Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud #23: Saved From Myself

Chapter Twenty-Three
Saved From Myself

What the heck. May as well lawyer up and get in the game.

So, despite the risk of banishment to San Quentin, I nudged a cautious finger into the air, indicating that I would like to speak, if that was allowable. To my surprise, the Judge recognized this gesture.

THE COURT: Go ahead, Mr. Beigel.
MR. BEIGEL: I just wanted to make something clear. Let’s say Arbortext sends us a royalty check for $10,000. Do I get five thousand and he gets five thousand?
THE COURT: Right.
MR. BEIGEL: Thank you.
THE COURT: That’s 50/50 as we go on, but the 5,000 would be accounted – he’d get the money, but it would also retire $5,000 of the overall monies that he’s supposed to get from the dissolution.
MR. BLAIR: So maybe I’m being – well, see – let’s say we get 10,000 of Arbortext money, and I’m understanding the court to be saying two things. It’s – from a bookkeeping standpoint, it’s shared 50/50, but Mr. Beigel’s $5,000 is actually paid to Mr. Dwan’s –
THE COURT: No. No.
MR. BLAIR: — five thousand, so that there’s five thousand –
THE COURT: No. I’m saying that when you split the 5,000 – split the 10,000, Mr. Beigel takes 5,000, puts it into his bank account. Mr. Dwan takes 5,000, puts it into his bank account. But at the same time, the 5,000 that goes to Mr. Dwan there retires $5,000 of the overarching debt of Mr. Beigel that was due as a result of the termination. Okay.
MR. BLAIR: I’m clear.

I sat back down. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly an F. Lee Bailey performance, but still – it was me speaking extemporaneously. Always a dangerous and volatile situation. Mary gave me a little thumbs up under the table. I was very pleased with her approval.

After a few more minutes of Playing Dumb, Mr. Blair finally conceded that he understood. Not that he would comply. Just that he understood. Was clear. In fact, the whole charade was a fairly moot point, except for running the cab meter, since Dick was not disbursing any of the royalty checks anyway. He was simply banking them. And keeping a secret ledger of his Time.

Exhausted from the effort of Dumbness, Mr. Blair then ceded the floor to Mr. Bernheim, who proceeded to play ring around the wink-wink about the idea of placing a lien on my house to achieve the full amount of debt collection. The Judge pointedly said that this was unnecessary as he had already provided the means of debt collection in his Order. Which was the simple “50/50 as we go on” concept provided above.

At long last, Mary raised her hand and got the Judge’s attention. Before she could speak, Bernheim leaped up and yelled, “Your Honor, she can’t represent him. A client representing himself cannot in turn be represented by another lay person.”

The Judge let out a big sigh and waved him off. “Sit down Mr. Bernheim. She’s his wife. Under California law, she’s therefore the co-owner of Blueberry. Either one of them can represent it.”

Why would Bernheim make a point of this? Because it was central to Dwan’s game plan that I be forced to do all the speaking and acting regarding Blueberry. He was certain that I would blow sky high at some point and start swearing and fulminating and go down in flames in a big way. This indicated that his brain had not entirely stopped working because it was a reasonable assumption to make. I probably would do exactly as he hoped. Actually, there was no probably about it. I would. Anyone could tell you that. Even my Mom.

But Mary wouldn’t. Oh no not her. And from this point on, she did all the speaking for Blueberry. It was a major blow to Dwan’s post-trial game plan. I could sit back and be just as mute as he was, without having to pay a lawyer for the privilege.

He was really ticked off about this. You could tell. At the Judge’s remark, he uncrossed his legs and put down his studious jotting notes pencil and VISIBLY frowned. Wow! Was he pissed off! Look out. He might get really wild and cross his arms here and indicate extreme disapproval. Nope. Too bold. Too risky. He re-fetched his pencil, re-crossed his legs, and re-sumed his studious jotting notes.

Now that Dick and Larry were through with their evil war dance, Mary directed the Judge’s attention to a list of things that Dwan had not complied with so far. He had not relinquished the Blueberry web site, nor the Blueberry phones and fax lines, nor any of the office equipment and supplies – nothing at all, actually. He was still running Blueberry and taking all the money as though there had never been a court verdict of any kind.

Did the Judge become enraged at this cavalier treatment of his Orders? Throw the bastard in jail? Cast his wife into slavery?

Nope. Too old for anger, I guess. He frowned at Dwan and suggested he get cracking on these matters. Did Dwan understand? Dwan nodded.

“Anything more, Ms. Tarantino?” the Judge asked.

“No, your Honor. Not at this time.”

The Judge swiveled his chair sideways and slipped off to his quarters. Mary, bless her brazen heart, immediately went over and butted into the private conversation Bernheim and Blair were having. I believe she suggested they all do lunch. They immediately broke off and departed, not liking at all that she had presumed to lunch doing powers without an official attorney license.

Mary and I walked outside and across the street to a plaza type area near the Bart Station entrance and did lunch anyway.

“What a miserable charade,” I remarked. “We didn’t need to be in court for any of that crap. It was all nonsense. Blair was practically Dwan’s advocate in there.”

“This is going to be a nightmare, Steve.”

“Can’t the Judge see what’s happening here?”

“He doesn’t care, Steve. That’s what’s so frightening. He’s going to let Blair do anything he wants. That was the whole point of this. Blair wanted to see how far he could push the envelope.”

“We may as well forget about disbursements and VistaSource then. Blair and Bernheim are going to take it all. Our whole fate rides on getting Arbortext to pay what they owe us. And soon. Or we’re dead.”

We finished our lunch and boarded the Bart for the train ride home from the Oakland court house.

“We won ownership, Steve,” Mary reminded me, attempting to douse the flames pouring out of my ears.

“That was the main purpose of the whole thing. Remember?”

“Yes,” I grudgingly agreed. “That was the purpose, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. Without it, we could never get anywhere with Arbortext. It was never about punishing Dwan.”

“He’s a lying traitorous crook. He deserves to be hanged and quartered.”

“Steve, three and a half years ago Dwan came to you and smirked in your face that he was going to take over the business and there was nothing you could do about it. He was cocky as hell. Now you own the business and he’s nobody. Do you think any punishment in the world will ever remotely approach the one he suffers inside his own heart? It’ll never go away.”

“Aw, Jeezus. It’s no fair being philosophical about him. You’re taking all the fun out of venting. I’m pissed. Really, really pissed. The whole court case is being completely perverted. And once again he’s the lame brain that’s behind it. Blair couldn’t pull any of this nonsense without Dwan egging him on. He’s sabotaging us and he’s sabotaging himself. The man’s a pathological screw-up.”

She was smiling.

“Damn you,” I said. “What is this? We’re ruined here.”

“You have to send an official letter to Arbortext when we get home. Informing them of the ownership change. It’s required by the contract.”

“I’m not done stewing yet.”

“Well hurry up then. Forget about Kevin Dwan. Think about Arbortext. I’m contacting them tomorrow.”

“I need a drink.”

“Then think about that.”

No problemo.

To be continued . . .
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July 15, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Law, Life, Software, Stories, Technology, Writing | , , ,

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