256 Words

"Almost Heaven" as in "Falling Short of"

Lad Moore

Moving to West Virginia was not what I envisioned would actually happen when I read the contest rules---an essay-auction by mail---and the prize---a totally free house precariously perched above Tallmansville Lick. "Send a photo of yourself and your spouse with your essay of no more than 256 words, describing why you would be the perfect person(s) to own this house."

How could my story about Beth's terrible childhood have been what would touch the owners---so horribly graphic and all?

Very desperate to get immigrants I thought, as I drove down to the licensing office to trade my Texas plates for those of the "Almost Heaven" state. I had two ten-year old cars, the 1974 Oldsmobile that Beth said was the last of the body-slammers, and my '74 Corvette, the remnant of my youth---fading color, like my proud hair.

The ordeal took two hours. State law says that cars brought into West By God Virginia are levied a sales tax as if new---using current book value. "Double Taxation!" I protested to the clerk, busily popping her Doublemint.

"Six hundred-twelve Dollars," she said, clicking her abused nails on the rubbed-raw Formica counter.

"Let me see the head guy," I demanded.

"No head guy. Fishing at Stonecoal," she said. "Caught six big trout Monday."

"Did he fillet them?" I asked, hoping chumminess might lessen the penalty for bringing in previously-taxed cars.

"Nope---he was using worms I think," said the woman who had just used finger-math to figure my tax.

Copyright ©2000 Lad Moore. All Rights Reserved.

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August, 2000
Issue #52

256 Words