Swamped, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

        Eteo had worked with a lot of different people since his first day as a stockbroker. He had met the most dubious characters: excellent shysters, plain crooks, lying bastards, and of course some good men and women who just wanted to make some money and thought it could be done in an honest way. Among the many good people he had met over the years was a famous stock promoter, a flamboyant man, a very special man who had left the strangest and yet most beautiful legacy in the Vancouver Stock Exchange and downtown Vancouver in general. This was Maury Benjamin, a man of many virtues, many connections, and innumerable followers, whose name, if mentioned in connection with a junior company, would send the shares soaring upwards in minutes.

Eteo remembered Maury well. He had met the man a number of times over the years. They had even shared a cigarette once, back when Eteo smoked. They had run into each other at one VSE function and Maury, who was trying to quit, and failing, had asked for a cigarette, and they had stood together for a few minutes smoking as if they were old pals. Maury was credited with the discovery of a few mines that had become successful operations but had all started out as junior exploration companies put together as typical VSE fliers only to end up with proven assets and proven reserves. Of course, only some of the companies Maury had gotten involved with over the years had been wildly successful entities, but those were the ones that people remembered.

Eteo too had had his share of unsuccessful ventures. Like Maury and everyone else, he had also gotten involved from time to time with shady promoters who “greased the path” to get their financing completed, others who lied to their teeth, and others who would cheerfully take the whole pie without any concern for right or wrong or even for the long arm of the law. Eteo had financed one of the latter in his early years. The company had owned a mining property in northern British Columbia, a placer gold operation with a new type of sluice box, brand spanking new, manufactured in Germany, and capable of processing thousands of cubic meters of gravel a day. After Eteo had managed to get that company the financing it needed, the whole project had lasted for exactly one season, and the season in northern British Columbia was very short, only from the end of May to early September. The crew worked full speed all summer and accumulated a couple of barrels of black sand mixed with gold flakes. But when it came time to transport the barrels to a smelter to separate the gold from the dust, the truck got “lost” on its way to the Lower Mainland and was never seen again.  Some smartasses pocketed whatever value that black sand had, and the shareholders Eteo had diligently assembled were left holding the bag. To make matters worse, he never heard anything from the management of that junior about the asset they had “lost” in transit. This had left a bad taste in Eteo’s mouth, but there was one silver lining to the scam. The company directors hired a duet of promoters with orders to pump and dump the stock, something that occurred often back then, and when these promoters somehow pushed the shares from 40 cents to more than two and a half dollars, Eteo managed to get a generous profit for his clients, having gotten in at 35 to 40 cents.