Boston Solutions Incorporated
Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac
The IRS agent in charge stepped out of Titus’ office followed by his assistant. He said, “I think I’m going to hate Titus more than I hate Magus.”
“Do you remember my old boss?”
“Do you know who does Magus’ tax returns?”
“Don’t tell me.”
“My old boss. Every time I audit Magus, that old bastard starts pulling out tax deductions that Magus didn’t take. I end up having to write Magus a refund check.”
“That must hurt, Sir.”
“You have no idea. I’m four years from retirement. I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to end up doing taxes for Titus.”
“Then I’ll be the old bastard when you start doing the audits.”
“I’ll be doing the audits?”
“Yes. You’ll be auditing Titus and Magus both.”
“I thought you liked me, Sir.”
“We work for the IRS. We don’t have friends.”
Irene listened to the conversation until the door closed behind them. She had been terrified that Magus would come running out of his office pointing at one of the IRS agents while saying that was the man for her. She muttered, “I hate the IRS. Of course, my ex-husband would really be in trouble if I were to hook up with an IRS agent.”
A man about the same age as Irene stepped into the office. He looked around as if uncertain that he was in the right place. He was dressed in an off-the-shelf suit that actually fit him pretty well. He was a moderately attractive man. He slowly walked over to Irene and asked, “Is this Solutions Incorporated?”
“Yes it is,” Irene answered.
“I’m Leland Bowne from the Department of Agriculture.”
Irene said, “Magus is expecting you.”
“You wouldn’t happen to know why I’m here, would you?” Leland asked. His boss had handed him a check for a hundred thousand dollars and told him to go to Boston to meet Magus. His boss had refused to answer any questions about the reasons for the trip.
“No. He doesn’t share those kinds of details with me,” Irene answered.
Smiling at her, Leland said, “I guess I better meet Magus and find out.”
“That’s the door to his office,” Irene said gesturing towards the door.
“I guess I should go in there,” Leland said.
Irene said, “Good luck. You’re going to need it.”
“I will?” Leland asked. “Is he some kind of ogre?”
“Yes,” Irene said.
“I was kidding,” Leland said.
Irene said, “I wasn’t.”
“Oh,” Leland said.
Leland walked into Magus’ office. Magus looked up from the paper he was reading and said, “Ah, Leland Bowne. Did you know that your first name means fallow field and that your last name means ready for action?”
“Actually, I do,” Leland answered.
“It is a name full of potential. I’m sure that your father knew that when he came up with it,” Magus said.
“He did,” Leland said. His father was the kind of person who checked into the meaning of names and other things like that. His father was often referred to as a ‘character.’
Magus asked, “So how is Oscar Bowne enjoying his career at the university? The last time I saw him he had just been promoted to full professor.”
“You know my father?” Leland asked rather surprised by this odd turn of events.
“We ran into each other a couple of times back when I lived in Denver,” Magus answered with a grin.
Leland said, “He never mentioned you. I’m sure that I would have remembered an unusual name like Magus.”
“Why should he mention me? We attended a few charity events together,” Magus said.
“My dad is usually trying to raise money for one expedition or another,” Leland said.
Magus said, “Archeology is an expensive pastime.”
“Yes it is,” Leland said.
“Speaking of expensive pastimes, I understand that you have a payment for me on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture,” Magus said.
Leland reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out an envelope with a check in it. He put it on the desk and said, “Here it is.”
“Excellent,” Magus said. “Now I can explain the problem to you and provide you with a solution to it.”
“What problem?” Leland asked.
“Fish,” Magus said.
“To be a little more accurate, an absence of fish,” Magus said pointing a finger at Leland.
Wondering if there was a hidden camera around recording the conversation for use in a television show, Leland said, “I was not aware that we have a problem with an absence of fish.”
“Now you know,” Magus said. He sat back and looked at Leland.
Leland waited for Magus to volunteer some more information, but the man was just sitting there. Finally, he said, “I need a few more details.”
“What kinds of fish are absent?” Leland asked.
“Lots of different kinds.”
“Can you be a little more specific?” Leland asked.
“Cod, halibut, eels, and sablefish to name a few,” Magus answered.
“I don’t work for the fisheries division of the Department of Agriculture,” Leland said. Not for the first time did he wonder why he was sent to meet with Magus.
Magus said, “You do now.”
“I do?” Leland asked. “I don’t recall applying for a position over there.”
Magus said, “I got you transferred. You have no idea how tough it is to deal with bureaucracies. I almost had to arm wrestle the Secretary of Agriculture to get you reassigned. Fortunately, Igor took care of the arm wrestling portion of the negotiations.”
“I like forestry products,” Leland said. “I like forests. I grew up in Colorado where there are lots of trees and very few ocean fish.”
“Your new job comes with a pretty nifty title,” Magus said while looking particularly pleased.
“What title?” Leland asked. He was starting to get the suspicion that all was not well in the world of Leland Bowne.
“Liaison to Magus.”
That was one job title that had escaped his notice. Leland asked, “What kind of job title is that?”
“Only the most sought after job title in all of government service,” Magus said. “I’ve seen grown men weep when they’ve learned that they’ve been assigned that job on behalf of whatever agency or department for which they work. I remember Colonel Cartwright breaking down into tears on learning his new job function. You’d think that a Marine would have better control over his emotions than that.”
“Why do I have the feeling they weren’t tears of joy?” Leland asked.
“I believe it is called paranoia,” Magus answered.
“That was a rhetorical question. I wasn’t expecting an answer,” Leland said. He was wondering how quickly he could escape and call his boss to find out what was happening.