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 ....

Monday, November 04, 2013

Taking Care of Business

The Braggart had returned to Prince and Prowling.

"Google me!" she said, marching into the workroom sometimes known as Laura Moreno's office.  ("Um, OK.")  "Which image do you like better?  I've been trying to get rid of the image on the left because it's too sexy."  (Moreno was still hung up on the fact that the first entry was from Wikipedia.)  "I spent a year in China, and I'm fluent in Mandarin now.  I get $80/hour now."

"Is that enough to cover the expenses of being in China for a year?"

The Braggart just laughed.  "Oh, my boyfriend was paying for everything!"  (Actually, Goode Peepz law firm had paid her to go to Hong Kong for a three-week project after she had used a Chinese busboy to cheat on the Alta language test; then she picked up a rich businessman while over there.)  "I guess I'll sit over here."

"Are they bringing a computer for you?" asked Moreno.

"No," said the Braggart, "I said I only use iPads now.  That coat looks terrible."  (Moreno looked over in embarrassment at the coat the Braggart had stood up to examine.)  "This repair job is terrible, and it hasn't been dry-cleaned."

"Well, I did steam it--"

"Yeah, I keep seeing this all over town:  contract attorneys are trying to steam their own coats in the shower.  Let me see your teeth."  She marched over to Moreno and forcibly pried her mouth open.  "You need to floss if you're not going to the dentist--the tartar builds up, and that leads to gingivitis and root canals."  (Moreno covered her mouth with her hand.)  "And what is going on with your hair?  Are you cutting it yourself?"  The Braggart burst out laughing without waiting for an answer, and started running her fingers through Moreno's hair.  "This is hilarious!  And if you're going to wear stained suits, at least put a decorative pin over the stain.  You should keep a fashion scarf on hand at all times to cover up problems."

"Nobody sees me much here--I don't think it matters."

"Of course it matters!  You're not gonna find a man looking like a ragamuffin!  Your career is in the toilet.  Do you really think things are gonna get better without finding a rich man?  You need to up your game."

"I was thinking of taking another CLE--"

"Don't play that stupid game!  That's just a racket to make money for the D.C. Bar, which doesn't give a shit about contract attorneys.  Nobody's gonna hire us after doing this a few years.  Apply your brainpower to winning a sugar daddy."

"Don't you think I'm a little old for that strategy?" said Moreno, a wee bit wistful.

"It's called plastic surgery, honey.  I mean, Kris Jenner is a grandmother, you know?!"

At that moment, the Braggart heard Cigemeier calling her name and went out in the hallway to find him.

At that same moment, Liv Cigemeier was returning to Charles Wu's house after taking Buffy Cordelia on a playdate at a nearby Cleveland Park playground.  "Did you have a nice time, sweetie pie?" asked Wu in Chinese, picking his daughter up for a cuddle, and Delia gurgled something in reply.

"Your friend from the British embassy was there," said Cigemeier.  "She gave me a small baby quilt that she said you had left at their residence."

"Oh, yes!" said Wu.  "That's right!  Where is it?"

"A bird pooped on it, so I tossed it in the washing machine with a few other things."

A strange look passed over Wu's face, but Cigemeier was preparing Delia's snack and didn't notice.  When she turned around, Delia had been dropped into her high chair, and Wu was gone--racing to the washing machine to retrieve the quilt which, no doubt, had spy memos and 300,000 in British pound notes sewn into the lining.

Back at Prince and Prowling, Bridezilla was in the ladies room, going through her positions on the ballet barre she had put up in the handicapped stall.  "First, second, third, fourth, fifth.  Thanksgiving with a bunch of rednecks in Mississippi, or a week in Italy with a Federal Reserve economist and his mother?  Fourth, fifth.  Buddy Lee Trickham's redneck family might actually have better food than Luciano Talaverdi's mother!"  She stopped talking out loud when somebody else came in, then resumed after the other woman was gone.  "Developpe'.  Or three kinds of Jello and a turkey deep-fryer on the front lawn.  Arabesque.  How can I ask him?!  It would sound like I care more about the menu than meeting his used car salesman father, his fortune teller mother, his social worker sister, and his illegitimate Elvis Presley cousins from Tupelo.  Plie'.  Italian beef, Chianti, touring the artwork of Rome and Florence with a hot-blooded romantic--that's not Thanksgiving at all!  Attitude gauche.  If I stick with Buddy Lee, I could be Mrs. Professor Trickham by New Year's!  Attitude droite.  If I turn him down for Thanksgiving, we'll be finished!  Do I really want to take that risk on a foreigner?  Luciano's mother would want me to convert to Catholicism, and my parents would disown me!  Pas de chat.  But Mississippi!  Buddy Lee worked so hard to get out of Mississippi--why does he want to go back there at all?!"  She stopped at the sound of another woman entering the ladies room, and scratched absent-mindedly at the rash under the cursed Rolex which Talaverdi had given her.

Over at the State Department, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope (formerly known as the "Point Person for Blunt Pragmatism") was the happiest he'd been in years.  Obamacare and the government Shutdown had so dominated the news cycle that Congress barely cared anymore what the State Department was doing!  Between the Sequester and the Shutdown, he had managed to eliminate several of his liaison activities, and no longer had to deal with Chuck Hagel's office at all!  No more taunts of "P.P. Blu-Prag", or "who's your daddy?", or "if you like Chuck Hagel so much, why don't you gay-marry him?!"  Things were getting back to normal now:  the State Department was kissing up to the Saudis, the Defense Department was providing arms to Egypt, and the CIA gnostics were secretly killing all the Arabs they wanted to.  Sure, there would never be Middle East peace in his lifetime, but that wasn't John Kerry's fault.  He just wished he could get over Eva Brown.

Then the phone rang, and it was Brown, asking him what the State Department had done to support women drivers in Saudi Arabia last week.  "Um--"  ("You didn't do anything, did you?!")  "Well--"  ("Don't give me any of that pragmatism crap!")  "I wasn't going to!  I never do pragmatism anymore!"  ("You never do anything anymore!  We may as well abolish the State Department, and just let the CIA handle everything!")  "I'll do something about the driving--I promise!"  ("What?") "I'll set up a back channel.  Why don't we have lunch and talk about--"  [CLICK]  He pulled out his notepad and wrote down "back channel", "Saudis", "women driving", and a sketch of a carrot in place of whatever he would (he hoped) come up with.  If the CIA ever takes out Assad, I sure hope the Saudis give us credit for it! 

Back at Prince and Prowling, Moreno had just gotten another paper cut from hand-redacting another box of shell corporation tax returns, while the Braggart seated behind her was painting her nails, headphones plugged into an iPad playing videos related to the Chinese case she was hired for.  Every now and then, the Braggart would put her nail polish bottle down, pick up a pen, and carefully jot down a couple of notes.  After she was done with her nails, she would use her iPhone to check her Facebook page, do some Tweets, update her Tumblr, and edit her Wikipedia page.  Sometimes she had to rewind the Chinese video, but Cigemeier was only expecting her to look at a couple videos a day--she could easily drag this project out for two months.  Moreno opened an email from the managing partner telling her they were cutting her salary a dollar/hour to keep things in line with "market rates".

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac raised her yellow eyes above the water's surface and peaked at the gleaming Institute of Peace, now fully compromised by an infestation of river rats.  Some things were just too easy.


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