Tough guy writer is pretty much an "ox-he-moron." Hemingway could take a punch, no doubt about it, like in that African plane crash (1954) when he used his head as a battering ram to open the door of the burning plane. There were a few others. But guys like Barry Gifford, Richard Ford, David Mamet -- please.
Eddie Bunker was the real thing. Did I meet him in a seedy bar or at one of those underground fight clubs we hear so much about? No, it was at a get together for new parents at my daughter's elementary school. Something about this man caught my eye. Airy persiflage followed, but only later did I learn he'd done about 20 yrs in "Q," Folsam, and the old Federal supermax at Marion IL. He passed the time by writing. All his books are great, and his script for the movie "Straight Time" starring Dustin Hoffman is very convincing. Eddie also appears in the film.
Eddie was so tough that he vibed warmth and gentleness. When I asked him how it felt to be welded into his cell -- filmed in "Runaway Train" starring Jon Voight -- he laughed and said it was okay. He couldn't get out but nobody could get in either. During this conversation I noticed a small scar on his nose and wondered to myself how he got that. Well, the next day as I was walking into a Starbucks someone suddenly opened the door and broke my nose. Now I have a little scar just like Eddie's! He got his at "Q," I got mine at Starbucks. That oughta tell you something.
The last time I spoke with Eddie he was in the car line outside the school waiting to pick up his son. With him in the convertible was a Labrador puppy. "She's a real sweetheart," he told me. He was gone not long afterward. Read his books to meet a tough guy writer who actually was tough and much more.