I was sitting on my regular bar stool nursing a virgin Bullshot. It looked like it was going to be a quiet weekend. The hotel where I was moonlighting from my day job as a city cop was hosting a convention of poets. After all what kind of trouble could a bunch of dreamers cause?
Then he walked into the room, but like the rest of the bar my first glance only saw her. She was wearing a red sequined strapless dress than looked like she was poured into it. I am sure every guy in the place was hoping that she would pop out of it but she had plenty to hold the dress up and in place. I noticed him as gently guided her through the now silent bar. He guided her to a table just off the kitchen doors. It was the worst table in the place because of the constant coming and goings of the wait staff. There were other better tables from which to see the upcoming floor show, but I knew why he wanted that table.
I watched him as he walked; arms hanging loosely at his sides, hands cupped with thumbs over the second knuckle. He twisted sideways avoiding people and furniture, moving across the floor like a dancer except for those relaxed arms. I realized that they weren’t as relaxed as they appeared; they were coiled and ready for action. He was middle aged with longish hair. He wore rimless glasses and had a goatee. The image of an academic except for way he held his arms. He was broad-chested and his arms hung straight down not moving fore or aft. His wrists were thick and powerful.
He was smiling and nodding at people as they made their way to the table. Every fiber of my senses told me that this was a dangerous man. I looked him over carefully to see if I could determine if he was armed. I saw no bulges or imprinting. His shoulders were square he was not favoring either side. I just couldn’t tell but it didn’t appear that he was carrying.
He pulled the lady’s chair out for her and assisted her in seating. He then sat down across the table from her where he had a view of the stage, both entrances to the bar and the kitchen doors. I looked around the room and saw several patrons still staring at her; some had noticed the man but most had not. She was easily half his age and the best looking woman in the place.
They had begun a conversation and from where I was sitting it appeared that they were engrossed in each other. I noticed his eyes continued to scan the room. I also noticed that he was holding his own in the conversation. I got the impression that they were not a couple. They had ordered drinks and I was curious to know what he was drinking so I asked Ralph the bartender. I was informed he was drinking bourbon, Jack Daniel’s Black with a water back. I noticed he was drinking the water and not touching the bourbon.
The lights dimmed and the floor show began. Tonight it was a corny ventriloquist. The bar continued serving drinks through out the show and several patrons were showing the effects and had begun heckling the dummy and the ventriloquist. One table in particular was extra boisterous. Two college aged bozos, both of whom looked like football players.
I left my bar stool and made my way towards the offending table. I introduced myself to them as hotel security and politely requested they hold down their exuberance and let everyone enjoy the show. They were not receptive to my suggestions and I put an edge in my voice to encourage them to behave or leave. They agreed to leave and I started back to my bar stool when out of the corner of my eye I saw them make a beeline for the table with the man and lady. About this time, the lights came up and people started moving around, inadvertently blocking me. The only thing I heard as I got near the table was the seated older man tell the two younger men to apologize to the lady.
I then saw him stand up and as he did he appeared to stumble. As he was going down I saw his body straighten and his shoulder struck one of the men just under the solar plexus and they both fell to the ground. Before hitting the ground the older man twisted sideways and planted his elbow in the throat of one of the young men then he grabbed the trouser leg of the other and caused him to fall also. The older man was back on his feet rapidly but once again he appeared to lose his balance and he stepped or stomped on the second young man’s hand. Only the people directly around the altercation even knew anything had taken place. It was all over in a matter of seconds.
I got on my radio and requested an ambulance because I knew both young men would need one. I approached the older man with my palms outstretched. He was taller than I thought but I could tell he was still coiled and ready to spring. I really did not want a fight because I had the feeling I would lose. I identified myself and requested that he and the young lady proceed to my office by the concierge desk.. While waiting on the ambulance I obtained id’s and stories from the people in the area. No one actually saw what happened, two had heard one of the young men ask the lady, “how much for night?” Most people simply saw three men fall down; some claimed the young men tripped the old man. No one saw what I saw. When the ambulance arrived and they had transported both young men to the local hospital, I returned to my office.
I was mildly surprised to actually find the old man and young lady there. I had expected them to just leave. She was seated and he was leaning against my desk talking on my phone. He hung up and stood upright as I entered the room and then he backed against the wall. I could sense he was taking my measure as I was taking his. I did not want to have this go wrong, so I took off my jacket thus showing my service pistol on my right hip. The old man didn’t even blink.
I took statements from both of them. The young lady hadn’t seen much since it took place behind her and the old man simply said he was soliciting an apology from the young men when he tripped causing them to fall to the floor. He guessed that somehow the young men got injured in the fall. I didn’t push the issue.
In the course of ID-ing them I discovered that she was staying here at the hotel but that he was staying at another hotel several miles away. His ID said William Tell. I asked how they knew each other and they said that they were there for the poet’s convention and had met in one of the seminars. The young lady had asked him to be her escort because “he made her feel safe”. She explained that she was constantly being “hit on” at these conventions and a male escort normally short stopped harassment. I wondered if she really had a clue how dangerous I suspected he could be.
I was fixing to call my station house and run him through the computer when my phone rang. It was my day shift supervisor LT. Williams. He had never called me here at the hotel before. Before I could ask him why, the old man requested permission to escort the young lady to her room. He stated that then he would return. They left and I got back to the LT. He wanted a briefing on what had transpired and I told him both versions mine and the witnesses. He told me to write up the witnesses’ version and forget mine. Try as I could the LT would not say anything more.
The old man did return, this time appearing more relaxed. He lit a cigarette without asking permission, inhaled deeply and then asked me if I had any further questions. I stated yes I had a couple; first I wanted to know just who the heck he was and second why would he attack two younger men who in a fair fight probably could have beaten him.
He responded, “I am just an old poet, in a past life I made some friends. As for your second question, I never fight fair.”
“But what if they had been armed?” I exclaimed.
“They weren’t and I was,” he smiled back.
I looked closer at him, I had observed him in the bar and even now I saw no sign of a gun, so I figured he must be carrying a pocket pistol and I said so.
“No, no pocket pistol,” he said as he opened his vest to show me a 1911A1 .45. As I reached for it I came face to face with a Sig Sauer P245, I knew what it was because I could read the nomenclature on the slide.
“It is polite to ask first, before reaching for a man’s gun!” he said smiling.
I had no idea where the Sig had come from, it was just there.
“Impressive, that’s a lot of firepower, but why?”
“Let’s just say, I learned to depend on me! Even a paranoid has some real enemies.”
‘I suppose you have a permit for that?”
With that he handed me a laminated card. There was no picture on the card just a seal. I blinked twice. It was the Seal of the President of the United States and under that seal were these words:
The bearer of this card is a Federal Law Enforcement Officer and is entitled to all privileges as such within the United States, its territories and on foreign soil according to International Treaties and Pacts. This authorization does not expire. For additional information please call (202)456-1414 and make reference to Authorization #00002.
I had never seen such a card nor has anyone I talked to since but I did call the number and the operator answered, “White House, how may I direct your call?” I hung up.
I asked one final question, “What did you do before you were a poet?”
“I was cop. I was a bodyguard. I was a soldier. I was many things, but William doesn’t tell,” he smirked.
After he left I found a single Winchester silver tip in .45 caliber on my desk. I tried to find out who he was but kept running into bureaucratic brick walls. I kept thinking about that old TV western; about those thrilling days of yesteryear and wondering.
My efforts to track him all failed..