T HERE’S A LEGAL TERM called “discovery.” It really has to do with lawsuits, but the abbreviated definition is that “the process of discovery is to obtain evidence from the other party or parties by means of discovery devices such as a request for answers to questions or interrogation, a request for the production of documents, admissions and deposition.”
In my case discovery came up because of that annual scourge, Income Tax.
The War Department and I finally settled down at the kitchen island to pull together all the receipts and documents to file our taxes. It was a little more difficult this year, because a few months ago, some cretin broke into the truck parked in front of my house and lifted my travel journal.
They probably thought it contained bank information or passcodes, but it was only a binder listing mileage and cash receipts. Part of my ire was that we had to rebuild the entire year’s worth of travel and associated costs from scratch.
That’s when the trouble started, because the War Department closely examined every receipt and document for the past twelve months. When certain purchases came to light, she felt the need to depose me.
“What’s this receipt from the Quanah feed store?”
“Corn for the feeders on the lease.”
“How many bags? I can’t read this.”
She poked at her calculator. “That doesn’t add up. What’s the rest?”
“I don’t remember.”
The Hairy Eyeball appeared, and the only sound in the house was the sound of Willie Dog escaping the coming scrape by charging out through the dog door.
I was alone.
“Uh, well, they had a box of .45 ammo that was cheaper than I’d seen it in a while.”
“You don’t own a .45, do you?”
“No, but I want one.”
“What’s this receipt for?”
“Groceries. We need to eat when we’re on the lease.”
“This enough food for a dozen people.”
“We get hungry.”
“But you take stuff from the pantry. I’ve watched you load it up.”
“Some of that is just in case.”
“We get hungry.”
“This mileage is off to Quanah.”
“You know that, huh?”
“I do, because you wrote it down last year. This doesn’t add up.”
“It does if you knew that we went into Childress a couple of times.”
“To eat. We got hungry.”
“There’s a pattern here. Fine, I can get a lot of this off the Amex printout, but these cash receipts here are for books. A lot of them. Why didn’t you use the card?”
“Because I had cash.”
“But you’re supposed to use the Amex card so we can have the printout to make this easier.”
“You didn’t want me to know you were buying so many books, huh?”
“Well…not exactly. I knew we’d be doing this, so I kept the receipts.”
She sighed. “Okay, fine. This restaurant receipt isn’t travel.”
“No, it’s for business meetings.”
“Business meetings.” She stated it as if a lawyer was addressing a jury.
“Can you spell audit?”
“Yes, but we’re good.” I winced when she picked up a yellow receipt. “What’s this?”
“Uh, something I bought.”
“Good answer.” The Double Hairy Eyeball appeared. “What is it?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“I’m surprised. You know I can read this, right? It’s printed very clearly. For who?”
“Well, like you see, it’s a Glock 43, and it’s for you.”
“Me.” Her tone was flat.
“Yeah, baby. It’s your birthday present.”
“That’s in May, and you bought it in September.”
I thought I was out of the woods until she picked up another receipt from an entirely different gun shop. “Another shotgun?”
“Remember your birthday is on our anniversary. Happy Anniversary!”
“I’m gonna have to go through all of these one by one. Surprise.”
I sighed and settled at the island for a long evening. “There might be another questionable receipt in there. I might have to plead the Fifth on that one.”
“That’s only in a courtroom. It doesn’t work here.”
I saw her standing behind the island, glaring, and looking like a judge on the bench. “It sure seems like it.”
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]
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