Caption: Former Shores Security Guard, Charles Bennett always finishes.

This Sunday will mark the 38th running of the L.A. Marathon and my friend, Charles Bennett, is entered in what will be his 33rd marathon. His first was 1974 and then, oddly, as Charles is occasionally prone to be, he didn’t enter another until 2002. He jokes now that if he runs two marathons a year, at age 100 he will have competed in 100.

I first met Charles in 1986 when he was a security guard at The Shores apartments where I’ve live. Ever diligent, he was by far the best guard at the Shores even though there was almost zero crime. Years before Bennett, I was a Shores security guard and might have been among the worst because I spent more time writing my novel than patrolling the grounds. (“An Eight Pound Six Ounce Lawyer” was a semi-autobiographical 70’s comedy featuring a Jewish mother who wanted her son to be a lawyer but he was a hippy working for the Forest Service.)

The all-time worst security guard had to be a short, bald Egyptian in his 50’s named Fahmy who insisted on being called Sergeant Fahmy because he wore a leather jacket from a previous security job with Sergeant stripes on it. Fahmy worked from midnight to 8 am during which he was often having sex with women in the building. (He turned the rental office with its black leather couches into a boudoir, with mood lighting, a stereo, a TV and a bottle of scotch.)

An indication of Charles’ dedication to the job occurred when a neighbor on the 9th floor was moving and had some furniture she thought I might want outside her door. It included a night stand, a desk, lamps and a cabinet with glass doors that opened to shelves and a chest of drawers.

It was a struggle to move the chest by myself but when I returned to my surprise the desk was gone. I called Charles in the Security Office to report it and, like a hard boiled cop, he grilled me about the height,width and color of the desk as he seemed to be taking copious notes. But when I went back to the 9th I was surprised again. My friend’s neighbor sincerely apologized for having taken the desk thinking they just left it for anyone. She even helped me put it on the elevator.

When I phoned Bennett to explain there was no theft he was crestfallen. “So you won’t be pressing any charges, Mr. Neworth?” The irony is that with so much crime these days I’m prone to say “Where’s Bennett when we need him?” Technically, we don’t have security guards as they are called “Courtesy Attendants.”

Charles was born and raised in England but came to America to join the Marines and then the Air Force. His military training may have helped in his often harrowing 40 year career as a security guard. He’s had a gun pointed at him numerous times and once was threatened with a knife, all of which he seemed to take in stride. He’s remarkably reliable, honest and is a true minimalist.

For example, Charles has no: TV, computer, answering machine, cellphone or car and walks to and from work located on Santa Monica Blvd. That said, he’s very content with his life. He reads newspapers, magazines, and especially the Bible almost every night. He even found a passage he believes refers to security guards in Isaiah chapter 62, verse 6, “I have said watchman upon my walls oh Jerusalem which shall never hold their peace day or night.”

Bennett’s greatest passion are marathons for which he prepares assiduously. He has run in heavy rain, severe heat and windy conditions and yet has completed every race except one when it was so cold he suffered from hypothermia.

While Charles has a considerable sense of humor, he’s generally stoic, especially in his unique monotone British voice. Don’t ask how or why, but over the years I learned to imitate his voice “to a t” as the Brits might say. Proof of that came one day a few years back when Charles called to report he just had a phone conversation with his brother in England, “Whom I haven’t talked to in ten years. But I suddenly became convinced it was you, Mr. Neworth!” I asked nervously, “What did you do?” “I hung up on him,” Charles replied casually.

Concerned I might have inadvertently caused a cross continent family feud, I apologized profusely. But Charles comforted me, “Don’t worry, Mr. Neworth, I don’t much care for him.”

So Charles, my good man, as a former security guard to you, a dean of security guards, I wish the best of luck on Sunday. Remember, you only need 67 marathons more to hit 100!

With an estimated 25,000 participants, the L.A. Marathon is Sunday, March 19th and starts at Dodger Stadium, Lot H at 6:55 a.m. It will be broadcast by KTLA (channel 5) from 6:00 a.m. until 11 p.m. and at Jack can be reached at: