Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud #20: Meet Mr. Dickster

Chapter Twenty

Meet Mr. Dickster

 

In early August of 2003, the Judge’s official written ruling was disseminated by the Court Clerk.

It included what seemed like a small, innocuous section which appointed a Receiver to, well, Receive. All the royalty checks. And Disburse them in equal amounts to the former partners.

This fellow’s name was Dick Blair. Not Richard. Dick. Just Dick.

Thusly, lawyer number seven trotted into our lives.

Did I say “innocuous?”

Oh woe unto them who have eyes to read the legal fine print and do not see the innuendo contained therein. May a curse fall upon their lives and their children be scattered to the winds and their house crumble into ruins and the very soil beneath their feet be made unsteady and viper strewn while they wander fearfully through the darkness of their days and nights.

Dick Fucking Blair. Fie uponst thee, thou evil smelling swine.

But I get ahead of myself. Back to the Judge’s ruling. His appointment of the Receiver. The additional duty of said party, beyond merely receiving. And before Disbursements were carried out.

Paying himself for his Receivership time.

Mr. Blair’s time. It couldn’t be that much, could it? Open a letter once each quarter, deposit it, cut two checks, and mail them. A secretary’s job. And Dwan was simply going to accept the verdict, collect his half of the Arbortext royalties which I would be earning for him, and go away, right?

And Elvis was still alive and living with John Lennon in a log cabin in Montana.

It was about this time that the ghost of Rod Serling took up permanent residence in our living room, sitting comfortably next to the fire place, legs crossed, smoking a pipe that mysteriously never went out. Smiling that graveyard smile.

Mary and I, at this time, were a couple of naïve dolts when it came to understanding this legal swamp we had wandered into. After the court decision, we motored over to nearby Walnut Creek to press the flesh with Dick Blair, the newly appointed Receiver, and fill ourselves in on the meaning of his role in our lives. It was not a good day for the realm of inkledom.

“Oh, no,” I remember my first impression of him leaping forth within me, “not a short, mousey, balding, shyster with a neat little beard!”

But I quickly scolded myself for stereotyping and put on a Politically Correct game face. Promising to promptly report myself to the World Wide Shame On You For Voicing Impure Thoughts Organization.

Mr. Blair stated that he would need some time to bring himself up to snuff on the matters before him.

How pleasant, we remarked.

He would be contacting all parties contractually obligated to the former Blueberry partnership and informing them that all future payments should be made to him.

How pleasant, we remarked.

Concerning these contractual parties, Mary now proffered some current information. There were three parties. Arbortext, as we have briefly alluded to. Island Software, a small Unix based old timer with fairly insignificant royalty obligations remaining to Blueberry. And VistaSource, formerly Applix.

Part of the fallout from Dwan’s ill-conceived coup attempt, now nearly four years in the rearview mirror, was the affect it produced in Island and VistaSource. These two very concerned entities chose to immediately cease making any royalty payments to Blueberry, professing not to know which partner to mail the money to, conveniently ignoring that mailing to either party fulfilled their payment obligations. I can safely surmise that old Dweebledwad failed to factor in this fairly obvious business ploy during the implementation of his brilliant dissolution scheme.

The cessation of payments from Island was not catastrophic, since this amounted to only $233.33 per month — phone bill dough. When the contract with them was signed ten years earlier their payments were $3,500 per month. Needless to say, Island’s presence in the word processing market had not met expectations.

VistaSource was a different matter.

Like Island, they had contracted with Blueberry in the early nineties, when the company was called Applix, Inc., to provide import/export for their Applix Words product. For the first few years of the contract, Applix flourished and Blueberry royalties were over $150,000 per year. For a small company like Blueberry, this was some very serious cabbage.

By the mid-nineties, however, as Microsoft Windows and its bundled Microsoft Word product began gobbling up the software universe like a ravenous beast from the Apocalypse, Applix Words began the slow, inexorable shrinkage unto nursing home/terminal ward like a slew of other word processor companies (WordPerfect, Wang, IBM Displaywriter, PFS: Professional, Volkswriter, WordStar, Multimate, Leading Edge, OfficeWriter, PC-Write, Q&A, Samna, XyWrite, and, eventually, even old geezer behemoth Interleaf itself).

Since Applix Words was a Unix based application, not a DOS based one, and Microsoft never bothered to port its Word product to the Unix world, Applix Words did not completely evaporate from the landscape. Indeed, it is still squirming marginally along as we very speak.

Its royalties to Blueberry had not completely died, either, though serious harm had come to them. By 2001, they finally dropped below the contract’s Mendoza Line of a guaranteed minimum of $40,000 per year. And then the fun began.

Along the way, in a convoluted ownership change, a part of Applix called VistaSource had taken over control of the Applixware line of products, and was then purchased itself by Parallax Capital Partners. 

Whereas Blueberry had a long personal, as well as business, history with Jit Saxena, the head of Applix, who most likely would have honored the contract commitment, such was not the case with the bureaucracy at VistaSource/Parallax, represented by Linda Michelman. She preferred the more modern corporate response of Eff You, Peanutsville.

Not only Eff You on the $40,000 guarantee, but, courtesy of Dwan’s grand partnership schism, Eff You any payments at all.

Mary had been introduced to this problem soon after replacing Dwan and, as she had with Arbortext, began applying her dauntless efforts toward resolving it. After some pithy go-rounds with Michelman, Mary had finally found a more sympathetic brain stem in John Amico, a long timer at Applix, who acknowledged the debt and seemed inclined to push VistaSource into honoring the contract and paying what was owed.

It was this news that Mary now relayed to Dick Blair, hoping to get the go ahead to conclude her negotiations and hopefully bring home the $120,000 worth of overdue bacon for the two ex-partners to split. After the expenses of the trial with Dwan, which had drained our bank account to 1 degree centigrade, collecting this wad had become almost a life and death situation for us.

Dick Blair’s immediate and unqualified response, therefore, was bone chilling.

 “Oh, no,” Dick delivered, “that’s my money. You can’t talk to them anymore.”

Oh, oh. How did our money suddenly become his money? We were noticeably disappointed to hear this sentiment. In fact, Mary had to turn away so Blair could not see her eyes fill with water. Which broke my heart and made me briefly contemplate killing him on the spot. Hands around the throat, pounding his head on the desk till it popped open. A little Cave Man oozing up out of the old Id reservoir. Sublimated quickly into the civilized response of grinding an inch off my molar enamel. Ten thousand years of behavioral progress in one nanosecond.

Dick informed us he had talked to Kevin Dwan, who was cordial and did not fling any aspersions our way and considered the court verdict a draw.

I responded that Dwan was free to think anything he wanted.

This seemed like an innocuous remark to me, but turned out to be a CLUE to Mr. Blair as to which ex-partner he could safely rely on to freely and copiously exchange phone calls and emails about what the Judge had really intended with his verbiage, and how his ruling should be interpreted.

I was at first puzzled about this interpreting necessity, since the judge had used relatively simple English sentences without any arcane or idiomatic expressions, or such vagaries as ending a directive with the broad-scoped whimsy “or whatever.”

Then it hit me. Of course. Interpreting was lawyer-speak for furious scribbling of hours in Dick’s Timecard Fee Ledger. It was obvious to Blair that we thought the case was over with and that Dwan would love to see it continue and be re-interpreted more in his favor. This view was pure honey to Dick and would flow smoothly and relentlessly straight into his bank account.

 

Note:

See Exhibit G for the court ruling dissolving the partnership and appointing Dick Blair as Receiver.

 

To be continued . . .



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July 9, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Law, Software, Stories, Technology, Writing | , , , , ,

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