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Ima Notherhoare slipped into her Manolo Blahniks, looked in the mirror and smiled.  Admiring herself in the mirror was the closest she got to self-reflection.  Self-reflection was an occupational hazard in her line of work.  That way led madness...

Heading out the door, she scooped up the newspaper and glanced at the headlines.  Bush Administration Accused of Ignoring Corruption in Iraq' read one.  Turkey bombs Northern Iraq read another.   She rolled her eyes and wondered, "When are they going to start printing the good news from Iraq?"  The truth was Ima Notherhoare found facts boring.  The policy wonks who lived on them bored her even more.  She preferred the company of men who created their own reality.  Besides, who cared about the past?  Winners focused on the future.  

Glancing down, her eyes stopped at a story below the fold with the headline: Blair Revealed Loss of Baby to Avert Iraq Panic. "That was a brilliant piece of work, if I say so myself," she mused.  "Too bad they don't give awards for that sort of work."  Basking in the warm glow of past victories, she grinned and dropped the paper in her Hermès Birkin.  

She loved that bag. Men could flash their Pateks and Rolexes, but this was a status symbol -- compliments of Scooter Libby himself.  He had given it to her on the first anniversary of the invasion, as a token of his appreciation for everything she had done for him that year.  It was beautiful. It was also a $14,000 inside joke.  It was a perfect example of his sarcastic and dark sense of humor.  After all, this was the bag Martha Stewart made famous... and look what happened to her.

Stepping to the curb, Ima flagged down a cab and slid inside.  The cabbie looked at her and knew he had seen her somewhere before. As she closed the door, he asked, "How are you doing today ma'am?"  Ima didn't waste time with pleasantries.  "607 14th Street, Northwest," she said.   "The Federal Relations Labor Authority?" He asked.  He enjoyed showing off his encyclopedic knowledge of Washington. "No. Hill & Knowlton," she replied icily.  

Realizing he had gotten off on the wrong foot, the cabbie tried flattery.  He tried one of his sure fire lines.  "Didn't I see you on TV last night?"   He always asked that question because even if he was wrong, folks liked to think they were being confused for someone famous.  "It's possible," she said, actually smiling.   She  realized this was the very demographic they wanted to reach with her FOX News appearances.  The cabbie smiled too.  He knew celebs enjoyed being recognized by cabbies; it helped them pretend they were connected to "average joes" like him.  More importantly, it usually brought a bigger tip.

He winked and said, "Anne Coulter, right?"  If looks could kill, he would have died right there.  "Not Coulter" she snapped, "Ima Notherhoare."  She said it in a tone that made it clear she blamed him for not knowing her name.  He knew better than to reply, but couldn't help thinking to himself, "you'd think the high priced ones would at least be polite."

He could feel her eyes boring holes in the back of his head as he turned on the meter.  The meter reminded her of a dream from the previous night.  In her dream, she was riding a cab from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone.  She knew no one actually took cabs from the airport in Baghdad, but the weirdest part of the dream had been the cab’s meter.  Instead of numbers, it had letters.  She remembered looking at the letters I - R - A - Q   and watching the last letter slowly change from a Q to an N.  

IRAQ.... IRAN...?  A light bulb went off.  She pulled out her cell phone and hit speed dial.

"Hill & Knowlton, Public Affairs, Ivanna Notherwar speaking" answered the cool female voice.

"Ivanna, it's me," Ima said excitedly, "I want you to pull every one of our press releases, talking points, white papers, and backgrounders for Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism."

Ivanna gasped, "All of them?"  She was so startled she didn't even remind Ima the Global War on Terrorism had been rebranded as "The Long War." Ima didn't give her a chance to catch her breath. "Yes. All of them," she instructed.

"Okay..." Ivanna answered tentatively, "What am I supposed to do with them?"

"Relax, I just want you to do a few strategic edits," Ima reassured her. "Replace every mention of 'Iraq' with 'Iran', that's all," Ima said calmly.

Ivanna couldn't help but ask, "What about all the Saddam references?"

"Replace them with whatshisname...Imgonnaneedajob... you know, the Iranian nut job," Ima replied.  "I want them on my desk when I arrive."  

"Yes Ma'am!" Ivanna replied with enthusiasm once she realized she had dodged a bullet.  

"Mission Accomplished," Ima laughed as she bent over and dropped the phone back in her bag.  So many billable hours, so little actual work. "This is why they pay me the big bucks," she cackled to herself.  

Something about her laughter sent a chill up the cabbie's spine.  He glanced up at the rearview mirror.  What he saw made his blood freeze.  There was no reflection in the mirror!  

Horrified, he couldn't help but turn around to look at the back seat.  When he saw she was just leaning over, he breathed a sigh of relief.  "I gotta cut back on those vampire movies," he thought.  He was so shook up he over reacted when the bicycle courier zipped in front of him.  He slammed on the brakes so hard his passenger was thrown forward into the partition with a resounding thud.

"What the hell are you doing?" she barked. "If you are not careful, you're going to kill somebody!"  She shook her head in dismay as she settled back in her seat.  Ima Notherhoare never ceased to be amazed at how careless people could be, especially when other people's lives were on the line.

Originally posted to 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue May 13, 2008 at 06:49 AM PDT.

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