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Amy Ruth Schley

"The Tax Zombie Cometh . . ." by Amy Ruth Schley

SciFi/Fantasy text 11 out of 11 by Amy Ruth Schley.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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A day in the life of Ted Clark, business and tax lawyer. Part of the law series, though this isn't based on any particular cases. Rather, this started as a way of exploring some of the stranger sides of tax law. Believe or not, everything in here is good law. Note: this is an altered version of the original story. Unfortunately, in updating all the old comments were lost. I'm sorry!
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←- The Hairy Hand | Diary of a Young Girl -→

It was one of those nights when the mist comes up out of the sewers and mixes with fog in the streets and the low clouds to smother the city like a bowl of split pea soup. It was a Tuesday night and I still hadn’t gotten over my hangover from the Halloween party on Sunday. I staggered through the streets to my office, its neon sign pulling me in like moth to a flame. Tripping over a wino, I steadied myself on a lamp-post. The lamps illuminated the fog, creating little balls of light like Christmas ornaments. I walked the rest of the block, then headed up to my office.

“Theodore Clark, Business and Tax Attorney.” That’s my name on the door. Looks just like any other white collar shmuck in this town, until you notice the little sign on the bottom: “Licensed since 1925. Office hours 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM. All species welcome.”

I walked in and lit the gas lamps. Most of my clients prefer the ambiance and besides, it keeps the electric bill down.  I could hear the sound of the vote-mobiles trying to bribe the winos into re-electing the mayor and councilmen. I smiled. I pride myself on being the one dead man in this town who actually gets to choose who I vote for. Thankfully absentee balloting had made the process easier and less scary for the poor poll workers who had to look at my decaying corpse.

I poured myself a glass of water to help dilute the alcohol in my system. I had just gotten settled in when I heard a knock on my door. “Come on in!” I hollered. The advantage of being dead is that you don’t really worry about personal safety. The client stepped into the office.

He was short and wiry, with thick glasses and acid eaten clothes. “Uhh, Ted?” he asked, his voice a nasally whine.

“Yes, Jeremy?” I replied. Jeremy Higgins was a mad scientist wannabe. To pay the bills until he figured out a way to take over the world, he sold drugs. He had managed to turn common household chemicals into a narcotic that was not only ten times more potent than cocaine but also was technically legal. However, he was certain that the minute his drug was publicized it would get banned, so he was trying to keep out of the spotlight as much as possible.

“Ted, I brought my receipts. I forgot to file my quarterly return. Can you help me out?”

I sighed. “Jeremy, those were due on the fifteenth.” I grabbed the pack of paper in his hand. “Keep this up and you’re going to get audited,” I muttered.

I flipped through the stack of papers. Store receipts mingled with the strange scribbles of the dealer. “Drug sale, material purchase, drug sale, drug sale, rent, hand guns, electric bill, guard dog expenses . . .” I looked the kid in the eye. “Jeremy, how many times have I told you that you need to diversify?”

The wannabe sighed. “Lots.”

“Jeremy, I’m serious. If you just had a roulette wheel, a hooker, anything else, I could deduct all your expenses. As long as you’re just in the drug business, I can only deduct the cost of your drugs from your profits. You’re losing thousands of dollars to the government.”

“Yes, Ted.” The little man looked pensive. “I suppose I could rent out rooms to my customers.”

“Hospitality?” I mumbled as I thought. “That would work. Get me the paperwork and we’ll do that for next quarter.” I paused for a moment. “By the way, have you been keeping up with your sales taxes?”

The kid rolled his eyes. “Yes,” he said, utterly exasperated.

“Look, kid, in this state, you gotta pay sales on everything, including your street drugs. They bust you without your tax stamps, you’re going to jail and you gotta cough up the money.” I sighed. “In the meantime, I’ll fill these out. I’ll call you tonight for the amount you owe, and if you can drop off a check this morning I’ll get this sent off tomorrow.”

“Sure Teddy. How much do I owe you?”

“Same as always. Fifty bucks for prepping the forms, fifty bucks for trying to decipher your chicken scratch.”

Jeremy handed over five badly crumpled twenties, pouting a bit at the name calling. He walked out, slamming the door.

Little punk! I thought as I started delving into filling out the forms.

 

I had lost track of time when I heard my bell ring. I looked up at the clock, noticed that the clock said half past midnight. “Come in Hans!” I called and smiled as the vampire strode in. Hans Retchsanwalt was a German immigrant and my oldest friend. We preferred working independently, but we referred cases back and forth. I stuck with the tax and finance stuff, and he handled the rest.

 “You know, Hans, you can just come in anytime you want.”

 “Theodore, I am a vampire. I may not enter where I hef not been invited.”

“Hans, you have a standing invitation. My office is your office,” I added in my horrible Spanish accent.

“Yes, but . . .” the vampire flustered. “It is my hebit,” he said, a touch of his German accent creeping in. “Shall ve be off to our luncheon?”

“Sure.” I blew out the lamps and after we left, I locked the door. We took the stairs and headed out into the soupy streets. We walked side by side in silence, the vampire and the zombie. We were a study in contrasts: tall and skinny against medium and stout, his elegant stride versus my lurching steps, his bespoke suiting and my decaying clothes.

“So Hans, how’s business?”

“Theodore, it has been horrible. I hef been hard pressed to find enough clients to fill my nights. Also, the clients I find are less than forthcoming in providing payment.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I hef been forced to collect in blood. Fortunately, it does save me the cost of hiring prostitutes to sate my hunger.”

We walked along in silence. One of the many great things about being dead—you’re no longer vampire food. We arrived at our lunch spot: the Grateful Undead bar. The neon wasn’t properly lighting up the “Un,” however, so the doorman was sending the misguided drunk rock fans away.

We slipped through the crowd, passing the doorman. “Yo, wut up, Mr. R and Mr. C?” the black wolfman asked, his do-rag pinning back his ears and baggy pants being held up by the crook in his tail.

We ignored him. Both Hans and I can’t stand ghetto punks. We could have just found another bar, but there weren’t many options for people like us. We walked in and sat at our table in the corner.

Our waitress came up. Elva was a succubus who, after having contracted every STD known to mankind schlepping about as a lady of the night, had decided to move into a safer line of work. Not for her safety mind you—as a demon, she was immune to human diseases. She had decided out of the goodness of her heart that sleeping with her shouldn’t be a death sentence. Her fashion sense hadn’t changed from her nights as a street walker though, and she was laced up into a tight leather corset and a plaid miniskirt that went well with the black leather roller-skates.

“Hello sweethearts, what can I bring ya?”

“The usual, Elva,” I replied.

“All right. One full strength Bloody Mary and one Walking Dead.” She turned and skated off, her skirt barely reaching the fold between her ass and her thigh. I stalked her with my eyes as she vanished to the bar.

“Theodore, I hef never understood your attraction to thet woman. What possible appeal could such a trollop hef?”

“Hans, I’m dead. My libido isn’t. I’ve lusted after that woman for seventy years. I’m not going to stop simply because my heart went kaput. Besides, enough about me. What are you going to do about work?”

“I hef considered joining Chaney Karloff.”

“Chaney Karloff? Are you serious?”

“I vould greatly prefer not to join them. I do not vish to start verk at seven o’clock every night and verk until noon. Billing three thousand hours a year is an abomination. The firm simply does not belief in a verk/unlife balance.”

“No kidding, Hans. I worked for them as my first job out of law school. They worked me to death. Literally. And then they took my still warm corpse over to the College of Mad Science to get me reanimated so I could finish the due diligence for the merger I was working on. You don’t want to go that route, my friend.”

“I know, Theodore. I greatly hope business vill improve. The situation hess been depressing me greatly.”

“Hans, buddy, if you’re that hard up for cash, I can make you a loan until something comes up. Hell, I’d even be willing to set up a formal partnership. The money isn’t that important to me.”

Elva skated up, Hans’s Bloody Mary in one hand and my liquid filled vase in the other. “Here y’all are. The Bloody Mary is top shelf, AB+. And Teddy, I mixed this Walking Dead special for you. Vodka, Scotch, two types of Bourbon, Irish whisky, melon liquor, lager, Jaeger, and absinthe.” “Oh, Elva, you are a dear,” I smiled as I took the first sip. She smiled then returned to wherever waitresses go when they aren’t serving you.

Hans frowned and cocked an eyebrow. “Oh hush you!” I said to him. “My taste buds haven’t worked since becoming post mort, and the only way for alcohol to get to my brain is water pressure. If it’s not a suicider, I won’t even notice it.”

“Still, Theodore, a professional drinking so much is uncouth. I remember your boorish behavior at the Halloween party.”

I felt my face get a little warm. Must be the alcohol. “Well, I don’t remember, and it sounds like I’m a better zombie for it.” I paused. “I can hold my liquor just fine, thank you.”

I drank some more, the alcohol soaking my dead tissues and creeping up to my brain. Hans delicately sipped his cocktail.

“So Hans, did you vote yesterday?” I said, just to break the awkward silence.

“No, I did not. I carefully considered the candidates. They are all deeply flawed. I could not bring myself to support any of them, even if only to oppose the other.”

“Well, I can definitely understand that, considering the options always seem to be morons, criminals, or the borderline megalomaniacs. Lately I’ve been going with the intelligent criminals, but I switched to the morons I mostly agree with for this round. It’s all the same really, but I started voting back when . . .”

A small man came up to our table. “Excuse me,” he interrupted. His voice had the precise clip I associated with doctors. “Are you Mr. Rick San Walt?”

I pointed to my friend. “He’s Mr. Retchsanwalt,” correcting the pronunciation. Feeling pendantic, I added “Say it with me: Wretch zan valt.”

Hans shot me a look. “I am Hans Retchsanwalt,” he told the man. “Do you require my legal services?”

“Oh yes, sir. You see, I’m a doctor and I’m getting sued by a former patient of mine. I transplanted his hands, but it went wrong . . .”

I stood up. “Looks like you’re going to be busy, Hans. I’ll catch you later.” I downed the rest of my drink, tossed one of the crumple twenties from Jeremy on the table, and headed back to my office.

 

The alcohol was giving me quite a buzz by the time I got back. I fumbled with the lock, then staggered in, lurching more than normal. I collapsed on the couch, rethinking the wisdom of my bravado over lunch. After a few minutes, the alcohol started seeping through my ears and evaporating, clearing my head enough to get some water and get back to work.

I went back to preparing Jeremy’s self employment form. The work mostly just involved updating the last quarter’s statement, which I had retrieved from my files. I was in the middle of trying to figure out how to depreciate Jeremy’s Dobermans when the doorbell rang.

“Come on in,” I said, having lost my train of thought. I looked up to see the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Wait, no—she was some kind of anthropomorphic mink. She was covered in blond fur with a gorgeous mane and a long fluffy tail. Her hunter green suit matched her eyes perfectly and showed off her curves like no man’s business. She also had a pert green hat and a veil that matched her handbag. In short, she was some kind of furry forties pinup.

 “Mr. Clark,” she called, her voice soft and breathy. “I’m in a spot of difficulty. Can you help me?” She sat down beside my desk.

Oh, yes. Anything you want honey. “I, or . . .” I thought about mentioning Hans, but she was just so gorgeous. “I can help you out. What’s your problem?”

Please let it be a necrophilia fetish, please let it be a necrophilia fetish . . .

“I’m in a bit of a . . . situation with my husband, Mr. Clark.” She paused and seemed to blush. “He uh, passed away recently. He left everything to me.”

She’s rich, single, and gorgeous? When did I die again and get to heaven? “I’m sorry to hear that you’re all alone in this world.” I reached out, placing my decaying grey-green hand on hers. “So what can I help you with? The name’s Teddy, by the way.”

Her face pulled up into a tight embarrassed smile. “I’m Gigi Fitch,” she smiled as she pulled her hand out from under mine. I retracted my hand. “My problem is that he is hasn’t quite passed on. His spirit has been haunting our house.”

“Post-mortem relations can get a bit tricky. I should know.”

“Oh, I hoped you would understand. I just feel that my vow was ‘until death do us part.’ And well, he thinks that just because he’s still around I have to be the good wife and not spend our money or find someone more corporeal to start life over with.”

“Okay. What do you want me to do?”

“Well, Mr. Teddy, I was wondering if there is any way for me to seize control of the assets legally. I mean, I’m the rightful owner, right? He’s legally dead.”

“Ms. Gigi, post-mortem property assignments can be very tricky. American law wasn’t written to deal with dead people still capable of action. The law is generally in your favor, as dead hand rules are frowned upon.” I looked down and started searching through my business card deck. Finding what I was looking for, I started copying the information on a scratch sheet of paper.

“This is the contact info for a friend of mine. She’s a licensed medium and exorcist. I think your best bet is to just send your former husband’s soul on his merry way.”

Gigi slipped the note in her bag. “Oh, thank you Mr. Teddy.” She leaned over and kissed my cheek, thrilling me both from the touch and the nice view of her cleavage. I tried not to drool.

She walked to the door. “Gigi,” I called, “Would you like to join me for dinner?”

She turned and smiled. “I would like that. Meet you here at five?”

“You know where to find me,” I smiled back. She closed the door and headed down the stairs. I peeked through my windows, watched her vanish into the mist, and checked the clock.

Let’s see, it’s 3:00 now. If I get Jeremy’s form finished in the next half hour, I have time to run home, get cleaned up, and be back. I can do that.

Ah, the life of a tax zombie.

←- The Hairy Hand | Diary of a Young Girl -→

DateNameComment 
7 Nov 200845 Issac bickerstaff
this is so offensive to me. i’ve banged a couple dead people, and necrophilia is a really serious decision that profoundly changed my life. this condition makes it such that i can’t look at living people the same anymore. there will never be any literary value in necrophilia.

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "You’re offended that a fictional zombie wants a fictional anthropomorphic animal inspired by a cartoon character to enjoy having sex with dead men so he can get a little action?

I’m not endorsing it; I’m not even depicting it. Truth be told, I don’t think Gigi has any interest in him except to find another set of deep pockets. Thus, as soon as she finds out that he’s not about to turn over the checkbook no matter how good she is in bed, she’ll dump him.

If your strange confession is true (and I’m disinclined to believe this is anything more than trolling) I hope you are able to get treatment. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts for many years. But your condition is your problem, not mine. "
7 Nov 2008:-) John R Farley Jr
I guess I should have read this installment first. This part doesn’t seem as humorous as the second part, but I still like the 1940’s-1950’s down-on-his-luck detective and that style of narration they did. I picture this filmed in black and white with the dramatic lighting they did in the ’50’s. Cool story.

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "Thanks! This one is a little more plot based. But you have to admit--it’s the funniest story you’ve ever read about a tax lawyer, right?"
8 Nov 2008:-) Christopher M Cosby
(part1) 1st impressions: Real writing. Tight, addictive and definately the quality of voice that I enjoy reading. The opening is nice and gets the readers (my) interest right away. About the opening though, there is one thing that I think even with a previous installment, is the ’one dead man in this town.’ At some point before that, I felt I needed to be prepared to fully appreciate that statement. It certainly doesn’t belong in the first sentence, that would foul the mood you’ve set, but I think something about him being dead or a zombie needs to be in the 1st paragraph or early 2nd.

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "Hmm, I see your confusion. I hoped that the "Licensed since 1915" might have been a clue, but since this is written in a 40s style even though it’s set in the present day, it would be easy to miss the fact that if he’s been licensed that long, something is amiss. I’ll see what I can do to help foreshadow that."
8 Nov 2008:-) Christopher M Cosby
(part2) I only had time to read half the story and will read the rest this weekend. There are a few areas of the voice faltering that are pretty easy to fix. 5th paragraph ’But not just any drugs.’ is right up there with those infamous lines of ’or so it would seem.’ I’d kill that line. You do a very nice job of telling us how they aren’t normal drugs without a bland statement preceding it. Same parpagrash the ’but also was,’ and the ’However,’ I’d delete. They don’t really match the narrative’s **** Tracy voice.
Paragraph 36 ’butt’ No, no, no, no.... ’ass.’ 2 Mano y mano, men say ass. Our vampire Hans I think might say deriair or something not vulgar but still coy.
Last for now (must run to work) MSH? At sometime we need to know what MSH stands for otherwise silly readers like me search all over the place trying to find it. No matter how unimportant it is. I think the internal narrative from Ted would be the best place to give the full name of MSH. Obviously this is something they both know a great deal about and would only use the term MSH to each other.

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "Ah, yes. "Ass" would be more in character. I do try to keep my vulgarity limited, as there are far too many munchkins here on Elfwood. I’m only 25 and yet I feel like I’m from the Dark Ages around here!

Okay, I’ll fix the MSH. It stands for Morecomb, Slant, and Honeyplace, which is the premier law firm in Ankh-Mopork, the largest city on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I was trying to have a subtle homage without running afoul of either Elfwood’s FanFic rules or international copyright law. (Which I can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about that, as international law and intellectual property law are my two law school electives this semester.) Apparently, it was a little too subtle! I’ll figure out some other good paranormal law firm name. Chaney--Karloff, perhaps?

But for anyone interested, there are many real world law firms where associates are expected to bill 2500 or even 3000 hours a year. Assuming 2 weeks of vacation, that’s billing 60 hours a week. Since even the best lawyers can only bill for about 90% of their time actually worked, that’s the equivalent of 66 hours a week. There’s a good reason that big firm lawyers practically are zombies!"
9 Nov 2008:-) Ria Susan Witteman
oh my god!!!! i love your work, love it so much!!! i love the comedy and the funny concept of zombie tax attorneys and vampire lawyers!! you are great!! any advice for a young corruptable writer? please?

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "Hmm . . . Advice for a corruptible young writer? Where’s Screwtape when I need him?

My stories generally start with an idea. In these law stories, that idea is how do I take generally boring or obscure law or case and turn it into something funny. For Into the Sea, what happens after "happily ever after"? For "Diary," what would happen if a totalitarian dictator arose in the US? With this, I am helped immensely by the sheer bizarreness of law, the funny things said by my classmates, and the vivid dreams I get.

When the idea is set, I think of how to tell it. I’ve been experimenting with different viewpoints: limited 3rd person, honest 1st, innocent 1st, pulp fiction 1st, journalistic 3rd. I find that one POV is starts to cry out as best as I go along.

Third, I create my characters to make my idea work. Sometimes my characters are more dynamic and have to change, like Lassa and Jessa. In the shorter works, they just have to be interesting and flat, but every character should have something or some things that differentiate them from the other characters in the story.

I then write my story, which if I’ve done the other steps right, generally feels like transcribing a movie in my head. Then I have to go through the nasty process of tweaking, where I check to make sure characters stay in character, POVs aren’t switched mid-scene, the language is organic and not too stilted. It’s the worst part.

Then I post it here and hope the mods are nice to me!"
15 Nov 2008:-) Joshua Price
Alright, Elfwood once again works now. Turns out it wasn’t your gallery that was having the trouble, but rather any story (and artwork I assume) that had a lot of sub-categories, which would cause the page to get stretched. A few items in my own gallery suffered too, especially my Appendix of Species.

Anyways, for the most part I like the story. It’s a nifty idea and concept, putting fantasy creatures in such a "life like" modern setting such as this. You manage to do it without having to go into lots of explanation or making it read as if you’re just replacing humans with X. Either a lot of stories I’ve seen that try that are bad, or you’re just good at pulling it off. The story was also fairly amusing simply because of this. Normally you don’t have zombies and vampires working in law firms hitting on lions(?) that come looking for help.

Being fairly amusing, however, is also a bad thing. Not in of itself, but because there’s more potential here for it to go to truly funny. The problem seems to lay within the dialogue. It somehow feels a forced and a bit stiff, placed merely to serve the plot as opposed to serving as a medium for the characters to express themselves. The characters consequently seem to all sound and behave in a very similar fashion, which doesn’t allow them to come alive as they could (no vague pun intended). Elva stands out notably because both her dialogue and behavior are different. Her role is relatively minor, but she already seems more memorable than the other characters, save Theo since he’s telling the story. Nothing major needs to be done, just some tweaks here and there. It’s the little things that count and, consequently, seem to be missing.

Overall, an interesting read. There’s little improvements that can be made that’d go a long way, but it’s still good as is.


:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "Hmm. Well, I’ve done a couple things that should help. In writing the next chapter, I found I needed to change quite a bit of the dialog.

Thank you for the lengthy comment. Hopefully soon the edited version and the next adventure will be up."
16 Nov 2008:-) Matthew G Poole
Stopping back by again to read another one of your works... I like it! You can almost here the early jazz and snap of fingers sounding in the background as the Lawyer goes about his day. Making a vampire worried and all up tight was a perfect fitting too. I mean, really, you did a great job on adding in a lot of detailed characters in the amount of work given. Keep it up!

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "Thanks so much! I just finished another short story with Ted and Hans, and a few more characters. The new piece doesn’t actually have any law and is mostly character development, but I think it’s great fun. It also has a real Frank Sinatra soundtrack."
24 Nov 2008:-) Chris A Jackson
Very cute, in an undead Sam Spade, accountant kind of way. I was waiting for the one liners when the woman walked in... "Legs to die for, and I ought to know..." things like that. I’d be interested to know how Teddy died, but I’m sure that’s part of the story to come...

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "He he. Did you know that the character Sam Spade is not protected by copyright? It’s an actual case that established that characters are not protected when divorced from their original work. (Of course, the case is fifty years old, so I’m not sure if it’s still good law.)

Check out "Paranormal Person’s New Year’s Eve Party" for the next adventure!"
25 Dec 2008:-) Frances Monro
Nice, humorous. Exorcism of the dead raises a few moral issues though. Can Theo be exorcised if someone doesn’t like him?

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "My theory is that as a zombie, he doesn’t really have a soul to be exorcised. However, he might have problems with falling apart or burning up. So he’s still somewhat "mortal.""
10 Feb 2009:-) Heidi Hecht
This is pretty funny. Especially the undead-romance thing. I’m surprised he didn’t gross the ladies out. I am hoping there’s a part two to this because I’d love to see how the thing with the mink works out. (Though honestly, it’s a good thing she is a mink; I don’t like people who wear genuine animal fur.) Good writing here; I could just about hear the 1920s jazz in the background.

:-) Amy Ruth Schley replies: "My backstory on the human sized mink: some mink farmers decided that they would be more profitable if they raised larger mink. (If one mink could produce enough fur for one mink coat, think of the cost savings!) They got together with the scientists at the university, crossed some human and mink genes, and ended up with sentient mink.

(personal aside: I don’t have any more of a problem with farmed mink coats than I do with farmed cows being turned into leather. The farmed mink actually serve a useful purpose in "recycling" all the animal products that can’t be fed to humans: bones, offal, skins, etc. Now, I will gladly concede that our mass agricultural complex could be much kinder to animals, but a boycott on farmed mink seems like an arbitrary line that doesn’t make much difference in the lives of animals. I can definitely see the good of a boycott on wild trapped mink.)"
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'The Tax Zombie Cometh . . .':
 • Created by: :-) Amy Ruth Schley
 • Copyright: ©Amy Ruth Schley. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Bar, Clark, Dick, Drug, Elva, Fatale, Femme, Fiction, Film, Fitch, Gigi, Grateful, Hans, Higgins, Jeremy, Lawyer, Noir, Pulp, Retchsanwalt, Tax, Ted, Teddy, Theodore, Tracy, Undead, Vampire, Zombie
 • Categories: Demons, Imps, Devils, Beholders..., Ghosts, Ghouls, Aparitions, Humourous or Cute Things, Lycanthrope, Were-folk, etc, Mythical Creatures & Assorted Monsters, Urban Fantasy and/or Cyberpunk, Vampires, Zombies, Undeads, Dark, Gothic, Parody, History-based, Parallel or Alternate Reality/Universe, Mystery, Detective, Crimes
 • Views: 1455

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