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Challenge #01334-C239: So Unfair

School 'Pain in the Anatomy': "Well, he'll either wind up in Jail or grow up to be an Archbishop." -- Anon Guest

Life is unfair. Anyone trying to tell you different is either trying to sell you something, or is one of the people who actively make life unfair. Such are the lessons drilled into us at school. Not by the teachers, oh no. They're still trying to sell us all the ideal that hard work earns good rewards.

The lesson is taught by other children.

Cruel and harsh and unrelenting. Beating down anyone who is different. Reaching for the heights of popularity by stepping on all of those who also stand out.

The stepped on cannot stop them. And that is another harsh lesson. Those in authority will do nothing to the steppers, and everything to the steppees when they inevitably snap.

And then these wild creatures are released upon the world. The steppees do their utmost to salvage a life out of the wreckage, and those who step...

Tamara stopped cold when she saw the name from her past. Jamie Stenson. His face and name were plastered all over the renovation walls and bus stops along the street. He was doing some talk about synergising success.

He'd lost most of his hair. He'd got fat. And he also, apparently, was worth billions of dollars.

This was the kid who had called her all sorts of unprintable things, looked as innocent as an angel when finally dragged to the office, and could have gotten away with murder. Had, in fact, nearly done so.

Tamara tried to put it out of her mind. The little stain on her daily life was off doing something else. Far away from her. He could not, and would not, be bothering her any more.

Until the day he and some of his lawyers were in her office and seeking her accounting help. They had two hand-trucks worth of unsorted paperwork and the expectation that she would do miracles. His old accountant had been cooking the books and he needed everything unriddled before his next divorce.

Tamara felt compelled to say, "You were a pain in the ass to me in school."

"I was a pain in the ass to everyone in school," he said. "You'll have to be more specific."

"You called me Grape Ape, amongst other things, and damn near killed me on sports day because you thought it might be funny."

He could have said, "I'm sorry." He could have feigned horror at his past self. What he did say doomed him. "Ah, not worth remembering. Water under the bridge."

Tamara faked a pleasant smile and told him she would undertake investigations at once.

Thorough investigations.

It didn't take her long to realise that Jamie Stenson's accountant had been cooking the books in his favour. But also, so had Jamie Stenson. He was guilty of shuffling assets between shell companies to generate virtual money. And it showed a pattern of infidelity that five of his eight ex-wives should find very interesting indeed. Especially since he'd reneged his way out of paying them any kind of alimony based on his allegedly faithful support of their chosen lifestyles.

All of this information got 'accidentally' sent to his exes, the IRS, and a couple of news agencies that despised him almost as much as she had.

He was going to wind up both in debt and in jail.

"Not worth remembering," she would tell him. "Water under the bridge."

And then she'd deliberately drive her wheelchair over his toes. Reminding him that some things that he forgot would stay with others for the rest of their lives.

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