Head Tax


Photo credit: Kaique Rocha pexels-photo-125532 escalator

Manny almost jumped back from top of the escalator when he saw Leah walking across the baggage claim area right below him. She hadn’t looked in his direction and was out of sight by the time he reached the bottom.

He hadn’t expected her to still be at Seatac. Her flight should have arrived hours ago. “Plane must have been delayed,” he muttered, approaching the line of waiting taxis. Entering the closest one, he uttered the address he was given. Manny was grateful the driver wasn’t chatty.

He arrived at the designated part of South Park, paid the driver including a generous tip, and got out. He’d be staying here for a few days, and the first thing he had to do was buy a gun, which wasn’t hard if you had the right connections.

Tomorrow, he’d greet and then kill Leah Thompson just as she left her upscale condo in Belltown. Then he’d exterminate everyone else on the city council who voted to repeal the “head tax.” His uncle Darrel had been murdered by another homeless person six months ago. If the city had been able to provide affordable housing to the needy, he’d still be alive.

I wrote this for the Week #24 writing challenge at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 196.

The photo looks like it could be an airport and I picked the city of Seattle at random. Looking up news for that city, I found Seattle quickly repeals ‘head tax’ that Amazon opposed. Apparently, Seattle had passed a law taxing big businesses like Amazon and Starbucks $500 per full-time employee so the city could fund affordable housing and services for the homeless. However Amazon pushed back in a big way, so the city council voted 7 to 2 to repeal it. Well, they actually dropped the tax to $250 per employee, but a lot of people were unhappy that the council caved in to big business.

I had planned to write an ominous tale when I first saw the photo, and my research just served to fill in the details.

My having written this missive doesn’t imply that I support or oppose Seattle’s “head tax.” I just needed to give Manny a motive for murder. Oh, the names used in my story are totally fictitious, and as far as I know, no one named “Leah Thompson” is on Seattle’s city council. I’m also not condoning killing anyone associated with this issue or for any other reason.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

As I’ve mentioned before, this link up needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing your own flash fiction piece.

8 thoughts on “Head Tax

  1. Story considerations aside, it seems you found quite a political controversy to use as your murderer’s motive. A city council views large businesses as a private “piggy bank” which they may rob on a whim with confiscatory and discriminatory taxes. Then some faction of locals is upset when the political robber barons are forced to back off? And all this was because someone had the bright idea of a giveaway program for supposed “homeless” folks? My, but I’m glad not to be living in Seattle! This incident raises so many questions about democracy, liberty, enterprise, property ownership, public responsibility, and administration of public works. It appears to be another example of the mistaken superficial notion that a problem will go away if only one will throw at it enough money from some governmental source, regardless of from what source that government steals it.

    So many analytical questions occur to me: about who might be classed as homeless, how did they become so, what assistance might actually be effective, who is expected to benefit from government funding to build housing and hire service providers, and, most importantly, if it is indeed a public problem, why was the public not addressed directly to participate with contributions to a program that could reasonably resolve actual problems. Why steal money from selected businesses via draconian regressive taxation? It only forces them to increase prices to taxpaying consumers, indirectly taxing them as well but also reducing the justification for those businesses to continue operating in such an environment. Why not solicit voluntary contributions from the businesses and the taxpayers as well, since presumably they all will benefit from reducing this particular social problem?

    Of course, soliciting volunteer participation does require that program operators produce periodic presentations and evidence that their program is working and not wasting contributed funds, making them accountable to the contributors. They would have to show what portion of the so-called “homeless” problem is caused by mental illness, how much of that can be treated and by what means and in what sort of facility, how much of the problem might be resolved by employment counseling, how much by childcare assistance, how much by housing assistance, how long must temporary assistance be sustained (on average) and how quickly can temporarily-homeless individuals or families be removed from the program as those restored to independent self-sustenance. They would have to show that they were actually addressing and resolving these social problems successfully.

    Regrettably, such a rational approach probably would have eliminated your murderer’s motive, forcing you to write a different sort of story. On the other hand — if rational, successful administration of social problems could also reduce the instances of crimes, violent as well as against property, who could complain? [:)]

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s things like this that are driving folks out of the liberal communities of California, Oregon, and Washington into Idaho, which frankly, is messing up what makes Idaho a great place to live. I understand the value of wanting to give charity to the needy and its one that Christians and Jews share, but I also agree that there’s a difference between voluntarily helping the homeless and being forced to do so by law.


  2. Interesting mix of characters James! Good job you spelt Leah with an H, as I was thinking of Michael J Fox’s mother in the Back to the Future franchise! I vaguely recall a Manny from Rug Rats, and South Park was a series I couldn’t get into. 🙂


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