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 ....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New- AND old-fashioned nervous breakdowns!

"Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!"

"Settle down!  Keep a lid on it until we are out to sea!"

Angela de la Paz and Dulles Samuelson heard the commotion, climbed up to the deck of their houseboat, and saw several Members of Congress scurrying onto and around the Molotov Cocktail, berthed next to them.

"I can't get the rope off!" wailed Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, winding the mooring rope tighter instead of unwinding it.  "We've been sabotaged by Robert Mueller!"

"Get a grip, Dana!" shouted Congressman Devin Nunes, shoving the California Representative aside.  "Lefty loosy, righty tighty!"

"Are they trying to flee the country?" whispered Angela de la Paz.  "Maybe you should call your boss at the FBI?"

"If those scumbags flee the country, that's a victory for America!" he laughed.

"Sh!" she elbowed him.  (They heard the engine start and saw Congressman Paul Ryan pulling a skipper hat lower against the bright sunshine in his eyes.)  "Maybe I should call Golden Fawn?  Her husband's in the Coast Guard."

"That's all we need!" replied FBI agent Dulles.  "Accusations that the 'Deep State' is harassing Republicans on their Saturday afternoon boat ride!"

"Where's the Exxon attorney?" wailed Rep. Rohrabacher.  "I thought they were supporting us!  I'm innocent!  Everybody's talking about my Moscow trip like it was evil!"

"We have a God-given right to pursue happiness wherever it might be," said Texas Representative Zeke "Slick" Hicks, leader of the secret Russia Caucus.  "That's right there in the Constitution!" 

"Isn't that in the Declaration of Independence?" whispered Angela.

Congressman Hicks sat down, lit a cigar and told the Speaker of the House they were ready to embark.  Congressman Rohrabacher was trying to strap his life vest on while vomiting over the side.

"Oh, get a grip!" cried Congressman Nunes.  "I'm sure Wikileaks will help us out again soon!  The uranium and the dossier are just the tip of the iceberg with Hillary:  lock her up!"

Angela and Dulles then saw a head peak out of the Molotov Cocktail hold, bark at everybody to shut up, then duck back in.  "Ah, there's the ensconced attorney," said Dulles.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, a new resident had arrived at the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged.

"This is Anne Marie," said psychologist Leo Schwartz, gesturing to a middle-aged woman wringing her hands after 36 hours in a hospital psychiatric ward.

"I know you!" cried Buckner.  "You work at Walmart!" (The woman shook her head.)

"At the ice cream store!" declared Melinda.  (Anne Marie again shook her head.)

"Anne Marie would prefer not to talk about where she works.  But ice cream sounds like an excellent idea!  Why don't you all show her around the kitchen, and you can all have some ice cream.  He watched as Theresa put her arm around Anne Marie's waist and steered her towards the kitchen.

"What is her story?" asked social worker Hue Nguyen, as they walked into her office and partially shut the door.

"Twenty years as a White House secretary until a nervous breakdown this week," said the psychologist as they sat down.  "Secret Service had to remove her and put her in an ambulance to the hospital."

"She attacked the President?!" asked Hue.

Leo shook his head.  "No, she curled up in a fetal position under her desk and wouldn't come out.  Said only Satan himself would hand out Halloween candy and comment on whether a child was fat or not."

"That's what broke her in the Trump White House?!" Hue exclaimed.

"The straw that broke the camel's back, I assume," replied Leo, handing the social worker the thin case file.  "Not much in there.  She was sedated in the ambulance, woke up calm in the hospital, talked lucidly during her psychiatric evaluation, but said she did not want to go home to her house in [air quotes] 'Trump Country'.  Her husband was livid, but she refused to let him take her back to their house in Loudoun County.  She agreed to take a bed here while waiting to see if she can go live with her married daughter in Charlotte.

Hue was silent as she read through the file, then looked up.  "No certain diagnosis?"

"Might be a real old-fashioned nervous breakdown," replied Leo.  "Rest and a break from old routines might be all she needs.  She has a mild sleeping pill and no other meds for now.  I'll stay for the remainder of the day to observe her, if you want to take a break, and I'll come back tomorrow."

The two walked out to listen in on the ice cream party now underway in the dining room.

"Leo is the best Jew you'll ever meet!" said Larry.  "I don't know where Hue is from, but she's awesome."

"We don't have any Nazis here!" exclaimed Melinda.  "You'll like it!"

"The President could have the best ice cream in the world, right?" asked Buckner.  "Not this cheap store brand?  Hue is Vietnamese."

"She's American!" retorted Melinda.

"Is Trump nuts?" asked Larry.  "This is our helping dog, Millie."

"Trump has the nuts which are straw huts in his brain on the train!" exclaimed Freddy Ritchings (AKA Brother Divine of the International Peace Movement, and host of the Church of Twitter).  "I do not see a Nazi in our house, just a mouse!  Ice cream is the dream for the team which believes in fall leaves and grieves what's up the White House sleeves.  Millie is not silly, and this dog will lift your fog!"

"Is it a magic dog?" cried Anne Marie. 

The psychologist and social worker exchanged a glance; then Leo shrugged.  "A desire for magic help might be a rational response to working in the Trump White House."

"I think somebody cast an evil magic spell over Trump," continued Anne Marie.  (Leo and Hue exchanged another glance.)  "I think it's those evangelicals that keep praying over him!  They don't say anything I ever heard in church!  What if they're wolves in sheep's clothing?"

"Honey, they don't even bother having sheep's clothing!" exclaimed Melinda.

"And the ghosts!" added Anne Marie.  (The psychologist and social worker exchanged another glance.)  "Barron has imaginary friends, but Melania says they are ghosts and should just be ignored, but Barron is talking to them constantly whenever he walks around, and he has this dead look in his eyes."

"Ooh!" cried Theresa.  "Is he possessed?"

"I don't know!" exclaimed Anne Marie.  "Maybe I imagined everything, and I'm the crazy one, and it's normal to Tweet about football players and watch television instead of reading reports.  And why do they want to kill Hillary?  Is that normal?  That doesn't seem normal to me!  And Ivanka is like a Stepford wife!  She scares me so much!  I feel like she could slit her own children's throats and still have that phony plastic lipstick smile on her face while she talks about women's empowerment!  And she's always yelling at the cleaning staff that they're not vacuuming enough, and there's dust everywhere.  Why is she even in the White House?  I've been there twenty years!  I've typed up and filed these memos for twenty years, and I know a lot about public policy, but Ivanka keeps a giant make-up bag and hairstyling bag in the ladies room!  Nothing makes sense to me anymore!"

Just then Cedric bolted out of the dining room with his teddy bear Aloysius gripped tightly, then pulled up short in front of Leo and Hue.  "No, no, no!" he whispered.  "The Secret Service will get revenge for this!  We're all in danger!"

"Calm down, Cedric," said the psychologist, putting his hands on both of Cedric's shoulders.  "She's just venting about her workplace:  I haven't heard any state secrets."

"Don't you understand?!" cried the former CIA agent (who sometimes got confused and thought he was a British agent).  "It's all in code!  Aloysius taught me the code years ago!  It's very, very bad!  Now Ghost Henry is going to return!"  Cedric did not wait for a reply, but ran upstairs to his bedroom. 

"I'll ask the psychiatric review board to take another look at Cedric's meds," said Leo.  "But you should take a break!  I'll stay a few hours and write notes on Anne Marie's interactions with the other residents."

"Are you kidding?!" exclaimed Hue, turning her attention back to the conversation around the corner.  "I want to hear more stories from the White House!"

"Trump is afraid of staplers and paper clips," continued Anne Marie.  "He banned them from the Oval Office!  All papers have to be in color-coded folders:  blue is for information bashing democrats, pink is for information bashing Hillary Clinton, red is for Russia, green is for budget items, and manila is for everything else.  But he won't read the papers anyway!  At first he would reject anything with staples or paper clips, but now that he has the folders, he just pretends to read the papers:  he's really just reading a couple sentences at the top and a couple sentences at the bottom.  If the National Security Adviser insists he needs to read more of it, Trump pretends there's a spider in the folder and throws it off the desk, spilling the papers all over the floor!  Then he orders the Secret Service to kill the spiders, and asks the National Security Adviser to just tell him what's in the folder!  We hear everything because he punched a hole in the wall months ago when Robert Mueller was named as a Special Prosecutor, but never asked for it to be fixed--he just taped a magazine cover with his face over that hole." 

Back at the dock, Angela de la Paz was sitting on the deck of Singapore Surprise, feeling the last hour of sunshine before the clouds rolled in.  She slowly came out of the Dreamtime and smiled at Dulles Samuelson, who was sipping a beer while working on their Halloween costumes for the party being thrown tonight by her employer, Charles Wu.

"Your father hitched a ride on the Molotov Cocktail," she said, noting the involuntary shiver Dulles experienced every time she brought up the ghost of former CIA agent Henry Samuelson.  "He's never going to stop trying to control everything."

"Which would be fine if he had been good at it to start with," replied Dulles, ruefully, before abruptly changing topic.  "Hey, do you think if North Korea launches a nuclear weapon at us, you'll get a vision to warn us?"

Angela pondered this for a minute.  "I think my visions are for unseen dangers and things I can stop.  I'm not sure either of those apply."

"But you did a lot when you were in the Middle East, right?" insisted Dulles.

"I killed people," she said, looking at the horizon.  "I killed men who were hurting women.  I killed the man who killed the father of my baby.  But killing...causes more problems than it solves, I think."  And the woman once known in Egypt as a mythologically fierce she-beast got up, kissed Dulles, said she was getting cold, and headed inside.

Over at the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sat stone-faced as Attorney General Jeff Sessions berated and interrogated him about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sealed indictments.

COMING UP:    Mad dogs and Englishmen!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Massive intelligence failure!

"The important thing to establish is that this Nigger situation was not my fault!" declared CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

"Niger," replied his assistant.  "It's pronounced nee-jair."

"Same difference!" retorted Pompeo, scratching underneath his cursed Rolex.

"No, very different," insisted his assistant.

"People cannot be allowed to talk about a 'massive intelligence failure'--not on my watch!"

"Sir, we believe we can credibly put forth in careful leaks that CIA intelligence was accurate but that the army chose to rely on the Defense Intelligence Agency--"

"No!" interjected Pompeo.  "I'm not making enemies at DIA!  There are rumors that Condoleezza Rice is secretly running that agency!"

"How would that even be possible?" asked his assistant.

"The Deep State!  It's real!  Just look what happened when I spoke the truth about the Trump-Russia nothing burger investigation and no election interference:  CIA's own spokesman contradicted me!  Deep State!"

"Well, sir, your statement actually did not encompass the full set of facts and circumstances--"

"Deep state!"

"Let's refocus on Niger.  Why would Condoleezza Rice use faulty intelligence in Niger?"

"You're the one that brought up DIA, not me!  Let's blame it on French intelligence.  That damned smug Macron!"

"Sir, it's important not to alienate our actual allies--"

"Freedom fries!"

"Sir, we are dealing with a very complex set of relationships right now.  For instance, France is an important channel of communications and monitoring for Iran.  POTUS just de-certified their nuclear compliance, and we need France to--"

"Axis of evil!" declared Pompeo.

"Sir, there's no camera on right now.  It's just us talking."

Pompeo looked down at the cursed Rolex, which was gripping his wrist more tightly.  "Nobody can know about me!" it whispered.

Meanwhile, over at the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was trying to catch up on his work after losing valuable time being grilled on Capitol Hill earlier this week.

"Dementia?!" he scowled.  "I don't have dementia!  How can they expect me to remember every single version of the contact-with-Russians question, or the basis for why DOJ issues an important guidance, or whether Robert Mueller wants to question me?  So what if I accidentally referred to the Democrat as the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee?!  Doesn't mean I have dementia!  I was a sharp prosecutor in Alabama!  I know what I'm doing!  What was I doing?"  Sessions had walked over to the corner of his office, but could not recall if he was getting something from the bookshelf or checking the ficus tree for listening devices.

DOJ attorney Atticus Hawk had been in the office doorway for a minute now listening to the muttering.  "General Sessions--"

"My integrity shall not be questioned!" barked the Attorney General, wheeling around.

"I'm not questioning--"

"Executive privilege!  If I discuss it with the President, I don't have to tell anybody!"

"That's not really true, General."


"You can't automatically put a privilege on something simply by discussing it with POTUS.  You said as much yourself to Attorney General Eric Holder five years ago."

"You think I don't recall that!  I recall it!  I recall it very well!"  He turned back to the ficus tree, pulled off a yellow leaf, then returned to his desk.  He felt he could trust this young man, but was having trouble recalling his name.  Some sort of a bird?  

"I have a first draft of the memo you requested on a coordinated media campaign to highlight the work that DOJ is doing to prosecute hate-based murders in the LGBT community as a gaslight against the collapse of DOJ civil rights enforcement in housing and employment."

"Do they really have a community?" asked Sessions.  "I mean, they live in different cities, don't they?  Is this one of those virtual reality things, like the Matrix?  Is it a gay Matrix community?"

"Um, well, no," said Atticus Hawk, and then he changed his mind.  "Yes, sir, you could call it a gay Matrix community.  So I'm a lawyer and don't have a lot of media experience, but this is my first draft."

The Attorney General took the memo, glanced at the name and nodded at the sight of the bird name--"Hawk"--on the page.  "Right, right."  He started reading the first page, but was having trouble focusing.

"Tell me, Atticus," he began, putting down his reading glasses only a moment after putting them on, "what does the gay Matrix community think about this whole Russia thing?"

"Um, well," began Hawk, stepping back to shut the door behind him, then taking a seat in a guest chair.  "I believe their concern is that Vladimir Putin is extremely repressive to the LGBT community, and actually had Russian operatives spend money on social media posts propping up reactionary religious conservative opinions prior to the U.S. Election last November.  The Russians spread fake news about--"

"Nope, nope," interrupted Sessions, shaking his head.  "What I mean is, we need more people in this country supporting law and order!  Aren't there any patriots in the gays and weirdos?  If there are, we gotta find them!  Is this murder prosecution thing going to do it?  This whole Puerto Rico thing is a mess, and they'll move to Florida, for sure.  We've got the Voter Fraud Commission trying to prevent the wrong people from voting, but the Matrix gays--well, they're very organized, right?  Even if they lose their jobs or their apartments, they'll probably figure out how to register to vote.  We've gotta get some of these Matrix gays together to praise the President and the return of law and order in this country!  They've gotta see that Hillary and Obama were the threat, not a few Russians on Facebook!"


"Wait!  What if we torture the people that murder the queers!  That will win them over, right?  Law and order!  Write me a memo about torturing anybody arrested for murdering a fag.  That's how you rose up the ranks, right?  Torture expert?"

A mile away, Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi (Yellen) had finished some overtime at the Federal Reserve Board and was exiting to meet his wife Helen (Talaverdi) Yellen, and their pot-bellied pig.  "How is Petro Pig?" asked Luciano, hoping to see the recently depressed pig perking up at the sight of his girlfriend Princess Buttercup, a yellow Lab FRB police guard dog.

"About the same," sighed Helen.  "Ever since he met the Tax Chicken, he feels totally eclipsed."  (Princess Buttercup was wagging her tail and straining her leash towards the pig, but Petro Pig was staring at the ground.)

"You are so silly, Petro Pig!" said Luciano, squatting to pet the pig.  "Tax reform lobbying will come and go, but the petroleum industry will be back on Capitol Hill soon, and you will be in great demand as a paid mascot again!"

"Paid protester," corrected Helen, who had once handled a busy roster of Petro Pig clients, including Greenpeace, Mike Bloomberg, and the Sierra Club.  "That Tax Chicken is so large," said Helen, as they started a long walk down towards the monuments to take advantage of the warm weather.  "I was thinking I could get some sort of very large thing to push him around in."

"Like a wheel barrow?"

"No, really large!  Like a Pope Mobile for pigs."

"Helen, maybe it is time for you to focus on other things,"

"Well, I can't go back to house-sitting!  You want me at home at night, don't you?" cooed Helen.

"Yes, I want you to have a child!"

"Well, there's nothing wrong with me!  Maybe you need to get your plumbing examined."

"What?!" exclaimed Luciano, feeling a surge of Italian testosterone.

"You're so stressed out about the economy and all that jazz!  It might be affecting your swimmers.  Trump has depressed the fertility rate."

Luciano looked at his wife in amazement, then felt a horrible, horrible knot tightening up in his gut.

Back at the CIA, Mike Pompeo's assistant had departed, and the CIA Director was looking over a top secret briefing on North Korea.  "Why read it?" whispered the cursed Rolex.  "You know what the President wants to hear!"  Pompeo scratched under the watch, dreading his agreement to head over at 4:30 for a round of golf with Trump now that the media was pointing out that all five former Presidents were in Texas at a hurricane relief fundraiser.

"Why does the weather have to be this good?" Pompeo muttered to himself.  "When will he return to Mar a Lago?"

"He doesn't like the Impeach Trump billboard they put up there," whispered the Rolex, "and Barron has a science project."


"Tell him it's time to go to war!" whispered the cursed Rolex.  "That's what he wants!  Nobody cares about Niger--he wants a big one!"

"I can't just recommend a nuclear war!"

"Yes!  Yes, you can!  We will be victorious!  Trust me!"

The Ghost CIA Director, the late Henry Samuelson, was now jumping up and down on Mike Pompeo's desk.  "NO!  Listen to meME!"

Pompeo blinked hard, reached in the bottom drawer for his Ritalin, then scratched furiously under the cursed Rolex.

COMING UP:    Arlington Group Home for the 
mentally challenged gets a new resident! 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let them eat cake!

It was another emergency meeting of the Federal Reserve Board Camelot Society.

"If Trump blows up the health insurance market, it's game over!" wailed Obi Wan Woman.

"Don't panic!" cried Janet Yellen's representative.  "We have tools at our disposal.  We got through the Great Recession, and we will get through this.

"We got through the Great Recession?!" scoffed Obi Wan Woman.  "What you mean is some very large banks got through it, and AIG survived, and a lot of Americans went into foreclosure and bankruptcy."

"It would have been far worse without us," said Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi Yellen (distantly related by marriage to Janet Yellen, but still toiling in obscurity at FRB despite his legal name change).

"Exactly," said Janet Yellen's representative.  "We need to formulate a drastic plan."

"Well, if you're going to take away people's health insurance, you might as well just kill them," said Luciano.  (Several people seated around the library Round Table gasped.)  "No, I mean it!" said Luciano.  "Sick people with nothing to lose will simply start bombing everything.  The fascists in Italy did not anticipate that, and so the communists--"

"We don't have time to talk about post-war Italy!" cried Obi Wan Woman (who disliked Luciano ever since he got married and stopped having sex with her on this table).

"Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it," he retorted.

"Italy is a mess!" countered Obi Wan Woman.

"Shut up, both of you!" exclaimed Janet Yellen's representative.  "Unpaid medical bills lead to bankruptcies, and the country cannot afford another large-scale disruption of system liquidity.  Senator Rand Paul is doing this precisely because he hates the Federal Reserve Board and wants to trick us into propping up health insurance companies.  We must do it in secret."

"But that is why he hates us!" protested Luciano.  "The secret influence over the economy!"

"That's why it needs to be ultra-secret, so he doesn't have a clue!  If you need to work with Heurich Society, you're authorized.  Now get her a plan!"

"The Heurich Society?!" protested Obi Wan Woman.  "It was probably their idea for Trump to promote fiscal responsibility by condemning three million people to live in the Stone Age on Puerto Rico so FEMA can spend all its money on the Republican hurricane victims in Texas and Florida!"

Meanwhile, up in Cleveland Park, triple agent Charles Wu would listen to his tape of the Camelot Society meeting later because he was hosting his daughter's birthday party in his backyard.

"Mrs. H-C has been a wonderful nanny and governess, but Delia's getting older now, and I'm not doing enough," said Charles Wu, in a rather uncharacteristic moment of weakness.

Lynnette Wong said nothing for a minute as she watched the birthday girl race back into the backyard bouncy castle under the doting eye of Prudence Higgety-Cheshire.  "She's a happy and healthy child," she finally said.

"She's in kindergarten, and her female role models are Mrs. H-C, Liv next door, Angela, you, and Dora the Explorer."

"That's fine!" said Lynnette.

"She doesn't understand Liv's work, or what Angela really does."

"She understands my work:  I sell herbs in a Chinatown shop to help people feel better.  And we're business partners.  What you're really worried about is she doesn't understand your work, and you can't introduce her to most of the people you work with."

Charles turned to look at Lynnette, then turned back to keep gazing at the bouncy castle.  They had dated briefly, then gone back to being business partners with unspoken issues between them:  her Taiwanese roots, his Hong Kong roots, her political outspokenness, his inability to steer her off being suspicious about his actual activities since moving to the U.S.  And yet, instead of remaining circumspect with her, he always found himself craving her encouragement and approval.  "She's just not my little princess anymore.  She's turning into an actual person.  One minute she's asking me for a Barbie dream house, and the next minute she's asking me why Harvey Weinstein was mean to those girls!  Except she said his name as 'Harvey Weiner Schnitzel.'"  (Lynnette burst our laughing.)  "We had just been to Cafe' Mozart."

"She knows how to turn on a television and a computer," said Lynnette.  "You need to be able to discuss things with her."

"Why's it so difficult?"

"Maybe the real question should be why the first decade of your adult life came so easy to you?  Your over-abundance of chi!  You know what was difficult?  When I had to answer Angela's questions at age fourteen about why she had to have a dead mother, an absent father, a monstrous uncle, and an extremely ill grandmother."  (They both turned to look at Angela de la Paz, who was always glad to subsume her own October birthday celebration into Buffy Cordelia's.  Her boyfriend was walking her into the Wu backyard with his arm around her, and the normally somber young woman was laughing.)  "Life is pain, which your chi kept you insulated from for a long time.  Now your chi is flowing to your daughter, as it should."  (He turned his head to look at Lynette.)  "Did you think hiring an English nanny would allow you to go on with the same life path you had before?"

"No, but...."  (He turned back to stare at the bouncy castle, feeling guilty he had been about to ask Lynnette for help mentoring his own daughter.  He sighed and turned back to Lynnette.)  "You would tell me if I were a bad father, wouldn't you?"

"Yes.  The demon is back in the river:  what are you doing about it?"

"Angela says there's nothing we can do about it right now."

"She's said more than that," replied Lynnette.  (Charles nodded.  Angela had been pressuring him about his more questionable espionage activities since the day he hired her.)  "Listen to her:  nobody can protect Delia from evil better than Angela."

The two turned to look back at Angela, who had just picked up Lucas Cigemeier--the boy she had given up for adoption when she was a teenager and the baby's father had been killed in a military operation in the Middle East.  Felix and Liv Cigemeier were happy to share the toddler with Angela, who never asked too much.  (They had no idea that Angela visited Lucas in the Dreamtime every night.)

"She's doing better," said Lynnette.  "Dulles has been good for her."

"He better be," said Charles, remembering the man's father, former CIA agent Henry Samuelson, who had hounded triple agent Charles Wu, and was probably rolling over in his grave now that Dulles had joined the FBI.

"He knows about her gift, and doesn't try to exploit it," said Lynnette.

"I don't exploit it!" Charles said, guiltily.

"You make a lot of money off it," said Lynnette.

"Believe me, Angela vetoes anything and everything she wants to veto!"  Charles was still uncertain how much Lynnette actually knew about his spy life.  "I listen to her!"

They watched as Delia ran over to welcome Angela to her party and get a toss in the air from Dulles.

"Dark forces have always preyed on you, Charles, because of all your chi," said Lynnette.  "You are lucky to have Angela watching over Delia, but you also can't forget that."

"Did Angela tell you she sought out Donald Trump in the Dreamtime and discovered his soul is gone?"

Lynnette shivered.  "Only light can conquer darkness."

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac inhaled and laughed in pleasure as she sensed Donald Trump and his evil entourage returning from the golf weekend and drawing closer to the White House...where Character Counts Week was about to launch.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo gets to know the Cursed Rolex!

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Death Spiral

Charles and David Koch sipped former Senator Evermore Breadman's aged bourbon amiably.  It was the sort of liquor millionaires drank and, as billionaires, they were accustomed to far better, but this was adequate for a closed-door meeting at Ardua's favorite law firm, Prince and Prowling.

"As you know," began Breadman, "our lobbying efforts were quite successful in the House of Representatives, where the tax bill passed easily."

"Senators are not as easily swayed," said C. Koch.  "They are subject to the wrath of the fully enfranchised voter."

"The fully enfranchised voter is certainly a problem," replied Breadman, "and I concede that gerrymandering and Koch Brothers donations have an out-sized effect in the House as compared to the Senate, but we are still optimistic that the Senate can do this."

"Can or will?" asked D. Koch.

"It's too early to say," said Breadman, feeling his intestines churning.

"Will we win the gerrymandering case at the Supreme Court?" pivoted C. Koch, referring to oral arguments heard this week in Gill v. Whitford.  "If Kennedy jumps or, God forbid, Roberts himself--"

"Pyrrhic victory at best," declared Breadman.  "They would simply send it back to Wisconsin for an ordered re-drawing of the maps, which would take time, and then the new maps would probably be re-litigated."

"But the precedent could upend matters in the South, right?" asked D. Koch.  "Resurrect the Voting Rights Act?"

"Don't get too far ahead of yourself," cautioned Breadman (who had already written up an alternative five-year action plan for Prince and Prowling's government practice, contemplating a seismic shift back to Democrat majorities).  "It's best to take these things a few months at a time."

"A few months?!" scoffed C. Koch.  "We have spent decades building up our influence in Washington!  We are at the peak of our power!  Why aren't we seeing more results!?"

"Well, sir, I think if you look at the regulatory level, your businesses are already benefiting tremendously from non-enforcement of the Clean Water Act, RCRA, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The U.S. has rejected the climate change treaty, which was one of your pet projects, and--"

"That's all fine and dandy, but we want the damned tax cut!" interrupted D. Koch.

"I think what would help with that," said Bridezilla (startling the Koch Brothers into turning around to see her sitting on the leather couch behind them), "would be for you to make a detailed statement about how you will reinvest that money you save into your community."

"How long has she been there?" demanded C. Koch, turning back to Breadman.

"She's been here the whole time," said Breadman, annoyed that, instead of wearing a red dress, Bridezilla had blended into his couch with black jeans and a black silk blouse.

"What is that thing?" asked D. Koch, pointing to her lap.

"This is Flower Girl and Maid of Honor," the junior partner replied, petting her miniature conjoined twin guinea pigs.  "I used to call them Thelma and Louise, but I'm at a happier place now."

D. Koch turned back with raised eyebrows to Breadman, who quickly said, "she has outstanding contacts on the Hill.  She was instrumental in getting passage of the Pentagon budget."

"For instance," continued Bridezilla, causing the Koch Brothers to crane their necks around again, "you could write an op-ed about how the government should get out of the arts funding business and let philanthropists like you fund the art your community actually wants."

"I'm not sure--" began C. Koch.

"But why stop there?  Explain how health insurance companies should not be forced to provide contraception, but billionaires like you, if your tax bill were lighter, could donate condoms in your community."

"Donate condoms?!" asked D. Koch.

"Sure!" exclaimed Bridezilla.  "Either that or more maternity wards.  You could also write an op-ed about how you love coal miners so much that you are going to give some of your tax refund to them, and you can do it more efficiently than the government could even if they were allowed to end coal subsidies and give renewable energy a level playing field in coal country."

"What she's trying to say--" interrupted Breadman, but he was quickly talked over by Bridezilla.

"You just have to explain the trickle-down so people get it.  It's billionaires with more money in their pockets that can really accomplish things:  everybody knows that!  By the way, are either of you single?  I have a steady boyfriend, but I think he might be a spy.  My ex was a spy, and I really don't want to go down that road again."

"What is going on here?!" demanded C. Koch.

"She was just about to tell you our strategy for persuading Senators Collins and Murkowsky to support the tax bill," said former Senator Evermore Breadman.

"It involves your private jet," said Bridezilla, "a few Russians I know, and videotape."

"Go on," said the Koch Brothers in unison, starting to feel hypnotized by the sight of Bridezilla's steady stroke along the spine shared by Flower Girl and Maid of Honor.

Breadman exhaled deeply and smiled at the inexplicable charm of Bridezilla...and another $300,000 of legal fees likely to pour in from the Koch Brothers in October.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department had a different agenda:  preventing nuclear war with North Korea while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson continued his death spiral.

"I am not the one who leaked the 'f-ing moron' comment!" insisted C. Coe Phant for the tenth time.

"It was either you or somebody you know!" retorted the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Carnage.  "I told you to get me a name, or it's your name I'm serving up on a platter!"

"You wouldn't dare!" hissed C. Coe Phant.  "I am doing the work of five different reassigned or laid-off employees, not to mention personally mixing your smoothies, picking up your dry cleaning, renting comfort dogs--"

"Shut up!  That has nothing to do with this!"

"If you fire me, who's going to keep bribing the North Korean Ambassador with Little Debbie cupcakes, Moose Munch, and pure cane alcohol?  Who's going to keep Tillerson from demolishing the entire Africa division and replacing it with a team dedicated to turning Puerto Rico into a foreign country?  Who's going to supply you with a new porn tape six days a week?"

"Who leaked the 'f-ing moron' comment?!" screamed the ADAfC.

"It was probably the Bloodsucker!" exclaimed C. Coe Phant.  "You want me to confirm that for you?" he added with a sneer.

The ADAfC turned pale at the mention of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and shook his head vigorously.  "No, no!  Would she do that?  Why would she do that?!"

"Why does anybody in this town do anything?!" wailed C. Coe Phant, who had been sleep-deprived for months.  "We're all gonna die!"

"How many do you think will die?" asked Joey Bent Oak, a few miles away in upper Georgetown.

His adoptive father, Coast Guard officer Marcos Vazquez, had finally returned from two weeks in his native Puerto Rico for the birth of his daughter.  He and his wife had named her "Isabela" for his decimated hometown, and "Justice" for everything else.  Marcos just shook his head and continued trying to assemble a rainbow and unicorn mobile while Golden Fawn slept under the close eye of her grandmother and Isabela Justice was walked around the block by his mother.

"Will abuela stay here forever now?  She can't go back to Puerto Rico ever, can she?"

Marcos shook his head again.  He was worried that Joey would get less attention from his adoptive abuela now that she had a flesh and blood granddaughter.  He was worried that the strain on his wife's body would bring the breast cancer back a third time.  He was worried that his daughter's dark skin and mixed heritage would make her life very hard in Trump's America.  He was worried that his island looked like a nuclear bomb had been dropped on it, but Republicans just wanted their precious tax cut for billionaire campaign donors.  He was worried that people like Bill O'Reilly thought 600 innocent people's getting shot by a lunatic machine-gunner was the price to be paid for "freedom".

"I think things will get better," said Joey.  "They can't get worse, right?"

Meanwhile, over at CIA headquarters, Director Mike Pompeo stumbled across the evidence related to the rogue undercover operation at the White House--which normally he would have gotten furious about except for the fact he was very distracted by a little voice inside his head telling him to take that Rolex and put it on.  Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac smiled.

COMING UP:    Let them eat cake!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Over the Edge

It had been a very long week for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor.  It seemed decades had passed since she was first appointed by President Barack Obama, she thought, as she swiped her fob and entered the office.  She needed to catch up on her work after so many emails, calls, and texts all week concerning relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Even now there were a few relatives in a remote rural village that nobody had made contact with.  The sinking feeling inside her was growing by the day:  the sense that she was no longer a Justice in the greatest democracy in the world but the last remnant of checks and balances standing before the country slid towards fascism.  It had taken every bit of self-restraint she possessed not to tear into Neil Gorsuch after he had returned Thursday from a wildly inappropriate conservative think tank luncheon at Trump International Hotel--the very hotel which was the subject of unprecedented Constitutional litigation under the Emoluments Clause!--to complain vehemently about the delayed start due to "those damned protesters at the hotel--they're constantly attacking everything that makes America great!"

"Wasn't the name of your talk 'Defending Freedom?'" Ruth Bader Ginsburg had asked.  "Those protesters are concerned about checks and balances--three branches of government.  You shouldn't have campaigned with McConnell in Kentucky or gone to Trump's Hotel."

"I didn't surrender MY freedoms when I came here!" Gorsuch had retorted.  "I still have free speech and freedom of association!  You are always speaking your mind about Trump!"

"I speak up when the independent judiciary and rule of law are attacked.  You are surrendering the independence of the judiciary!"

Only the arrival of Chief Justice John Roberts had cut short the argument.  Justice Sotamayor had left the room, feeling sick to her stomach.  Trump was pushing tax cuts for the wealthy all week--even arguing that it was vital for Puerto Rico!  Mi gente!  It was surreal.  And now the Supreme Court was set to hear important cases on immigration, gerrymandering, the Constitution--and she knew that Gorsuch would decide every case without bothering to engage in even a show of careful, reasoned analysis.  It could become a kangaroo court at best, a rubber stamp for the Trump Presidency at worst.  Would John Roberts rise above it?  Could he?

Meanwhile, triple agent Charles Wu's chartered plane was landing back in DC after delivering supplies to several remote villages that Angela de la Paz had seen in her visions about Puerto Rico.  He watched Liv Cigemeier close her eyes nervously just before the plane touched down, then exhale and open her eyes after the safe landing.  She smiled at him, grateful that he had heeded her plea to broaden his philanthropic efforts beyond International Development Machine funding and to a desperate U.S. Territory.  Wu smiled back at Liv, who still had no idea that his IDM funding had been motivated by more than philanthropy.  This trip was actually one of the most philanthropic things he had ever done with his money, and though not thrilled about it, it could hardly be avoided after he was accosted by Liv's pleas, Angela's visions, his English nanny's exhortations, and the questions his young daughter had posed a couple days earlier:  "Where is San Juan? Why are they dying?  Why is the President being mean to that mayor?"  His governess had denied deliberately allowing Delia to see Mrs. Prudence Higgety-Cheshire's Twitter feed, but the damage had been done.  Now Charles could return to his daughter and show her photos of children holding the toys and stuffed animals she had solemnly given him to take to Puerto Rico.  He didn't know what was more disconcerting:  the idea of his daughter's growing up or how much she had changed him.

And now Charles Wu had to turn back to the North Korean problem, on which he was being pressed for intelligence by all his contacts in Beijing, London, and Washington.  Apricot Lily and Camisole Silk had traveled between the two Koreas several times, and there was nothing that could be done:  subterfuge, espionage, assassination were all unworkable options.  Trump was apparently so emasculated by a year of criticism--the likes of which he had never witnessed in his whole narcissistic life--that he would launch nuclear weapons to avoid spending one hour of his life being diplomatic.

"Is she okay?" asked Liv, gesturing at Angela, who was still seated with her eyes closed after they had already gotten up from their seats.

"I'll stay with her--go ahead," he replied.  Liv hugged him--another new development that would once have seemed out of place in his life--and deplaned.  Charles motioned to the flight attendant not to be concerned, and sat down beside Angela while the crew bustled about.  "Where are you now?" he whispered, even though he really did not want to know.

Over at the White House, the never harmonious ghosts had become more argumentative than they had been in many years.  While modern Ghost Dennis and Ghost Henry continued to call for calm, others who had once been enslaved in the White House were livid at the rise of white supremacy, and Puerto Rico had pushed them over the edge.

"Black people who speak Spanish:  it's his worst nightmare!"

"I say we torch the place!"

"Andrew Jackson was a saint compared to this guy!"

But members of The Shackled were also present--

"Andrew Jackson committed genocide against the Cherokee."

"The truth is that he's weak:  another Obamacare repeal failed, investigative journalists forced out a kleptocrat Cabinet Secretary, Javanka shot themselves in their own feet again with emails, of all things!"

"I'll try talking to him again," added Ghost Dennis, but a chorus of boos quickly drowned him out.

"He thinks you're Nelson Rockefeller!  You've never convinced him to do anything!"

"You're doing more harm than good!"

"All this negative energy is doing him more harm than good!" pleaded The Shackled.  "You cannot become part of the problem!"

"How naive are you?!"

Just then all the ghosts noticed the twin pre-schoolers staring at them, Regina and Ferguson.  Still young at heart, they did not understand a lot of the politics, but their mama did not like the Trump family and, despite having disappointed her many times while still alive, they were very happy to stand up for the White House butler now that they were dead.  "Tiffany is trying to do homework!"  "Barron keeps turning up the TV to annoy her!"  "Then she complains to her dad!"  "Then he complains to Melania!"  "Then Melania goes to tell Barron to turn it down!"  "Then he turns it up again, and it all starts again--except he's not really turning it up!"  "It's us!"

The twins waited for applause and, getting none, ran out of the attic and back downstairs, where the gardener Bridge half-heartedly tried to corral them with a weak "Reggie! Fergie!"  But he was having a hard time these days maintaining his principles about spectral mayhem in the White House, sighed and let them go.

Out in Lafayette Park, conspiracy blogger Glenn Michael Beckmann was sitting nervously on a bench, carefully watching the sky above the White House to see if this would be the night the alien overlords would come for their puppet king.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac felt Charles Wu's car crossing the bridge, sensed his soul tipping, and did not like it....

Prince and Prowling clients want tax cuts!