Chapter 15


"Uh . . . Tom. I'm pretty busy these days. Can we talk about this next week?"
"That's too late."
"But the thing is, I'm pretty busy now."
"Gary, what is this?" "Tom, come on. You know what this is." "I need help, Gary." "Hey. And I'd love to help you. But I just got a call from Blackburn who told me that if I had anything to do with you, anything at all, I could expect the FBI going through my apartment at six a.m. tomorrow morning. "Christ. When was this?" "About two hours ago." Two hours ago. Blackburn was way ahead of him. "Gary . . ." "Hey. You know I always liked you, Tom. But not this time. Okay? I got to go." Click.
Frankly, none of this surprises me," Fernandez said, pushing aside a paper plate. She and Sanders had been eating sandwiches in her office. It was nine p.m., and the offices around them were dark, but her phone was still ringing, interrupting them frequently. Outside, it had begun to rain again. Thunder rumbled, and Sanders saw flashes of summer lightning through the windows.
Sitting in the deserted law offices, Sanders had the feeling that he was all alone in the world, with nobody but Fernandez and the encroaching darkness. Things were happening quickly; this person he had never met before today was fast becoming a kind of lifeline for him. He found himself hanging on every word she said.
"Before we go on, I want to emphasize one thing," Fernandez said. "You were right not to get in the car with Johnson. You are not to be alone with her ever again. Not even for a few moments. Not ever, under any circumstances. Is that clear?"
"If you do, it will destroy your case."
"I won't."
"All right," she said. "Now. I had a long talk with Blackburn. As you guessed, he's under tremendous pressure to get this matter resolved. I tried to move the mediation session to the afternoon. He implied that the company was ready to deal and wanted to get started right away. He's concerned about how long the negotiations will take. So we'll start at nine tomorrow."
"Herb and Alan have been making progress. I think they'll be able to help us tomorrow. And these articles about Johnson may be useful, too," she said, glancing at the photocopies of the ComLine pieces.
"Why? Dorfman says they're irrelevant."
"Yes, but they document her history in the company, and that gives
us leads. It's something to work on. So is this e-mail from your friend." She frowned at the sheet of printout. "This is an Internet address."
"Yes," he said, surprised that she knew.
"We do a lot of work with high-technology companies. I'll have somebody check it out." She put it aside. "Now let's review where we are. You couldn't clean out your desk because they were already there."
"And you would have cleaned out your computer files, but you've been shut out of the system."
"Which means that you can't change anything."
"That's right. I can't do anything. It's like I'm an assistant."
She said, "Were you going to change any files?"
He hesitated. "No. But I would have, you know, looked around."
"Nothing in particular you were aware of?"
"Mr. Sanders," she said, "I want to emphasize that I have no judgment here. I'm simply trying to prepare for what may happen tomorrow. I want to know what surprises they'll have for us."
He shook his head. "There isn't anything in the files that's embarrassing to me."
"You've thought it over carefully?"
"Okay," she said. "Then considering the early start, I think you better get some sleep. I want you sharp tomorrow. Will you be able to sleep?"
"Jeez, I don't know."
"Take a sleeping pill if you need to."
"I'll be okay."
"Then go home and go to bed, Mr. Sanders. I'll see you in the morning. Wear a coat and tie tomorrow. Do you have some kind of a blue coat?"
"A blazer."
"Fine. Wear a conservative tie and a white shirt. No after-shave."
"I never dress like that at the office."
"This is not the office, Mr. Sanders. That's just the point." She stood up and shook his hand. "Get some sleep. And try not to worry. I think everything is going to be fine."
"I bet you say that to all your clients."
"Yes, I do," she said. "But I'm usually right. Get some sleep, Tom. I'll see you tomorrow."
He came home to a dark, empty house. Eliza's Barbie dolls lay in an untidy heap on the kitchen counter. One of his son's bibs, streaked with green baby food, was on the counter beside the sink. He set up the coffeemaker for the morning and went upstairs. He walked past the answering machine but neglected to look at it, and failed to notice the blinking light. Upstairs, when he undressed in the bathroom, he saw that Susan had taped a note to the mirror. "Sorry about lunch. I believe you. I love you.
It was just like Susan to be angry and then to apologize. But he was glad for the note and considered calling her now. But it was nearly
midnight in Phoenix, which meant it was too late. She'd be asleep.
Anyway, as he thought about it, he realized that he didn't want to call her. As she had said at the restaurant, this had nothing to do with her. He was alone in this. He'd stay alone. Wearing just shorts, he padded into his little office. There were no faxes. He switched on his computer and waited while it came up.
The e-mail icon was blinking. He clicked it.
Sanders shut off the computer and went to bed.
In the morning, he took comfort in his routine, dressing quickly while listening to the television news, which he turned up loud, trying to fill the empty house with noise. He drove into town at 6:30, stopping at the Bainbridge Bakery to buy a pull-apart and a cup of cappuccino before going down to the ferry.
As the ferry pulled away from Winslow, he sat toward the stern, so he would not have to look at Seattle as it approached. Lost in his thoughts, he stared out the window at the gray clouds hanging low over the dark water of the bay. It looked like it would rain again today.
"Bad day, huh?" a woman said.
He looked up and saw Mary Anne Hunter, pretty and petite, standing with her hands on her hips, looking at him with concern. Mary Anne lived on Bainbridge, too. Her husband was a marine biologist at the university. She and Susan were good friends, and often jogged together. But he didn't often see Mary Anne on the ferry because she usually went in early.
"Morning, Mary Anne."
"What I can't understand is how they got it," she said.
"Got what?" Sanders said.
"You mean you haven't seen it? Jesus. You're in the papers, Tom." She handed him the newspaper under her arm.
"You're kidding."
"No. Connie Walsh strikes again."
Sanders looked at the front page, but saw nothing. He began flipping through quickly.
"It's in the Metro section," she said. "The first opinion column on the second page. Read it and weep. I'll get more coffee." She walked away.
Sanders opened the paper to the Metro section.
by Constance Walsh
The power of the patriarchy has revealed itself again, this time in a local high-tech firm I'll call Company X. This company has appointed a brillant, highly competent woman to a major executive position. But many men in the company are doing their damnedest to get rid of her.
One man in particular, let's call him Mr. Piggy, has been especially vindictive. Mr. Piggy can't tolerate a woman supervisor, and for weeks he has been running a bitter campaign of innuendo inside the company to keep it from happening. When that failed, Mr. Piggy claimed that his new boss sexually assaulted him, and nearly raped him, in her offices. The blatant hostility of this claim is matched only by its absurdity.
Some of you may wonder how a woman could rape a man. The answer is, of course, she can't. Rape is a crime of violence. It is exclusively a crime of males, who use rape with appalling frequency to keep women in their place. That is the deep truth of our society, and of all other societies before ours.
For their part, women simply do not oppress men. Women are powerless in the hands of men. And to claim that a woman committed rape is absurd. But that didn't stop Mr. Piggy, who is interested only in smearing his new supervisor. He's even bringing a formal charge of sexual harassment against her!
In short, Mr. Piggy has the nasty habits of a typical patriarch. As you might expect, they appear everywhere in his life. Although Mr. Piggy's wife is an outstanding attorney, he pressures her to give up her job and stay home with the kids. After all, Mr. Piggy doesn't want his wife out in the business world, where she might hear about his affairs with young women and his excessive drinking. He probably figures his new female supervisor wouldn't approve of that, either. Maybe she won't allow him to be late to work, as he so often is.
So Mr. Piggy has made his underhanded move, and another talented businesswoman sees her career unfairly jeopardized. Will she be able to keep the pigs in the pen at Company X? Stay tuned for updates.
"Christ," Sanders said. He read it through again.
Hunter came back with two cappuccinos in paper cups. She pushed one toward him. "Here. Looks like you need it."
"How did they get the story?" he said.
Hunter shook her head. "I don't know. It looks to me like there's a leak inside the company."
"But who?" Sanders was thinking that if the story made the paper, it must have been leaked by three or four p.m. the day before. Who in the company even knew that he was considering a harassment charge at that time?
"I can't imagine who it could be," Hunter said. "I'll ask around." "And who's Constance Walsh?"
"You never read her? She's a regular columnist at the Post Intelligence," Hunter said. "Feminist perspectives, that kind of thing." She shook her head. "How is Susan? I tried to call her this morning, and there's no answer at your house."
"Susan's gone away for a few days. With the kids."
Hunter nodded slowly. "That's probably a good idea."
"We thought so."
"She knows about this?"
"And is it true? Are you charging harassment?"
"Yes," he said, nodding.
She sat with him for a long time, not speaking. She just sat with him. Finally she said, "I've known you for a long time. I hope this turns out okay."
"Me, too."
There was another long silence. Finally, she pushed away from the table and got up.
"See you later, Tom."
"See you, Mary Anne."
He knew what she was feeling. He had felt it himself, when others in the company had been accused of harassment. There was suddenly a distance. It didn't matter how long you had known the person. It didn't matter if you were friends. Once an accusation was made, everybody pulled away. Because the truth was, you never knew what had happened. You couldn't afford to take sides-even with your friends.
He watched her walk away, a slender, compact figure in exercise clothes, carrying a leather briefcase. She was barely five feet tall. The men on the ferry were so much larger. He remembered that she had once told Susan that she took up running because of her fear of rape. "I'll just outrun them," she had said. Men didn't know anything about that. They didn't understand that fear.
But there was another kind of fear that only men felt. He looked at the newspaper column with deep and growing unease. Key words and phrases jumped out at him:
Vindictive . . . bitter . . . can't tolerate a woman . . . blatant hostility . . .
rape . . . crime of males . . . smearing his supervisor . . . affairs with young women . . . excessive drinking . . . late to work . . . unfairly jeopardized . . . pigs in the pen.
These characterizations were more than inaccurate, more than unpleasant. They were dangerous. And it was exemplified by what happened to John Masters-a story that had reverberated among many senior men in Seattle.
Masters was fifty, a marketing manager at MicroSym. A stable guy, solid citizen, married twenty-five years, two kids-the older girl in college, the younger girl a junior in high school. The younger girl starts to have trouble with school, her grades go down, so the parents send her to a child psychologist. The child psychologist listens to the daughter and then says, You know, this is the typical story of an abused child. Do you have anything like that in your past?
Gee, the girl says, I don't think so.
Think back, the psychologist says.
At first the girl resists, but the psychologist keeps at her: Think back. Try to remember. And after a while, the girl starts to recall some vague memories. Nothing specific, but now she thinks it's possible. Maybe Daddy did do something wrong, way back when.
The psychologist tells the wife what is suspected. After twenty-five years together, the wife and Masters have some anger between them. The wife goes to Masters and says, Admit what you did.
Masters is thunderstruck. He can't believe it. He denies everything. The wife says, You're lying, I don't want you around here. She makes him move out of the house.
The older daughter flies home from college. She says, What is this madness? You know Daddy didn't do anything. Come to your senses. But the wife is angry. The daughter is angry. And the process, once set in motion, can't be stopped.
The psychologist is required by state law to report any suspected abuse. She reports Masters to the state. The state is required by law to conduct an investigation. Now a social worker is talking to the daughter, the wife, and Masters. Then to the family doctor. The school nurse. Pretty soon, everybody knows.
Word of the accusation gets to MicroSym. The company suspends him from his job, pending the outcome. They say they don't want negative publicity.
Masters is seeing his life dissolve. His younger daughter won't talk to him. His wife won't talk to him. He's living alone in an apartment. He has money problems. Business associates avoid him. Everywhere he turns, he sees accusing faces. He is advised to get a lawyer. And he is so shattered, so uncertain, he starts going to a shrink himself.
His lawyer makes inquiries; disturbing details emerge. It turns out that the particular psychologist who made the accusation uncovers abuse in a high percentage of her cases. She has reported so many cases that the state agency has begun to suspect bias. But the agency can do nothing; the law requires that all cases be investigated. The social worker assigned to the case has been previously disciplined for her excessive zeal in pursuing questionable cases and is widely thought to be incompetent, but the state cannot fire her for the usual reasons.
The specific accusation-never formally presented-turns out to be that Masters molested his daughter in the summer of her third grade. Masters thinks back, has an idea. He gets his old canceled checks out of storage, digs up his old business calendars. It turns out that his daughter was at a camp in Montana that whole summer. When she came home in August, Masters was on a business trip in Germany. He did not return from Germany until after school had started again.
He had never even seen his daughter that summer.
Masters's shrink finds it significant that his daughter would locate the abuse at the one time when abuse was impossible. The shrink concludes that the daughter felt abandoned and has translated that into a memory of abuse. Masters confronts the wife and daughter. They listen to the evidence and admit that they must have the date wrong, but remain adamant that the abuse occurred.
Nevertheless, the facts about the summer schedule lead the state to drop its investigation, and MicroSym reinstates Masters. But Masters has missed a round of promotions, and a vague cloud of prejudice hangs over him. His career has been irrevocably damaged. His wife never reconciles, eventually filing for divorce. He never again sees his younger daughter. His older daughter, caught between warring family factions, sees less of him as time goes on. Masters lives alone, struggles to rebuild his life, and suffers a nearfatal heart attack. After his recovery, he sees a few friends, but now he is morose and drinks too much, a poor companion. Other men avoid him. No one has an answer to his constant question: What did I do wrong? What should I have done instead? How could I have prevented this?
Because, of course, he could not have prevented it. Not in a contemporary climate where men were assumed to be guilty of anything they were accused of.
Among themselves, men sometimes talked of suing women for false accusations. They talked of penalties for damage caused by those accusations. But that was just talk. Meanwhile, they all changed their behavior. There were new rules now, and every man knew them:
Don't smile at a child on the street, unless you're with your wife. Don't ever touch a strange child. Don't ever be alone with someone else's child, even for a moment. If a child invites you into his or her room, don't go unless another adult, preferably a woman, is also present. At a party, don't let a little girl sit on your lap. If she tries, gently push her aside. If you ever have occasion to see a naked boy or girl, look quickly away. Better yet, leave.
And it was prudent to be careful around your own children, too, because if your marriage went sour, your wife might accuse you. And then your past conduct would be reviewed in an unfavorable light: "Well, he was such an affectionate father-perhaps a little too affectionate." Or, "He spent so much time with the kids. He was always hanging around the house . . ."
This was a world of regulations and penalties entirely unknown to women. If Susan saw a child crying on the street, she picked the kid up. She did it automatically, without thinking. Sanders would never dare. Not these days.
And of course there were new rules for business, as well. Sanders knew men who would not take a business trip with a woman, who would not sit next to a female colleague on an airplane, who would not meet a woman for a drink in a bar unless someone else was also present. Sanders had always thought such caution was extreme, even paranoid. But now, he was not so sure.
The sound of the ferry horn roused Sanders from his thoughts. He looked up and saw the black pilings of the Colman Dock. The clouds were still dark, still threatening rain. He stood, belted his raincoat, and headed downstairs to his car.
0n his way to the mediation center, he stopped by his office for a few minutes to pick up background documentation on the Twinkle drive. He thought it might be necessary in the morning's work. But he was surprised to see John Conley in his office, talking with Cindy. It was 8:15 in the morning.
"Oh, Tom," Conley said. "I was just trying to arrange an appointment with you. Cindy tells me that you have a very busy schedule and may be out of the office most of the day."
Sanders looked at Cindy. Her face was tight. "Yes," he said, "at least for the morning."
"Well, I only need a few minutes."
Sanders waved him into the office. Conley went in, and Sanders closed the door.
"I'm looking forward to the briefing tomorrow for John Marden, our CEO," Conley said. "I gather you'll be speaking then."
Sanders nodded vaguely. He had heard nothing about a briefing. And tomorrow seemed very far away. He was having trouble concentrating on what Conley was saying.
"But of course we'll all be asked to take a position on some of these agenda items," Conley said. "And I'm particularly concerned about Austin."
"I mean, the sale of the Austin facility."
"I see," Sanders said. So it was true.
"As you know, Meredith Johnson has taken an early and strong position in favor of the sale," Conley said. "It was one of the first recommendations she gave us, in the early stages of shaping this deal. Marden's worried about cash flow after the acquisition; the deal's going to add debt, and he's worried about funding high-tech development. Johnson thought we could ease the debt load by selling off Austin. But
I don't feel myself competent to judge the pros and cons on this. I was wondering what your view was."
"On a sale of the Austin plant?"
"Yes. Apparently there's tentative interest from both Hitachi and Motorola. So it's quite possible that it could be liquidated quickly. I think that's what Meredith has in mind. Has she discussed it with you?"
"No," Sanders said.
"She probably has a lot of ground to cover, settling in to her new job," Conley said. He was watching Sanders carefully as he spoke. "What do you think about a sale?"
Sanders said, "I don't see a compelling reason for it."
"Apart from cash-flow issues, I think her argument is that manufacturing cellular phones has become a mature business," Conley said. "As a technology, it's gone through its exponential growth phase, and it's now approaching a commodity. The high profits are gone. From now on, there will be only incremental sales increases, against increasing severe foreign competition. So, telephones aren't likely to represent a major income source in the future. And of course there's the question of whether we should be manufacturing in the States at all. A lot of DigiCom's manufacturing is already offshore."
"That's all true," Sanders said. "But it's beside the point. First of all, cellular phones may be reaching market saturation, but the general field of wireless communications is still in its infancy. We're going to see more and more wireless office nets and wireless field links in the future. So the market is still expanding, even if telephony is not. Second, I would argue that wireless is a major part of our company's future interest, and one way to stay competitive is to continue to make products and sell them. That forces you to maintain contact with your customer base, to keep knowledgeable about their future interests. I wouldn't opt out now. If Motorola and Hitachi see a business there, why don't we? Third, I think that we have an obligationasocial obligation, if you will-to keep high-paying skilled jobs in the U.S. Other countries don't export good jobs. Why should we? Each of our offshore manufacturing decisions has been made for a specific reason, and, personally, I hope we start to move them back here. Because there are many hidden costs in offshore fabrication. But most important of all, even though we are primarily a development unit here making new products-we need manufacturing. If there's anything that the last twenty years has shown us, it's that design and manufacturing are all one process. You start splitting off the design engineers from the manufacturing guys and you'll end up with bad design. You'll end up with General Motors."
He paused. There was a brief silence. Sanders hadn't intended to speak so strongly; it just came out. But Conley just nodded thoughtfully. "So you believe selling Austin would hurt the development unit."
"No question about it. In the end, manufacturing is a discipline."
Conley shifted in his seat. "How do you think Meredith Johnson feels on these issues?"
"I don't know."
"Because you see, all this raises a related question," Conley said. "Having to do with executive judgment. To be frank, I've heard some rumblings in the division about her appointment. In terms of whether she really has a good enough grasp of the issues to run a technical division."
Sanders spread his hands. "I don't feel I can say anything."
"I'm not asking you to," Conley said. "I gather she has Garvin's support."
"Yes, she does."
"And that's fine with us. But you know what I'm driving at," Conley said. "The classic problem in acquisitions is that the acquiring company doesn't really understand what they are buying, and they kill the goose that lays the golden egg. They don't intend to; but they do. They destroy the very thing they want to acquire. I'm concerned that Conley-White not make a mistake like that."
`Just between us. If this issue comes up in the meeting tomorrow, would you take the position you just took?"
"Against Johnson?" Sanders shrugged. "That could be difficult." He was thinking that he probably wouldn't be at the meeting tomorrow. But he couldn't say that to Conley.
"Well." Conley extended his hand. "Thanks for your candor. I appreciate it." He turned to go. "One last thing. It'd be very helpful if we had a handle on the Twinkle drive problem by tomorrow."
"I know it," Sanders said. "Believe me, we're working on it."
Conley turned, and left. Cindy came in. "How are you today?"
"What do you need me to do?" "Pull the data on the Twinkle drives. I want copies of everything I took Meredith Monday night." "It's on your desk." He scooped up a stack of folders. On top was a small DAT cartridge. "What's this?" "That's your video link with Arthur from Monday." He shrugged, and dropped it in his briefcase. Cindy said, "Anything else?" "No." He glanced at his watch. "I'm late." "Good luck, Tom," she said. He thanked her and left the office.
Ariving in morning rush-hour traffic, Sanders realized that the only surprise in his encounter with Conley was how sharp the young lawyer was. As for Meredith, her behavior didn't surprise him at all. For years, Sanders had fought the B-school mentality that she exemplified. After watching these graduates come and go, Sanders had finally concluded that there was a fundamental flaw in their education. They had been trained to believe that they were equipped to manage anything. But there was no such thing as general managerial skills and tools. In the end, there were only specific problems, involving specific industries and specific workers. To apply general tools to specific problems was to fail. You needed to know the market, you needed to know the customers, you needed to know the limits of manufacturing and the limits of your own creative people. None of that was obvious. Meredith couldn't see that Don Cherry and Mark Lewyn needed a link to manufacturing. Yet time and again, Sanders had been shown a prototype and had asked the one significant question: It looks fine, but can you make it on a production line? Can you build it, reliably and quickly, for a price? Sometimes they could, and sometimes they couldn't. If you took away that question, you changed the entire organization. And not for the better.
Conley was smart enough to see that. And smart enough to keep his ear to the ground. Sanders wondered how much Conley knew of what he hadn't said in their meeting. Did he also know about the harassment suit? It was certainly possible.
Christ, Meredith wanted to sell Austin. Eddie had been right all along. He considered telling him, but he really couldn't. And in any case, he had more pressing things to worry about. He saw the sign for the Magnuson Mediation Center and turned right. Sanders tugged at the knot on his tie and pulled into a space in the parking lot.
The Magnuson Mediation Center was located just outside Seattle, on a hill overlooking the city. It consisted of three low buildings arranged around a central courtyard where water splashed in fountains and pools. The entire atmosphere was designed to be peaceful and relaxing, but Sanders was tense when he walked up from the parking lot and found Fernandez pacing.
"You see the paper today?" she said.
"Yeah, I saw it."
"Don't let it upset you. This is a very bad tactical move on their part," she said. "You know Connie Walsh?"
"She's a bitch," Fernandez said briskly. "Very unpleasant and very capable. But I expect Judge Murphy to take a strong position on it in the sessions. Now, this is what I worked out with Phil Blackburn. We'll begin with your version of the events of Monday night. Then Johnson will tell hers."
"Wait a minute. Why should I go first?" Sanders said. "If I go first, she'll have the advantage of hearing-"
"You are the one bringing the claim so you are obligated to present your case first. I think it will be to our advantage," Fernandez said. "This way Johnson will testify last, before lunch." They started toward the center building. "Now, there are just two things you have to remember. First, always tell the truth. No matter what happens, just tell the truth. Exactly as you remember it even if you think it hurts your case. Okay?"
"Second, don't get mad. Her lawyer will try to make you angry and trap you. Don't fall for it. If you feel insulted or start to get mad, request a five-minute break to consult with me. You're entitled to that, whenever you want. We'll go outside and cool off. But whatever you do, keep cool, Mr. Sanders." "Okay."
"Good." She swung open the door. "Now let's go do it."
The mediation room was wood-paneled and spare. He saw a polished wooden table with a pitcher of water and glasses and some notepads; in the corner, a sideboard with coffee and a plate of pastries. Windows opened out on a small atrium with a fountain. He heard the sound of soft gurgling water.
The DigiCom legal team was already there, ranged along one side of the table. Phil Blackburn, Meredith Johnson, an attorney named Ben Heller, and two other grim-faced female attorneys. Each woman had an imposing stack of xeroxed papers before her on the table.
Fernandez introduced herself to Meredith Johnson, and the two women shook hands. Then Ben Heller shook hands with Sanders. Heller was a florid, beefy man with silver hair, and a deep voice. Well connected in Seattle, he reminded Sanders of a politician. Heller introduced the other women, but Sanders immediately forgot their names.
Meredith said, "Hello, Tom."
He was struck by how beautiful she looked. She wore a blue suit with a cream-colored blouse. With her glasses and her blond hair pulled back, she looked like a lovely but studious schoolgirl. Heller patted her hand reassuringly, as if speaking to Sanders had been a terrible ordeal.
Sanders and Fernandez sat down opposite Johnson and Heller. Everybody got out papers and notes. Then there was an awkward silence, until Heller said to Fernandez, "How'd that King Power thing turn out?"
"We were pleased," Fernandez said.
"They fixed an award yet?"
"Next week, Ben."
"What are you asking?"
"Two million."
"Two million?"
"Sexual harassment's serious business, Ben. Awards are going up fast.
Right now the average verdict is over a million dollars. Especially when the company behaves that badly."
At the far end of the room, a door opened and a woman in her mid-fifties entered. She was brisk and erect, and wore a dark blue suit not very different from Meredith's.
"Good morning," she said. "I'm Barbara Murphy. Please refer to me as judge Murphy, or Ms. Murphy." She moved around the room, shaking hands with everyone, then took a seat at the head of the table. She opened her briefcase and took out her notes.
"Let me tell you the ground rules for our sessions here," Judge Murphy said. "This is not a court of law, and our proceedings won't be recorded. I encourage everyone to maintain a civil and courteous tone. We're not here to make wild accusations or to fix blame. Our goal is to define the nature of the dispute between the parties, and to determine how best to resolve that dispute.
"I want to remind everyone that the allegations made on both sides are extremely serious and may have legal consequences for all parties. I urge you to treat these sessions confidentially. I particularly caution you against discussing what is said here with any outside person or with the press. l have taken the liberty of speaking privately to Mr. Donadio, the editor of the Post-Intelligencer, about the article that appeared today by Ms. Walsh. I reminded Mr. Donadio that all parties in `Company X' are private individuals and that Ms. Walsh is a paid employee of the paper. The risk of a defamation suit against the P-I is very real. Mr. Donadio seemed to take my point."
She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. "Now then. The parties have agreed that Mr. Sanders will speak first, and he will then be questioned by Mr. Heller. Ms. Johnson will speak next, and will be questioned by Ms. Fernandez. In the interest of time, I alone will have the right to ask questions during the testimony of the principals, and I will set limits on the questions of opposing attorneys. I'm open to some discussion, but I ask your cooperation in letting me exercise judgment and keep things moving. Before we begin, does anybody have any questions?"
Nobody did.
"All right. Then let's get started. Mr. Sanders, why don't you tell us what happened, from your point of view."
Sanders talked quietly for the next half hour. He began with his meeting with Blackburn, where he learned that Meredith was going to be the new vice president. He reported the conversation with Meredith after her speech, in which she suggested a meeting about the Twinkle drive. He told what happened in the six o'clock meeting in detail.
As he spoke, he realized why Fernandez had insisted he tell this story over and over, the day before. The flow of events came easily to him now; he found that he could talk about penises and vaginas without hesitation. Even so, it was an ordeal. He felt exhausted by the time he described leaving the room and seeing the cleaning woman outside.