This is the story of a knife. It has three blades, and the sides of the handle are simulated bone. It has been around a long time. “Old Timer” is the name pressed into a small metal block on either side. It attached itself to me years ago, when a friend and I were fishing one of the local rivers. It was lying on a rock along the bank, when I saw it, picked it up and put it in my pocket.
For a few years it remained on top of the chest-of-drawers in my closet. I had other, smaller pocket knives, some with more blades and a few very small ones with tiny tools like scissors, or a screwdriver. I had a Swiss Army Knife™, but it completed its service commitment and retired. I have a multitool Leatherman™ that came to work for me after that. I have some larger, sharper, more aggressive knives, including one my father had for many years. A few in my collection are small ones given away by various companies over the years. Back in time, these small knives were called pen-knives or stamp-knives and were used to trim quills or cut stamps (before the post office started perforating them).
When I started carrying the “old timer” a few years ago, it made the terms of our association very clear: from time-to-time it would step out on its own, do whatever an old knife does when it’s alone, and then come back. Saturday night, leaving a friend’s house, I pulled my car keys out of my pocket and, probably at the same time, the “Old Timer” saw its opportunity to escape. It must have decided it need some time off.
At home, emptying my pockets, I realized it was missing. I checked the car, then recalled that I had used it to cut the seal on a wine bottle at our friends’ house. Perhaps I had left it on the counter, I thought. The next day I called and asked if it was safely in their hands, but the answer was “no.”
On Monday morning our friend called to say that it had been found in the yard, near where we had parked. I know that it will remain with me for whatever time it feels is right, before going off again. I wonder if it is seeking its original owner. I wonder how many pockets it has resided in other than mine. I hope it will remain with me a long time. I’ve carried a knife of some sort probably since I was seven or eight, and I feel incomplete without one either in my pocket or on my belt. It’s a small thing, but perhaps it represents the boy in me.
We are both old-timers now.