Through hard work and dedication, Susan and David Henderson had earned it all: a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, successful careers, a typical blended-family lifestyle and deep love and respect for each other. That is, until one day, a crime of horrendous magnitude changed it all. The family is torn apart and life will never be the same. Susan must carry on and manage a home and teenager son while dealing with her own excruciating grief. David must face reality and accept that life will never be the same. See how the family is shattered by tragedy and how each gets by in the days and months that follow.
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By GEORGE MANUEL PARRILLA
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 George Manuel Parrilla
All rights reserved.
It was early on a bright, spring morning in Norristown, Pennsylvania. This particular Monday, David Henderson was inside the custom-built mansion he had designed himself. He was wearing a white shirt, a loose bluish-red necktie, and rimless eyeglasses. Even though he was forty-five, he looked much younger than his age, with a trim body and thick black hair tinged with gray. He sat at his kitchen table reading the newspaper while having breakfast with his family: his wife of fourteen years, Susan, an attractive woman with blue eyes and shoulder-length blonde hair; their twelve-year-old son Jimmy; and Jimmy's seventeen-year-old stepsister Lisa, who had the same blue eyes and blonde hair as her mother. Lisa was Susan's firstborn child with her husband who had lost his life in an automobile accident two months before Lisa was born.
Susan was wearing an apron to protect her beautiful blue dress. She eyed David, who was absorbed in the morning newspaper. She was traveling to Los Angeles to attend her uncle's funeral and thought David was ignoring her. She held her coffee cup tightly in both hands and brought it slowly to her lips. As she lowered the cup she looked at her wristwatch and stood up quickly.
"Oh God, it's getting late," she said, picking up her dish and placing it inside the dishwasher. In a rush, she began to clear the table. "Let's go guys, or we're all going to be late."
Lisa and Jimmy got up from the table, picked up their dishes and placed them in the dishwasher, then ran upstairs to get their books. Susan was disappointed because David wasn't traveling with her to Los Angeles.
A moment later, Lisa and Jimmy, school bags and books in hand, returned to the kitchen. Jimmy approached his father.
"It's Monday, Dad."
David looked at him over the top of his glasses.
"Our allowance," Jimmy prompted.
David found his wallet and took out two twenty-dollar bills. He gave one to Jimmy and the other to Lisa. Jimmy took his bill and looked at it for a second. "Twenty dollars," he said sadly. "In this day and age ..."
"Oh, no, you're getting much more than that," David reminded him. "You get one hundred and twenty dollars, but one hundred is for your room and board."
"All right, Dad!"
"Did you brush your teeth, Jimmy?" Susan asked.
"Mom, I'm thirteen years old!"
"That old, Jimmy?" Lisa teased. "Even I don't believe it."
"Lisa, shut up!" Jimmy shot back.
"Look, guys, I am not going to be here for a few days," Susan told them. "That means that everyone here has to do their part."
Lisa went over to her mother and kissed her on the cheek. "Don't you worry, Mom. We'll be all right. You have a good trip. Ta-ta, Mom. Bye, Dad."
David waved at her as she left the kitchen.
Jimmy walked over to his mother and kissed her. "Good-bye, Mom," he said, and then looked over at his father. "Bye, Dad."
"Bye, guys," said Susan, "see you all soon." She untied the apron, folded it into small squares, and put it away in one of the kitchen drawers. She turned to David. "Look, I know you're trying to ignore me," she said unhappily, "but I need you to take me to the airport."
"Sure," he answered. "I'd love to be your chauffeur."
"I don't understand why I have to make this trip alone."
David folded the newspaper and put it down on the table. Susan took the cup and plate that was in front of him and loaded them into the dishwasher. David got up, readjusted his tie, and moved closer to Susan. He put his arm around her shoulder.
"Caramel, your uncle picked a very bad time to die," he said gently. "You know how busy I get during this time of the year. Besides, I have an appointment with the IRS on Wednesday." He kissed her and held her in his arms, but she was cold and indifferent.
She broke away from him. "We better go before the plane leaves without me."
David wanted to go to please his wife, but he had an appointment with the IRS that week and he needed to make sure that he was prepared for it. It was the second appointment he'd made with the IRS within a month. He had postponed the first appointment because he wasn't prepared—something he was not about to let happen again. Entering to the foyer, he stepped down the three steps to where Susan's suitcase was sitting upright next to his briefcase. He took his dark blue suit jacket from the closet and put it on. Susan entered the foyer without saying a word. David picked up the suitcase and the briefcase and they quietly exited the house.
Kristine Hall, David's secretary, was seated behind her desk when David entered the office. She was in her mid-twenties, brunette, wore Ben Franklin-style glasses, and always seemed to flaunt her gold diamond engagement ring.
"Good morning, Kristine."
"Good morning, sir," Kristine said, looking up from her desk as she glanced at her wristwatch.
"Why you always do that?"
"Do what, sir?"
He dropped his briefcase on the floor next to a small table and checked the mail that was lying on top of it.
"Look at your watch whenever I come in," David replied.
"Because many times, sir, your wife calls and asks me what time you came in."
"See? That's really what I like about you."
"Your honesty," David grinned. "She really does that? Well, I guarantee you that she won't be bothering you today. I just took her to the airport this morning. She's on her way to California."
Kristine looked at him, a little surprised. David noticed her expression.
"Oh, no, no. She's coming back. Her uncle passed away this weekend, so she's flying out there for the funeral."
"Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that," Kristine said thoughtfully. After a brief moment, "Is that where your wife's from?"
"Originally, yes," David replied, looking at his watch. "Look, I've got an appointment with Dr. Levine. If you need me, that's where I'm going to be. I'll probably be tied up with him for most of the afternoon." David picked up his briefcase, went into his private office, and came back out carrying a roll of blueprints. He smiled and waved goodbye to Kristine on his way out the door.
David and Dr. Levine were standing in front of the doctor's desk looking at the blueprints David had spread out on top of the desk.
"Make sure this house has all that my wife requires," said Dr. Levine. "I'm getting to be too old and tired to keep changing houses." Dr. Levine was a big man. He was in his mid-sixties and a bit overweight. He was the Henderson's longtime family physician, having treated David's parents as well as David, Susan, and their children.
"That'll be done, Doctor," David replied, carefully rolling up the prints.
"What are the damages, Mr. Architect?"
"Nothing you can't handle."
"Now that scares me," Dr. Levine said.
David wrote a number on a pad. "Well let's see, Doctor, your bill altogether will amount to twelve thousand, five hundred dollars. However, Doctor, if you pay me in cash I'll gladly be able to save you a good sum of money."
"How is that?"
David wrote on the pad again. "I'll give you a discount of seventeen and a half percent."
Dr. Levine looked at him, surprised. "Seventeen and a half percent? That's a good savings."
"You save exactly two thousand one hundred and eighty-seven dollars," David explained.
"With a discount like that, I have no problem paying you in cash."
David smiled as he gathered the prints into one big roll and took them off the desk. "I'll make all the necessary changes and within a week your builder will have the prints."
"Thank you, David." David walked toward the door but stopped when Dr. Levine asked him, "David, if you don't mind, how did you determine this discount?"
David turned around. "Half of thirty-five percent, Doctor."
"What's thirty-five percent?"
"That's my federal income tax bracket, Doctor." Without another word, David turned and left the office, closing the door behind him. The doctor stood there for a time, thinking about what David had just said.
David walked in the front door of his house, stopping at the small table in the foyer to check the mail that was lying on top of it. Lisa and Jimmy were in the kitchen. "Hi guys," David yelled from the foyer.
"Hi, Dad," they replied.
David stepped into the kitchen, and then sniffed. "Hmmm, something smells good. What's for dinner?"
Jimmy made an obvious sound of dislike.
"What's the matter, Jimmy?"
Lisa began to set food on the dining room table.
"I'm tired of eating spaghetti," Jimmy replied, disgusted.
"So, have some cereal."
"For dinner? Cereal? You've got to be kidding, Dad."
"Why would I be kidding? Cereal is good for you."
"Cereal is for breakfast!"
"All right, Dad," Jimmy said, defeated. "I'll eat the spaghetti."
David gave Jimmy a big smile.
They were having dinner at the dining room table when the kitchen phone rang.
"I got it," Lisa said, getting up from the table. She went to the kitchen and returned to the dining room with the cordless phone.
"Hello ...? Oh, hi, Mom! We are okay ... Yes, we're having dinner ... Spaghetti. I cooked."
Jimmy looked at her. "The meatballs are like rubber balls," he taunted.
"Mom wants to speak with you, Dad," Lisa said. She handed the phone to David and sat back down.
"Hi, Caramel. Still angry with me? ... No more? Good ... Why ...? That's wonderful, but I don't think Jimmy's going to like that. He's already complaining ... Oh no, don't worry. They're getting along just fine ... me? I'm okay, just getting ready for my Wednesday morning appointment with the IRS ... It looks passable ... Just be careful. Bye, Caramel, see you soon." He hung up and set the phone down on the table.
Jimmy looked at his father. "Why do you always call Mom 'Caramel'?" he asked.
"Because she's very sweet, and nothing is sweeter than a caramel candy."
Jimmy looked at his father hoping for a better explanation than that, but David said nothing further.
"When is she coming home?" Lisa asked.
"Not until Saturday."
Jimmy was sad to hear that news. "But she was coming home Thursday."
"Her deceased uncle's lawyer asked her to stay for the reading of her uncle's will," David explained.
Jimmy served himself two slices of apple pie from the pie plate next to him on the table and began to munch on one of the slices.
"Did Uncle Fred have a lot of money?" Lisa asked.
"To be honest, I really don't know. I only know that he was a physician for the longest time, and that he never got married. You know that your mother hardly speaks about her relatives."
Jimmy cut another slice of pie and put a big chunk on his fork. As he chewed, apple dribbled out of both sides of his mouth. Using his index finger he shoved it back into his mouth.
Lisa looked at him, disgusted. "Are you going to eat all that pie?"
Jimmy nodded. "Dad doesn't like apple pie, and you're already too fat."
"I'm very touched that you're so concerned about my health." Lisa shot back.
"I sense a however coming," Jimmy said.
"However, you can kiss my ..."
"Hey, hey ...!" David interrupted. He looked at them both. "Jimmy, watch your manners! That's no way to talk to your sister. She'd like to have some pie, too."
"Okay. Fine," Jimmy said. He picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth. He then cleaned his fingers one by one while Lisa, enraged, just stared at him.
It was Wednesday morning and David, with his briefcase nearby, was sitting in the waiting room of the Internal Revenue Service. I don't understand why these people are bothering with me, he thought, irritated. He glanced up at a door that had just opened. A pretty, young, black woman whose nametag read "Miss Edna Robinson" appeared carrying a file. She looked about twenty-five, was of normal height, and was wearing a pair of large, elegant eyeglasses. "Mr. David Henderson?" she called.
"Yes, ma'am, that's me."
"Please, sir, follow me."
David stood, picked up his briefcase, and quickly followed her into a small conference room. It was sparsely furnished, with just a table and a few chairs. "Please, sir, have a seat," Miss Robinson said. They sat down across from each other. "My name is Edna Robinson," she said. She laid her file down on the table, opened it, and turned the file so David could see it. "Is this your Social Security number?" she asked.
David looked at the form. "Yes, ma'am, that's my number."
"Have you been audited before, sir?"
"No, ma'am. First time."
Miss Robinson made a note. "Mr. Henderson, we're reviewing the last two years of your taxes, and one of the reasons for this examination is because of your extensive expenses in your six family buildings."
"But I have proof of such expenses," he interrupted.
"Please, sir, let me finish," Miss Robinson said. She disliked the way he interrupted her. He seems like a bossy man, she thought. In fact, David was nothing like that.
Miss Robinson flipped through the stack of pages in the file. "Also, we've discovered an error in your income." David looked at her, annoyed. She continued. "The income reported to the IRS over the past two years is much greater than the amount reported on your 1040 form."
"That's impossible!" David said loudly. "I'm self-employed. I report my own income!"
"Calm down, Mr. Henderson. You know the IRS has its way of finding out these things."
David looked at her, his eyes angry. "So what did they find?" he challenged.
"One thing at a time. First we'll go over the expenses on your six family buildings. You've taken a deduction that's not allowed."
"The new heating unit replacement cost."
"But that's correct!"
"But, sir, you are not permitted to deduct the whole lump sum in one year."
"Why not?" David asked, confused.
"Because this is an improvement and it will have to be depreciated for a period of five years."
"But this is not an improvement!" David cried. "I replaced a broken boiler!"
"Sir, what's the use of arguing with me? Those are the IRS rules!"
"I don't agree with those rules."
Miss Robinson looked at him, this time clearly angry. "Sir, the deduction isn't allowed. It has to be depreciated."
David's eyes twinkled, and suddenly he became serious. "With all due respect, Miss Robinson, may I speak to your supervisor?"
The young woman got up, deeply troubled. She closed the file and picked it up to take it with her. "I'll get my supervisor."
"Good!" David said looking at her as she stormed toward the door and quickly left the room. He stood up and paced the floor.
In his own way, David was a good man. There was no doubt that he despised the way the country he loved so much was being destroyed by over-taxation, not only by the IRS but also by the governor raising property taxes. He was the owner of a six-family building and always kept it in very good operating condition, even though he wasn't making much money from it. Most of the money he earned went toward paying the excessive property taxes and other monthly expenses.
David's tenants were low-income families and he knew what it would mean to them if he raised their rent. They were already struggling with the high cost of gas, food, and everything else. His tenants loved him as a landlord because he took care of them. The minute he heard there was some problem with the building he fixed it. The building was located in Philadelphia. Despite the fact it was a little far from his own home, it wasn't a problem. He had people who, with one phone call, took care of whatever he asked them to do—problems with the plumbing, electrical work, or anything else that could go wrong with his property. The reason they were so loyal was because David never complained about the prices they quoted for work and he always paid them on time. One of his tenants was paying less rent than the others because he was in charge of keeping the building clean and up to code at all times. Whenever David went down to collect the rent he inspected the building. There were times when David was so happy with his tenant's work that he would throw in an extra fifty dollars out of gratitude.
One day every summer, David would take his family to the rental property. They would bring hamburgers and hot dogs for a cookout with the tenants in the back yard of the building, and it was a fun day for everyone and something they looked forward to each summer. At Christmas, David dressed up as Santa Claus and gave away gifts of food to every tenant, and even toys for the little ones. It was his way of thanking them for living in his building. He loved the feeling he got from seeing the happy looks on everyone's faces.
David realized he had been alone in the conference room for twenty minutes, and began to wonder what was taking so long. Less than a minute later, Miss Robinson returned with her supervisor, a tall, white man in his early fifties.
"Yes, sir, how can I help you?" the supervisor asked.
"Pardon me, sir," David answered respectfully. "I took a lump sum deduction in my taxes, the price I paid to replace a heating unit in my rental building, and the young lady here says that such a deduction is not allowed."
Excerpted from Y by GEORGE MANUEL PARRILLA. Copyright © 2013 George Manuel Parrilla. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Great Book! Once you start to read it, you will never be able to put it down.