Throwing-knife

Contributor: Tony Battaglia

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When John turned eleven, he got a throwing-knife for his birthday. He'd seen it in the glass case of a shop on Water Street when he went in with his father to buy bread and milk and tobacco, and it had reminded him of a scene from that movie The Magnificent Seven, which he'd been allowed to see only after cleaning his room. He'd begged for it, and his father had said, "Maybe for your birthday."
The knife was a squat, flat strip of metal, blunt and straight along most of its length but carved and sharpened to a point at one end. John's mother had tested it on a veal cutlet she was preparing in the kitchen and declared it to be safe enough.
John spent the rest of his birthday in the backyard, throwing the knife with all of his strength into the upper branches of the big maple tree, then watching it bounce and clatter its way back down from bough to bough and trying again. After a while he got pretty good at chucking it way up there. He was getting some real height.
The next day, a Monday, John had to go to school. The minute he got home, though, he was right back out there lobbing his throwing-knife into the maple tree. He couldn't get it to stick.
For a month or so, things went on this way. Now and then John would forget about the throwing-knife and leave it out in the yard. Before long it was rusted. Most days he would come across it while digging for worms or playing some other solitary game, and he'd give it a few tosses, but his heart wasn't really in it anymore.
One day John's friend Sam came over to play. They were playing Magnificent Seven in the backyard-- John insisted on being Britt, which was fine with Sam since he wanted to be Steve McQueen anyway. They were taking potshots at bandits from behind the woodpile when Sam found the rusty throwing-knife in the grass.
"What's this?" he said.
"That's my throwing-knife. Like in the movie. Watch."
John took the knife and threw it up into the tree. It twirled and pinged its way back down through the branches.
"One day it's going to stick way up there," said John, "and then it'll be up there forever. Even if we move away."
"Let me try," said Sam.
"I've been trying for weeks," said John, "I think it's a dud knife. You'll never get it." But he handed it over.
Sam wound up real good and whipped the knife high. It arced through the air, spinning like a rusty pinwheel, and with a dull thud buried itself in the maple trunk near the tree's crown.


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Tony Battaglia is a writer and painter from Kent, Ohio. His fiction has appeared in Composite Arts Magazine and Red Fez, and his poetry is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review and Circa Review. One time he got an empty fortune cookie and he still worries about that sometimes.
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One Response to this post

  1. Anonymous on July 23, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Nice story. Sorry to hear about that empty fortune cookie, but it has to be better than what I found in one of my fortune cookies, a live roach!

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