EMAIL FROM SEBASTIAN H. BROUSSEAU TO PETRA REVENUE (Dear Mr S)
Miss P, I had wine tonight… too much. Maybe I shouldn’t write when I am drunk. In this condition, I have less inhibitions and I am more myself. Maybe you will get to know a new side of me. Do you remember when you talked about the thin line between normal and pathology? This runs deeply in me because of how I was raised. I remember my mother slapping or beating me if I was second or third in class. I had to be the best. There are things that trigger my moods, emotions, how I react.
I hate losing. Losing is something that is not in my blood. Of course, I can lose a game of tennis or pool (I love to play pool, which you might call billiards), but when I’m involved in a project, when I have a goal, I normally never lose. For clients, our success rate is about 96%. Preparation is often the key to win a case in court.
Violence doesn’t just hurt on the spot.
It can hurt years after. (extract of Dear Mr S)
/ Sebastian H. Brousseau
When I was young, my mother would hit me with a large and long wooden spoon. At a certain age, if I remember between 8 and 10, she broke one on my ass and I suddenly felt I had the power and she couldn’t do anything worse. She stopped having control over me. Belts were also used. At that age, I started to run faster and could avoid her. My father wasn’t at home often. I realized later that my situation was similar to a little girl who was sexually assaulted by her father—it’s never done when the mother is there, or maybe the mother is blind and refuses to see it. In my case, it was the opposite. The aggressor was my mother.
What is difficult to explain is that violence doesn’t just hurt on the spot. It can hurt years after.
Today, I fight even if I know I will lose. I use the benefits of losing to take me higher. It is like a drug and fixed in my DNA. An example: I was in front of a private committee of the Bar Association in Québec around 1997, a committee that was obviously biased against me. They were hostile and I felt it. I played them without telling anyone, not even a friend. It was a thrill for me.
I had nothing to lose so I made it theatrical. I watched, for a week or two, all the best movies about laws and legal cases. I tried to figure out which movie and which part had the best plea. I finally picked a speech in the movie Philadelphia, explaining why Tom Hanks’ character became a lawyer. It really touched me. I felt it applied to my situation.
Movies cost millions. Each word is calculated, written by professionals. Especially movies made in Hollywood—remember that I studied movies and how stories are constructed. I was a kid, with no pleading experience. I knew I would lose in front of a committee where members were pillars of the Bar Association, but everything I said would go on appeal and judges would hear me.
So I memorized that whole part from Philadelphia. It is just a speech of about 2 minutes. I learned it by heart, word by word. I rehearsed in my small apartment on rue Cartier where I was living with a roommate, paying low rent, and working as a volunteer on different committees and organizations, without almost any money. By that time I had already cut ties with my father.
I changed some words but it was mostly like the movie: a brilliant pleading scene. Of course, I lost. For many years I kept a copy of the stenographic notes (the words said in court) and framed it as a kind of trophy, to remind me that I wasn’t a fool, I was just acting in front of that Committee. But the plea or speech wasn’t enough. Worse, I believed everything that I said in front of that Committee, even if the speech was written by someone else. Later, I won on appeal. And after that I lost another appeal. On that day, in February 2001, I died a second time. I felt that I would be nothing for the rest of my life. I also felt that way in November 1990. Twice, I lost everything I had. Twice, I was able to rebuild something out of misery and really bad situations. Today, I understand that being a lawyer, having money or being successful is not what makes you happy. Relationships that you develop tend to make you happier.
Quebec killer wins right to become lawyer
I believe a member of that committee is now a judge at the Supreme Court of Canada: what a shame. He made a huge mistake. I was not going to be a risk to society by becoming a lawyer, and that was proven later. Now, he judges at the highest level. He can still make mistakes like we all do. That’s the paradigm of law. Should we follow the law when the law is unfair?
I wouldn’t like to be a judge but if I was one, I would listen to people. I would judge with rationality, the law, the proof, but mostly with my convictions and my heart. You are rarely wrong with the last two.
EMAIL FROM PETRA REVENUE TO SEBASTIAN H. BROUSSEAU
Dear Mr S. Thank you for your letter about the speech and Philadelphia. I used to live there. Not in the script but in the city. (Bad joke, I know.) Have I told you this? I left for America when I was eighteen and got married when I was twenty. My husband had a blue Cadillac. Now he is a born-again Christian. (And that is not a joke.) I blocked him from Facebook when he thanked God for killing a priest who was hit by a car. The priest was not 100% against abortion. Ambivalence is scary to any fundamentalist. My ex probably thought the priest was punished for not taking a clear stand.
Anyway, today I received a text from one of my dad’s friends in Thailand:
How much can we pay to make papers legal?
Want to sell the cars.
Talk to your brother!
What’s left of my dad’s cars and motorcycles is entombed on a man’s farm, I will not tell you where. In a garage with no doors. A graveyard of things. My dad’s “friend” made the arrangement before he went to Sweden over the winter—he runs a restaurant and a campground in the north. He was worried, when emptying dad’s house, that other Swedish men would get angry at him because he helped us. Their opinion was that we should leave everything to Lay, but she lives with another one of dad’s friends now. I think I told you. What a mess. The new guy moved into the house we are arguing about. Can you imagine? It’s like a bad soap opera. She has built an altar to my father’s honor. Despite all the strange events. What will the new man feel and think when he is laying in my dad’s bed looking at the altar and seeing all the pictures of my Dad? Is he ecstatic about not having to pay any rent?
The man with the garage without doors said he wanted my father’s jukebox. That’s all. As a “thank you” gift for helping us out, but maybe he is planning to get rid of everything? I mean, he has all the stuff now. Will he sell it and keep the money? I don’t know. My dad’s way of doing business is beyond comprehension for a person who tries to respect the law, like me. My dad was the opposite, he loved to break every law he could. It was a game to him. A lifestyle, a challenge. If he had a choice, as my brother often says, like buying a car legally or illegally, he would always chose the illegal way. On some strange level it made him happy to know that no laws applied to him. The identity of being an outsider runs deep. Someone not trustworthy.
I know I shouldn’t tell you this. Since you are MY lawyer now. So this part is purely fiction. Agreed?!