The wedding photographer clicked her camera rapidly, hoping to capture a lot of hilarious shots for her unofficial Facebook page.  Bridezilla's angry father got up to shoo the photographer away, and her mother burst into tears.

Five pews back, the former chairman of the Heurich Society stood up in relief, excited he would be able to attend today's meeting after all.  (He couldn't wait to rub it in Button Samuelson's face that she had made a huge mistake getting rid of the Jack Diamond Morning Show on 107.3, and she deserved the buffoon that had replaced him on the air!)  On the other side of the aisle, former Senator Evermore Breadman was nudged awake by his wife, just in time to see the colonel carrying his comatose bride back down the aisle.  Nearby, Liv Cigemeier and her husband (another partner from Prince and Prowling), laughed silently into their hands.  Back in the front, Glenn Michael Beckmann capitalized on the sudden chaos to run behind the organ, grab three rifles, and run out the side door--forgetting he would lose his pay from the wedding planner.

Outside the church, a flock of laughing starlings flew off to see what amusements Ardua of the Potomac had in store for the rest of the day, while a concerned pink warbler followed Glenn Michael Beckmann from a distance.


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