There was no sign of the bus on the horizon, but he just kept right on talking. Staring straight ahead, hands buried in the pockets of his outsized overalls, the Battle-Flag-and-Eagle on his cap bobbing slightly.

“You gotta have good tools to get the job done. Good flashlight most of all. Maglite if you can get it. Light and strong. You can use it to blind critters if you’re fast on the twist.”

“Uh-huh,” I said. “The aluminum makes them light and strong.” I felt I had to say something, even if I didn’t want to engage any further than I already had.

“Light and strong’s a good quality for a knife, too,” he continued. “I like a good knife that’ll hold up to hard use. Go in clean and deep. A bad knife’ll snag, get nicks on the blade, and they’ll get caught on bone. You take care of a good knife, it’s the most dependable friend you’ll ever have. Won’t talk back, always there for you, willing to do what you gotta do.”

We were the only two there, but the bus stop had never been more lonely or isolated.

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