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Chapter 9: The Fall, April 1, 2000 - June 30, 2000 - Episode 5

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Immediately after leaving Larry’s office, Donna calls her husband, Francis, on his cell phone. "Hi, babe," he answers in a whisper. "I’m in a meeting. Can I call you back?"

"You said you were going to keep us out of this fucking class action thing," says Donna. "You said—" "Just a minute, please," Francis Langhorne says to the phone in a very cheerful voice. "Got to step out a minute," he says to his colleagues in the meeting.

He goes into the men’s room down the hall, doubles over to check whether there are feet in any of the stalls, then unmutes the cell phone.

"I’m sorry; I can talk now."

"You said you were gonna keep us out of this fucking class action thing," Donna repeats, more loudly than before. "You said—"

"I never said that, babe. I can’t keep people from suing you. I said I would try to keep Grant and—" "Well you sure didn’t keep Grant and his fucking geldings from suing us," says Donna. "You didn’t even do that. And I got named personally."

"I tried," he interrupts. "I tried, but it was getting too obvious. Of course I had to recuse myself from the case and some of the other attorneys were beginning to suggest that I recuse myself from all discussion."

"Well you just recused yourself from a hell of a lot more than that," says Donna and hangs up. Francis pushes the button to return the call from his cell phone but gets Donna’s voice mail when she looks at his caller ID and doesn’t answer. "Look, babe," he says to the voice mail. "It was unavoidable. I tried to warn you but…"

Just then a burly man in a bedraggled jacket comes into the men’s room, positions himself in front of the urinal, and begins to piss powerfully. "How’re they hanging, Francis?" he asks.

Francis closes the cell phone. "This IPO class action could be what we all retire on."

"It’s gonna take a long time," says the burly man, still pissing. "I’ve been taking depositions from bankers for the last two hours. Didn’t want to piss ‘cause they had to, so better to let ’em suffer. Gave ‘em plenty of coffee and ‘erb tea and shit while they were waiting. Probably pissed in their pants. But it’s gonna take a long time, and then we’ll probably end up with a mediocre settlement. The whole Street’s gonna be against us. They got a lot to lose. And the law isn’t clear. AND we got the wrong judge. So don’t go spendin’ your retirement money yet, is my advice to you. Don’t go buy no big baubles for that pretty woman of yours yet."

"It’s gotta be the biggest prize of all time," says Francis. "Every fucking IPO when there were more IPOs than there ever were before. And you know they were doing it; you know they were laddering the stock." "Knowin’ it and provin’ it are two different things," says the burly man, shaking his penis vigorously. A few drops fall on his shoes. "And we don’t have a good judge; luck of the drawer but that hurts." He zips himself back up most of the way.

"You’re the litigator," says Francis. "You should know. I won’t argue judges or proofs with you. But I might have an idea how we get some proof — real proof."

"You have an idea, let me know," says the burly litigator, his fly still not quite closed.

Francis holds the door for the burly man and follows him out of the men’s room. "You may hear from me," he says. "Keep fighting the good fight."

The burly man grunts and lumbers down the hall.

When Francis gets home much later that evening, the combination has been changed on the electronics that open the front door of the Langhorne’s brownstone. Music can be heard from inside and he rings the doorbell. No answer. He rings again. The music gets louder. He rings a third time. The music gets louder still. There are some sounds of motion inside but nothing near the door. Francis takes a Tiffany’s box with a bow out of his pocket. He circles his cell phone number on the card, pushes the card under the bow, and pushes the package with the card and bow through the mail slot. Then he straightens up and walks away down the street.

Half an hour later Francis’ cell phone rings. "I love you, babe," he says quickly.

"Bullshit," says Donna. "You humiliated me. That prick Larry … I was completely blindsided."

"I warned you," says Francis. "I’m very, very sorry. I did my best to keep hackoff out of it and then to keep you from being named. I couldn’t swing it. But I did warn you…"

"When did you warn me?"

"Did you check voice mail on your cell phone from this morning?"

"I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not sure. There’s so much crap on there."

"Well, check it," says Francis. "I did warn you. It was the least I could do. Did you get the box at the front door?"

"Oh, was that from you?" Donna asks sarcastically. "Lovely. Least you could do after humiliating me. Not enough, though."

"You did call."

"The rock got my attention. This still sucks, you know. You’re still recused."

"This might not be as bad as you think."

"It might be a lot worse than YOU think. I do a fucking IPO. I put up with all Larry’s bullshit. I do a secondary. Listen to him make the same dumb pitch another hundred times. We get some money — a down payment on what we should get. And now I’m being sued? And by my husband’s firm? It’s pretty bad."

"Look, I’m really sorry Grant & Gilding is suing hackoff. And I’m really sorry you got blindsided. I did try to tell you. But you know that doesn’t really matter as far as the suit is concerned. I mean, these suits are out there and ten other firms are gonna sue you if they haven’t already, and it doesn’t matter what Grant & Gilding does. All these cases are gonna get consolidated and you’ll be in the same place whether G&G sued or not. And you aren’t gonna get hurt — WE aren’t gonna get hurt personally. You got D&O insurance. You’re covered. The big money’s gonna come from the banks who underwrote the deals anyway."

"And you’ll get your share of that," says Donna sounding angry again. "I build a company. I create value, wealth. Then the fucking blood-suckers come and take it back out. And damned if my husband’s not one of them…"

"Calm down. Please, calm down," says Francis. "Trust me, other than some pain in the ass time-wasting stuff, you’re gonna be okay personally. I don’t think there’s gonna be anything your D&O can’t handle. There actually may be a way we can be more than all right."

"What’s that?"

"Remember how helpful you were with Big Router?" asks Francis. "Same sort of thing but different. Can I come home and talk about it? I’m standing on the street corner."

"Maybe the door’ll be open, maybe it won’t. One question, though."

"Yes, babe?"

"Did you buy the rock because you knew the door’d be locked?"

"Privileged information," says Francis.

"See ya," says Donna.


"You talk to the D&O people and Barcourt?" Larry asks Aaron Smyth the next morning.

Donna is in Larry’s office as well.



"Pretty much what I thought," says Aaron. "The D&O people are picking up responsibility for now. They’ve given us a list of law firms to choose from to represent us. They weren’t surprised; they got plenty of these."

"So they’re committed to covering us?" asks Larry.

"I think ‘committed’ is a little strong. They never commit to anything. But they are stepping up to the plate for now."

"And Barcourt?" asks Larry. "They waive this bullshit about being reimbursed by us when they get their asses sued for whatever it was they did?"

"Not exactly."

"What does ‘not exactly’ mean? In case you didn’t notice, this is real life and not a fucking Hertz commercial."

"They didn’t assert a claim against us," says Aaron. "They didn’t ask us to defend them."

"Did you ask them to waive the claim against us? You tell them we’re goin’ over to the other side if they don’t?" demands Larry.

"No, I didn’t. I can if you still want me to, but I don’t think we should."

"Why? Why the fuck shouldn’t we get’em to waive this claim once and for all?"

"Because they won’t," says Aaron. "I could bring it up, but they won’t. And I don’t think we want to force them into choosing right now. Might force them to file something just to keep their options open. Way it is now when they haven’t asserted a claim their case for doing so gets weaker every day. And the plaintiff’s are gonna fight the bankers tooth and nail if they try to get the companies to reimburse, because the companies’ pockets aren’t deep enough."

"I say leave it alone for now," Donna interjects. "Aaron is right."

"Since when are you a lawyer?" asks Larry. "This advice from your husband who’s suing us?" "Of course not," says Donna. "He’s recused himself. He has nothing to do with this. And there are probably ten other firms that, if they haven’t sued us already, are going to, whether or not Grant & Gilding did."

"So what makes you think Aaron’s right. That we shouldn’t tell these bastards we’re going over to the other side unless they waive their claim against us?"

"You gonna sign something that says you’re NOT going over to the other side if they waive their claim?" asks Donna. "What would that look like? A piece of paper says I’ll perjure myself for you guys if I have to? Besides, maybe we want to go over to the other side later. Maybe that’s where the money is."

"You’re making more sense than Aaron on this," Larry concedes. "You sure you haven’t been talking to your husband?"

"I never talk to my husband, Lar. Against my principles."

"Okay, we’ll be pussies for now," Larry decides. "We won’t say anything nasty. But if they say one fucking word about being reimbursed by us, we’re all over them like flies on shit."

"Then we should talk," says Aaron.

"Then we’re all over them," repeats Larry. "Nothing to talk about. Pisses me off to lay low now, Aaron. If they attack it’s all over."

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