CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At the Cross Lanes Public Library, co-workers and patrons know him as the security guard, an imposing figure in a white shirt with a shiny gold badge.
In the wrestling ring, fans know him as menacing Death Falcon Zero, the villain, the "heel" as they call it in professional wrestling circles.
Bill Bitner, 55, holds still another identity as a published science fiction and horror story writer, a passion rooted in his boyhood fascination with comic books.
On a more serious note, he spent years in social work before recognizing his true calling in the fantasy worlds of writing and wrestling.
No, he hasn't led a settled, ordinary life. No, he didn't make it as a rock star, never got to live high on the hog in St. Tropez. So what? Sometimes experience can be its own reward.
"I grew up in Camp Springs, Md., where Andrews Air Force Base is. When I was 12, my father was transferred here with AT&T. I graduated from Nitro High School in 1974.
"I wanted to be a writer, going back to when I first started reading. I could read at 3. I made up stories. I was somewhat of a plagiarist. For an essay on what I did on summer vacation, I rewrote 'King Kong' with myself as Kong. My teacher made me stay in for recess and rewrite it.
"So I wrote another story about this kid who could turn into a Komodo dragon lizard. He ate his teacher for making him stay in for recess.
"I sold my first science fiction story at 16 in 1973 to Space and Time magazine. I sold 24 short stories between '73 and '83. They were horror stories, mysteries with a twist at the end. Science fiction and horror is pretty much what I write.
"I loved comics. That's part of why I got into wrestling. To me, pro wrestling is almost like living comic books. You have the good guys and bad guys and each guy has his own outfit and his own power.
"I went to Marshall for two years and majored in drinking and running around and left with an abysmal grade point average. My father said he wasn't wasting any more of his money. So I took a year off to earn money to go back to college.
"The girl I was dating was going to Fairmont State, so I went there with her and got the rest of my credits in two years. I majored in English.
"I married the girl in Fairmont in the summer of '79. I made a big mistake, something she held against me until the day we divorced in 2002. Prof. Grattan at Fairmont got me a total scholarship to the very prestigious writers workshop at Ohio University. I said no.
"I had gotten into rock 'n' roll, playing guitar in a band. I told Dr. Grattan I appreciated it but I was going to be a rock star. I truly believed that in my heart. I did have stage presence. In those days, I was pretty charismatic. I had a lot of hair and I was very muscular. I thought knocking them dead in Fairmont would translate into worldwide fame.
"When we got married, my ex-wife gave me five years to find my dream. If I didn't make it in five years, I would have to get a real job and we would buy a house and start a family. That didn't work out.
"I've never been a 9-to-5 office person. I get bored and restless. It's hard for me to sit still. Someone suggested law school. All these people tried to help me, and I refused. I struggled, writing and playing music, until about 1984.
"That spring, I took the civil service exam. I took a job as a CPS (Child Protective Services) worker. It was brutal. You got no respect from anyone. In court, lawyers talk like you're not there. Families hate you. I had my life threatened more than once.
"In January of '89, I was transferred to youth services. We dealt with children in state custody through their own actions -- truancy, running away, committing a crime.
"I did that until the spring of '91. Lee Miller had been head of juvenile probation and moved to a facility for juvenile criminals called Abraxas. I was court liaison. I did face-to-face interviews with every kid referred. When the money was cut back, the program suffered. It shut down March of '96.
"In the fall of '96, I got a job with the Coordinating Council for Independent Living monitoring in-home services received through Medicaid. It was a boring job and very tightly regulated. Paperwork. Paperwork. Paperwork.