White Collar

Employment ads on the internet were not to be trusted, Ted thought as he stood outside the strip mall. The sign that said White Collar wasn’t what he expected for a tax office and the blacked out windows gave no indication what was going on inside. Looking at the ad on his phone, he wondered if he got the location wrong, but how many places in town would have that name.  Times were lean for a man with a MBA and he couldn’t afford to be picky.

It was after five, like the ad specified applicants arrive and inside there were people everywhere. It took a few minute for his eyes to adjust but when they did he thought he might have walked into the wrong doors. Music was playing loudly overhead and the flickering of the fluorescent lights matched its rhythm. Ere was one main stage and two side stage, both with people crowded around them waiving dollar bills.

“Welcome sir, can I help you?” said a perky blond approaching Ted. She wore no shirt, only a well positioned pair of suspenders  to hold her ample breasts in place and a pair of glasses on her nose for decoration only.

“I’m here about the job.” Ted tried to keep his eyes focused above her chin.

“You want to work here?” her disbelief was understandable, he was having trouble believing it himself.

“I’m answering the ad.” He held up his phone to show her and when she took it from him she let out a sigh.

“Topnotch tax men wanted.” She read the top line outline. “It’s supposed to be topless. That’s what I get for placing the ad over the phone.”

“So you’re not looking for tax guys?” Ted felt an odd sense of relief.

“No, I want tax guys, but only ones willing to take off their clothes while itemizing deductions.”

There was no good response to that statement, so Ted just stood there with his mouth slightly open. The perky blond made a slow circle around him while he tried to recover from the shock of his situation. He felt her finger tips running across the width of his back along his shoulders and she let a low whistle.

“You certainly have the right qualifications if you’re still interested in the job.” She said. “Would you like a tour?”

Part of Ted wanted to sling on his man purse and leave with his dignity, but then another part of him wanted to pay rent that month and still be able to eat. When he saw all the money being tossed up on the stages he decided it might be worth a short tour. Glancing at the name tag she had fastened to one of her suspenders he said “Sure Pepper, show me around.”

“That’s Greg,” she said, pointing to the short but brawny man on the main stage in a thong that looked like a neck tie. A group of enthusiastic old ladies were almost climbing over each other to stuff money into it. “His specialty is retirement accounts.”

The man reached out one leg to let a couple of women out money in the silk black socks he had pulled up to the knee. One old lady seemed to fall over and Ted saw her reaching for the medical alert bracelet but one of her friend helped her up.

“Susan is both a CPA and a retired gymnast. You should see the places she can hold ballpoint.” Pepper pointed to the left side stage.

The red head in a tight leotard was swiveling around in an office chair. She twisted like a pretzel to use the foot pump and move it up and down. Ted was sure that was against OSHEA regulations. Her adoring fans cheered when she tilted it backwards and rolled to the edge, allowing them a good view of her girls.

“New meat?” a young looking man in a thong stepped in their path.

“Possibly.” Pepper gave Ted a wink. “How’s the crowd today, Scotty?”

“Not too bad,” he turned sideways so one of the ladies could swipe her card between his butt cheeks, giving it a playful slap while her payment processed. “Could always use another send of buns.”

“Are you saying yours can’t handle it?” she giggled.

“You know I can, but it would be nice to earn a little extra in the file room.” He gave her a wink and then continued to move through the crowd.

“File room?” Ted asked before he could think better of it.

“The private dance room. That’s where the big money is.”

“How big?”

“An audit with dancer is an easy two hundred bucks. Twice that if they want to file it in triplicate.” She leaned in closer. “That’s with two dancers.”

He knew there was no sex in the champagne room, but didn’t know if that applied to the file room too. When they walked past he saw a guy gyrating for a woman who sat with her butt on a copier. Those were going to be interesting black and whites.

“Finally, we have the Auditor, our awesome DJ.” Pepper waived at the man dressed in all black watching from the platform above the stage. “He knows how to play the best beats.”

Ted listened to the sounds of beeping and internet dial up that vibrated through the room. It was like a mixture of the worst office sounds he could think of. Periodically a voice could be heard telling someone to “Please hold.”

“He’s an artist.” Ted said, sarcasm dripping from his words.

That was the end of the tour and they were now standing near the back office. “Should we go in there and discuss the details.”

“No one is allowed back there except me.” Pepper said, giving him a suspicious look. “No one ever wants to go into the office. It’s boring back there.”

“Come one. It might be nice to get a little alone time.” Ted gave her his best seductive look, the one he learned from watching soaps as a kid.

“Why do you want to see the office?”

“I just think it would be quiet.”

She started to relax then suddenly she had a gun in her hand and was pointing it at him. He had no idea where she could have been hiding it with her skimpy outfit. He threw his hands up in defense.

“Who are you?” she demanded. “No one ever wants to see the back office.”

“You got this all wrong.” Ted said, watching her waiving the gun around. “I’m just a job applicant, here looking for a payday.”

That was the code word and federal agents burst in through the front doors. They all had their weapons drawn and quickly cleared the room of all the patrons. Pepper looked shocked, still holding her gun on him.

“I think you should give that to me,” Ted extended his hand to her. “Wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea and shoot you.”

“No, no of course not.”

“Agent Rogers, we have secured the premises.” Said one of the agents in the blue windbreakers.

“Agent? Are you with the FBI?” Pepper’s voice was broken and soft.

“They wish.” Ted pulled out his credentials. “Internal Revenue Services. I hope you have all your receipts.”

Amanda is a KU graduate who got a BA in English lit and then went to Emporia for her MLS. She reads and writes primarily historical romance novels. She has a dog that could fit in a lunch box and looks like an alien. Aside from books, her favorite thing in the world is food, especially Chinese.

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