The story so far:
Numbers. Numbers. Numbers. Numbers. They all tell a story, and the trick is making them say what you want. Hide a million here. Put a million there. Hide this trail. Show the financial distribution of these subsidiaries. If it works, give yourself less than half a percent, if it fails, hope your son finds good foster parents. How did it end up like this?
I pushed away from the mass of accounting sheets that had grown to a mountain on my desk. My chess game with the IRS had taken a tragic turn for the worse. It seems they learned many of my strategies, and in the end, there would only be the accountant to blame.
Amanda. Jake. Me. My eyes lingered on the family portrait three years past. Amanda, loving wife and mother, passed away after a fierce battle with cancer. I tried my best as a single parent to provide and nurture. When the Mafia asked me to fix their books, it seemed like a lucrative offer, while maintaining several precious hours a day that a father needed for a growing boy without a mother.
I doubt I can claim the fact that I made breakfast everyday as defense when I'm tried for over a dozen felonies and misdemeanors. I can't even turn states evidence; the Mafia's lawyers ensured if anyone took the fall, it would be me: I was the maverick accountant that was siphoning off that less than a half a percent into my own personal bank account. It would simply be my word against the overwhelming implication that I was knee-deep into fraud. Who was I kidding? I was knee-deep in fraud. There was only one solution: I had to beat the IRS.
I heard the doorbell ring. “Jake, that's your ride to school.” I called as I moved from my study to the front door.
Jake was old enough to walk to school, but regularly, he would car-pool to school with a classmate who was a daughter of a fellow Mafia family member; it gave me great joy to tease them as lovebirds. It had become my ritual to see Jake out the door. Once, I even caught them holding hands as they left.
“Oh Hi Tony, I was expecting Amy or Loren.” I opened the door wide welcoming Amy's father inside.
“Yeah, Loren is in the car with Amy and asked me to get Jake.” Tony shrugged in the direction of the SUV with his wife and daughter revving in the driveway.
“Well, he'll be down soon.” I reached in the closet to pull Jake's jacket ready. “So what's new?”
“I'm have to go out of town this weekend on a job.” I never knew what kind of jobs Tony performed for the Mafia, but I've always had my strong suspicions. “Hey, but you'd never guess this—it seems Amy's and Jake's teacher is working with the Feds.”
“Tracy Boyer—Ms. B?” I felt my heart jumped to my throat. Quickly, a cramping sensation churned in the pit of my stomach.
“Yeah...who would have thought?” Tony's face turn inquisitive as my discomfort must have been evident. “What's wrong?”
“Are you sure about Tracy?”
Tony nodded his head yes.
“I feel like fool.” I found myself shaking my head in despair. “I don't know what I've told her. I can't remember, but I'm sure there's been things I've probably let slipped. The truth is I have on more than one occasion tried to impress her. All this time, I'm probably the one who has made my own job much harder.”
I should have known better, what would a sultry, brunette like her want with an out-of-shape, bookworm like me? Jake stumbling down the stairs, and I helped him put on his jacket.
“Well, the Good Lord knows that my girlfriend has plenty of dirt on me,” Tony offered, “even more so with my wife.”
“Thanks,” I mustered a smile for his efforts, “I appreciate that.”
“Hey don't worry!” Tony had a gleaming smile on his face as they walked out the door. “By Monday, I'll be back, and our little problem will be fixed.”