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BOCA KNIGHTS AND OTHER SUPERHEROES MID-JANUARY 2006
Some people say I'm a senior-citizen superhero. I'm not. Superheroes have special powers. I have special needs. Superman has X-ray vision. I'm nearsighted. Batman has a Batmobile. I have a Mini Cooper. Spider-Man spins large webs. I have an enlarged prostate. I was Boston's most decorated and demoted policeman in my prime and the best marksman on the force. Now, I'm just a sixty-one-year-old ex-Boston cop trying to adapt to life's changes. I retired to Boca Raton three years ago, and after solving local crimes and rescuing two damsels in distress, I became a private detective. A young newspaper reporter looking for a story dubbed me the Boca Knight, and the name stuck. I'm a little guy, barely five foot six, 165 pounds. But I'm fearless and that makes me bigger.
I had just sat down at the counter at Kugel's Boca Deli and ordered a cup of coffee when an old man tapped my shoulderand asked if I was the Boca Knight. I nodded. "Eddie Perlmutter," I said, and held out my hand.
"Herb Brown." His hand felt like old iron. "I'm a big fan of yours."
"I'm a big fan of the US Marines," I said, pointing to the SEMPER FI insignia on his cap. "You live in Boca, Herb?"
"I retired here thirteen years ago."
"Enjoying your retirement?"
"Not really," he said. "My wife died five years ago."
"My wife died over twenty years ago."
We retreated to our coffee cups, both of us thinking of lost love.
"When were you in the Marines?" I asked.
"World War Two."
"Did you see action?"
"Yeah, in the Pacific," he said. "Tarawa."
"I never heard of it."
"I wish I hadn't," Brown said.
"Two thousand Marines killed in three days," he told me.
"How many Japanese?"
"Who cares? I know I didn't kill any. I never got off the beach."
"I got shot in the ass."
I didn't know what to say ... but I knew what not to say.
"Aren't you going to ask me if I was retreating?" Brown asked irritably.
"No, but it sounds like someone did ... and you're still pissed."
"Wouldn't you be?"
"Damn right," I said.
"You would have made a good marine." Herb Brown patted my shoulder.
"I was never in the service."
"You were a street soldier."
"The streets could be a war zone sometimes," I agreed.
"They're worse now with the illegal immigrants."
"I don't talk about religion or politics."
"Me neither," he said. "But I don't like that black senator from Illinois. How would you like having a liberal black man from Kenya as president someday?"
"How do you feel about having a conservative white man from Texas as president today?"
The old soldier smiled. "Good point."
"Hey, Eddie," a familiar voice called. Steve Coleman, a friend from Boston, came up behind me and rubbed my shoulders like a trainer rubs a fighter. "How's my favorite superhero?"
"I'll ask him when I see him," I said. "Say hello to Herb Brown."
They shook hands.
Steve glanced at his watch and ordered a coffee to go.
"What's the hurry?" I asked.
"Investment club meeting in fifteen minutes."
"Has your club ever made money?"
"Never," he admitted. "But that's changing tonight."
"Do you plan to rob a bank?"
"Better," Steve said. "B.I.G. Investments has agreed to take our money."
I stopped in mid sip. "You're making money because someone is taking your money?"
"Not just someone. B. I. Grover."
"I never heard of him."
"Everybody's heard of him," Steve insisted.
"I never heard of him either," Herb Brown said.
"He's been making more money than anyone in the investment business for thirty years. He never loses," Steve bragged.
"Everyone loses," Herb Brown said.
Steve smiled indulgently.
"What's his rate of return?" Brown asked.
"Twelve to twenty percent."
"That's unbelievable," Brown replied.
"Yes, it is," Steve agreed.
"Then why do you believe it?" I asked.
Steve patted my shoulder. "Grover is a genius, Eddie. His clients are big-time businessmen, charities, and celebrities. His fund has been closed for years."
"Why is it suddenly open?" I asked.
"It's not sudden. It took us two years to get in. We got lucky."
"Or unlucky," Brown said. "How much did you invest?"
"Twenty guys at two hundred and fifty grand. That's his minimum." Steve glanced at his watch again. "Gotta go, money never sleeps."
Steve was barely out the door when Brown said, "And a fool and his money are soon parted."
"You think he's being foolish?" I asked.
"No one beats the competition all the time. Something isn't kosher."
"A lot of smart investors think he can."
"Who says they're smart?"
"Are you an investor?" I asked Herb.
"Yeah. I've had my money with a rock-solid company named Lehman Brothers for years."
I nodded but the name meant nothing to me.
"Is Steve a good friend of yours?" Herb asked.
"He's my best friend's brother-in-law," I said, referring to Togo Amato from the North End of Boston. Togo had been thebest man at my wedding forty years ago and one of my wife's pallbearers twenty years ago. "I'd say we're pretty good friends. Why?"
"You're a licensed private investigator in Florida, right?"
"Over a year," I confirmed.
"Maybe you should do your friend a favor and investigate B. I. Grover."
"Why would I want to do that?"
"If something sounds too good to be true it usually is."
"It's none of my business," I said. "Besides, it's too late."
"It's never too late to help an old friend," my new friend said.
Copyright © 2012 by Steven M. Forman