Protecting David-Christopher Grows Up 2
I spent the rest of the day with Connie and Jack, while we discussed staffing for the office… particularly, someone to handle human resources. In the end, I mostly listened to Connie telling Jack the basics of what she needed from him, so that my dad’s office and mine would be interacting effectively. I’m pretty sure my eyes were glazing over, but Jack actually seemed to be enjoying the details. I found myself doing all this because of a conversation I had with Nick a few weeks ago, when I told him I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I mean, everyone else has a job, and contributes something to society – while basically, I just hang around. Nick told me if I really wanted to contribute, I should use the advantages I had to create jobs, and make more money.
Finally, in the late afternoon, I dropped them back at the airport; Connie to fly back to Denver, and Jack to pick up his car and drive home. He lived in a suburb north of Milwaukee, and he’d left his car at the airport when he flew out to Denver to meet with Connie.
Jeff drove me home, and during the ride, I asked him, “What did you think of this guy?” During the few years that Jeff has worked for me, I’ve always been impressed with his take on people; plus, he really understands how my dad’s office works.
He smiled when I asked him. “He looked okay… he looked smart.” Then he shrugged, “Maybe aware would be a better word - like he didn’t miss much.”
“Yeah, that’s what I felt, too. And Connie likes him.”
Jeff grinned. “I used to work in that office when I first started working for your dad. You know, where they check these guys out. Believe me, he would have never gotten this far, unless your dad had been convinced he was good. My guess is you can take it to the bank. But you’re the one who has to work with him; so, you need to be okay with him.”
“I am.” Well, I guess I am. I mean, how do you really know?
When I walked in, Andrew was in the family room lying on the sofa in sweat pants and a tee shirt watching a soccer game. He looked up and said, “We got any food, or you want me to order in?”
I took my jacket off and draped it over the back of a chair. “I was gonna heat up the short ribs that Mrs. Colby sent.” I opened the freezer door and looked in. “Either that, or we’ve got beef stew or chili.”
“The short ribs are good.” He looked at me and grinned. “Why don’t you get somebody to do the cooking? I mean, you guys are living like college kids.”
This had become a point of contention; and frankly, both Nick and I had been on both sides of the argument. On the one hand, we both felt better about not having too many people around. There was, after all, the question of sex whenever and wherever we wanted it; but on the other hand, Andrew was right, we didn’t really live like adults, at least not when it came to food. The security guys arranged for cleaning people to come in on Mondays and Fridays, and we sent all of our laundry out, but the question of someone to cook was still an open one. In the meantime, there was good ole Mrs. Colby, and a refrigerator door that was covered with the telephone numbers of dozens of local restaurants.
I heard the door to the garage open and close just before Nick trudged in carrying two briefcases and looking tired. He dropped the cases next to the kitchen table, then leaned over and kissed me. “You hire the guy?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Connie liked him, and he seemed fine. Kinda like a hot, youngish, college professor.”
He grinned and kissed me again, as his hands wandered down to my butt. “Don’t let him try to teach you too much.”
I smiled. “You know, he’s a nice-looking guy, but he’s really not my type.”
Nick waved at Andrew and yelled a greeting. Andrew answered, “Dude, we got any beer?”
By the time Nick had finished taking a shower and putting on gym shorts and a tee shirt, the microwave had done its magic on the short ribs, and the three of us ate together sitting in front of the television. Nick and Andrew both drank beer, but I’m not a fan of it, so I had wine.
After dinner, Andrew showered, changed clothes, then borrowed my car - my brand new SUV - and headed out to spend the evening with some people he knew who were in from Denver. Nick pulled me over to the sofa and lay down behind me while we watched the news.
The phone rang about two minutes after we got comfortable. Nick grabbed it, and almost immediately handed it to me, saying, “It’s Michael.” I slid off the sofa and walked into the kitchen, so Nick could hear the television while I talked on the phone.
Michael never says “Hi, how are you?” All his phone conversations sound like a continuation of the last one… there’s never even a hello.
Michael’s first words were, “Your dad still bugging you about finding things to invest in?”
I laughed. “I wouldn’t call it bugging, but I know he’d be happy if I did.”
“Well, I got something you might be interested in. Although, it isn’t a big deal right now, I got a feeling it could turn into one with the right management.”
“Talk to me, Michael. There’s two percent in it for you, if it works out.”
“Okay, the thing is Pumpkin’s Uncle Harold works there; so on the one hand, I’ve got inside information, and on the other hand, there is that family connection… I guess a conflict of interest.” Six months ago, Michael married Deborah Mander, a lovely girl, but her nickname, for reasons I was afraid to pursue, was Pumpkin. It certainly wasn’t because she was fat; she was thin as a rail.
“It’s okay, Michael. As long as I know about it. So what’s the story?”
“Okay, the company is The Industrial Cable Corp., they sell like the sets of wiring that go into things like dishwashers, or furnaces and stuff - you know, if you went and tore all the wiring out of a washing machine, it’s all kinda one thing, and that’s what they do, make that stuff, and the guy that started it is Wesley Sommers, or maybe Somners… but something like that. Anyway, he spent most of the last twenty years building it; then when he hit fifty, he started goin a little nuts. First thing was he divorced his wife and started drinking, then he married some young thing that took him for a ride. After he divorced her, he was pretty much a mess. That much I can vouch for myself, because he used to come into the bank here, and it was pretty obvious he was headed down hill fast. So after a while, he writes a couple of bad checks… and our manager at the bank suggests he maybe should take his business elsewhere. There was probably more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.”
“After that, the guy goes with another local bank and applies for an SBA loan. He somehow gets the loan, and that lasts him for about two years; but the drinking gets worse, he ignores the business, and starts chasing some other woman. And before long, his new bank and a couple of creditors are forcing him into bankruptcy.”
I interrupted. “How much did he take em for?”
“A million, at least. You probably gotta figure there’s more buried in the books, but at least the million. Of course, it’s always the case that the guy’s receivables probably suck, and the company is probably way late on everything. These things are always a mess. And to be honest, I wouldn’t even totally trust their inventory. Not that I’ve even seen the figures, but from what Harold tells me, that’s Pumpkin’s uncle, it’s pretty bad.”
I sighed. “So, why would I be interested?”
He laughed. “Well, the thing is they’re still doing great business, even with all the money problems. They’ve got a pretty solid sales department, and they keep increasing their sales. My first thought when Harold told me that was maybe the sales department was giving the stuff away, but Harold says that’s not the case. But he also realizes that this can’t go on, and that’s why he came to me. He thought maybe our bank would help him buy out the company. He knows that their new bank wants to clean up the bad loan on their books. So mostly, they just want out… they’re not about to send good money after bad.”
“Have you got any idea about the actual figures? I mean, would this Harold guy actually know that stuff?”
“Not really. He’s in sales, and most of what he knows about the rest of it comes from casual conversations with their CFO. But he really does seem to know what he’s talking about regarding sales, and he insists that with some fresh cash, it could be a gold mine.”
“Michael, what kind of money are they looking for? I mean, are we talking the million they owe the bank, or a lot more than that?”
“I’m sure it’s more, Chris. You gotta figure that the million is really a million and a half, you also gotta figure another million to suppliers and bulking up the inventory… and then, just working capital. Realistically, I think it’d be three to five million - probably closer to the five. Is that too much?”
“No. No, not if everything else works. I guess we need to meet with this Harold guy. I’ve just hired a guy to run my office here, and I’d want him in on the meeting. I guess the first thing you could get me are the names and addresses of all the guys involved. That way, we can check and make sure they’re not con men or anything, then we can get them to come to Milwaukee for a meeting, or we could go there and see if we’ve got a basis for working together.”
In the end, Michael said he’d get me the information that I’d asked for, and he’d talk to Harold about setting up a meeting.
After I hung up with Michael, I slid back onto the sofa against Nick’s chest. He whispered, “So, Michael’s got something for you?”
I nodded against his warm chest. “You ever hear of The Industrial Cable Corp?”
He sighed, then shook his head. “I don’t think so. That’s what Michael wants you to invest in?”
“Yep. Well, maybe… I mean, I don’t think he’s totally sure of it either… it’s just a possibility. Pumpkin’s uncle runs the sales department, but the owner of the company has pretty much trashed the place financially. Now, their bank is sitting with a garbage loan and looking for a way out.”
I turned my head and smiled up into his eyes. “I’ll give ya a blow job, if you check em out for me.”
He grinned back at me, then bent and kissed my forehead. “You’re actually gonna make me work for sex?”
“Kinda - I guess. I just don’t wanna bring it up with my dad or Connie until it looks like it might work.”
“You don’t have to actually bring it up with either of them, if you don’t want to - just write a check. It’s not like it’s not your money. Besides, they’d be thrilled to help, especially your dad.”
“I know, and they’re gonna find out eventually anyway. I just want it to look good, you know? I don’t want to do it, and have it turn out to be crap.”
He snuggled down until his chin was resting on my shoulder, our faces were pressed together, and his arms were wrapped around me tight. Then he whispered, “I’ll do it first thing tomorrow. The other thing you need to do is email Jamie Billings in Madison. I’ll check them out through our sources, but he and his dad have been in that town forever, and they might know stuff that wouldn’t be in a credit database. Besides, he’d probably be the lawyer to use. Your law firm here wouldn’t have near as good a handle on those people; and besides, Jamie and his dad are pretty sophisticated lawyers.”
“I’ll send Jamie an email later. I’ve also gotta send Jack an email. I don’t want him to think I’ve excluded him from this.”
Nick very lightly closed his teeth on my earlobe. “I wouldn’t worry about it. Remember, Jack’s main job is to run your office, not put together deals. His job right now should be to put together an organization that can back you up with whatever you want to do.”
I grinned and rolled over on top of him, so I was straddling his waist. “I’ll see how he reacts. But he’s got a lot of business knowledge, so it would probably pay to bring him in on it.”
I rolled my hips forward and said, “Wanna play cowboy?”
He laughed. “Cowboy?”
“Uh huh, porno cowboy.”
The next week was spent getting the offices ready and hiring people. Monday morning, it seemed like there had to be a dozen interior decorators and their assistants, telephone guys, and electricians milling around waiting for furniture to arrive. Jack and I were sitting on the floor in my office leaning against the wall, while every five minutes Eli, the decorator in charge of everything, stuck her head through the door and said, “I’m sure they’ll be here any second now!” My meeting with Michael and the guys from the cable company was set for this Friday in a town halfway between Milwaukee and Madison.
Jack said, “You sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
I shook my head. “Get this place ready to go. Even if I decide I’m interested in doing the deal, Jamie’ll be there; and besides, there’ll end up being a lot more meetings. But one thing you could be thinking about is Michael. This is the second deal he’s brought me, and I was considering offering him a job in Madison doing this full time. The university there spins off lots of little startups of all kinds, and Michael knows most of those guys.”
“Couldn’t he just keep doing it, like he has?”
“The thing is he works full time for the bank, and I feel like that’s somehow not right… like it’s a conflict of interest somehow. And another thing that’s even weirder is I’m a significant stockholder in the bank, and Nick runs it. So it just doesn’t look right.”
I looked at him for a moment, before deciding that I had to talk to him about something else.
“Jack, did Connie talk to you about Cory?”
He looked at me for a second, before nodding his head. “I didn’t really know if I should bring it up. She told me your security people are keeping an eye on him.”
I nodded. “Yeah.” I lifted my hand, then dropped it. “Yeah, just so you know. I mean, his dad’s a big lawyer and all… and I just wanted to know that you were aware of it.”
He said, “Do you have any reason to believe that his father might try…”
“No, no reason to think that at all. It’s just that it’d be good to keep an eye out for that sort of thing. Cory is a lawyer too, and if he ever did try anything, he might try it through the law somehow. But what that might end up being, I can’t imagine. It’ll probably never happen, but if he ever does try anything, we need to have top lawyers on our team. That’s why I use the lawyers here that I do.”
Jack nodded and said, “I got a pretty complete security briefing in Denver. Apparently, your sister has also been a problem?”
I inhaled and let it out slowly. “My sister’s crazy… evil, batshit crazy… and evil. She always has been. So yeah, she’s another problem. Security should be keeping an eye on both of them, but a few years ago my sister just kind of dropped off the face of the earth. We knew she was living in Palm Beach, but then they lost her. They’ve been trying to locate her again, but so far, nothing.”
Jack smiled. “So, that’s why Connie wanted us to hire Dorothy?” Dorothy was a pretty blond lady that we’d hired as a receptionist. Dorothy had a gun in her purse, and beyond Dorothy, Jeff and his people had a large office next to mine. While she was theoretically under Jack’s supervision, she really worked for Jeff.
I laughed. “Yeah, I guess. This all probably overkill. I mean, I can’t even imagine why those two haven’t just gotten on with their lives… it’s not like I ever really did anything to them.”
I was staring down at the carpeting, then I looked back up at Jack. “The other thing, Jack, is you shouldn’t worry about bringing stuff up with me. Like the thing with Cory. If it’s on your mind - just ask me. It’s not gonna take any time at all before you know way more about me than you’ll ever want to. So, we’re gonna have to trust each other.”
He smiled at me and said, “Thanks.”