THE SHARK BITES
Captain Lee Crane unconsciously tapped his pencil on his plotting table. He was not looking forward to pulling into homeport.
"Whatís wrong, Lee?" his exec Chip Morton asked. "Iíve never seen you this irritated and anxious. What gives?"
Lee looked into Chipís playful blue eyes. "I have a tax audit and I want to make sure we arrive in plenty of time. Thatís all." Lee volunteered as his mouth closed shut.
"Tax audit, Lee. What did you do to piss off the IRS?" Chip asked, concerned for his friend.
"I did nothing, Chip and I donít like your insinuations," Lee replied curtly. "Now I believe you have work to do."
Lee arrived promptly at the IRS office. Dressed in his best khaki uniform, he made sure it was pressed and his shoes and insignia were shined. He also brought a box full of his records and receipts he used to back up his deductions.
He had given his name to the secretary and sat down in the waiting room looking at all the other nervous people. He for one had nothing to worry about. He had followed the tax laws to the letter and couldnít understand why he was being audited in the first place.
"Captain Crane?" The nice perky blonde secretary called. "Mr.Wilgitu will see you now. His office is the first door on the right."
Grabbing his box, he headed to the office. Opening the door, he found himself in a small nondescript office, where not even a plant could be found, let alone family photographs. The desk was Government Issue along with the white colored wall and no window.
The man, dressed in a gray suit, looked him over. Mr.Wilgitu was in his fifties, graying hair and had a dour look about him. Looking at his desk, Wilgitu had Leeís return on his desk.
"Take a seat, please." Wilgituís voice was a soft monotone.
Lee complied and sat his box down next to the chair and placed his head cover on top of the box.
"You have a very interesting return," Wilgitu glanced at his notes. "Captain Crane. I have been in this business many years and yours was one that caught my eye. Now we have a few things to go over. I donít think it will take very long."
Lee could already feel the perspiration forming on his upper lip. This was not going to be easy. He nonchalantly wiped off the sweat and looked nervously at Wilgitu.
"I have all the receipts to back up my claims, Mr.Wilgitu," he said in his defense.
"Iím sure you do, Captain. I find the military to be a solid bunch when it comes to records. However, your return has some questionable items on it."
Lee started to squirm. Questionable items!
"Now on your Schedule A, I see you have the normal deductions except for the medical expenses. They seem rather high. I have seen other tax returns on submarine captains and they are not this high. Are you accident prone?" Wilgitu eyes bored into him.
Lee had to contain himself. Didnít the man know what he did?
Clearing his throat Lee tried explaining, "I have a very dangerous job, Mr.Wilgitu. Unfortunately, I canít tell you because itís classified. Needless to say, everything can be backed up. Since Iím not really in the Navy and Nelsonís medical coverage isnít complete, I do have a lot of unexpected medical bills is all. I hope that will suffice." Letís see, giant octopusís, mermaids, UFO's.
"All right, Crane. The next item. Your charitable contributions are high also. Considering your income and occupation, I thought military personal werenít very political on the whole. Letís see, Jacques Cousteau, Sierra Club, Green Peace."
"I can explain. I live most of my life in the ocean. I would prefer it protected. Again, I do have the receipts."
"Iím sure you do, Crane," Wilgitu seemed to be getting irritated.
Calm down, Crane. Donít want to upset the IRS.
"Okay. Weíll move on. Now about your uniform costs, I thought the military supplied you with uniforms."
"As I said before, Iím not exactly Navy. Besides, between bullet holes and oil leaks, I go through a lot of uniforms."
Wilgitu looked at him unbelieving. "I thought submarines were safe vessels, Crane. And now you tell me your uniform gets damaged about every other week. Because according to these numbers your uniforms donít last long. Nelson Institute, huh. Iíve heard about Nelson, in fact heís been audited before on his organization. Something about the books."
"Now look here. Admiral Nelson is one of most decent human beings alive. Heís a philanthropist and scientist of distinction. Right now he may be having some problems but heís working on them," Lee shifted uncomfortably in his hard wooden chair.
"Calm down, Crane. I donít doubt his voracity. Now if you can pull out some of the receipts on the questioned items we can continue," Wilgitu said without a hint of emotion.
Lee did as he requested but it seemed days not hours. Every receipt he pulled out Wilgitu demanded an explanation. That limited Leeís response depending on whether the mission had been classified or not.
He was bone tired and brain fried by the time he left the interview. He had gone in around 1 P.M. and by the time he left it was dark. And he still didnít know where he stood. Wilgitu was evasive on his response about his deductions. All he said was he would receive notification shortly in the mail. He didnít need any more distractions. He drove home, hungry and tired.
Getting back on the boat was the best thing Lee needed. Two days after his audit, Seaview was called away on a highly hush, hush mission. His crankiness added to the mission as his nerves were on edge and frayed the whole time.
What made matters worse, was that Chip kept on making bad jokes about the IRS. He tried to ignore them and didnít always succeed. By the time they were headed home, Lee was ready to toss Chip overboard, and Lee had again destroyed another uniform. There had been an emergency in engine room and Lee was in the thick of it. Between the water and sludge, he had no choice but to throw another destroyed uniform away.
"Sir," Sparks called, "Iím picking up an emergency beacon sir."
Lee went quickly over to the communications shack. "Can you pinpoint it Sparks?"he asked nervously. Crane was always cautious. "It might be a trap," he reasoned. Two men had paid for their lives with a special device Seaview had just retrieved, which was now secured and under guard.
"Yes, sir. I can, shall I relay the coordinates to Ski?" Sparks looked expectantly at him.
Lee thought for a few moments. They were pretty close to home. Probably some yahoo in a boat, whoíd gone and gotten himself hurt.
"Yes, Sparks, relay the coordinates to Ski," he ordered Sparks.
"Mr. Morton, make preparations to surface," Lee said with a little more ferocity than he wanted.
"Aye, aye, sir," Chip replied back curtly.
After surfacing, Lee sent Patterson and Morrison to retrieve the stranded boaters. Within minutes they descended down the ladder into the control room. Lee had a funny feeling and just a hint of satisfaction as he looked upon the men. Wet and pale in jeans, shirts and tennis shoes.
"Sir, here they are. This is Mr. Wilgitu and Mr.Wontletgo. They had a mishap with a shark," Patterson said as he tried not to laugh. "They told me all about it, seems Big Mouth was around, sir."
Lee was speechless for a second. And then a huge smile spread across his face as his hazel eyes lit up with recognition. "What type of boat did you find them in, Patterson?" He barely could contain his control.
"Well actually sir, it was what was left of a dinghy. Isnít that right, gentlemen?" Patterson informed him.
Both Wilgitu and Wontletgo shook their heads yes.
"So, you had a run in with Big Mouth. So tell me, Patterson, did you also find liquor in their boat?" Lee stared pointedly at the two men, now wrapped in blankets as their teeth chattered.
Wilgitu and Wontletgo faces turned red.
"Pity. Donít you know Big Mouth doesnít like fish; he likes booze, preferably beer. Is that what you had?" Lee said as he savored the moment crossing his arms.
They both looked sheepishly down on the deck.
"Patterson, why donít you take our visitors to quarters and try to find them some dry clothes and hot coffee." Lee enjoyed every word he said.
He watched as Patterson took them up the stairs and disappear.
Chip now had a look of amazement and surprise on his face. "Want to tell me all about it?"Chip asked as he gently guided Lee to the observation nose.
Lee stood there watching his exec squirm, considering all of Chipís heckling; he enjoyed the shoe being on the other foot.
"Maybe, maybe not, considering," Lee let the phrase hang there.
"All right, all right. I give. Tell me what you know about those two," Chip apologized profusely as he pointed his thumb up.
"Those my friend, are our IRS auditors. And the only reason the shark didnít eat them was professional courtesy." Lee started laughing out loud. "And Iíd rather face Big Mouth any day of the week than them and Chip keep a tab on our visitors. I think the Nelson institute is going to send the IRS a bill."
MY CONTRIBUTION TO APRIL 16TH. THATíS WHEN TAXES ARE DUE THIS YEAR AND IíM PROUD TO SAY I DO PEOPLEíS TAXES AND THE ONLY REASON I DO BECAUSE ITíS THE ONLY LEGAL WAY TO NOT GET BIT.