Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Accounting Fraud #35: The Ice Skating Beer Can

Chapter Thirty-Five

The Ice Skating Beer Can

 

As December neared, word got around to Blair, who was probably harassing Mark Robinson on the sly, that the audit was nearing first draft completion. This news produced some white bubbles at the corners of Dick’s oral orifice. And, following suit rabidly, huge gusts of hot air from the canyon located under Bernheim’s nose.

They began a war dance around the precise day in mid December, with the ink still wet on the Plante Moran Audit Report pages, that the Judge could be summoned to hear the results and let the feast or beheading begin. At the very least, Dick wanted to make sure that he, not us, the ones paying for the audit, gained control of the results. Like this was his show, not ours. Aptly Named had turned Lecherous Wallet and lethal sabotage into an art form.

Never mind that the results would be merely a first draft report. One that Mary and I, through some hints from Claudia Rast, would definitely have some additional queries to pose.

Well, it was more like one big hint. And not a very reassuring one. Claudia reported to us that, in a conversation with Mark Robinson, he had asked her “how is this going to play out?”

This did not seem to us like an appropriate concern for an impartial auditor to be posing. It sounded like some sort of Slanting Things agenda might be coming into play. Of course, the slant could be towards Blueberry, but I doubt that even a resident of a Tribe Untouched By Civilization would consider that to be even a remote possibility.

“I don’t like the smell of this,” Mary said. “We’ve bet everything in our life on this audit. We know Arbortext is crooked. He shouldn’t have any trouble proving it.”

“He said Arbortext was being very cooperative.”

“That means they’re showing him what they want him to see and he’s not looking where we want him to look.”

“I wish Kessler International was in there, to tell you the truth. I had a lot better feeling about their forensic promises than I’m getting from Mark Robinson and Plante Moran.”

“It still galls me the way Blair tried to explain to the Judge that insane letter from Dave Peralta about why Kessler didn’t qualify as an independent auditor. ‘Arbortext is concerned that Kessler will perform an audit which would reflect a predilection towards certain findings.’ “

“Jeez, you got that memorized?”

“Burned in my mind. Audits aren’t fictional stories or news articles with slanted opinions. Numbers are numbers. Pure and simple. An auditor is only going to find what is already there. Why isn’t Arbortext concerned that Plante Moran will find those same numbers?”

“This whole torture job on the meaning of ‘independent’ reminds me of Orwell’s book 1984. He called butchering the English language Newspeak. To Peralta and Arbortext, Kessler International is not an independent auditor because they are in fact independent auditors. That must mean to them that Plante Moran is an independent auditor because they aren’t in fact independent.”

“If they’re not independent, what are they?”

“Dependent.”

“Dependent on what?”

“On two local businesses doing business together in harmony. Having lunch in the same chic bistros. Having kids in the same schools. Having a feast over our carcass.”

Mary sighed. “My Dad used to tell me he thought our family was under spiritual attack. Sometimes, I’m not so sure he wasn’t right.”

“Jeez, now you’re scaring me. Dick Blair and Dave Peralta are enough evil for me to deal with, let alone the pointy tailed red guy.”

The can of beer I’d been drinking abruptly slid across the top of the table between us. Unaided by human hands or earthquakes. Just decided to move itself about a foot, from the right of the table to the center.

I stared at it. Then looked at Mary. “Did you see that?”

She nodded.

“What the hell does THAT mean?”

She shrugged. She was also smiling. It was a “So there” smile, I was sure of it.

“It has to mean something.”

“No it doesn’t,” she said.

“Beer cans don’t just move themselves across a flat, level table.”

“That’s right. They don’t.”

“But it just did.”

“That’s right. It did.”

“Crap. I don’t need this shit. You did it. Somehow, you did it.”

“Did you see my hands move?”

I picked up the can and looked underneath it. Nothing but can bottom. Not even wet. Regular ass beer can. And nothing more.

“Cripes. Saia gets the Blessed Mother and I get an ice skating beer can.”

“Don’t run down Saia.”

“I’m not running down Saia.”

“Then don’t compare.”

“Well, I guess I’ve just had my first paranormal experience in life. Whizzo.”

“The first you’ve noticed.”

“Oh, right. There were the flying saucer skid marks on our lawn that I sloughed off as Santa’s sleigh tracks.”

She was grinning from ear to ear. “You’re really bugged, aren’t you? Mr. Everything’s A Joke ain’t laughing now.”

I grabbed the beer and brought it to my lips.

“You sure you want to drink that?” she asked. “Maybe it’s an evil spirit.”

“Why does it have to be evil?”

“You notice any good spirits in our life lately?”

“Piss on it. One more won’t hurt then.”

I drained the beer and fetched another. Casper the Friendly beer can. What the hell next?

On December 8, 2004, Robinson sent a draft audit report that found Arbortext pennies all present and accounted for and virtually nothing wrong except it was his opinion they should be paying Blueberry for maintenance sales. A sop to us, I suppose, for our half of his fee. And perhaps they should be paying us per contract, instead of per their own formula which had been implemented probably by System Analyst Philip Van Allen back in Punishment 2002, signed off on by Jim Haggarty. Yes, perhaps.

Noticeably missing, at least to us, was his addressing any of the issues Mary had provided to him at the onset that seriously disturbed us. And were the reason we had hired him to do the audit in the first place. The Forensic part of his expertise was M.I.A. Indeed, everything about his expertise was missing.

While Blair and Bernheim and, most probably, the hidden unmentionable person, salivated gleefully over our apparent comeuppance, Mary and I performed what was becoming a standard ritual of extracting our flattened carcasses out from under the safe that had fallen on us from the tenth floor window ledge and inserting the tire pump into a use your imagination input valve. We had transmogrified into Toons.

Dueling agendas MCCXLVIII. Blair hurriedly scheduled a session with the Judge. Mary contacted Robinson. Peralta and Paddle Ball puddled with pleasure. They had passed through the detox of an audit and come out clean. It would be a white, white Christmas in Ann Arbor. Peralta even sent another missive to Dick Blair reproposing the $100,000 buy out offer, even though the audit was supposedly clean and why in hell would they still want to give us a hundred grand?

Not so fast, boys.

Into the fray burst a new barrister named Ken Pritikin, hired by Mary and I, after another round of her Internet interviewing, for the sole purpose of interjecting us into the Berrnheim / Blair axis and applying some brakes to their blitzkrieg. Also, we wanted him to put pressure on Blair to disburse the royalties he was holding, which had grown to nearly $50,000. Our hair brained, albeit necessary, journey of self-representation came mercifully to an end. And in came Lawyer Number Nine.

Improbably, our tiny impoverished little company was busy furnishing the homes of every legal type beagle on the planet, it seemed like: Dick Blair, Larry Bernheim, Pritikin, Rast, the Nodding Judge, our first lawyer Bill Hansen, Dwan’s first lawyer Frank Bailey the III, Arbortext’s lawyer, Mark Robinson – step right up, everyone’s a winner at the Blueberry fire sale. We had become involved with more attorney types than O.J. Well, close anyway. Who am I kidding? The man’s on some other planet. Even we couldn’t get there.

The presence of Pritikin did not please the Dick & Larry hog festers. Very reluctantly, they were dissuaded from dragging us before the Judge merely to announce that a first draft of the Audit had been completed. And, thanks to Mary, there would most certainly be some amendments to it before the next draft. Mary’s call to Robinson had reminded him that none of our concerns had been addressed by his first draft. He promised to go back in and get some answers for her.

Why he needed prodding to do his job in the first place was no doubt connected to the “playing out” tippy-toe dance. Which meant we were once again dealing with a Professional who Wasn’t. A Game Player. Scales weighted heavily for Big Business. Impartiality just a bogus word on a CPA license.

And thus we all adjourned for Christmas.

To be continued . . . Free Hit Counter website statistics

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August 7, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Life, Stories, Writing | , , , , ,

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