The Sex Tape (cont -4)

“Mr. Blanks. Good to see you,” Mr. Hwa greeted Larvell, getting up from the bench to grasp his right hand. He seemed to have a sincere smile on his face even if he was not glad to see him. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, but I would be doing much better if I heard some good news on Jason.”

“Unfortunately, I have no real news to report on Jason, though there is an occasional report on his whereabouts in Beijing. The press in China have not forgotten about him as your reporters in the United States have.” Mr. Hwa sat back on the bench. Larvell sat next to him. Mr. Hwa lifted his face to the sun. “It is so much warmer here in Baltimore than in Beijing, even if the temperature is the same. Why is that Mr. Blanks?”

Larvell didn’t know where Mr. Hwa was trying to go with that question and chose not to travel that road. “I wouldn’t know since I have never been to Beijing.”

“You should go sometime. It’s a large city. One can get lost easily in Beijing. That is probably one reason it is so difficult to identify the whereabouts of Jason Woo. You’re probably wondering why I asked for this meeting. I’m sure you have seen the sex tape?”

“It has crossed my desk.”

“What do you think?”

“It is certainly brief.”

Mr. Hwa burst out with a quick laugh and in almost the same amount of time grew somber. “Brief and disgusting. To be so careless in the position he is in. He seems to have found himself caught in the web of Ms. Li like so many others before him.”

“How do you know it was Ms. Li?”

“I don’t really. Circumstantial evidence gives me reason to pause. She has created many casualties in Beijing. I am only assuming she has expanded those casualties to the United States. Especially since they seemed so close during the Yankee game. I knew it spelled trouble when I saw her at the game with Ruben. She is a very cunning woman.”

A female jogger passed. Larvell’s eyes followed the female jogger as she traveled her way along the bay. “Not the best news for a franchise that has gotten used to bad news.”

“She probably convinced him to come to her hotel after the game, had the cameras all set up waiting for him and he became a fly stuck in her web.”

“At least he had a smile on his face. I hope it was worth it. That’s all water under the bridge now. One thing I have learned in life is you can’t change the realities of the past. If those realities are not pleasant you find what you have to do to make the future a little more palatable.”

“Wise philosophy, Mr. Blanks. I share those thoughts. I also applaud you for taping her interview. That certainly became an embarrassment to the government of China. It called into question their objective reporting of the facts. I haven’t heard from Kathy since her last newscast. That is very unusual.”

A frisbee skidded along the sidewalk, stopping just in front of Larvell’s feet. Larvell got up from the bench, picked up the frisbee, spotted the owner and rifled a perfect strike to his hands. “She is probably spending all this time putting a new sex tape together. All that editing has to take a lot of work.”

Mr. Hwa admired Larvell’s perfect toss. “Excellent toss Mr. Blanks. You’ve got another calling after you retire from baseball.”

“I lived in San Diego for a couple years. You have to learn to throw a Frisbee growing up in San Diego. Unfortunately, there is no money in it.” Larvell sat back down on the bench.

“I don’t think Ms. Li has the knowledge or capability to film and edit these videos. She has to be getting assistance from someone. She can report the news, but she doesn’t know how to film it. One of these days that person will come forward and talk. Unfortunately, the video of Ruben has created a problem that could have an impact on our minority investment. My sources tell me major league baseball is in the process of forcing the Orioles to sell the team. If it is not a direct sale, then it could be an auction type of sale.”

“Your sources are very perceptive Mr. Hwa. I have heard those rumors as well, but that is all they are at this point, rumors.”

“Rumors have a way of blossoming into facts. I want to hedge my bets. We still have an interest in keeping our minority ownership with the Orioles, even though we would prefer a majority ownership stake. We suspect that in these times the public would not tolerate a group from China being awarded a major league baseball team. For now, I will be satisfied with a minority ownership. My fear is that the sale of the Orioles will jeopardize any minority ownership we have in place with the team now and we will have to sell our piece at the time Ruben and his father have to sell their piece. We don’t want that to happen.”

“Even without Jason Woo you still have an interest in keeping your minority interest in the team?”

“When we first expressed our interest in becoming a minority investor with the Orioles, we didn’t know anything about Jason Woo or the sport of baseball. We just learned through our research that the investment in sports teams in the United States is very profitable over the long term. It is hard to turn a $371 million dollar investment in seven years into a $700 million profit as many in this industry do. When Ruben first approached our financial advisor about the opportunity to purchase a minority share in the Orioles we reached out to Mr. Pendergrass to see what we had to do.” Larvell assumed the reference to Mr. Pendergrass was Ruben Jr. since the older Mr. Pendergrass was buried in dementia. “If the Orioles are put up for sale, or auction we would have an interest in purchasing the team. So we would like to look for an investment group of American buyers to purchase the team as long as we can still maintain our minority ownership. We like the way you run the franchise and we are willing to put up the capital to allow you to become one of the minority investors in the Orioles. We would hope to eventually find a majority investor, but with your reputation as a good baseball man it would resolve any concerns the Commissioner’s office might have with the sale. I suspect you currently don’t have the funds in your financial portfolio to even think about purchasing a minority stake in the team?”

Larvell felt this was all propaganda started by the moral police who wished to mold the behavior of all into a boring religious majority. A colorful world painted only in black and white for the enjoyment of the few. His absence made the discussion of those comments moot. It is not hard to attack someone who has disappeared. They lack the ability to fight back.

“Does my plan for giving you an opportunity to become a minority owner of the Orioles seem like a reasonable proposition to you?”

Larvell was a bit floored by the offer. “Mr. Hwa, the amount of money needed to front me to allow me to be a minority owner would be quite substantial. There is no way in my lifetime I could pay that back.”

“That is not a concern for us. Eventually, you would sell your share in the team. We would be there to buy it. You would get to keep any profit from the sale of the franchise less ten percent. We would only want the cost of our loan plus ten percent back to cover any expenses or lost interest on our loan.”

“And if my sale is less than what I initially purchased it for?”

“We would eat the loss. You would only be responsible for providing a percentage of the amount of profit you got from the sale.”

“When do you need a commitment?”

“There is no major rush at the moment.”

“I’m hesitant to give a commitment until it becomes official the team will be sold. The baseball community is very small. Rumors get passed very quickly in this industry. I’m sure every major league clubhouse has a copy of that sex tape. I don’t want rumors out until I feel comfortable there will be a sale.

“Which is why I did not want to discuss this over the phone through international connections. No telling who is listening. There is no need for you to make a commitment now Mr. Blanks. I’m only bringing up the possibility. When you make your decision, you let us know. Once the team is put up for sale, we would need an immediate answer from you. No phone calls or email transmittals to discuss the issue. You just let me know you want to talk and I will arrange a flight to come to Baltimore where we can meet at a place of your choosing.”

“If major league baseball makes a decision to put the Orioles up for sale I will give you an answer on that day.”

“I appreciate your candidness Mr. Blanks. In a perfect world it would be better if a forced sale does not happen. I fear that will not be the case. We do not live in a perfect world and must always be prepared for all the contingencies of life.”

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