Small Town Boys - Chapter 22
Chapter 2, Part 1
Chapter 2, Part 2
Chapter 2, Part 3
The Pitch – 1992
Bart Blumberg’s office was in a steel and glass building near Century City, not far, according to Bryce, from Ronald Reagan’s office. Eric and Donny waited for Greg and their father in the lobby fifteen minutes before the scheduled meeting. It was Wednesday, October 7. At first Donny didn’t think he would be a part of it, but Eric told him that the more people that came along, the better their pitch would be. “Besides,” Eric said, “you got us into this.”
“I just talked to the guy.”
“Well, consider yourself a good luck charm then.”
Donny borrowed a jacket and tie from Eric and decided that he would just sit there and nod if anyone looked at him. He’d helped write the prospectus, and taking Eric’s advice, had pretty much followed the track of a couple of computer company annual reports that he found lying around. Cathy had supplied all the financial data, and Allen McKay, the twins’ father, had come down to the office for an afternoon. He looked like a forty-five year-old version of his sons with the same features; a sharp jaw line, bright blue eyes, lanky frame, and thick blond hair that was going slightly grey at the temples. He vetted the legal information and had his secretary type it up. The final result looked to Donny like a term paper for an AP math class, full of charts and graphs, but Allen said it looked good enough and it answered most of the basic questions that investors looked for in a start-up.
Donny thumbed through his copy as he waited. Eric and Greg had drafted biographies for themselves and Donny learned a few things about his employers. Both of them had graduated with honors from high school and college; Greg with a degree in business with a minor in philosophy, and Eric in computer science and a minor in theatre.
Eric was standing by the revolving door, apparently fascinated by a ficus tree in the alcove. After a moment and another impatient glance out at the parking lot he came over and sat next to Donny on one of the dark wood benches by the elevators.
“Theatre?” Donny said.
Donny pointed at the bio. Eric nodded and grinned a little. “Yeah, it was yang to the comp sci ying. Plus,” he added with a shrug, “chances of meeting a guy were better in the theatre classes.”
“You do any shows?”
Eric looked slightly embarrassed. “I played one of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Donny suppressed a laugh. “Really.”
“Yeah. ‘Peaseblossom.’ The director did it as a period show from the ‘Summer of Love’ and the fairies – all guys – wore Speedos, body paint, and hippie headbands. It was fun.”
“I’ll bet, ‘Airy-Fairy.’” Donny grinned at the vision of Eric prancing around the stage to 1960’s rock music in a Speedo.
Eric gave him a mock glare. “I’ll have you know I looked pretty damn good in it.”
“I’m sure you did. Got any pictures? We should put them in the prospectus.”
Eric was about to reply when he spotted his father and Greg approaching. They went up in the elevator and down the hall to the door with Mr. Blumberg’s name on it. “Here we go,” said Greg under his breath. It was the first thing he’d said since he’d arrived.
The reception area looked the entrance to a downtown law firm. Greg gave the woman at the front desk his name. She nodded and said, “Follow me, please.” They were shown into a pristine conference room with a large oak table and leather chairs around it. The assistant, a perfectly dressed black woman, offered them coffee or bottled water and said Mr. Blumberg would be in shortly. They stood, not wanting to sit until Bart showed up. Eric examined some of the prints on the wall; they were posters of impressionist exhibits from museums around the world. “Nice place,” Donny whispered to Eric, who nodded in return.
“Gentlemen,” said Bart as he came into the room and closed the door behind him. “Please be seated.” He took the chair at the end and Allen sat at his left and Greg at his right. Eric sat next to his father, and Donny slid into the chair next to Greg. After a few pleasantries, Allen handed Bart a copy of the prospectus and launched into a monologue of legal jargon that left Donny far behind. Bart nodded and took some notes on his legal pad with a gold Cross pen, then opened the prospectus and began asking questions that Allen answered with an occasional footnote from Greg. Eric sat silently but followed along as if he understood, nodding, it seemed, at all the right times.
Donny took his cue from Eric and when he nodded, so did he, but after a while his attention began to drift. He found himself staring at Eric. He’d let his hair grow a little longer over the summer and in spite of the hours spent in the office he’d picked up a healthy tan. His face had the same square jaw of his father, and his eyes were bright. He smiled easily; in fact, Donny couldn’t remember a time when he’d seen him frown for more than a moment, and usually it was when he was concentrating. Even when he was deep in his work, his expression was one of carefree casualness, with that little grin of his that showed his front teeth.
Donny noticed that even in this formal occasion, Eric was relaxed. He didn’t slouch in the chair, but he sat almost at an angle, leaning on the arm of the chair, his expression open, the little grin, the glint of teeth. His shoulders, wide and strong (he was rapidly catching up to Donny at the gym), were squared back. His hands were on the table, fingers almost touching, moving only a little when he spoke.
Donny’s mind wandered back to the thought he’d had in the lobby of Eric performing in the play. He tried to imagine what he must have looked like, and found himself thinking about the times he’d actually paid attention to Eric’s body. Of course he’d noticed it when they first met: gay men always size up other men when they first meet; it’s part of the drill. There had been any number of times when they’d shared the bathroom in the morning as they got ready for work. Eric was not especially shy about covering his body when he went to take a shower, and Donny had sized him up then as well – and he was sure Eric did the same to him. He had a nearly hairless body and good muscle definition, especially in his chest and legs, which Donny attributed to the bike riding that Eric had done in college. Donny imagined that Eric must have looked pretty good in a Speedo. Without really noticing at first, Donny began to wonder what it would be like to touch Eric, to hold him, hug him, feel his body next to his. The impromptu kiss when he’d solved the programming problem came back to him, and he remembered what it felt like to kiss him even for a second. It had been warm, hard, and tasted good.
Donny became aware that his cock was getting stiff. It couldn’t be, he thought; I’m sitting here in one of the most important meetings of the company’s career, and I’m getting a hard-on thinking about my boss. He looked away, over to Bart, then to Allen, trying to take his mind off it. The warmth in his cock kept growing, and after a moment it became uncomfortable. He shifted in his chair, and it pressed against his thigh. He was grateful that he was sitting at a table, close enough to it that no one could see what was going on. Without meaning to, he looked at Eric again and felt another tingle. Eric caught the glance and returned it with a quick grin before devoting his attention to what Bart was saying. Donny decided that if anything would quell this sudden impulse, it would be looking at a middle-aged guy in a business suit discussing the finer points of establishing a Subchapter S corporation. Mercifully, it worked, and in a few minutes, Donny’s cock returned to normal. To be sure he wasn’t distracted again he shifted in his chair so that Eric was out of his direct line of sight.
The discussion went on for another half-hour, and Donny was able to follow it once they left the legal territory and starting talking about what they saw as the future for the company. The internet and web development were the coming thing, they said, and there would be countless applications needed to handle the growth. They talked of getting out of the hardware supply business and expanding the software engineering, of hiring new people to accomplish their goals, and even buying their own building; the rented space was getting cramped, and if they really wanted to get a handle on the business, they’d have to have their own production facilities.
“It all sounds very impressive, and it sounds like you boys have done your homework,” Bart said after Greg quoted him the going prices per square foot of warehouse space in five different office parks in the Culver City area. “I’m sure Mr. McGruder will be pleased with the information you’ve supplied me, and I think I can recommend to him that we continue this discussion further.” He nodded, indicating the meeting was over, and they all stood up. Bart shook hands all around, and escorted them out to the reception area. “I will be in touch with you within a week.”
No one said anything as they waited for the elevator, and the silence continued on the ride down. It wasn’t until they were out in the parking lot that Eric began to giggle, and in a second they were all whooping and laughing.
“Well, guys,” said Greg, “I think we sold him on us.”
“I think you did,” said his father. “Now comes the tough part: living up to it.”
“Am I stupid or did anyone notice that at no time did he mention how much he was planning on investing?” asked Eric.
Greg chuckled. “I’m not going to hit the first question out of the park, but on number two, you’re right, he didn’t. This was just a butt-sniffing.”
“Thanks for that image.”
“The next time – if there is one – will be where he comes back with an offer.”
“We look it over, we go back and forth, and then we either have a deal or we don’t,” said Allen. “We’ll see.” He got in his car. “See you later.”
They rode back to the office in Eric’s station wagon, the euphoria fading as the realization set in that someone important was not only taking their work seriously, but was willing to put money on it. “Jesus,” Greg muttered at a stoplight.
“What?” said Donny.
“We’re in for it now.”
When they arrived at the office, it was like a different place. Phones were ringing, Bryce was pacing around the office with his cordless phone stuck on his shoulder, and Irene was waving a stack of messages at all three of them. Bryce tossed a folded section of newspaper at Greg. “Front of the business section. Not above the fold but you take what you can get.”
They huddled around and read the article from the Los Angeles Times by the tech writer that had interviewed Eric and Greg the week before. There were the usual puns about twins and redoubling efforts to make a better product, but all in all it was a good piece and Bryce said he’d been getting calls all morning. Right now he was on the phone to the production company, asking them if they could deliver another hundred copies by the end of the business tomorrow.
“A hundred?” breathed Eric.
Bryce nodded furiously, then covered the mouthpiece of the phone. “There’s a start-up computer company in the valley that wants to load it on their systems as they come out of the shop. They have twenty systems waiting to go out and orders for a bunch more. They’re selling mainly to small businesses like contractors and medical offices and they’ve been looking for something like Pelican.” He turned back to the phone. “You can? Perfecto. Okay, we’ll be ready.” He punched the off-button. “Done. All we need to do is pick them up and deliver them to the guys in the valley.”
Greg held up his hand. “Hold it. Slow down.” He looked around at the office as if he was trying to get his bearings. A phone in the sales office was ringing, and for some reason Ethan, in his playpen in the outer office, had decided that now was the time to start banging on his Playskool tool bench. “Bryce. Eric. My office.”
The first message for Donny was from Mike. He was at home.
“Hey, where you been?” Mike sounded sleepy, his voice a little raspy.
“Oh.... We had a meeting. How are you?”
“Good. Tired. Big bash last night with the producers and another one tonight. So, you gonna watch it, even though you’ve already seen it?”
Donny had to think for a second, then it clicked. Tonight was the premiere of Capitol Hill. “Yeah, ‘course.”
“I saw the final cut. They fixed it up a little; made it tighter.”
“So. I’ll be at the whoop-de-do tonight, but I’ll call you when it’s over.”
“Yeah, you too.”
Donny was about to hang up but Mike wasn’t done. “Hey, I meant what I said about getting away for a while. Like over Thanksgiving weekend or something. I get some time off. Where’d you wanna go?”
“Uh... I dunno....” Donny stammered. He remembered something about promising someone something about Thanksgiving weekend, but couldn’t remember what it was.
“Got a passport?”
“Well, that narrows our chances. But we’ll think of something, okay?”
“Sure. Great. Good luck tonight.”
“You mean break a leg.”
“Yeah, break a leg.”
Donny hung up, returned the other calls, and buried himself in whatever he could find to do to take his mind off anything to do with outside things such as Eric, Eric in a Speedo, Mike, Mike and Capitol Hill, Thanksgiving, going away, and once again Eric. It didn’t help that Eric stuck his head in and whispered “Good job this morning. We’re a hell of a team.” Donny hardly looked up, muttered, “No problem,” and went back to work.
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