by Diane Williams

In there, there was this man who developed a habit of sharpening knives. You know he had a house and a yard, so he had a lawnmower and several axes and he had a hedge shears and, of course, he had kitchen knives and scissors, and he and his wife lived in comfort.

Within a relatively short time he had spent half of his fortune on sharpening equipment and they were gracing his basement on every available table and bench and he added special stands for the equipment.

He would end up with knives or shears that were so sharp they just had to come near something and it would cut itself. It’s the kind of sharpening that goes beyond comprehension. You just lean the knife against a piece of paper.

Tommy used to use him.  Ernie’d do his chain saws. 

So, I take my knives under my arm and I drive off to Ernie’s and he and I became friends and we’d talk about everything. 

“I don’t sharpen things right away.  You leave it – and see that white box over there?” he’d said.  That was his office. It was a little white box attached to the house with a lid you could open and inside there were a couple of ballpoint pens.  There was a glass jar with change.  There were tags with rubber bands and there was an order form that you filled out in case he wasn’t there. 

He wasn’t there the first time I came back, at least I didn’t see him.  

I went up to the box and those knives were transformed. 

As I was closing the lid, he came up through the basement door that was right there and we started to chat and he has to show me something in the garden, so he takes me to where he has his plantings.  It’s as if the dirt was all sorted and arranged, and then, when I said he had cut his lawn so nice, he was shining like a plug bayonet. 

All the little straws and grass were pointing in one direction. 

“I don’t mow like my neighbor,” he said. 

Oh, and then he also had a nice touch — for every packet he had completed there was a band aid included.  Just a man after my own heart.  He died. 

I was sad because whenever I got there I was very happy.

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