Benno Traut

Benno Traut was nearly an American.  He had lived in this country long enough to learn the buzzwords and favorite phrases of the dynamic entrepreneurial class – the segment of America that he had decided, even in Germany, to make his own.  He transformed himself, over the five year period since his decision, from an intense, long haired, bearded European pseudo-intellectual into the smiling, clean-faced, upwardly mobile and charmingly accented member of the Chamber of Commerce of Pompano Beach.  The ladies laughed at his anecdotes and were aroused secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) by his simmering sexuality.  The men took him on golf trips and slapped his back in bar rooms, liked to be near him and to be considered his friend.  He was invited to all the parties and meetings and fund raisers, and his future worth was an exponential product of his present value.  But in fleeting moments at pool side, and during reflective interludes after countless afternoon liaisons at luxurious Miami hotels, his pale blue eyes would freeze and gaze fixedly into the past, and his boyishly handsome face would mutate into a frightening, almost bizarre caricature of himself.  It never lasted long, and few others ever noticed.  But those who did shuddered and backed away, and wondered what demons might be locked inside the mind of Benno Traut.

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