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Dark And Stormy
by Doug Hawley

It was 10:11PM and the wind was raging and the rain was frightful.  The house was shaking and creaking.  I could have tolerated it if I had felt better.  My stomach was rumbling and I could barely keep my food down.  My intestines were as water and sweat poured down my face, even as I was chilled.  My head throbbed, though I hadn’t had a headache in years before this night.

Even though it was taking my health both mental and physical, I must complete my task before midnight.  As much as I had tried to finish earlier and avoid the torture that would attend an incomplete job, I was thwarted by those who were supposed to support me in my quest.  Those that I had counted on were late and inadequate in their portion of the complex riddle that I faced.

Even knowing the horrors of being late, I had to lose the torment caused by the contents of my stomach, but even that didn’t help.  My stomach continued to roil and now my discomfort was doubled by the taste of bile in my mouth and its foul stench in my nose.  Combined with the aura of my fear and horror, I was in every way a pariah.

At 10:35 I thought that I would succeed, only to be plagued by diarrhea.  After an abbreviated cleanup, I smelled the wretched odor of my latest calamity.  By the time I could return to my task the clock showed 10:50.

By 11:14 I felt short term triumph as I had succeeded.  Oh, but the results would ruin my life, even if I could deliver them by midnight.

At 11:57 this broken man delivered his tax return to the post office, just in time to avoid late penalties.  In the process of finishing, I rediscovered capital gains that I had already spent.  I owed $5,678 to the Feds, and $2,897 to the state.  Why hadn’t my accountant warned me and why was my investment firm Grubber & Grubber so late with my tax forms?

There would be no upgrade to my three year old Mercedes, no dates at fine restaurants, and Starbucks visits would be cut back to four a week.  Has any man ever been as miserable?

Originally in the defunct Nugget Tales, this is only partly autobiographical.