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Excerpt for A Taxing Situation by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

A Taxing Situation

By Nanisi Barrett D’Arnuk


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2018 Nanisi Barrett D’Arnuk

ISBN 9781634866286

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

* * * *

For Her.

* * * *

A Taxing Situation

By Nanisi Barrett D’Arnuk

I packed all my papers and receipts into the new plastic crate I had bought yesterday and snapped it shut. It seemed strange to me. I’ve never kept all this stuff in one place before. I didn’t know I had so much of it. Sandy had told me I’d better see a CPA. I laughed. To me, CPA was the Cosmic Planetary Alliance.

“Joanie, you can’t live twenty-four-seven in your sci-fi worlds,” she had said. “The IRS will catch up with you one of these days.”

“No, we don’t want that,” I had answered, although I wasn’t sure the Interplanetary Reproduction Services had jurisdiction on our planet. Still, I wasn’t sure I was ready to have offspring yet.

So, I hefted my crate and drove to the address Sandy had given me. She had made the appointment for me and had reminded me almost hourly to be there on time. I hated schedules. I never checked my chronometer, and I expected computerization to keep things running. If someone wanted to be specific to Alliance Cosmic Temporal Chronization, then they had to have a chronometer to pick it up. I haven’t seen any in the stores lately, even though the price of an ACT-C had come down quite a lot.

I walked into the office—a small side room of a typical urban house—and was greeted by the CPA herself. She was dressed in a cherry silk suit, which looked like it had just been synthesized by Cerulean spiders.

“Joan Howell? I’m Darlene Rogers. Sandy said you’d be in. Let’s see what you have.”

“Rogers? Are you a descendant of Buck’s?” I asked.

It took her a minute to make the connection. “No. Usually, I’m asked if Roy was my grandfather.”

“Was he?”

“No.”

“Oh. I never followed Roy, but Buck was my Grandfather’s hero when I was little. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be like him.”

“Like your grandfather?”

“No! Like Buck Rogers! I definitely didn’t want to be like Wilma.”

“Oh.” She laughed, not knowing who Wilma was. “Bring your stuff into my office, and we can start to go through it.”

I followed her into the next room and set my crate on a chair. “Sandy tells me I’m not very organized,” I admitted. “This feels like lot of scrap.”

“Yes, Sandy told me the same thing. I have all afternoon to try and get you together.”

“What we really need is an Andorean Analoger. The thurbidian crystals can organize anything.”

She gave me a what-the-fuck look and drew up another chair next to the one that held my crate. She sorted through a few of the things on top.

“I tell you what,” she said as she sat back with a sigh, “help me sort through this, and we can get this organized in just a couple hours. It may not be as bad as it looks. Pull a chair up, and we can start.”

I dragged a chair over and set it beside hers.

“Sandy tells me you’re a science fiction novelist,” she said.

“Yes. I have seven books out.”

“I’ll have to read one. Are they a series or standalones?”

“They’re all pretty thick. I suppose they could stand up by themselves,” I said. I’d never been asked that before.

“No,” she said with a grin. “I mean is each book different, or do you need to read them in a specific order?”

“They’re all self-contained, but they usually have some reference to one of the others.”

“That’s interesting.” She changed the subject. “All right. Let’s put all debts in this pile and all payments on my desk.”

“I’m out of debt. I don’t owe anyone anything,” I told her.

“No. A debt is anything you had to pay for. If you’ve already paid, then you have no outstanding debts. We need to see what debts you did have.”

“Oh.”

Why didn’t she say that to begin with?

We started, and it took no time at all to go through all the papers.

“Now,” she continued as we both looked down at the pile of receipts on the floor, “we can start with those. Let’s get them into a stack, and we’ll go through them one at a time. But before we start that, would you like something to drink? I have coffee or soda—Coke or root beer.”

“I’d love some root beer,” I said.

What I really would have had was an Ektidorian Mox soda, but I’d left those at home.

“I’ll be right back.” She got up and went into the other part of the house.

I decided to get a head-start and began piling up the receipts, making them all go the same way.

She returned in a few minutes, carrying a tray that held a blue mug, a small thermos, a can of Barq’s, and a glass of ice. She opened the can, poured some into the glass, and handed it to me.

“Thanks.” I took a sip. “Wow, this is sweet,” I exclaimed. “I don’t usually drink root beer this sweet.”

“Has it gone bad or something? I just bought the six-pack last week.”

“No. It’s fine…for earth root beer. I’m used to Ektidorian root beer.”

She looked at me strangely. “Do they sell that around here?”

“You can get it at a few specialty places, but I have it shipped to me by the case, from a friend in Maine. The Ektoids farm the mox plants out in the woods and bottle it themselves. They sell a lot of it there. They sell as much as they can brew.”

“Really,” she stated.

“There’s an entire colony of Ektoids out there. Earth people call them moose, but those who know the truth are well aware of the Ektoids’ colonization of this planet. They’ve been here for centuries.”

“I see.”

I don’t think she did.

* * * *

“Sandy? It’ll Darlene. I just spent the entire afternoon with Joan Howell. She’s one fucked-up lady.”

Sandy laughed. “But she’s harmless and a great writer.”

“It was definitely an experience. I’m not sure how to file her taxes, though. Did you know she has over seven thousand dollars’ worth of steak and hamburger receipts that she says is research? She says she bought it to bribe the Wol who lives in the tree beside her house. She says he agreed to tell her everything about his home planet for the food. It would save him the trouble of hunting the cats and squirrels that were roaming the neighborhood.”

Sandy sighed. “Yes. That was her last book.”

“But I can’t just write off food for an imaginary character.”

“It wasn’t imaginary. There was an owl there she said talked to her every night. She fed him better than she ate herself.”

“An owl.” Darlene shook her head.

“Yes, I know she seems strange, but I truly think she believes they do tell her things. Whether they do or not, she brings in a lot of money.”

“She has quite an imagination.”

“I did some checking on her when she brought her first book to me. That book was astonishing. I had to find out who this woman was who was writing such phenomenal work. She had a four-point-zero average in college!”

“A four-point-oh? In which subject?” Darleen asked.

“All of them.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No. She was offered scholarships to every major university: MIT, Cornell, Harvard. Her senator even contacted her and offered an appointment to the Naval or Air Force Academies, but she turned them all down. She said she was waiting for a scholarship to one of the schools off-planet.”

“What?” Darleen exclaimed.

“Yes.” Sandy chuckled. “Her previous schools have her listed as a genius. She had a perfect score in her math PSATs as a junior. They couldn’t test her. She was off their charts.”

“My God! No wonder I had no idea what she was talking about.”

“She does take some getting used to.”

“And what’s this about root beer from Maine brewed by aliens disguised as moose? That threw me for a while.”

“Ready for this? There is a soda named Moxie that’s the Maine state beverage. It’s a little bitter. To me, it tastes like medicine, but she loves it.”

“Good heavens. I’m almost afraid to learn more.”

“Do you think you can get her finances in shape?” Sandy asked.

“It shouldn’t be a problem once I decide how to categorize her research expenses. It looks like she’s got quite a bit in the bank and quite a few investments, so even if she has to pay, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“I know she doesn’t spend that much on herself. Last year, she wrote to NASA and asked how much it would cost to get a booking on their next Mars flight. She made a friend down there who told her he’d check into it.”

“Well, I guess everyone should have a goal in life.”

“Oh, you have no idea what goals she has.”

“I hope one of them is to get her taxes done.”

“It’s probably on the bottom of her list.”

* * * *

I showed up at Ms. Darlene Roger’s office the next day.

“Come on in, Joan. I think I have most of your work done. I hope you’ll be pleased. I may have found a way to save you several thousand dollars.”

“Oh, good.”

“Sit down, and I’ll show you.”

“I brought you a bottle of Moxie, too. I thought you might like to taste it.”

“Yes, I would. I’ve never had food from an alien race.”

“Sure, you have, but I bet you didn’t realize it. Haven’t you ever had a cashew?”

“Cashews?”

“Yes, the Eldorans brought them here. They thought our nuts were too hard to swallow, so they had them imported.”

She smiled at me. “I learn something new from you every time you’re here.”

“Then you probably don’t know that only one cashew nut grows in each cashew apple. That’s why they’re so expensive here.”

“No, I didn’t know that either. I saw that you have quite an investment in a Brazilian cashew plantation.”

“Yes. When the Eldoran ambassador asked for my help, I was pleased to contribute.”

“It looks like a good investment. I also noticed that you made quite a contribution to one of the schools in Brazil.”

“It didn’t seem right to just take their money and not give something back. Their kids needed so many school supplies, and that’s one thing the Eldorans aren’t good at making.”

“Then the cashews seem to be good for everyone.”

I nodded in agreement. “Personally, I like the cashew apples better than the nuts.”

“I can see where you might.”

“I’ll have to bring you a jar of cashew apple butter. I think you’d like that, too.”

“Wonderful.”

“Cashew apples are very sweet and kind of acidic, like grapefruit or mangos.”

“I love grapefruit, so that would be very interesting to taste.”

“And the cashew plants are used for so many things. Cashew shell oil is used in developing drugs, antioxidants, fungicides, and lots of other biomaterials. When the Eldorans found it was easy to grow here, they planted several plantations and started exporting it back to their home planet. It’s a great termite control, but they could never raise enough at home to get an upper hand. Eldoran termites are so much bigger than Earth’s, and they’ve been fighting for centuries. That probably shouldn’t have happened, though, because I think interplanetary warfare-aid is frowned upon by the Alliance.”

“Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do,” Darlene commented.

I nodded. She seemed much more open today.

“All right, look through these papers and tell me if you think it’s okay. I did as much as I could with your research debts. I was afraid you’d get audited if the research debt was too high.”

“That’s fine. The Wol was a really nice guy. I probably would have treated him to dinner anyway. I miss him.”

“What happened to him?” Darlene asked.

“I guess he got recalled. He was afraid it would happen. One night, I went out there, and he was gone.”

“I’m sorry you lost a friend.”

I nodded and took a deep breath. “Okay. Let me look at the papers.”

She placed a folder in front of me. I opened it and started down the first page. I looked through each addendum and finally sat back and smiled at her.


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