"Meet TJ"

If you saw TJ Hamlin walking down the street, you would never suspect what is hidden behind his dark gray eyes, which are almost always covered by sun glasses. TJ isn't an obviously imposing figure; standing a little over six feet tall and tipping the scales at just over two hundred pounds you wouldn't be impressed by his size. But if his sunglasses weren't present and you looked directly into his eyes, most people would decide the sidewalk was a better place to look. Something in his eyes tells his story, but that story stays pretty deep inside him; only a few people know parts of that story and you can count the number of people who know most of the story on one hand and still have two fingers left.

That is part of what this book is about, getting to know a person who could beat a 300-pound biker into the ground then pick up a kitten and hold it with loving care. I know TJ as well as anyone could I guess. and yet I still don't understand how he can go from blood raging violence to tenderness in the blink of that sunglassed eye. So I am going to introduce you to TJ, maybe then his character will become real to you.

First you have to know TJ isn't his real name, just the name snatched from the air by a writer seeking a new character. Before TJ joined the Navy, he was pretty much like any older teen you might see every day. His fascination with motorcycles began before his fascination with girls did; his love for them is greater than he could ever have for a woman though he treats them both with the respect they deserve. He was pretty much a hardline biker before he joined the Navy and had developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the very best street racers around Corpus Christi. He could massage an 800-pound motorcycle through impossibly tight turns with amazing agility, leaving most riders wondering what just happened.

When TJ joined the Navy, it was with the designed purpose of going to Viet Nam, but he never suspected he would be called to the service he ended up providing. He was recruited into river patrol, and as a member of the brown Water Navy he was proud of the nickname he was tagged with: River Rat. During a night-time assignment, he was called on to do more than sit behind the twin 50s. As the result of taking down a Vietcong guard from 200 yards with his M-1, he was called into service by a different branch of the government. Working with that department, he was called on to carry out assignments that even today he won't talk about. When anything is mentioned about it, you can see him pull back into some dark place. Even I don't know what all happened over there; I have even tried getting him drunk enough to tell me but that didn't work.

So this is the man you are about to read about; a man who would fight to the death for a friend; a man who becomes friends to people ignored by others; a man who can fight you one moment and buy you a beer when it's over; a man who loves and hates with the same passion. This man returned to a home he had all but forgotten and then was asked to do things completely against his nature.