August in DC was something heavy, as was early September. In fact, there was something, Bob Woodward decided, about DC this time of year that made failure weigh all the heavier on one's shoulders.
That was really quite poetic. If he wrote it down... well, he'd get bitched at for writing poetic crap when he had deadlines to meet and confirmations he still desperately needed. He looked at his list of names, sighed, and crossed another off as one more person hung up on him at the other end of the line.
"Rough day already, Bob?" someone asked. Bob looked up and couldn't help smiling a little.
"Hey, Kermit," Bob said, smiling at the frog who was sitting on the edge of his desk suddenly. Kermit, of course, didn't mind the weather – well, he remembered, Kermit was from a swamp originally; DC would be just like home for him.
"Hi-ho, Bob!" Kermit said pleasantly, smiling warmly. How the hell, Bob wondered, does a frog manage to emote so much? The guy should be in show biz, really. He was great with kids, too. "It sounds," Kermit went on, "like you're not doing so well on that Watergate story of yours."
Bob shook his head. "Yeah," he said, looking back down at the list and rubbing the bridge of his nose. "No one wants to talk to us. They're all scared, or they're angry, or they're pretending to be angry because they're scared... I don't know, the bottom line is that they're not talking."
Kermit made a sympathetic noise. "Well, cheer up, Bob, I'm sure you'll find something!" he said with a reassuring tone. From anyone else it would simply have sounded condescending, but Kermit... well, Kermit had a way about him. Maybe, Bob reflected, they should bring him along. No one could be afraid to talk to Kermit.
The frog held something out to him. They looked like chocolate-covered raisins, so Bob took one without a thought, smiling a quick thanks to Kermit and juggling it in his hand a little as he looking at the next name on the list.
"What's that you've got there, Bob?" Kermit asked curiously.
"Oh," Bob said, "staff list for the Committee to Re-Elect the President. We know some of the guys here were getting money, and we've got our suspicions about whom, but no one wants to confirm our suspicions; that's the problem." He popped the raisin in his mouth, bit down, and stopped.
"Uh, Kermit," Bob asked – it was a challenge, talking while trying not to taste what was in your mouth, a sort of sour, crunchy thing – "I think your raisins have gone bad."
"Raisins?" Kermit repeated mildly. "Oh, these aren't raisins."
Bob looked at Kermit.
"Well, they're flies, Bob," Kermit said, and beamed. "I am a frog."
"Uh-huh," Bob said, and reached for the paper cup full of water on his desk, swallowing the fly and gulping down the rest of the cup of water. "That's, uh, that's something."
"Oh, would you like another?" Kermit asked, offering Bob the box again.
Bob cleared his throat. He was saved by something he never thought he'd be glad to hear – another angry outburst from his partner. "Shit!" Carl said as he slammed the phone down. Kermit did a double-take, looking over at Bernstein a few desks down, then grimacing slightly at Bob.
"Oh, don't mind him, Kermit," Woodward said, with a dogged, weary smile. "That's just how he talks."
"I know," Kermit said, shaking his head. "We worked together on a story about the Representative from my old swamp. Boy," he said with a soft laugh, "you should've heard the things that came out of his mouth when we were dealing with the mosquitoes! My mouth is cleaner, and I eat flies and kiss a pig!"
There was an enraged shriek from the direction of another reporter's desk. An enraged shriek of "PIG?"
"Oh, dear," Kermit said, sinking down under Bob's desk, the box of flies staying on top of it, forgotten. "Uh, Bob, if you don't mind, I'm just going to hide out under here for awhile."
Bob grinned, and handed Kermit his notepad.
It wasn't long after that Miss Piggy game storming by. "Where is he?" she growled at Bob. Bob hadn't really been aware that pigs could growl. Boy, you learned all kinds of things working here. He wondered if the Science guys knew about that.
"Uh, I think he went over that way, Miss Piggy," Bob said, pointing off towards the elevator.
"Really?" Miss Piggy asked, fluttering her eyelashes and tossing her hair. Something, Bob thought, was off about this. "Then, Bobby, sweetie, what are THOSE?" One elegant cloven hoof pointed accusingly at the box of chocolate-covered flies on Bob's desk.
Shit, Bob thought.
He looked at the flies. "What, those? Oh, uh, those are Carl's," he said. He leaned in conspiratorially. "He's actually part frog, you know. On his mother's side. It's something he's kind of ashamed of. We'll keep it between the two of us, right?" He winked at Miss Piggy. He'd learned a thing or two from Carl about talking to people.
Miss Piggy looked first shocked, then intrigued, at this confidence. "Oh," she said thoughtfully, then cleared her throat and patted her hair again. "Well, all right, then. The elevators, you said, Bob?"
"That's right," Bob said, nodding and pointing again. "Just over that way. Looked like he was running pretty fast, too, you probably want to hurry if you're going to catch him."
"Oh, thank you, sweetie. Kissy kissy!" she said, and then turned towards the elevator. "You'd better run, frog!" she yelled, running off. "Oh," she said, stopping at Carl's desk and fluttering her eyelashes, "but not you, Carl darling. And coincidentally, Carl darling? Moi likes her men to be a little on the green side." She winked and kept running.
Carl glowered over at Bob.
Bob picked up his phone and notebook and sank down under his desk next to Kermit.
"Uh, do you have my flies?" Kermit asked.
Bob came back up long enough to get the flies, then sank back down next to Kermit again.
"Thanks," Kermit said, and went back to scribbling away at his notebook.
It was amazing, Bob reflected, as he looked back over the Committee's staff list, how fast she ran for a pig in heels.