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Friday, April 16

9:06:43 AM MT

Fourteen days to deadline for filing T1 personal tax returns

Time elapsed since last paycheque deposit: six hours, thirty-six minutes

I need to be either intoxicated or desperate to do this job. Today I am neither and I have a deadline in fifty three minutes and seventeen seconds.

I am trying to start the Remy audit summary when Digital Assets Trading, Valuing and Reporting Look Ahead – Seminar Registration Closing May 15 appears in the lower right-hand side of my screen. I must get Remy sent out for comment before I get called into the 10 am meeting with the Szeller people. I need to write five paragraphs to complete the summary analysis.

I have 34 draft returns in my folder to review after the Szeller meeting and at least two of them involve challenging clients - Anderson Medical Partners and Curtwood Prosthetics. I am already editing them without having seen them.

I am planning to start writing any moment now.

The office is a diffuse field with no single primaries. I am aware of the air in the ductwork, the electricity in the wires, the conscientious fan in the computer, the fizzy lamp, the building slightly shifting its posture to be more comfortable, the cars moving by on their way someplace else, whatever the weather is doing in whatever season this is, the refrigerator reminding me that it has something for me, Patrick and Marilyn on one side and Ramsey and someone on the other, all of us clicking and clacking and talking and thinking and calculating and working through the Act. The building is designed to be scent neutral but the ambient glue and sealants and the coating on the walls and cleaning supplies are very pleasant and underneath it is a hint of me that is there but hopefully not too there.

My coffee and nicotine levels are nearly optimum and my stomach is cooperating so far. I have a nice coating of velvet on my nerve endings, am tipped slightly forward toward the computer and have the momentary illusion that the relevant indicators are aligned. My ongoing mental inventory of the office is proceeding well. The cleaners always do an excellent job vacuuming the corners and along the legs of the desk and my mind moves right around and alongside each right angle without being caught up. I am functioning reasonably well on my usual four hours of sleep.

I’m comfortable in my blue presentation suit except the jacket is getting too tight to button due to the remnants of Catherine’s regimen of drinking and recreation right after work and eating after 10 pm, followed by more recreation. I have never gotten workplace-injured in this suit, and it will stop being my presentation suit as soon as I get blood on it. It seemed fine this morning when I put it on and signed off on it, but I should reassess it after the meeting. It’s on the third or fourth wearing since the last cleaning and I conducted a brief visual inspection over the weekend and saw no spots. I wanted to take one more look last night but decided it was too late and  smoked a second cigar.

My thought here is a combination of words and sounds and shapes:

Picture of a landscape


Two blue jays

115,383        47,474                    (18,223)       71,309

A woman's face from a line in a bank two years previous. She was looking at the floor, eyes knit in concentration but once every minute or so she would glance to the left to the row of offices and I wondered if she was looking at them or through the windows at the back of one office that was empty

$1,072 x 12 months

21 out of 45 copies

Picture of exotic flower that I don't know the name of. A flash of white tendrils from a long narrow stem, in the act of pollination with a golden moth.

My mind does whatever it does when it gets hung up on a series of irreconcilable components and replaces the problem with album covers, in this instance three by Francisco Lopez:

Warszawa Restaurant – his composition from 1994 on the Trente Oiseau label, recorded as to be almost inaudible.

Live in San Francisco on 23five from 2005.

Hyper-Rainforest, Volume 1 in his Epoche Collection of captured environmental sounds.

I am wondering if I can get all three through Drone and then think a deadline is not a great time to make a decision, although I have spurred my writing by purchasing music many times before. I decide that I can’t resolve this right now. Acting as though the three covers are physically in front of me, I lean to the right and peer at the screen around them.

In my peripheral vision is the only pile of paper in my office, located on the small table to the right of the desk. I have mentally catalogued it but before I can get to work something in me says the discarding of one report – no, two reports – would streamline what is now a pile defined as things I haven’t time to deal with right now but which require attention. The removal of the two documents would redefine it as a benign group of reference documents to be called upon when needed. I pull out the reports, walk to the copy room, slide them into the slot on the shredder box, and I am back in the office and seated. I mentally review the paper group again and I like them and don’t have to think about them now.

A moment passes as I look at the screen. Ian moves right to left past my door talking quietly with his headset on and he looks so purposeful and what he is saying is probably so interesting that I lean right to left with him and stay there for a moment after he is gone. I make a mental note to check with him later.

I haven’t checked the Francisco Lopez discography in months. I type in the url and it has been updated with a new release on Absolute, a live recording from Buenos Aires. I have to check RRR and Drone for their prices and maybe I can get all four from one retailer and save on shipping.

My device beeps from Catherine with a voice capture. Hello from Montreal! I am at éveillée and ready to go dancing. Kenny will DJ and Natasha is my copilot. The speed gets back tomorrow. How are you?

I say quickly, Hello you! It’s going well. You are going to leave some blood on the floor and send.

I turn on a college football podcast discussing the odds of Alabama winning the national title next year which I will absolutely not listen to. I hope it will help my mind subdivide and statisticate so I can begin writing again, and it works. About thirty seconds in, I turn the broadcast down so it's nearly inaudible and decide maybe I can cite Sub 8 and that it might not stick but would be a good diversionary tactic during a negotiation with the tax lawyers and that the client could still net a 10 percent gain on it, or maybe he could do 20 if we came out strong.  I start typing.

We need to redefine costs under the federal health department’s Special Access Program enabling doctors to use unlicensed medical devices for emergency use and/or custom-made medical devices required for unique patient circumstances. This should not be considered as an endorsement of the use of unlicensed devices in order to access increased tax benefits above the use of licensed ones:  rather it should reflect the true cost of researching, procuring, testing, applying and evaluating the effects of these devices as distinct from those which are licensed, widely used and easily procurable in the industry.

There is a precedent within the current Act where these two tax streams – for use of both licensed and unlicensed equipment - can be shown to have compatible criteria and work in agreement with each other (see Table 3) so that federal tax officials have an accessible reference.

I have hard returned the cursor to begin the third paragraph when the ambient buzz of the heating system turns off. I can hear my heart beating, my breathing beginning in my chest and making its way through my nose and mouth, my skin shedding moisture, my toes rubbing against each other in my shoes, my teeth slowly losing their enamel layer, my eyelashes swishing as I blink, my tie brushing my shirt, my shirt brushing my suit, and my suit brushing me and the seat of my chair.

The next words of the file vanish and, in my discomfort, I become aware of another layer of mental process. I have been scanning forward through the meeting and somewhere in my mind have been concerned that I would be asked to work through the project subdivision and rationalize why their radiology research project has been divided, which is the one which may be difficult to rationalize and cause problems with the medical association licensing board,  and my mind has been processing what I would answer but has come up with nothing yet. I think. Whatever I answer in the moment will likely be fine, but the situation isn’t really revolved.

My mind positions that mental configuration next to another one it locates and determines is similar in nature. I have been reviewing a conversation I had with Eric on Tuesday, three days previous. I am not sure why but there’s definitely a glitch there. I check back and play the conversation in fast forward:


Devaney on judicial reviews of CRA decisions

recent listening


the tangent piano compared to the fortepiano

Gould and Michelangeli and their instruments

Richter and his piano tuner driving through Siberia

modern versus restored harpsichords

Catherine online dancing something she calls the pulse with no repetitions and how even though other dancers kept getting in the way it was fine because discontinuity was sort of the point

I tried to keep the last one to sixty seconds or less because the subject gets Eric too excited and I haven’t had the courage to tell him that we split last week.

his troubles with his lawn which I ask about because I always enjoy hearing about them and which leaves a fresh green patch in my mind

Nothing requiring followup action is noticeable.

That doesn’t put the issue away and my mind goes back to the scan.

On the walls Catherine beeps back.

I fast type FI\ajicaksdv\/zkxc\sodiars randomly to reassert myself on the page.

There is evidence that additional tax benefits can be available in the event:

costs are not recouped in the event of a cancellation of a surgical intervention and an amendment to the authorization must be obtained (Section 2.4.5);

a study is published based on the use of unlicensed devices; or

authorization for use of multiple devices is granted with a one-month period but some or all of the approved devices are unused during that time (Section 2.5.12).

-Michael Michael, good morning!

I keep my face pointed at the screen and move only my mouth.

-Regards. Christine, I say, friendly but tight so she knows. I am unfocused and on deadline. How may I briefly assist you?

-I have a question about your comments on Bauer.

Christine is holding a paper coffee cup. She is a partner and a mediation expert. Six months and four days ago she managed to get a solid assessment for a client who was trying to write off costs from a section of the office he was renting to another specialist. The federal lawyers wanted to take it to tax court because they said no judge had ever seen a similar assessment and it had the potential to impact a number of similar companies. Christine knew it would be expensive and her client would likely lose, so she arbitrated a compromise that ended the file within what I would now describe as a few minutes. I think of the language in her agreement often. If I had to define her in five words or less, this paragraph is what I would use, word for word. 

-C-Span, don’t take them too literally, I say while still watching the screen. I want to create some uncertainty around the deduction that we can pick up later in the year when he finds a new tenant and contracts out with a new specialist. I just want to get it on the books, so that we can expand it and ride it next year. I am totally flexible on it so feel free to comment or discredit it as you wish if you think we have no negotiating room. cc the team and we can come up with something that works as an official recommendation.

-That is doable, she says and I feel a moment of collegial warmth that shocks me. I actually glance away from the screen, nod at her and look back at the screen. In my peripheral vision I see her not leave, close the door and sit down.

-Do they know who smashed the door in the stairwell yet?

-Sachin says it might have been a client. They are closing the file and getting it fixed, I say. Chalking it up to the cost of doing business.

-So, you’re in the clear. That’s a relief, she says. Do you think he suspects anything? She takes a sip of her coffee.

-It is impossible to guess what someone smarter than you is thinking. I have warned people. You. About that a number of times.

-Screw you, she says.

-I didn’t mean it but I want you to know that it felt really good to say.


-You need another kick in the ankle. That will feel good to say.

-Thank you. I think I’m going to be okay on that thing. I just have to keep living clean you know and win this thing in the aggregate where one isolated element is rendered insignificant as everything is reconciled and the auditors sign off with no changes.

She sips her coffee and begins to speak.


-I would strongly advise you not to reconcile


She giggles before the end of the sentence.


-I would keep the auditors

She loses control of it, chokes slightly on the coffee, almost gets it back together.


She coughs again and coffee begins to come out of her nose and on her blouse. I pull some tissues out of the box on my desk and hand them to her as she sits down. I refocus on the screen.

-I always kept my office very neat and never dispose of food waste anywhere but the kitchen. That should count for something.

-It's already in your file, she says, wiping the tears from her eyes and dabbing at her blouse.

-Don't eat sushi from the grocery store anymore please, I add, looking back at the screen. I have been meaning to tell you.

-Don't think about writers block, she says, as she opens the door, peers cautiously around the corner, and walks away.

a study is published based on the use of unlicensed devices under the SAP; or

I need more context here. There’s no easy solution except to drink water and keep working. I always find this moment completely unsatisfying. I lean back in the chair. A swish of a part of David’s face from 20 speechwriting years ago and his brown hair appear as my mind says his name and then he is gone, I thought I heard his voice but actually it was just the shape of it, and I would have to remember something he said and play it back for anything to be audible.

I lean forward, my fingers turn on my search engine and look up fractals and Mandelbrot and I have one minute to read it and think if everything is actually a fractal. I decide yes and no before going back to Lopez to see if he has a new interview I could listen to while I solve Remy.

The light is perfect on the wall near the corner, soft and yellow while releasing the texture of the wall behind it and picking up the dust motes enjoying its warmth and sending them spiraling together. The feeling I realize from it reminds me of another light, in an apartment I had nearly twenty years ago as a student with perfect reading light billowing through the curtains that lifted characters from the page and enabled me to read for hours without fatigue.

The corner of the screen blinks. I don’t look at it.

Normally, Scientific Research and Experimental Development questions like the above are subcontracted to Smith and Stream for a specific opinion. However, enough knowledge is currently available in house that our firm can handle the majority of these



I think maybe I need to phone back Jimmy. I told him I would yesterday but it was a very low priority. I decide it can wait until after.

Jimmy is a technician who churns out the easy to medium difficult returns on time and with very corrections needed. I can’t remember any of them but we did get paid for them, the same as we got paid for my stuff. I secretly envy him.

My mind, fingers and cursor are still. Jimmy’s just sitting there. That’s what he does. I click on the internal chat screen.

Jimmy, good morning. In answer to your questions. My response is yes, yes, no, no, thank you, yes, and (I shake my head to answer the last one). I just shook my head.

I turn back to the screen but he’s already responded.

I only had the one question.

Your anticipated followup questions have been answered. Now we are covered for the week.  Talk to you Monday.

Have a great weekend! he writes.

I’m out.

Are you going to Duncan’s farewell tonight? he writes.

Yes, are you?

No answer. I write: Is that good

No answer. I think about that a moment.

Looking back at the screen, I feel nothing. I need something to look forward to. I will text Ricardo, I need a question to ask him so I go to the easy one, on classical translation.

Shillingford good morning. Why is the Benardete translation of the Symposium better than Woodruff and Nehamas.

One more message – FLYNN my friend. Let’s have dinner tonight before the party    if you’re still going   and if we go somewhere nice I need you to pay for it I will try and hold up my end with a story of desperation and sadness that will make you tip the server heavily

Ricardo’s reply will likely be at least 300 words and I am already looking forward to it even though my knowledge of Plato’s dialogues ends at the Republic and the Ion, which I studied in reasonable depth for the book that I tried to write once. I don’t talk about the book except when I tell people that I tried to write a book once and then didn’t and became an accountant.  By my count, I have told about 20 people and when you count the friends and associates they have likely passed it on to, about 23 people know I once tried to write a book and then didn’t.

With one paragraph and twenty minutes to go, I am thinking about the book. I have resolved to never, ever think about the book.

I need an external agent to get back to equilibrium. That means junk food at this point. I conduct a scan and don’t need coffee, coke, ice cream or chocolate. Or a mcmuffin or fries. I need something orange and powdery but I don’t have time to run across the street for a bag and when it comes to my weight, I would rate myself between not quite acceptable and becoming quietly desperate. I am one large double pepperoni pizza, a big mac and two morning bags of orange powder from a self-intervention.

I can’t risk getting orange powder from my fingers all over my face, tie, last clean white shirt, report and literally everything else.

I am thinking. It’s 9:42:21. 



I fast-walk out of the office, down the hall to the stairwell, head down three flights, walk around the front of the building, wait for two cars to pass by and cross the street to Chin.

There are a few customers but no one is at the till. If there are three or more people lined up, I will have to abort the mission and try and use the fresh air outside and the sensory data from the store to get the last segment written.

I head the third aisle, past the Lays and Old Dutch sections and arrive in front of the Cheezies, right on top where they should be. I consider a 140-gram bag and my hand takes the 210 gram as I head back to the till, fishing my cards from my jacket pocket so I can pay quickly. Two women are at the till, and one is asking for a bus pass. I wait behind them for about ten seconds as they complete the transaction, try not to appear jittery, take three steps to the till, put the cheezies down and am ready to go.

-It’s a little early for you, the owner says.

-I have about 12 minutes to file something.

-And you’re here, he says.

-That’s correct sir.

He scans the barcode, I tap the card and grab the bag as I watch to make sure everything is approved.

-Work fast, he says as I turn to head out.

-It certainly beats working well, I say as I pas the door, cross the street back, head up the front stairs and try to stuff the bag in my pocket so it doesn’t get noticed. The 140 gram can be tucked into a jacket pocket with no traces, but the 210 will not fit. I know this from prior experience. I tuck it inside my jacket and press my left elbow against it to keep it in place as I walk past HW at the front desk and get back to my office without seeing anyone.

I close the door, sit at the desk and it's 9:53:08. I am going to carefully eat ten, fold the top of the bag carefully, return it to the drawer and wash my hands carefully in the men’s room sink without touching any of my clothing.  I tear open the top, pop the first one into my mouth and taste the orange that never lets me down. I resolve to eat them mechanically, leaning over my desk, but I don’t want to get any orange on my keyboard so I slide it out of the way with the heel of my right hand. When I have eaten four and am reaching for the fifth one, I decide to read the bag once again.  


made with REAL (Canadian Flag) cheddar cheese

fabrique avec du VRAI fromage cheddar (flag)


210 g


No preservatives

Sans agents de conservation

I eat six, three large ones and three small, and turn the bag around to scan the back. 







(Address in Belleville, Ont.)

Nutrition Facts

Valeur nutritive

Per bag (50g)

Pour sac (50g)

Calories 280

% Daily Value*

% valeur quotidienne*

Fat/Lipides 17g                                    23%

          Saturated/satures 2.5 g     13%

          +Trans/trans 0g

Carbohydrates/Glucides 28g

          Fibre/Fibres 28g               4%

Sugars/Sucres 0g              0%

Protein/Proteines 3g

Cholesterol/Cholesterol 5g

Sodium 450 mg                                    20%

Potassium 10 mg                                  1%

Calcium 10 mg                                     1%

Iron/Fer 0.2 mg                                     %

*5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot

*5% ou moins c’est peu, 15% ou plus c’est beaucoup






I have lost count. It’s 9:57:21. I eat three more, wipe my fingers on a napkin, slide the keyboard back, type wikpdia, wind up on a Yahoo search page and click on the first item to get to Wikipedia, where I enter the search term cheezies. As I type, a series of possible search terms open up below the search window:



baked cheese crackers


breakfast cereal

There are more, but they are cut off by the bottom of the screen. I click on the first one and scroll through the history of the Hawkins company. The invention in Chicago after World War 2. The move to Tweed, Ontario and then to Belleville after the factory was destroyed by fire. The continuation of production using the original machinery following the passing of James Marker in 2012, then a click on his obituary. There are just a few orange pieces left in the bag and I am in a state of complete powdery intoxication when I reach the bottom of the article. It is time to get back to work. If I run to the men’s room I might lose the thread, so I wipe my fingers with a tissue and type:

these tax issues, which will enable us to cross-reference them across each company with other opportunities for saving that can yield a company-wide net benefit far in excess of the savings associated with the SAP in isolation. We can continue to retain S&S for more rarefied SR&ED questions which extend beyond our current capabilities.

My fingers leave an invisible layer of orange microdust on every key I touched, as well as the mouse.

I will have to clean the keyboard after the meeting. Save, read over, spell check, read and save again.

I type in James, Mark, Christine and Shane and their addresses populate.

Here is the briefing for the Remy file, featuring a major interpolation from Christine (thank you). This can work as a recommended approach to the client’s next tax cycle and function as a series of possible reference options for other clients. I am free to discuss at your convenience, and would like us to identify our primary and secondary options before we meet with the client next month. Michael.

I send, review the message and reopen the attachment.

I could have used some friendly context in the message but it’s 9:59:15. I fast walk down the hall to the men’s room, wash my hands with soap, and dry them carefully. I could use a stop at the urinal but I urgently need to be back in my office. I wash my mouth out and check the corners for orange, then squeeze some soap into my right hand, water it down from the tap, suck it into my mouth, swish it around, spit it out, dry my hands and face, head back to my office and sit down. The Szeller file is in my portfolio on the corner of my desk and I am ready.

I will be there for one reason, to advance my section on maximizing their SR&ED tax credits and for that only. I am trying to close off the file I just sent but my mind is still scanning the words. I need to close it fast because I don’t want it to make me frowny at the meeting.

10:10:34. We are ready for you.

I work some brightness into my face, take an extra moment to remove any irony, and reach for the door. Malcolm slips past in an unacknowledged brown blur as I keep a tight grip on my portfolio so I don’t drop it and ruin everything.

I am in the room. The air is easy and pleasant so things have been going well.

-Easy, Michaelson, I tell myself. I handshake with the clients, keep it cool and steady. All the palms are cool and engaging. I believe there are three handshakes. Combined together they form the client.  We are in a room with no walls or corners, just a single path of sense-filtered intelligence back and forth between myself and the client. Sachin explains what I have been working on.

-If we can subdivide the project into separate corporate entities each under $2 million, we would be able to claim tax credits at the 35% new project rate as opposed to the existing 20%. I have gone through your project and have identified opportunities to break off sections into individual items which are in the attached for your review.

The client asks a question. It is one of the questions I have been expecting.

-It’s experimental at this point but we have a very good probability of having it all approved by Revenue and if they bounce it back at us, we could negotiate it out and get at least 50% of it with a single meeting, I say.

Tie it up with a compliment and keep the timeline reasonable for once.

-With your history and excellent rating, it is likely it will go through and it could set the stage next year for apply this terminology for additional assets if you continue to upgrade.

I put a little too much excitement in there and am going to have to check if I can back it up. I might have to reduce expectations later, but that’s a problem for next tax season and there are always subsequent events I can blame for having to scale things back. 

The client seems to like it, which means it is time to exit. I nod, say thank you and get up. He and the client start to talk again as I disappear and carefully close the door behind me.

Back in the office, my device is blinking. It is Ricardo with a response. There are Francisco Lopez albums to catalog, research and buy. I can’t decide if I want the remaining cheezies or if I am done with them.

FLYNN beeps, This is happening!

It’s time to clean my keyboard and open my returns folder. I will do the Fatimas first and then the Gregs because I will have more mental capacity to identify and clean up his errors and omissions.

Next - TWO

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