Topic: "A Taxing Story" (5)
Willie Williams lived somewhere in Memphis, Tennessee; Frodo's job was to find out where. The last address Frodo had was over a year old, and the current residents swore that no one by that name had ever made their acquaintance. Frodo walked up-and-down that street, asking everyone who would speak with him if they were acquainted with Mr. Williams. His last employer of record had severed him many months before. The Post Office had no change of address. There were over 100 Willie Williamses listed in the Memphis Telephone Directory, but none answerable to Frodo's quest. Anxious to please, Frodo was coming to the disappointing conclusion that he was going to have to close the assignment as temporarily "Unable to Locate," and to move on.
The dawn brought one of his co-workers by his desk, with a timely query. "Mr Frodo," he asked, "weren't you looking for a guy named Willie Williams?"
"Why, yes," murmured Frodo, not wishing to broadcast his frustration too far into his circle of co-workers, "Why do you ask?"
"Did you see this article in this morning's paper?," as he handed Frodo the "State & Local" section of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
Frodo noted a story about the brutal murder of a liquor store owner, not very far from the last address of Frodo's quarry. Frodo dribbled coffee down his chin when he noted that the suspected assailant was named Willie Williams.
Later that day, after discussing the possibilities with his Supervisor, Frodo placed a telephone call to the Sheriff of Shelby County, Tennessee. Frodo introduced himself and asked if the individual in his custody might have a social security card, or any documentation that could verify his identity. The Sheriff informed Frodo that the suspect had no such documentation on his personage when arrested. Frodo was afraid of that, for he was already aware that he would now have to go to the facility where Mr. Williams was being detained, and to interview him, in person, in order to determine if he was the Willie Williams Frodo had been assigned to find.
Frodo's more experienced partner accompanied Frodo to the facility. Frodo had already been informed that he would be entering the same facility which had housed James Earl Ray during the trial which sent him to prison for life for the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Frodo was first struck by the fact that everything was green. The walls, the clothing worn by the inmates, the tint to the lighting, and, Frodo recalls, even the leering grin given to him by the Jailer who checked his identification, appeared almost mossy green.
Frodo and his partner were seated at a bar-like structure separated by a very thick glass-like substance. For several minutes they waited in silence, Frodo nervously reading and re-reading his file notes. Without warning, the door at the rear wall on the other side of the glass opened and in walked the biggest man Frodo had ever seen in his whole life. Willie Williams was in handcuffs and shackles, and if he was an inch, he was at least 6'8" tall, and weighed more than 275 pounds, without chains. Two guards, one at each arm, guided him toward Frodo, and if he could have, Frodo would have, peed, right there.
Frodo looked up at the expressionless man and started to speak. Unfortunately, his voice rose approximately six octaves and he positively squeaked his query "Sir, are you the Willie Williams who formerly lived at 13407 Vinton Avenue?"
The giant's eyes brightened and he roared in laughter, "No, but while you're here, where the Hell's my refund?"
Frodo could not exit quickly enough. He concluded his report later that afternoon, admitting that he had "temporarily" been unable to locate the assigned Willie Williams. Frodo learned later that the last Willie Williams he had come to know was sentenced to 55 years in prison.
Frodo is somewhat chagrined to admit that, to this day, he has no idea whether or not that gentleman ever got his refund. If, at the conclusion of his sentence, that Willie Williams comes looking for that junior IRS guy about his long-ago refund, Frodo hopes that he has covered his tracks as well as Mr. Williams' namesake.