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, August 04, 2013


"They're tired of him," said Federal Reserve Board economist Luciano Talaverdi, zipping up his pants.

"Same old same old," replied FRB economist Obi Wan Woman, who had been trying to linger in the moment a little longer, but, no, now it had passed.  She sat up and scooted off the Round Table in the Research Library.  (Talaverdi winced at her plebeian American jargon and wondered at her lack of hygiene...and splinters.)  "But Bernanke had a good run--he did save the country and probably the world from sliding into another Great Depression."

"Yes, I suppose," said Talaverdi, "but what has he done for us lately?"  He put his (cursed) Rolex back on, pulled out his laptop, and sat down to await the Camelot Society meeting in 45 minutes.

"I had a funny dream last night that you were appointed the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board!" said Obi Wan Woman, belting her tunic.

"What's so funny about that?" sniffed Talaverdi.

"Well, for one thing, you're Italian," she said.

"That's not against the rules."

"For another thing, you showed up at the swearing-in ceremony looking like a gigolo."

(Now he was really offended.)  "Oh, and you know how gigolos dress?  And you pay them enough so they can afford the same Armani suits I wear?"

"Luciano!  Honestly, sometimes I think you have no sense of humor!"  (He glared at her to prove the point.)  "I meant you were just really hot.  You were getting sworn in, but you were winking at all the women there, like you just couldn't wait for it to be over.  You were so eager to start screwing everybody in sight.  That's why the dream was so funny!"

Talaverdi flashed his fake smile at her and made a mental note that it was time to find a wife--he was clearly not going to rise any further in his career if people perceived him like that.  (And this puttana would certainly not be in the running.)

Several miles to the north, Charles Wu was examining his summer suit collection:  Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers....His measurements hadn't changed since he was 19 years old, but faint lines were showing in the vain man's handsome face, and something had to be done about the 20% drop in flirtation he had been receiving since the arrival of his daughter.  Was he flirting less, subconsciously?  Was he too preoccupied with parenting?  Would a wardrobe change help?

"Liv is here," called Mia, from the hallway.  "I'm leaving."

"Alright," answered Wu, annoyed that his promise to let Mia take GED classes had led to the hiring of a babysitter who, of all things, was a married woman from the house next door.  He sighed, disgusted with himself, and then felt disgusted at this bizarre and unknown feeling of disgust for himself.  She's good with Delia! he scolded himself.  That's what's important!  I can find women anywhere.  Indeed, he had always been able to find women anywhere, but the problem was now they kept finding out about his daughter.  Of course, Buffy Cordelia was a total babe magnate for most women, but those weren't the women Wu was interested in.  I'm not traveling enough, he theorized to himself, and this was a new theory with both evidentiary support and a less humiliating feel to it.  I need to talk Mia into watching Delia while I take a long weekend in New York or Atlantic City.  He cursed the fact that the nanny's back-up babysitter was a married woman who would never be able to come away for a weekend.

"Delia smeared strawberries all over her dress," called Liv Cigemeier from the hallway.  "Do you want me to put stain remover on it?  It says 'dry clean only'.  I didn't know they made 'dry clean only' clothes for toddlers--how crazy is that?!"

"Don't worry about it," said Wu, finally deciding on the ivory linen suit custom-made in Hong Kong.  He had back-to-back meetings this afternoon with Yellow Man and C. Coe Phant, and he was still waiting on the latest intelligence about Edward Snowden's movements in Russia.  "She smears fruit on all her dresses."  He chose the woven leather Argentine loafers,  a lavender shirt, and a Calvin Klein retro tie.

"Sorry, she heard your voice, and insisted on going in," called Liv, staying behind the half-opened bedroom door as Delia toddled into the master bedroom.

"Look at you, messy girl!" he laughed, squatting down to her level.  He unbuttoned the dress, turned it inside-out, and put it back on the girl.  (All her dresses were designer reversibles.)  "There!"  He gave her a big hug and prodded her back out into the hallway.  "Daddy's got a big day of strategic intelligence sharing," he whispered to her on the way out.

Back downtown, Bridezilla was curled up sideways on her psychiatrist's couch.  "It's still early in the relationship, but I just thought it would be healthier for me to consult you sooner, rather than later, don't you think?"

"Mmm," nodded Dr. Ermann Esse, agreeably.

"Is that a Tommy Hilfiger suit?" she asked.  (The shrink shook his head no.)  "Really?  It's a nice knock off!  I desperately want to get Buddy Lee into better suits, but he is only a professor, and I suppose they don't have a lot of money.  Where did you get that knock-off?"

"I don't recall," said Dr. Esse.

"I might have to get some knock-offs of my own!  I've had to stop wearing silk to the office!  Can you believe it?!  They've installed new motion-detector water faucets that are a complete nightmare!  I have to dance around for five minutes to keep the water flowing, or it just stops!  I'm bobbing and weaving from one faucet to another, splashing water all over the place.  Five minutes!  How does that save water?"

"I don't know," said Dr. Esse.

"Look," she said rolling onto her back and hugging a pillow to her chest, "do you think it's normal for a boyfriend to get an invitation to go to a birthday party for the President of the United States, and not invite his girlfriend?  I mean, I know we haven't been dating a very long time, but still!  What do you think?"

"Oh, my," said Dr. Esse, "I get that sort of question ALL the time!"  ("Really?!")  "Oh, yes!  Goodness, you have to submit the date's name for a security clearance a month in advance!  I can assure you, there is no need at all to feel insecure about his not taking you to the White House birthday party."

"Oh, that's fantastic!" cried Bridezilla, sitting up.  "I feel so much better.  But what about money?"

"What about it?"

"I don't know if I'm making more money than he is.  Professor salaries have a lot of variability."

"And this is important to you?"

"Of course!  I want to buy him better suits, but I don't want to hurt his feelings or anything.  Or maybe he just has terrible taste in suits--maybe it's not about money at all!  I mean, he is from Mississippi--not white trash mind you, but definitely from the wrong side of the railroad tracks."

"Hmm," nodded Dr. Esse, writing a few notes.

"I was thinking of measuring him in his sleep, and then having a suit made for him for his birthday.  But he's an English professor!  Maybe style is personal and expressive and important to him.  And I asked Cigemeier about it, and he said you never tell a man how to dress unless he asks or you're married, but I'm not sure he knows what he's talking about because I don't even think his wife tells him how to dress.  And women buy ties and sweaters for men all the time, so this would just be a step up:  buying a suit.  Because he's a genius, and everything that comes out of his mouth is brilliant, but I do worry that people see his suits and think 'used car salesman', like his daddy."

"Did you think that about him, before you learned about his father?"

"Well, no, we were at the Folklife Festival--he had on shorts and--"

"So he wears shorts to the Folklife Festival and he wears suits on days he is at the university?"

"Yes," replied Bridezilla.

"Then he sounds like a grown man perfectly capable of dressing himself appropriately.  Gifts of ties in the summer and sweaters in the winter are traditional because they are non-threatening.  You are telling me you are concerned that he may badly perceive your decision to choose a suit for him.  This shows to me that you have grown significantly in sensitivity and the ability to imagine what other people are feeling."

"It does?" asked Bridezilla.

"It does!" said Dr. Esse triumphantly.

"So I can't buy him a suit?" asked Bridezilla, crestfallen.

"You can buy him the most brilliant, gorgeous, expensive tie he has ever seen in his life," said Dr. Esse.  "And when he sees that tie, he will either break up with you because he's making less money than you are, or he will buy a new suit to go with it."  (Dr. Esse knew this from personal experience because he had a lot of ex-girlfriends and had sold many such ties that were too good for his suits--although in his case, it was because he didn't like spending money on suits and preferred to put all his money into playing the stock market with tips his Washington clients inadvertently gave him.)

"Oh, thank you!" cried Bridezilla.  "That makes so much sense!"  She got up to go.

"I thought you wanted to talk about your long-term goals:  running for public office, starting a family?" said Dr. Esse.

"Oh, it's much too beautiful a day for that!" said Bridezilla, skipping out.

Not far away, U.S. Attorney Atticus Hawk was completely oblivious to the beauty of the day--or the shabbiness of the old suit he had thrown on absent-mindedly to head into the office today.  Bradley Manning had been convicted of every count except aiding the enemy, and now Hawk's boss at the Justice Department was expecting Hawk to make up for that with a devastating and brutal litany of damages--to maximize Manning's prison sentence.  Hawk scanned his security card and walked briskly to the elevator, a pile of late-night notes stuffed into his briefcase.  Nobody could expect me to get him convicted on that, Hawk reassured himself.  Nobody can blame me for that.  Nobody can question my patriotism.  His stomach churned uncontrollably, and his brain screamed for the drugs he could no longer take.  He unlocked his office door, threw his suit jacket on a pile of boxes, and sat down angrily at his desk.

High above him, a flock of starlings basked in the sunlight on the Justice Department roof, too relaxed and lazy today to do the demon's bidding, but Ardua of the Potomac never had far to look for replacements.

The fate of International Development Nerds.


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