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Episode 1: Part 2

They end up gathering in an empty conference room nearby. Since it’s more of a preliminary meeting between pals, neither side has anything prepared. Johnny is checking emails with his shoes on the table, not a care in the world. Eventually, Nicole puts her hands together and speaks up.

“What can we do for you this time?”

“For Wesreal,” Johnny grins and puts away his phone. “Two words: high-end.”

“It’s actually one—” Jacob perks up, excited to talk about linguistics.

“Don’t,” Nicole warns before turning to Johnny again. “What are you proposing?”

“So I was on a date last week,” he starts.

Subconsciously, Nicole makes a disgusted face.

“Oh, come on,” Johnny says, offended. “Look, it’s crucial to the story. Anyway, so I tell her what I do for a living, and at the end she calls me a manchild, goes to the bathroom, and never comes back! And that same night, I’m just lying in bed next to a perfect ten, but I’m still not happy.

“And I’m just thinking, like… She’s right. Energy drinks? Gas station pills? Podcast management? I mean, I’m in my thirties.”

Nobody is convinced; Johnny has been pretending to be thirty for at least two decades.

“My people keep telling me that I can’t move past my mistakes,” he says. When the words catch up to him, he clears his throat. “With Wesreal, I mean. So I want you to do your thing and sniff out what’s wrong with it.”

“You know we don’t do public image, right?” Nicole asks.

“I know, I just wanna get your opinion on this. You’re smart, what do you think?”

“What do I think? I think that every business you’ve ever owned that wasn’t a Ponzi scheme has been marketed towards young adult lowlifes, and both you and the companies themselves are ridden with lawsuits. Might be a bit of an issue, I don’t know.”

“The name sounds like Israel,” Don chips in. “Which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but… you know, controversial.”

“Frankly,” Nicole continues, ignoring the comment. “Wesreal is just an umbrella, so sure, you could get a controlling stake in some new luxury brands and sell off the weak links. But it’s too major of a paradigm shift. For you.”

This hits a nerve. Johnny crosses his arms defensively.

“I don’t think you’re trying hard enough, Nicole.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being slimy,” she says, raising her hands. “Hell, there’s nothing wrong with being seen as a joke; Musk is doing fine. Nobody cares.”

“I care!” Johnny raises his voice. “I fucking care! I care that people think I’m a fucking joke!”

Slowly, he exhales. Nobody bats an eye at the outburst; it’s not the first time a client took Nicole’s prodding personally. Although, knowing when to prod is a science. A science that Nicole doesn’t care enough to enforce in regards to Johnny.

“And if you don’t want my money, then Holden will.”

“What, you think Holden Vega can help you?” Nicole laughs, jeering. “Good fucking luck with that, Johnny. Let me know how it goes.”

Johnny gives her one last look before he gets up and leaves the room. The tension is palpable. Jacob cuts through it by awkwardly clearing his throat, not realizing how loud he’s being.

“So, uh,” he blurts out. “What just happened?”

Nicole motions for him to elaborate.

“You just handed him over to Holden. Why?”

“You wanna take this one?” Nicole asks Don, tired.

“Alright,” he says, turning Jacob’s chair toward himself. It squeaks in protest, and so does Jacob. “Well, first of all, she’s an equity partner, so she doesn’t really care which DL consultant he goes with — she’s still gonna get paid. Just not as much, which is still a fuck-ton.

“Second, like everything Johnny Ferrari has ever done in his life, Wesreal’s daughter companies are about to go under; much like Ophelia, but not as graceful. And you’d know this if you read the fact pack I gave you.”

“I did read it. And what about us? Why not grab some chartreuse jelly before the Titanic sinks?”

“You’re mixing metaphors.”

“It’s a simile.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Nicole snaps, and it’s clearly meant for both of them. “All you need to know is that it will sink. And I don’t want to be anywhere near it when that orange dick goes to jail for either sexual assault, fraud, or both.”

“I didn’t know you had a moral compass,” Don says, giving her a knowing look.

She gives up and sighs. Usually, it really wouldn’t matter; since Wesreal is a private holding company, the most likely scenario is Johnny taking the losses when his subsidiaries go bankrupt. But since he openly has a finger in every pie, he could be liable for the accumulated debts. Because he knew. And ultimately, DL would look like vultures.

“Look, I just don’t want to work with him again. The man ruins everything he puts his hands on.”

“True that,” Don nods.

“Fair.”

Nicole sighs and gets up. The two instinctively follow, but she puts her hand up.

“Just go home, that’s enough facetime for today. And happy birthday, dipshit.”

“Thank you?” Jacob says, so unsure it comes out as a question. “Hey Don, do you wanna grab a drink— Oop, and he’s gone.”

He’s about to ask Nicole, but looks around and realizes that he’s alone in the room.

“Cool, thanks,” he mutters under his breath.

Deciding to make the most of it, he sits back down and gets out his phone.

“Hey Siri, cool restaurants in— Cool restaurants in Manhattan. Manhattan.”


2 responses

  1. Jack

    I WAS WHISKED AWAY IN THE MIDDLE OF READING THIS TO GO DO THINGS AHHHHH

    Ok but I’m back now

    jesus fucking christ, any time there’s a depiction of Jacob, I’m WHEEZING. He’s my sad little man. I want to put him in a jar and observe his behavior.

    Johnny’s like…you can FEEL the slime. The utterly rancid vibes. My stomach is turning, my every instinct informs me that I want to flee. “Johnny has been pretending to be thirty for at least two decades” I know this man personally, oh my god.

    I love how done Nicole is, Don’s comment on the company sounding Isreal had me losing it, what a STATEMENT. Holy shit, that entire interaction overall…Literal Hell room. That’s where you go to die. Like I hate corporate America, but I love all of this. I can’t wait to finally meet Holden and how bad he’s gonna suck.

    1. lmaoooo a lot of characters would definitely prefer jacob be stuck in a jar

      slime, crime and a complete inability to move on from the early 2000s. we’ll just have to see if he adapts or dies 🫡

      that really means a lot! the squeaky clean corporate look that’s on the surface is so much less interesting than the weird hierarchical underbelly. and oh yeah, won’t have to wait long to meet holden 👀

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