[Today, Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.]

The crowd of roughly sixty was restless. Police officers stood ready to keep the peace. The podium at the top of the steps was empty, TV mics set up and camera men were split on either side. Today is one of the few purely beautiful days in DC – it’s sunny and warm, juvenile clouds in the sky and not a trace of humidity. By next week it’ll be 90 F and we’ll need machetes to cut through the air on the walk to work.

I’d heard about this speach from Betsy, and just had to see it for myself. “This is better than going to see Charlie Sheen,” I thought.

Within moments, the crowd began to howl. Hands were holding up cellphones and taking pictures as Marion Barry opened the door and took his place behind the podium. He walked slowly and with a cane, an aide tried to assist him but he brushed her off. “Forty years in the public spotlight will do that to a man,” I mumbled, “then again, so will cocaine.” Maybe it was the lighting from the TV cameras but he looked pale, unwell.

“Pay attention,” he blurted out, forgoing his usual pandering welcome, tapping his cane on the front of the podium. “In case you haven’t been paying attention lately, Mayor Diggs and I have been sparring and trading jabs with one another. Let me set the record straight: He’s wrong, I’m right. Any questions?” He let out a bellowing cough, directly into the mic.

“There have been protests in the streets, and that means he’s in the wrong! This ‘ministration is taking advantage of the people – keeping them locked up in that cage, for all the country and foreigners to see. Zombie or no Zombie, those are voting people, my people, and he has no right! If the Mayor is left unchallanged, un-stood up to, he’ll have this whole city fenced off before you know what hit you! Fencing off this city isn’t going to solve any problems.”

“Now I’ve heard that he and the Feds are stopping those kids from feeding the prisoners with Jell-O blood. Is that right?” He paused, panning the silent crowd.

“Dammit, I’m aksing you, is that right? Jell-O Brains?”

[someone yelled out, ‘yeah, that’s right!’]

“Well, we’re going to get some funds for these people! No constituent of mine is going to be forcefed Jell-O, that’s unhuman!” Just then the aide came back out and attempted to whisper in Barry’s ear. He tried to push her away again, but she persisted and he listened. You could see the gears moving as he mouthed the words, ‘human brains?’

He paused again, and appeared to be choosing his words carefully. He cleared his throat.

“It has come to my attention that these people need man-brains to survive. Now, I’m not sure where we are going to get these brains, I certainly don’t have any lying around. But I assure you that we will get them, and get them to the people where they belong! If the people need brains, let them eat brains!”

He raised his arms up in self-triumph, waiting for the crowd to respond. A few people began to clap, but most were just trying to catch this on their phones. Others seemed to be tweeting.

“I’d also like to announce that we are going to start the ‘Marion Barry re-Humanization Center’ and to get these zombies the help and resources they need to get back to being productive members of the community. We’ll get them their brains, we’ll get them training, we’ll get them back on the streets where they belong!”

“I’ve had enough of this,” he clammored, “Mayor Diggs: tear down these fences! Let my people go!”

He left the podium abruptly, and slowly walked off. TV anchors yelled questions after him:

Mr. Barry, how do you expect to pay for all this?

What about everyone else, won’t feeding the zombies just make them stronger?

How is your health?

Where will you get all these brains?

Aren’t the fences what’s actually saving the rest of us from becoming zombies?

He ignored all of them, waiving his hand at them as he retreated. I walked around the crowd as the police herded them away. Barry’s aides helped him down and into a wheelchair, hidden behind the bushes, I saw them place an oxygen mask around his face and wheel him back inside.

My blackberry buzzed – it was Betsy, I had prospective interns waiting to be interviewd back at the office. I’m not sure what I need interns for, but hey, it’s May and this is D.C., right?

Just another day in Capitol Z…

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