Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Follow-up to Getting It?

A few years ago, I was thinking of writing a sequel to my novel, Getting It.  It would take place close to 30 years later (2010 or so, whereas Getting It is set in 1983), the only holdover character would be anti-hero Bill Doberman, and it most definitely would not follow the standard sequel formula of trying to do the same thing all over again.

After spending a short time on it one summer, I decided that I didn't have either the time or quite enough of an itch to do it. On the other hand, I think I did have a decent preliminary plan, albeit still only at a very general level.

While re-starting it seems as remote as ever (if not more so), here is the first part of the opening scene that I wrote in summer 2012:

Into the spartan, New-Agey corner law office of the aging but perennially hard-charging Bill Doberman, flunkies were wheeling a large video screen.  Doberman was awaiting a Skype call, regarding what he hoped would be a lucrative case from a prime new client.  Big billings would mean plenty of fresh meat for Doberman, although just carcass pickings for the rest of the partnership.  Tough luck for them, of course – but you negotiate your own bed, and then you must lie in it.

The call would be from Tom Thevis at Orkin, Miro, & Guelph, the big accounting firm, and would involve a confidential arbitration proceeding for consumer fraud.  Thevis wanted Doberman to take it over, apparently in midstream, perhaps because Doberman had recently won two similar cases for a different accounting firm while still in Washington.

The backstory was well-known.  OMG, like so many other accounting and law firms, had jumped off the deep end during the Enron era, including by selling tax shelters to well-heeled customers who ended up getting hammered by the IRS and were now quite unhappy about it.  Several OMG folk had gone to jail for tax fraud, and the firm reportedly had come close to being shut down like Arthur Andersen.  But now Phase 2, the customer lawsuits, was under way, and Thevis no doubt wanted to play hardball, as you always should when your hand is weak.

Doberman liked the atmosphere at accounting firms, which was one reason why he had never joined one.  Too many sharks spoil the broth.  Accounting firms were so much more entrepreneurial than law firms that Doberman felt a natural affinity with them.  But the problem was, as Arthur Andersen’s fate helped to show, you might have to worry too much about what was going on down the hall.  Law firms were stodgy, but if you were good at free agency you could nonetheless do quite well.  So here was Doberman, the consummate free agent, and now a newly minted New Yorker starting his second month at Bell, Ranger, and Bell, his fourth law firm – one step ahead of his currently unfolding plans to divorce his third wife.

He was just about to turn his mind back to the game plan for the Skype call when his secretary buzzed him on the intercom.  “There’s a young woman here to see you without an appointment.  She won’t tell me her name, but she says you’ll definitely want to see her.”


“Yes, she says now.”

“Janet, tell her I’m busy – I’m getting a call.  And besides, she really shouldn’t be coming to see me here.”

There was a moment’s pause, and Doberman thought that perhaps he’d better make sure who it was.

“This person, does she look about 25?  Long blond hair that’s pretty straight?”



“Yes, that’s her.”

“Tell her I’m busy, and I really can’t see her in the office.  She shouldn’t come here.  Wait a second, don’t say that.  If she wants a place to wait, tell her about the Starbucks in the lobby.  Say I might be able to come down.  But if I can’t, I’ll call her on her cellphone when I’m done.”

“Will do, but she doesn’t look happy.”

Doberman hung up.

Someone knocked on his door.  Before he could answer, Karen Soloveitchik pushed it open and showed her face, looking severe as always.  She hesitated for just a second before entering.  In her wake was a very junior associate who looked, well, awkward, and his hair was tangled.  Okay, Karen was allowed to barge in, but why bring a kid?

“Karen, I’m about to get a Skype call, but stay.  Don’t say anything; I’ll fill you in afterwards.  And who are you?”

He couldn’t have actually said Tim Mumbles, could he?  Although he did mumble.

“Come again?’

“Tim Mungle.”

“Great. Remember, total silence, and stay on the sofa, over to the side.”'

Just then a tone from Doberman’s computer screen announced that a Skype call was incoming.  With a click, he transferred it to the big video screen.  A large-jowled face appeared.

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