On Gatsby

Originally, I got to know Gatsby because I was invited to his lavish parties out at his “house” in West Egg. I’m not much of a party guy, but my girlfriend (now, ex-girlfriend) said it would be fun. I knew better. I had seen a million of these guys come into the business, get used up, and vanish, die. Yesterday, some two-bit mechanic broke into his house and shot him. I lied just now when I said I didn’t know Jay Gatsby before I went to his party. Years ago, when we were both innocent kids growing up in Minnesota, I knew him as a quiet, Jim Gatz, a normal guy with honest aspirations and dreams. Then the war came, we were sucked into the great war machine, we went to Europe and our paths crossed again, albeit briefly. He was just a kind, humble guy in those days, but I could tell he was also hungry. Yet even in war, he was nothing like the strange, cold monster I encountered on the lawn of his mansion. We didn’t talk. After I came home from the war I found that my girl had married someone else so I moved to New York and got a job on Wall Street. My accounting degree from a small liberal arts school in the Midwest was just the ticket I needed to get into banking. I even look the part–skinny, glasses, bad hair, but I have mad accounting skills. To say that Gatsby was up to his ears in illegal activities is to not really understand the problem at all. He helped move merchandise for his mob, laundered profits into legitimate businesses, and fronted for some pretty nasty cats up in New York City. Let’s not get squeamish or prissy, but part of my firm’s business was to launder money, and some of these bootleggers had tons of it–cash. Now, there is nothing wrong with cash, but if you have lots, the government wants to know where it came from. You know, did you pay your taxes? Gatsby was a great front for his syndicate because he looked the part–handsome, blond, broad shoulders, charm, great smile, he didn’t drink or gamble, didn’t womanize or take drugs. It’s kind of hard to trust a guy with no vices, although I always suspected he had at least one. The difference between the two of us is that I was just an anonymous accountant with a bad scar who worked in a windowless office on Wall Street. I may have skills, but no one wants me to represent the firm in public. So, for a ton of money, Gatsby sold his soul to the Devil so the Devil could launder his money and turn it into legitimate business ventures. Gatsby looked the part of a legitimate businessman, but he was as dirty as they come, and I would know, I’ve seen them all. Gatsby’s cut made him a millionaire, made him a success, but it also made him numb to almost any and all ethical considerations. He didn’t enjoy his parties, and I get the feeling he knew almost no one there. I assume he was killed because of a woman, but that’s rather irrelevant, especially for Gatsby. Too much money too fast will kill you every time.