Knife Man
Words & Illustration By Sebastian Castillo

At first, S’s ideas remained financial. He wanted to sell his magic knife. There was no one in the world, S was convinced, who wouldn’t want to own a knife with magical properties. The arrival of magic in S’s life was unforeseen, thought ultimately, he had convinced himself, fortuitous.

One morning S woke up and found that there was a knife sticking out of his chest, or really a knife handle, as the blade was firmly implanted past his sternum. He woke up to find the knife there in the same way someone would find a cat curled between their legs. S didn’t seem to have any memory of it happening, and though it appeared impossible, there was no pain, or at least there wasn’t any pain that S could feel.

S called his ex-wife to ask her if she had stabbed him in the middle of the night. She responded in the negative. He called his friend, and after explaining his situation, S wondered aloud whether he was still alive or not, as he had seen a movie once about a man who didn’t realize he was dead. His friend, listening impatiently, suggested that such a hypothesis was truly ridiculous. Progressively ludicrous possibilities for the arrival of the knife were provided, extending the phone conversation beyond its friendly limits, so much so that S’s friend, becoming increasingly frustrated, decided to prey upon S’s weaknesses, and suggested that he should perhaps sell the knife.


Yeah, it’s a magic knife. A knife that despite its design, can’t kill. So a moral knife. But a magic knife sounds better.

And with that his friend hung up, though before the receiver was placed down, there were already ideas in S’s head.

First came the police, who didn’t even know what they were doing there, then the newspapers, then the television people—there was even a reality program proposed --- and S enjoyed the attention, because besides from being of a meager financial background, he was also lonely, tortuously lonely, in fact. S kept his mind occupied, for the time being, with the possibility of coming into a generous sum of money.

Problems, however, began to arise. S would come unannounced to parties, parties filled with people he barely knew, and there would be cheering, people patting him on the back, attractive strangers bringing him food and drinks. Children would flash him their mottled smiles on the street, tugging on their parent’s coats and pointing excitedly. There was recognition, jubilation, general interest. Both men and women asked for dates, even. And so the attention was overwhelming, beyond overwhelming, really, so much so that when the day of the operation arrived, the last thing S wanted was to part with his beloved magic knife.

Thankfully, there was nothing the doctors could do. The knife had merged with his body, something about blood vessels rebuilding themselves around the blade, it didn’t matter really because S heard what he wanted to hear: it had become a part of him, and it would stay that way. S was enormously pleased.

For weeks S continued to revel in his newfound celebrity. Despite the fear that people would soon lose interest in the man with a knife permanently stuck to his chest, S found that his life had continued to change for the better. And although he was disappointed that he would never be able to make any real money off of it, that the knife would stay in his chest, and not in the hands of a prospective buyer, the question of finance was now a very distant concern for him—the praise and attention were a suitable replacement, if not entirely more desirable.

But one morning, of course, something happened. As S was walking across the street distractedly, waving at the shopkeeper’s daughter, (the same woman whom he had pined for for years and who had now recently taken an interest in him), he was struck by a car. It practically lifted S into the air. Miraculously, S survived the accident with only a few fractures and a minor concussion, but the realization that he was not dead, or near-dead, only came secondarily to S, as in the dazed moments after the initial collision he clutched his chest and realized: the knife was gone. The velocity of the car, the angle of the hit, the trajectory his body had made in the air, the force with which he hit the ground: there it lay, idly, pathetically, a few feet away from his body.

After he recovered from the accident, S found that people’s interest in him had in fact dwindled. What he so anxiously agonized about, lying inert on his hospital bed for a week, had become a reality: S went to parties, and he might as well have been a shadow entering an already darkened room. Children now looked at birds or store windows. The shopkeeper’s daughter was sorry but she was actually seeing someone, the driver of the car that had struck him, in fact, something about helping the poor man with his depression or his anxiousness, it didn’t matter. And S’s loneliness returned. It returned, but really, it worsened. So in desperation, out of fear, out of boredom, S began again to formulate ideas.

He still had his knife, his magic knife. Despite the commotion after the accident he had retained the faculties to preserve his knife, to maybe sell it, to keep it as a memory: the image of a moribund man clutching a slimy kitchen utensil moments after a life-threatening accident stayed in the minds of bystanders for years. And so S, alone in his apartment, had decided to re-enact its magic, and plunged the knife back into his chest. The only problem was that the knife wasn’t in fact magical, that the knife, for all intents and purposes, wasn’t any more moral than all of the other knives, and that if S was looking for a solution for his situation, his return to loneliness, it was in this way that it was resolved.


sebastian castillo lives in mount vernon, new york