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, July 28, 2013

Washington, a hotbed of revolution.

Bridezilla sipped a mimosa and twirled her hair flirtatiously as her new boyfriend opined about minimalist, post-Gothic, neo-Bellum literature in the South.  He is so smart, she thought, taking her eyes off him only long enough to accurately and delicately spear a new potato on her Clyde's brunch plate.  And it was true!  Buddy Lee Trickham was a genius English professor at Georgetown University--a former Rhodes scholar, recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award--the whole kit and caboodle.  And she admired him all the more for it because he had risen from humble roots as the son of a used car salesman in Mississippi!

"Do you understand what I mean?" he asked.  (She nodded convincingly, even though she didn't.)  "It's the end of inventory lists as novels."

"Inventory?" she blurted out before she could check herself.  (Oh, no!  He's gonna think I'm a moron!)

"Here, listen to this," Trickham said, pulling out his e-reader.  "This is my favorite example, from a novel two years ago.  'Katherine entered the tool shed looking for a trace of her missing husband.  Rusty clippers sat on the tool bench next to the WD-40 and a chamois.  A spilled jar of nails incongruously next to an unspilled jar of screws.  Rakes and hoes and snow shovels against one wall.  Three lawnmowers against two more walls--one working, two broken.  A table covered with bags of mulch, lime, azalea feed, hummingbird feed, and seed packets.  She sighed deeply and left.'  What the Hell is that?!" he concluded, putting down the e-reader.  "It's an inventory list for a tool shed!  And it's the same list anybody could have for their tool shed!  It's entirely ordinary and pointless!  Then she goes to his favorite bar in town to look for him, and we get an inventory list of the people and furniture at the bar.  Then she goes to look for him at the shooting range, and we get an inventory list of people and guns at the shooting range--not to mention the shrubs!  You see how ridiculous this is?  Whoever is publishing these inventory lists as literature should be shot!"

Bridezilla giggled nervously.  "You're very passionate about it!" she said.  (Bridezilla had not read a novel since the summer before she went to law school--law school had destroyed her love of reading.)

Professor Trickham pulled up the e-reader again.  "This is how I rewrote it in minimalist, post-Gothic, neo-Bellum:  'Katherine checked the tool shed for signs of her missing husband, then did the same at his favorite bar and shooting range.  She was almost out of gas, and still no sign of him, so she followed the mockingbird to the Circle K.'  You see what's happening now?"  (Bridezilla nodded convincingly, even though she didn't.)  "Circle K is post-Gothic.  Mockingbird as spirit guide is neo-Bellum.  Minimally, we have arrived at exactly where Katherine needs to be:  the future reinventing the past."

"Does she find her husband?"

"Precisely!  You're dying to know, aren't you?  But nobody can read through the inventory lists of the tool shed and the bar and the shooting range long enough to find out because they stopped caring three pages ago.  It's like making somebody read eight pages out of a Sears catalog before you tell them their order has shipped."  (She nodded again.)  "With my version, you're dying to know!  Some are calling it the Hemingway-Faulkner Fusion, but it's much more than that.  It's a revolution!  People are wasting too much time reading inventory lists, instead of reading literature that makes them think!"

"I couldn't agree more!" said Bridezilla.  (And she was ashamed that she had once dated a law professor who spent half his life worrying about footnotes.)

"Do you want to hear my minimalist, post-Gothic, neo-Bellum name for our local football team?" he whispered, with a twinkle in his eye.  (She nodded, smiling, and leaned across the table towards him.)  "The Washington Blackskins.  Get it?  Another revolution--make people think!"

A few miles to the east, Charles Wu was discussing his latest revolution with The Tarantula over okra stew and walnut date bread at Heritage India.  "There's no demand to give him," Wu said.

"I don't understand," said The Tarantula after a spot of Kingfisher beer.  "I hacked into Congressman Boehner's phone records, I did the drop at his office--I mean, he must be scared shitless!  He knows he's being blackmailed, so what's the deal?"

"Nobody's being blackmailed," said Wu with a mischievous smile.  "It's just an exercise to make Boehner think."

"Think he's being blackmailed?" asked The Tarantula.  "Or think the NSA is holding an axe over his head?"

"Think about who might be disturbed were they to find out about his associations and activities--think about trying a little harder to make friends instead of enemies.  If you don't know who your enemies are, you try to make friends with everybody, right?"

"But that's impossible," said The Tarantula, "especially in this town."

"Every revolution is until it succeeds," said Wu, who in truth, only needed Boehner to make nice on a couple of issues, but loved the idea of endless possibilities.

Five-hundred feet below them, the denizens of Dupont Down Under were listening to Fearless Leader tell them about his own vision of revolution.  "If we build it, they will come!" he hollered, and there was a smattering of polite applause.  "An amusement park!"  (A little more clapping.)  "With roller coasters!"  (Some whoops.)  "We will charge admission to our amusement park under the Metro station!"  (Thunderous applause and cheering which lasted for a couple minutes.)  "It will be a magic place, where the further down you go, the more fun it is!"  (Silent nodding with smiles and glazed eyes.)  "Are you ready to start digging?  Follow me!"  ("Digging?")  "Yes, of course!  We have to dig out some more space down here before we build the roller coasters."

"You said it was a vision," whined an overly pale teenager who had only been living in Dupont Down Under since he lost his job at Fatty's Tattoo Parlor.  "We thought you were going to build it with psychic powers."

"Well, if I build it with psychic powers, the people will only pay with psychic money!  Do I really have to explain this to y'all?"

The river rats understood it perfectly, and were relieved to see that the lazy and uninspired humans would end up changing nothing, after all.  The humans would continue to wander around these Dupont Down Under mazes in the endless, sadistic experiment run by Ardua of the Potomac, and life would remain bittersweet, as the river rats liked it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No Rest for the Wicked

Washington Water Woman was unexpectedly inundated by a Canadian tsunami, but hopes to return to blogging this weekend....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Spies Like Us

The ghost of Henry Samuelson floated unannounced into Cedric's bedroom at the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged.  ("Gaaaaaaaaa!" was the somewhat inarticulate reaction of Cedric.)  "Oh, settle down!" scolded Ghost Henry.  "Stop being a drama queen!"  Millie (the big brown dog) raced in to confront Ghost Henry, but she held her tongue, unsure if he was really a threat.  "I'm worried that Edward Snowden is ready to release the UFO files," said Ghost Henry.  ("Gaaaaaaaaaa!" repeated Cedric.)  "Would you get a grip?!  I can't get any assistance from John Doe--who says the world has a right to see the secret UFO files--so it's up to you!  You still have that girlfriend in Moscow?"

"No," lied the former CIA spook, who had been pretending he was British ever since Ghost Henry came back from the grave.  "My girlfriend lives in Cheswick-on-Rye." 

"You just made that up!" said Ghost Henry.

"No, I didn't, old chap," said Cedric, clutching his teddy bear tightly.  "Aloysius can tell you all about Cheswick-on-Rye."  He looked at the bear as if expecting it to join the conversation.

"Are you hearing me?" cried Ghost Henry.  "The UFO files!  If the truth gets out there, it's game over--China wins!"

Cedric contemplated this carefully while stroking Aloysius with one hand and Millie with the other.  "Well, I might be able to persuade Camilla to take a trip to Moscow," he said, "but she's not a spring chicken anymore.  Even with her exquisite beauty, do you think a 28-year-old could seduce Snowden?"

"Seduce him?  I want him wiped off the face of the Earth!  Him and whatever files he has in his possession!  My Ghost CIA refuses to go in there--says UFO files belong in the public domain, and how else will they learn to advance to a higher level of consciousness?  Bunch a nut jobs!  What's wrong with this level of consciousness?  You don't hear me complaining about it!"

"Yes, you do--all the time," retorted Cedric.

"Look, buddy, you've got a pretty comfortable little set-up here in Arlington!  You don't have bills to pay or questions to answer!  When was the last time you did something for your country?"

"Oh, it's for my country?" asked Cedric.  "Why didn't you say so before!  But why did Queen Elizabeth send you?"

A few miles to the east, the State Department's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was also making an appeal to aid the United States--but his appeal was to a Chinese spy.  "Everything's been going downhill since the Secretary's wife was hospitalized," whispered the man also known as "P.P. Blu-Prag" (Point Person for Blunt Pragmatism).  "Kerry is getting more pragmatic than ever.  He doesn't care how we get from point A to B--he just wants us to get there."

"Understood," said Charles Wu, who feared his Prada silk slacks were sticking to something on the seat of his Froggy Bottom chair. 

"We were this close to intervening in Syria, but now it's gotten away from us," said P.P. Blu-Prag, gulping wildly at his beer.  "The Gulf Arabs just purchased Egypt like it's another Mediterranean yacht.  Bashir is jetsetting around Africa with impunity.  Edward Snowden does as he pleases, and have I mentioned that Afghanistan and Iraq look like they never had any U.S. intervention?"

"No need to mention that," said Wu frankly, stabbing suspiciously at the so-called salad in front of him.

"And I'm supposed to explain everything to Chuck Hagel!  Me!  The guy turns red in the face every time he sees me coming, and believe me, he shoots the messenger!  And now we've got more to worry about," said P.P. Blu-Prag.  "I'm up to my neck in reports on international neo-Marxists breeding unrest around the globe.  I mean, on the one hand, great, they'll beat up some Islamic militants along the way, but on the other hand, not exactly a horse we can bet on!"

Wu put down his fork.  "Neo-Marxists?"

"Yes," said P.P. Blu-Prag.  "Greece, Nepal, Argentina, Tanzania--they're on every continent.  We've got intelligence showing that they're gearing up for revolutions so radical they'll make Bolivia look like a free market champion.  U.S. commerce could be shut out of a dozen markets.  We are losing the war for hearts and minds, Charles!  We could really use some help from the Chinese--Hell, China is the poster child for one-upping Karl Marx, right?"

"Right," said Wu cautiously.  This is too easy, he thought with suspicion.  "Who gave you that intelligence?"

"I can't divulge that," said P.P. Blu-Prag.

"You mean, you can't divulge that, or the source won't divulge to you?"

"I don't know," confessed P.P. Blu-Prag.

"This is just a distraction," said Wu, with more than a little sympathy.  "Whoever's telling you this is just trying to miscue you.  There are no more international Marxists.  Nobody needs Karl Marx to tell them they're poor--the Internet tells them that.  What you need," added Wu, "is to show them that American values are the answer to poverty.  Free trade, my friend," concluded Wu, who had his own particular definition of what that meant.  "In the long run, it's still the best policy."  (Wu had every expectation that violent redistributions of wealth would continue until the day he died, but there was no reason to blame Marx for it.)

"Thanks," said P.P. Blu-Prag, feeling radically reassured, though later he would not remember why.

Several miles to the north, Liv Cigemeier was thinking about blogging on neo-Marxism, but lost her nerve.  Instead she posted another Tweet about the U.N.'s Malala Day celebrations.  It was true that she was sitting at home because International Development Nerds could no longer pay her, but she did not want to let down her 100,000 "Girl Hurl" Twitter followers just because the FBI had gotten IDN's bank accounts frozen. 

Next door, Mia (a Girl Hurl follower and employee of Charles Wu), read the latest Tweet from Cigemeier, as a life-vest-cocooned Buffy Cordelia splashed happily in her backyard kiddie pool.  Then the toddler hurled her pink rubber ball all the way over the wall.  Cigemeier--who had seen this unfold during her twentieth restless look out the upstairs office window--headed outside to retrieve the ball.  Mia put down her phone and jumped at the little girl, making her burst out laughing.  "Why did you do that to your ball!?" scolded Mia, leaning down for a quick kiss.

"I can toss it back to you," called Cigemeier over the tall wooden fence.

"No, no!" exclaimed Mia, who could not see Cigemeier but had seen her before.  "Why don't you come around?  I have lemonade!"  Maybe she can babysit!

A mile away, the Warrior walked down the Rock Creek Park trail, holding Angela de la Paz's hand like a little child.  He was riddled with guilt that he had not seen her in so long, and not sure she had heard a single word he had said all morning, but the fact she was letting him hold her hand spoke volumes.  "You are on a new path now," he said.  "I grieve for your lost love, but where one has fallen, another has risen."

"What do you mean?" she said, stopping to look at him.

"Don't you know?" he asked.  "Your man has left you with child." She dropped his hand and fainted dead away.  "And so the motherless girl becomes a mother," he whispered, sitting down with her head in his lap.  "The seed of love grows to crowd out the sapling of hate."

Up in the tree branches, a flock of starlings full of hate flew off to consult with Ardua of the Potomac, while a pink warbler flew down to the ground to serenade Angela de la Paz back awake.


Bridezilla's new boyfriend, and who is The Tarantula?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cleaning Up the Mess

Dr. Devi Rajatala looked up in surprise as Angela de la Paz walked up to her in the National Grove of State Trees.  (There was not another soul within a half-mile of them because the National Arboretum was closed on Thursdays due to the Sequester.)  "You're back," said Dr. Rajatala.  Angela said nothing, and walked up to Dr. Raj for a hug.

Several miles to the west, Liv Cigemeier and the other stunned employees of International Development Nerds gathered at their designated emergency meeting spot in Franklin Square.  (Cigemeier had not been at IDN long enough to have experienced an emergency drill, but their volunteer fire marshal personally led her to the spot.)  Today's unexpected emergency was the raid of FBI agents, who had arrested their President on the spot, and were, presumably, still gathering IDN files.  "I don't know what's going on," said IDN's Vice President, looking around nervously.  "You should all go straight home and wait for an email."  Cigemeier tried to phone her husband as she walked towards the Metro station, but only got his voicemail.

Cigemeier's husband, a junior partner at Prince and Prowling, was in their state-of-the-art review center, inspecting the coffee recently spilled onto an $8,000 painting hanging in their current exhibit.  (The review center doubled as a tax write-off by sponsoring art exhibit fundraisers.)

"I still can't believe we're not insured for it!" exclaimed Chloe Cleavage, who suddenly remembered she had not whitened her teeth in a month, and closed her mouth abruptly.

"We are, but the managing partner said we are better off buying the painting than reporting the damage," said Cigemeier, gently dabbing the painting with a napkin (to no avail).

"I fired the contract attorney responsible," Cleavage said through closed lips, looking down as she talked just in case she had coffee breath.  "Here's the admission of fault she signed before she left."

Cigemeier took the page from her hand and read the pitiful statement, which could very well have a forged signature for all he knew.  "What do you want me to do with this?" he asked, loudly enough for several contract attorneys to look up from their headphones and computers.

Stumped by this question, Cleavage quickly reevaluated her options.  "Perhaps we should discuss it in my office?" she whispered.  (She had never tried to seduce Cigemeier, who was well-known to be a happily married man, but old habits die hard.)  He crumpled up the piece of paper and walked away.

A block away, the Chinese delegates to the White House were jet-lagged and struggling to stay awake.  The Vice Premier was looking past President Obama's face at what appeared to be a coffee stain on a large oil painting hanging on the wall.  The State Councilor was digging his fingernails into the palms of his hands in an effort to stop nodding off into the strange dream he was having about two pre-schoolers darting mischievously around the state room.  "This isn't perfect, but we need to take a step in the right direction," said Obama, as the nervous interpreter quickly tried to decide which meaning of "right" was intended--everything depended on her!  The twins made a sudden move toward President Obama, and Ghost Dennis flew down from the corner to chase them away, but it was too late:  Ferguson shouted that the Vice Premier was a liar, and Regina shouted that the State Councilor was smelly.  ("Fergie!  Reggie!  Shame on you!")  President Obama blinked several times, gripped his arm rests more firmly, and waited for the official Chinese response.

Back at the National Arboretum, Angela de la Paz had finally stopped crying.  Dr. Raj sat on the ground, leaning against Louisiana's bald cypress, Angela's head in her lap.  "He didn't even die for his country," said Angela, who then explained how Major Roddy Bruce had been sent from his military attaché post in Washington to evacuate nationals from the Australian Embassy in Cairo.  "He was mistaken for a Mossad agent who looks a lot like him, and assassinated by a Palestinian operative.  It had nothing to do with anybody in Egypt."  Angela didn't add the part about her finding and killing the Palestinian, but Dr. Raj had little doubt on that score.

"He was serving his country, Angela," said Dr. Raj, stroking the girl's hair.  "And sometimes soldiers die in training accidents or plane crashes, but they're all serving their country."

"He could have done so much more with his life," said Angela.

"He already did," said Dr. Raj, feeling the impotence of her words as Angela started to cry again.

Several miles to the northwest, Liv Cigemeier was now at home, checking her email again, but there was still no word from International Development Nerds.  She sent out another Girl Hurl Tweet about United Nations activity, then jumped when the phone rang.  It was her husband, who told her that the President of International Development Nerds was asking Prince and Prowling to represent him during the FBI investigation.  "I thought you didn't do criminal law there?"

"Well, sometimes," said her husband, "when there's a special firm relationship.  I can't tell you everything I know, but what I can tell you is that the FBI is investigating him for financial fraud in connection with IDN.  The search warrant should be publicly released shortly."

"I can't believe this," said Liv Cigemeier, but in reality, she could believe it.  Everything about her new job at IDN had been too good to be true...or last for long.  "Do you think they will shut down IDN?"

"I don't think so," said her husband.  "Nor directly, anyway.  The problem is if they freeze the bank accounts.  We should know tomorrow."  He waited for her to say something else, but she didn't.  "It will all turn out fine," he said for no legitimate reason other than comforting his wife.

Out in their backyard, a pair of pink warblers started building a nest in defiance of the real estate demon living in the storage shed, and it trembled in rage.

COMING UP:  Bridezilla abandons her mentor, but The Warrior has plenty left to do.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Listen to Your Elders

Bridezilla was trying to listen intently to The Warrior, but it was so darned hot at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival today.  ("I brought you to 'One World, Many Voices' to broaden your exposure to other pathways you have never seen.")  Spending time with her new guru seemed more productive than visiting the psychiatrist, but the shrink's cool, leather sofa in the air-conditioned office space was calling to her like a siren.  ("Listen:  my mother used to sing this song to me.  It's about the trickster raven.")  Bridezilla had already heard a dozen stories about the trickster raven, and she still had no idea what he was all about. ("Did you know that some cultures, like the Aborigines of Australia, believe time can fold in and out of itself?"

"And the Swedenborgians!" Bridezilla cried out triumphantly.  "I know this one!  Jake Gyllenhaal is a Swedenborgian!  I mean his father...or grandfather--but he has Swedenborgian blood!  And royal blood, I think."

"It is not about the blood," said The Warrior patiently.  (The Warrior was over 400 years old, and he had no idea why, but he did know that none of his children or grandchildren had lived so long.)  "It is about freeing the mind."  (He had met some Swedenborgians in the Ohio territory once, but their minds had already closed firmly around their leader's thoughts.)  "Truth and insight can guide one along whatever path you are on, as long as you allow your mind to be open to the Great Spirit's messengers."

"I'm just so thirsty!" blurted out Bridezilla, ashamed of her weakness.

"Excellent!" cried The Warrior.  "Air is the first nourishment from the Great Spirit, and water is the second.  These are truths that must be learned in every culture."

Bridezilla smiled broadly, pleased with her great progress.  A tall Gyllenhaal-like figure watching her from a short distance thought (erroneously) she was smiling at him, and since he had heard the entire conversation, and since his college sweetheart had told him many times that he looked like Jake Gyllenhaal, he strode confidently up to the willowy blond and handed her his Coke bottle.

"Water," repeated The Warrior, shaking his head at the interloper and his Coke bottle, but it was too late.

Several miles away, the Heurich Society was holding a meeting in the upper floor conference room of the Brewmaster's Castle.

"Egypt is out of control!" bellowed the former chairman.  "Obama is bungling the whole thing!"

"What would you do if you were President?" asked Henrietta (Button) Samuelson.

"You're resigning as Chair of the Heurich Society?" he asked eagerly.

"Of course not!" Samuelson exclaimed, pissed off.  "I was asking what you would do about Egypt if you were in the Oval Office!  You can't just criticize Obama without saying why!"

"Yes I can," he said, petulantly.

"Obama's Egypt policy is feckless," interposed Condoleezza Rice from the crackling speakerphone.  ("Oh, here she goes again with the feckless thing," whispered the former chairman, rolling his eyes.)  "This is not what America is funding the Egyptian military to do.  This is an er-ror."  (She pronounced the last word very slowly, as two punctuated syllables.)

The members looked wide-eyed at Samuelson for her rebuttal.  (Rice was clearly taking a jab at Samuelson's initiative, the War on Error.)

"You can't just say something is a feck-less er-ror," retorted Samuelson, with an exaggerated pronunciation to mock Rice.  (Samuelson almost tossed in "you bloodsucker", as her father used to call Rice, but held her tongue.)  "If nobody has a proposal for improving our position in Egypt, I'll handle it myself without your input.  (She was bluffing, as she didn't have the faintest idea what they should be doing in Egypt.)

"I do," said Rice--who was not there to see that the rest of the room had fallen for Samuelson's bluff.  "Let's start with our man on the National Security Council."

Back at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, another hot and thirsty Prince and Prowling employee (Chloe Cleavage) was trying hard to get culture to please her companion (cousin Chloris Cleavage).  "Are you ready to eat yet?" asked Chloe, fanning herself futilely with a brochure.

"No, I'm good!" replied Chloris, who was wearing a $3,000 water-wicking tank top she had purloined from a party at Jake Gyllenhaal's house.  "This is so educational for me:  Native American is the new black in Hollywood!" she added.  ("Huh?" asked Chloe, who didn't know if her actress cousin was referring to the "Will to Adorn" area they had just left, or the "One World, Many Voices" area they had just arrived at.)  "You know:  Tonto, Johnny Depp, super hot."

"You realize that 'Lone Ranger' tanked at the box office this weekend?" replied Chloe.

"What?!" cried Chloris.  "But I have three auditions next week for post-modern Westerns!  Oh, my God!  What if they're canceled?  No, they won't be canceled--my agent would have called me.  And those movies are already greenlighted.  Oh, God, I'll just die if I don't get to try out for Saloon Wench Number Four in the Jake Gyllenhaal movie!"

"Saloon wench?  Why do you need to learn this stuff [Chloe gestured vaguely around them] to be a saloon wench?"

"I don't know!" wailed Chloris.  "My agent told me Native American is the new black!  Could you loan me money?"

"Of course!" said Chloe, who thought Chloris was just talking about rent money.

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" cried Chloris, hugging her cousin.  "I think $50,000 will be enough."  (Chloe dropped her Coke bottle on the ground.)  "I met this amazing seamstress on a set, and she does designer baby clothes on the side, and we came up with this amazing idea:  'Baby Jesus Boutique'!  Or we might call it 'WWJW'?--you know, for 'What Would Jesus Wear?'--because people are always saying, 'What would Jesus do?', but nobody is saying, 'What would Jesus wear?', which is much more RELEVANT to our target customers:  new moms of Hollywood and Beverly Hills and Bel Air and Santa Monica!  I mean, they're not ALL Christians, but Scientology is so out of fashion that the most fashionable mothers want to dress their babies like Baby Jesus." ("In swaddling clothes?")  "No, silly!  You are so funny!  We've got it all worked out.  Here:  these are some of our prototypes."  (She pulled up some photos on her iPhone to show Chloris.)  "Can't you just picture North West in this hemp onesie with the apples and the snake?  Isn't that the coolest?!  Or Jennifer Garner's little girls would look so adorable in these dresses with the water glasses and wine glasses embroidered on them.  Get it?"  ("$50,000?  Really?")  "Well, if you don't think that's enough, we can do a bigger launch.  I mean you're the lawyer with the business experience and all that.  It's your investment!  You've always said you didn't want to be at Prince and Prowling forever--maybe this is our big chance!"

Back at the Heurich Society meeting, Button Samuelson stepped back into the conference room with a worried look on her face.  "I just got off the phone with Angela de la Paz," she said.  "She's at the Moscow airport, taking the jet to Egypt."

"We haven't authorized that!" protested the former chairman.

"It's reckless and feckless!" added Condoleezza Rice, from the speakerphone.

"Her boyfriend was sent to Egypt to help evacuate Australians, and he got killed."  Samuelson sat down and looked around the room.  "She's not sure yet who did it."

"She'll kill all the Egyptians within a mile radius of the Australian Embassy!" said the former Chairman.

"That's why we need to find out who the actual killer is before she lands," said Samuelson. 

"She swore she'd never go back to the Middle East!" hissed Rice over the speakerphone.

"She was in love, you bloodsucker," Samuelson whispered, and then there was silence in the room as they all recalled what happened the last time "she whose gaze must be avoided" went on a kill mission in Egypt.

Over at the State Department, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope stepped outside for fresh air but found only a sauna.  He closed his eyes against the glare of the sun and let the perspiration seep from his brow for a few minutes.  (Ava Brown had told him sweat removes toxins; he missed her.)  A flock of starlings emerged from the bushes and took off to report to Ardua of the Potomac, who would then send them on to the Pentagon--because a demon's work was never done in this town.

NEXT WEEK:  Angela de la Paz learns the truth about why Roddy Bruce died in Egypt.