Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud: Chapter Eleven

The Return of Count Dweeble

The hidden/lost/stolen $4,000,000 did not long occupy our attention, unfortunately. For one thing, we didn’t know what the beans to do about it. But it was another thing that provided the main ingredient of distraction.

It would be nice to inform you that this distraction was of the pleasant variety, but no. Sorry. Not to be. Our luck had taken a turn southward and the journey was far from over.

You may have noticed that I have referred to my ex-partner Kevin Dwan by many different names. Most, if not all of them, may have seemed pejorative. Perhaps even over the top mean. Uncharitable. Out of place in this otherwise scholarly tome.

Tough toe nails, Dweebledwubbledwad.

I would have preferred to leave him out of this odyssey entirely, to save his very nice sisters embarrassment, but his actions as an ex-partner caused more harm to Blueberry, if that’s possible, than his actions while still a partner. So it would not be possible to relate this woeful saga without pushing this worm directly out into the harsh spotlight of history.

And lest you think I’m picking on a guy who just wasn’t too bright or had a bad moral upbringing, I offer his salient resume. A straight A student and college graduate of Loyola Marymount University with two years of post graduate work in Literature at San Francisco State University. A member of the Nevada City, California Planning Commission. Two time loser in attempts to be elected one of five City Councilpersons in Sebastopol, California. Constant crusader for Green Power and, along with his wife, firm supporters of Solar Energy. A true champion of Liberal Causes. A man fairly wearing his noble Politically Correct conscience as a public wardrobe.

But not above lying, backstabbing, and stealing a business from a friend and partner. You know the type – PHONY PHUCK.

No, Mr. Dwan deserves no sympathy from me and will get none here.

While Mary and I were attempting to salvage the mess he had made regarding the Arbortext contract and Blueberry Software itself, this reprobate rose yet again from the tomb he had dug for himself and, flaring his tail upward, began spraying his toxic venom anywhere he could point it.

Not content to develop any sort of life that was not primarily focused on ruining me, Dwan rummaged through the Santa Rosa sewer system and extracted from the foul toxic dribble a prehistoric creature named Lawrence Bernheim.

Esquire, of course.

Mary would probably warn me that I’ll get booed off the stage if I keep this up. Overkill. Okay, okay. I’m done. Promise. Stick to the facts.

Mr. Bernheim – Larry, that is – was not a toxic sewer dwelling scumbag. Of course not.

He was just a lawyer.

One who no doubt specialized in cases that had been heaved off the cliff by a previous lawyer who realized there were no good legal options available for his client to abuse in the pursuit of stealing a business from his partner. That was called a Power Play. One his client had attempted and failed.

No, what was needed now was someone to conduct insane harassment. For which Larry seemed notably qualified. Lawyer number three had arrived on the scene, smoke bellowing from his tail pipe, horns ahonking, fenders rattling.

Larry introduced himself pleasantly enough by sending a letter to Arbortext and me completely out of the blue and threatening to sue them. What exactly he would sue them for was not really delineated. Unimportant details did not concern his royal Larryness. He was here to jump in your face and announce that one gigantic pain in the ass was now loudly and enthusiastically on the case that did not exist.

While old Gutless himself quietly slunk out of sight. Rarely to be heard from again. Adios, Dweebledwan. We’ll deal mostly with your lawyer from here on out.

Needless to say, Bernheim’s intrusion did not further our efforts to bring Arbortext to justice. In fact, it gave Jim Sterken the golden opportunity to play partnership ping pong with a vengeance. Or partnership paddle ball, excuse me. Mixed game utensils. Whatever. Now, whenever code was needed, I was the operative partner. Whenever royalties were due or complaints needed avoiding, Dwan became the operative partner. It was a fractured marriage made in Sterken heaven.

To secure Dwan’s loyalty to Arbortext, rather than to Blueberry, Sterken seized on the pathetic threat of Bernheim’s law suit and, trembling with feigned fear, reversed his earlier decision to send the royalty checks to me. Instead, he sent half of the April royalty check, that Mary had so strenuously yanked from his thieving pockets, to me and the other half to Dwan.

This gave Dwan all the retail income and Blueberry’s web site and the potential for new business, plus a free ride on any work I did concerning the Arbortext contract. Which put him firmly in Sterken’s corner, ignoring that Sterken had discarded him the previous fall and could do so again any time it suited his purpose. For now, however, Sterken had effectively granted Dwan the victory in seizing control of Blueberry that Dwan’s own efforts had failed so miserably at the previous year.

Did Dwan notice and appreciate the sizeable jump in royalties that Mary had procured? Not that you would notice. In fact, he and Larry announced their displeasure over Mary and I jeopardizing the contract by complaining about its enforcement. In Dwan’s world view, Blueberry was a worthless mongrel that should cower and lick boot and be thankful for any bones tossed out the window by Arbortext.

It worked perfectly. Bernheim was quite happy to announce Dwan’s disagreement with each and every effort Mary and I made to force Arbortext to honor the contract. And Sterken was quite happy to agree that Mary and I were certainly behaving badly.

It did not occur to Dwan that he could increase the size of his 50% check by joining our efforts at enforcement, rather than fighting them. In fact, he never even bothered to query us as to what it was that we had discovered that was amiss. True to form to the end. Ignorance is bliss.

Lord, when a sickness unto death invades a man’s soul, there is no remedy.

At any rate, Mary and I were at a crossroads moment in life. As long as both Dwan and myself could claim to be Blueberry Software, no progress would ever be made and inevitable disaster would be the only possible result. The matter of ownership had to be decided once and for all, him or me, and made legally binding. There was no chance in hell that he and I could ever cooperate again in running a business venture together.

Sterken’s maneuver had demolished us. I no longer had any control over any aspect of Blueberry Software. If I quit work now, I would get no more money, Sterken would gleefully seize control of all my source code, and my life’s work would be essentially erased.

“We have to sue Dwan,” Mary said.

“That’s about the only choice, isn’t it. We can’t both own this puppy.”

“You look pretty down, Steve.”

“It’s just such a nightmare. We’re fighting Sterken in the front and now Dwan in the rear. Our money’s running low and we’re talking about filing a law suit. And the way the courts work, who knows how it will even turn out. What a stinking mess.”

“There’s no way you can sit back and let Kevin Dwan and Jim Sterken steal twenty years of your work without a fight. You couldn’t live with yourself if you did and neither could I. If we’re going to go down, let’s go down swinging.”

Have I mentioned how much I love my wife?

To be continued . . . Free Hit Counter website statistics

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June 24, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Law, Life, News, Software, Technology, Writing | , , ,

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