Inital Public Offerings Ch. 03byFD45©
I would like to rethank mikothebaby for her quick and thorough efforts to fix my prose. I've changed things since I got the version back, so all errors are still my responsibility
There is no sex in this portion of the story
I opened my eyes Friday morning and there was a very young Indian girl in my bedroom standing there with a tray. "Mrrph hrrm!"
"Good morning Mr. Reynolds. Here is your breakfast."
"That's wonderful. Who are you?"
I nodded like that meant something to me. I looked at the tray. The only thing I recognized was coffee. There were these white pancakes and some reddish something next to it. "Thank you Prathee. What is this?"
"Yes, but what's breakfast?"
"It's the morning meal, silly." She giggled.
I dropped it. I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. "What are you doing here?"
"It's a teacher convention day and my grandma is looking after me. Is that okay?" she said, suddenly concerned.
"Well...welcome. Um...do we have any normal food?"
She giggled again. "I'll talk to grandma. She isn't good at cooking American food." She grabbed one of my 'pancakes', dipped it in the red stuff and popped it in her mouth. "It's a sin to let food go to waste." she said impudently
"Well, enjoy. No coffee for you."
I spent the day contacting some legal friends to find out the name of a good divorce attorney. Believe it or not, I didn't trust any of the three corporate attorneys who worked for us, starting with Harry. That proxy document had to come from somewhere.
Have you ever tried to get a lawyer on the phone? It's a trial.
After a few hours of telephone tag, I finally got on with my friend Judith. I explained the situation and she commiserated with me for a few minutes but she quickly got to the point. "Do you want a lamb, a pit bull or a fox?"
"It's pretty simple. A lamb tries to get things done fast, compromises a lot and besides racking up some billable hours, avoids pissing everyone off. I don't normally suggest people like that, but if you want to avoid an acrimonious divorce, they might work."
"Next!" I said definitively.
"O-kay! A pit bull wants to fight. If you want to make the other side bleed, they are your pick..."
There was a 'but' hanging in the air. "Yes?"
"But if you pick a pit bull, you better be ready to bleed yourself. They are fighters. It's all they do. It's all they know HOW to do. You use them when the other side is afraid of bleeding."
"And a fox?" I asked, engaged in this conversation. I had never considered the different personalities or tactics of lawyers.
"A fox tries to see the big picture. They don't fight when a kind word will do. A pit bull will fight to win, even if he can't win by fighting. A fox tries different options, including fighting."
"So I want one of them, right?"
" You would think. Problem is, foxes are rare and honestly, sometimes foxes outwit themselves. And they aren't as conciliatory as a lamb nor as aggressive as a pit bull."
I considered all the angles I was likely to face in the upcoming divorce. "I don't think I have a choice. I want a fox. This is likely to get messy."
"There is one more thing about foxes. They are the bimbos of the legal profession." she continued.
"Excuse me?" I repeated.
"Beautiful Blondes with a huge rack. Very popular. So they can pick and choose their clients. I'll give you a name or two, but you're on your own getting them to take you as a client."
"I'll take that chance."
As it happened, Roland C Thurman Esquire was pleased to take my case. It seems one client had a heart attack and died on him, so he had an opening. Law is a funny business. We met and had a very long discussion. He gave me a load of homework to do.
I arrived home a little after four.
Swati was standing at the door with Prathee next to her looking uncomfortable. The woman was frowning. "Mister REENalds, Mees Allie arrived with a man and stole things!"
"Stole things? Like what?"
"Clothes. Jewels. Your laptop."
I rushed into the den, panicked. My laptop was still in it's case at the desk. "It's still here, Swati."
"No. The PEENK one."
"She ees the cheater. She shouldn't get to keep her dowry."
I sighed. "If that's the worst that happened..."
"You should change thee locks." she said firmly.
"The...oh...call a lock smith then. I'll leave that to you." She stood there looking at me. "What?"
"I need money."
"Oh." I felt stupid. I dug out my wallet and pulled out a couple of hundred dollar bills and handed them to her. Allie usually handled this side of the bills.
She patted my shoulder gingerly. "You don't worry, Mister REEnalds. I fix everything."
Smells and noises were coming out of the kitchen. A radio was belting out some female singing in a foreign tongue. I poked my head into the kitchen and another Indian woman was staring at me, as she stood over a bunch of pots and pans putting out a mélange of scents. "Hello MEEster REEnalds!"
"Um...hello." It seemed my life was making less and less sense as time passed.
Swati was behind me again. "Mister REEnalds, the phone was ringing all day."
"Did you answer it?"
"NO Mister REEnalds! Mister Andrew was not being pleasant!" Her tone said exactly how unpleasant she thought he was. Think shoe scrapings. I happened to agree.
I retired to the den to check on the messages. I hadn't been there for one minute before Prathee showed up with an iced tea on a tray. "Here you go Mr. Reynolds."
"Thank you Prathee. I'd prefer something a little stronger."
"You want stronger tea, Mister Reynolds?"
The idea of getting drunk in front of a child seemed like a very bad idea, so I gave up on getting drunk today. "Never mind. Who was that in the kitchen?"
"That's the cook you wanted, Mister Reynolds."
"Cook? What do you mean 'cook'?"
"You wanted American food, so Grandma got brought in Tripti."
"I never said to hire..." I trailed off. The kitchen smelled very good. "We'll discuss it later."
I checked the machine. Andrew's voice spewed out.
"You son of a bitch! What did you do? The underwriters are calling and they AREN'T happy, you cocksucker! I told you not to sell until I Okayed it! Call me immediately! We need to fix this with them!"
"This is the second message, you bastard! I know I fucked her, but that's no reason to be like this. You need to call me right away! They're getting upset and want to know why the hell you violated lock out! You signed the paper and you pull this shit? We need to fix this before the end of the trading day EAST COAST TIME! What the hell am I supposed to tell them?"
"Maybe you could tell them that you fucked my wife, you asshole." I heard a giggle as Prathee stood there. "Sorry Preethee. Please don't tell your Grandmother."
"It's Prahthee, and I've heard it all in school. Here is your tea." she offered another glass.
I resumed listening, idly sipping.
It's three p.m. East Coast time! Why isn't your cell phone on?..."
Because I don't want to talk to you, dick! I decided to watch my language as well.
They're talking legal counsel! Is this some stupid sick revenge?"
Well, it sounded like Andrew was having a miserable day, and I felt much better, though I didn't understand what this 'lock out' was. There were dozens more messages and I really didn't feel like listening to the rest of them right now.
I was going to log onto my computer and look it up when there was some shouting from the front door.
"Mister REEnalds! Someone to see you." said Swati with an odd tone.
I went to the front door and Mindy was standing there, a thunderous expression on her face. "Hi Mind. What's up?"
"First off, you can tell your goon that I'm not that slut! And they fired me!" Swati clucked her tongue in disapproval.
"Goon?" I poked my head out the front door and there was a Hindu man in a turban and a mustache. He raised his hand to his forehead in a salute. "Mrs. Swati?" I asked.
"That is Mr. Singh. He offered to watch house until my cousin can fix locks." she explained as if this was the most natural thing in the world.
"When can your cousin fix the locks?" I asked.
"When he gets out of jail."
Naturally! I turned to Mindy as more explicable situation. "Let's talk in the den.
"Is Miss staying for dinner?" Swati asked very blandly. I quirked an eyebrow at Mindy and she shrugged and then nodded.
"Yes." A spate of high volume Hindi was sent kitchen ward and an equally high volume response came back.
At this point, I had Mindy's elbow in my hand as I guided her toward my den. "Would you like a drink ma'am." Prathee asked.
Mindy demurred with a shake of her head and looked at me. "Exactly how many people work for you?"
She gave me an arch look. "Are you sure?'
I was beginning to have my doubts, so I changed the subject. "So, what happened after security led me out of the building?" I asked.
She giggled. "I can't believe you did that to Hector. Anyway, Mr. Schwartz yelled at me a bit. Then he formally announced that Hector was taking over the section because you were having 'personal problems.' When he was asked, he hinted that the stress of work was making you unstable." She rolled her eyes. "I don't know where he might have gotten that idea. So what is happening?"
"Well, I caught Allie and Andrew fu..." I stopped and looked around for the girl "cheating on me. It seems she was going to ambush me with a divorce right after we finished the new project and give have my voting rights to Andrew. That's what that mess was in the office. The guy was serving me and Hector seemed to know it was coming."
"That BASTARD!" Her eyes flared and she pushed her brown hair out of her face. There was a distant clucking sound from somewhere in the house.
She quirked her head. "I guess I'm spoiled for choice. She really did that to you? Oh you poor thing!" she commiserated. "What are you going to do?"
I couldn't help but chuckle. "I don't think that is going to work out like they planned. But it seems I'm getting a divorce." A grimace crossed my face. "It's been a rough couple of days."
She grabbed my hand and looked at me earnestly. "That was a rotten thing to do and you don't deserve it. I'm sorry I came over here to yell at you now. My problems aren't nearly as large. Do you think you could at least give me a good recommendation?"
"Of course." Hesitating, I had to ask the next question. "How did the staff take it?"
It was her turn to pause. "No one knows what's going on. The good mood from going public is all gone. All they know is that you attacked Hector and that Andrew is acting like you are gone. There was a hell of a lot of shouting today and all the big bosses; Mr. Jenkins, Loeb and Schwartz were meeting all day. Greta" Schwartz's secretary, "told me about it. You aren't very popular with them for some reason."
"Be still my heart." came my dry response.
Continuing, she said, "No one is happy. But they need to work, you know? It's a very bad economy. It was really nice to be at a place that was doing well...hopefully IS doing well. What's going to happen?"
"How do you mean?"
"I mean with you. With the company." She watched me searchingly.
"Well, I'm already served with divorce papers and I won't work with Andrew again. Since I don't see him resigning, I guess that means I'm out of there. As for the company, that is not my problem anymore."
"Are you going to be okay?"
Sighing, I nodded. "You know what? It's a divorce. They happen a lot. I'm not sick. I am still the programmer I used to be so I can find something and I made a bunch of money from the company so far. It hurts and I hate them both, but life goes on. I'd love to get drunk, but Prathee is running around so..." It struck me that it might be why Swati brought her granddaughter here, to keep me from becoming self destructive.
"Well, she was very pretty but I don't think your wife is nice and I think she's foolish. Andrew isn't respectful or responsible. And he already knows what kind of a woman she is."
"Mister REEnalds. Deener!"
By mutual agreement, we tabled my marital woes and I actually enjoyed the meal. It was curry prawns and I'd never had anything like it. She got a tour of the house and murmured admiring comments. The stack of pictures got a rueful laugh and we agreed to keep in touch.
Since I didn't have to write code for those bastards anymore, I adjusted my schedule. That meant I was awake at 1 a.m. when my front door opened and a strange Indian man in a coverall came in. He waved to me. "Hello Mr. Reynolds." Then he started to dismantle my locks. I wandered over to the windows, checking outside for U.S. Marshals or cops.
"Did you get let out of jail?" I asked him.
He gave me a strange look. "Yes Mr. Reynolds."
"Good. I hope bail wasn't too high."
He looked very offended and muttered in Hindu at the doors. He left, leaving me the new keys and refusing to take any money.
The weekend was spent on the phone. I started by calling my mother. That turned into a long and dragged out conversation. She offered to come to California, but I said that my house was already full of people, which required its own explanation. She felt sorry and had quite a few harsh words for Allie, whom she had originally liked a lot. You had to hand it to Allie; she made a good first impression on people. Too bad she had the morals of a snake.
In some ways, I should have seen it coming. She was very pragmatic in how she approached our relationship and that should have raised a few warning bells. But I honestly thought we had some bedrock attraction and affection. It seems that I was only half right.
Next up, I sent a long email to Karl, telling him exactly what had happened. I told him that just because I didn't work there, that there was no reason for the both of us to be fired. I reminded him that he had a girlfriend now and he needed to think of both their needs. If nothing else, he should talk to Sheila about it before he made any rash discussions. In fact, I joked, he might be able to take Hector's job.
Swati showed up in the morning. "Swati. Aren't you off on the weekends?" I felt sure that she wasn't around when it was just me and Allie.
"You need me to clean Mr. REEnalds. Did Pradeep fix the locks?"
"Yes, he did. Thank you." I didn't want to mention that I wasn't exactly comfortable with a felon fixing my locks. "What's he doing now?"
"He's back in jail."
"Oh...is he on a work release program?"
"Not released! He works there. Good job. He's a locksmith."
You know, maybe Allie had a point about my social skills. Luckily, Swati brought Prathee along again and I was able to tender apologies for my idiocy last night with her acting as translator. She thought it was hilarious. They stayed the entire weekend, including Tripti, my new cook. My plans to play X-Box and drink Scotch were stillborn.
There was one unpleasant task to do. You see, Allie and I used to have a very developed social schedule, more her doing then mine. We had planned to catch an art gallery with another couple. In fact, it was Phil and Terry from the party just last weekend. How much life had changed in a week! I caught Terry on the phone and I told her rather bluntly that Allie and I were getting divorced, that I had caught her cheating with our prior host and I would regretfully be unable to attend the opening. Yes, I felt embarrassed as hell, but I wasn't going to sugar coat things and be the villain of the piece. Since we had just met, she felt awkward asking questions of a virtual stranger, but made sympathetic sounds and hurried good byes.
Monday came as it does and while I felt twin holes where my work and my marriage used to be, it still felt good to be able to wake up late and not be responsible to anyone. My good mood lasted until about ten, when there was another knock on my door.
There stood the same process server in a different cheap suit. "You have been served." he said, displaying an envelope, his eyes shifting around nervously, perhaps looking for another psychotic secretary or picture taker.
"Listen asshole. I already got the divorce decree, or don't you remember?"
"How could I forget? Why don't you read the papers and have a nice day." he said mildly, trudging away, muttering. I guess that process servers develop a thick skin.
I started to read the papers. It seems that our primary underwriting bank was suing me for violating our lock out agreement.
I had just finished reading it when the doorbell rang again...
"Are you Mr. James Reynolds?" the young blond woman with acne scars asked me, eyeing us with trepidation. We had moved a picnic table to my front yard and Mindy, Roland, and I were parked at it with a pile of papers in front of us.
"Yes yes. Please give the summons to Ms. Johnson there. Let me sign. Who is this one from?"
"It's from a Troy Anderson. He's seeking damages for lock out." Mindy said in a bored fashion.
"Do you get served a lot?" the woman asked.
"You have no idea." I said honestly
In fact, it had been a constant rain of summonses since this morning. After the third process server arrived, I called Mindy and Mr. Thurman give me a hand and work on my divorce. We moved the entire operation outside. It was a very pleasant California day. Why not enjoy it? The woman walked off, muttering under her breath. I seemed to have that effect on people.
"I have to admire a man who bears up to such a...train wreck as well as you have, Mr. Reynolds. And thank you for getting me out of the office today." my attorney said.
"Don't mention it. Every time I say 'things can't get worse' they do. So I'm just going to smile and let this all play out. How many summonses is that now, Mindy?"
Picking up her legal pad, she nibbled her lower lip as she mentally counted. "That's eight from underwriters, three from Ipswitch: one for property damage, one for a hostile workplace environment, and another for taking actions harmful to the company in violation of your board responsibilities; a civil action by Hector and one from the bitch to freeze community property transfers, a little late if you ask me. Thirteen total."
*** When a company goes public, they go to a bank to actually sell the shares. They can do it more efficiently then we could. They don't tell us how to fix computer routers and we don't tell them how to sell stock.
When they first go public, a company does not want to flood the market with shares. The bank and the company made money off the sale of the stock and they wanted to control the number on the market. Our net worth, at least on paper, was about $50 million dollars. If we offered 50 million shares, it would be a dollar a share at best! So only a small portion of the company was offered for sale to test the waters and set the price higher.
Since the owners usually owned a majority of the shares, they had to sign a 'lock out' agreement. Essentially it says that I'm not allowed to sell any shares for at least a 3 month period. There were close to 8 million shares in our company and we originally only sold a million. I had, with my action, unwittingly doubled the amount of shares on the market, cutting the price by at least half.
I would like to be clear on this: I didn't know what I was doing. I'd been signing papers for days. I specifically farmed out all the business details to Harry and Andrew and depended on their advice, which I foolishly thought would be in my best interests. That doesn't make what I did less wrong.
My only intentions were to leave the company with my dignity and my assets intact, while denying my wife a share of the company I built and keeping Andrew from getting control and screwing everyone else over. It didn't matter that Gordon had suddenly become a backstabbing weasel. He shouldn't profit from his treachery. And I had no intentions beyond that.