Monday, November 21, 2005

Small Town Boys - Chapter 22

Chapter 1
Chapter 2, Part 1
Chapter 2, Part 2
Chapter 2, Part 3
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

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?”

“A couple.”

“Like what?”

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.”

“Then what?”

“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.”


“Love you.”

“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?”

“Uh, no.”

“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.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Small Town Boys - Chapter 21

Chapter 1
Chapter 2, Part 1
Chapter 2, Part 2
Chapter 2, Part 3
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

Bart Blumberg – 1992

“Bart Blumberg called,” said Eric when Donny got home. It was after eleven. He’d followed Mike back to his house.

Donny gave him a puzzled look. “Who?”

Eric was sitting in the living room watching the late news. It was his first night home before midnight, but he was still too wound up to go to sleep. “Bart Blumberg. He called right after you left.”

“Never heard of him.” Donny went into his room and peeled off his shirt. He was still a little sweaty even after his quick shower at Mike’s. He pulled on some sweats, went to the kitchen for a glass of ice water, and sat on the couch.

Eric glanced at him and grinned. “So how’s Mike?”


“Guess so.” He pointed to a spot on Donny’s neck. “That’s not a spider-bite, is it?”

“Oh shit.”

“Don’t worry. Wear a turtleneck and no one will notice.”

Donny smirked. “No one wears turtlenecks anymore. They went out with Starsky & Hutch. So what does this Bloomstein guy want?”

“Blumberg. Hell if I know. He asked for you. Said you’d know what it was about and he’d call again in the morning.”

Bart Blumberg turned out to be the phone number without a name from the day before. He called at nine and asked Donny if he could get an appointment to see him at his earliest convenience. Donny told him that he didn’t need an appointment and gave him directions to the office. He said he’d be there around two.

He showed up right on time. He was a rather plump man in his mid forties with a mop of curly hair, but he was impeccably dressed right down to his shiny black oxfords and pocket handkerchief. Donny was in a plain polo shirt and somewhat wrinkled Dockers, but if Mr. Blumberg thought Donny was too casual, he didn’t give any indication. He bounced to his feet in the reception area when Donny came up the hall, and took his hand in a firm grip.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Hollenbeck.”

“Donny, please.”

“All right, Donny. Thank you for taking the time to see me.”

“Sure.” Donny suspected that Bart Blumberg was a salesman of some sort; probably microchips or wiring harnesses, and he suspected that he had gotten his name by snooping over the shoulder of one of his vendors and seeing his name on the P.O. This had happened a couple of times before, and he was able to get out of these meetings by politely informing them that he was just the purchasing manager and that he didn’t make any of the vendor decisions. He’d be glad, though, to take a catalogue and definitely keep them in mind the next time they were in the market for whatever it was that they sold. Unless the guy was persistent, Donny was able to get them out of the office without even having to sit down with them. “What can I do for you, Mr. Blumberg?”

“Bart, please. Can we talk in your office?”

“Um…sure,” Donny replied, not trying to sound too hesitant. He led him back to his cubicle, tossed a couple of empty cardboard box from the cable company out of the one guest chair, and beckoned to it. Bart sat and looked around. Donny’s area was not normally a mess, and it was spotless compared to Eric’s office, but the intensity of the last two weeks had taken its toll. Piles of printouts and test pages were stacked on the floor and the corner of the desk, and Donny’s in-basket had a collection of a week’s worth of invoices awaiting approval. Donny grinned apologetically. “It’s been kinda zooey around here the last couple of days. We just launched a software program and things are a little disorganized.”

“Perfectly understandable.”

“Thanks. So, Bart, what can I do for you?” Donny looked at him expectantly and braced himself for a sales pitch. But Bart reached in his jacket pocket, pulled out a business card, put in on the desk in front of Donny, and smiled. Donny picked up the card. It was his; one that Greg had run off, and the only one that Donny had given out: to Jim McGruder at the party at Paul Jeffries’ house.

“How did you...” Donny started to say, but Bart held up his hand, pulled out another card and put it next to the first one. This one was cream-colored on expensive card stock and engraved with only Barton R. Blumberg – Personal Representative and a phone number.

“My client is interested in learning more about your company,” Bart said softly.

Donny stared at the card for a moment. “Um…it’s not really my company. I just work here. Eric and Greg are the owners.”

“Are they available?” Bart asked, his voice still low.

“Let me check. Excuse me.” Donny got up from his desk and went to Greg’s office. He was on the phone but glanced up at Donny. Donny raised his eyebrows, and Greg finished the call.

“What’s up?”

“James McGruder’s personal representative is in my office. He says his client is interested in learning more about our company.”

“James McGruder? As in James McGruder, the actor?”


“Jesus Christ. Where’s Eric?”

“I don’t know.”

Greg grabbed his phone and beeped Eric’s extension. “Get in here.” He put the phone down, let out a low “whoo,” and smirked at Donny. “Bring him in.”

Donny went back to his office and brought Bart back. In the meantime Eric had appeared. Bart shook the twins’ hands and Greg offered him a chair. Donny, without being told, backed out of the room and closed the door. He went back to his desk and for the next half-hour or so tried to concentrate on matching packing slips with invoices. When he was done he took the stack back to Cathy’s office, passing Greg’s on the way. The door was still closed. He dropped the paperwork in Cathy’s in-basket, chatted with her for a few minutes, saying nothing about the visitor, then went back to his desk and tried to concentrate on work. The problem was that with Pelican launched and his invoices in Cathy’s office, there wasn’t much to do, so he started cleaning up, throwing out, and generally putting his cubicle back in order.

Several geological ages later the door to Greg’s office swung open and Greg escorted Bart past Donny’s area and out to the front, Bart quickly nodding at Donny as he passed by. Donny heard Greg say, “It was really nice to meet you. We’ll be in touch.” Bart said something that Donny couldn’t hear, and Greg said, “I’ll tell him.” The door opened and closed and footsteps went down the stairs. Greg came back and stood in Donny’s door. “Would you please step into my office,” he said with mock seriousness. Donny followed him.

Eric closed the door. “You big lug,” he said.


“Why didn’t you tell us that you met James McGruder at the swanky Hollywood party you went to?”

“Didn’t think it was important.” Donny almost said that he had other things on his mind.

Greg said, “Well, just so you know – and don’t get a swelled head or anything else over this – but James McGruder was very impressed with you and he’s spent the time since then finding out about us. He’s considering investing in the company.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah,” said Eric. “I think I said something along those lines, too.”

“Well, now that we’ve got that out of the way,” said Greg, “we need to come up with some kind of presentation – a prospectus of some sort – so that we can show him we’re not just some fly-by-night bunch of kids with no plans for the future.”

“You mean we’re not?” said Eric.

“Not any more. We need to pull together all our financials, we need to get some kind of business plan written, and we need to show that we’re worth attracting investors who don’t love us just because we’re family. We gotta do it quick, too; I got the feeling Mr. Blumberg wants an answer in the next day or two.”

“Cathy can do all the financial stuff. She’s got it all from when we applied for the line,” Eric replied.

“Yeah, and we’ll need the lawyer.”

“What for?” asked Donny.

“To make sure we’ve got all the bases covered. Review all the documents, make sure our incorporation papers are still up to snuff, what the IRS is gonna want, all that shit, and pull it together.”

“You know anyone who can do that?” Donny asked.

Greg picked up the phone and punched in some numbers. “Yeah. Same guy who helped us set up the company.” He waited a few seconds, then said, “Yeah, hi, Holly, is he in? Thanks.” He tapped the desk idly while the call went through; picked up a pen and examined it, and then put his hand over the receiver and muttered, “Probably in the can.”

Eric poked Donny in the ribs. “You spent the evening with James McGruder and all you talked about was business?”

“He started it. He asked me what I did for a living, and I told him.”

“Did he hit on you?”

“No. He knew I was there with Mike.”

Eric shook his head. “Uh-mazing.”

Greg said into the phone, “Hi.... Not a problem. Listen, we have something we need your advice on. No, not that.” Greg listened and rolled his eyes. “No, we’re all set on that, too. Well, we have a potential investor.... Yeah, I know. Okay. Okay. Yeah, we’ll do that. Okay, see you tonight.” Greg hung up. “Okay, we’re gonna talk about it over dinner tonight, so let’s pull all the financials and the rest of that shit now. Let’s go see Cathy.”

“That was pretty quick,” said Donny, “being able to get a lawyer that fast.”

“It’s easy when it’s your dad,” said Eric.

“True. So, what can I do?”

Greg and Eric exchanged glances. “Well,” said Eric, “you got us into this, so it’s only fair that you help write the damn thing.”

“I don’t know much about business writing.”

“Neither do I, but you can write, and that puts you up on both of us. Don’t worry; I found an annual report from Apple in my office the other day. We’ll just steal from that and change the numbers.”

Donny went back to his desk. Eric followed him. “Don’t say anything to anyone about this. Not until we’re sure something’s going to happen. I don’t want everyone to get their hopes up.” Eric hesitated for a moment. “And that includes Mike.”


“Insider trading and stuff. You get the idea.”

“Got it.”

Eric patted Donny on the shoulder. “Damn, may have just made this place into something real.” Donny didn’t know what to say, so he just blushed and went back to cleaning up his office.