Bill has been a friend of mine since 1965. We were in high school together. Bill was blessed with a loving family that wanted to see their only child cared for in life. they left him a nice 4-bedroom house free and clear. It's located in a decent neighborhood in Houston, Texas. They sent Bill to the exclusive Rice University in Houston. They launched Bill as a writer.
Things looked good for Bill early in life. The film maker Robert Altman took a liking to him. He got a major part in the film Brewster McCloud in 1970. He was the man who gave the actress Shelly Duvall her first on-screen kiss. It looked like Bill was headed for a great Hollywood carer and a wonderful life. Bill also wrote a short book called Suede Holloway. It became a cult classic and he got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sadly things did not workout so well for Bill. His movie and writing career never took off. He never found a wonderful partner in life. He got embroiled in civil disputes and never had a meaningful career. He got a mortgage on his house to continue with the lifestyle of a wealthy man entertaining his friends.
One day the bill came due and Bill could not pay it, He fell behind on his mortgage. The lender moved to foreclose his house. In Texas it normally takes 20-45 days to sell a house in a trustee's sale. Bill filed a lawsuit and convinced a judge to stop the foreclosure. What happened next was a 4-year legal battle that is unusual for Texas. It looked like Bill might prevail and save his house.
I devoted literally hundreds of hours to helping Bill. I gave him legal advice. I gave him information on foreclosure fraud. I wrote letters to the judge. I also warned Bill of what I have learned in some 40 years of dealing with courts. If a lawyer on the other side cannot beat you fairly in court, they will always resort to trickery to win. The favorite trick is to "ambush you" with a surprise move. Judges see these things and know that they are wrong and unfair. But if you do not object, you are generally "out of luck." I told Bill to go to the Harris County Court House two times a week and check for any activity on his case. I warned him that he had to be meticulous and watch for every detail.
Bill did not listen to me. He became complacent and over confident. In March of 2012 the lawyers for the morrtgage company sneaked through an improper "sell order" on his property. Bill did not detect this until a month later when the Harris County Sheriff's Office put a notice of sale on his door. We looked at appealing but it was too late unless a fortune was spent for an appealate lawyer.
I explained to Bill that the only way to save his house was the filing of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petition in US Bankruptcy Court in Houston. I did a lot of research and found Bill an excellent attorney who used to clerk for a US Supreme Court justice. Bill talked to this lawyer. He felt that she wanted too much money. He hired andother lawyer and got the peition filed.
I spent hours walking Bill through the bankruptcy process. I told him that he had to pay the trustee each month or the bankruptcy would be dismissed and they would come and take his house. I told them that Elena and I both felt that he should rent the two extra bedrooms in his house. I estimated that each room would fetch $350.00 per month in rental income. This would give him $700 per month to pay the lender. He could then earn some part time income to keep him going.
I felt confident that we were on our way to a solution. I got a call from Bill yesterday begging for one or two hundred dollars. Nothing had been done to rent the rooms. His payment to the trustee was set at $1,200 per month. He had only made $200 of the payment. If he does not make some radical changes he will find his bankruptcy petition dismissed. The house will be sold and he will be evicted.
Bill has no savings. He has no family to help him. He did not even pay enough into his Social Security account to have a retirement. If he is kicked out he will not even have enough money to store the goods that he accumulated over a lifetime. He will have to start sleeping in his 1987 Ford Crown Victoria. In Texas he might get a little over $100 in food stamps. Welfare would be paltry and hard to get if he is not a single mother.
We are all supposed ot have compassion and help those less fortunate than we are. I was lucky enough to contribute enough to my Social Security account to have an income of $1,254 per month. My wife is from Argentina. Women there have "zero tolerance" for men who do not produce income. My check goesd to pay all of the insurance and my food and gasoline. I have nothing left to begin sending moeny to Bill. My wife earns a good income but feels that Bill is not a blood relative and she does not know him. She cannnot think of anyone who ever gave her money. She declines to help him.
Please contrast this situation with my dear sister. She has only a high school education. My mother and father were never rich enough to leave her a free and clear house in a nice neighborhood. Last year her house in Bastrop, Texas burned to the ground. She had a huge battle with Balboa Insurance to get paid for her claim. She also lost her place of business and business income when the house burned down. To make matters worse she was separated from her husband and getting little income from him.
In these awful times for my sister she never asked me for one penny of money. She never felt sorry for herself. She waged a hard battle and finally got the insurance company to pay off. She is rebuilding her house and her life. She inherited my mother's very strong character.
I feel sad for Bill. I wish that I was making $200,000 per year and was a big success so I could help him.
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