While visiting family in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I decided to go for a walk after everyone had gone to bed for the night.

After walking a couple of miles, I came across a shopping center. It was past normal business hours so most of the stores were closed, and there weren’t a lot of cars in the parking lot.

Walgreens was open, so I went in and purchased a candy bar and a soft drink.

As I was leaving the store, I noticed the figure of a person near a dumpster in an obscure part of the parking lot. The individual seemed out of place and appeared to be a homeless man. All of a sudden I got an unnerving feeling that there was something off about this individual, and that he had bad intentions.

As if sensing my gaze, he immediately stopped what he was doing, looked up, and stared directly at me. Without hesitation he turned and started walking toward me.

I considered avoiding contact with the individual by returning to the safety of the store, but since I had an intense feeling that he had nefarious intentions, I decided not to go back into the store to avoid putting others in potential danger.

I nonchalantly opened my candybar and took a bite, keeping an eye on the man the entire time.

As he approached me, I took a deep breath, slowly let it out, and stepped forward into a non-threatening defensive posture.

The man stopped a few feet away from me and introduced himself. But rather than reciprocating, I simply said, “Good evening.”

He said, “When someone introduces himself, it’s customary to say your name. So, what’s your name?”

Not wanting to divulge any personal information to this stranger who appeared to be under the influence of a substance, I opted to give him a bogus name. Since I’m a trained interrogator, having served in US Military Intelligence for over 20 years in a variety of positions, I’m confident in my ability to distort and manipulate the truth when required, without being detected. “My name’s Dave,” I said without hesitation.

Without skipping a beat, he replied, “You’re lying to me, that’s not your name.”

Trying to conceal my surprise, I asked, “Why do you say that?”

“Because your energy shifted when you said it.”

Although my energy had indeed shifted, I was amazed that this eccentric individual was able to detect the shift.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He looked directly into my eyes and said, “You know exactly what I mean. There’s something different about you. You’re not like everyone else.”

What’s different about me?”

“The fact that you’re still standing here. Everyone else runs away when they see me coming, like they’re afraid of me. That fact that you’re still here makes you different.”

Without taking his eyes off of me, he reached into his clothing and started to pull something out. I responded to his movement by shifting my intent in preparation to preemptively defend myself and neutralize the situation.

He slowly pulled what appeared to be about 12 inches of copper tubing out of his clothing and started twisting it and wrapping it around his hand. Both ends of the tubing appeared to be sharpened. He asked if I knew what he intended to do with the tubing.

I replied, “Whatever it is, you’re going to have to do better than that.”

He turned his head to the right and glanced over his shoulder, as if acknowledging someone behind him, and said, ”You see them, don’t you?”

“See who?” I asked.

“The demons standing behind me.”

With a commanding voice I said, “OK, we’re done here. It’s time for you to leave. Walk away before this goes any further.” My presence and intent were now crystal clear.

Neither one of us lowered our guard for what seemed like several minutes. Then, without saying a word, he backed up several steps, turned, and vanished into the darkness.

Not wanting to risk having him follow me, I returned to the house taking an alternate route, ensuring I wasn’t being followed.

It’s possible that casual observers would have erroneously interpreted the situation as two individuals engaged in a typical conversation. However, in reality, two opposing forces were engaged in a very real and intense confrontation.

This adversary was attempting to steal my center, my balance, and my integrity. I recognized that I needed to neutralize a genuine threat from a person who intended to inflict harm. Since walking away from the encounter was not a good option, and my attempt to talk my way out of the situation was unsuccessful, I accepted the fact that I needed to create a situation where the attacker would relinquish his will or suffer the consequences.

No punches or kicks were thrown, no weapons were deployed, and there was no physical contact, yet this encounter was as intense as any I have ever experienced.

There are many techniques that will maim or kill someone if needed, but the context of the encounter determines our response. In combat, we simply respond and do what is necessary to survive, generally with little or no time to discriminate. If confronted with a situation that potentially requires us to maim or kill in order to survive, the hope is that the responses we have developed due to our training, along with our moral and ethical foundation, will elicit the appropriate response.