John Andrew Dykstra is a professor of American literature at the Sarasota campus of Florida State University, a post he has held since 1990. During that time, he sold four short stories through his agent, Jack Golden. In 1994, Golden persuaded Dykstra to spend the summer writing a suspense novel instead of teaching summer classes; Dykstra did, launching a successful career under the pseudonym of Rick Hardin, writing about a hitman named The Dog.
After one of his bi-weekly meetings of fellow suspense writers in Jacksonville, Dykstra headed home to Sarasota, pulling into a Turnpike rest stop for a bathroom break. There, he encountered a case of domestic abuse when he witnessed a man beating on his pregnant wife. After fighting off panic and the urge to flee the scene, Dykstra instead channeled his alter ego, and Hardin set off the car alarm of his Jaguar to lure the man into the open. Hardin then clubbed the man with a tire iron to subdue him, ordering the woman to leave in the couple's PT Cruiser. With the woman gone, Hardin shattered the man's glasses and kicked him numerous times, finding a sadistic pleasure in serving the man a beating of his own. Hardin left the man on the pavement with the warning that he knew his address and license number.
Fifteen minutes down the road, Dykstra reasserted himself, pulling onto the shoulder to vomit out the cardoor.