Some People Just Need Shooting
When I was nine, I formed a Silly Putty pecker for my Ken
doll, knowing heâ€™d have no chance of fulfilling Barbieâ€™s
needs given the permanent state of erectile dysfunction with
which the toy designers at Mattel had cursed him. I knew a
little more about sex than most girls, what with growing up
in the country and all. The first time I saw our neighborâ€™s
Black Angus bull mount an unsuspecting heifer, my two older
brothers explained it all to me.
"Heâ€™s getting him some," theyâ€™d said.
"Some what?" Iâ€™d asked.
We watched through the barbed wire fence until the
strange ordeal was over. Frankly, the process looked
somewhat uncomfortable for the cow, who continued to chew
her cud throughout the entire encounter. But when the bull
dismounted, nuzzled her chin, and wandered away, I swore I
saw a smile on that cowâ€™s face and a look of quiet
contentment in her eyes. She was in love.
Iâ€™d been in search of that same feeling for myself ever
My partner and I had spent the afternoon huddled at a
cluttered desk in the back office of an auto parts store
perusing the ownerâ€™s financial records, searching for
evidence of tax fraud. Yeah, you got me. I work for the IRS.
Not exactly the kind of career that makes a person popular
at cocktail parties. But those brave enough to get to know
me learn Iâ€™m actually a nice person, fun even, and they have
nothing to fear. I have better things to do than nickel and
dime taxpayers whose worst crime was inflating the value of
the Glen Campbell albums they donated to Goodwill.
"Iâ€™ll be right back, Tara." My partner smoothed the
of his starched white button-down as he stood from the
folding chair. Eddie Bardin was tall, lean, and
African-American, but having been raised in the
upper-middle-class, predominately white Dallas suburbs, he
had a hard time connecting to his roots. Heâ€™d had nothing to
overcome, unless you counted his affinity for Phil Collinsâ€™
music, Heineken beer, and khaki chinos, tastes which he had
yet to conquer. Eddie was more L.L. Bean than L.L. Cool J.
I nodded to Eddie and tucked an errant strand of my
chestnut hair behind my ear. Turning back to the spreadsheet
in front of me, I flicked aside the greasy burger and onion
ring wrappers the storeâ€™s owner, Jack Battaglia, had left on
the desk after lunch. I couldnâ€™t make heads or tails out of
the numbers on the page. Battaglia didnâ€™t know jack about
keeping books and, judging from his puny salaries account,
heâ€™d been too cheap to hire a professional.
A few seconds after Eddie left the room, the door to the
office banged open. Battaglia loomed in the doorway, his
husky body filling the narrow space. He wore a look of
purpose and his storeâ€™s trademark bright green jumpsuit, the
cheerful color at odds with the open box cutter clutched in
his furry-knuckled fist.
"Hey!" Instinctively, I leapt from my seat, the metal
chair falling over behind me and clanging to the floor.
Battaglia lunged at me. My heart whirled in my chest.
There was no time to pull my gun. The best I could do was
throw out my right arm to deflect his attempt to plunge the
blade into my jugular. The sharp blade slid across my
forearm, just above my wrist, but with so much adrenaline
rocketing through my system, I felt no immediate pain. If
not for the blood seeping through the sleeve of my navy
nylon raid jacket, I wouldnâ€™t have even known Iâ€™d been cut.
Underneath was my favorite pink silk blouse, a coup of a
find on the clearance rack at Neiman Marcus Last Call, now
sliced open, the blood-soaked material gaping to reveal a
short but deep gash.
My jaw clamped tighter than a chastity belt on a
pubescent princess. This jerk was going down.
My block had knocked him to the side. Taking advantage of
our relative positioning, I threw a roundhouse kick to
Battagliaâ€™s stomach, my steel-toed cherry-red Doc Martens
sinking into his soft paunch. The shoes were the perfect
combination of utility and style, another great find at a
two-for-one sale at the Galleria.
The kick didnâ€™t take the beer-bellied bastard out of
commission, but at least it sent him backwards a few feet,
putting a little more distance between us. A look of
surprise flashed across Battagliaâ€™s face as he stumbled
backward. He clearly hadnâ€™t expected a skinny,
five-foot-two-inch bookish woman to put up such a fierce
He regained his footing just as I yanked my Glock from my
hip holster. I pointed the gun at his face, a couple drops
of blood running down my arm and dropping to the scuffed
gray tile floor. "Put the box cutter down."
He stiffened, his face turning purple with fury. "Shit.
IRS agents carry guns now?"
Although people were familiar with tax auditors, the
concept of a Special Agent--a tax cop--eluded most. But weâ€™d
been busting tax cheats for decades. Heck, when no other law
enforcement agency could get a charge to stick, we were the
ones to finally bring down Al Capone. And if we could nab a
tough guy like Capone, this pudgy twerp didnâ€™t stand a
By our best estimate, Battaglia had cheated the federal
government and honest Americans out of at least eighty grand
and didnâ€™t seem too happy when Eddie and Iâ€™d shown up to
collect. Now, with my partner on a potty break, Battaglia
was treating me like I was a shrimp and he was a chef at