Well, last week Joe found the right stadium seat and ventured back to the past to change the course of his business. This week, we will find out if he succeeded. The story is building, but it’s not over yet. I hope you enjoy this week’s installment of extra innings.
If you want to catch up on the previous installments of this serial, you can click on these links:
The representatives from F, O and M were sitting in the conference room munching on bagels and drinking Starbucks coffee. They had sent their attorney and two of their more junior executives. One of the F, O and M executives made the introduction.
“I’m Jimmy McInerny. I’m VP of Development. This is Tom Fitzsimmons and our attorney, Jeff Martin.”
McInerny, Joe thought. Nepotism. McInerny was the ‘M’ in F, O and M.
“Our attorney seems to be running late,” Mike said. “Let’s give him a few minutes.”
They all agreed and strained small talk ensued. Suddenly, Joe’s cell phone vibrated. It was the missing attorney, Tim Clayborn. Joe excused himself from the conference room.
“Joe, it’s Tim. I’m running late.”
“Yeah, Tim. We can see that. Everyone is here.”
“I’ll be there in about 10 minutes. I had a deposition early this morning that ran late. My apologies.”
“No problem. I think it will be a short meeting. You might just want to skip it.”
“Skip it? Short Meeting? What the hell are you talking about.”
“I just don’t think this merger is in our best interest. I think we’re going to decline.”
“Decline? Joe, are you nuts. This could make you a rich man. Don’t do anything rash. Wait until I get there.”
“No that’s okay, Tim. I’m not sure you have our best interest in mind, anyway.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I think there might be a conflict of interest where your concerned.”
“Joe, I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I don’t want to get into this now, Tim, but I think your association with the Provenzas makes this merger risky for us.”
There was a palpable silence on the line. For a few seconds, Joe thought Clayborn had hung up.
“My relationship with other clients is really none of your business, Joe.”
“So, you’re admitting that you’re in with the Provenzas?”
“I’m not admitting anything. I don’t want to have this conversation. If you want to trash this merger, it’s against my advice and I’m not sure I can be an attorney for someone who won’t take my advice.”
“Well, we agree on that point, Tim.”
“Fine,” was Clayborn’s response as he disconnected the call.
Joe took a deep breath and walked back into the conference room.
“Sorry about that,” Joe said as he took a seat at the head of the table.
He took a sip of coffee and then said what he needed to say to put things right.
“Mr. McInerny, Mr. Fitzsimmons, Mr. Martin. I wanted to start off by thanking you for coming in today. I’m sure that this is a great opportunity that you’ve brought with you today.”
Joe glanced at Mike, who nodded his head slightly.
“Based on what just transpired, I don’t believe that we’re interested at this time.”
“Based on what transpired? But, Mr. Clayborn assured us that you were interested,” McInerny said.
Joe felt the anger rise in him.
“Clayborn? He’s been in contact with you on this?” Joe asked.
“Of course,” Martin chimed in. “He contacted my client saying that you had interest in a merger. He assisted with the initial due diligence.”
Joe shook his head with disgusted amusement.
“I apologize. Mr. Clayborn acted without authority. He reached out to you on his own.”
“Why would he do that, Mr. McLean?” Fitzsimmons asked.
“I have my own theory on that,” Joe answered. “I’ll keep it to myself for now.”
“Will you at least listen to the proposed terms?” McInerny asked.
“Oh, I know the terms,” Joe said, regretting the statement as soon as it left his mouth. He couldn’t possibly know unless, of course, he had seen the future.
“How could you possibly know? I just finalized the draft at a very high level,” Martin interjected.
“I meant that I’m familiar with what the terms might include,” Joe said, trying to cover his error. “This firm is just hitting its stride. I don’t want to constrain us.”
“I respect your feelings on this, Mr. McLean,” McInerny said. “Opportunities like this don’t come along often, if ever. This is a chance for your firm to grow beyond your wildest dreams, not constrain it.”
“Grow under whose leadership? Mine, or someone from your firm managing and policing us?”
“We would have a managing partner, but you would still be making day to day decisions and contributing to strategic direction.”
Joe knew that he had to end this meeting. He still needed to get to his father and he was on the verge of falling asleep.
“Listen. This just isn’t the right time. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding and for your wasted trip.”
Joe then stood up, the universal signal in business that a meeting is over. He shook hands all around and went back to his office. He was really tired and sipped coffee as he sat behind his desk contemplating his next move.
“I’m impressed,” came the voice of his brother from the door. “What the hell happened with Clayborn?”
Joe brought his brother up to speed, but added his suspicion that the Provenzas were behind the deal and wanted control of the firm.
“You really think that was happening? That seems like a big leap.”
“I really do, Mike. They have resentment for what we’ve built.”
“I trust your instincts. I’m perfectly content with where we are.”
Joe smiled. His brother always knew what to say.
“Thanks Mike. I appreciate the support.”
Joe stood up and walked toward his brother.
“Are you heading out?”
“Yeah. I wanted to get over to see mom and dad. I still like bouncing things that are happening with the business off the old man. It makes me feel better.”
“Sure,” Mike said.
Joe gave his brother a quick hug and made his way out of the office.
“Hey Joey,” Mike called after him. “Get some rest. You look like you haven’t slept.”
Joe turned and smiled.
“I will, Mike.”
Joe went out to his car. He sat in the driver’s seat. The tension building up to the morning was now gone and he felt the exhaustion creep in. He sunk into the leather and started the car. He put his head back for a few seconds and closed his eyes. Just a short breather before heading off to his parents’ house. Before he realized it was happening, he drifted off to sleep.
Joe shook himself awake hoping to still be in the car. He was not. In fact, he didn’t know where he was. It was dark. He felt claustrophobic and was surrounded by the smell of cardboard and wood. It took him a minute to realize that he was back in the storage unit. He had fallen asleep and had returned to his current (previous?) timeline. He wasn’t sure anymore. This wasn’t like Back to the Future where Marty McFly kept seeing himself in the other timelines. Joe was Joe no matter where he was and the effects of changing the timeline seemed to be cumulative.
He got up from the stadium seat and found his way to the door. He pulled on the handle to raise it up and it wouldn’t budge. It was apparently locked from the outside. He felt in his pocket for his cell phone and realized he had left it in the BMW. He was trapped in the storage unit with no immediate way to get out. A glance at his watch told him it was 11:30 P.M. The friendly proprietor, Kenny, was likely asleep in front of the T.V. until morning. Joe wouldn’t know the outcome of his trip to the past until he got out. He already knew he had killed the merger, but he never made it to his dad. Hopefully it wasn’t too late. He uncovered the sofa that was in the unit and made a makeshift place to spend the night. He had a hard time falling asleep as he wondered what the morning would bring, but eventually his fatigue caused his brain to surrender.