Author’s note: The following column is based on a true story and uses language that many readers will find offensive.
Sam was born just after the First World War, which meant that he would be old enough to serve in the Second World War. He did so bravely and had many stories to share when he returned.
The old veteran loved to tell about the time he was in a bombed-out café and approached a wounded enemy while firing (and missing) with all seven rounds in his 45 auto. After he finished him off with his knife he tossed that 45 into a pile of rubble cursing it for never shooting the way he told it to.
But there were other stories he would never tell. Like the time he was leading his men across a narrow bridge not knowing they would soon be ambushed. When the enemy opened fire they shot back as they headed backwards on the bridge. Sam held the gun in one hand as he tried to reach down and grab his wounded men. He could see the terror in their eyes as they plunged towards their deaths in the water down below.
No one would hear that story until after Sam died. His wife talked about how he woke up years later screaming in the night, sweating, and pounding his fists right through the thin bedroom wall. The long minutes seemed like hours before he realized he was awake and safe at home from the war.
But Sam loved his job at Joanie’s Café – a place owned by his sister and named after his only niece. He was so good with the customers that he built up the business far beyond what his sister had ever expected. In fact, business was so good that he eventually bought it from her. Sam never worked anywhere else.