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Mustard, Knife—No Colonel, No Library

by Mara Buck

About the Author: Mara Buck writes, paints, and rants in a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods. Recently short-listed for the Alpine Fellowship. Winner of The Raven Prize, Scottish Arts Club Short Story Prize, two Moon Prizes, F. Scott Fitzgerald Prize, Binnacle International Prize and others, with works in numerous literary magazines and print anthologies. The ubiquitous novel lurks.


“Mom, I think I found something interesting here.”

“Forget it, Ben. Remember we’re just looking. We can’t afford to buy anything and for God’s sake, don’t raise your hand and bid.”

“I don’t think my bottle money will cover the cost of it anyway, cause it’s really cool. It’s this knife with blood on it.”

“What? What knife? You didn’t cut yourself, did you?”

“I’m not an asshole, Mom. Not MY blood. OLD blood. Come look.”

“Watch your language! Okay, where is it? This?”

“Yeah. It’s got a nifty handle made from a deer antler and there’s blood in the cracks.”

“Well, it’s probably deer blood. The guy who owned it was probably skinning the deer he’d just shot.”

“I tested it. With the CSI kit in my backpack. It’s people, I mean human, blood.”

“What’s that you got there, son? Bowie knife? Jesus, that dumb auctioneer shouldn’t have left it just lying around. Somebody could get hurt. Didn’t cut yourself, did yah? Best hand it over to me so I can put it someplace safe. Put it in the case.”

“Thank you, sir. My boy here fancies himself to be quite the private eye. Like them folks on the TV. Give the man the knife, Ben. Handle first like your dad taught you.”

“Your fingerprints’ll be on the handle now, sir. Like the guy who used it.”

“I suppose lots of people have handled this knife, sonny.”

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