Of Treason and Constructive Receipt
A Short Story by Neal D. King
was to meet his contact out at the new suburban mall off of Maryland State
Highway 47. Like most big construction projects built now days, the mall
had been partially financed with county sales and property tax abatements.
Of course, the big city folk mall operators had promised high-paying
white-collar jobs. As usual, this turned out to be an empty pipe
dream to the local residents. Instead, the local folk had, in actuality,
given up their beautiful view of the Appalachian Piedmont for low paying
service jobs as well as added clutter and suburban sprawl that seemed to be
expanding on all sides of the nation’s capital.
It was Saturday, and although it was only early Spring, 1997, Al was dressed in his typical summer wear; tight Bermuda shorts, dark knit socks, one stretched up half way his calf and the other lying loose around his ankle. His ankle hadn’t seen the light of day since Nixon had left office in disgrace. His formerly fashionable dingy Izod brand golf shirt had been yellowed by the years of smoke that rose from the generic brand cigarettes he often smoked. He had just dropped off his wife of 15 years at the beauty parlor. She was due for a coloring and a wax job. The last couple of years had taken its toll on her overall appearance and her facial features had not weathered the strain well. In fact, one of the few luxuries Al had let Lydia have was to spend some of his ill-gotten gains on a couple of lift jobs here and there in an effort to try and rejuvenate her once fashion model like frame.
the habitual, “I love you honey,” as she stepped out of the car, he
watched her waddle her way to the door of the Capital City House of Glamour.
Shaking his head, he pulled out of the gravel parking lot with his foot
on the accelerator, spewing gravel behind him as he entered the highway.
He hoped the motorcycle rider nearby was wearing his helmet.
Helmets were still the law in this part of the country.
He was anxious to get on the road and reach his destination.
As he merged onto the beltway, he looked in his rear view mirror and
saw the pinnacle of the Washington Monument.
He crossed over the Potomac River into Maryland as his mind began to
drift and reflect on the events that had lead up to this point in his life.
He lit up his first cigarette of the day and exhaled deeply. The foul weather prevented him from putting a crack in the
window to let the smoke escape. He
didn’t mind though; the smoke quickly rose and filled the interior of the
car like a thick fog and allowed him to hide from the thoughts that ran
through his head. He knew some of
the things he had done were, at least, unethical, but he began to rationalize
and justify his actions. “Heck,
this is stuff the Company would have gotten from another snitch anyway.
I’ll use the money that the Company has set aside for me to do good
deeds.” Deep down, however, he
knew that during the more recent meetings with the Company his complicity had
become more sinister. Unethical
was no longer the issue. Treason
was a much more serious offense. At
his current level of involvement, Al was having trouble sleeping at night and
he couldn’t concentrate on anything.
Recently, bags had developed underneath his eyes and it appeared that
he was always slouching. As he
pulled into the newly painted asphalt parking lot of the mall, he said
silently that he hoped this would be his last contact with the Company.
pulled off his cheap sunglasses, locked the door to the still smoke filled
vintage Volvo and trotted toward the side entrance of the mall.
The first warm front of spring had come through that morning and the
sun had not yet broken through the low level misting clouds that were common
this time of year on the Piedmont.
He didn’t have an umbrella. In
the corner of his eye he spied a well-dressed man in a government issue trench
coat. He avoided eye contact, but wondered if he were being watched
or if that was possibly his Company contact.
In all the years as an operative, he had never met the same contact
Once in the mall, he first tried to dry himself off and then quickly walked into the nearest department store he could find. He really just wanted to ditch the guy in the trench coat and remain as inconspicuous as possible. “Am I just being neurotic?” he said to himself as he looked back and ducked between two aisles in the housewares section of the store. Recently, he had the uncomfortable feeling of constantly being watched.
was customary with Company drops, he needed a shopping bag to facilitate the
document exchange. He decided to
make a purchase of something that the clerk would put in a bag that was large
enough to disguise the documents he intended to drop.
Like most men wondering around aimlessly in a department store, he soon
found himself face to face with a skimpy purple brassiere and panty set
displayed in the center of the lingerie department.
Though it is common for men to claim that they don’t enjoy shopping
in a lingerie department, when they are alone, that’s usually the first
place they go. Just to hang out
and talk trash. By the time he
realized where he was, a young clerk in a revealing black teddy outfit was
approaching him. Although,
his face had turned the same color as the bra and panty set, he maintained his
composure and asked the clerk if the outfit she was wearing also came in his
wife’s favorite size and color – 21, red DD.
The clerk apologized but said that the store didn’t carry a size 21
DD in anything. Disgusted
and embarrassed, Al moved on quickly knowing that he wouldn’t be able to
find anything to highlight his wife’s latest lift job.
After another hour of floundering around, he finally found a couple of
clip-on ties that were on the discount rack and took them to the counter.
Having made his purchases, he worked his way back to his car in order to pick up the classified documents. While approaching the car, he saw mall security peel off in the opposite direction. “Had they been looking at my car?” he questioned. Now that the sun had broken through the clouds, steam was rising from the asphalt as it warmed and the tension of the situation began to reveal itself in the form of small beads of sweat rising up on his forehead. When he got to the car, Al looked around, opened the trunk, and placed the classified documents in the shopping bag. As he walked back toward the mall, he took a deep breath in an attempt to regain his composure.
had always been a sucker for a tall skinny double almond (no foam) latte and
stopped at the coffee counter to place his order.
“Better stick with decaf today,” he said to the coffee clerk.
He sat down at an empty table on the side of the coffee counter and
began to read the Capital City Advocate; a local rag, known for its liberal
slant, but with a decent business section.
The headlines of the business page boasted of favorable economic
conditions throughout the capital area. A
feature article on the front page discussed tax tips for the fast approaching
tax filing deadline. This
reminded him that he would need to complete the filing of their return. The only other article in the business pages that caught his
attention was an article that discussed the rapid increase in wealth
experienced by a large portion of the middle-aged citizenry of the capital
city. The article included
interviews and listed the names of many influential and upwardly mobile middle
aged individuals. Al read the
article with scorn. In a city
where government is the largest employer, not a single government employee had
made the list or had even been interviewed for the article.
“What happened to being respected for providing loyal government
service?” Al thought. At age
48, with a pot belly, bony white legs, and balding, Al knew that he would
never be a member of the attractive neuvo riche.
Reminiscing, he lit up a smoke to chase his latte, and remembered how
he had gotten into government work. Upon
graduation from the local community college in general studies, he was turned
down by just about every private employer in the area.
One visiting professor from Texas who was working at the college, had
even refused to give Al a reference, stating that he lacked ambition and
wouldn’t amount to anything - your typical bad seed.
He applied for a job in the city’s public works department, thinking
a newly elected mayor would bring in reform.
He was almost hired, but was quietly scratched from the list of
applicants when he used the word “niggardly” at his interview in
describing the way a public works department should monitor its budget.
he was hired as a computer programmer trainee in the Central Intelligence
Agency’s non-classified division. “Good
benefits,” he could always remember his mother saying.
He looked down and realized his cigarette had burned all the way to the
filter without taking even a single puff.
As he looked up, he noticed his drop man approaching. Like he had been instructed, they acted as long lost friends
and exchanged the code word to verify each man’s allegiance.
The drop man, Leblanc, looked about like Al, not very polished and with
a missing left pinkie. Leblanc was a man from the bayous of South Louisiana.
Although Al had never met Leblanc, he had a reputation as being a
problem solver who erased operatives that caused trouble by taking them deep
into the Delta where they were used as alligator bait.
Usually, they were never heard from again.
Leblanc sat down across from Al. Though
Al didn’t usually discuss the hierarchy of their clandestine Company with
other operatives, he decided to take a chance on Leblanc because he really
needed to get a message to his employer.
“What kind of a message?” Leblanc replied skeptically.
With that, Al told Leblanc that he was calling it quits, but was
willing to make one more big score for the Company.
Al had recently been paid a large amount of cash the Company had set
aside for him for drops he had made dating back to 1987, but the Company still
owed him thousands related to more recent drops.
Al also asked Leblanc to tell the Company to forward his remaining set
aside payments as soon as possible. Leblanc
was familiar with the set aside arrangement, as he too had been told from his
early days that the Company was setting aside a sizable nest egg for him.
scratched his head and attempted to persuade Al to re-think his position.
“Al, you have the perfect cover.
You are living comfortably, the Company’s got a sizable nest egg set
aside for you, and you’ve got access to all the beautiful women that you
could ever imagine!” Al’s
brow wrinkled as he contemplated this statement.
“You must have me mixed up with some other dim wit operative. I think my cover’s blown, I’m buying ties off the
discount rack, I’ve only recently obtained a portion of the nest egg the
Company hangs out over our head like a carrot, and the only person I’ve
slept with in the last 15 years is at the beauty parlor having her chest
late afternoon, they had each consumed a couple of lattes and smoked a pack of
cigarettes. Leblanc nonchalantly grabbed the shopping bag Al had placed
under the table and moved it closer to his own feet.
Before Leblanc got up to leave, he grabbed the shopping bag and said to
Al that the Company had put a side another $25,000 for this information.
He also assured Al that he would relay his message to Company
thought briefly about all the other Company drops he had successfully
accomplished since 1987. He knew
that the money the Company had set aside for him for providing intelligence
was substantial. He had no
idea how the Company would react to his request to get out of the Company.
Other than this meeting with Leblanc, he didn’t know whom else he
could talk to about it. The
Company most likely wanted it that way. The
only other person Al had ever known personally who was part of the Company was
now confined to an asylum in Jackson, Louisiana.
He winced as he thought of his old friend and wondered if Leblanc had
anything to do with it. He then
lit a cigarette and worked his way toward the door.
picked up his wife from the beauty parlor right on time.
Her new hair do looked hideous, but at least it wasn’t blue anymore.
He didn’t even ask if the hair on Lydia’s chest had been removed
chest hair had really made Al question his manliness.
It had come in rather sudden like and in some places around her
nipples, was darker and thicker than his own chest hair. Since Lydia didn’t have plans for dinner (she rarely did),
Al decided to splurge and bought a couple of frozen pizzas from the A&P.
On the way home, Al reminded Lydia that he needed to complete the tax
returns tonight and was sure that he would be up late. Lydia, catching the
hint, pouted, curled her lower lip, and realized the new hair do alone
wasn’t going to do it for Al. She asked Al, “Do you still love me?” Al said, “Yes
darling, I just can’t stand to look at you.”
the time Al got to the dinner table, Lydia had polished off the pizzas and was
working on dessert. Al shrugged
his shoulders, held his breath, and kissed Lydia on the cheek.
He then went to his office upstairs to work on the tax returns.
As he sat down, he fumbled through the tax return preparation booklet
he had received in the mail as well as the various tax return reporting
documents. He wondered why, in
this day and age, the IRS still sent millions of the booklets out when the
information was readily available over the Internet for free.
“Such a waste,” he thought. As
he read through the instructions, he also read the time required to prepare
each form as estimated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Based on the IRS’ estimate, the time required to complete the return,
for an imbecile such as himself, would take him through the night.
He sighed with relief knowing that he was off the hook with Lydia for
tonight. He tried not to think
about what excuse he would use tomorrow night.
3:30 a.m. he had just about completed the tax returns.
He re-lit a cigarette butt he had extinguished hours earlier and went
through a checklist of items to consider when preparing one’s tax return.
The checklist had been given to him by that same old Texas professor
from his college days. He had
taken a personal financial planning class and the checklist had been handed
out, really as an after thought. In
spite of the professor’s unwillingness to give Al a recommendation, Al
admired the old coot with his Texas drawl for his tax knowledge. Thinking back
on those days, Al suddenly realized why he really despised the professor.
Right after the professor had decided not to give Al a recommendation,
the professor’s house had mysteriously burned to the ground.
Though Al was ultimately cleared of any wrong doing in the case, he
knew that the professor had turned his name in to the police as a suspect.
Al went through the items on the checklist, he checked off the items that
didn’t apply or the items he had previously considered.
When he got down to the item that listed compensation, he considered
his W-2 from the CIA and Lydia’s W-2
from the chocolate factory where she worked as the head taste tester.
Lydia’s compensation was based on the number of batches of chocolate
she tasted each day. She excelled
in her work and often was paid more than Al.
The next item on the checklist referred to other sources of income for
which no reporting document had been issued.
He wondered, “Hmmm, what about the money set aside for me by the
Company?” Although he hadn’t
considered it before, he suddenly wondered if the money that the Company had
set aside for him should be considered compensation in the current year.
The money had, in fact, been set aside for him by the Company, but he
had not transferred it to any of his personal bank accounts.
“You know, the Company has shown me statements in my name in the
mother country,” he thought. “Yea,
but, it’s not like I can get my hands on it right away without jumping
through a lot of hurdles.” For
example, after requesting the money, the Company would make arrangements to
smuggle the funds into the United States.
Then, a drop location would be chosen and arrangements made for
delivery and Al’s pick up. This
took time. In regards to the funds he did receive outright for other
special Company work, he just thought that if he were ever questioned, he
would claim that he had inherited some money from a distinct rich uncle.
He then quickly jotted down the amount of the funds that had been set
aside for him since 1987. Based on his recollection, the funds set aside for him were
He then realized that it was a sizable sum. Further, in January 1997 $200,000 of the previously set aside
amounts had finally been delivered to him in a plastic bag after weeks of
planning. Al had begun depositing
small amounts in various banking accounts he held and was trying to use cash
to make most purchases.
to bury these thoughts and get back to the task at hand, he decided not to
declare the cash he received from the company nor the funds that had been set
aside for him by the Company.
He quit reading the checklist, afraid he would find other potential tax
problems, cursed his old professor for developing such a thorough check list,
signed the returns and headed downstairs.
he worked his way to the bedroom in the dark, he could not help but think of
how his problems had just been compounded.
“It’s all the fault of that damn old professor!”
He thought. “Heck, I
thought I had only committed treason, people get off the hook for that all the
time – thinking about the democratic party and the scandal recently
discovered regarding the leak of nuclear legacy codes to China – but now,
because of the checklist, it looks like I’m going to have the IRS after me,
too.” To make
matters worse, as he pulled down the covers on his side of the bloated
waterbed, he realized that Lydia had waited up for him with a giddy look in
woke up on Sunday and searched for his tee shirt and his Mickey Mouse briefs
that Lydia had given him many years before.
They were tight fitting, to the point of cutting Al’s circulation,
but they had always been Lydia’s favorites.
Maybe that’s what had gotten her all worked up last night?
He made a mental note to throw those briefs away as soon as possible. He didn’t remember too much of what happened after he
got in to bed the night before and he thought it best not to think about it
too long. He did smile,
however, when he realized that her wax job had helped.
He wondered if the hair would grow back, and if so, would it be like
the razor stubble on a man’s chin. “That could really cause trouble in the
future,” he thought as he tried to suppress this picture from his mind.
and Lydia were both off on Sunday. Al
explained to her the dilemma he faced regarding the constructive receipt of
the nest egg the Company had set aside for him.
Lydia, really not grasping the seriousness of the situation, said,
“We will just say your distinct uncle was really, really, rich.”
She then signed the return and headed off to the kitchen to polish off
a dozen chocolate-creamed filled doughnuts she had brought home from the
chocolate factory on Friday.
the following week, Al did not perform any activities for the Company.
He went about his business working for the CIA.
A sense of relief had already begun to filter through his body.
Although he knew he wasn’t out of the Company’s control, he knew he
had taken the first step in making a clean get away.
As he drove to work at CIA headquarters, he remembered the new seat
belt law recently enacted by the Maryland legislature.
He buckled up, because it was now the law.
He then began to think about what he was going to do with all the money
that had been set a side for him. Without
question, he knew Lydia needed to quit work and have a tummy tuck and butt
lift. He really thought about
sending her off on an extended stay at one of the exclusive fat farms. “By the time she gets back from the fat farm,
hopefully I will have developed a plan to wash the money and will have found a
mistress.” Maybe, as a cover,
they could open a small bakery in Virginia.
“No way!” he thought, “I need to keep Lydia away from anything
at work on the following Thursday, Al received a phone call from an operative
stating that the Company had been notified by Leblanc of his desire to quit
the Company. Al had never spoken
to a Company representative at work before, and was taken aback when the code
word, “Rosebud,” was repeated over the telephone.
“Rosebud,” Al responded and immediately rose to close the door to
his office. Al had chosen
“Rosebud” as the code word years earlier after watching the Orson Wells
classic, Citizen Kane. The
conversation lasted a mere two minutes, but in that time, the Company demanded
one more set of classified records. Unlike
the previously stolen documents Al had provided to the Company, the Company
was now asking for the type of records that he did not have easy access to. Specifically, the Company was demanding a complete list of
CIA agents located throughout Eastern Europe.
He knew this would be a prize document to the Company, but his
clearance level would not give him direct access to such a list.
thought of under taking this sort of mission caused a chill to run down Al’s
spine. He needed a cigarette.
He immediately closed the computer program he was running and walked
toward the front door of the CIA’s complex.
With the new strict government regulations regarding second hand smoke,
this was the only remaining place on the property where employees were allowed
to smoke. He hating smoking
there. Passers by would look at
the smokers as if they were misfit animals in a tiny cage at the local zoo.
Still, after this phone call, he needed a cigarette now.
Before he had even gotten to the door, he had removed the cigarette
from the package, packed it in his hand, and was licking the menthol and
nicotine right from the filter tip. He
held the cigarette between his shaking lips and bummed a light from Susan,
another chain smoker who worked in the accounting department.
Susan, a brunette, straight-talking, southern girl, had recently taken
a position with the Agency’s headquarters after accepting a transfer from
the Baton Rouge, Louisiana field office.
In case you didn’t know, Baton Rouge is a hot bed for international
espionage. Rumor was, she was a
real stickler for rules and had already run off about five deadhead civil
service employees in the three weeks she had been there.
Before he could even get the light close to his mouth, the cigarette
slipped from his still shaking lips onto the dirty wet concrete below his
scuffed up black loafers. He
mumbled a few choice obscenities beneath his breath, looked down at the
cigarette, and contemplated whether or not he should pick it up.
He noticed Susan was watching him closely and decided not to reach down
for it. Susan offered him one of
her cigarettes. It was one of
those skinny long brown cigarettes mostly smoked by female professional types.
Still, Al jumped at Susan’s offer.
Susan, noticing Al’s uneasiness, inserted the cigarette between her
soft looking narrow lips and lit it using the hot burning tip of her own
cigarette. She handed the lit
cigarette to him, filter first, and flashed him a friendly glance.
taking his first drag of the funny looking cigarette, he settled down
slightly. He wondered what
Susan’s motive for offering him a cigarette was.
He really didn’t know her. Was
she a plant for the Company, a nark for the CIA’s internal affairs division,
or was she, as he hoped, just being flirtatious?
While he contemplated this, he stood almost motionless, like the stone
monuments placed strategically throughout the courtyard that had been carved
to resemble the fallen heroes of the CIA, and smoked the rest of his cigarette
in absolute silence. When he had
finished, without saying goodbye or thanking her, he turned around, returned
to his office, and packed up his personal effects for the day.
Al’s career at the CIA, he had moved up methodically from the un-classified
computer-programming department to the more sensitive computer programming
area. Still, his clearance
level prevented him from seeing anything that was classified as “Top
Secret”. Prior to being
hooked up with the Company, Al’s performance evaluations had been mediocre.
He mostly blamed his supervisor for showing favoritism toward certain
female employees. Still in all,
until the day he was approached by the Company, he would not have believed
that he would perform anything treasonous against his country.
However, the Company had flashed a lot of money in front of him and had
tricked him into joining forces. From that moment on, he had been in the
employ of the Company. Sometimes
he thought of it as indentured servitude, but he always thought that he had
the ability to quit. Today
though, he had really found out that regaining his freedom and his remaining
nest egg had a price.
the subsequent weeks, Al planned how he would obtain the classified documents.
At night, he would sit up in his office and rack his brain on how he
would get the information. He
knew all the information was located in a single file of the top secret drive
of the computer network he maintained. While
he had access to the same network, he did not possess the password to access
that particular drive that housed the list of European agents.
Dwelling on the problem, and desperate to find a solution, he didn’t
eat for days at a time. Instead he drank coffee that he made from a little
coffeepot he kept in his home office and smoked more cigarettes. Although Lydia could see the stress on his face, it never
caused her to miss a meal. In
fact, Lydia reacted to stress in ways that were totally opposite of the way in
which Al dealt with stress. The
more nervous about the plan Al became, the more Lydia’s appetite for food
and sexual gratification expanded. Al
really needed to end this thing quickly.
He couldn’t get any peace!
receiving two more phone calls from the Company in which his contact became
more and more frustrated from his lack of progress, he decided on a course of
action. He would enter the
classified drive through a network back door he had created years ago using a
phony computer network I.D. To provide an alibi, he rented a room using the alias John
Kane in a decaying neighborhood on the west side of Fairfax, Virginia.
In a rented room he set up a computer, modem, and sophisticated
encryption equipment. He
programmed the computer to call in to the network during normal business hours
while he would be located on-site. This way, he could use the fact that he was at work with
thousands of other employees as an alibi if the computer break-in was
detected. Also, by being at work
at the time of the computer break-in, he could monitor the programmed
computer’s progress and determine if any alarms were triggered. Al felt that if he could enter and exit the restrictive
drive in less than 2 minutes to copy the data, the entrance may go undetected
by the Agency’s classified computer group.
everything set up on the day of the planned break in, Al slept soundly and
woke up to the sound of the alarm. Apparently,
Lydia had set it an hour earlier than usual in order to spend some “quality
time” with Al. Al was feeling a
little frisky too. He also
discovered that the hair on Lydia’s chest was returning just like the hair
on his chin – a little rough.
Al drove into work, he made a point of saying hello to most of his co-workers.
He wanted to be noticed. As
he went through the gated entrance of the Agency’s compound, he waved to the
guard and offered him a cigarette. The
guard was a little surprised. Although
Al and the guard often waved to one another on the way in and out of the
complex, rarely did they speak. Al
parked in his normal spot and eyed the uniformed officer in the guardhouse of
the employees’ parking lot. He
noticed that the officer was looking right at him.
He tried not to let the stare affect him.
However, Al could see that the officer had spoken into his
walkie-talkie at the exact moment Al began to walk toward the building.
Al thought to himself, “I can still call this off.” No, Al knew he
could not live any longer with the anxiety working for the Company caused him.
he got closer to the door, he noticed Susan was walking behind him.
She stopped to pull a cigarette out of her purse.
Al thought he could make up for the rudeness he had shown during their
previously brief encounter if he offered her a light. Besides, it would give him an excuse to admire her beauty.
However, he knew to stand clear of those stainless steel colored eyes
she had that could melt away any secrets he was not ready to share with her.
He walked back hurriedly and offered her a light.
She accepted and once again made a flirtatious glance.
They stood outside in the morning light finishing their tasty
cigarettes. He wondered if he
could confide in her. At this
moment, the computer he had programmed was calling in to the Agency’s
network and would soon be downloading one of the most sought after lists in
the world. The thought of him
possessing such a list and having it under his control invigorated Al.
confidence level was also increased knowing that he alone would possess the
list. He felt in control of his
own destiny for the first time in a long time.
A wave of emotion passed through him and his whole body shook
uncontrollably for a split second. Suddenly
Al flicked his cigarette to the ground, grabbed Susan by the waist, and
brought her close to him. She
didn’t resist. Their bodies touched for the first time and they
embraced passionately. Al’s
heart rate quickened as he touched her soft skin in the early morning light.
Al let go of his usual bashful self, and looked directly in her
stainless steel eyes. He could no
longer hold in the feelings he had felt for her since the first time he had
laid his eyes on her. Susan
turned her head slightly as if to nibble on his right ear, while Al kissed her
neck and moved toward her soft shapely lips.
Al couldn’t believe what was happening right on the lawn, but was in
no condition to stop it. As
Susan’s lips got closer to his ear, he could hear her panting and his checks
warmed as she ran her hands through his greasy hair and onto his clean shaven
face. He was about to suggest
that they go some place a little more intimate, when she began to whisper
repeatedly in his ear a word that he still cannot get out of his mind –
froze in his tracks and his arms fell by his side.
It was as if all of the life in his body sunk down to his left foot and
leaked out of his big toe. As
Susan looked him over after she had cuffed him with his arms behind his back,
he saw those steely eyes gleam with pleasure and she gave him that flirtatious
grin once more. Finally, with a
callous stare she said, “You’ve got no butt.”
Tears welled up in Al’s eyes as he was taken away by Agency security.
wasn’t long before Lydia was picked up from her job at the chocolate
factory. Figuring it would be a
long stay in the clink, she grabbed a large handful of chocolate candies.
By the time she arrived at the station, she agreed to say just about
anything the officers wanted to hear in exchange for another Twinkie. Needless to say, she ratted Al out and began to openly
discuss his inadequacies as a husband. She
also claimed that as a result of Al’s inadequacies, she had turned to junk
food as an outlet. The police
bought her story, the media bought it and replayed it thousands of times in
newspapers, televisions, and on the radio.
The judge also bought most of her story.
For her complicity, she was sent off to some minimum-security rest home
in the Bay Area where she got down to 130 pounds, eating nothing but green
salad. She claimed to be happy
and was expected to be paroled in 1999. She’s
already published a book about “her story” and intends to go on the talk
show circuit with O.J. by the end of the year.
Speculation has it that she’s booked up until the year 2002.
was sent to the maximum-security federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas to do
hard time for the next 15 years for treason.
He’s made plenty of friends in jail, nuff said.
He confessed to all of his crimes, plus some, once they played the good
cop, bad cop routine on him. The
last time he saw Susan was at the trial where she testified as an internal
affairs officer. She winked at
him. All this time, he had been such a lush and a sucker.
His lawyer told him that he really got off easily.
If the U.S. had still been in the midst of the cold war, he preached,
“You would be on death row as we speak.”
years into his sentence, Al received a notice from his friendly IRS office
back in Washington, D.C. The
notice stated that he had been chosen for audit for the years 1987 through
2002. Al, being in no condition
to defend against a tax audit, responded to the notice and indicated that he
was not in a position to defend himself at the moment, and requested a 12-year
extension of time to defend the charges.
The IRS did not respond kindly to his predicament and sent an
assessment for taxes, interest, and penalties for substantial understatement
of income in the years 1987 through 1992.
had been placed in solitary confinement.
The warden had said it was for his own good.
He agreed. His prison
friends had been coming around a little bit too often.
As he rotted in the eight by eight hospital green jail cell, Al began
to wonder why he had been selected for audit.
He thought his returns were pretty clean in those years.
As the trustee peeked in to deliver his mail, Al figured the reason he
had been picked for audit was because of the information he had given the
government when he spilled his guts. As
he recalled, the CIA had been questioning him for 36 hours straight.
So many government people were in and out of the interrogation room
that he lost track. He
remembered feeling nauseous at the smell of the musty interrogation room that
was in the basement of the District of Columbia’s police headquarters.
To keep from barfing, he looked straight into the incandescent lights
hanging from the ceiling that bore down on him like a heater.
He dared not look at the agents. After
30 or so hours of denials and continued requests to see a lawyer, Al confessed
to his treasonous acts. He also
told the officers where he had stored most of his ill-gotten gains that had
been paid to him by the Company and told them about the Company set aside
the only reason the IRS could be looking at little old me,” he thought.
At first he dismissed it, thinking,
“You can’t get blood out of a turnip.”
But then he remembered the old professor with the Texas drawl from the
personal financial planning class and a lecture he gave about the rigorous
pursuit of the IRS. Then he
thought about the remaining assets he had, as well as the vintage Volvo his
mother was keeping for him. Other
than this, he only earned enough money now to purchase stamps, smokes, and an
occasional dirty magazine. “If
I don’t beat this rap, I’ll never drive my Volvo again and I’ll be on
the streets when I get out of here,” he thought.
more about his dilemma as he laid on his bunk that night, he knew that he
would need someone to help with his defense.
“But who? I need someone that owes me a favor and hates the IRS as
much as I do.” With that, the bell sounded indicating that it was lights out
in the prison. Al rolled over in
his bunk and was quickly asleep and dreaming about the purple brassiere and
panty set he remembered seeing in the mall years before.
took breakfast in his cell the next morning; a boiled egg, a single slice of
crisp toast, and weak black coffee. The
answer to his tax situation came to him as he bit into the soft center of the
egg and the liquid yellow center began to drip down the side of his mouth onto
his chin. He slurped for the yolk
drippings with his tongue and scooped it right back into his mouth as he said,
“That Texas professor owes me a big one and he’s just crazy enough to take
my case.” He threw the rest of
his breakfast out into the prison hall and lit a cigarette.
Al’s tobacco habit had only intensified since he entered prison.
However, he wasn’t concerned about his health because a couple of his
prison buddies had filed a claim against big tobacco based on the problem with
second hand smoke and the lack of ventilation within the confined prison
walls. He figured that he and the
other smokers in his cell block would come into a few tobacco settlement
bucks, if they just hung in there. As he blew smoke rings the color of auto exhaust up toward
the single light fixture in his cell, he thought of how he would coax the old
Texas professor into representing him. He
decided to prey on the professor’s guilty conscience. Al thought that he could pin every bad thing that’s ever
happened to him since puberty on the professor.
After all, if the professor had given him that recommendation he had
asked for so many years ago, he wouldn’t be in this situation.
He’d still be married to Lydia, who at 130 pounds wasn’t a bad
catch provided she would just keep her mouth shut.
“Who knows, the professor’s house may not have burned down
either,” Al giggled underneath his breath.
Al thought that most professors, including the Texas professor, huddled
in their ivory towers, were bleeding heart liberals who were really out of
touch with reality, wanted everyone to make love, not war, and, as such, would
jump at this chance to take his case (not necessarily the belief of the
made the call to the professor from the prison pay phone right out in front of
the mess hall. It was easy to
tell that the phone booth was a popular spot for prisoners to deal with their
problems. The walls were filled
with graffiti and the ashtray was overflowing with cigarette butts of every
brand. He got the professor on
his first attempt. After making a
trumped up emotional plea, the professor hesitantly agreed to represent Al
before the IRS and to act as co-counsel if need be.
professor got on a crowded direct flight from Washington, D.C. to Leavenworth,
Kansas a few days later. With all
the political scandals in the capital, the flight to and from the prison had
become extremely popular. The
warden granted Al special privileges to meet with the professor.
In order to meet with the professor in the visitor’s section of the
prison, Al was put in handcuffs and leg irons.
The irons jingled as he moved down the hallway escorted by two armed
deputies toward the visitor’s area. The
professor had read about Al’s treason conviction in the Advocate.
He hadn’t seen Al since college and was unsure of what Al would be
like. When the door to the
visitor’s room was opened, the professor did not stand to greet Al.
Instead, he simply stared at Al as he sat with his briefcase closed
until the officers sat him down at the table and cuffed his hands to a steel
rod that was bolted to the table. Without
speaking, the professor pointed at the pack of cigarettes he had placed on the
table. Al made a motion to reach for the cigarettes, but realized
the cuffs didn’t allow him to reach out that far.
The professor, continuing to stare straight through Al, opened the pack
and placed a cigarette in Al’s mouth. As
Al moved his head closer to light the cigarette from the match the professor
struck, the professor said in a harsh tone, “Before we get started here, I
need to know if you were involved in the fire?”
Al sat expressionless. Instead,
he looked away and sat silently while he puffed on the cigarette without the
use of his hands. When he
had just about finished the cigarette, he spit it on the floor, looked at the
professor and simply said, “Yea, I was involved,” as an uncontrollable
grin appeared on his face.
professor, placing the brief case flat on the desk, opened it and said in a
serious tone, “If you think I’m helping you because you think I feel
responsible for how you turned out, you’re wrong. You proved me right when I said so long ago that you
were a bad seed!” The professor
continued, “I’m here because even the condemned should be allowed
representation. Besides, your mom
handed over to me the keys to your vintage Volvo yesterday.
Now let’s get on with it!” A
small grin also appeared on the face of the professor as Al responded,
professor began to brief Al on the information he had uncovered thus far in
researching the matter. He said
the police had forwarded the transcripts of his early interrogations to the
IRS. After the IRS reviewed the transcript, they became
extremely interested in the funds the Company had set aside for him in 1987
through 1992. “In respect to
the funds the Company set aside for you,” the professor explained, “it
really comes down to a case of constructive receipt.
That is, when did you have control and domination of the funds in the
to the IRS’ complaint, Al should have reported income in the years 1987
through 1994 because he had earned the money in those years and, according to
the complaint, had unfettered access to the funds at any time.
In addition to the tax, the IRS had calculated substantial interest and
penalties. The professor, shaking
his finger in Al’s face said, “The determination of whether you have
constructive receipt is a factual question.
We need to be able to show the Court that you did not exercise control
of the funds that had been set aside for you by the Company.”
Al replied, “Yea, but the Company never held the money that had been
previously set aside over my head as an inducement to do other jobs.”
“I realize that,” the professor shot back, “but you keep your
mouth shut, and leave the technical arguments to me!”
As the Court date approached, Al and the professor met weekly to
discuss his testimony. They never
developed a close working relationship.
everyone except Al rose in a sign of respect as the Tax Court justices entered
the courtroom, the professor began to realize the type of man he was defending
and his stomach growled. He had
promised Al’s mother to defend Al to the best of his abilities, but Al’s
attitude towards authority really made it difficult.
At trial, the professor stipulated that the money had in fact been set
aside by the Company for Al’s use. However,
the professor argued that this act still didn’t constitute constructive
receipt. The professor called Al to
the stand to question him extensively. After
being sworn in, the professor asked, “How would you notify the Company that
you wanted some of the funds that had been set aside for you?”
Al explained that he first had to relay a message through a complex
signaling system to his contact, who would then relay the message to the Company
overseas. Then the Company would
arrange to smuggle the funds to the United States and then set up a place where
the money would be dropped off at a secret location.
Only after this had been arranged could Al pick up the money at the
assigned drop off point. “And
how long would it take to complete this process?” the professor asked.
Al explained that it could take anywhere from five to six weeks.
The professor continued, “And if the Company didn’t pay, you could
have filed a law suit demanding payment, right?”
Al chuckled, “I don’t think I would have had any legal standing to
the money.” Finally, the
professor asked Al if he had ever turned down any of the money.
Al replied that he had never turned the set aside money down.
The IRS’ cross-examination focused on Al’s ability, though it may
have been difficult, to access the funds. In
the closing, the professor cited several cases where the taxpayers had
successfully argued that constructive receipt didn’t exist where the recipient
taxpayer had to perform some action to receive the income (Paul v. Commissioner,
T.C. Memo. 1992-582). In that case, the taxpayer had to drive 68 miles to claim
his lottery prize and the Court ruled that constructive receipt occurred when
he, in fact, claimed the prize, not when he could have made the drive to claim
the prize. Al’s case was
strikingly similar. The money was
set aside by the Company, but in order to actually get the funds, he had to
perform certain actions. It
wasn’t simply a matter of calling the Company and ordering a check.
The Court recessed that afternoon. Al sat in the lock up chamber behind the courtroom as the judges deliberated. Al was tense, knowing that a verdict in favor of the IRS would just about wipe him out when the interest and penalties were added. It also meant that his portion of any prison tobacco settlement would be confiscated. He sat impatiently late into the afternoon. Unexpectedly, Lydia appeared outside of the lock up. She looked gorgeous. Al’s mouth watered and he stumbled on his tongue as he attempted to speak. Lydia said, “Don’t say a word Al, I’m just here to tell you that if the IRS doesn’t get your remaining assets, I will!” The two officers then entered the lock up and escorted Al back to the courtroom as the judges were ready to make a ruling. The professor stood patiently as the judges entered the courtroom to make their ruling. The professor knew he had presented good arguments to the Court and anxiously awaited their ruling. When the Court issued its ruling in favor of Al for the years 1987 through 1994, the professor jumped jubilantly. He looked at Al, but they did not embrace. Dollar bills registered in Lydia’s eyes as she thought now she would be able to complete the divorce proceedings against Al and receive a good settlement.
As the professor stood at the defense table with mixed emotions, an officer of the Court appeared and presented Al with a notice of assessment. “What’s this?” Al said. The attorney for the IRS across the aisle stood and smiled, “While we (the IRS) didn’t win on constructive receipt in 1987 through 1994, you did received the funds in 1997. Hence, you should have declared the money as income in 1997,” he said with a smirk. Al handed the hand written assessment over to the professor as if to say, “Handle it!” The professor, raising his hands to Al said, “You are on your own on this one.” As the professor walked out of the court house, he blinked his eyes as he walked directly toward the western sunset and attempted to block Al from his mind forever.
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