I expected to sell a few books. Nothing more.
But then John Pierucki stopped in front of my table. He looked down at Code: Elephants on the Moon and his brow wrinkled as he asked what my book was about. When I told him that it was about World War II, he frowned a little more deeply and told me that he worked with codes during World War II, and this wasn't one of the codes.
Yes it was, I said. It was one that the Free French broadcast from London over the BBC to members of the Resistance in France. This was a code used just before D-Day.
John's eyebrows shot up. He told me that his ship had gone down on D-Day. Although he wasn't there - he had been left back in Italy - he'd lost many friends on that day.
That was it for me. I picked up a pen and signed a book to John, thanking him for his service. No one has ever done so much to earn a free book.
I met with John yesterday for lunch. He's packed a lot of life into his 90 years, and he has a lot of stories to tell. Some of them are real doozies. John served his country for 30 years as a translator and cryptographer, and he's been a lot of places and talked with a lot of interesting people.
Talking with John was like opening a treasure chest of story ideas. I'm hoping to open that chest a lot this year and run my fingers through the contents.
There's a lot of gold and precious gems in what he has to say.