Tax Not Included

Posted: July 22, 2011 by hellfirewriters in Fiction, Uncategorized

We’re working on getting a new piece of flash fiction up here every Friday, either by the Club or by people associated with the Club, and James Patrick Schmidt was kind enough to share with us. This is for Chuck Wendig’s latest flash fiction contest, and it has our full backing. Check it out.

-The Hellfire Club

——-

Tax Not Included

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

“Hello, I think my house is being robbed,” the young man on the other end of the line whispered, so Joan turned up her headset.

“I’m sorry, sir, did you say your house is being robbed?”

“Yes.”

“That pushes you to the front of the line, one moment while I transfer you.”

Joan marked the call as urgent and sent it to the police system. Since there was a crime actively being committed, she stayed on the line to help the customer remain calm in case he was put on hold. Fortunately that wasn’t the case.

“Police Billing, this is Toni, how can I help you?”

“My house is being robbed,” the man whispered into the phone.

“May I have your account number, sir?”

“I don’t have one.”

“May I have your social, please?”

“My what?”

“Your Social Security Number, so we can run a credit check.”

“I don’t think you understand,” the man sounded frantic. “There is someone in my house right now.”

“And that’s why I’m trying to take care of this quickly, sir. But I’m afraid we can’t dispatch a unit until we know you can afford it.”

“He has a gun!”

“I’ll be sure to apply the five percent intelligence sharing discount for you, sir, but may I please have your social?”

“I don’t…I can’t…you won’t approve me.”

“I can check for you, anyway. Free of charge.”

As the man read his Social Security number aloud, Toni didn’t tell him that her computers had already lifted his number off the phone account he was using and run the complimentary police credit check. As soon as he confirmed the number, she knew he was right — she couldn’t dispatch officers to help him.

But she was trained to not let the customer know you had taken the information from the phone line, so she waited about 20 seconds as if the computer was processing the information. She was harvesting Farmville crops while she waited.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I won’t be able to dispatch an officer to your location at this time. If you contact the non-emergen-”

“What?” the man started crying.

“If you contact the non-emergency number first thing in the morning, a loan officer will be glad to discuss investigation options with you.”

“But..but…”

“Thank you and have a nice evening.”

Toni disconnected the line, glad her sign-off spiel hadn’t been interrupted more. Some people think yelling their heads off will improve their credit score and get an officer sent to deal with their problem. Some people didn’t realize how expensive it was to have an officer dispatched immediately — especially at night.

If the man had just taken the time to register with the department before hand and possibly bought an insurance policy from them, this whole ordeal could have been avoided. Some days it seemed like people didn’t actually believe that a for-profit police department would refuse service, but it had to.

“Are you ready for break?”

Toni looked up to see her friend Debbie standing in her cubicle door.

“I sure am,” Toni said, marking her status as “Away” on the computer and grabbing her purse. “I just had to turn away another person who acted surprised that I wouldn’t dispatch an officer that they couldn’t pay for — as if we were running a public service here.”

“Oh no. It’s been five years since the resolution passed and they still don’t get it,” Debbie said, leading the way toward the break room.

“It’s like they thought doing away with taxes wouldn’t stop the flow of government money,” Toni said.

“If you think we’ve got it bad, though, you should hear some of the stories I hear from my sister-in-law who works in the Welfare Office.”

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