Kitty Goes to Washington Page 45

“Really, just a couple of questions, we don't even have to stop walking.” I hopped to try to catch sight of Duke around his aide. “Senator? How about it?”

He looked straight ahead and didn't slow. “One question, if we can keep walking.”

“Of course. Thanks.” The aide glared at me, but shifted so I could walk next to Duke. “Why did you bring Elijah Smith here?”

“Because he understands my mission: to see these… diseases… eradicated. I'm sure you understand. And he's a man of the cloth, which brings a respect that these hearings are sorely in need of, wouldn't you agree?”

“A man of the cloth? Really? Of what denomination? Have you seen any kind of identification for him?”

He frowned. “I'm sure he's a good Christian preacher who teaches that faith saves.”

“He wasn't what you think. He wasn't helping anyone.”

“Was?” he said. He stopped and looked at me. “What do you mean, was?”

“He, uh, had to leave town suddenly.”

Glaring, I thought he might start a fight with me right there. His aide's eyes widened, like he was worried, too. “What have you done?”

I stood my ground. I wasn't going to let him cow me. I had authority, didn't I? Yeah, right.

“You believe, Senator. I know you believe: ghosts, devils, angels, good and evil, the whole nine yards. Elijah Smith was a demon, preying on the weak and helpless. I hope you'll believe me.”

His expression was cold, but his eyes held a light—a kind of fevered intensity. “If he was preying on anything, it was your kind. Vampires and werewolves—monsters. Hardly the weak and helpless.” He gave a short laugh.

“We're all just people at heart, Senator. I wish I could make you understand that.”

“That'll be for the committee to decide.” He gestured to his aide and stalked down the corridor. His aide scurried to keep up with him.

I met Ben outside the Senate office building. He seemed surprised to see me coming out the door instead of arriving via the sidewalk.

“You're up early,” he said, raising an inquiring brow.

“Um, yeah. By the way, we don't have to do anything about Smith. You don't have to look into it.”

He studied me closely. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” I said far too quickly. “Well, I mean, we did a spell.”

“A spell?”

“We just threw some herbs and stuff around. That's all.”

“It's not something you're going to end up in court over, is it?”

Not human court, at any rate. “No, I don't think so.”

He sighed. “Just for you, I think I'm going to raise my rates. To pay for the hair loss treatments.”

He was such a kidder.

We entered the meeting room and found our usual seats. Cormac hadn't shown up since Duke fired him, but Ben said he was still in town. Just in case, Ben said, but wouldn't say in case of what.

Today's session was late in starting. Time dragged. Reporters fidgeted, Senate aides hovered in the background, wringing their hands. The senators themselves shuffled papers and wouldn't raise their gazes. Testimony that should have taken just a few days had been dragged out to the end of the week. I quivered, waiting for something to break.

The audience was dwindling. Most of the reporters had drifted off to cover more interesting stories, and maybe a dozen general spectators remained. Even some of the senators on the committee hadn't bothered showing up. As expected, Roger Stockton was there, ready to stick it out to the very end. He looked like he'd been able to sleep. He invited himself into the seat next to mine. After last night he must have thought we were some kind of buddies.

Maybe we were.

He leaned close and immediately launched into questions. “So where are the aliens and what do they have to do with the vampires? Are vampires aliens?”

“Aliens?” Ben, overhearing, asked.

“A couple of really bad movies have covered that plot,” I said. “Where did you come up with it?”

“Last night, the Man In Black with the vampires, the one keeping people away like it was some kind of UFO cover-up. You seemed pretty tight with all them—what aren't you telling me?”

I tried to smile mysteriously, which was hard to do when I really wanted to laugh. “It's not really my place to give away secrets. Honestly, though. The 'Man In Black' was just a guy. There aren't any aliens.”

“That's what they all say,” he said, glaring. “'It was Venus,' my ass.”

Ben gave me a look that said, What the hell are you talking about? I gave him one back that said, Later.

Finally, the session started. I still hadn't been called. We listened to half an hour of testimony from Robert Carr, a B-grade filmmaker who'd been praised for the frightening werewolf shape-shifting effects in his movies—had he used real werewolves, by any chance? He claimed no, he had a talented CGI artist who used a morphing technique to shift images of people into images of wolves, and if his effects were more successful this was because he pictured actual wolves, instead of the unlikely broad-chested, fake-fur-covered mutant grotesques that most werewolf movies used.

I'd seen a couple of his films, and I was sure he was telling the truth and didn't use real werewolves. Though his effects were impressive and awfully realistic. He might have seen a real werewolf shape-shift. I'd have to tackle—er, approach—him after the hearings and get him to come on the show. We could talk about werewolves as metaphor in film.

I was a little put-out, though, that the committee decided to talk to the werewolf filmmaker before the actual werewolf. Okay, we were still in the entertainment industry portion of the testimony, and maybe some of the committee members didn't believe I was a werewolf. But I'd been on the schedule for three days now. Impatient didn't begin to describe it. I hadn't been able to eat more than half an English muffin for breakfast, I was so anxious.

“Thank you, Mr. Carr, that will be all.” Duke straightened the papers on the table infront of him with an air of finality. “I'm afraid that's all the time we have for testimony today. We'll recess for the weekend and resume on Monday to hear from those witnesses we haven't called yet. Thank you very much.”

Prev Next