Inital Public Offerings Ch. 02byFD45©
I didn't go to work that day. This was terra incognita to me. One doesn't go into a marriage expecting a divorce. Well, we don't do that in Ohio. California might be a different animal. How did you divide ten years of stuff? How did you deal with money?
About once every half an hour, the phone rang. I checked the caller id every time. If it was her, I didn't answer. If it was one of her multiple friends, I didn't answer. If it was that asshole, I didn't answer. If it was unknown, I didn't answer.
Short story was, I didn't answer.
She didn't show up that day. I was of two minds about that. On the one hand, if I saw her, I wanted to strangle her for her rampant disrespect. On the other, I would have liked to see that she cared enough to come home and try to fix things.
I'd like to say I was direct and focused and in charge of life, but I wasn't. Swati cleaned up the garbage and wandered around doing her business, which seemed to be equal amounts cleaning and talking into her cell phone at high volumes in Hindi, no doubt discussing the newest developments in the lives of her employers. At least she was having a good time.
I puttered.. Last night, I had taken down all of her many pictures of her. It was quite a pile. I used to be proud of her and her beauty but right now, I couldn't stand to see her, even in a photo. I had considered breaking all of them, and torching our big wedding book, I had calmed down and decided that I always had lighter fluid, but I could only burn it once.
I was, in turn, looking up marriage counselors, divorce attorneys, movers, hit men and large scale liquor shipments as my emotions seesawed back and forth. Around lunch, Swati gave me a plate of something and some ice tea, which I needed because is seems that Hindus treat chilies as a vegetable and not a spice. I appreciated the gesture and it wasn't bad. She looked in on my regularly, no doubt to make sure her paymaster wasn't suicidal and to update her social network. God I had gotten cynical.
Toward the end of the day, I retreated into some X Box. I was still mulling over a lot of things and I needed to zone out to let the various bits and pieces in my mind settle down. Programmers are like that. We'll do nothing for two days and then suddenly buckle down and write code for 36 hours straight, driven by a creative imperative and Mountain Dew, though I had switched to iced tea since it was easier on my stomach. Now I was in 'standby' mode.
I was lonely and cold in my bed. It wasn't that she was missing but the fact that this might be permanent. I still didn't want to see her. Those images played in my mind. I recognized that staccato series of kisses from our own relationship. And she while she had denied both of us her ass, she had never offered me that consolation prize before either. Did I know who she was? Do you ever know who anyone is?
I called out for the next morning, but told Mindy that I'd be in later that afternoon.
The Whore showed up around noon.
Swati, God bless her, heard the key in the lock and rushed over to open the door. "Who EES it?" she asked.
My wife looked up from where she was holding her key at a suddenly open door. "It's me, Swati." she said shortly.
"Oh...hello! Mister REEnalds, Meees Allie is here to see you!" My wife was in the midst of pushing by Swati and she stopped, her face expressionless. Swati had called her 'Meesus REEnalds' for the last two years. She didn't know it yet, but Mrs. Swati had just earned herself a very nice bonus.
My wife turned. "Swati, this is my house and you don't need to announce me. I live here."
"Whatever you say Mees Allie. Can I show you to the LEEving room?"
"No, you can't!" She strode down the hallway, dropping her purse onto the side table as always. When she looked up, she saw me standing right there, glaring at her. She started visibly and took a step back.
"Allie." No greeting. "I told you not to come."
"This is still my house, Jim, and we have a lot to talk about."
"I think there was a lot to talk about...before. You seem to be taking this very well." And she was. She was well made up and was wearing clothes I'd never seen before. I wondered for a moment if she went shopping yesterday or if she had clothes at Andrew's place.
"Yesterday was pretty bad, but I got over it and have make up." she said, with a small rueful smile. We moved naturally into the living room. I sat in a single chair, since I didn't want to sit next to her.
"Is this the conversation where you tell me it's a one time mistake; that's it's just sex, and that it won't happen again?"
She paused, looked at her hands. "No. This is the conversation where I ask for a divorce. Do you really think I'm stupid enough to risk our marriage over a mere affair?"
"Well, no wonder you recovered from it so quickly. You already had my replacement picked out. And it seems that you took him for a test drive or ten. Or were you always fucking around behind my back?"
She looked incredibly uncomfortable. "Can I..." she stopped. "Swati! Can you get me a glass of white wine? You want anything?" she asked me.
"No. We have hemlock if you'd prefer." There was no sound of acknowledgement from the kitchen.
"Swati!" Again nothing. "What's gotten into her?" she said, getting up and heading to the kitchen.
"Morals? Principles? Character?" I said to her back. She gave me a look.
As soon as her back was turned, I went to her purse. That night, she had looked at some papers during sex. Now women were natural multitaskers, but during sex? That indicated something important, at least to me. Inside wasn't one, but two sets of papers. One was a Dissolution of Marriage Decree with our names on it. The other, surprisingly, was a legal document on Ipswitch letter head. I checked out the first line and then the doorbell rang. I got a glance outside and saw a man in a cheap suit with a bundle of papers distorted through the side windows.
I grabbed the papers and rushed out through the kitchen. When I passed her, Allie started to grab at my arm. "Jim! Where are you going? Swati! Answer the door!" she threw at the seated Indian. Swati earned another bonus by just sitting there drinking her tea. She knew who filled her rice bowl, or whatever they say in India. "Jim...we need to talk! You can't run away! Swati!"
I shook her off and opened the door to my car, as Allie gave up on holding me and ran down the hallway toward the front door. Clicking the garage door opener, I started to drive away. I ducked down below the windshield, risking a crash so the man, whom I could peripherally see out of the corner of my eye, couldn't get a good look at me.
You see, one of the movies I had liked was called 'Serving Sara.' It was a stupid romantic comedy, remembered by me primarily because it had Elizabeth Hurley in it and it was one of our rare date movies during our struggling years. In it, a process server played by Mathew Perry needed to serve divorce papers to Sara for financial reasons. The main premise was that the timing and location of the process serving was critical for both parties.
The other factor was that in my two years in this neighborhood, there had NEVER EVER been a stranger who knocked at our door. It was friends, hirelings or relatives. So the fact that just at the time that my soon to be ex wife was home a stranger just coincidently knocked set alarm bells in my head.
Of course, the fact that the other paper was a proxy voting card from one Allie Reynolds nee' Taylor to one Andrew Schwartz for her shares was another clue. The problem was, Allie didn't have any shares, I did. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say 'we' still had shares, something she seemed intent on changing.
I guess I should feel lucky that she didn't try to knock me off. And it was ironic that she had picked that movie.
Up until that point, I hadn't connected my problems with Karl and someone sniffing around Ryleh to the fact that my wife was fucking around on me with my business partner. But now there seemed a certain elegant symmetry to it all. Allie had more then enough access to my records to keep track of how things were going with our newest version of software. Dozens of innocent questions over the last couple of weeks suddenly didn't seem so innocent. It was almost done. And I'm betting that was what they were waiting for before they sprang this on me. It was just their rotten luck that I had gotten some warning before this all fell on my head.
But what should I do? I noted that I had automatically driven to my work. I drove to my parking space...and noticed Hector's convertible in there. Fast work that. More things started to click in my head. I parked in Andrew's space, since he seemed to like sharing things without asking.
I had no idea if the process server was following me or if there was another one close by, so I hustled to the front entrance, slowing only long enough to drag my key along Hector's door and punch a hole through the cloth roof right over the driver's seat. I tried to resist, but I couldn't help but think that Hector was in this up to his thinning hair.
I walked past security and George picked up the phone but didn't try to stop me. When two owners of the company were fighting, it was a difficult situation to pick sides. I took advantage by going by the stairs to my floor.
I entered the work area and the dynamic of the room changed. Suddenly conversations petered out; the rhythms of keyboards slowed. Mindy stood there. When she saw me, she waved a sheet of paper at me "What is this shit?"
"Later, Mindy." I said.
"Hector is in there." she shouted at my back.
Inside, Hector was taking down one of my diplomas off the wall and setting it into a box. "I thought I told you I didn't...ACK!"
I grabbed the rear part of his necktie and gave it a long and steady yank as I dragged Judas out of my office with him bent over, gasping for air. I grabbed one of his diplomas on the way out and shoved his fundament so hard with my foot that the cubicle wall outside my office knocked over, causing Gloria to shriek.. He was busy tugging his tie open so he could breath, his face turning red. I flicked his diploma at him like a throwing star and the corner took him in the chest as the glass in the frame shattered.
Mindy stood there, holding the paper in both hands across her skirt with her mouth wide open. "Hold my calls, dear." I said mildly. She nodded dumbly.
I briefly reentered the office, but found it necessary to throw a box of crap out onto the currently kneeling Hector, to the tinkle of glass and electronics. I clicked the lock on my door closed and drew the shades. I could hear voices murmuring outside.
So far, I had been operating on autopilot, but I needed to start thinking, because sure as hell Asshole and the Whore had a game plan. They probably spent whatever time they weren't fucking, however little of it there was, and got the divorce decree and the process servers moving.
While I was sitting there, I idly logged into the desktop computer. I got an error message. I tried again, typing more slowly. Again a failed log in. If I tried again, it would lock up. That piece of shit Hector, who also had administrator access, had removed my password! Choking was too good for him.
Of course, being a hotshot computer professional, I had a back door. Yup...a back door...and I picked an easy to remember password too so I wouldn't forget it. And it was...? I wrote off my computer, though I wasn't sure exactly what I would do with it in this situation.
She had a proxy card to give Andy the stock votes to do whatever he wanted. The four founders owned half the stock, and a good bit of the venture capitalist stock was non-voting, as were the shares doled out to the employees. Call it two thirds of the voting shares were with us four.
How would she get her hands on shares? Buying them? No. That divorce decree probably demanded that she got half of my shares. I wouldn't be able to oppose Andy anymore unless I could swing both Harry and Gordon to my side, which was a stretch. If I only swung one, then I'd match what Andy carried, and as sure as the Lord made little green apples, he probably had a couple of the venture capital voting shares already proxied to him.
There was a knocking at the door. "Jim! It's me, Gordon. Can we talk?"
I'd worked closest with Gordon, so I went to the door. "Gordon, are you alone out there?"
"What? Look, open the door and let's talk."
I considered this. "Do you know what that son of a bitch and that slut did?"
There was a pause. "Look...it's ugly. I get that. Hearts wander and...shit happens. People fall out of love all the time. But you can't let this destroy the business! I've worked too hard fo this whole thing to fall apart now. You need to be professional about it."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Andy told me. They fell in love and they want to marry. I'm sorry. It happens. But we don't need any bad press."
I was sputtering I was so angry. "Are you kidding me? They both fuck me over and try to steal MY company and you're saying to suck it up and roll over for this?"
"It's just as much my company as yours!" he shouted. "And I'll be damned if you blow our shot at the big time for a piece of pussy!" There were a couple of gasps from the other side of the door, no doubt from some of our few female programmers.
I was quiet for a few seconds. "Jim?" he said a bit more calmly.
"Yeah, I'm here. First off, that 'pussy' was my wife. And I wasn't the one who decided to risk the company for sex. I'm the goddamn victim here! If you want to blame anyone, blame them!"
His voice got a lot more conciliatory. "I understand. Why don't you come out and talk about it?"
A strange voice said "Are you his boss? Cause if you are, I can give it to you."
"Fuck you, Gordon!" I know. Not original but it had been a bad day so far.
What the hell was I going to do? If I stepped out of that door, I'd get served and they'd get the company. But I couldn't stay in here. Security had keys to all the doors and I was just delaying the inevitable. Beyond that, how could I hope to work with these people again after what they did to me? I had a modicum of pride and seeing that swaggering jackass Andrew would be too much to bear for however many dividend checks or profit sharing.
The knob jiggled. "Hey! Stop that! He said no callers." Mindy screamed at someone. The jiggling stopped.
Okay. I was backed into a corner. I was going to lose my share of the company one way or another. A glimmer of an idea came to me. In California, that bitch would get a large share of my assets no matter what. But I didn't want either Andrew or Allie to profit from my sweat. She didn't deserve any of it, and he didn't deserve to control it. How could I swing that?
I picked up my iPhone and dialed the number I looked up. Which is where this story started.
"Hello? Hi Randy. My name is Jim Reynolds. I need you to process an order for me..."
"Yes sir?" the too young voice on the other side of the phone.
"I want to sell about 1,000,000 shares of Ipswitch Inc. My account number is 5467-3692."
"That's a lot of shares sir. In fact...."tapping sound "That's all of them."
"Yup. I want them sold."
"Sir...the stock is an IPO and it has a lot of growth potential..." he said, loyally. He was actually trying to give me good advice!
"I know. I just want out. I made my money and I'm done. Think of your commission check."
Two minutes later, my iPhone dinged with verification.
Three minutes after that, there was a feminine squawk outside and the rattle of keys in my door.
An ugly man in a cheap suit came in followed by a pair of disgruntled security guards and Mindy, rubbing her fanny.
They all wondered why I was smiling with my arm around the process server, holding a clock on display while Mindy recorded it on my iPhone.