Ohio Portrait no. 194: ALL KINDS OF KNIVES

A muddy yard with declarative NO TRESSPASSING signs tacked to every stump, fencepost, and tree. An open garage in the December freezing rain. A tawny-headed boy running around with a Nerf gun. His eyes are tiny angry lines. His lips are nonexistent.

In the muddy grass, a two-by-four reaching up to the grey sky. Atop it, a whiteboard from some forelorn Staples in Strongsville or Middleburgh Hts. Someone in the house has written on it with permanent, not dry erase, marker.


It says. My sister and I go inside the garage, and the man of the house pops out the side door. He is wide and once was muscular. His eyes are lined and his hair is tawny, just like the boy. His truck cannot fit in the garage, lined as it is with rows and rows of tables, shelves, and stacks of open boxes. Serrated. Hunting. Illegal spring-loaded. Hunting. Hilts and blades in all shades of black and taupe; a few iridescent purple. Each is stuck with a bright orange price sticker, $10, $5, $20. Very few are more than that, except for the samurai swords.

All kinds of knives indeed.

My sister gives him a wilted $20 for a serrated hunting knife with a black hilt. She buys me a slimmer model with a rounded blade. He does not calculate sales tax. We get $5 in change.

I used to carry a purple knife made by Smith and Wesson. It was shimmery and beautiful like an oil slick. I took it with me to college, some meager protection. Thought it would actually help me. Once I accidentally brought it to the airport.

I was halfway through the security theater on my way to Boulder when I froze, locked eyes with the TSA agent, and bleated, “Oh My God I have a knife!”

It was no big deal. They let me seal it up in an envelope and mail it to myself. Later, I accidentally brought it with me to the Texas State Capitol. This time I didn’t feel as lucky. So before facing the metal defector, I went to the bathroom and threw the knife into a bin full of discarded tampons. I knew it would be alarming for building security to find, but I gambled that it would take longer than my visit for them to find it.

I used to want to own a gun. I thought that too would make me safe. And then I wanted a dark black machete, only $6 at the 24 hour Walmart. My boyfriend was afraid when I said that I’d bought it. He had unwanted thoughts he mistook for real desires. He worried that he might kill himself if the machete was in the house. We fought about it, and I was insensitive.

That summer I finally used the machete, on a thicket of vines choking the patio. My swing was strong and the tendrils were wet and plump. I even had a whetting stone in the shape of an anime shark.

But none of that made the $6 machete a real weapon. Nothing happened. The plants thrived until our landlord massacred them with rusty old shears. I moved away and discarded the machete in the basement.

Originally published at erikadprice.tumblr.com.

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