Ernest Letter was born with a vampiric taste for money. From an early age, he sucked it out of the system and into his offshore accounts. Hoarding the precious resource, investing in property, enjoying it, never wanton. Stocks and shares, rising, rarely falling. He feasted on Maggie’s offerings in telecoms, utilities, and aeroplanes. Profited from building societies turning into banks. He shorted and he longed, he beared and he bulled, and he did all the things mere mortals cannot get their noodles around before his coup de théâtre of dodging the Barings Bank collapse.
He read the stock market like a book. And before it tumbled he’d already bailed; shovelling his coin into bonds and leaping from directorships in golden parachutes. He was untouchable.
If you’d asked Ernest Letter the thing that he enjoyed most about money, he would say: when you have a bountiful load other people like you for it, will do things for it. It is a wonderful feeling to dangle money in front of people like a bone. Jump, sit, beg. And if you asked him how he thought he would die, he would say: a steak would do for his heart; a Wagyu tenderloin smothered in foie gras washed down with a ’61 Bordeaux.
Letter was no fool, he knew money didn’t last forever. But he had tapped the core, and it was bleeding into him from every direction. No faster could he spend his money than it reappeared, renewed, refreshed, more abundant than before. He invested in politics, industry, charity, ticking every available box for the minimisation of outgoing taxation. And then back it came with a sense of déjà vu. But he was bored, and so he walked into the woods, and that is where he shot himself.
This was the conclusion of the coroner. An unimaginative man who had not taken into account one small fact that turned all others on their head. People will do anything for money. Collectively, that is. Even if you think you wouldn’t, you belong to a society that collectively would, and by turn your support and subscription to this society means that you would. By all means, wash your hands, sanitise the charge. But it is you who killed Ernest Letter by actively hating him and by wishing him dead. You, who wanted the narrative to twist and turn that way, so let’s get it over with now. Let’s kill the fucker.
Don’t worry I’m only playing with you. I know it wasn’t you…it was your mother and your father. They are guilty for birthing you into a world of envy and spite. A world where daughters murder mothers, spouses abuse spouses, and men are jacking off on Kentish buses, grunt, grunt, grunt. In a world this insane, the bang was inevitable, and who can blame you? Only those who decide on the divide between right and wrong. Only those who sit in courts of law, only those devoted to power. And what should they care? But they do care when one of the one-percent is toppled from the tree, so let us pray for the dear departed soul of Ernest Letter for whom no one cared for anything more than his value to them in pounds, shillings, and pence.
The absurdly rich are like a blood clot, you once told me. They threaten the very heart of capitalism. But you forget they are also people; you forget that capitalism is a game and not an organic part of life. If anything, it is inorganic, the odds are fixed. Can we blame a man for whom the odds were fixed in his favour? I think not, for he was a product of it. As we all are, playing our roles until it is time for the curtain to close. But your improvisation brought to a too early end Ernest Letter. And you have forced the play in a new direction, one for which we are all utterly unprepared. For without great men, how do we steer this ship? They father us, they guide us and now one is dead.
Let’s think for a moment about the world he lived in. A world where virtue is a misused term, where family ties can be conveniently loosened if there are gains to be had. Letter gave goodly and badly to society, but he did not deserve your murderousness, so shame on you and shame on mankind. You have done what you cannot take back. I disown you; and to think an earlier age gave Scrooge the benefit of doubt and redemption. Shame on you, you filthy wretches.
© 2019 Anthony Levings
Anthony Levings is a writer compelled by capturing moments in time and history.