Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bowling and Taxes

An audio version of this post can be found at:
   A cheer went up two alleys over.
   "Riley just rolled a turkey," said Uncle Billy. "Where the hell is Hank?"
   Eb was tying his shoes for the third time. "If he doesn't get here ... ," he looked at the clock over the bar, "... in the three minutes, we're going to have to forfeit."
   I spotted Hank coming in the door. "Here he comes."
   Billy turned to look. "Well, it's about damn time."
   We watched Hank pick his way past the ball racks and make his way to our alley.
   Eb jumped up to greet him. "Hank, where you been?"
   Hank set his bag down. Breathing heavy, he said, "Sorry ... I was with my tax guy and ..."
   Eb slapped him on the back. "We were getting worried about you ... come on, get your shoes on."
   Hank sat down, opened his bag and pulled out his shoes.
   "Tax guy?" said Billy.
   Still breathing heavy, he said, "Yeah."
   "Well? How'd it go?" asked Billy.
   Hank slipped off his street shoes. "I didn't go well."
   "That sounds ominous," I said.
   "What does that mean," asked Billy.
   Hank shoved a foot into one of his bowling shoes. "It means I owe Uncle Sammy."
   "How much?" asked Billy.
   "Come on, Uncle Billy ... that's none of our business," I said.
   Billy rolled his eyes. "Listen to Miss Manners ..."
   "Hank would tell us if he wanted us to know," said Eb.
   Hank was in the process of putting on the other shoe and he paused. "About eighteen hundred bucks."
   "Ouch," I said.
   "Eighteen hundred smackers?" said Billy. "How the hell did you end up owing that much?"
   Hank started tying his shoes. "Remember when I was slack last fall ..."
   "Yeah ... I remember," said Eb, "That was most of September and Oc ..."
   "Shut up, Eb," said Billy.
   Eb frowned.
   Hank smiled and patted Eb on the knee. "Anyway, I took a couple of side jobs ... Dottie's brother-in-law, Zac Wolensky, is a contractor and needed plumbers to work on an apartment complex he's remodeling, and ..."
   "You reported that?" asked Billy.
   "Had too ... Zac ten ninety-nined my wages."
   "Why didn't he just pay you under the table?" asked Billy.
   Hank finished tying his shoes, put his hands on his knees and looked at Billy. "He's gotta track his costs."
   "That makes sense," said Eb.
   "When I did side jobs, I always asked for cash," said Billy.
   I looked at Billy. "When was the last time you did a side job, Uncle?"
   Billy rubbed his chin, "Well, let me think ... "
   "What kind of stuff did you do?" asked Eb.
   Billy ignored Eb, so I answered for him. "He was a carpenter ..."
   "I remember," said Billy. "I built some displays for Carl Magliaro."
   "The car dealer?" asked Hank.
   "One of the biggest in southeast Michigan," said Billy.
   "Didn't that guy end up going to prison for something?"
   "Yeah," I said. "Tax evasion."

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