He came into my office, shadows trailing in behind him like he was being followed by the specter of Death. He was a short, squat man; Italian, by the look of him. Honest guy, works with his hands for a living. My guess: plumber.
I don’t see too many plumbers on my beat. It’s mostly toadstools lookin’ for lost treasure or lunatics with vacuums strapped to their backs. A plumber’s got no business in my office.
“Whaddaya here for, pal?” I ask him. I swear, if it’s another lug looking for his princess in the wrong castle, I’m turning in my badge and my Fire Flower and I’m walking away for good. He slides me a manila envelope. Can’t even meet my eyes, he’s so scared. The envelope has a name on it: Yoshi. The most powerful businessman in the Mushroom Kingdom.
I sigh. I’ve been trying to nail this slimy green bastard for everything from babynapping to illegal prize-fighting rings. Lately, I’ve been investigating his business practices as a transportation magnate. He runs the largest transportation company in the Mushroom Kingdom, but gets outta providing his runners health care by claiming them as independent contractors. What’s more, there’s all kinds of reports of unsafe working conditions: open exposure to lava, working underwater without adequate breathing apparatuses. There’s even rumors of his contractors being killed on the job while Yoshi turns a blind eye. I’ve been after him for years now, but nothing seems to stick.
I don’t think this sap has anything new for me. No one ever does. But I look at his wide, dead eyes. He’s seen some shit and I just can’t say no.
“I’ll look into it,” I say.
To give you the big picture, this all started a couple years ago where most criminal enterprises do: a place called the YouTube speakeasy. That’s where some wiseguy running off at the mouth, goes by the name of Real Frickin’ Clever, makes this claim: “64 Things Wrong With Yoshi.”
I don’t know how the poor fool didn’t get popped immediately. Round these parts, you don’t say nothing against the Green Gourmand if you don’t wanna sleep with the Cheep Cheeps. His claims make the rounds, and ends up at yet another den of sin: Tumblr. And that’s where things get outta control.
On Tumblr, another goon they call “drn-000" refuted what Real Frickin’ Clever was sayin’. Yoshi, did nothing wrong, he says. Hoo boy. Well, no sooner did he say that when another mook with a death wish, “druddigon,” dropped the first big break in the case: “Yoshi has committed tax fraud.”
Tax fraud, while not as flashy as murder or kidnapping, could be what finally brought him down. I mean, that’s how they got some of the biggest fish, like Big Bertha, or Boss Bass. I investigated that claim for years. But I turned up nothing. I suspect Mr. Plumber thought he had a fresh take on this cold-as-a-Cooligan’s heart case. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he didn’t. Still, I don’t half-ass. Even if it meant nothing, I had ta see this through.
I wind up at the casino district, where everyone from all over Nintendo-land comes to gamble in hopes of hitting it big time. It’s there, strolling down Fortune Street and going over old recordings, that I hit paydirt. I get the big man himself admitting with his own giant mouth what he done:
It was like a bomb went off. I felt my case, the world, shift under me. I had it all wrong. We all had it wrong.
All these years, we were looking at Yoshi for tax fraud.
What we shoulda been looking for was tax evasion.
Tax fraud is “individual or business entity willfully and intentionally falsifies information on a tax return to limit the amount of tax liability”, while tax evasion is “a person or entity deliberately avoids paying a true tax liability.” The distinction is subtle, but with cutthroat lawyers like Koopa and Koopa defending him, our case needed to be airtight.
As I ran back to my office, I was confident this was it. Beyond the hard evidence of a confession, have you seen his neighborhood? World 1-1 has nary a hospital nor a school in sight. Roving gangs of Hammer Brothers roam the streets accosting good honest folks, like that plumber, on their way to work. Meanwhile, Yoshi’s got his own frickin’ island. No way he’s paying taxes. And with Mayor Peach calling for the rich to pay their fair share, I was confident that this time, he was going down for good.
Editor’s Note: The following was a passage from the forthcoming book Mushroom Kingdom Confidential. The writer was found dead shortly before its publication, of apparent blunt force trauma to the head. Pieces of eggshell were found nearby.