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The bell jingled above the screen entrance door of the twenty-four hour Esso truck stop alerting the three of us sitting there that someone had entered. It was around two am, he was muscular, partly unshaven, smokes hung from his jean jacket waiting to be lit.  Catching his gaze, the look of death and war zones emanated my way. 

After all, I’ve read the eyes don’t lie.

Glancing around the small fifties style restaurant, sizing it up in a moment like a man on a reconnaissance patrol ready to bolt, take cover or get rid of what was before him at whatever expense.

I looked away as I caught his eye again. At sixteen I didn’t know nor understand what the depths of war did to a man’s soul. Reading novels, which the three of us did while drinking watery coffee and eating French fries drenched in beef gravy while sitting there, mainly giving the waitress or waiter on duty someone to talk to. They didn’t mind us, in fact rather liked having someone there to feel safe. A lot of truckers, lonely men I’d come to realize and bikers as well, came in in the late hours of the night. 

Just outside of the city's boundary’s busy highway traffic zipped by. Some customers chatted to the staff, most tried hitting on them, hoping to get lucky.

He squatted on one of the stools around the two half circles of the diner. Back to the wall, not prepared to relax in one of the four booths, like we did, with the twenty five cent jukebox machines on the wall begging for someone to feed its throat. 

Wayne and Dean continued eating their cooling fries. Wayne, a fan of westerns, reading Louis L'Amour. Dean, a saucy thriller novel. I put my sword and sorcery novel down to the cool laminate surface knowing the battle within this man was beyond anything I’d ever read. He’d been through things I’d only read about and hopefully never have to experience.

He glared at the waitress, a deep voice asking what pies they had. I knew the answer, the same as it had always been in the two years we’d been coming on most weekends.

“Apple, Liaison, Chelly, Bluebelly,” sang from her whimsical oriental-accented voice. 

“I’ll have an apple pie, coffee and one to go,” he spat, looking up my way, knowing I was watching. War zones erupted, jungles he prowled in once: Vietnam, Korea stalked in his heart.

Where one click, one crack of a branch in the stillness meant life or death. An experience I’d not known. The only tension I’d experienced was kissing my girlfriend Shelley and hoping to get past first base. His eyes rang of men dying, guts exploding in machine gun fire as friends vanished never to be talked to again. With death in a masquerade of justice, pirouetting in sadistic poetic grace, sauntering elegantly, between branches of jungle forest. 

I knew he’d broken necks, slashed throats and seen more horrors then I’d read in the gory sword and sorcery novels I’ve read. 

Like an overcoat in warming comfort Death clung to his backside. Clutching at his senses, on a moment's vigilance waiting to strike.

Growls of Harleys pulling into the parking lot echoed out in the dark. Three bikers strolled in under the jingle of the bell, bearing patches on their backs of some gang they belonged to like emblems of a battalion. It was obvious they’d been drinking and spoiling for a fight or some kind of trouble. On occasion we’d leave out the back way where it was safe. This wasn’t a clean part of town. The bar at the other end of the block just closed for the night and often had many fights erupting from it. 

One staggered and bumped the man as they walked by, not apologizing. He said nothing, nor moved, not needing to instill bloodshed tonight.

“Hey, buster, we usually sit there in these stools,” another barked. The waitress’s hand shook as she placed the coffee and pie before him and another in the paper to-go-cup. He caught the fear in her eyes, ignoring the bothersome bikers, like flies on a hot summer day. If they simply walked to another stool all would have been chill. 

“He told you to move the fuck over,” the third, bigger, with a larger gut than the others blurted out from his superiority through male beer-induced bravado. 

Never getting to finish his sentence, the man spun around on the well-greased rotating stool. One hand blazed backwards nailing the rude biker between the legs. He rose, grabbed the second biker by the face and hammered it to the marble top. The third he kicked between the ribs. Bones cracked.

He glared outside in case more were coming in as the three bikers crumbled in pain. One puked up the beers he’d downed earlier. 

“I’ll just have the coffee to go.” 

I shook, hoping he wasn’t coming our way as he stared back at us. 

I knew he could have killed the three just as fast if he wanted to. He grabbed the paper cup, steam rose holding it in a steady hand that had no mercy or feelings left in it. I knew silence was a virtue with him with a memory of instilled training and horrors I’d never know nor hopefully ever have to experience.

The waitress came with sugar and milk, staring at the three moaning bikers. 

“I like it black, straight up. Good coffee, I’ll pass on the pie.” He stared my way, threw a dollar coin on the counter worth four times the current price of the coffee, walked over the one retching up and disappeared into the night to the jingle of the entrance bell like he’d done in the jungle. Uncompromising, invisible.

Still in that glance the lifetimes he’d endured came to me naturally, like leaves falling from trees. Carved into the soul of this man, never leaving him, bearing it forever.

What I read about it, he lived. After all, the eyes don’t lie.


The author has been called a natural storyteller who writes like his soul is on fire and the pencil is his voice screaming. Literature written beyond the realms of genre, whose compelling thoughts are freed from the depths of the heart and the subconscious before being poured onto the page. Known to grab readers kicking, screaming, laughing or crying and drag them into his novels.

To date he has over fifty articles/short stories, sixty blog posts and fifteen novels written or published. One, The Joining, top three finalist in the Canadian Book Club Awards in 2020, out of nearly two hundred entries.


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