BMOC, Chapters 3 and 4

In what is becoming a Thursday night tradition, I am posting the next two chapters, numbers three and four, of my book BMOCThe first two chapters were posted here.  The next chapters after these are here.  Before we start, here are some of the "reviews":

"Who
is this guy?  You're not allowed to portray lawyers in novels as
anything but dedicated warriors for the common good.  In the words we
teach all of our clients when they are suing for millions over
spilled coffee, "˜it is not about the money.'  We hate this book,
and if you read it, we will sue you."

"“
America's tort lawyers

"This
Meyer person obviously never read the instruction manual for writing
novels.  Journalists are supposed to be brave and honest, while
corporations are supposed to be evil and rapacious, not the other way
around.

"“
Other modern novel writers

"It's
not that bad here."

"“
The Harvard University administration

"I
was kind of proud that Warren wrote a novel, but then I read it and
saw the dirty stuff and all the bad words.  Now I am really
embarrassed."

"“
Warren's mother

"We
are shocked that anyone would imply that our legislative efforts are
aimed more at helping favored political supporters than championing
the common man."

"“
Congress

"This
is what he was doing at the office instead of driving the kids to
soccer?  Writing a novel? I thought he was doing work!"

"“
Warren's wife

"Warren
was never my student.  I swear.  Don't even think about blaming
this on me."

"“
Warren's high school English teacher

And now, chapters three and four:

chapter three

It was one
of those rare, perfect weather days in New York City "“ sunny and 70
degrees.  A few weeks from now, it would be slit-your-throat weather,
so hot and humid that the grime from the surrounding buildings would
seem to leech into your pores.  On a beautiful day like this,
everyone was in a better mood, and New Yorkers could almost creep up
the attitude scale to "human".  Now, it wasn't like they would
smile at you and wish you a good day, but it did mean that if you
keeled over unconscious in the middle of the sidewalk, someone might
check on you rather than just stepping over your body on their way to
lunch.

    Gladstone
reflected that given so perfect a day, only a meeting with Ted the
twit could ruin his good humor, and of course, that was where he was
headed now, walking up Fifth Avenue towards the InterMedia building.
As he approached the lobby, he reflected for the hundredth time just
how awful that building was.  Rumor had it that Ted's first wife
had taken a personal hand in the building's decoration, and
Gladstone knew that to be true.  The lobby, and in fact all the
public areas of the building, were built in true 1980's style, with
every knob and fixture that would sit still covered in gold plating.
It reminded Gladstone of a bad Atlantic City casino, reproducing the
polyester-clad tourist's vision of opulence.  If you surveyed the
residents of any number of Appalachian trailer parks, this lobby
would represent their consensus ideal of luxury. 

    The whole
effect was made worse when Ted saw the cost estimate for all the gold
plating, and, needing to cut costs but unwilling to deny his wife
anything at the time (especially given the then-recent unfortunate
misunderstanding he and his wife had over the frequent visits of
Sonya, his VP of sales for the Swedish market), Ted had the builders
put the gold plating on with the absolute minimum thickness.  It was
probably, Gladstone reflected, quite a technological achievement to
limit the plating to what appeared to be just a few molecules
thickness.  Unfortunately, twenty years later, much of this thin gold
plating had rubbed off, giving the building a leprous look.

    Gladstone
sailed past the main elevator banks, heading for a special elevator
in the rear, guarded by a single security guard at a small desk.
Gladstone sighed to himself.  Ted could be such a putz, and no more
so than with his security fetish.  For years, Gladstone had advised
all of his friends that the first key to security was maintaining a
low profile.  Come the revolution, the guys with the torches and the
pitchforks can't show up at your front gate if they don't even
know you exist. In all the world, there probably weren't two
hundred people who knew the kind of power Gladstone wielded, both in
and outside the media industry.

    On the
other hand, there were probably not two hundred people in the world,
or at least in this country, who had not seen Ted on television
numerous times, often beside his much younger second wife who was
famous for the priceless diamonds that usually hung down between her
nearly-as-expensive breasts.  So, rather than relying on anonymity,
and knowing that he would be one of the first ones up against the
wall when civilization crashed, Ted relied on the Maxwell Smart
school of security "“ complicated systems with lots of sliding doors
and cameras and locks.

    After a
tedious ten minutes of navigating identification checks, code-key
doors, thumb print analyzers, and receptionists behind clear
bulletproof glass partitions, Gladstone finally entered Ted's
office.  He nodded at Ted's secretary, Elaine, but made no attempt
to engage her in conversation.  Elaine was quite a piece of work,
perhaps the surliest and most ill-humored person Gladstone had ever
met, which was saying quite a bit given the people he worked with.
Ted must have scoured every drivers license office in the country to
find an employee so misanthropic and unhelpful.

    And, upon
entering, Gladstone marveled at how thoroughly predictable the room
was.  All offices, of course, reflect their owner.  Gladstone's
office was his private abode, with few concessions to visitors.  The
only item in the whole room that might even hint of his achievements
was, in the corner of the office and in a position of some
prominence, an impressive silver trophy labeled the "William
Hastings Cup".  For over thirty years, that cup had been in his
office, and in fact had been listed on his resume and later his
official biography.  Never once had anyone asked him what it was for,
though a few of his (infrequent) visitors had paused and looked at
the award on his shelf with admiration.  The cup had become his
secret joke on the world, for he had won it in college for being able
to drink a pint of beer faster than any other contestant.

    While
Gladstone's office was efficient and full of inside humor, Ted's
was a stage, a set piece designed to impress, aimed not at his own
comfort but at the opinion of the outside world.  Ted had all the
three classic elements of such an office:  Expensive furniture (to
prove that he was rich), Leroy Neiman sports prints (to prove that he
could be a sophisticated art lover, but in a manly rather than faggy
way), and, of course, pictures of himself with the famous and
powerful, to prove that he was, well, famous and powerful too.

    Gladstone
noticed a couple of additions since his last visit, including a
picture of Ted, his second wife Sandra, and two kids.  Gladstone
stared at the picture carefully, to try to detect signs that the
picture had been digitally altered, for it clearly was a forgery.
For evidence, he could point first to the fact that "mom" looked
to be older than the kids, which Gladstone knew that she was not, and
second to the fact that they were all smiling, which Gladstone was
pretty sure they never did in each other's presence.

    On the
"celebrity" wall, he also noticed a new section devoted to
Sandra, who insisted that her domestic staff call her Lady Sandra,
but who was often called "Cupcake" behind her back, mostly by the
wives of Ted's friends and business associates.  Gladstone knew
that "Lady Sandra" was actually born Dorothy Anne in some Midwest
town where the local grain elevator was bigger than the high school.
Even more priceless, Gladstone also had found out recently that Lady
Sandra had once been known as "Tiffany" in her previous career as
a dancer, and, ahem, actress.  Gladstone, in fact, had a couple of
Cupcake's best movies tucked away for Ted's son's upcoming
bachelor party.  When it came time for the groom to dance with his
mother at the reception, Gladstone wondered if the country club could
be convinced to install a pole for that purpose.

    Most of
the pictures on the wall showed Cupcake in cap and gown against
various ivy-covered backgrounds.  Gladstone knew this to be a result
of Ted's recent campaign to get his wife presented with various
honorary degrees in return for handsome donations of his
shareholder's money to the school in question.  Looking closely,
Gladstone was pleased to see that Lady Sandra had obviously had her
academic gowns tailored to show off her impressive cleavage in a very
fetching manner.  She appeared to be a particular hit at the West
Point ceremony.

    "Ms.
Whitney is getting an honorary degree from the Nebraska Institute of
Technology next week,"  Ted announced walking into the office, and
seeing Gladstone looking at the pictures.  "Sorry I'm late, but I
was taking a shit."

Gladstone
rolled his eyes before turning and facing Ted.  Always Mr.
Sophisticated, he thought to himself.  For some reason Ted, and
Gladstone admitted, many other men like him, felt it somehow better
established their masculinity to revert to 10th grade
locker room talk. 

    "She's
getting a degree in lactation science, I assume," Gladstone offered
sarcastically.

    "What?
Oh no, none of that engineering stuff," the joke obviously going
over Ted's head completely.  "In art, for her work in cinema and
television."  Gladstone knew that most of Cupcake's best-known
work was in a reality TV show called "Seven Deadly Sins".  In
that particular show, eight priests were brought together, tempted
each week by one of the seven deadly sins.  The viewing audience got
to vote each week as to which priest succumbed the most and got
kicked off the show.  Cupcake was featured prominently in several of
the weekly contests, including her now famous take-down of Father
Stanly Vincenzo (who had up to that point been considered the shoe-in
favorite to emerge victorious) in the "lust" episode.

    "Say,
Ted, it's a beautiful day, perhaps one of the last for some time.
Let's go outside.  We can take a walk through the park and talk
along the way."

    "What?
Outside?  Like I need to be assaulted by homeless bums and winos.
We've got everything here "“ what do we need to go outside for?"

    "Well, I
think we could have a much more private conversation out in the
park," Gladstone persisted.

    "What
are you talking about "“ it's just the two of us here, and we'd
be surrounded by people out there."

    "I'd
feel more secure outside."

    "Secure!"
Ted said laughing.  "Didn't you notice all the security coming in
here?  We're a thousand times more secure in this office than out
in the park where any crack fiend can clout us over the head for his
next fix."

    Gladstone
gritted his teeth and tried to find a way to get his point across to
this blockhead.  He remembered a story from the 1980's, when the
U.S. was building a new state-of-the-art embassy facility in Moscow.
The State Department spared no expense on security in its
construction, spending some ridiculous millions of dollars on the
facility.  Just before it was to open, U.S. officials discovered that
the building was riddled with bugs and listening devices planted,
presumably, by the Russian construction crews they used for the job.
Eventually, the US found that there were so many bugs in the building
that it would be impossible to be sure they got them all, and the
building had to be abandoned, never used for its intended purpose.

    From the
hapless State Department's experience in Moscow, Gladstone took
away the lesson that one was never really safe talking indoors.
Gladstone sighed, and gave up on teaching Ted about information
security and resolved to assume the worst, and to speak in code and
double talk that might confuse any listeners, or at least that his
lawyer could use to confuse some future jury.

    "Have
you spoken to our friend about the job in California?"  Gladstone
asked carefully.

    "Pardon?"
Ted didn't get it.

    "I said,
did you talk to your, uh, New Jersey office about getting a couple of
people transferred for that special assignment in LA?"

    "What?
Oh, you mean did I talk to Carlo Primera, the Mafia guy.  Yeah, I had
him up here yesterday for lunch."

Gladstone
resisted the temptation to bang his forehead on the coffee table in
front of him.  So much for cloak and dagger.  Please God, he wailed
to himself, where was that piranha button?

    "You
discussed our problem with him?  Here?  In this office?"

    "Sure,
yesterday.  I don't think it went very well, though.  He didn't
seem to understand what I was asking.  I told him very plainly that I
needed two guys to help us out in LA by faking"¦"

    "STOP.
Please.  Don't.  Describe.  The.  Job.  To.  Me."  Gladstone said
through clenched teeth, like he was talking to a five-year-old and
didn't want to lose it completely.  Peripherally he thought he must
look like Martha Stewart "“ the words were coming out but there was
no movement from his jaw.

"What?"
cried
 Ted
plaintively.  "Gad, you sure are being strange today.  You sound
just like Primera did yesterday.  Is everybody nuts?  Well, I don't
need to tell you about it, I can show you "“ I have a tape of it
right here."

    "WHAT?!"
OK, now he was really through the looking glass.  The guy taped a
discussion like that?  No one in their generation could be that
stupid.  Had the guy never heard of Richard Nixon?  And not just any
conversation, but one with a senior Mafia boss!  Shit, does he
realize how close he probably came to getting a bullet in his brain
yesterday, had Primera discovered the eavesdropping?

    "Uh, you
recorded your conversation yesterday with Primera?"

    "Nah"¦"
and for a second, Gladstone felt relieved. "I videotaped it.  I've
got a hidden camera in that funny looking paperweight up on the shelf
behind me there.  Elaine runs the VCR in a cabinet under her desk."

    Great, not
only was she ill-mannered and grumpy but she was also channeling
Rosemary Woods.

    Ted turned
to his left and pressed a remote control.  Gladstone bet himself a
million dollars that the display would rise magically out of the
desk, like something from a bad spy movie.  The screen appeared "“
OK, he lost his bet, the screen actually appeared on the wall when
one of the Leroy Neiman prints slid out of the way, like something
from a bad spy movie.

    The video
snapped on, and Gladstone found himself looking over the Ted's
shoulder, watching Carlo Antonio Primera, aka "the Wall Street
Don", across Ted's desk.  Primera was wearing a beautiful gray
Thomas Mahon suit, and could easily have been mistaken for a
vice-president or director at an investment bank.  Primera got his
nickname not just from his clothing, but from his affinity for
financial scams, and to be fair, more recently for legitimate
financial businesses. 

    Primera
first made a name for himself running a derivatives portfolio
financed by the pension funds of several unions his father
controlled.  It had become increasingly popular on Wall Street to
break up contracts and financial instruments into pieces, and to sell
those pieces off to different buyers.  Take the simple example of a
stock with a high safe dividend but a volatile price.  A stock like
that might be hard to sell, since a risk-adverse investor (think:
widows and orphans) would like the nice, predictable flow of dividend
checks but might be turned off by the risk inherent in the volatile
price.  Conversely, other investors who look to make high returns by
taking on risk might like the underlying stock, but have no interest
in paying for the value of the dividends.  So, Wall Street had found
a way to sell the widow the right to the dividend stream alone, and
sell the underlying stock without the dividends to someone else.
These hybrid investment tools were often called "derivatives."

As
Wall Street got better at this, the deals got more and more complex,
and major contracts might be broken down into many risks that would
be parceled out to different parties.  Unfortunately, there was
sometimes a piece that no one wanted, because the risk was too great,
or more likely, the risk was too hard to evaluate.  That is where
Primera came in.  Primera made his reputation buying up many of these
otherwise untouchable risks. Because these were the pieces that no
one wanted, Primera could buy them cheap and make a fortune if the
risk could be managed.  And Primera and his father were very
good at making sure things came out their way.

Consider
one example from early in his career:  A bank was making a large loan
on a major office building construction project
.
What were the risks it would face?
While there were many, many risks, four mattered the most:  One,
interest rates might rise, and the bank would find itself with a long
term loan at rate that was too low; two, the project might overrun
its construction costs or time;  three, the project might be blocked
altogether, typically by regulatory or zoning snafus; or four, the
building might not be profitable, usually because it did not have
high enough occupancy.  Banks are used to risk one, and are
comfortable they can manage it.  Risk two was well understood and
could be covered by a construction bonding agency.  Primera took on
risks three and four.  If a good "family man" like Primera
couldn't pack a zoning board or lean on a few businesses to lease
up a building, who could?

    So here
was Primera, probably one of the smartest men on Wall Street, and
certainly one of the smartest men in New Jersey, on the TV screen
sitting across from Bozo the Clown.  On the tape, Primera was
engaging in small talk, circling around the topic, looking for an
indirect way of getting to a deal without saying so in so many words.
Gladstone could tell that Ted was just itching to jump in and blurt
out what he wanted.  And so his chance came.

    "Carlo,
we need some help."

    "Anything,
my friend."

    "You
remember a couple of years ago when one of your guys made that
woman"¦"

    "STOP.
What the hell are you talking about?  Why are you asking me stuff
like that?  I have no idea what you are talking about."

    "Come on
Carlo, how can you forget, that woman who was"¦"

    "No
more, Mr. Whitney.  I have no desire to talk to you about these
things.  I do not know what you are talking about."  Carlo was
red-faced with barely controlled anger.  Gladstone could sympathize,
and not only because he'd had to deal with Ted's naïve
idiocies himself. 

    A couple
of years ago Gladstone had spotted a business acquaintance named
Jerry in the park and had sat down with him and his seven-year-old
daughter for a few minutes and chatted.  While they talked, they
watched Jerry's wife and second daughter playing on the swings.
Gladstone had known this guy for years, and in fact had dated Jerry's
wife back before she married him.  As they chatted, Gladstone kidded
Jerry with one of their running jokes, about how good his wife was at
oral sex.  They chatted about this and that and Gladstone was just
getting up from the bench when Jerry's wife returned.

    After a
few hellos, Jerry's daughter Abby, who had obviously been listening
to them, asked, "Mommy, why did you give your head to daddy's
friend?" For one of the few times in his life, Gladstone was
mortified, and, glancing at Jerry, could tell that Jerry was panicked
as well.  Some women would have laughed and smiled at this, secretly
happy at the implied compliment but feeling like they had to, at
least publicly, act upset.  Not Claire though "“ Claire would not
think this a bit funny, either publicly or privately. 

By some
miracle, Claire didn't get it.  However, it was clear that Abby was
not going to give it up, and would ask again, in a clearer way.
Jerry and Gladstone both shushed Abby, and tried their best to change
the subject.  Carlo Primera, the famous Wall Street Don, looked
exactly like Jerry did, trying to silence the naïve child.

    Primera
finally had enough.  He stood up, and said "I must go," and
walked out of the room after a perfunctory handshake with Ted.  "If
you need anything from me, tell Gladstone to be at our usual spot at
one in the afternoon a week from today."

    Ted
reached over and pressed a button, and the video screen went dark and
the Neiman print began to slide back into place.  "I don't get
it," whined Ted, "everything was fine, and then he went crazy on
me.  Fucking Italians, they're all crazy.  You can dress them up
but they are all stupid peasants at heart."

    Gladstone
sat for a moment, silently, and considered whether he should try to
explain to Ted what he had done to set Carlo off.  He eventually
discarded the idea "“ it would just be another total waste of time.
He had tried to have the security discussion with Ted at least 20
times in the past, but, unfortunately, despite all of the locks and
thumb print scanners and whatever, Ted remained naïve to threats
that did not involve physical harm.

    Right now,
all Gladstone wanted to do was get out.  "Look, I'll go see Carlo
next week.  I'm sure we can work something out."

chapter four

    Michael
Fang watched the ugliest girl he had ever seen enter the tiny waiting
area, nod to the Senator's assistant, and, after a light knock, not
waiting for an answer, walk into the Senator's office.  She was
probably twenty or twenty-one, and she wore a very plain, overly
conservative suit that nearly every female intern briefly wore in
this town as they experimented with exactly how to strike the right
balance between individualism and professionalism.  That in turn
marked her as a first year intern, working in the Senator's office
while on leave from some college or another.

    Several
years ago the Senator's wife had an epiphany.  As she watched
Congressmen, Senators and even a President brought low by sexual
scandals involving young female interns, she realized that there was
very little standing between herself and total public humiliation.
She knew that her husband was attractive, powerful, and completely
free of any nagging ethics.  Mixing these traits, which were shared
by nearly every man in Congress, with young female interns was like
smoking in a room that's been hosed down with gasoline.  She was
less surprised that there had been a few brush fires in the media
than that the whole place hadn't burned down entirely.

However,
the Senator had one other trait that, if possible, made the whole mix
even more combustible:  The Senator was a total klutz at cloak and
dagger, so much so that he made Detective Clouseau look like a hero
from a Tom Clancy novel.  Worse yet, he thought he was in fact
clever and Machiavellian.  The Senator was like many doctors Fang
knew, totally arrogant and assured of themselves, convinced they were
great at everything, who then poured their money into one
ridiculously bad investment after another. Whereas the Senator
thought himself to be supremely devious, he was in fact completely
transparent, much like a child trying to hide by standing behind a
table leg.

    Now, the
Senator's wife really couldn't care less that the Senator was
fucking a bunch of young girls.  Given the Senator's absolute
inability to keep anything well hidden, she had been forced to face
up to his infidelity for twenty years, and at this point in her life
honestly could not work up any real emotion about it.  At least, she
thought, it wasn't young boys.

    However,
after the latest series of very public revelations concerning other
prominent politicians, she now found she did have emotions relative
to the Senator's sex life:  Fear and revulsion.  Fear, that she
would become a laughing stock among her women friends, publicly
humiliated by the turd she'd married; and revulsion, that she would
be forced to publicly play her part in the set-piece that was now
becoming the de rigueur response to such allegations:  The family,
appearing together on TV, with the loving wife standing by her man
and accepting his apology.  The very thought gave her hives.

    So, rather
than just sitting back and praying that disaster would not strike
(roughly the same chance, she estimated, of laying down in Times
Square and not getting run over), she took drastic action.  For the
last three years, she had taken over the hiring of interns for the
Senator.  Unfortunately, in these politically correct days, the
Senator could not just stop hiring women.  So, she interviewed every
female candidate face-to-face, ruthlessly purging any aspirant who
showed the least sign of sex appeal, or even being provably female
short of a DNA test.  The result was a collection of women that would
have done the old East German women's shot-put team proud.

      Michael
Fang laughed to himself, just as he did when the Senator's wife had
first poured out this story (he was one of the few privileged
insiders to the family business) after a few too many Chardonnays at
a party for some disease.  What she did not know, and Michael did not
have the heart to tell her, was that her plans were defeated by the
simple fact that there was nothing with two X chromosomes that the
Senator would not fuck.  For the Senator, like for many men in power,
sex was not about sex, but about validation.  He gave little notice
to the intern's droopy body or not-so-subtle mustache, but to the
look of adoration and submission in the eyes.  In fact, in some ways
the unfortunately provisioned women his wife selected were even more
intoxicating to him, because they brought him not just adoration but
gratitude, gratitude that someone so attractive and with a blood
alcohol level less than point two zero would pay attention to them.

    Fang
thought about all of this as he sat with growing anger and resentment
in the Senator's waiting room.  The Senator was already ten minutes
late for their meeting, and, from past experience, he knew that the
wait could easily stretch to half an hour.  Michael had known the
Senator for almost thirty years, but the great and Honorable Senator
Buchanan still made Fang wait in the lobby.  It was the same stupid
chicken-shit power game played all over Washington.

    Michael
had known the Senator since their first day at Princeton, assigned at
random to the same four-person dormitory room.  Fang, Buchanan, and
media mogul Robert Gladstone lived together all four years of
college.  Their fourth roommate was different each year by necessity,
each getting thrown out of school for a more spectacularly bizarre
reason than the last. 

    For years,
Fang, Gladstone and the Senator had shared a symbiotic relationship
that helped to propel each one to the pinnacles of their professions.
Together, the three of them had become the Tinkers to Evers to
Chance of the litigation world. 

    While the
process varied some and was refined over the years, their basic roles
had not changed.  Fang usually got the play started, when his firm
identified a new issue that was ripe for litigation.  When Fang first
started, these litigation opportunities were usually cases where
people were getting injured or killed.  The quest would begin with a
victim wronged. 

    Despite
the fact that this strategy proved quite lucrative, Fang had
identified a certain inefficiency with this approach.  For you see,
true victims often had the unfortunate habit of getting hurt by
companies or people without very much money.  This lack of vision on
the part of the victims made litigation a sometimes iffy business "“
you could spend a lot of time and money and win the case, only to
find you hadn't really earned much for the effort.  His friends in
the litigation bar often discussed this lamentable situation, but no
one could really figure out a solution.  And, since it only takes a
few cases against truly rich defendants to keep up the payment on the
wife's Mercedes and the mistress's apartment, no one really
worked that hard on the problem.

    But
Michael did.  One day, lying in his bathtub (where he often did his
best thinking) Michael had one of those great insights that can
change the world.  In the years since, he'd often wondered with wry
amusement whether Bill Gates had a similar moment in his own tub,
perhaps shouting to his rubber duck, "Dang, let's forget the
hardware and try software!"

    Michael's
insight was simplicity itself:  Instead of starting with victims, and
then tracking down who did them wrong, often to find out their bank
accounts were unexciting, why not just start with a target, a rich
target, and then go find some victims?  That insight had made Michael
one of the most powerful and wealthy attorneys in the nation "“ and
by extension, the world, since the good old USA had become to lawyers
what Switzerland was to cheese makers.

    Of course,
there had been refinements over time.  He'd learned that it was a
lot easier to take on an unsympathetic and unpopular target.
Fortunately, there were plenty of those "“ tobacco makers, drug
companies, oil companies, gun makers "“ they all made excellent
targets because it was so easy to turn a jury against them, or, even
better, turn the press loose on them and force a nice fat settlement.

    And this
is where is his ex-roommates Gladstone and Buchanan came in.  Once
Fang had a target, it was critical to turn public sentiment against
it.  As he refined his approach, he would bring in Gladstone, to push
the case in the media, and Buchanan, to use his bully pulpit in
Congress to rail against the target and to propose all sorts of
government interventions to stop whatever kind of bad behavior the
target was accused of.  Of course, all of his partners benefited as
well:  Gladstone scored headline-grabbing issues for his papers and
Buchanan gained a patina of common-man populism, while Fang made
incredible amounts of money.

    Fang had
also learned that there were certain states and individual
courthouses in the country where he was far, far more likely to get a
sympathetic jury and a headlines-grabbing verdict.  This is not too
surprising "“ if you wanted to find great high school football
players, you don't go to Vermont; you go to Texas or Oklahoma.
Well, if you wanted an eye-popping damage award in a case no one
thought had any merit, you don't go to some well-educated enclave
of Boston or Seattle, you go to JEB Stuart County, Mississippi.  Yes,
that JEB Stuart County, the one with 6,400 residents (nearly 40% of
whom had a high school education), one courthouse, one judge, and one
Piggly-Wiggly.  That is why Michael Fang, who was one of Washington
DC's most elite inside-the-Beltway power-lawyers, had a partner
named Earl (for God sakes) Nugent in JEB Stuart County, Mississippi.

    A lot of
people laughed in the Washington social set about "Michael Fang,
Attorney at Law" becoming "Fang & Nugent".  Fang endured a
lot of cocktail party jokes, both in front of and behind his back
about "Mike and Earl's Law House" or "Bubba & Co."
Everyone promptly ceased laughing, though, after the Immudine case,
when Fang & Nugent secured, in the beautiful but frankly
long-ignored JEB Stuart County Courthouse, the first ever billion
dollar class action verdict, not to mention over $400 million in
contingency fees for the firm.  With Immudine, Fang had perfected his
trade, and the case was to set the pattern for most all of the firm's
future litigation, not to mention the litigation at many other firms
(which goes to explain why there was a small firm in Washington DC
that made a very nice living preparing local lawyers for the
Mississippi state bar exam).

    "Michael,
how good to see you, come on in," beamed Senator Buchanan, striding
in to greet Michael.

    "Thanks
for seeing me, Senator."  Yes, unbelievably, the man he had roomed
with for four years at college, who had been his friend and sometimes
business associate for over thirty years, who had once thrown up on
his shoes, insisted that Mike call him "Senator."  Shithead.

    "Mike,
did you see my press conference laying into the credit card companies
the other day?  I was brilliant," he said, once again ignoring
Fang's repeated entreaties not to call him "Mike."  Not waiting
for an answer, the Senator continued, "it looks like a good issue
to keep riding into November."

    "Glad to
hear it, Senator."  Which, in fact, he was.  His class action suit
against the credit card companies would be coming before a jury right
around October, and a frenzy of negative publicity could only help.
Which is why Fang had fed the Senator all his press conference
materials in the first place.

    "Actually,
the reason I wanted to see you is that we've got something new we'd
like your help on."

    "Oh,
really," the Senator chuckled.  "My, aren't we busy?  I thought
you were already suing most of the Fortune 500.  Who's left?"

    "BMOC."

    "Never
heard of it.  Chemical company?"

    "No,
it's actually a startup, run out of Los Angeles."

    "A
startup?  Michael, that's so unlike you.  Where's the money in
that?  I can't believe there is enough on a startup's books to
pay the fuel bill for your Gulfstream V to go out and meet the
plaintiffs."

    "Well,
that may be true, but it's run by Preston Marsh."

    "Ah,
things start to become clearer.  Our old friend Preston Marsh.
Haven't you already taken enough money from that poor boy?  Why are
you still after his hide?  And come to think of it, how are you going
to get money from him anyway?  Surely he's smart enough to put up a
tight corporate wall to protect his own assets, especially after you
took your last clip at him."

    "I've
got nothing against Preston Marsh," a statement that nobody in the
Western Hemisphere believed, much less the two men in this room.
"This one is sort of a freebie, a bit of pro bono work for our old
friend Gladstone.  You see, Gladstone is concerned"¦"

    "Whoa,
Mike.  I don't really care.  You and Robert both know that I'll
help, like I always have.  Besides, it doesn't have to make you
money to still help me.  Now, tell me, what does this "˜BMOC' do?"

    continued here...

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Buy an inexpensive pdf of BMOC

  • Bill

    Thanks Warren! I purchased the download and lost most of today reading the tale. Much good fun! Hiaasen would be proud.
    (please note that this favorable comment should not raise suspicions that I am on Mr. Meyer's payroll. I got in trouble with him a year or so ago for saying nice things about Disney.)
    Bill H.

  • http://www.going1nce.com Sally

    Just finished the book - HOW FUN!!! And proud to be the first to review it on Amazon. Thanks for sending it to my guy, Kyle, who'll read it soon and provide his own review (much more eloquent than my own!).