“Can we dress that up a little? It looks like the Kill Room from Dexter.” Zoe Lofgren, Democratic Representative from California, surveyed the installation with her hand at her mouth.

Louise shook her head and tore off another strip of duct tape with her teeth. “Only so much you can do with plastic sheeting, ma’am,” she said. “Until the plexiglass order comes through, this is the best we can do.”

Ms. Lofgren acknowledged her with a shrug. “It lacks dignity, is all,” she muttered. “I hate to see it come to this.”

“Well. The dignity ship left the dock a long time ago, Ms. Lofgren. And this is only going to get worse now that he’s the head of the Judiciary Committee.”

“I suppose you’re right. Still, I don’t want to be here when he walks in and sees that.”

Louise snorted. “No one wants to be here when he walks in. But you just leave that to Miss Louise, hon.”

Plans for the aerosol containment of the Honorable Jim Jordan had been in the works for several years, ever since the notorious Brett Kavanaugh incident and its attendant sputum emergency. Louise, as the head of the custodial staff, thought she’d never hear the end of it. The disinfection crew was at it for days and no one was sure they got everything. “I will not clean up after that man again,” growled the chief decontaminator. “I will not.” And since the advent of the coronavirus, her entire workforce had demanded hazmat pay.

“Will all that have any muting effect?” Ms. Lofgren asked, hopefully.

“Sorry, ma’am. He’ll still have a microphone. A fresh one every day,” Louise went on. “We just pitch them straight into the incinerator now.”

“I just don’t see why it has to be this way. This is the United States Congress.”

“I’m afraid we’re stuck with it, ma’am. I googled it. This sort of behavior can become entrenched. The poor dear probably can’t help it. It’s a response to ‘unmet needs,’” Louise said, her fingers hooked into quotation marks. “And the unfettered venting of rage produces a physiological arousal.”

“Well, it’s clear something like that is involved, because mature adults do not scream at each other in public. Uh-oh,” Ms. Lofgren jerked her head toward the door and pivoted away.

“Morning, Mr. Jordan, sir,” Louise sang out, as The Honorable Jim Jordan strode in, stopped in his tracks, and stared at the plastic curtaining around his chair, his face twisting in fury. She rushed over to him before he got his first bellow out.

“We’ve talked about this, Your Honorable. I’m sure a grown man of your fortitude will have no trouble adjusting. See, we’ve put little American flags at the corners,” she said, placing a gentle hand on his back. “And if you have any suggestions for improvements, why, we’ll certainly take them into consideration. Now, if you want to step this way, we just need to open this flap in the back, and you’re in like Flynn.”

Mr. Jordan had numerous suggestions.

“Deep breaths, sir, deep breaths. Would you like some nice chamomile tea?”

“How’s she doing?” Two junior members of the custodial department were peering in from the far door.

“Don’t worry about Louise. She’s been dealing with this sort of thing for years. See how she’s never more than an arm’s-length away from that little stool? She’s quick. He might be a wrestler, but he can’t get to her.”

Shivers. “He reminds me of my ex-husband.”

“He reminds me of all of mine!”

“I’ve got to hand it to her. I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near the blast zone. We’re one launched loogey away from total contamination. Oh look, she’s got him really close to the flap.”

“There, there,” Louise was saying, “that’s a good Representative. Mask! Mask!” She made a tugging-up gesture at her own mask. “You know, this is all for your own good as well, sir. Your heart could blow up.”

“Like anyone would notice,” came a whisper from the doorway, cut short by a jab to the ribcage.

Louise had a preemptive hand on his forearm. “It’s true, sir. That vein popping in your temples? Apparently they were able to pick it up from space. Okay, then. Just a few more steps. Yes? Remember, it’s either this or the bark collar, sir.”

Jim Jordan stopped in his tracks, tightened up all over, and refused to budge. Louise patted him on the back.

“And there’s that other thing. According to recent studies, chronic, uncontrolled expression of anger over a period of time leads to hair thinning. It’s true, sir,” she went on, lightly passing her hand over his scalp. “Now. We’re going to go this direction, Princess. Do you want to walk, or do you want to skip?”

He walked.