1827 – Louisiana
The knife was, like its owner, one of a kind.
The blade was nine and a half inches long, thick and heavy yet sharp enough to split a cat’s whisker. The metal came to a point, then curved for a spell before it ran down to the handle.
The handle was polished oakwood and that curve at the end had been used to hook onto many a man’s gut as if it were a fish.
It wasn’t so much of a knife as it was a mini-machete.
On one evening in particular, Jim Bowie (rhymes with Louie), the knife’s illustrious inventor, sat at a bar inside a dimly lit tavern and peeled an apple with his infamous sticker. He might as well have been juggling gold nuggets with the way the barfly sitting next to him carried on.
Norman Tavish tossed back a brew and brought his stein down on the bar with a good, hard bang.
“Goddamn it, Jim,” the ugly mush mouthed drunk said. “That blade is a thing of beauty.”
Bowie had a lush lion’s mane of brown hair that came down the sides of his face in the form of two mutton chop side burns. Ever prideful, the perpetually angry looking Bowie didn’t find Tavish to be the type of man that was worth much of his time.
“Uh huh,” Bowie replied.
Tavish belched and scratched himself in assorted areas. “How much you want for it?”
Bowie rolled his knife around and around that apple until the peel was gone. “She’s not for sale.”
“Aw come on,” Flint said. “Everything’s got a price.”
Bowie tossed the naked apple up into the air as if it were a ball, then caught it in his hand. “Not everything.”
“I’ll give you anything you want,” Tavish said. “Shit, I’ll let you poke my sister.”
Every drunk in the joint laughed. Caleb Brent, the old bald barkeep, polished a glass and snickered.
“Fuck, Tavish. I’ve seen alligators more appetizing than your sister. You’ll have to do better than that.”
Tavish opened up his coat and tapped his finger on the side of a flint lock pistol hanging from his belt.
“I’ll trade you for it. Fair and square, like.”
Bowie snickered. “A pistol is a woman’s weapon. I rue the day they were ever invented.”
Tavish drank some courage. “Do my ears deceive me or did you just call me a woman?”
“I didn’t call you a woman,” Bowie replied. “I said you’ve got a woman’s weapon. Draw whatever inference you like.”
Brent laughed. Soon, everyone else in the bar was laughing.
Tavish looked around the bar. “Oh, you all think that’s funny, huh?”
The drunk drew his pistol and cocked the hammer. “You think I’m funny, Bowie?”
The calm and cool knifeman carefully calibrated his response. “You are whatever you think you are, friend.”
Tavish pointed his pistol at Bowie. “Well I think I’m the man that’s going to blow your damn head off, friend.”
Bowie set his apple down on the bar and stared deeply, intently into Tavish’s eyes.
Clang! The knifeman’s blade bashed Tavish’s pistol to the right, towards the collection of liquor bottles behind the bar. Reflexively, the drunk pulled the trigger and a nice big bottle of bourbon exploded, sending shards of glass and drops of brown liquid everywhere.
Bowie grabbed Tavish by the scalp and bashed the drunk’s’ face into the bar. When Tavish was allowed to lift his head up, he found himself staring at the point of Bowie’s knife, which was being held less than a quarter of an inch away from his eyeball.
“A pistol is a woman’s weapon because it isn’t that difficult for a drunken fool to take a shot at one of his betters,” Bowie explained. “Many a man has fired a pistol in a fit of rage only to live to regret pulling the trigger at a later date. Pistols make killing far too easy but a knife? I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care how hot the fire in a man’s belly burns. I don’t care how many times he claims after the fact that he lost his mind in the heat of the moment. To kill a man with a knife, you have to use every muscle you have. You have to break through bone and sinew and dig through guts. Sometimes you’ve got to rip that knife out and stab him again and again, three, four, five times. You got to look that man right in the eye and not give a fuck that you are extinguishing all his hopes and dreams as you plunge that knife right into his still beating heart. Make no mistake about it. If a man dies at the edge of a blade it is because the man holding the knife wanted that death to happen.”
Bowie pulled his knife back. Tavish sat up.
“And so my point was, before you so rudely interrupted me, is that women use pistols. Men use knives.”
Brent, who had hunkered down behind the bar, rose to his feet and breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing the coast was clear.
“I’m sorry, Jim,” Tavish said. “It was just the drink talking. I didn’t mean to insult your knife.”
“I know you didn’t.”
Bowie tossed his apple three feet above the bar, then stood up, and threw his knife toward the fruit.
The knife struck right into the center of the apple and blade and fruit become one until they struck the wall. Two perfectly cut slices fell to the bar.
After walking to the end of the bar and pulling his knife out of the wall, Bowie returned, handed Tavish a slice, and took a bite out of the other piece.
“Just remember,” Bowie said as he slapped Tavish on the back. “It’s not for sale.”
“And if I find out you didn’t reimburse Caleb for his bourbon…”
The drunk threw up his hands. “I will.”
“I know you will,” Bowie said.
With the spectacle over, all patrons in the bar returned to their usual doings. Brent went to work on cleanup. Tavish persisted in drowning his sorrows.
All was quiet until the double doors at the front of the bar swung open.
In stepped Sheriff Norris Wright, a former army major turned sheriff. He had a thick, bushy mustache and slicked back hair.
The knifeman craned his neck just enough to acknowledge the lawman.
“You have offended my honor, sir, and I demand satisfaction!”