Previous episode here.
After pondering on Cedric’s invitations for a few days, Jack decided he would go to both the ball and to Scotland. He would have to lie to Helen, And then he realized he wouldn’t have to lie. He would tell her that his workmate had invited him to a party in London and that a few weeks later this same mate had invited him to a spend a few days in Scotland to meet some of his friends. He wasn’t telling the whole truth, but he wasn’t lying either.
His next visit to Jelly was just as bewildering as Cedric’s revelations. Jelly seemed to revel in his tea ceremony, and once seated looked Jack firmly in the eyes. Jelly’s eyes always reminded Jack of a sad hound-dog look.
“Jack, I know Cedric has told you about himself, and it is only right that I disclose my real identity to you also. My real name is Jeremy, as I said when we first met, and people do call me Jelly as a nickname. My full name and title are Lord Jeremy Wilson. I live here because it offers me a simple life, but my estate is just a few miles outside York, and when we meet next I would like it to be there. Cedric can drive us both. I think you will enjoy it.”
Once again Jack was feeling intimidated by the grandeur of it all.
“Is everyone in your club as wealthy as you and Cedric?”
“Oh no. You’ve had the misfortune of happening upon a couple of fugitives. There are others who are wealthy, but Vanessa, the lady at the head of our little club, as you call it, is a retired school teacher living in Leeds. One day soon, hopefully, you will meet Vanessa. In some ways she is a dangerous person, having transcended all duality. It is hard, even for me, to be around her for too long. She has embraced both good and evil, kindness and cruelty, the lie and the truth, pleasure and pain, and reflects exactly the world we live in and has risen above it. Hopefully, she will be kindly toward you, but there is no guarantee.”
“I think I can handle a retired school teacher Jelly.”
Jelly smiled, and then broke out into a chuckle.
“Oh, you are such a gem Jack. Of course you don’t see it, and please never see it. I’m looking forward to you meeting Vanessa.”
Jack suddenly felt like he was being set up.
“In any case, what I would like to talk about this week, is really an extension of our conversation last week. The life force, this blind thing that causes all living creatures to see themselves as the center of the universe, has a number of fairly unpleasant properties. As is fairly obvious, this planet is so organized that creatures have to eat each other to survive. Most people take this for granted, and assume it could be no other way. But of course it could have been quite different. In human beings this inbuilt survival instinct causes exploitation; one person exploiting another to reinforce their own existence. It is the cause of much suffering. Animals have no defense against it and are pure manifestations of it. In a million years from now animals will still be ripping each other to bits, fighting for mating rights, and contesting for dominance. Nothing will have changed. Man is different. We have reason Jack, and it is the most precious of all things. I’m not really talking about reason in the way most people use the term – science, mathematics and all of that. I am talking about the ability to be reasonable. To look at the way life operates by default and decide that for their own best interest, and that of others, they can be reasonable instead of blind animals. And I’m afraid to say that the vast majority of human beings are nothing more than blind animals that happen to drive cars, use computers and tap on their smartphones for hours each day. They will screw each other over at work, cheat on their partners, exploit each others’ labor, envy the successful, pity the weak, and then declare that they are good hearted and reasonable. Humanity will never move an inch forward until it is brave enough to see the totally self-interested life force that operates through each of them. It needs to see the hatred, envy, derision, cruelty, and thousand other emotions that come straight from this self-interested will to life. They need to understand what they are and how the life force does not work for them, it works for itself. We have the potential, through reason, to rise above our animal heritage, but alas it isn’t going to happen any time soon except for the few who do not want to be a slave to the beast.”
The passion with which Jelly expressed himself moved Jack. He had seen the savagery with which people treated each other, always in the most charming way, but savagery nonetheless. But he had never seen how it all came from one fundamental driver – the desire to exist, and the dread of death. The clarity of it all overwhelmed Jack. Why wasn’t this stuff taught at school, it all seemed so obvious?
“How did you get to know all this Jelly? It seems so obvious when you explain it.”
“There is nothing hidden Jack, it’s just that people don’t want to see it. They would rather paint flattering self-portraits than see the drooling wolf they really are. Read the Bible with your eyes open – it’s all there. Study Buddhism, or philosophers such as Plato, the Stoics, the renaissance philosophers, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and a long list of modern authors. Nothing is hidden, it’s all out there. People don’t want it, they would rather read for entertainment than self-discovery. That is the way it has always been and probably the way it always will be. You might want to start reading some Schopenhauer if you get time.”
Jack could hardly remember the name, and so he asked Jelly to write down a list of these writers. As he did so Jelly reached over to a box on a small table next to his chair.
“Do you mind if I smoke my pipe?” Jelly asked somewhat apologetically.
“No, not at all. My father would smoke a pipe. I think that it was the cause of his lung cancer.”
Jelly filled his pipe with tobacco and took considerable delight in puffing away. The smell reminded Jack of his father. It made him sad, and Jelly noticed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to open healing wounds Jack. The best way to deal with your grief is to go into it. Cry, and cry a great deal if you can. You will heal more quickly that way.”
With that Jelly handed Jack the list of philosophers and other writers and smiled.
“There is enough there to keep you busy for the rest of your life. Good luck Jack.”
The trip to London with Cedric came soon enough. Helen didn’t question Jack’s honesty, in fact it was one of the things she really like about him. There had been quite a lot of preparation. Jack didn’t own the black-tie gear that would be needed and so he had rented it. Everything was stored away in a locker at work, where he was to meet Cedric before they set off.
The journey would take about two hours in Cedric’s amazingly quiet and smooth Mercedes. Jack felt like royalty, and about half way through the journey Cedric started to talk.
“Jack, you are about to meet possibly the most unpleasant people you will ever meet. Many of them are psychopaths, very charming psychopaths, but psychopaths all the same. Others are sadistic, and all of them are scared, frightened of each other and the shame of failing. This is a wonderful opportunity to see how the beast has ripped the heart out of these people and left nothing but shells. You will be mixing with hollowed out people, who have nothing real within them. They all strut around as if they are life’s big winners, but in reality they are life’s biggest losers. In any case please use the opportunity to smell the fear of rotting souls that will manifest in abundance tonight, and then you will understand the nature of the beast.”
It suddenly seemed intimidating to Jack. He had been quite happy with the notion that he would float around, being ignored by these freaks, as Cedric often referred to them, and enjoying some good food and drink. But all of a sudden it seemed as though he might have to interact with them more than he anticipated. What about his northern accent, and absolute lack of knowledge of this business that Cedric had come to hate so much – although Jack had thought to himself on more than one occasion that he saw no attempt by Cedric to give back his ill-gotten gains.
“Dealing with these people will be quite easy Jack. They will like your northern accent. It is quite fashionable these days, and there are even some businesses springing up that will teach these toffs how to speak with a northern accent. When they ask what you do, just say you deal in options and that you work with Cedric. Most of these people know me quite well unfortunately, and so they will be swarming around us like flies around shit. Telling them you work with options will quieten them immediately. Options are complex – the stuff nerds do, and they will not want to spend too much time with a nerd. These people make their money through legalized fraud – much easier.”
Jack had noticed on many occasions how Cedric anticipated his concerns, and this time was no different.
Cedric quickly navigated his way to Park Lane in the center of London, and pulled up outside The Dorchester Hotel. A valet came to open the car door, greeting Cedric as though he was a regular.
“Hello mister Parker. Nice to see you again. I trust you are well.”
“Yes very well thank you.”
And with that Cedric thrust a twenty pound note into his hand.
Jack got similar treatment, found it all a bit creepy, and did not thrust a twenty pound note into the valet’s hand. Cedric got the same welcome at the registration desk, and they were both escorted to adjacent suites which, it seems, cost several thousand pounds a night each.
At seven thirty Cedric rapped sharply on Jack’s door. Jack appeared looking like James Bond with his black hair, swarthy skin, tall figure and boyish good looks. Cedric was impressed. Jack would have done well in this dirt hole called London.
“My God, you really look the part Jack.”
Jack thought he looked the part too, Cedric could tell from his swagger.
As they entered the ballroom heads slowly started to turn. Fake smiles appeared on faces, and it seems there was a competition to see who could get to Cedric first. The first person to arrive was Henry with his charming wife Sarah.
“Cedric, you old bastard. Everyone thought you had gone ferrel. How very nice to see you again.”
“Sarah are you keeping this old rogue in order darling.” Replied Cedric.
Jack was stopped in his tracks. All of a sudden Cedric was a toff, with a toff’s voice. And yes Cedric had definitely used one of these agencies that teach people to speak with a northern accent.
“Let me introduce you to Jack. He’s my options nerd.”
Henry’s face soured slightly. He certainly didn’t want to speak with Jack.
By now there was a small crowd around Cedric, all competing to get his attention. Jack was left on the sidelines, which he was more than happy with. So he wandered over to the bar, and couldn’t help but notice the smiles and attention he was getting from some of the women. He ordered a pint of beer, much to the barman’s surprise. A very attractive woman standing nearby came over.
“You’ve been to one of those schools to learn that northern dialect haven’t you. God it’s so sexy.”
Jack really didn’t know what to say.
“Oh, and I see you are drinking beer. You’ve done the whole thing haven’t you.”
“I like beer.” Jack said without any pretensions.
This woman, whoever she was, moved very close to Jack.
“Can I taste your beer.”
Jack offered her the glass and she drank half of it, leaving beer froth in her upper lip.
“God I would have swallowed it all if it hadn’t been so rude. And I bet I’ve got white cream on my upper lip.”
Just as Jack was about to tell her to piss off, Cedric patted him on the shoulder.
“You could fuck half the women in here if you wanted Jack. They are all bored princesses looking for a knight in shining armor, and you fit the bill. Although they might change their minds if they saw where you worked. Anyway come and meet Peter and Daphne, and watch and listen very carefully.”
They strolled over to a middle age couple sitting down on their own. Cedric introduced Jack as his options man, and they both sat opposite the couple.
“Peter it’s such a long time since we last met. Tell me what have you been up to.” Cedric said casually.
“Oh so much Cedric. You know we got into China in a big way. Well everyone has got an angle and we are making boat loads of money. I just bought a new yacht and took her over to the Caribbean. We had such a wonderful time. John and Penny came with us. You remember John and Penny.”
“Yes of course.” Replied Cedric.
“Anyway I took a month off, and we visited most of the best restaurants. You know places like Sandy Lane in Barbados, The Ocean Club in the Bahamas, and actually stayed a few nights in some of these places. You know, the best suites. And when we weren’t on an island we would just laze the days away fishing and sunbathing.”
These people reminded Jack of Helen’s parents. It was the same thing. Wholly inadequate people boasting to make themselves look big. At this point Daphne chimed in.
“I must tell you about our son and daughter, Henry and Penelope. Henry is at Cambridge studying mathematics, and wants to get into actuarial work when he graduates. Penelope is at Oxford and has her heart set on building a PR agency in Chelsea. We’ve agreed to fund her first five years. Oh and we moved a couple of years ago. We’ve got a manor house in Oxfordshire. Beautiful stables for our horses, lovely paddocks, about fifty acres of land, and we do host a fox hunt now and then. I know we shouldn’t, but we like it. Peter uses our flat in London during the week. You know we paid just two million when we bought it five years ago. In that time it has increased to nearly three million. Such a good investment. And …”
Even Peter knew that Daphne was overcooking it and interjected.
“Tell us what you’ve been up to Cedric.”
All of a sudden Jack was grateful for Helen’s parents. This couple was a nightmare. And why was it that all these women took Victorian names. Did they think they were closely related to royalty? What was that all about?
“I haven’t been up to much at all Peter. The odd deal here and there, but I spend most of my time in the South of France lazing about.”
Peter saw Cedric’s brief reply as a chance to rev up again.
“You know I’m also looking after equities now Cedric, and I reckon in a year or two I’ll get a board position. The money isn’t much different, but you never know, I could be in for something in the Queens honors. I’ve got good connections there, I think it’s a certainty.”
Cedric decided to say something.
“Peter and Daphne, you and your kind are the very reason I left this shit-hole and all the phony crap. Daphne did you know that Peter likes to be fucked up the arse by a prostitute wearing a dildo. And did you know that he has hidden around ten million pounds from you because he intends to divorce you and shack-up with his ex-secretary in a couple of years. Peter you must know about Daphne, the stable boy, and her personal trainer. And did you know that she likes to take two at the same time?”
Peter got up.
“You bastard. You utter bastard. Get out before I call security.”
“No I’m staying. You leave Peter. You and your whole phony fucking life. Please leave.”
Peter stormed off with Daphne close behind. They left the hall, and Cedric could see Peter spitting venom at Daphne as they left.”
Jack had never seen anything like it.
“God, that was brilliant Cedric. Who next?”
“Well there is a couple over there, just like Peter and Daphne. Rupert and Rebecca. He too is hiding money. Around twenty million in his case, and she tells her boyfriends he is impotent. She’s also addicted to cocaine, and stupid Rupert doesn’t even suspect it. The difference is that this time, you spill the beans.”
“Oh no. I don’t have the nerve to do that Cedric. You are asking too much.”
“OK.” Replied Cedric.
That casual acceptance caused Jack to have second thoughts. He would do it. Oh my God, he would do it.
The same sequence of events took place. Rupert and Rebecca bragged endlessly about yacht, private plane, holiday home near San Tropez in the South of France, and finally the three million pound bonus Rupert got because he asset stripped an otherwise viable company for a very good profit. Jack took this as his cue.
“Oh Rupert. This drivel makes me want to puke. I don’t suppose you know that Rebecca is a cocaine addict, and is telling all her boyfriends that you are impotent. And Rebecca. Those bonuses of Rupert’s. He’s hidden around twenty million from you, because like most of your sort, he has no real feelings for you, and plans to leave you – for a better life.”
Rupert lunged at Jack, but Cedric quickly deflected the blow.
“If you take Jack on, you also take me on Rupert. Now fuck off, and go and live your shabby life.”
Jack’s heart was nearly leaping out of his mouth. He couldn’t believe he had just done that.
This had caused something of a commotion, and security had rushed to see what was going on.
“Oh it’s nothing chaps. I think he was a little drunk.” Cedric calmly said.
The hotel manager came to see what was going on, and paid due defference to Cedric.
“I hope nothing has spoiled your evening sir.”
“No, not at all, I’m having a very good time.”
Cedric and Jack played their game with two more couples, until Cedric tired of it and called it a night. As they were walking down the corridor to their rooms Jack could not hold back his curiosity.
“How do you know all those things about those people?”
“I told you I could out-play all theses small time fuckers, and so this kind of information is absolutely essential.”
They left early the next morning, and Jack had been changed for ever.
There was one thing bothering Jack, and he waited until they were well into their journey to raise it.
“You know, what we did last night was not very kind Cedric.”
“Let me tell you what is not very nice. Asset stripping viable businesses, junking them and putting thousands of people out of work is not very nice either Jack. Neither is selling the stock of failing businesses to unsuspecting buyers. Oh, and how about sucking hundreds of billions out of the public purse because they have gambled and lost, and are “too big to fail”. Money that could have been spent on health care, education, care for the elderly, and so on. These people rape the country just so they can live in their own self made hell. If they were decent honest people like your father, they would be immune to the treatment they got last night. But as it is they are not decent, honest people, and so they get what they deserve. In any case they will have forgotten it all within a week. Most of them are psychopaths after all.
This little trip out was for you to see one thing. And that is what happens to people when the beast has no restraints. They lose their humanity and become empty shells. This was all for your benefit Jack.”