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The Second Second

The Third Second


At 2:48 A.M. Philip Johnson died.

Death came when a valve in his heart exploded. The pain in Philip’s chest was so great that it woke him up from a deep sleep. In his sleep Philip dreamed about the big presentation at work tomorrow. In fact, Philip had only been in bed for about an hour before the heart episode occurred because he’d stayed up late to make sure he got all the facts right. He was very anxious about the presentation. It mattered to him a lot.

Philip Johnson missed that presentation, though, because more pressing issues emerged. The pressing issue of course was his early morning demise.

When the pain struck, Philip clutched at his chest It felt like a car had been parked on top of him. He checked his pulse. He couldn’t find one, even though he could feel the thumping of his heart roiling around the pain inside him. He reached out with his left hand and nudged Laura. Laura and Philip had been married for twenty-two years and were childhood sweethearts. She groggily rolled over but quickly realized something was very wrong. Laura turned on the lamp on the night stand. She was so startled that in doing so she knocked over her glass of water, tumbled her cholesterol medicine onto its side, and clumsily pushed her vampire novel onto the floor.

Philip looked at her with fear and said, “Something is wrong,” and he looked down at his chest and he looked at his wife and said, “I love you,” and then Philip Johnson collapsed onto the pillow.

That is where this story begins. With all apologies to Shakespeare, the two universal constants in the human experience are not death and taxes but birth and death. It is not hard to imagine that there are some rare souls who have avoided taxes. Perhaps an exorbitantly wealthy person who has hired enough accountants and lawyers to escape the governmental claim upon currency comes to mind. This imaginary someone, a wealthy tycoon, has his or her offshore accounts and infinite deductions ladled on top of loopholes and rebates to such a level that no taxes are ever paid. Another possibility for tax exemption might be the other end of the human experience, a soul living in the bush or the wilderness completely independent of civilized society. A person of this sort, although likely rarer and rarer, is still a possibility and therefore, might escape taxes.

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