The Katha Upanishad, possibly the most famous of these ancient writings, is naturally set in ancient India. But what if it were set in today’s America? That is the premise of this novel and this, for better or for worse, is the result. More
Arthur Thelonious Sherry of 46 Rexford Circle, Birchdale, Maine, was doing tax battle again. That is to say, not he personally but by way of Waynemore Bland, his accountant of many years: a 43-year-old man who still lived at home with his mother, and who had lost none of his hair and made a point of wearing it long to prove it.
Arthur Sherry, who was losing his (no doubt about that) and wore it cropped to hide, or at best obscure, that fact, now sat in Bland’s deep visitor’s armchair and chewed his bottom lip, which made him look a bit like smiling, which he was not.
Not at all. Arthur was not happy. Not happy to be sitting in Bland’s office, for one. Bland should have had the foresight to arrange to come to him—even if the filing deadline was tomorrow, and Bland’s schedule was full. Instead he had gotten a lame “Sorry Art, can’t get away.”
And not at all happy that he still showed a profit. Too damn much of it. He looked across a yellow sea of lined paper at his accountant looking back at him. Way too much.
And lastly, not at all happy that he had had to bring Sebastian. So, unhappy all around, pretty much.
He stopped chewing his lip long enough to say, “So, it’s either the IRS or the charity of my choice. Is that what you’re saying, Wayne?”
“In a nutshell, yes.”
“And you didn’t see this coming?”
“I did see it coming. You saw it coming. We discussed it more than once.”
Arthur Sherry chose to ignore that.
“What is the damage, precisely?”
Bland ruffled through a sheaf of his lined yellow sheets, all covered with penciled calculations, rows and rows of them. He found what he was looking for. “Not less than half a million. Five fourteen, give or take the odd dollar.”
Arthur Sherry, on the pudgy side—liked food, hated exercise—shifted in his chair, which protested a little in return. Then he sighed, more for effect perhaps than from despair, leaned back and looked the accountant square in the face. “Half a million,” he repeated, not so much a question as an accusation. “Five hundred fourteen thousand dollars? That’s what you’re telling me?”
“Yes,” said Bland.
“Give or take the odd dollar?”
“The odd one, yes.”
“Or the IRS gets it?”
“Well, I’ll be damned.”
“The penalty of success,” he said, and shot a glance along with an unhappy smile his son’s way. “Take heed son, a valuable lesson: no success shall go unpunished.”
Sebastian looked at his father, but said nothing.
“Looks that way,” said Bland, and Sherry swung his head back in his direction.
“Well,” said Bland. “All things considered, including the Public Relations angle, the world being what it is, I would suggest the Red Cross.”
“Or Green Peace,” said Sherry.
“Green Peace?” Bland looked slightly horrified.
“Joke, Wayne. That was a joke.”
“Ah.” Bland looked at his desk. Found a couple of pencils out of position. Moved them around to some other out of position.
“Remind me,” said Sherry. “How did we get around this problem last year?”
“We channeled the excess profits into a research trust.” Bland plucked the name from memory with ease, “The Sherry Geological Exploration Society.”
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