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Read Letter

The Counsellor

My dear Jack, have you seen the movie, The Counsellor? You should see the movie. It’s the story of an otherwise successful Texas lawyer who had it all including a beautiful fiancée named Laura. The Counsellor becomes greedy. His financial needs force him to become involved in an ill-advised drug deal. There’s 4,000% potential return on the deal. Only he was dealing with a Mexican cartel, and Mexican cartels are merciless. In the mix was a sociopathic Malkina played brilliantly by Cameron Diaz. The Counsellor was clearly in the wrong company. Greed leads us into the wrong company.

Unsurprisingly, the drug deal spirals out of control. And now the Counsellor and his fiancée are in mortal danger. The Counsellor’s fiancée soon comes to a gruesome terminal. It is an ending that fills the heart with unending grief. There are memorable lines in The Counsellor about grief. Who can forget the sayings of the philosopher-drug king Jefe: “When it comes to grief, the normal rules of exchange do not apply, because grief transcends value. A man would give entire nations to lift grief off his heart. And yet you cannot buy anything with grief, because grief is worthless.”

I did warn you about the company you keep, Jack. I did warn you about your “clients”. These are not people you should be doing business with. In courting these “clients” you endangered your life and the life of your fiancée. And now they have brought grief into the inner chambers of your heart – the kind of grief that haunts a young life forever. Because you failed to deliver on your production contract they came after you. You failed to realise that in the jungle the law of the social club does not apply. There is no civility or etiquette in the jungle. And you knew the kind of people you were dealing with. You knew they were a dangerous lot. But greed got a hold of you. All you saw was the opportunity to make money. You failed to appraise the risk: these are not people you disappoint. They have a different interpretation of disappointment. They see as slight. And life has no meaning to these people. Life is worthless to them. They see human life as no more than a disposable blade. We tend to romanticise the mob – The Godfather movie and all that, but that picture changes when you visit the Mob Museum in Vegas. Those were the kind of people you were dealing with – animals devoid of conscience. You should have been very worried when you failed to meet your first deadline and they threw you in the trunk of a car. You could have been killed. You were trunked to an unknown destination. Surely that’s not how business meetings are arranged. The head honcho threatened to waste your life, promising nothing would come of it.

When you failed to meet the second deadline he had to make you an example. His standing required it. Or he loses power. But they chose to hurt you in the deepest of places. They chose to hurt you inside your soul. And so they went after your innocent fiancée. And now she’s no more. You know it was them, but you can’t say it to anyone – not your parents, not her parents. The secret knowledge is your burden. You have an ache that cannot be expressed, you have a pain that can never go away. Your conscience will never recover knowing you’re responsible for your fiancée’s death. Between you and her killers, you share a life pact – a fellowship of murder. You provided the cause, they pulled the trigger. You crossed the Rubicon. To quote Jefe in The Counsellor once more, “You are the world you have created.” And like Jefe said, “I would urge you to see the truth of the situation you’re in. It is not for me to tell you what you should have done or not done. The world in which you seek to undo the mistakes that you made is different from the world where the mistakes were made. You’re now at the crossing. And you want to choose, but there is no choosing there. There’s only accepting…” As men, we ought to learn to think twice about the enticements before us, about the choices we make. There are desires that consume the good things in our life. And now you’ll forever be wondering what it could have been like.

Unfortunately, the chance to know is forever gone. When you do have a child you’ll also wonder, knowing she was supposed to be the mother of your children. You’re carrying a heavy burden, Jack. It’s a very heavy load with unimaginable density; yet only you can bear it. You’ll need to talk to a priest. You’ll need to talk to a psychologist too. The load is going to get heavier. She will haunt your dreams. The choices we make affect the people we love. The company we keep determines our fate. The justifications we create become our albatross.

In life, there are deals we must walk away from. There are deals with too high a price. Given the circumstances, you cannot not know peace, Jack. I’ll advice you go away to grieve over her. You need to get the poison out of your soul. The poison in your soul has to be bled. Or you will die slowly and excruciatingly. You’ll be like a dead man walking. Life will have no meaning. That’s how you know you’re dead. You’ll be a zombie. The existence of excessive grief is sometimes a signification of a terribly compromised conscience. But you may not find respite until you tell the truth. Truth is a catharsis. But now you know what it means to lose a loved one. Now you feel the pain of the bereaved. The one lesson from this tragedy is that reckless exertion is dangerous.

And now I have to go Jack. You have a lot to think about. I will advise you call your doctor. He may need to sedate you tonight. You’ve been through unimaginable trauma. Perhaps someday you’ll wake up to a new life. Perhaps maybe. Until then I wish you the best Jack.

Your mentor, LA

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