Silver Fox had Paper on Everyone. That’s why the grove stayed the grove. He preferred Banyan trees instead of Banyan Apartments. Retired police chief, friend to all and also head warlock in a coven of good witches that protected Coconut Grove. A good soul who would come support the Bethlehem Asylum whenever we played the Grove Pub. He was like a father to the hippie girls. Very nice guy with an easy laugh, living very simply in a small bungalow. He had a private investigating firm that was very discreet and very thorough. He had enough incriminating evidence on anyone planning to bulldoze the grove to stop them in their tracks. When he died, it was a shock and a mystery. Dressed normally in Bermudas, sandals and a beer, it was odd to find him in a suit propped up on his bed in the morning, very dead. Some say it was cat scratch fever. The new competing coven had given him a peace offering of a small cute little kitten.
The Wake was held at the Bethlehem Asylum mansion. At the back of a circular driveway on Main Highway, just a block from the Coconut Grove Playhouse, next to Ransom School, back in the Banyan grove that led down to the water, was a castle of coral rock built in the nineteen thirties. The porticos extended with filagreed corkscrew stanchions. Old green brass canvas cabanas on the second floor overlooked the jungle of Banyan trees. String roots descended from the green canopy of leaves to hover just above car top level on the side road. Backyard, The Largest Banyan tree in North America, registered with the Sierra Club, presided over the tropical jungle riot. A two story guest apartment sat at the very back. Climbing into the huge Banyan tree was a daily occupation for anyone visiting the Bethlehem Asylum. Charlie would climb to the top and play his saxello to the trade winds. Biscayne Bay was visible from the top thick branches. Lots of fruit on the trees, and lots of lizards in the grass. A seven foot wall surrounded the property. A huge royal palm was in the middle of the circular driveway. We parked the sound truck off to the side and Mr. resistor’s VW van with the checkered demon painted on the prow sat off to the other side. The front door was large and heavy with an old demon for a knocker. The courtyard was wrought iron from the thirties. Inside, the walls displayed fossils imbedded in the coral rock. Glass brick walls accented the raised bar and the raised dining room. The flamingo carved fireplace was big enough to fall into, topped by a mirror ascending up to the living room ceiling thirty feet above. Thirteen rooms and five bathrooms. The living room could hold a hundred people, who were currently lounging, drinking, telling stories about Silver Fox. The music was pretty loud. People sprawled on the carpeted floor in front of the fireplace. A film crew stepped carefully over bodies and eventually got to me sitting by the bar above the crowd. “We heard about your parties. Can we shoot for our film class at NYU?”
“See those people? A lot of them do not want to have their picture taken. If you do take their picture, they will probably kill you.”
This night there was a truce. All parties attending would be on their best behavior. A drug dealer couple dressed in matching red crushed velvet suits arrived in a stretch, chatted with narcs. Spooks chatted with FBI. Girls everywhere dressed in tropical see through hippie garb. The limos came and went all night long. Hogs, menacing and shiny were prominently displayed around the driveway. The police sat in their squad cars out at the discreet edge of the property. I called over to Jim, or rather ‘Captain Ego’ as he preferred to be called. Normally he dressed in black leotards, a cape, headband, knee high leather boots, wrists and waist wrapped in studded black leather. Tonight in honor of Silver Fox, Jim was dressed in his formal biker attire, “… go see what’s going on with john bull..” He sauntered out to Main Highway and leaned on a black and white and nodded to a few cops he knew by name. They would come to Jim when parents were desparately looking for their runaway daughters. Jim would usually know where she was. Most of the time. Once he did not and that was a heartbreaker. He came back and repeated what they said to him, “Whatever you guys are doing, we are here to make sure that it goes smoothly, undisturbed. Those are the orders. Enjoy.”