Kitty Goes to Washington Page 53

He said, “Ms. Norville. As a werewolf, have you ever killed anyone?”

He'd done his research, I was sure. He had to know the answer to that.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth. “Yes, sir. I have.”

The murmur of the audience sounded like the distant crash of waves. I heard pens scratching on paper. How nice, that some people still used pen and paper.

“Care to explain?” Duke drawled.

“The Denver police have a report of the incident. The situation was self-defense. He—the man I killed—was also a werewolf, and he had murdered several women. When he attacked me, I defended myself the best way I could.” It may not have been the whole truth…

“Did you enjoy it? Killing him?”

“I hope I never have to do anything like that again.”

“What about your other half? That demon inside of you? How did it feel?”

He was determined to turn this into a good ol' witch hunt, wasn't he? “There is no demon, sir. Just me.”

“That's what you'd like us to think, with your fancy suit and lipstick—”

“Senator, I'm not wearing lipstick.”

“—and the Good Book says, 'When he speaketh fair, believe him not for there is abomination in his heart'!”

“Does this mean we're moving away from the 'scientific discourse' part of the testimony?”

“Senator!” That was Henderson. Duke shut up, finally. I sighed. Henderson continued. “May we please return to the subject at hand? You're in danger of harassing the witness.”

“Well past, I'd think,” Ben muttered behind me.

Duke glared at Henderson, and I caught a glimpse of a long-standing rivalry, acrimonious and far beyond compromise.

“Senator Duke, do you have any further questions?”

Duke meaninglessly shuffled the papers before him. “I do. Ms. Norville, you host a weekly radio show called The Midnight Hour, is this correct?”

Yay, an easy one. “Yes.”

“What is the purpose of this show?”

“Entertainment, primarily. Also education. On good days.”

“Not conversion?”

I could hear Ben fidgeting, straightening, crossing and uncrossing his arms. He whispered, “Objection…” This wasn't a courtroom. He couldn't stand up and yell it.

“I'm not sure I understand you. Conversion to what?”

“You don't use your show to recruit?”

My jaw opened and it took me a second to close it and formulate a coherent sentence. “On the contrary, sir. I want to shatter any romantic illusions about these conditions that people might have picked up from late-night movies. I mean, just listen to the show.”

“Ms. Norville, how many werewolves do you think are living in the United States today?”

“I have no idea.”

“None at all?”

“No. There isn't exactly a space for it on the census form.”

“Maybe we'll change that. If you had to make a guess, what would you say?”

I took at least a couple calls every week from people claiming to be werewolves or some other variety of lycanthrope. Sometimes more, if the topic was werewolf-specific. I didn't believe all the claims. Assuming I was only getting a small percentage of the total—

“Really, sir, I hesitate to even make a guess,” I said. I wasn't going to stick my neck out on a question like that.

“What about vampires?”

“Look at the numbers for any rare disease. They're probably comparable.”

He made a show of holding one of his pages up, staring at it down his nose like he was trying to focus on something, like maybe he'd found the one question he'd almost forgotten to ask. He made a long buildup, which meant it was going to be the bombshell. Even worse than are you recruiting!

“On your show, you've met a lot of your kind, haven't you? You've said that most of you have packs, that you tend to congregate. So, let's say there's another werewolf in this room. You could tell us who it is?”

“I suppose.”

“If, in the name of security, I needed you to tell me how to find other werewolves, could you do that?”

Um, I didn't like where this was going.

“How many werewolves do you personally know?”

I glared. “I couldn't say.”

“Could you give us names? In the interests of security.”

“Right now?”

He shrugged nonchalantly. “In the future, maybe.”

I leaned toward the mike. “I think the next thing you're supposed to say is 'I have here a list of known werewolves working inside the U.S. government.' Isn't it?”

He frowned. “I was rather hoping you could help me make up that list.”

“Oh, no. No way. You guys—I mean you, the Senate as an institution—you've been down this road before. I won't have anything to do with it.”

“Ms. Norville, are you refusing to answer my question?”

“I don't think it's a reasonable question. It's an invasion of privacy, it's—”

“I could hold you in contempt of Congress.”

The world had suddenly shifted to an old black and white newsreel. This sort of thing wasn't supposed to happen anymore.

Ben leaned forward to say in a low voice, “The phrase you want is 'Fifth Amendment.'”

Duke pointed at him. “Who are you? Are you influencing the witness?”

Ben stood. “I'm Benjamin O'Farrell, Your Honor. The witness's attorney. Under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution my client refuses to answer your question on the grounds that it may be self-incriminating.”

There. That showed him. I sat a little straighter.

“That's nonsense! It's not an unreasonable question! I can hold you in contempt, I can throw you in jail if I want. The moral and spiritual sanctity of this nation is at stake, and right here in the nation's capital we have the spawn of Satan himself lobbying for equal consideration! The Constitution does not apply to you!”

Everyone started talking at once. Well, not everyone. But it seemed like it. I was stunned, glaring bullets at Duke, and I managed to sputter something about showing him my birth certificate proving I was a natural-born citizen and the Constitution in fact did apply to me. Ben was on his feet, talking about suing in federal court for civil rights violations. Dreschler seemed to be in a mild panic, speaking with one of the committee staffers behind her. Henderson was yelling at Duke; Duke was still shouting quasi-religious bigoted inanities at me.

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