Chapter 17

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Mark Baxter was dressed in a sharp black tailored suit, crisp white shirt and skinny blue tie. When David walked up to him at Stumptown, Mark looked at him like he recognized an old friend. David felt weirdly underdressed in his jeans and white T-shirt even though nobody else in the coffee shop was dressed any more formally than he was. "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service was playing loudly over some large speakers balanced on the edge of a small, empty, makeshift stage.

"David, you look just like your picture. Except with a killer beard. How are you? Can I buy you a coffee?" Mark smiled. David had never met anyone from Hollywood before, but he could imagine that's what a Hollywood smile would look like.

"Sure, thanks."

"You didn't fill out the paperwork correctly. You know that's really important, don't you?"

"What part did I get wrong? It was forty pages and I got lost in it a few times."

"This is serious business, you know." Mark looked over at the barista. "I'll take a half light double macchiato with room. And whatever this guy wants." The barista looked at Mark as if to say, This isn't Starbucks, you know. But she shrugged it off and gladly accepted his American Express Platinum card.

"Coffee, black. Thank you, Cindy."

"Look David, I like you, but none of this matters if we don't get everything lined up correctly. It was good luck I was in Portland for something else and we could meet up. But remember that just because I like you doesn't mean you will get to see the sharks in person. I'm personally hoping you will, because you have a lot of potential. But you have to work with me on this. Okay?"

"Of course, just tell me what part I need to fix."

"Good. Now, you say that your sister has a disease, right? How old was she when she was diagnosed?"

"I'm sorry, but what does that have to do with anything? What does it have to do with Cryptobit?"

"This is to determine backstory, David. I've been thinking about the name, too. What do you think of Cryptocat?"

"That name is already taken by a competitor."

"Shit. Back to the drawing board. There's our drinks."

David was liking Mark less and less by the minute. It seemed like everything Mark said was a question. Mark picked up his drink and brought it to his nose like a fine wine. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply with a smile. Then he took a tiny sip.

"Fuck. Well, it ain't Starbucks, you know? Where do they hide the sugar in this place anyhow? So tell me more about Heather. What's she like?"

Mark walked toward the entrance where there was a long rustic table made of old wood while David tried to keep pace.

"She's smart and young. I don't know. She's my sister. What do you want to know?"

"Look, David. I'm just trying to help you. Help me help you. Did you guys get along as kids? Or was there a falling out? She's crippled, so that couldn't have been easy on your family. Did your dad walk out when he found out about your sister?"

"She's not crippled, she has muscular dystrophy. Yes, it was hard on the family. But that's not the reason my dad left. At least not the whole reason. I get it, you want to tell a good story to go with the startup pitch. But I don't want the country to know about my sister; do we really have to talk about this?"

"It's not the country, David, it's the whole world. Pitch Deck is seen by over eight million viewers worldwide right now. We licensed the idea from Sony, who started the idea with Panther of Money in Japan. Later Dragons' Lair was launched in the UK and Canada. Hell, there's even a version airing in Afghanistan this spring. This show can make you an overnight success. I can make you an overnight success. The ratings are climbing through the roof right now. I know a dozen other guys who would give their left nut to tell me their sob stories, so either tell me about your sister or it's been good knowing you."

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