Saul is smiling. He tolerates The Genius. Even when The Genius is writing on his tablecloth in the Turf Club and telling Saul what lousy stewards he has at Tropical, Saul tolerates The Genius. "Don't listen to Sam," he says. "Sam's just talking for publication." Saul moves away, looking for Julian Cole, his publicity man. Immediately he is irritated. "Where's Julian? I told him, right after the second race. We'll go down right after the second race. How can anybody be so slow and so stupid?"
Julian Cole materializes, carrying a fistful of envelopes. His posture is as bad as Silberman's is good. One tight black curl comes down over his wide forehead. His black eyes glisten and move; Ideas and Strokes of Genius foment behind them. Julian might easily be called the nonpareil of Miami publicity men, if in that surfeited environment it would not be like choosing one wave over another. Julian is excellent at his job, but Saul is a believer in oligarchy. He treats Julian in the same derogatory manner he treats all his help. He has fired his waiter, Max Applebaum, every racing day for 17 years. "Why can't you do something right?" he yells at Renzetti. "Julian," he says to Cole, "you're a nice guy and the press likes you, but you're like all p.r. men. You're dead from the neck up." They all love him, Saul's help.
Cole believes you achieve a compatability with Silberman when you realize he can do your job better than you can. There was a point in their relationship when Saul asked Julian where the advertising signs were for the buses. "They're on the buses," said Julian. Saul shouted: "Which buses? What numbers? Where are the buses now?" Cole did not know. "Dammit, Julian, can't you do anything right?" "No, Mr. Silberman." "What—?" "No, because I'm stupid. Didn't you tell me I was stupid?" "What? Well...." Saul walked away. Julian is now able to recite the names, numbers and routes of 150 metropolitan buses that display Tropical Park advertising posters.
The way it is, you know you're doing a good job when Saul stops criticizing you. As a rule of the road, however, if he sees you he gives you hell. Cole and Elmer Vickers, an ex- FBI man who is the track manager and Saul's right arm, moved their offices out of the Turf Club so they would not be bumping into Saul so much. Vickers is a tall, distinguished-looking man with gray hair and a picture of J. Edgar Hoover on his office wall. He got to know Saul when he was tailing big spenders at Pimlico, making sure they bet everything at the windows. Vickers was impressed with Saul as being honest if testy and candid if blunt and has been with him 17 years. He always calls him "Mr. Silberman." Saul has told people that Vickers is the only man he is afraid to fire for fear he might take him up on it.
The stack of envelopes Julian Cole is carrying for Saul are addressed "To Our $2 Bettor." Inside each envelope are a starchy $20 bill and a note from Silberman: "Thanks for being with us, good luck." One day a season he goes around passing out 50 of these envelopes, because Tropical is known as the "friendly track" and Saul likes to perpetuate the image. With his entourage, including Cole and a few photographers and reporters rounded up for the event, Saul walks down from the carpeted Turf Club to the Cuban tile of the Clubhouse, down to the grandstand, where the bare concrete is littered with losing tickets and the dress is shirtsleeve and beat-up Palm Beach and frayed cardigan instead of blazers and mink. Saul moves as easily in one place as the other. In that blue suit, with that terrific posture, he stands out. He is looking, looking, very carefully. He gives the first three envelopes to women, and one kisses him on the cheek. "See?" he says. "I'm no dope." He stops at the line where the sign says "$2 Place" and offers an envelope to an old man in tennis shoes and a shirt with paint spots. The old man is imperious. "Do you know who I am, lad?" he says. "I'm————. I was a medic in World War II. You can't fool a medic, you know."
"See how tough it is to give money away?" Saul says to his group. "He thinks I'm a tout. Go ahead, open it," he orders the old man. "Maybe it will change your luck." The old man lifts out the $20 bill. He raises his eyebrows. He takes Saul's hand and shakes it firmly. "Just remember my name, lad, if you pass this way again."
The word is out now and the beggars are coming around getting in Saul's way. Saul ignores them. He goes upstairs to shake them off and to bet the third race, then comes back down with the envelopes. Out in the paddock he draws a crowd around two old ladies on a bench. They are also in tennis shoes. They are suspicious of the envelopes. They want to have him arrested for trying to push tout sheets. They take out the 20s and one holds hers up to the light. "It's counterfeit," she announces. "I ought to report you to Mr. Silberman for passing counterfeit bills." Saul is delighted. "If it's counterfeit, I'll give you another just like it. Here." She reads the note. Saul starts to leave. "You forgot something on this note," the old woman says. "You forgot to put, 'Thanks sucker.' " Saul laughs all the way back to the Turf Club.
Saul Silberman and his handsome, nongambler wife, Lillian, live in a $250,000 waterfront home on Miami Beach with three servants who have been with them forever and a black poodle named Nappy, which is short for Napoleon (Little Napoleon is Saul's other nickname). Pete, the Filipino cook, has a fashionable accent that Saul says is getting suspiciously thicker every year. The house has four guest rooms, his-and-her lanais by the heated pool, which Saul walks laps around and swims laps across (at the shallow end); it has 13 television sets, Oriental rugs, a sign at the bar that says "I am the master of this house, whatever my wife says shall be done," and it has 10 bathrooms, all immaculate and piled high with fancy little bars of soap. Saul has a great predilection for cleanliness. He has been known to insult waiters who served him with dirty towels over their arms. He inspects bathrooms carefully. He cancelled his account at the Zephyr Room in Cleveland because the faucets snapped back, so the management put in new ones, the kind that stay on, and sent Saul a special invitation to return.
The Silberman den is a repository for trophies and plaques from the hospitals and high schools and Khoury League baseball teams that enjoy the Silberman largesse. Long years ago, during the Depression, Saul was a $5-a-house appraiser for the Home Owners' Loan Corporation and worried about the staying power of the checks he gave the grocer. Now he gives money away like he was trying to set a record. The other night, in the Napoleon Room (no connection, only coincidence) of the Deauville Hotel on Miami Beach, Saul got up to receive the Good Samaritan Award as the Variety Children's Hospital Man of the Year, and while he was up being applauded the thought struck him to pledge another $50,000, which he did before he sat down. A 56-bed surgical floor at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital is called "The Silberman Pavilion."
It is here, in the glistening den, on a Sunday afternoon when the Silbermans have open house and friends drop in to try Pete's flamb�, that the man of the house gathers up his Scotch and ruminates about his life and how he got into this mess and out of that one. He happens to be a great storyteller. So what came first, his bar mitzvah or his first million? "Don't ask questions," he says. "I'll answer your questions before you ask them."