The “kids” at the dinner table, the same one they’d sat at for years, what’s left of a meal still scattered about. Lucy, the oldest, at the head of the table, where she always sits. Danny, two years younger and then Richard, named after the father, now long since dead. They called him Little Dick because one day an Aunt says, “The boy looks like the old man”, so he was Little Dickie, and the name stuck. No one outside of the room had ever called him that.
Lucy’s high on red wine, Danny’s smoking weed and Dick wondering which way to go. They’re not kids anymore, now in their 60’s and thinking of snuffing the old lady. Lucy saying, “Tell it to me one more time”.
Her talking to Danny, who was always the numbers guy. The one who never had a problem at school. He’s looking at the plate in front of him, pushing around what’s left of a slice of peach pie with a spoon.
Not looking up, “I told you. It’s a cliff that the government created. On January 1 the taxes go up, and that’s that. The only way around it is if the fools in Washington step back and make a deal. If they don’t, then we get hit.”
Lucy still confused, saying, “Why now?” Adding, “How much money is it?”
The brother, looking disgusted, “She’s worth about six mil all in. The capital gains rate going from 15% to 35% will hit us on her stocks and the house. Then there’s the 55% estate tax that kicks in over $1m versus the $5.1m it is now; it’s close to $3.5mil more tax owing than if she died today. It comes to about $1.2mil apiece.“
Dickie, not liking where this is headed, and looking for some other way, “Why don’t you use the Power of Attorney you’ve got and just transfer out the money now. Fuck the cliff and the three mil it will cost us.”
Danny, still playing with the pie, “You can’t do that. The IRS would see it as transfers in anticipation of death. We get caught, cost us big in fines.”
Dropping the spoon, turning to the sister, eyes meeting, “If she goes before the end of the year, it saves us a bundle. Even if there’s a compromise, they’ll still gouge us plenty.
Lucy, looking back, “It’s the meds that are keeping her going. Ninety-three, and her pressure 70 over 40, barely alive. If she stopped with the pressure pills, the numbers would fall a bit more; she’d fall asleep and just not wake up.”
Danny saying, “How long”? Lucy making sure what he’s asking, “You mean before she dies?” Him saying, “Yeah, how long’?”
“Maybe five days, it could be just one”. It got quiet with that.
After awhile, Lucy, being the oldest and the one who made all the decisions early on, tells it like it is, “We wait til Christmas, see what Washington is going to do to us. But then we have to choose”. Adding with a hard look on her face, “We’d have only six days left”.
The boys saying nothing, shaking their heads, “Yeah”.
Okay, I’m just goofing around. Experimenting with fiction/dialogue. And yes, I do tend to dwell on the dark side. But this story is more real than you might think. Some 7000 older folks are dying every day, 200k by the end of the year. A fair number of those have bucks in the bank. If it’s over $1m, then big taxes are due if falling off the cliff is in our future.
My story is pure fiction, but in real life, thousands of people and millions of dollars are up in the air. After all, it’s about the money. Right?