"Nothing wrong in the family?"
"No, everything's fine. Why?"
"He seemed upset yesterday."
Beau's son Jonathan is 24 and lives in Miami. He shrugged. "He gets in moods."
"Tell me," I said. "Did you ever see your father fight?"
"On tape. I thought he was crazy when I saw it. But I have seen him train guys. Ninety-eight percent of them are gone after a few months. I've seen him swing a stick under their legs, making them jump, and when they can't pick up their legs anymore, he's hitting their legs with the stick. They'll say, 'You're stupid, you're trying to hurt me.' He says, 'That's right. They're gonna try to kill you in the ring.' Funny thing, my dad never even spanked us."
"Must have been pretty rough growing up," I said. "Moneywise, I mean."
"Not really. My dad didn't need to shine shoes. He just went back to what he knew before boxing. Five of us were in private school while he was shining shoes. He must have a hundred suits in his closet at my mother's house. Never wears them, but he's got them. We could get anything from my dad—all we had to do was ask. I tested him once. I asked him to buy me a DeLorean. He looked at me for two minutes. 'Are you a good son?' he asked. I said, 'I guess so.' He said, 'Listen to your mom, and I'll get it for you.' I started feeling guilty. I said, 'No, that's O.K., Dad.' So he bought me a Mustang instead.
"His manager ripped him off, but not everything. He's got land in Georgia, some investments. And he doesn't spend money, lives real simple. I've begged him to move out of that place where he lives; that's not a good area. But he told me, 'Son, always play broke. Don't let people know you have a cent.' "
I lingered near his door again, looking into his cubicle. In the day that had passed, it seemed he hadn't stirred. His body was still contorted in the chair, twisted back so he could stare out the window and not show his face. "Beau," I called. He didn't move or reply. I left, bewildered.