Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud #25: Sterken Wigs Out

Chapter Twenty-Five

Sterken Wigs Out


Jim Sterken was not a man to sit around listening to chats when he had the option available to be a lying, threatening bully. A much more natural mental state for him, unable as he was to compete fairly in the game of life.

He was no doubt the type of guy who copied your homework in school and bragged about it, as though it was a greater achievement to get away with cheating than it was to learn on your own. It was a known fact, for instance, that Jimmie smeared steroid cream on his paddle ball paddle before each match. He had yet to be caught in the act, but an investigation was rumored to be quietly underway. His paddle head was getting noticeably larger than anyone else’s.

As we discovered in subsequent days, not ten minutes elapsed from the end of the phone call between Mary, Ray Schiavone, and Dave Peralta before Sterken usurped the authority of this CEO / CFO tandem and their pansy chatting efforts by impulsively calling up Kevin Dwan (or his mouthpiece Larry Bernheim – details were unclear concerning the identity of the receptor). Sterken knew full well that Dwan had been butted out and had buttkiss authority vis a vis ownership of Blueberry, but this did not bother him a bit. He knew Dwan was quite susceptible to fear and intimidation, so he proceeded to threaten to sue him if  Mary and I did not accept the $100,000 buy out offer.

Goodness. A bit tempestuous and EMOTIONAL if you ask me. Weird, too. Threatening to sue someone for not accepting your money was a new form of haggling that I had no experience in. Even weirder when the person you threaten to sue isn’t even involved in the action or in any way a party to the liability.

He embellished his threats by making some derogatory remarks about me and my work, which Dwan needed no prompting to fully commiserate about the ugliness associated with any association with me. I felt their pain. It was tough, no doubt about it.

According to Sterken, he could force Blueberry to remunerate Arbortext for the wages of the two programmers they had hired to take over Blueberry’s source code, claiming I was not maintaining it. This was a clever little half-truth designed to disguise the real truth. It was true that I had not provided any further code updates since furnishing the Word XP update after the Haggarty meeting.

What was not mentioned to Dwan was that Arbortext had not asked for any updates and, indeed, never again did so. No doubt fearing I would place some wicked little code snippet in there that would evaporate the entire state of Michigan on a certain day and hour. Which would be tempting, I admit. Perhaps not the whole state. Maybe just one little engineering office in one corporate building. But I lacked the techno skills to accomplish such a feat. My brother Jim could probably pull it off, techno-geek wise, but he was a ruthlessly decent human being somehow sharing similar genes with me. Go figure.

What was not disguised, except to Dwan’s limping cognitive faculties, was that Sterken was basically admitting that Arbortext had unilaterally breached the contract by taking control of Blueberry’s source code without express permission to do so, and effectively stealing it and using it for whatever purposes Arbortext chose to use it for. Like I stated in the beginning, Jim Sterken was a thief, a liar, and a scoundrel – a malignant dingleberry. And here he was, accomplishing all incarnations in one fallacious and felonious phone call.

Did Dwan scratch his chin with the process known as Suspicion? A little Hmmming? After all, Sterken had tossed him down the trash chute on more than one occasion. Could it possibly be that Sterken was LYING HIS ASS OFF? The threatening part of Sterken was no surprise to anyone. It was one of his fundamental unendearing character traits. Of which there were many. But the pleading for sympathy, while in character for its duplicity, was totally out of character for its style.

One simple phone call or email by Dwan to me – heck, to Mary – could easily have shed light on the accusations Sterken was making. Wouldn’t a rational person, even an irrational one, spend at least one second verifying the facts of the matter? It was rather important.

Not our boy. Not Mr. Clueless Dwan.

Straight to his Bernheim he flew. Whimpering on the floor at his feet, licking his pant cuffs, lifting his fearful eyes upward to his savior. Help me, Larry. Please help me.

There, there my little puppy, our sage of bloviosity cooed, stroking the noggin of his trembling pet fondly, reassuringly. We shall put our two quacking mental institutions into immediate action and perform the bidding of Jim Sterken.

Did either of them pause to consider the source and do a bit of serious mulling? Over Dwan’s head perhaps, but surely not a highly skilled Attorney-at-Law.

Twas nay to be noticed.

Not even the concept of dickering, sometimes known in legal circles as the Jump Up, Jump Down theory of settlement negotiating, popped into the minds of our beloved duo. If Arbortext made an opening offer of $100,000, why not jump it up to $300,000 and then jump it down to settle on $200,000?

No, Bernheim definitely favored Irrational But Seriously Loud Noise as his basic operating principle.

First, he emailed the Receiver, Dick Blair, about the situation, confiding Mr. Dwan’s fears and imparting Sterken’s threats and opinions of my work, and strongly suggesting that Dick assert himself into the action, in his capacity as Receiver, to protect Mr. Dwan from liability and also to rake in the offered $100,000, which could then be transferred directly into Dwan’s wallet, leaving me with one big fat Zero from the Arbortext contract.

Without waiting for a response, Bernheim then contacted Arbortext’s law firm, specifically Ted Herzog, who had attended the meeting we had with Jim Haggarty at the Walnut Creek Mariott, and sent him a copy of the Judge’s post-trial ruling involving the partnership dissolution.

I was cced in these emails to Blair and Herzog, and that is how Mary and I discovered what had happened, Sterken-wise, after she concluded her conference call with Schiavone and Peralta. Neither of us had ever attended any Remedial Brain Functioning classes, so we were both suitably perplexed by Bernheim’s tactics.

“Why is he sending the court’s ruling to Ted Herzog?” Mary wondered. “He already has the original. We sent it when we informed Arbortext of the Blueberry change in ownership. For another, it clearly states that Dwan no longer has any ownership rights in Blueberry, which means Bernheim has no authority to involve himself in our business. What am I missing here?”



“Confoundimitimidation. The Art of Confounding and Intimidating. It’s Larry’s specialty.”

“Speak English.”

“It’s a repeat performance of when Bernheim first came onto the scene. When he appeared out of nowhere threatening to sue Arbortext. Without mentioning what exactly he could sue them for.”

“I’m still not getting you.”

“There were no good legal options for Dwan then. Just like there aren’t any now, either. Back then, he had booted himself out of the action. Now he’s been booted out by the Judge. Dwan can’t stand being de minimus. Especially to me.”

“Bernheim’s trying to wedge Dwan back into the action. By scaring Arbortext again?”

“Not scaring them. Just forcing them to deal with him. If they do, then Dwan’s back in the action. Because Arbortext wants him back. Sterken wants him back.”

“He doesn’t have any Blueberry rights anymore.”

“They don’t care about that. Sterken just wants to use him to harass me. To drive me crazy.”

“You already are crazy. Don’t those idiots understand that?”

“Not like you, ma cherie.”

 “Knock it off,” Mary said. “I’m not in the mood for your poor Maurice Chavalier impersonation.”

“He’s not one of my better ones, you’re right.”

“You don’t have any better ones. They all stink.”

“Even my John Wayne walk?”

“Especially that one.”

“You dirty rat . . .”

“Stop it!”

“Dick Blair is walking on air today, wouldn’t you guess? He’s getting the green light from Dwan to barge into our affairs.”

“What’s the point of these court verdicts? They’re totally useless. Nobody obeys them.”

“Except us. We must be totally stupid or something.”

“What is wrong with Dwan? Has his mind just completely stopped working?”

I sleuthed down into Dwan’s brain. The gear’s weren’t turning. Cobwebs all around. Bat poop on the floor. An old broom with a broken handle. Dark and echoey.



To be continued . . .

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July 17, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Life, Stories, Writing | , , , ,

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