Knife Boy David
By Richard Chiem - Jun 11, 2018
There are usually two people trapped inside one sad body: someone who wants to die and someone who wants to live. There are stress lines on a stranger’s face that go years and years down all the way to the bone. I imagine people having the worst day of their lives all the time, walking unknowingly, silently next to each other: a man having the worst day of his life walking next to a woman having the worst day of her life, together at the same train station, and the train is late again, and they don’t say anything out loud.
Everyone has gone through their perfect circles of hell, their own cruel and special pomp and circumstance. You can bring a rock to a knife fight, or a gun to a knife fight, or just bring bare hands to a knife fight. The point is you go to the knife fight, and it’s that small burst of will that matters. It is something to do in a day as long as life. Losing everything is a kind of religion too. Being stripped down, beaten down to almost nothing, is a kind of religion too. My god is a figure getting pummeled with fiery rocks from the sky but still moving forward along the horizon, flickering with light. I get what’s coming to me. I want more and more like a rainbow. It’s the small burst of will that make me who I am: the voice that sings only to me.
Trains pass with hundreds of windows, zooming by everyone waiting on the platform.
In a past life, I feel like I was afraid of knives, because as a child, I was desperately afraid of knives. Now all I do is knife fight. Now all I am is knife fights. Holding a knife now is like listening to a calming drum beat, something steady and reliable, something I can dance and fall in love to. I throw knives in the air and I catch them. I am heading to a knife fight right now. I am walking on clouds.
I am anyone really, but today, I am David. I am part of a neighborhood gang. I am part of something in the air. Because I am still alive and walking around—you can see that I am undefeated.
The rules of the neighborhood are simple: do your business; mind the other families; step outside your business, have a parley. If the parley goes south—if need be—have a knife fight.
There is a knife fight tonight, my small burst of will. I want my brothers and sisters to outlive me. I have learned that it’s okay to be broken and to have broken people. I have learned that one voice can raise an army.
4AM and I am near the baseball field. I can see my adversary waiting on the pitcher’s mound. She’s dressed all in black and the park lights are turned on. They are my favorite kind of lights in the world. I always feel as though I am walking through another space and time, through a new dimension, slightly glowing, when I am walking underneath these lights. I walk on the wet grass and the weak autumn leaves. I feel like no one is watching me but I know there is one person watching me. I can see she has a blade in each hand.