Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Taxman Cometh - Fiction

"The Taxman Cometh"
by Eric R. Lowther

First appearing on the Guest Author section of www.edgeofpropinquity.com
December 2008

Vampires don't sparkle. They're cold-blooded killers with the need to feed not only from human blood but human misery. But still, there are worse things in this world... Author

Even sitting, the assassin could nearly look him in the eye. Paul swallowed hard and scanned the seedy bar nervously. “You Willows?” the big man asked, eyes hidden behind dark glasses.

“Uh…yes…” he answered softly.

“You’re late.” He pushed his thick, black mane behind his shoulder and picked up an empty glass. “Tremaine was warned.”

“I’ve worked with Don Tremaine for ten years. When that…that bastard took my little girl…he was the only one that would believe me. He told me what you do…that you helped him…”

Help implies I did it for free. He paid.” He poured several fingers, downed it then lit a cigarette. “Talk.”

“Well… I… I work for the IRS, you see, and…”

“Get to the point.”

“The point… yes… I took my daughter Jeanine to a banquet for the agency. We had a guest speaker, Henri Destault, a French financier. Afterwards, Destault sent for my daughter and me to join him…”

“Stop…” the assassin said, holding up a gloved hand. “Destault wined you, dined you, you left. You could swear you were with your daughter, turns out she never left. When you went looking some goons told you to scram. Through whatever means, you found out at least something of Destault’s true nature. Now she’s dead and you’re looking for revenge but couching it in the noble stance of making sure that some other poor, innocent girl doesn’t fall to the same fate. Warm?” Paul was taken aback at the primitive encapsulation of the last three weeks.

“I… yes.The police are useless. They wouldn’t believe me. When I saw his eyes glow and those… those fangs… they found her body down at the pier… that’s when Don told me about you…”

“Then you know I don’t come cheap. Very specialized line of work, Willows.”

Paul reached into his coat and pulled out a fat envelope. “$125,000. It’s my life savings.” Shakespeare glanced at the envelope and polished off another glass.
“I should stake you for wasting my time.”

“I thought I could give you the rest in a few weeks. I’ll have to mortgage my home…”

“You’re kidding, right? I don’t have a fucking layaway plan.”

“…please… that monster killed my daughter! I don’t have anywhere else to turn…”

“Look Willows… I’m gonna be straight with you. I know who Destault is and I know what he is, one of the oldest vampires in Europe today. You can mortgage your house, sell your car, your dead daughter’s jewelry for all that matters, and you still wouldn’t have enough. Buy a lottery ticket. If you hit, let me know.”

“He has to be stopped!” Paul said loudly. The assassin looked up slowly. “I’m sorry…but…”

“Destault is a bad, bad man Willows. A vampire doesn’t stay around for centuries without being one. But one at Destault’s age, not to mention he’s got a few hundred million to stand on… piece of free advice? Forget about Destault.”

“I can’t do that…” Paul whispered hoarsely. “He killed my daughter.”

The assassin stood up and smoothed his long leather coat. He was even larger than Paul had first thought. “Look, Willows. I have a reputation. If I did this for nothing, every sharecropper with a junior vamp in the field would be running after me.”

“Then I’ll do it myself.” he said more firmly than he actually felt.

“Then you’ll die. Or worse. You’re a CPA, right? How would you like him to turn you then put you to work for the next hundred years or so, burying all of his companies’ dirty little secrets? The guy’s got his fingers into a dozen different companies, some legal, some not. Go home, get drunk, have a good cry and put all this away in a little box somewhere.”

“My wife died three years ago… I just buried my daughter… I have nothing else...”

“Bent on committing suicide? Cool. I suggest you do it in the pedestrian style and choke on a barrel. Better than how he’d kill you or being turned. I’d hate somebody to come to me one day that has the money to put a mark on you.”


Paul turned the conversation over in his mind as he drove. The big man was right, of course. He stopped for a red light, pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. A bus pulled alongside with a large advertisement plastered down its length, drawing his eye. He slid on his glasses and found an ad for a large accounting firm. The sign warned him that without their services, he would surely be audited. Paul smiled despite his mood as he and the bus parted. It amazed him that audits scared the average person. You only had to worry if you had something to hide.

At the next intersection, he sat long after the light had turned green, the horns of those behind him finally moving him along.

By the next block, the man that had just buried his daughter was truly smiling.


Henri Destault was a man of impeccable taste. After all, what was the point of immortality if one couldn’t enjoy it? He fingered the thick, exquisite blackout drapes that allowed him to conduct his affairs in the light of day. The sun had just set, and he was to be at a charity banquet in an hour. This one, a benefit to help an orphanage in Laos, served to cover a slavery ring that kept many of the most important vampires in Europe stocked with fresh blood without the mess of hunting. The phone on his desk chimed, breaking the silence.

“Mr. Destault, there’s someone here to see you. An Agent Willows of the Internal Revenue Service…”

“The IRS? Tell the agent I will be happy to speak to him Monday morning.” There was a long pause then the secretary’s voice, somewhat pinched.

“I don’t think that’s an option, Mr. Destault. He has a court order. Several of them.”

“Does he now? Send him in.” Destault recognized the agent’s face as soon as he walked in though the name escaped him, a common problem for one that had met so many over the centuries.

“Good evening, Agent…?” Destault began.

Paul stared hard at the vampire. It had been more than a year since he had encountered the creature. Of course, Destault hadn’t changed. But Paul had changed; physically as well as mentally. His first delving into Destault’s corporation produced questionable accounting. He followed the trail of code violations and misappropriated, unexplained funds through twelve different corporations, finally proving links back to Destault himself. But he’d done more than that in the past year. He’d transferred into field work in preparation for this very day, had worked nearly as hard on toughening his body as well as his mind. Gone was the gentle, abused man that had lost his daughter to this monster. In his place stood a new Paul Willows, this one armed with a court order and a Colt Delta. “Agent Willows, Internal Revenue Service.” he said as he stopped in front of the desk.

“Well, then, Agent Willows. To what do I owe this late visit?”

Willows reached into his jacket, withdrew several envelopes and dropped one of them on the desk. “That, Mr. Destault, is a court order suspending fourteen corporations and charitable entities that show offices within the confines of the United States and her territories.” He slipped another onto the desk. “That is from the Immigration and Naturalization office, revoking your visa privileges. Your passport has likewise been suspended.”

“Agent Willows…” Destault sneered, “Surely we can work something out.” Destault continued to stare, seeking a way into his mind to bring this man to his knees like so many before. What he saw in Willows’ eyes was the image of a young girl, eyes bright as her smile, riding a bicycle.

“This…” Willows said without missing a beat, dropping another envelope, “Is a seizure notice. All accounts, real estate and other holdings have been seized by the United States government for investigation into criminal activities both corporate and personal assets, held in the United States and four other nations.”

“This is…highly irregular…” Destault hissed, still probing the agent’s mind. The image changed to one of the same girl many years later in a gown standing next to an equally dapper young man.

“I believe the highly irregular is something you should be well accustomed to, Mr. Destault.” Willows’ voice had taken an edge now, a bitter quality that Destault could easily perceive.

“I know you, Agent Willows. Have we met?”

“As a matter of fact we have, Mr. Destault. A year ago. You spoke at an Internal Revenue banquet I attended with my daughter.” Willow’s gaze hardened. He could feel the vampire trying to penetrate his defenses, feel the sweat on his upper lip form as he fought off the assault. “And these… these are search warrants for various documents, files and other matters of record.” He dropped all but one of the remaining envelopes.

“I do know you…” Destault’s professional mask melted as he smiled wickedly, displaying his fangs. “Ah, yes…what was her name? Jenna?”

“Jeanine.” Willows corrected. “My daughter’s name was Jeanine. She’s dead now.”

“So sorry to hear…” Destault said patronizingly. “She was quite the attractive young lady, if memory serves. But, this being business, let’s look at what we can do to ease this situation.” Without taking his eyes from Willows, Destault reached down and popped open a desk drawer. Willows pulled back the left side of his jacket, revealing his pistol and identification badge. Destault acknowledged the action with a deprecating smile and put a very large and bulging manila envelope beside the accumulating writs. “I have never been one to mix business with pleasure, Agent Willows. It is simply not…profitable. Being an intelligent man, even you can see that nothing good can come of this for either of us. But we can change that.”

“Mr. Destault, I must advise you that attempting to bribe an agent of the federal government...”

“Bribe? Agent Willows, you do me offense. I am sure you know of many good uses for a charitable donation, don’t you?”

“This last, Mr. Destault,” Paul said, holding up the last envelope, “this orders you to appear in my office at nine on Monday. Bring all relevant personal tax records, receipts and other documents. In short, Mr. Destault, you’re being audited.” Willows let a small smile slip across his face. “That’s nine a.m. Monday morning, in my office.”

Destault let out an inhuman hiss and brought his face as close to Willows as the desk allowed. “And they call me a vampire?” His voice was hollow, inhuman and lent no credence to the laughter at his own joke. “I advise you to take what is offered and leave at once else you shall join your precious daughter…”

“I’m afraid that’s quite impossible, Destault.” He drew his pistol and leveled it squarely with Destault’s forehead. The vampire seemed unaffected, even placing the tip of his finger on the weapon’s muzzle as if to plug it. Then he caught the argent scent in the air. “Yes, Mr. Destault. Silver.” Paul Willows had never felt so in control, so confident in his life. The slip of Destault’s smile vindicated him, made him feel the last year of his life had been worth the sleepless nights and endless records this creature had forced him to navigate.

“Agent Willows…” Destault said, laughing, “The room is soundproof. No one will ever know your fate. Still, it is fitting that you should die in the same room as your precious Jenna…”

“Jeanine.” he said flatly as he pulled the trigger, the silver bullet ripping the tip from Destault’s index finger. The vampire howled and cupped his damaged hand against his breast. Suddenly, the room filled with light as more than a dozen men in tactical gear broke through the door, their submachine guns sweeping the room. Destault roared then leapt through the window, shattering it as he sailed into the night air. Shocked at his exit, the agents could only shout or stare. Several of them broke away at the urging of their commander to the street below.

“Willows!” one of the men called to him. “What the hell just happened?”

“An unnatural fear of an audit.” He holstered his pistol and looked around the room. Other IRS agents had come in behind the tactical team. “Destault uses this floor and the one below.” Willows announced. “I want every file, every computer, and every speck of paper. Lieutenant Taylor, please see that my agents have the benefit of your protection in case they encounter hostility while discharging the warrants.” Willows looked down at the desk then scooped up the array of envelopes, securing them inside his jacket and zipping it to make sure the largest of them didn’t fall.

“Where are you going?” the lieutenant asked.

“I have to take care of a few loose ends. Let your superiors know they might as well put out an alert on Destault, for all the good it will do. You won’t catch him tonight.”

“Agent Willows, he just jumped from thirty stories…I think we’ll find him waiting on the sidewalk…” the officer stopped and put a finger over his ear bud, then looked back at Willows. “There’s nothing on the sidewalk except broken glass and a few pissed–off pedestrians…what the hell is going on here, Willows? Why did you discharge your weapon?”

“That will be in the report to my superiors, Lt…Taylor, is it?” Willows pulled a small notepad and thumbed a few pages. “Joshua K. Taylor? 727 West Palm? Funny, I thought that was you I saw getting out of that Audi back at the station. You only reported…hmm…$49,000 last year…” When he looked up from his notepad, the lieutenant was gone. Willows smiled. Life was good. It was about to get better.


A cold wind blew as the creature ran through the trees. Deprived of his worldly goods and severely limited in his options to flee the country, he was reduced to living like a whelp vampire, sleeping in abandoned buildings and feeding from bums and prostitutes. That was how the hunter had found him.

Destault slowed then crept to the edge of a clearing, his feral nature now firmly in control. He peered over a dead log and found the hunter a few yards away, staring at him. He hissed and put a large tree between them when he finally recognized the assassin. “Shakespeare…” Destault hissed.

“You do your homework.” the assassin said around his cigarette. “Just come out and I’ll be quick.” He held up his watch and tapped the crystal. “If I don’t kill you in ten minutes it’ll be like I’m doing it for free.”

“And who would pay you to slay me, eh? I have nothing left for my enemies save hate.”

“Apparently, there’s at least one guy that thinks your unlife worth the price. Come on. I’m missing Idol.”

Destault’s mind swam. Who would have paid? He knew enough of the inhuman vampire hunter to know his services came at an incredibly high price. “We can make a deal…”

“You have nothing. Besides, I think you already paid me.” Shakespeare pulled a large piece of heavy paper from his coat, folded it a few times then crashed it into Destault’s tree. Destault warily reached around and picked up the neatly folded airplane. He opened it to find it had been made from a very large manila envelope; the same type he used in his office, the same type that had held two million in cash in his desk.

“Willows…” he roared.

“My kind of guy.” Shakespeare said. Destault crouched, turned and growled as he pushed back into the trees. Shakespeare shook his head slowly and started walking. “Fuck. A runner.”

Destault had not been feeding as well or often, and it showed in his flight. Briars caught and tore at the rags of his once–fine suit as he scrambled through the darkened woods. His foot suddenly broke through a soft, loamy ledge, sending him tumbling down a long, muddy embankment and finally into the knee–deep stream below. He roared in futility at the night sky accompanied by the sound of patronizing applause from the opposite bank a few feet away. There sat the hunter, slowly clapping his hands.

“For the consideration of the Academy…” he said, deadpan. Destault leapt, his claws reaching for the assassin. At the last moment, Shakespeare grabbed an outstretched wrist and spun his body, sending Destault crashing against a large weeping willow that had nearly taken over the bank. “You’re slow, Destault. What’s the matter? Hungry?” The vampire scrambled to his feet and crouched, waiting to pounce. Shakespeare stood to his full height and flicked his dying cigarette away. “If that’s the way you want it...”

The assassin’s nonchalance sent Destault over the edge. Insult burning his mind, he launched himself again. Shakespeare twisted his body and lashed down with a punch that would have felled a bull to the base of the vampire’s neck. Destault’s momentum carried him past the bank, his upper body landing in the cold, fast-rushing water. He tried to move, but the assassin’s blow was well placed and had nearly severed his spinal column. He could feel his body trying to knit the bones back together, quiet the nerves in their raging fear and make his body whole again. But he was simply too weak for the process to take the few moments it normally would. Suddenly, he felt his whole body being lifted then thrown onto dry ground. He tried to raise his arms, but they would no more respond than his legs would. Destault looked up to see the hunter staring down at him, a long, polished stake of naked ash in hand.

“Take my advice, Destault. Don’t fuck with the IRS. Those guys are monsters…”

Copyright Eric R. Lowther

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