Kitty’s walking leads somewhere.
On Kitty’s long walks she always had occasion, either going or coming back, to pass a small storefront with a sign that read “Kline Taxes & Accounting.” Something about the place always made her slow down to look more closely. The day after she talked to Alva about finding an accountant, she pushed the door handle of Kline Taxes & Accounting and walked into a small room with a desk and chair, file cabinet, telephone, another chair for one visitor and a large cactus plant with spiky thorns in a pot against the corner by the window. Perhaps that cactus was what had always caught Kitty’s eye. It didn’t look like it belonged in Brooklyn.
No one was at the desk. There was a hallway leading from the front room. Kitty gingerly approached it, peering around to try to see if anyone was there.
“Hello,” she called out softly. “Is anyone here?”
She heard the rustle of papers and then a tall man wearing glasses, his tie loosened at the neck and the collar unbuttoned, came from somewhere down the hall. He looked surprised to see Kitty.
“Yes?” he said. “May I help you?”
“Oh,” she said, “I’m sorry. I was just … well, I was just looking for … ” her voice trailed off.
The man came to where she was standing and he smiled at her, looking a little befuddled himself.
“Did you need some help?” he asked again.
Kitty took a deep breath. She would have to get over being such a baby sometime. She decided now was the time.
“Yes,” she said in a straightforward voice that surprised her. “I need some tax help.
“For a friend,” she added.
“Of course. Have a seat please,” he motioned to the extra chair and he took the one behind the desk. He didn’t fit at the desk. His long legs wouldn’t go under it so he had to turn sideways and then his feet stuck out beyond the edge of it where Kitty could see them. He tried to look relaxed but he was obviously not comfortable. He picked up a pen and fiddled with it.
“What’s your friend’s problem?” he asked.
“I’m not sure,” Kitty said. “I was asked to straighten out her receipts and I put together an expense and income ledger for her. It was a real mess. I only went back a year. But she hasn’t paid any taxes in at least two years. And she really needs a professional to help her. I can’t do anymore.”
“So you’re a bookkeeper?” he asked.
“Not really,” Kitty said and then she thought about it and she told him, “actually, yes, yes I am. And a very good one.” This was getting easier, Kitty thought.
“My name is Calvin Howard,” he said. “Cal,” he added.
“Kitty,” she answered him, “Kitty Walker.”
“My bookkeeper didn’t show up after Thanksgiving and I don’t know if she’s coming back. You aren’t by any chance looking for a job — maybe temporary?” he asked. “The work’s really backing up. This is her desk, actually,” he motioned to his feet sticking out beyond it and laughed. “A little small for me, as you can see.”