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1

My name is Vic Cortelian. Maybe you’ve heard of me.

I’m a multi-millionaire, an international playboy, a professional poker player, and a helluva good-looking guy with the sexiest beard you ever saw.

But even though I’m a grown-ass man with all of that going for me, my uncles were still lookin’ to rip me a new asshole.

We were sitting in the boardroom of their venture capital firm in San Francisco – the corner office of the 48th floor penthouse, with floor-to-ceiling glass on two sides of the room. Through the right window you could see the Transamerica Pyramid, with Alcatraz behind it in the bay. On the left, the Golden Gate Bridge looked like a train collector’s miniature toy stretched out across the water.

It was literally a ten-million-dollar view. Which is what my two uncles paid every year so they could impress the bejeezus out of start-up CEOs who didn’t know any better than to choose their funding based on how good a view the office had.

Ah, my uncles. Sons of bitches, both of ‘em.

Frank and Sal Cortelian, my dad’s brothers. Fat Frank and Skinny Sal. They’d clawed their way up over the last thirty years from low-level stockbrokers to become one of the biggest venture capital firms around.

In case you don’t know, venture capital firms invest in businesses while they’re still in the beginning stages. Ever since the internet, that primarily meant internet companies: Google. Amazon. Facebook. Uber. Twitter. Tumblr. And a bunch of stupid-ass names missing letters or that sounded like they came out of an IKEA catalog. Hooli. Bitl. Zemo. Natrl. Fuckin’ Bippity Boppty Boo.

My uncles had gotten lucky and invested early in most of the companies I just named – and made a shit-ton of money in the process. But the last couple of years hadn’t been so great. In a tech town where 45 is over the hill, all ‘teh kidz’ wanted cool VC partners in their 30’s, not a couple of old geezers who looked like Jabba the Hutt and Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

Luckily for Sal and Frank, they had a secret weapon:

Me.

I’m good with people. Something no one has ever accused my uncles of.

I’m also famous. Well, internet famous. Ten billion followers on Instagram and counting, baby. Anybody over 40 has never heard of me – but if you’re a dude under 25, you know The Beard.

And if you’re a model/actress/whatever who’s serious about getting famous on social media, you know The Beard, too.

And when you know The Beard, you’re way more likely to listen to him, especially if he shows up with shot glasses in hand.

Got a 28 year-old CEO who’s freaking out before the IPO? I’ll settle him down.

Looking to sign the whiz kid who’s being courted by fifteen other VC firms? Let me party with him – I’ll get his John Hancock on the dotted line.

Got a bunch of nerds who don’t want you interfering with their precious little ‘let’s save the world for free’ software? I’ll get ‘em laid and loosen ‘em up. Once they start thinking in terms of Wow, 60 grand is, like, 120 REALLY great lap dances, they tend to become more amenable to capitalism.

I’d like to say I was paid handsomely for all my hard work, but… not really. In dividing up the pizza, my uncles promised me a cut – but they took all the middle part with the cheese and pepperoni, then threw me a few pieces of crust and expected me to be grateful for it.

Not to say my life sucks. Far from it. I live high on the hog and stick my uncles with the bill.

For instance, I got a bitchin’ yacht to party on.

I fly all over the world on Sal and Frank’s private jet.

I play high-stakes poker and have the time of my life hanging out with celebrities.

And there’s 20,000 honeys on Instagram who want to come shake their bare asses on my boat ‘cause they know they’ll get a ton of new followers if I mention them by name.

Life is good.

Except when I have to talk to my friggin’ uncles.

 

 

2

 

 

At one end of the boardroom table was me, chillin’ with my feet up on the table. At the other end were my uncles, who looked at me like I was something they’d scraped off the bottom of their shoes.

“What are you wearing?” Uncle Sal sneered.

I had on camouflage shorts, a black Harley Davidson t-shirt, and Chuck Taylors.

“My usual,” I said cheerfully.

I’m a generally cheerful person. After all, my life is pretty great. And even if I don’t like somebody – like my uncles – I’m still cheerful, just to fuck with ‘em.

Frank picked up a piece of paper from the desk in front of him. Then he proceeded to have a mini heart attack. “You spent two hundred thousand dollars on the yacht last month?!”

“Well, with all the parties I throw, booze is easily fifty grand a month.”

“I’m talking about the renovations!” he yelled.

I shrugged. “We needed a new hot tub and some stripper poles on the main deck.”

“Why the hell do you have a yacht?” Frank wheezed. “I don’t have a yacht, and I’m worth two billion!”

“It’s part of my brand.”

Uncle Sal typed on his laptop, and my Instagram account appeared on the massive flat screen TV on the boardroom wall. He scrolled through a half-dozen shots of chicks in itty-bitty bikinis – not to mention some epic wakeboarding and jet skiing pics. All with lots and lots of alcohol.

“Being a drunk, lecherous fool is your brand?” Sal asked sarcastically.

“Yes it is. King of Instagram, ten billion followers – ”

Sal flapped one skeletal hand. “Save the spiel, we’ve heard it a thousand times before.”

Frank shook his head. “Vic, we’re not seeing a good enough return on all the money we’ve sunk into your so-called ‘brand.’”

“Guys, I’m telling you, the connections I have are invaluable. Johnny Zhang in Macao? Owns three casinos? He totally wants to do that internet gambling app with me – ”

“No,” Sal snapped.

“Come onnnnn – just listen to what he wants to – ”

“NO.”

I sighed. “Well, then, from a purely marketing perspective, I’m pure gold. Every dude on the planet wants to be me.”

“Or they hate you,” Sal pointed out.

“Or that. But haters gonna hate. And a lot of women want to… well, you know,” I said with a grin.

 
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