The Art of Being Okay

Chapter 4

Legal Document: Guardian Bylaws

Article I: Organization

The name of this organization shall be Guardian. The core that this organization has been created for is: to help support the arts for children in areas of lesser economic stability. The name is subject to change by a majority vote.

Article II: Purpose

The purpose of this organization will be to help improvise children develop literary skills in a safe a fun environment, though a month long program. Acts of Guardian will include publishing deals, child to author one on one mentoring and scholarship opportunities.

Article III: Membership

This organization is open to a select few students under the age of sixteen who show extraordinary literary talent. Funds will be appropriated to pay independent contractors to work with the children; however, this is not membership and does not entitle you to any of the above benefits. Independent contractors will not be applicable for tax withholding. The children that are to be chosen for the program will be judged by of board of no less than three and no more than six.

Article IV: Meetings

Jack looked up from the piece of paper Tooth had handed him. He looked back down at it. The meetings section looked long. As in, rest of the page long. He could just, skip, that section, right? I mean, it didn't actually pertain to him. Jack wasn't a member of the board or anything.

The fifth article, however, didn't look any better.

Jack bounced to his feet, rubbing his eyes. He checked the time. 7:03. He hadn't even been reading for five minutes and he was already done. Great. Perfect. Brilliant. Picking up a pencil with his forefinger and thumb, Jack began to twirl the pen around his hand, trying to ignore the growing headache in his head.

He rubs his hand against the fine hair on his arm absent mindedly.

Honestly, Jack was never good at paying attention, but reading these articles was like dragging his brain over sand.

Jack dropped the pen. It was a long day. He was fairly tired. He let it go.

There was pause, in which nothing happened. North was wearing glasses, though. Dumbledore, half-moon glasses. They didn't make North looked wise, they just made Jack laugh. Except he wasn't actually supposed to be laughing, he was supposed to be working. Jack stifled his laughter.

Bunnymund still glared at him.

Grumpy, much?

"Not grumpy, ya gumbie." Bunnymund snapped at him.

"Did I say that aloud?" Jack shrugged innocently, opening up his stance. "Oops. Guess I never was too great at controlling my impulses." Jack's grinning now.

"Jack. Bunny." Tooth scolds. "Get back to work! If we're going to do this thing on technicalities, you guys have got to know these bylines better than me."

"Toothiana, I think that's impossible."

Tooth laughed with Jack for a second, before snapping back into super-Manager.

Jack looks back down and tries to focus on article something or other in Roman about salaries, but he just can't.

"I can't believe I'm actually working," Jack groaned.

"Ah, shut it." Bunny slammed his paw down, frustrated. "I'm the one who should be workin' at Rise, 'stead a messin' 'round you idiots over at Guardian. Ya don't want ta help? Leave."

That was a little harsh. Wait. Maybe that wasn't a bad idea. "I'm going to get some coffee, guys. It's going to be a real long, real slow, and real exhausting night. What do you guys want?"

"That is good idea, Jack Frost. Get me hot mocha, please." North is the first one to respond.

"Espresso – no double – no triple espresso. Two. Two triple espressos and Jack you are a god!" Toothiana is practically vibrating and Jack really doesn't think she needs caffeine. He's mentioned her caffeine addiction before, and had gotten an earful about the amount of work she supposed to do in a day, every day, and how she'd be able to get any of it done let alone all of it without her espressos, and he hadn't asked again.

Sandy was asleep in the corner. No one could really bring themselves to wake him.

"I'll have a one hot tea. And ah, quality. Lose leaf kid. Kind ta cost the big brikkies. None of the tea bag garbage, y'hear?"

"Well, aren't you a special little snowflake."

"This close ta bailing up on ya. Coffee's just not my bowl of rice, y'get?"

"You mean, cup of tea? As in the cup of tea you want me to bring you? Bunny!" Jack sounded delighted. "Your Australian is showing!"

"Cark it."

Chortling, Jack left. Or, attempted to. He'd taken about five steps outside when Tooth caught up to him. "Grab us a pizza or something too, yeah? Yeah. Awesome! Thanks again, Jack. Oh! Here's some money!"

"I have mon – my phone's right – you're wel – you didn't –"

Tooth was already gone.

Jack sighs, but he's smiling when he does, letting the hand holding his wallet drop.

When he gets back, three coffees and a tea in one arm, and a pizza box in the other, the room looks like it's been attacked by a hurricane. Carefully printed and sorted bylaw articles are everywhere.

Tooth is pacing erratically around the room, obviously talking on her phone.

"Listen, listen, listen."

Pause.

"Uh, huh."

Pause.

"Yeah, no, got that. But you must have gotten my reports! I've sent them, annually! And I've got Form 990 right –" Tooth rummages around in North's desk for a bit. "Not my desk. Right." She turns back to her phone. "Right in my desk drawer and links are on our website. I mean, they're available to the public. Haven't gotten a single bad review from a board member ever –"

There is a long pause this time.

"Okay, can you tell me where we are apparently breaking the bylaws? Why weren't we given a warning here?"

There pause is short, before Tooth is interrupting.

"I don't think you can prove it! From our perspective, we weren't dodging our taxes or misappropriating our funds! This backup withholding stuff is ridiculous –"

"No," Tooth is snapping, "I am not calling the IRS ridiculous –"

There's a really short pause, where Tooth quite clearly steamrolls over the useless IRS worker. Jack can just imagine him at work, wanting to look cool in front of all his coworkers on the first, and being all 'I got this,' and 'watch me deal with this idiot' and then getting an earful of Tooth.

He would laugh, but then he'd be getting an earful from Tooth.

"I'll I'm saying is we don't have the money right now! Look, give us a few months! But the program requires ever extra cent we're earning. We need building and places to work with these children. We need food! Most of our assets are already frozen; we've got to use these accounts!"

There's a dangerous sounding pause.

"No, I don't consider that breaking the law! I consider that helping children! Good day to you too!"

And Tooth is slamming the phone down. Very. Annoyed.

Nobody moves as Tooth walks over to a chair and collapses.

"I've got the coffee?"

Tooth leaps back up. "Thanks, Jack."

"Appreciated." North grabs his mocha and inhales. "Mmh."

Bunnymund doesn't say much, but does offer grudging thanks before he snatches up the tea. Jack looks around, and thinks it's amazing that Sandy managed to sleep through all of that.

"Not to ask the obvious, but Tooth? What's going on?"

"Well, our funds have been frozen by Pitch which was a major dick move –"

"Toothie!"

"He messed with my bylaws! I know it. Now, if I can just prove it …" She looks around sheepishly. "Oh. Right. Sorry. Anyways, he froze our assets, and we need money just to operate this building, just a small flow of temporary cash, which I started drawing in through the gift's we've been given. By selling them. On eBay. Which is totally legal in form 550 (c) -"

Jack interrupted. "So, we have money now?"

"Technically, it's taxable income. I mean, I would normally, to include it as a gift, have to fill out a bunch of forms, but I had to switch accounts from our old company account to this one so that we'd be able to sustain ourselves at least a little bit longer and frankly, I didn't have the time."

Tooth pauses for conformation that everyone is still with her. Sandy, after being nudged awake finally by North, is blinking blearily at her, but appears to be following.

"And now, the IRS is claiming that we broke our bylaws or that what we did didn't fit under our bylaws at the very least, which meant that they were under New York laws."

"Which is stupid, because it should just fall under normal income laws."

Everyone nods, even though they aren't quite sure what they're nodding about. Income laws, apparently.

"So, now we've got all these backup withholding taxes to pay –"

"What?"

"Just … a lot of really high taxes whenever we try to withdraw or use money. Really high, too. Like, initially the point of all these things is so that you don't spend all your income and have nothing to pay the IRS during tax season, so the entire point of backup withholding taxes is basically to severely restrict your income. We can't really afford that. We'll be broke within two or three weeks, if we keep up our current spending projection. I'm sorry, guys. I tried to fix it, but it just made things worse."

"It is not big deal. You try. We all now put heads together, solve problem."

"It's too late, North. We're going to have to shut down the program."

"No!" North bangs his fist down. "I refuse."

"I've got an idea," Jack interrupts. "If we get the kids to do some work –"

Tooth lights up. "We could file them under volunteers, because technically they are, if they 'volunteer' to do a work day – but, Jack, what would they do?"

"We've got a couple of weeks, right? We'll have a screening of their work. Sell food, tickets, seats."

"That won't be enough," Bunnymund contributes cynically. "But, authors can come –"

"And they'd be volunteers too – they better." Tooth mutters to herself.

Jack's getting excited about even Bunny getting excited about the idea.

"Do panels, we can have the bastards pay out the noses for that," Bunnymund continues. "Sell some 'amber liquid' to the adults."

"My midgets work as ushers." North offers. "Russian can be bouncers."

Jack looked on the verge of laughter then. "Phil'll love that." He announced sarcastically.

Tooth lets out a high pitched squeal. "Guys, this is going to work! This is actually going to work!"

We just have to do some actual work?

Sandy held up a placard with words scribbled over it, apparently awake now.

"You said it, Sandy. Right, so I take it Guardian is sorted? I can get back to Rise now? Crikey. Don't know how those dingoes are managing without me."

"Bunny's right. Real work? I'm outta here."

"Stay! Bunny, Jack. Stay for pizza. We have party!" North gestures wildly in the air.

"Not on your nelly, mate. I'm gettin' ta Rise. But I'll take a slice. To go."

North lets out a booming laugh and hands Bunnymund a piece. "Jack, come! Eat with us!"

Jack casts a nervous look at the pizza box, and smirks a bit as he looked back up at them. "Sorry. I've got a thing with Pip, and leftovers with my name on them, in bold and highlighted, back at our place. See you guys tomorrow."

Are you visiting Pippa in the hospital?

Jack gives a little half wave before disappearing. He misses Sandy's note as he waves goodbye to Phil.

With no response forth coming, Sandy rolls over to get back to sleep, while Tooth works and North helps and hinders in turns.

The midgets bring them cookies all night. And egg nog.

By morning, Tooth and North are fast asleep, and only slightly drunk, while Sandy is climbing down the fire escape.


...

When Jack finally gets to see Pippa, he's a couple minutes late and he can't help but let out a sigh of relief that she hadn't noticed this time.

"Jack!" Pippa's entire face lights up as giggles up at him. "Let's have fun, Jack. It's always fun when you're here."

Chuckling, Jack says the next part of the well-worn script: "Let's play a game."

Pippa pulls the blanket around her and draws herself up regally. "Yes. We shall. Sir Jack, what game should we play?" Almost immediately, she breaks her façade of mysterious Queen. "Tell me more about how you defeated the Nightmare King, Jack. You never finished last time!"

"Alright." Jack always lets Pippa pick what they do.

Soon the two are laughing and Jack's standing up and acting a caricature of the entire thing out, and Pippa's clapping and laughing along with Jack and the doctors look surprised and tell him that she wasn't doing well earlier that day.

They also tell him how much she loves his visits.

He gives her one of the cookies he stole from one of North's midgets and the expression on her face makes him glad he didn't eat one.

Eventually, the nurses kick him out and Jack goes home, amazed at the ease of it all and falls asleep alone and smiling.

...


...

Pandora: Set Fire to the Face On Fire, by Blood Brothers

About: Blood Brothers

Set Fire to the Face On Fire is one of the Blood Brothers' few singles, released in 2007 right before the band broke up later that year. Blood Brothers are a staple of the emerging screamo genre, a subgenre of emo. Screamo music pulls in more aggressive tones than its brother, emo, and appears to be majorly influenced by hardcore punk. Blood Brothers especially were known for this and for their experimental edge.

The screamo genre began noticeably in the 1990s. Blood Brothers released their first album ten years later: This Adultery is Ripe. Two years later, March of the Electric Children came out, but it wasn't until 2003 with Burn, Piano Island, Burn that their music really started to hit it off and stand out in screamo culture. Their two subsequent albums, Crimes and Young Machetes, became even more popular.

Band members include: Jordan Billie and Johnny Whitney both doing and occasionally dueling on vocals, Morgan Henderson on the bass and backup vocals, Cody Votolato from Waxwing on guitar and backup vocals as well, and Mark Gajadhar on the drums. One of the notable aspects of the band was Jordan Billy and Johnny Whitney both dedicated to vocals, as well as their stage presence. The band joined as a group in 1997, and stayed together for ten years before an amicable break in 2007.

-Date: July 2nd, 2013

Pitch Black, frustrated, gave up and slams his computer lid down. It is close to midnight, and he's still hiding in the dark of his office like he has no life.

Which he doesn't, per se, but that's only by choice.

Pitch worked hard. He spent years menially filing taxes as a low-level executive at the IRS (this, North suspects, whenever he chooses to contemplate the nightmare that is Pitch Black, is where it all started going wrong. As Jack said, the only thing duller than taxes was reading about tax exceptions. Pitch had to do both for years).

And Pitch had slaved away, down there, in that dark basement where all tax interns worked. Slaved away for large sums of money at the price of his soul, or, at the very least, his sense of humanity, only to finally end up with a dark attic office where he slaved away all day and night in.

Despite the fact that he was surrounded by other tax workers, there was a surprisingly lopsided ratio of tax payer to tax worker, and everyone was always focused and doing something, silently going crazy.

The job of the IRS is, in part, to instill fear. To instill the amount of fear that would guarantee people actually paid their taxes, and didn't try to cheat or blur the lines.

Because of the limited number of people and short attention that could be paid to each activity, this spread of fear in the IRS is all the more important.

Furthermore, there were things you had to do in that place. Things that, melodrama excluded, did change you. Like foreclosing on a destitute family. Seizing property as quickly as possible. Going to extraordinary lengths to fix taxing problems and get the money. The IRS gave no time and no mercy, searching for ways to make the not profitable go away, immediate solutions to the problem.

Pitch excelled, and the early years of torture were soon behind him.

It was promotion after promotion, Pitch Black climbing the executive tower like a bolt of lightning, fuelled by emo culture and the even better screamo music. And Pitch was the best at taxes. You might say Pitch was quick as a bunny when it came to squeezing every last cent out of the terrified families around the world.

He was head of the taxing department before you could blink. And be snatched up by a weeping angel if this was Doctor Who.

And then Guardian began expanding and made its big move to America. And suddenly, there were less people who were scared of taxes. Less hopeless families to foreclose on. More families, more people, able to see through the bullshit, able to fight their charges and taxes in court.

And the more of those cases the IRS lost, the less feared they became. And soon, the tax monster of the government began to fade, just a little at a time.

But if the IRS could nail Guardian on their taxes, everything would be right again.

Governments need fear. They need money, and they need people scared enough to pay it on time. They needed the destitute to know their place.

There was no place in government proceedings for a Guardian or a Rise building. Not in America, at least. Not if Pitch could help it.

Grinning, and leaning back into his custom made-chair, Pitch grins and turns up Set Fire to the Face on Fire. Really, it was a pity the Blood Brothers broke up.

...


...

It took twelve hours before Pitch had discovered Tooth's quick money plan, but it only took half an hour to rip it to shreds.

He was a tax professional. She was simply a secretary turned agent for the mysterious Jack Frost. Pitch wanted to meet this Jack Frost, mostly because he knew North was taking him under his wing and also because he didn't know anything about Jack.

That should have puzzled him, but instead, it excited him. Interested him. Curiosity, piqued.

Many, deader men have mentioned that Pitch was strange.

Those men are, as previously noted, all dead now. Technically, missing. But really, really dead.

But, in Pitch's defense, they were all stupid people. Well, people stupid enough to insult an emo-screamo follower dude who just looked evil, no matter how much pink he wore. And, to be frank, they were a tad bit judgmental.

The world, in Pitch's faux humble opinion, was better off without them. And if it wasn't? What's done was done and there was no use crying over spilt milk.

Pitch prided himself on having a very pragmatic approach to death.

However, when all was said and done, Pitch didn't really like to kill people. You had to be careful with killing people, because you couldn't get caught, or even suspected. Not unless you were some mob boss somewhere in Chicago.

Pitch hated Chicago.

It definitely wasn't because everyone there was either too busy being afraid that they weren't part of the mob or too busy pretending that they weren't because they were part of the mob to be afraid of him or anything. That would be silly.

But Pitch didn't have time, frankly, to lead a mob; it wasn't nearly wide reaching enough, and Pitch hated cops. Just, the entire concept was insane and begging to be corrupted.

Instead, Pitch could rule the world from his current position. Or the United States, if not the world. Because being a tax executive gave you power over people's money, the government's money, and how those two things were related. That was a lot of power, and now, with Pitch's new regime plowing forwards, a lot of fear.

...


...

A month later, an exhausted Jack will try to delay lunch by asking Dr. Bennett if she thought he made it up, the stuff about Pitch. He'll say that he hopes she doesn't, because he read the police reports and he's entitled to artistic liberties, right?

She'll shrug and say she believed him anyway.

"Nightlight?" She'll ask.

"Nightlight," he'll reply.

They'll laugh, but Dr. Bennett's laugh will be the least attractive, pig snort laugh that Jack thinks anyone can ever hear. It'll make them laugh harder.

And then she'll grab a passing doctor and ask for Jack's lunch. She won't give a fuck that the doctor isn't Jack's.



Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.