Maltese Cat is back with ESCHEATMENT Chapter 9 and 10.
Book 1 in the Maltese Cat Book Series entitled Escheatment continues with Chapter 9 and Chapter 10. Read Chapters 1 & 2 here, Chapters 3 & 4, and Chapters 5 & 6, Chapters 7 & 8.
ESCHEATMENT Chapter 9 & 10
IPO Idea with the Zapp Kids
The kids were laughing when the Cat walked up to them, after letting himself into the office.
“So, what’s so important that I have to sacrifice my Sunday for a special meeting?”
Tommy replied, “Remember we were talking about an IPO for our company?”
Tommy was speaking about having an injection of capital into the company from outside investors.
“Yes. I recall that I suggested it might not be a good idea.”
“Well, we just got two new clients. One wants us to develop a proprietary app for their company. The other wants to market a new idea, which will take money. Either way, we would be dipping into our own personal funds if we accept both offers. And both offers appear good.”
“How much are you hoping to raise?”
“Not, much. Dieu calculated we could float 10,000 shares and bring in maybe two to three million dollars. That would cover us and 10,000 shares won’t dilute our holdings much.”
“Are you all in agreement?”
The group all nodded their approval.
The Cat got up to go. “Then I seem to be otiose here.”
The Cat always used complicated words with the Kids. It started in the first year when they met. The young children had their own, sophisticated vocabulary, far beyond their years. They constantly tried to use new and exotic words. Sometimes the Cat would have to correct them and advise them on the exact denotation of the selected words, but that had only lasted less than a year. The Kids were conscientious of their choice of words and did their research before unloading them on the Cat. It became quite a challenge over the years for the Cat, but it was very educational. This time, the Cat meant simply that he was unnecessary since the Kids had already made their decision without him.
“No. It was important that you take part in this, also. After all, you are the major stockholder.”
When Zapp, Inc was incorporated the kids decided that the Cat should receive a 25% share, out of respect and gratitude, while the remaining 75% was divided evenly among the six permanent members.
“I’ll leave it all up to you, then.”
“Can you talk to Tessa?”
Tessa Broderick was Jimmy Donnegan’s girlfriend. She also was a stockbroker at a small brokerage house south of San Francisco.
“Certainly. What time frame do you have on this?”
“Soon, if we want to accept these two offers.”
“I’ll get on it right away. Now, go home. Get a life!”
Tommy smiled and said, “This is our life!”
Polo Restaurant in San Francisco
The restaurant was one of the Maltese Cat’s pet projects. Perhaps only second to Zapp, Inc., he was proud of the place. He always thought that a restaurant with good food and a polo atmosphere would be a sure winner. Good food in San Francisco was never lacking. The city as a whole was an Epicurean’s delight. But the Maltese Cat envisioned a specific ambiance – one that would revolve around his passion for polo. The Cat himself was a world-class cook; at least, that was the general consensus of those who had tasted the results of his culinary talents. He cooked only for friends and small gatherings. Over the years, many of his acquaintances had encouraged him to reveal his recipes and to even go into the gastronomy business. He had once run a catering service in Germany for a small time with a fellow American who did the cooking. The Cat had organized the business side of the venture. After settling back down in San Francisco, he decided that his own restaurant would be in order.
The restaurant was located downtown in an alley only a block from the main gate entrance to Chinatown on Grant Ave. In a cul-de-sac, it was shrouded from the incessant traffic of tourists who roamed the streets in search of a real San Franciscan restaurant. Inside, the atmosphere was dark and rich, with warm colors of brown, green and gold, and wood and leather. Large paintings hung on the walls depicting polo matches. Black and white, or sometimes sepia, photos were framed and displayed on the walls, showing famous polo players of the past. Polo mallets and balls were tastefully strewn around the walls and niches, as well as a saddle and a pair of polo boots. Polo magazines, which contained articles that the Maltese Cat occasionally had written, were on a corner table. The entire feel of the interior was one of an English country club. The food served was both French and Italian cuisine, and avoided the customary Argentine Asado grill. This was the Maltese Cat’s choice. He had the original idea for the restaurant and, after searching for a chef to run the place, entered into a partnership with Jacques. The project was a tremendous success and the two were considering expanding into a franchise chain throughout the world. The name of the restaurant, appropriately enough, was The Maltese Cat.
Now, on a dark, foggy evening, the restaurant was filled to capacity with the evening patrons, and the waiters were scurrying around the room, as well as outside, attending to the canopied tables. Cat sat in his regular corner table in the back with his friends, Jimmy, Tessa, and Tim McPhail, as well as a young platinum blonde woman named Donna Dondero, who had come along with her friend Tessa. His friends had requested a meeting especially with the Cat, so he suggested the best restaurant he knew. He often conducted his business here, but he stuck to his usual rule of first enjoying the food and drink before engaging in business conversation.
Soft music rolled over the room. It was the title theme to the film High Road To China. This was also the Maltese Cat’s choice. He preferred soundtracks, particularly from John Barry. Jacques opted more for Parisian cafe music. They compromised by including both, together with smooth jazz tunes and Italian tenor music. More than one magazine had reviewed the restaurant as “the most romantic spot in San Francisco.”
The group was imbibing their aperitifs. Tessa and Donna ordered a Sauvignon Blanc from a California winery. The label on the bottle showed Sapo Caset, an Argentine 10 goal polo player. On the back of the bottle, a small biography described the player’s career. This was an idea that that Maltese Cat had for years. He and Jacques started by slapping self-adhesive labels onto the wine bottles with the Polo Players Collection, a selection of eight prominent players. In time, wine companies found out and offered their brands. Now, the Polo Wines were found in beverage outlets, supermarkets and at polo tournaments, and brought in a sizable supplementary income to the Cat and Jacques. Jimmy was sipping his favorite: a Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey. Tim followed Jimmy’s suit. The Cat had one of his house favorites – a Dark Horse. Served in a large, 20-ounce wine goblet, it was nothing more than whole milk with a generous portion of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup mixed in. With so much chocolate content, it tasted more like creamy chocolate than that of a milk drink. A local chocolate factory near Fisherman’s Wharf had been trying to contract the restaurant to use their well-known brand of chocolate, but Jacques and Cat were still in negotiations with them. A White Horse, using white chocolate syrup, was also offered at the restaurant. Normally, the Cat might have also chosen one of his favorite single malts, a ten-year-old Laphroaig, but tonight Jimmy had warned him that they were going to discuss a very serious matter, and the Cat decided to keep his head clear.
In the restaurant, the Maltese Cat was speaking about Vishnu.
“He is an amazing fellow. Can multi-task better than anyone I know. Perhaps it has something to do with his culture. He’s Indian”
Just then the young man at the next table, who was eavesdropping, leaned over and corrected the Maltese Cat.
“The term is Native American, not Indian. You are not very politically correct.”
The Cat responded slowly and calmly.
“You were not invited into this conversation. And, no, I am apolitically correct.”
The young man was taken aback. “What does that mean?” he drawled.
“It means that I am correct. I am just apolitical about it. If that offends you, that is your problem, and don’t try to make it mine.”
The young man acted offended but kept his comments to himself for the rest of the night.
The rest turned back to their own conversation. Jimmy said, “Before I moved to Frisco, I thought it was a big, international city, what with everything I had heard about it. But it really is a small town.”
Tim protested, “You had better watch out. The Cat is a native. Natives don’t take kindly to having their city called Frisco, do they Cat?”
“That’s just foolishness that an outsider journalist named Herb Caen came up with. Caen was from Sacramento, anyhow. Frisco has always been fine with me”
The Cat continued, “But you are right, Jimmy. Eight hundred thousand is not a lot of people. For the natives, this is still like a small town. Everybody knows where everyone else is. In fact, it is so small that if you don’t know what you are doing, chances are someone else does.”
The conversation stayed cordial throughout the meal, ranging on subjects from the weather, the tourists and, of course, polo. Only Donna appeared uncomfortable.
Each member of the party chose a different entrée. Tim chose the Cioppino since he had heard that the restaurant served the best Cioppino in the city. The dish was a historical San Francisco specialty which was a sort of seafood and fish stew in a tomato wine sauce. Originally invented by Genovese fishermen in San Francisco’s North Beach district, it depended on the catch of the day, but it always contained large amounts of Dungeness crab, shellfish, and garlic. The legend of the soup went back to the practice of when a fisherman might come back from his day without a catch. He would carry around a pot, in which his fellow fishermen would contribute something from their catch. This would be his Cioppino. He, in turn, would be expected to help other fishermen on those days in which they might come back empty.
Tim was not disappointed. As he sopped up the last remnants of the sauce with his sourdough French bread, he declared that it was, without compare, the best Cioppino he had ever tasted. The Cat smiled with pride. He, himself, chose the special of the day, Osso Buco and Penne, which was his own recipe.
As dessert of chocolate whiskey mousse was consumed, Jimmy and Tessa decided not to wait any longer. They had observed Donna’s anxiety all through the meal.
Jimmy began, “Donna has a friend who needs help.”
“Of what kind?” queried the Cat.
“First of all, remember that polo player from last weekend’s games?”
“Hard to forget.”
“His name is James Van Houten.”
“From Van Houten Holdings?” The Maltese Cat knew of the company.
“Exactly. He’s Donna’s boyfriend.”
The Cat raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“There’s a group of young financial high-flyers in the City. They have been close friends since grade school. They like to call themselves The Boys Club. James is their leader.”
¨Good for them.”
“Last Friday night they gang-raped Donna’s girlfriend.”
The Cat had trained himself during his lifetime not to overreact in any situation. He held a poker face and thought about it. The man who had occupied his thoughts the week before came back into his mind. Somehow it did not surprise him that this out-of-control individual could be mixed up in such an alleged crime. The Cat recognized sinister qualities in the man right away.
After a moment, the Cat said, “Perhaps it would be best if Donna explained it,” looking directly at her.
Donna was obviously nervous in front of strangers, but after a warm touch on her hand from her friend, Tessa, she straightened up and began her account.
“Last Friday the boys decided to go out and party. Some girls I know wanted to come along and I arranged for them to join us. We all went to a club which the boys often use. It is very expensive and very exclusive. You know, the type with the bouncer at the front door. The boys use it regularly. Now I know why. They are welcome because they always spend so much money there. But that’s not all.”
“My friend, Svetlana, was in the group. Maybe she was just trying too hard to fit in. Anyway, she had a bit too much to drink. Before I knew it she was gone and so were all the boys.”
“Later, I found out that they had taken her into a back room. You know, one of those private rooms. One of the guys had put a roofie into her drink. Probably Bo. He’s always the one responsible for getting the drugs. Svetlana had a difficult time keeping her composure.”
“They all took their turns at her. She couldn’t do anything about it. She was paralyzed. In the end, they cleaned her up.”
Tessa asked, “What do you mean ‘Cleaned her up?’”
“They called it ‘sanitizing her’. They gave her a Coca-Cola douche and wiped up any evidence.”
The Cat was familiar with the hypnagogic effects of Rohypnol, known on the street as roofies. Sometimes the victim of this date rape drug was fully aware of their surroundings. Sometimes they had no memory whatsoever what had occurred.
The Cat enquired, “And you didn’t go to the police?”
Tessa said, “What good would that have done? No witnesses. No DNA. No semen. Only her word against theirs.”
“If there were no witnesses, are you sure that this happened?”
“She still remembered it all even though she couldn’t move. We took her home and tried to comfort her. Besides, they threatened her, in case she decided to tell anything.”
“This all sounds bad and I hope you will excuse me if I ask you, but do you have any evidence at all?”
Donna silently reached into her purse and extracted her iPhone. She hit a couple of buttons and then placed the phone on the table. A voice came on.
“She was begging for it. Those kinds of girls know exactly what they’re doing. They think they can find a rich guy and they will be set for life. Why shouldn’t we have done it? You know, the Hell’s Angels do the same thing when a girl wants to join the gang. They call it Pulling a Train. Every member takes his turn at her. Then she is accepted. Sveti should be grateful.”
A group of male voices laughed in the background.
Donna’s voice came on the recording.
“But you drugged her and raped her!”
The male voice answered. “And don’t you ever discuss this with anyone…ever again. Or maybe you would like the same thing to happen to you? Do you? Then shut up and get over it.”
More laughing and chortles could be heard in the background.
Donna turned the phone off, kept her eyes lowered and her voice even lower,
“That was James.”
Jimmy confirmed it. “Yeah, that’s his voice.”
Tessa was shocked. “And he’s your boyfriend?”
Donna said, “At first he was sweet and handsome and exciting. But he has changed.”
The Cat replied, “People like that don’t change. They just reveal themselves.”
Donna said no more. She just kept her eyes lowered.
Tim spoke up “What a jerk. At least she got the evidence. We should take it to the police.”
The Cat shook his head. “Wouldn’t stand up in court. Illegal recording. They would claim it wasn’t them. And they would probably have witnesses saying they were somewhere else at the time. Money buys silence.”
Tim added, “Then we could contract some fellows to beat the crap out of them.”
The Cat spoke softly, “Wouldn’t begin to make amends for something so heinous.”
He paused. “Let me think about it.”
But the Cat already had a plan in mind.
As they collected their gear and got ready to leave, the Maltese Cat nodded to the waiter for the bill. He promptly paid it in cash when it arrived, leaving a generous tip for the waiter who attended them. From the beginning, the Cat insisted on this procedure for both himself and Jacques. Early in his career as a stockbroker for Dean Witter, the Cat had a client who owned several McDonald’s restaurants. Whenever the Cat visited him, the owner always paid the bill in cash and the sale went on the books. Many other restaurateurs would simply compliment the meal. The Cat thought his client’s way made good sense; it showed his employees that he would expect the same propriety from them, and no one could ever accuse him of avoiding taxes. For the Cat, it also ensured that the deserved waiter received his warranted tip.
Outside, the Cat pulled Jimmy and Tim aside.
“Let’s get together tomorrow at noon. Tim, wear your raunchiest clothes. Don’t dress up.”
Jimmy knew what the Cat had in mind, especially at noon time.
Tim asked, “What’s going on? You need help moving stuff?”
“No, but I want to talk about tonight’s subject without the girls there.”
Tim didn’t understand, but Jimmy recognized the Cat’s typical procedure.
“I assure you that you will not be disappointed,” Jimmy said to Tim.
They all went back to Tessa and Donna.
“Let me have some time to think about this, Donna. I will come up with a solution.”
Donna looked relieved to hear the Maltese Cat’s reassurances. She had heard good things about him from her friend Tessa. Somehow, she believed this new acquaintance.
They parted in front of the restaurant.
The Cat had some thinking to do before tomorrow’s meeting.