Devouring Audit

From the Story Arc: Bear It Alone

Previous Story in the Arc: Officer Bear by Soviet Bear (Wednesday, March 15, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Bullet for the Bear by Soviet Bear (Sunday, April 30, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, March 22, 2006)

"Bah!" Bear slammed his fist into a pile of documents. "Bejouled!"

Bejouled looked up from her crossword puzzle, a bored look on her face. "What is it, Old Man? I'm sitting right across from you."

"It is these infernal tax documents. I have saved receipts. I have ravioli receipts, vodka receipts, receipts from Izzy's Trip Mine Emporium, dry cleaning receipts? There is no box that says, 'Bear, put receipts in here.' Bah! Then there is Immigrant Superhero Exemption, Excessive Radiation from Energy Blast Assessment, and a request for three dollars for President! Stalin would never beg for money from hero! He would kill hero and take it! Bah!" Bear, with spittle in his mustache, took a vigorous swig of vodka.

Bejouled stared at him with stone-faced detachment, like a nerve-damaged koala. Just as Bear was starting another rant, his comm rang. "Da, Bear here... Comrade Yates, how is the Devouring Earth situation?... Um, well, my arthritis is flaring up and I don't know... Spores, allergies... da, da... Lawyers?... It would appear my oven is on fire, could I call you back.?"

Bear quickly hung up the phone. "Bah," he said, turning toward Bejouled, "Seems that Ginger Yates wants me to rescue some lawyers from the Devouring Earth. I know not what offends me more, those terrible creatures or the Devouring Earth. Haha!"

Bejouled, still staring blankly at the old man, asked, "What law firm was it?"

"Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe. Why do you ask?"

Bejouled smirked. "They are tax lawyers."

"Bah! Then they are the lowest form of life, below even Ukrainians. Below Latvians! Below.... tax lawyers?.." Bear's voice trailed off.

"Da. Call back Comrade Yates and inform her that you have changed your mind. And do not forget your receipts."

Bear smiled. "You are an almost worthwhile companion, Comrade Bejouled."

Bejouled rolled her eyes and resumed her crossword while the Soviet Bear tossed papers into a box.

***

The entryway of the office building smelled like an abandoned greenhouse. The pungent odor of soil and fungus mingled with the metallic scent of toner. Bear peeked around a corner, and he saw a large creature made of crystal and another shaped like a toadstool threatening a portly, balding man. Bear placed his box of documents on the ground, set a trip mine and opened his plasma conduits.

After a flurry of blasts, the Devouring Earth creatures lay smoldering on the carpet. Bear turned to the sweaty man. "Excuse me, comrade. Are you a lawyer."

"Y..Y....yes.." the man stuttered, paralyzed with fear.

"Haha," said Bear, "You speak like Porkly Pig, from that Animal Farm show. You know. 'What is up, Doc?' and 'I am going to punish kulak rabbit'."

The man looked confused. Bear continued, "Anyway, I have to file my filthy American taxes. If I give you my deductions, would you fill them out? I am having a great difficulty!"

The man nodded hastily. Large half-moons of sweat spread from his shirt like a time-lapsed moon. He sputtered, "But what about my colleagues? Aren't you going to save them?"

"In good time," Bear said reassuringly. "For now, though, we need to see if I am getting big refund!"

Bear grabbed his box of papers and escorted the man to an empty office nearby. The lawyer turned on his PC, and Bear set up a series of mines and caltrops in the doorway. "So," the lawyer began, "What is your name?"

"Vladimir Polohkov, the Soviet Bear"

"Occupation?"

"Hero."

"Immigrant Metahuman ID Number?"

"667856-a."

"Okay, Mr. Polohkov, according to this W-2, you have been on Elderly Hero Assistance. Is that your only income this year?"

"Da." Bear nodded.

"Do you have any dependents?"

"Bah!" Bear turned a deep shade of red. "I do not have an incontinence problem!"

The lawyer turned pale. "OK," he said nervously, "I'll mark that as a no. Let's go through some receipts for deductions... Trip mines... dry cleaning... Multi-National Hut of Waffles? What is that for?"

Bear blushed slightly. "Well, you see. I invited young foreign hero to breakfast one day. She was distraught because people did not take her seriously.?"

"Why's that?" the lawyer inquired.

"Well, you see, she had these very large teeth that she would use to apprehend criminals with, and she worked very hard and very fast. Very busy. But for some reason beyond me, everyone we met snickered at her. I thought The British Beaver to be a fine and sturdy hero; later she changed her name to Speedy Beaver, but that did not help. She could not face the humiliation, and she went back to Dover a failure. Very sad to see such an eager Beaver give in so easily. Bah! I ramble. It was business expense."

The lawyer, containing a chuckle only through complete fear for his safety, marked it down. "OK, Mr. Polohkov, let me finish this up... and... you owe the government four-thousand dollars."

"Shto?" Bear became pale and wobbled visibly.

"Your Elderly Hero Assistance is maxed out. You're on the top rung. Essentially, you are making more than the maximum allowed for most elderly heroes and have not had enough withheld to cover your taxes."

"NYET!" The Bear regained his composure. He grabbed his completed form from the lawyer's hand and put it in his uniform. "Bah! You are a fool, comrade. But I must save you and your worthless associates anyway. Do svedonia." He spit on the ground near the lawyer's feet and rushed off to destroy more Devouring Earth. The sounds of energy blasts could be heard from two floors below, as fungi whithered and died, and rock creatures exploded into dust and pebbles. And Myron Dewey, tax attorney, closed his office door and slumped to the floor, exhausted.

***

Bear came back into his apartment and slammed the door. "Bah!" he exclaimed, waving a piece of paper in the air, "Some advice you had! Now I owe filthy Amerikanski government four-thousand dollars."

Bejouled smiled. "Perhaps Omni-Mart needs a greeter."

Bear sent a scowl in her direction.

"Do not feel bad, Old Man. I will find some extra money."

"I appreciate you helping out, Comrade Bejouled."

"It is not a problem, Old Man. Have you taken you vitamin drops yet today?"

Bear shook his head.

"Better take a double-dose," Bejouled said with a crooked smirk, "you need some extra vitality."

"Indeed, comrade." Bear took a long swig from the bottle.

Bejouled smiled and resumed her crossword puzzle while Bear sat in his recliner and basked in the radiance of his television.