Illustration by Idiots’Books
“There’s litigation specialists at Credit Suisse?”
He was big, Hackelberg, though he often gave the impression of being smaller through his habitual slouch. But when he pulled himself up, it was like a string in the center of the top of his head was holding him erect, like he was hovering off the ground, like he was about to leap across the desk and go for your throat. His lower jaw rocked from side to side.
“They do now, Sammy. Every investment bank has one, including the one that the chairman of our board is a majority shareholder in.”
Sammy swallowed. “But they’ve got just as deep pockets as we do—can’t we just fight these battles out and take the money off of them when we win?”
“If we win.”
Sammy saw his opportunity to shift the blame. “If we’ve been acting on good legal advice, why wouldn’t we win?”
Hackelberg inhaled slowly, his chest filling and filling until his ice-cream suit looked like it might pop. His jaw clicked from side to side. But he didn’t say anything. Sammy tried to meet that cool gaze, but he couldn’t out-stare the man. The silence stretched. Sammy got the message: this was not a problem that originated in the legal department. This was a problem that originated with him.
He looked away. “How do we solve this?”
“We need to raise the cost of litigation, Samuel. The only reason this is viable is that it’s cost-effective to sue us. When we raise the cost of litigation, we reduce its profitability.”
“How do we raise the cost of litigation?”
“You have a fertile imagination, Sammy. I have no doubt that you will be able to conceive of innumerable means of accomplishing this goal.”
“I hope you do. I really hope you do. Because we have an alternative to raising the cost of litigation.”
“We could sacrifice an employee or two.”
Sammy picked up his water-glass and discovered that it was empty. He turned away from his desk to refill it from his filter and when he turned back, the lawyer had gone. His mouth was dry as cotton and his hands were shaking.
Raise the cost of litigation, huh?
He grabbed his laptop. There were ways to establish anonymous email accounts, but he didn’t know them. Figuring that out would take up the rest of the afternoon, he realized, as he called up a couple of FAQs.
In the course of a career as varied and ambitious as Sammy’s, it was often the case that you ran across an email address for someone you never planned on contacting, but you never knew, and a wise planner makes space for lots of outlier contingencies.
Sammy hadn’t written down these email addresses. He’d committed them to memory.
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As part of the ongoing project of crafting Tor.com’s electronic edition of Makers, the author would like for readers to chime in with their favorite booksellers and stories about them in the comments sections for each piece of Makers, for consideration as a possible addition to a future edition of the novel.