Bo got the shock of his life when he went to a seemingly mundane audit.
Bo Dockett was a sorry individual. He was sorry he forgot his Mother's birthday every year. Bo regretted not applying himself in college. He was sorry he got up every morning at the same time and went to the same job, facing the same fate his father and grandfather suffered before him. Bo was sorry he never said good-bye to his grandfather and sorry that, according to his mother, his grandfather's final words were: "I'm not ready to die. I spent my life working to give my family a future, and I never took the time to do the one thing I always wanted to do." Bo was sorry he didn't know what that "one thing" was.
Bo knew we all kept that one thing wrapped up tight inside our souls. Everyone waited for the time when all other tasks were completed, and then their time would come for that one thing. Bo also understood that most people's time never arrived.
Oh sure, some people made time without a thought about anything or anyone around them, but Bo wasn't like that. He never stopped loving or caring for his family any more than his grandfather stopped loving or caring for his family. So, Bo knew his death lingered inside the shadows of his future, and those words awaited his last breath.
Bo was sorry his memory just meandered into that sudden, regrettable realization, while he sat in the lobby of the I.R.S. building, waiting to meet with an Income Tax Auditor.
"Mr. Dockett, your tax return for 2018 reveals a few issues," the I.R.S. auditor stated as Bo's gut sucked his tongue down the back of his throat.
"Issues?" Bo said on the trailing edge of an unrestrained gulp.
The Tax Auditor wore a black suit, white shirt, black tie, and spectacles. He was about the same age as Bo with short blonde hair, and pale skin. Bo hated those bookkeeper types, he felt inferior under their scrutiny.
"There seems to be a discrepancy between your bank balance during that period and your reported income."
"That can't be. I mean, I don't make enough money for there to be a discrepancy." Bo left his copy of his 2018 tax return at home because he thought it wouldn't be necessary. Like he said, he barely made enough money to itemize, so how could there be any problems? "Are you sure you have the right tax return?"
"Yes, Mr. Dockett. We don't make mistakes." The auditor thumbed through several papers until he found the one for which he searched and pulled it from the stack in front of him. "Ah, yes, here it is. Your savings account balance carried from July of 2018 through November of 2018 is over one million dollars, with interest income of $6,930.26 for the period. The money was then withdrawn, along with interest, and quite frankly, Mr. Dockett, we haven't been able to find it--yet."
"That's crazy. Where the hell would I get over a million dollars?" Bo screamed.
"That's exactly what I'm here to find out, Mr. Dockett. As a matter of fact, I'm here to find out where it came from and where you put it along with the interest you collected. We also have three other incidences similar to yours, and I believe you know the parties involved, Harry Butterman, Thomas Loyd, and William Butler."
"Bill? Tom and Buttman, I mean, Harry? What do you mean, incidences?" Bo asked, then swallowed audibly.
"They also had 'substantial' balances for a short period during 2018. All of the occurrences were at different intervals during the year and for different amounts, but very similar conditions. No claim on their taxes for the interest and the money disappeared after a short period of deposit. If you have information, Mr. Dockett, now would be the time to share."
Bo felt a giant fist, slamming into his chest. The Auditor just implied he was guilty in some kind of conspiracy, which he knew nothing about. And he wanted Bo to make a plea bargain with him, so they must have confidence in a conviction. "Someone, or several someones, must have made a mistake."
"Yes, Mr. Dockett, I believe someone did." The auditor stated as he shuffled through the stack of papers.
Bo's stomach churned, feeling as if it would release its contents. His only thought at the moment was that this guy was the Internal Revenue Service, and they don't mess around, they don't make mistakes. They carry the full weight of the government behind them, and the I.R.S. didn't quit until you were in jail for a long time. And even if they made a mistake, they wouldn't admit it. He was screwed.
"Mr. Dockett, you don't seem to be prepared to deal with this. Do you need a few days to gather your documentation?" The Auditor asked.
"What? Yeah, I--there must be a mistake, and I do need a few days to get everything together. If that would be okay?" Bo begged.
"Of course. This is just an audit, but I would advise you not to complicate matters by conferring with any of the other parties indicted--I mean, indicated in our conversation today. What about next Tuesday?"
Indicted? Bo didn't like that slip-of-the-tongue. "Tuesday? Tuesday will be fine. I think I need to talk to an attorney and an accountant? Which do you feel I need most?"
"That's up to you, Mr. Dockett." The auditor answered while slapping his binder shut.
Bo almost vomited in the elevator. There were at least twenty people in the elevator with him, and the smell of a full day's work filled the stale air inside that tiny, falling, coffin-like contraption. When they reached the ground floor, Bo shoved people aside, holding his hand over his mouth and mumbling, "Please excuse me. Please, I'm sorry; I'm feeling ill. Thank you."
He slammed through the glass door at the front of the building, gulping and gasping for air. As soon as he got to the bottom of the steps outside, he collapsed onto a concrete retaining wall under some dwarf-apple trees and briefly sat, breathing the sweet fragrance of their blossoms while clearing his head.
"What the hell am I going to do? I've got to be having a bad dream. I gotta talk to someone. But who?" He mumbled as he looked up and into a small crowd gathering around him, watching him babble at ghosts. After a few seconds, he gathered his composure, pulled his coat over his arm, stood, and walked down the sidewalk with as much dignity as he could muster. He had to get out of there, and it didn't matter to him which direction he followed. He just wanted to escape--everything. After only a few minutes, Bo stumbled through the door of a pub, where he heard soft music and found a pleasant atmosphere, without a crowd. He rushed straight to the bar and ordered a screwdriver, "Double up, please."
Bo let the burning elixir slide down his throat in several quick gulps until the bottom of the glass surfaced, and he found himself sucking at the rim of an empty vessel. "Give me another, bartender."
The bartender smiled, "Sure, buddy. Is it that hot out there today, or do you got problems?"
"All of the above." Bo realized he was speaking aloud and about to spill his entire story to a complete stranger, so he stopped talking and thought it through. He had not gotten drunk since college. Well, Bo thought, maybe that once during the company Christmas party. The embarrassment of that night's memory lasted just a minute before he felt a surge of calm in the wake of the liquor, spreading through his circulatory system. "Let's just say, I have problems and leave it at that."
"Sure thing, mister. Here's your drink," the bartender grinned behind his answer.
Bo lifted the drink near his face, staring down its throat, swimming inside the liquid alongside his thoughts. Every possible disaster surfaced from inside the contents of that glass, then swirled through his mind, sponsoring the next horrible thing to ascend into his imagination. "In jail, I'll be someone's 'Best Girl,' and what will happen to Lorain? Will she divorce me and remarry? Sure, she will. Probably some prick like that auditor who wants to send me to jail."
"Excuse me?" the bartender asked.
"Oh, shit! Nothing. I'm just talking to myself and slowly going crazy here, but I think I've found the cure," Bo said while raising his glass high above the counter. "How about another dose of medicine, Doc'?"
"Sure, Buddy. Another double?" the bartender asked with a chuckle.
"Yep, there's no turning back now." Bo's courage swelled to overwhelm his mood.
Bo awakened to a sharp pain in the back of his head and a jolting gag rising from his stomach. His brain thumped with a dull pounding, which grew into a throbbing just before his eyes exploded open and his head raised from the pillow. "Ohhh, shit!!!" he screamed as he gently lowered his head back into the hollow of his pillow. And at the behest of reflex, his hand fell over his eyes, blocking the sunlight, streaming into the room through the bedroom curtains. "This is our room? I'm home!"
A sudden surge of elation filled Bo, but only briefly before the agonizing pain regained a foothold inside the liquor-filled fumes clouding his brain. "Oh, Lord, let me die."
"You're not going to die, not yet, anyway," a woman's voice proclaimed as she entered the room.
"What? Lorain, I can explain." Bo said, then swallowed his words under the knowledge that he couldn't explain.
"You drunken fool. You don't have to explain because you already did. Don't you remember last night? You explained everything. Then passed out before I could ask any questions," his wife, Lorain, said.
"Oh, darling, I'm so sorry. Ohhhh! My head is swimming, and I think..." Bo jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom.
Lorain sat on the side of their bed, screaming across the room so Bo could hear her words in the bathroom. "You explained a little last night when you got in. This morning I went down to your office," she paused while grimacing, then cupped her ears with her hands against the sickening sounds gushing from the bathroom. "When I told your boss what you told me, he called the Accounting Department, and told them to join him in the conference room. About forty-five minutes later, he returned to his office and thanked me for informing him about what the IRS told you."
Bo stumbled, propping himself inside the bathroom doorway, looking out at his wife, "Why did he thank you? Are you getting a reward for turning me in?"
"No, you idiot. They searched all their records and found that over a million dollars, was temporarily transferred to three different accounts. Yours, Thomas Loyd's and William Butler's. All three savings accounts. Because all three of you have your checks automatically deposited in savings. Remember, you set up your savings account to feed your checking account. So did the other two gentlemen. After just a month or so, the money was returned. They had thought someone at the bank just made a mistake," Lorain said.
"How did that much money get deposited in our accounts by mistake?" Bo asked, still wobbling.
"Well, it wasn't a mistake. With a little detective work, the Accounting Department discovered that Harry Butterman, who worked in their department. He was the person who transferred the money. Once the term was completed, he sent the interest to his account. Then he transferred the original amount back into the company's account. The Accounting Department called the police and the IRS. Mister Butterman was arrested, and you were cleared of all wrongdoing." Lorain grinned as she finished.
"Butterman, huh? I always knew he was a crook," Bo said as he rushed to hug his wife. "You're my hero, Lorain. You always have been. You know what? I've always dreamed of taking a trip to the Riviera. That's always been what I've dreamed of but never dared to just do. What say, I take a month off, and you help me to fulfill my dream of that one thing?"
"One Thing?" Lorain asked.