Topic: "In a Pig's Eye" (4)
On the night that Martin Luther King died, the Mayor of Memphis clapped his hands and danced a little victory dance. His struggle against the "outside agitators" who were there in his city, stirring up trouble, with garbagemen, was finally going to end, or so he thought.
Frodo saw the picture of the celebrating Mayor in a newspaper soon thereafter. The icon was permanently cast on his cerebral cortex, for he was certain that he never wanted to forget the callous disregard for human life. His mind told him that he shouldn't hate Henry Loeb, for that would have been totally contrary to the sacrifice of the man who died that day. Evil feeds on hatred, and gathers its strength from the words, and the deeds, of those who call upon the tools of violence. Frodo would not succumb, but he also would not forget.
A few years later, a young Officer of the United States Treasury Department, so the story goes, was dealing with a business owner who did contract work for the City of Memphis. The contractor was hired by the City to demolish old, abandoned buildings. One afternoon, something terrible happened, and the bulldozer operator went to the wrong address and demolished the wrong house. When the story broke in the papers the next day, Mayor Henry Loeb announced that the City would hold all funds due the contractor, pending litigation. The young Treasury Officer, at the same time, was charged with collecting unpaid taxes owed by the contractor, to the US Government.
After discussing the events with his superiors, and the advising internal counsel, the young Officer prepared a "Notice of Levy" and strolled across the street to the Offices of the Mayor of Memphis. Upon entering, he displayed his very impressive credentials, and requested an immediate audience with the Mayor. After a few moments, he was ushered into the Mayor's Office. The Mayor was seated, and did not rise, behind his desk, and he was flanked by three individuals, a woman and two men, who were introduced as the "City Attorneys." The young Officer recognized each from the picture on his cerebral cortex.
The Mayor commenced a rather brash introductory outburst against the young Officer, and his employer, but he was cut short when the young officer interrupted him. The Mayor was informed that the US Government held a valid lien against the assets of the contractor who had demolished the wrong house, and that since the collection of that tax may be in jeopardy, it was his responsibility to protect the interests of all American taxpayers. The young Officer told the assemblage that the Mayor's comments in the morning paper had alerted him to the fact that the City had funds in its' possession which were presently owed to the contractor.
"Mr Mayor, here is your copy of the 'Notice of Levy,' and upon this service to you, I will stand here and await you delivering to me, at this time, your receipt of said 'Notice of Levy'. Please note that you are hereby directed to turn said funds over to me, the amount shown on the 'Notice of Levy' within 10 days." The young Officer stood tall and straight through the responding invective. Firmly, without ever raising his voice, he responded to the queries from the City Attorneys as to the legal citations justifying this "outrage" by a "Federal Government gone amuck."
"Just what do you plan to do boy, if I tell you that I am going to protect the taxpayers of Memphis, and just ignore your 'Notice of Levy?,'" said the Mayor, as he raised his eyelids to stare directly into the face of the young Officer.
"Mr. Mayor," he said, "it would then be my responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States, and to move against the City of Memphis, IN YOUR N AME, and to seize and offer for sale any and all assets of the City of Memphis in order to satisfy the liability identified in the 'Notice of Levy.' That means Sir, that the City of Memphis would have to pay as directed, or a Federal District Judge would be requested to issue a warrant for your arrest, should you choose to attempt to prevent enforcement."
No one blinked.
"If you have no more questions Mr. Mayor, I'll expect to receive a check for the full amount in my office within 10 days."
"Yes, you lizard, get out of my office, and go back to Washington, where you damn well belong."
As he turned to exit, and to turn the knob on the door, he looked back, and smiled.
The check was on his desk the next morning.
The Mayor completed his term a few months later, and died of a heart attack within a few short weeks.
The young Officer was promoted soon thereafter, and moved to Washington.
Frodo remembers, every year on this day, where he was, and what he did. Not on the day the good man died, but on the day that a small measure of retribution was paid. By check.