an excerpt from Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip, by Chris Plante

May 11, 2013

Dear Maggie,

We have settled in here on a stretch of Americana just west of the mid section. Here, by the way, is another typical road stop diner complete with the amenities needed by travelers like us.  Along with the gender separate showers, propane, and sanitary waste disposal hook ups for the three Tackey clan Winnebagos, the diner also provides aged waitresses in need of attention, which is a gift WB brings with no reserve.  He has an uncanny ability to win over women who have emotional and functional disabilities.  Perhaps this is why his relationships have never lasted very long.  Each lasted only as long as his wife had an emotional disability.  Once a now ex-wife overcame said disability, she was out the door. The last one stayed on, not yet having overcome her disabilities and seemingly, as expressed by WB in the form of loud diatribes over the whine of certain parts of the van in need of repair while parting wind with the grill of his rotted van chugging along the highway and coinciding with the parting of wind between his rear side and the crackled torn vinyl of the driver seat, never would.  After a few near death experiences suffered by WB at the hand of her aggressive young son, though, WB was the one who was out the door.

Leaving the third party recollection of WB’s failed marriages behind and focusing on immediate physical needs, mainly nourishment, I do not expect it will be long—probably before 3 am tomorrow morning—before WB secures a bartering for food contract.  I should be eating dinner tomorrow evening on the efforts of my labors.

You mentioned in your last letter that I should, if I want to fully comply with the tax code, keep an accounting of the value of the benefits I receive from my labors in trade.  I have done so and will continue, and of course will report the proceeds on my 2013 tax returns.  As of yet my labors have earned me in food, bathroom privileges, and gas money the following amounts:


Food … $377.86
Gas … $42.89
Bathroom Privileges … $4.75


     I think you are right in stating it is only fair to the IRS that I contribute the dollar amount that results from the percentage of tax rate that I am obligated.

     I am happy to report that my friendship equity with the clan is restored, something I realized early this morning when Mildred Stanszibilli gave me a kind look as we passed each other en route to and from the private—and clean I might add—patron showers.  I rightly supposed that her kind gaze was for me, since she was on her way to the facilities and probably had not experienced the orderliness of them yet.

Being in the clan’s good graces once again, I was invited later this afternoon to sit with three of the Tackey clan members, Maude, Mabel, and Gerald, and was subsequently entertained to some mid-western drama taking place in the parking lot in front of the diner just 100 feet away.  The four of us were enjoying the shade of an awning extended from Frank and Mabel Penowski’s peach and cream colored Winnebago, when, according to a distraught waitress (and one whom I am sure would soon seek and gain WB’s companionship, if only for a night) a man parked his truck and began brandishing firearms to passers by.  “He seemed to clearly enjoy showing off his guns,” she told us with one hand holding a vibrating cigarette, fueled clearly by her posttraumatic nervous breakdown underway.  “He kept on showing them and then tossing them from their box in the front seat to the seat in the back.  He must have had twenty of them!”  She looked down at the ground and shook her head, then continued, “Four or five police cruisers showed up and the cops surrounded him.  Did you see it?”  With her body shaking as violently as her cigarette now, she added, “His truck was full of pool cleaning stuff and he had a bible on the armrest.  A big bible!”  We assured her that we had seen the entire episode involving the multiple police cruisers, although we were not sure what the fuss was all about, since we did not see the guns or the bible.  “Did he show you the bible, too?” I asked, acting concerned.  She just ignored my question, while my three companions each gave me a glance that told me they were brushing my inquiry under the Astroturf carpet laid out aside the Winnebago.

We were all united in agreeing with her, however, that the man with the bible in his truck was out of line displaying all those guns to the public.  Maude was noticeably disturbed.  She lifted her arm a little to spread out the excess fabric of her pink floral print polyester muumuu, and then said, “We really cannot have this kind of thing happening around our family.  We all have guns,” she raised her arm a little higher, “we just keep them to ourselves.  And others should, too!”  I’m not sure why she raised her arm like that, but it did give me a chance to put the entire bright pink floral pattern together in my mind.  Then Mabel, wearing a mint green floral print polyester muumuu—which looked smart juxtaposed with Maude’s pink floral print polyester muumuu—nodded, and added, “heaven forbid we ever have to use them!”  Mable finished her blurt by looking up, as to get confirmation from God.  “Yes, we would never want that, and I might add that people get kind of uneasy about the sort of thing that just happened,” said Gerald, a son-in-law of Al and married to Beatrice.

Gerald Bollingsson and his lovely wife have five children: daughter June age 15, a son named Bobby who is 13, daughter Peggy age 12, daughter Shirley age 10, and her twin sister Rhonda.  Gerald is actively concerned with the safety of his family and was very moved by the incident.  “I will be calling a family council regarding this type of matter and expect to meet with the adults about it immediately after dinner,” he said. Then he stood up tall, buttoned his polyester tan colored suit jacket, and stomped off to his midnight blue and light teal Winnebago to, as he loudly proclaimed, “draft suggestions.”  

     Mabel left immediately after to “prepare a tray of late night snacks conducive to the interior color of the Stanszibilli’s motor home,” which I must interject, serves as Al and Maude’s headquarters and hence is where all meetings of this importance are held, “as it looks like it will be a lengthy one,” she said as she scurried away, her long mint green floral print polyester muumuu working hard to catch up with her.

Late tonight I took a bean bag from the van, poured myself a large glass of icy lemonade from a carton one of the night shift waitresses kindly gave me, and positioned myself under the stars in a vortex of breeze channeling between the diner and a large neon sign marking the roadside resort spot to sleepy travelers going east and west.  From my little three square feet of real estate I could see the diner, the activity of folks within, a little bit of the road with the white lights coming and red lights going, and if I turned my head just a little to the right, I could see the adults of the Tackey clan huddled in a circle under the dimly lighted awning of Mildred and Graham Stanszibilli’s brown and tan Winnebago, which Al and Maude share with their daughter Mildred, her husband, and the couple’s three older offspring, son Joe, age 22, daughter Emma, age 20, and daughter Celeste, who is 18.

I will update you with the particulars regarding the Tackey clan’s security procedures as soon as they are made know to me.

Yours Truly,
Simon

you can purchase a copy of Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip, here.