The Boy Who Plays With Knives

By Angel Zapata

His sister tells me he’s been rushed to the emergency room about a dozen times. No one can get it to stop.

“Why do you like knives so much?” I take a seat across from the boy.

He skirts the question, eyeballs my office from left to right. “Pick something you’re tired of looking at in here,” he says.

I point at the dusty drapes.

He flicks his wrist and a short dagger flies, pins the curtain panel back to the window frame. Slivers of afternoon light pierce the shaded walls.

“Impressive,” I say. “What else can you do?”

Metallic squeaks amid a swirl of hand motions produce an open butterfly knife. I lean forward in my chair. Scabs on his fingers and palm are visible though the molded holes of the polished handle.

“Watch this.” The bandages on his face crinkle as he grins and performs a series of spinning blade tricks. “You like?”

“You’re a very talented young man.” I hesitate for a moment. “You’re bleeding.”

“Am I?”

He latches the handle of his knife and sets it down on my desk.

Blood seeps from the blue stitches near his elbow.

“Do you know why you’re here, Jason?” I ask.

He takes his time responding. “Because you like to play with knives too.”

I chuckle. “Never thought of it like that. But I guess you have a point.”

“You know what made me get my first knife?”

I shake my head.

“There was this hiker guy somewhere out west like five years ago,” Jason says. “A tree fell down on him, trapped him by the leg out in the forest in the middle of nowhere. He couldn’t get loose. He called out for help until he had no voice. There was no doubt in his mind he was going to die out there alone. So he made the only decision he could make. He took out this small pocket knife and sawed off his own leg. It took hours, but he survived.”

“I can’t imagine what he went through,” I say.

“I can,” Jason says, “it just takes practice.”

I stand, walk around the table. The hospital gown barely conceals the multiple scars above Jason’s left knee.

“It should be me doing this, not you.” Jason pounds his thigh and cries. “It’s my body.”

Sunlight amputates the inkblot shadows, illuminates the breach where Jason’s other leg should be.


Angel Zapata calls Augusta, Georgia his home. Born and raised in New York City, his award-winning fiction and poetry is a conglomeration of street smarts and Southern charm. Recent work has appeared at The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly, The Gyroscope Review, and Melancholy Hyperbole. You can find more of his work on Amazon.

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One Response to The Boy Who Plays With Knives

  1. Glen Donaldson says:

    I bet just to up the unsettling stakes Jason ‘stares daggers’ at people as well.

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