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To Know a Lie from a Hacksaw, By Milo James Fowler

The old man seated himself across from Jack as if he were expected, plopping down a well-worn bowling bag on the bench and an equally battered laptop onto the table

Jack sat up like a meerkat on duty. His half-eaten burger lay untouched in the silverware-rattled silence. The diner was just about empty this time of night; there was no need to share a booth.

“Can I help you?” Jack wiped at his mouth with a ketchup-stained napkin.

“Not yet.” The white-haired man had the laptop open, casting a bluish glare against the crags of his face, absent of any expression.

“I’m trying to eat here.”

“I won’t be long.”

“Okay.” Jack nodded, hoping the man would elaborate. “There’s no Wi-Fi, you know.”

“Don’t need it.” He had yet to look up from the screen.

Jack reached for his burger’s remains. If he ignored the odd fellow, maybe he’d just move on.

“Go ahead and finish your dinner, Jack. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Jack’s fingers hadn’t made it to his plate. They hung in midair. “How do you know my name?”

A hint of a smile played with the man’s thin mouth, but he didn’t reply.

Jack glanced out the window beside him, through his own reflection and into the black lit only by a curbside streetlight. His pickup sat beneath the amber glow. A few sedans clustered closer to the diner’s entrance, the same cars that had already been there when he’d arrived after his late shift at Best Buy.

“You bowl?” Jack nodded to the man’s bag.

His thick, gnarled fingers ran across the keys, tapping at them like a hunchbacked ape.


“So what’s in there?”

“A hacksaw. I’ll need to take your head.”

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