“Freeman… yes… Dr. Freeman. So you are a doctor?” The gruff agent looked over the paper file at the well-dressed elderly man facing him from the other side of his dull grey metal desk.
“No sir, that is my name. Doctor Freeman.'' the man stated.
“Are you in this country legally?” the agent asked.
“Yes sir, born and raised just north of here. In fact, I’ve never really strayed from this area.” the old man replied.
“How old are you, umm… Mister… Doctor Freeman?” the agent stumbled over the strange name.
“Well, I’m not sure. I believe I am about 61 or 62 years old. The people who raised me never told me. They passed when I was quite young, and I went through their records, but they only had a very old picture of me as a baby. My name was scribbled on the back. Doctor Freeman.” The old man adjusted his glasses and smiled.
“I must say that is an unusual name.” The agent scowled slightly, then continued, “May I have your Social Security number for our records please, MISTER Freeman?”
The old man fidgeted in his chair and replied, “I don’t think I have one of those.”
“Mr. Freeman,” the agent huffed, “everyone has one. Do you mean to tell me you have never been asked for your Social Security number?”
“Well, no.” Doctor Freeman replied “I don’t believe anyone has ever asked me for that.”
The agent mumbled and turned to his computer. After a few minutes of pecking at the keyboard, he turned back to the old man with a raised eyebrow, “There doesn’t seem to be a Doctor Freeman in our records. Mister Freeman, was your name ALWAYS Doctor Freeman?”
“Oh, yes sir,” the man assured the agent. “I have been called that name since I was a very little boy! I’ve never thought to change it.”
“Mister Freeman, do you know why you are here?” The agent dismissed the old man’s response.
“Well, they said something about money I owed to the government, I believe” said Doctor Freeman. “But I don’t remember owing money to anyone. I’ve never borrowed a dime in my life!”
“MISTER FREEMAN” the agent barked, “Our records indicate that you have never filed a tax return or paid taxes in your life, you have never even held a job, or applied for any government entitlements. Yet you live in a decent house and obviously do not want for food or clothing.”
“Is that illegal?” Freeman asked in a concerned tone.
“YES! Well, no. Not really. But when we come across someone like you, we usually find that they have been committing crimes to maintain their lifestyle,” the agent explained. “It’s obvious that you make a living somehow, and we need to find out how much money you have, where you have it, and how much you owe the government in back taxes!” The agent’s voice grew more accusatory by the second as he attempted to intimidate the elderly man into cooperating.
He cringed at the thought of having to dig through mounds of files or spend countless hours on the database trying to figure out who this man was and how much he owed. Everyone owed money to the government. That’s just the way it was. “Show me the man and I’ll show you what he owes” was the agency’s secret motto. Everyone had something to hide and this ‘Doctor’ fellow was no exception.
The agent tried to remain calm, but it was beginning to sink in that this old man was going to cause him no end of trouble.
“I assure you, sir,” the old man calmly stated, “that I have never had or acquired any money in my entire life. I simply do not use or need a form of currency to sustain myself. I don’t function that way. I believe in a universal truth: Give and you will receive. I have spent my life giving what little I have to those in need. I have found that in return, the world supplies me with what I need. Yin and Yang, reap what you sow… call it what you will, it balances itself out nicely.”
Suddenly the agent’s eyes brightened. “Mister Freeman, that is called bartering! Bartering is a form of income that requires both parties to claim the value of the good or service on form 1099B. You see Mister Freeman, you DO owe the government money!” The agent had him cornered now. The hardest part of the work was done. Now, it was merely a game of fill in the blanks to create an amount this Doctor Freeman had to pay.
"But I don't barter," the old man grinned. "I give freely to people who honestly cannot afford what I give them. Some time later, a completely different person will supply what I need, almost like magic. I don’t believe your law defines that as bartering."
The agent's eyes narrowed again. A breath pushed from his lungs. He could feel his blood pressure beginning to rise. The old man was right, technically.
“I’ll be the judge of that!” snarled the agent, “Do you own the house where you reside?”
“No.” Doctor Freeman stated matter-of-factly. ‘It belongs to the Martin family. They’re so kind! They use it as a summer home and I’m watching it for them as a favor.”
“And he’s paying you to watch it, I presume?” the agent shot back.
“Oh, Heavens no!” The old man pushed his glasses up again then added, “I wouldn’t think of charging them just to watch a house. That seems silly.”
“Yes, of course,” the agent mumbled. “I suppose you don’t own a car.”
“No sir. A kind neighbor was heading into town and gave me a ride here,” the old man grinned again.
“Any assets at all?” the agent’s voice cracked slightly as the first hint of doubt made its way past his vocal cords.
“I guess I have my clothes. I have a coffee cup that those wonderful people at the Salvation Army gave me for Christmas when I helped them with their concert last year!”
The agent moaned in disbelief. There was no WAY this could be true. Nobody gets a free pass in life. Nobody gets to go through life without being pulled into the system in some way. If you were in this nation, you either had to be fed by the system or feed the system unless you were one of the fortunate few who controlled the system. Yet here was this Doctor Freeman (if that was really his name) sitting in front of him, totally disconnected from the entire machine, winning by not playing. He was obviously thriving, yet had nothing of value. Or did he? The agent smirked at the thought forming in his head. He was determined to expose this entire scam. He was going to beat the old man at his own game.
“Mister Freeman, assuming your view of Yin and Yang is correct, if you have no assets besides a few personal items, what exactly do you give to the world that somehow obliges it to supply you with your needs?”
Doctor Freeman leaned forward with a sparkle in his eyes, “I’m a healer!” he beamed.
The agent raised a curious eyebrow, “So, you ARE an actual Doctor?”
“No, sir,” the old man smiled even broader now. “I’m a healer. I always have been. I fix broken spirits. It’s a gift I’ve had since I can remember. Yep, if you have a broken spirit, just call Doctor! You see, if I were to charge for my services it would corrupt the purity of my talent. It is imperative that I live differently from others. Money… currency means nothing to me. Maintaining my balance with the world is everything. It allows me the freedom to give and receive without being distracted by trivialities like mundane jobs, money, taxes, and government systems. Can you understand that, sir?” His tone was serious now.
“I see, Mister Freeman.” It all made sense to the agent now. Freeman was insane. The agent was sure that his name was not ‘Doctor,’ and he was sure that the poor sap before him was a delusional idiot living an imaginary life, likely wandering around the outskirts of town talking to the sky and shouting at traffic. This changed everything. He felt an unfamiliar twinge of sympathy cross his soul.
The agent reached for his phone to call the proper authorities that would take this nuisance out of his office and get him off the streets. It was getting late and the agent had a lunchtime appointment he needed to attend so he could get his prescription updated.
“Mister Freeman, I am going to turn you over to a specialist who can get you the help you need. You may not owe money after all, but they will help you figure that and a lot of other things out,” the agent softly explained as he rose to his feet. The door opened and a social worker quietly entered behind the old man.
Doctor Freeman rose to his feet and smiled at the lady, then turned to the agent and grabbed his hand in an unexpected, firm handshake.
“Thank you, sir,” he smiled as his shimmerling eyes met the agent’s. “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
“Umm…,” the agent stammered. His head swam for a quick second, and he suddenly felt something he had not felt since he was a very young boy. “Yes. Good day, Mister Freeman.”
The old man winked and a knowing smile crossed his face. “Please, call me Doctor.”
The social worker led the old man through the door and out to the parking lot. She turned to the old man smiling, “Doctor Freeman, do you need me to drop you back off at the Martin’s house?”
“That would be wonderful, Barbara!” Doctor Freeman smiled broadly again. “And how is that young lady I spoke with last week? Have her suicidal thoughts left her?”
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.