The Taxman Cometh

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During those seven magical years we spent growing up on Flamingo, there was one week out of each year that wasn’t.

During last week of March, our dad disappeared into the master bedroom, and we didn’t see him again until the first of April. It was the only time we ever heard our parents raise their voices at each other. It was behind the closed bedroom door and, thankfully, had nothing to do with any of us kids. We never saw who our parents were mad at, but we heard his name many times. Our parents were yelling about someone called IRS.

None of us ever saw the fellow with the strange name, but as much as our parents complained about him, we knew he must’ve been a really bad guy. Perhaps IRS was even meaner than Down the Street Bully Brad when armed with a sack of dirt clods?

Unlike Bully Brad, IRS never bothered any of us kids, but when we asked who he was, our dad gave us a grave warning, “You don’t have to worry about him now, but when you get older, you will.” After talking to Dad over the next couple of years, I decided Mr. IRS seemed to be more like Bully Brad than I originally thought.

Just like Bully Brad, that IRS bully wanted to take your money. Bully Brad took my lunch money almost every week. I tried to hide it, but somehow, he always found it. If I didn’t just give it to him, we’d be in a fight — a fight I’d always lose.

One year, I overheard a loud exchange between Mom and Dad. She said, “We can’t hide money. IRS will always find it, and if we fight, we lose even more. No one ever wins when they fight IRS.”

When I heard this, I was gonna tell my parents to just let Bully Brad fight that IRS bully. But the closer I got to their bedroom door with my great solution, the louder their arguing over what to do became. That’s when I thought better of it, didn’t knock, and quietly walked away.

When I fought back against Bully Brad, I always lost. Pleading with him to stop being a bully, to just listen and be nice never worked. He found me every place I tried to hide. It took years and many beatings, but finally there was a way to defeat Bully Brad.

The biggest kid who ever lived on Flamingo finally put that bully in his place. It took Bubba Hanks. One sunny afternoon Bubba saw Bully Brad beating me up. Running over, he stepped between us and took a few punches before knocking Bully Brad down. As I looked down at the crumpled mass of bully cradling his stomach and gasping on the ground, it was the first time I saw fear in his eyes. He quickly scampered up and ran away.

Even though it didn’t work with Bully Brad, I thought about telling my parents to just plead with IRS. But during that week, through their closed door, I overheard Dad saying to Mom many times that pleading wouldn’t do any good. I walked away from their door without knocking.

Dad also argued that they couldn’t pay because they didn’t have any money. I knew that wouldn’t work either. Because I had tried that same tactic with Bully Brad, but it didn’t work, he always found my money. And I bet that IRS bully would find Mom and Dad’s money too. I was gonna tell my parents, but thought better of it walking away from their door without knocking once again.

Then Dad said they didn’t owe the money. I knew that this tactic wouldn’t work either. I’d tried telling Bully Brad I didn’t actually owe him any money either. He didn’t care. He always took my money whether I owed it to him or not. So I guessed that IRS bully would do the same. I again walked away from my parent’s door without knocking.

By the end of the week, I heard my dad finally yell, “I give up! We’ll find the money and pay.” And that’s when I finally knocked on their bedroom door. I finally had a solution that would work.

Mom was surprised when I marched right past her and stood at the foot of their bed. After all, we kids all knew we were never to disturb them when the bedroom door was closed. Standing in front of them both, I folded my arms across my chest and announced, “You don’t have to pay that IRS bully anymore.” This statement got their attention. They sat down on the end of the bed, exchanged doubtful looks, and then looked back at me.

I continued, “The IRS guy is a bully, right? And he wants to take your money? You don’t want to pay him any more? And he finds it no matter where you hide it?”

They leaned forward on the edge of the bed. Could it be? Had their 8-year-old somehow come up with a solution they hadn’t thought of? I raised both arms over my head and proudly said, “Have Bubba Hanks beat him up! That IRS bully will think twice before he bothers you again.”

That was the first and only year my parents laughed about having to pay that IRS bully. Here’s hoping if you have to pay this year, you can find something to make you laugh also. If not, perhaps you can find someone a big as Bubba Hanks to have a little friendly talk with that IRS bully.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]