“He’s in Chapter Eleven,” Gus Brock said.
“Is this a person,” Dortmunder asked, “or a book?”
They were on the 7:22 Long Island Railroad commuter train out of Grand Central, running eastward across the suburbs, surrounded by workaholics still focused on their Powerpaks. Gus, a blunt and blocky guy with a blunt and blocky mustache that seemed to drag his face downward as though it were woven of something heavier than hair, said, “It’s a bankruptcy.”
“This guy is bankrupt?” Dortmunder frowned at his coworker’s sagging profile. “This guy is broke, and we’re on our way to rob him? What’s he got left?”
“Zillions,” Gus said. “What falls outta Max Fairbanks’s pockets every day is more’n you and me see in a lifetime.”
“Then how come he’s bankrupt?”
“It’s a special kind of bankrupt they have for people that aren’t supposed to get hurt,” Gus explained. “Like when countries go bankrupt, you don’t see an auctioneer come in and sell off the towns and the rivers and stuff, it just means a court takes over the finances for a while, pays everybody eight cents on the dollar, and then the country can go back to what it was doing before it screwed up. This guy, he’s that kinda rich, it’s the same deal.”
Dortmunder shook his head. All of finance was too much for him. His understanding of economics was, you go out and steal money and use it to buy food. Alternatively, you steal the food. Beyond that, it got too complex. So he said, “Okay, it’s just one of those cute ways rich guys have to steal from everybody without having to pick locks.”
“You got it.”
“But so what?” Dortmunder asked. “If he’s still got everything he had, and he had zillions, what do we care what chapter he’s up to?”
“Because,” Gus said, “this place out in Carrport, it belongs to the corporation, and so the court has jurisdiction over it now, so nobody’s supposed to use it.”
Dortmunder nodded. “It’s empty, you mean.”
“Okay. If that’s all.”
“That’s all,” Gus agreed. “Max Fairbanks is in Chapter Eleven, so the house his corporation owns in Carrport is under the control of the bankruptcy court, so nobody’s supposed to go there, so it’s empty.”
“So we go there,” Dortmunder said. “I get it.”
“Piece of cake,” Gus said.