Pfand X
Chapter 12

Copyright© 2011 by Lazlo Zalezac

The IRS agent looked at the folder and exhaled loudly. There was nothing there.

"You were a college student in 2008."

"Yes."

"You earned $6431.23 at Wheeler Trucking."

"Yes."

Just as he had done when the 2005, 2006 and 2007 earnings had been stated, Jonathan Sharp said, "Any additional income recorded in your system may be a result of identity theft. If the name used and the number agrees with that of my client, then we request that an investigation into the crime of identity theft be pursued. If the name does not agree, then someone else used the number. According to past IRS rulings, my client is not responsible for the taxes owed on income earned by another individual who either intentionally or accidentally used his social security number."

The IRS agent stared at Jonathan Sharp knowing the man was a brilliant tax attorney. He wondered how Carl could afford his services.

"You filed a 1040-EZ form."

"Yes. As a college student, I was still a dependent on my father's income tax."

"It looks like everything is okay here."

The IRS handed over an initial audit report stating that no irregularities were found.

"Thank you. We'll expect an final audit report stating that all taxes from 2005 through 2008 have been paid in full post haste," Jonathan said.

"You'll get it."

"My client will be looking for it in the mail," Jonathan said.

"I did notice that there was a recent legal change in name. Why?"

Jonathan answered, "That has no bearing on his tax matters."

"I'm just curious."

"Curiosity is a good thing," Jonathan said staring flatly at the IRS agent.

"That's all. You can go now."

Carl said, "Thank you."

"Thank you," Jonathan said while picking up the recorder that sat on the table. With a flourish, he turned it off earning a sour look from the IRS agent.

Samantha had been waiting for Carl in the lobby before the security area. She had spent the time drinking a coffee and watching the crowd. She joined the two men when they walked out of the elevator and outside the security perimeter.

Outside, Carl said, "Thank you, Jonathan, for all of your hard work."

"That was the most pitiful f$%king excuse for an audit that I've ever seen. That was a clear case of someone attempting to use the IRS for harassment purposes," Jonathan said.

In all of his years dealing with the IRS, this was the first time he had witnessed the audit of a 1040-EZ filing for a student with a single summer job without any evidence of additional income. He had been incredulous when he had heard about the audit. He was insulted sitting through it.

"Can we sue them?" Carl asked.

So far they had spent nearly a million dollars of Pfand money pursuing various lawsuits. Every chance where someone could say no, they said no. It was getting disheartening. The state archeologist had shown up at the construction site demanding that they stop work until after he could perform a study of the land to assure that it wasn't archaeologically important. The archeologist had been followed by a wildlife biologist from the state who wanted to assure that there weren't any endangered species living in the area.

"If I understand things correctly, we should," Jonathan answered.

The Pfand had tasked more than a hundred members of the Curador family to defend Carl against the kind of harassment they were experiencing. There was some thought that whoever had the deepest pockets would win.

Head down sending a text message, Samantha said, "No. That is not advised in this case."

"Why not?" Carl asked.

"Don't ask that question," Samantha replied.

Carl had a pretty good idea that he knew what that answer meant. The Pfand was going to abduct and question an IRS agent. He knew that with the results of the audit in hand, there would be few questions asked of him when the man disappeared. He felt sorry for the other folks who had recently had an audit with negative findings or were in the process of having one done. They were going to be put through hell.

Carl asked, "Now what?"

Samantha looked around with a frown.

She said, "You are going to sit down on the ground behind that cement wall over there."

"Why?"

"Do it now!"

Carl went over to where she had indicated and sat down on the ground. The idea of what it was doing to his thousand dollar suit made him sick to his stomach. Samantha sent Jonathan away and then went to stand over Carl. She put her purse on the cement wall. Her hand was stuck into the fold of the purse which concealed her pistol.

"What's the matter?"

Samantha said, "Mike didn't reply to the text message I sent him."

Mike Speer was the driver of the limousine. He had been brought out of retirement for that purpose. He was the best defensive and offensive driver in the Wache family line. Once a month he taught officers in the State Police how to handle their cars in high speed chases. Even the best driver couldn't keep up with him on the high speed course.

"Maybe he's in the restroom," Carl said hoping that Mike was unharmed.

Worried, Samantha said, "No. There's something wrong."

"What are we supposed to do?"

"We're going to wait here until help shows up."

"How long will that take?" Carl asked.

The temptation to look over the cement wall was almost overwhelming. Each time he shifted position, Samantha pressed down on his head to keep him from popping up to take a look around. He was about to get frustrated when a sudden light breeze changed things.

Looking up, Carl said, "Nice view."

"Get your mind out of the gutter," Samantha said cracking a small smile.

"You wear granny panties."

"Of course I wear granny panties. You don't know misery until you've tried to run a mile wearing a thong," Samantha said.

"I can't imagine."

Relaxing a little, Samantha said, "Our people are here. It'll take them a minute to set up and then we'll get you into a car."

"I owe you one," Carl said.

"You'll pay it when we get home," Samantha said with a snicker.

"Willingly."

Herman walked over to where Carl was hidden.

He looked over the wall and asked, "Do you have any idea what that looks like?"

Carl nodded his head in the affirmative.

Samantha replied, "No. What does it look like?"

"He's on the ground between your legs. You're leaning over him trying to look nonchalant. I bet a dozen people walked past thinking he was doing obscene things of an oral nature to you," Herman said.

Keeping in character, Samantha said, "I'm his girlfriend."

"You better back away before they arrest you for performing an indecent act in public," Herman said.

Samantha stepped back.

"You're definitely going to have to start wearing pants," Herman said.

"Suck eggs and die," Samantha said.

Herman laughed.

Samantha asked, "What happened to Mike?"

"One of the local boys in blue had him spread eagle on the hood of the limousine," Herman answered.

"What in the hell for?"

Herman smiled. "I don't know, but the officer is trying to explain it to one of our lawyers right now."

Carl said, "I don't believe this shit."

Samantha got out a makeup case and a stick of lipstick out of her purse. After looking around to see if there was anyone close enough to listen, Samantha opened the makeup case and started to apply the lipstick.

She asked, "So was there a shooter stationed anywhere around here?"

"Not that we were able to find," Herman answered while smoothing out his mustache. "We're still looking."

"Keep looking," Samantha said.

Carl asked, "When am I going to be able to get up?"

"Not until I tell you," Samantha answered.

"This is ruining my suit," Carl said.

"You should see what blood stains do to a suit," Samantha said.

She paused and held up the mirror to check her lips.

She added, "Oh, I'm sorry. You won't be around to see what a blood stain does to your suit."

"I guess a little dirt won't hurt," Carl said.

She put away the stick of lipstick and examined her lips in the mirror. Samantha closed up the makeup case and returned it to her purse.

Samantha said, "The car is here. Let's go."

"With pleasure," Carl said.

The three of them scurried over to the car, moving quickly without appearing to run. They looked like important business people in a hurry.

Once they were in the car, Herman said, "Mike, take us to the house."

Samantha said, "Carl, when I tell you to move, you need to move."

Herman said, "Still breaking him in, I see."

"At least he didn't argue too much this time," Samantha said offhandedly.

Herman looked down at Carl. "Don't argue, just do."

"I know."

"If you know, then why did you argue?"

"I didn't realize she was telling me to do something for my safety. I thought she was just telling me to wait over there for the car."

"It doesn't matter why she's telling you to do something, when you're outside you just do it," Herman said.

"All right," Carl said.

Herman said, "For your information, that spot was probably the best place for you to wait for the car to arrive even if there wasn't an apparent problem. You had good cover, two exit routes, and a clear field of vision."

"This is ridiculous. I can't believe all of this cloak and dagger shit over a pickle factory," Carl said.

"Anyone else would have already given up by now. This is becoming personal with them by now," Herman said.

"It started being personal with me a long time ago," Carl said.

Herman said, "Well, we're getting closer to the bad guys."

"How much closer?" Carl asked.

"Much closer," Herman answered.

Trying to get an answer out of a member of the Wache family was like trying to get water out of a rock. It just wasn't going to happen. However, it did seem that each time something happened, they would make the comment that they were getting closer to finding who was behind the attempt to gain control over the world's food supply.

There was a low buzz of a cell phone on vibrate mode. Samantha reached in her purse and grabbed her cell phone. After a curt greeting, she listened for a minute and then closed it. She sat there for a second deep in thought.

"What's up?"

She said, "I just got news of some interesting developments. It appears that a private eye dropped his camera over the side of a building. His camera bag went over the side, too. The camera was totally destroyed. The poor guy, all of his pictures in it were ruined."

"That is interesting," Herman said.

They had known that someone had Carl under surveillance, but hadn't been able to catch him. Now they had caught him and soon they would have some questions answered.

"It also appears that our friendly IRS agent met someone right after Carl's meeting. The man he met didn't seem too happy with him. We let the IRS agent leave. As soon as he was out the door, our people picked up his friend," Samantha said.

Sounding disappointed, Herman said, "I was really looking forward to interviewing our friendly IRS agent. I've always wanted to see how one of them reacts when you put the fear of God into them."

"There's always next time," Samantha said.

"Next time?" Carl asked.

"You aren't the only one in this fight," Samantha said.

Carl said, "I guess I forget that at times."

"I do too."

"How are the others doing?"

"Haven't you been watching the news?" Herman asked.

"No. I've been buried up to my ass in lawyers and public relations people," Carl answered.

Samantha said, "That's true. We haven't seen a news broadcast in weeks."

Herman said, "Henry Plantar's place was burned to the ground earlier this week in an ATF raid on a suspected right-wing extremist. The initial story was that a fire started as a result of a smoke grenade malfunction. Authorities assume that he and his family died in the fire."

"Shit!" Samantha said.

Carl couldn't believe it. He knew that dairy farmers are chained to their cows morning and night seven days a week. They didn't have time to be extremists.

"Did they die?"

"No, they are on their way to Iceland."

Carl was shocked. "Iceland? Why in the hell are they going to Iceland?"

Samantha answered, "If you were to name the top one hundred places people select to hide when running from the law, you would quickly discover that Iceland is not one of them. As a result, it is a good place to run to."

"Where would you send me?" Carl asked.

He didn't like cold weather and couldn't imagine being happy living in Iceland. With no offense intended to Icelanders, he couldn't imagine anyone being happy there.

Herman said, "The ATF and FBI probably won't be breaking your door down accusing you of being a right-wing extremist. They only do that for folks out in the country. You're a businessman and live in the suburbs. They'll grab you for fraud, embezzlement, drugs, rape, or murder."

"That's reassuring to know," Carl said sarcastically.

He figured that they would lock him up and throw away the key. He wondered if he was going to become the modern equivalent of the 'Man in the Iron Mask.'

Samantha said, "Don't be so negative. I'm sure that the bad guys will try to burn you out before the Feds get to you."

"Jeez Louise."

Carl sat there thinking about what Tom had said about powerful men punishing individuals who chose to challenge them. He wondered if he would end up on skid row, addicted to heroin or wearing an aluminum hat and babbling about the government beaming rays into his head after receiving a lobotomy. He was firmly convinced that these bastards were the kind who would make sure you survived just well enough to know that you had been royally screwed and that there was nothing you could do about it.

"Don't worry. You've got us protecting you," Herman said.

"What's going to happen with Henry Plantar and his family?"

Herman answered, "I wouldn't worry about them. Unbeknownst to anyone other than ... well ... us, they had chosen to leave on a vacation the morning of the incident. They'll return home in a week or two shocked and dismayed to discover that their house was burned to the ground by the government. I believe they will become very wealthy as a result of this."

"How?"

Herman answered, "Since everyone assumes they're dead, we've filed a one billion dollar lawsuit on behalf of their next of kin against the federal government. Now that made the news."

"They're going to toss a lawsuit like that out of court. You can't sue the government for damages made while trying to execute a warrant," Carl said.

"Yes and no."

"It's pretty clear cut, if I recall correctly."

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