Everybody wanted a pocketknife. The circus had gone through town and one of the midway prizes that a kid could win was a tiny pocketknife with only one blade on it. A friend of mine at school had won a handful of them and was giving them out to everybody the next day at school. Now Mike, was a good friend, but he did not come over to my house very often because he lived clear on the other side of town and it was too far to walk. That day he had made plans with his mom to walk home with me and she would pick him up at six o'clock that night.
My parents were out of town on vacation and my oldest sister was watching me for them for some quick cash. She was just like my mom, always perched near the stove, and she even sat in the same spot my mom did on the couch when we watched television.
So Mike came over and he gave me one of the pocket knives. It was beautiful. It was the finest thing anyone had ever given me, with a silver mother-of-pearl handle and a tiny sliver of a blade. I was happy. Mike had given me his last one, and we took them out to the back yard to whittle and dig with them. A boy has to have a pocketknife!
Stu was out playing in his yard, so we wandered over there to show him the knives. You could see the green jealous gleam in Stu's eyes as we popped open the blades and waved them in front of him. I let him hold my knife and he sighed.
"I wish I had a knife, but my mom won't let me have one."
Just then, Stu's mother pulled into the driveway in her station wagon. She hopped out of the car holding two large bags of fast food.
"Stu, supper's ready!" she cried and Stu followed her into the house.
Mike and I went back to my yard, but soon heard Stu and his sisters talking over their meal at the picnic table. We went back over.
They had hamburgers and cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets. We watched them as they sucked cola down with that annoying noise that straws make. Stu's oldest sister asked Mike and I if we would like some of her fries.
"Sure," we said in unison and plopped ourselves down next to her at the picnic table.
She gave us both a napkin and spread the fries out on them. Mike and I smiled as we chomped the thin things and dipped them in sweet ketchup.
As we ate, one of my fries fell down on to the bricks of their patio. I reached down and popped it into my mouth, not even thinking. When I looked back up, Stu and his sisters were agape. Their eyes were wide and their mouths hung open. They had never seen a person eat something off the ground.
"Did you eat that fry after it fell on the bricks?" one of the sisters asked.
"Yeah," I said and resumed eating.
"That is gross," said Stu.
"Sick," said the other sister. "Adam, you're a Martian!"
With that, they all jumped up and began dancing around the patio singing "Adam the Martian, Adam the Martian, Adam the Martian!" while Mike and I sat on the picnic bench and watched them in wonder.
"And another thing," Stu said to his sisters, "Adam has a knife!"
He said it like he was accusing me. His sisters stopped their dancing and froze as if I was a ferocious animal about to pounce on them. I finished chewing my fries and got up.
"Mom!" one of the sisters screamed.
"Shhh!" I hissed at her. "Don't tell!"
"Mom, Adam's gotta knife!" They made it seem like it was the worst crime in the world for a young boy to have a knife.
They made me feel like I was a murderer. Stu's mom slid the sliding glass door back and pointed a finger at me.
"Come with me," she said sternly.
I didn't know what to do. Part of me wanted to run home-it was only next door, but another part of me knew that I was guilty of something, and that I should go with her. I took a few steps back towards my home, Mike was already running. Stu's mom came across the patio like a windstorm. She grabbed my by the collar and yanked me into their house.
"Sit down," she said as she pointed at the kitchen table. I sat and she began dialing the phone.
"There doesn't seem to be anyone at your house Adam. Where is everybody?"
"Mom and dad are on vacation and my sister is still at school."
She thought for a moment and then asked me if I knew the number for my sister's apartment on campus. I gave her the number and she called. I could hear the phone buzzing through the receiver as she waited for my sister to answer. Then she did and I couldn't catch the rest of the conversation.
When she hung the phone up, she held her hand out to me, palm up.
"Give it to me, Adam." she said coldly.
I thought of jabbing the knife into that palm. I wanted to so badly, but instead I placed it, unopened, into her hand.
"Now," she said evilly, "go upstairs and wait in Stu's room."
I looked at her and it seemed to me that she was the most fearsome monster in the world, more terrible than any witch or dragon. I started to cry.
"Knock that off, or I will give you something to cry about."
I walked up the stairs and sat on Stu's bed, waiting for I don't know what. It was getting dark outside and I was too scared to get up and turn on the light. What was Mike doing? He had to have gone off home by now. Soon I saw my sister's beetle pull into the driveway and she got out. She stalked up to the front door and met Stu's mom on the front porch. I saw Stu's mother hand my sister my beautiful new knife, which she quickly put in her purse. They both glanced up at the window and saw me there, looking down. Both their faces were pale in the fading light and the looked like demons from hell.
"You can come down now," I heard Stu's mom call out.
I slowly walked down the steps and looked at my sister.
"Wait til mom hears about this," she hissed. Then she bullied me out to her car and drove around the block to our house. Mike was sitting on the front porch, his head popped up when he saw the beetle pull into the driveway.
"What happened?" he asked.
I didn't get a chance to answer. My sister gave him and evil look and shouted at him.
"Get your shit and get in the car," she said to Mike's stunned face.
Then she turned to me and said, "get upstairs and take a bath, I want you in bed by the time I get home."
She got back into the car and tore off, taking Mike to his house. Later that night I lay in bed and could not sleep. I had not eaten any dinner and I missed my knife. I could hear my sister downstairs watching television with one of her boyfriends. That made my blood boil. It was way after midnight when I drifted off to sleep.
My parents got home and my sister gave the knife to my dad. I would see him use it from time to time, cutting fishing line or using it to cut an article out of the newspaper, and it always gave me a pang of regret. That was my knife! I asked him about it years later, and he told me that he had lost it someplace. I wanted to kill him.