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  • Writer's pictureBurnt Breakfast

‘The Time My Uncle Whipped a Knife at Someone’ by Zeke Jarvis

I have this uncle who absolutely swore that one of his coworkers was secretly a superhero. To be fair, his coworker did look a little like Transmit, though that wasn’t who my uncle thought he was. He never really gave a specific name to who he thought it was, but it was a speedster, apparently. For a few years, my uncle would try to get this guy to confess, asking him about what he did at night, hiding behind things and scaring the guy to see if he would run away really fast, stuff that wasn’t really professional but that wouldn’t necessarily get him fired either.

The problem came, because my uncle was totally committed to testing out his theory. And the more that people told him to drop it, the more that my uncle thought that he had to prove that he was right. So at this company picnic, he picked up this knife that they were using for cutting watermelon. He was like, “Hey Tim” (or whatever the coworker’s name was) “I’m gonna whip this at Kimberly. Use your superspeed to catch it.”

Everyone laughed, thinking that he was just joking. Maybe he would’ve had the sense to hear the laughter and play it off as a joke, but he’d been drinking, and there’d been a lot of ridiculing people for conspiracy theories at the time. So my uncle ignored the laughter, and he said it again. This time not many people laughed. Kimberly turned and started to run away. Later, my uncle would claim that Kimberly running made him panic, though that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Whatever the reason, he threw the knife. My uncle had been a pitcher in high school, and his arm was still decent, so I guess that the knife went pretty fast. That’s what witnesses later told the authorities anyway. Luckily, the knife didn’t actually hit anybody. It flew way right of Kimberly and hit a tree. It still freaked everybody out, for sure. Security was called in and stuff.

They fired my uncle, which they pretty much had to do. But one of the managers at least agreed to give him good recommendations for future positions, and he landed as much on his feet as you could expect. He’s been careful at the new job. The sad thing is, though, that if you ever bring it up to my uncle, he’ll say that it doesn’t prove that Tim or whoever wasn’t a superhero. First he’ll say that Tim knew that the knife wasn’t going to hit anybody, and that’s why he didn’t make a move. If you try telling him that a speedster can run fast, but he can’t predict the future, then my uncle will say that maybe Tim just hated Kimberly (he actually has a pretty long rant about this). If you try to tell him that a speedster would probably still try to protect Kimberly, because while she might have been passive aggressive, she wasn’t a criminal, then he’ll tell you that maybe Tim felt like hiding his identity was for the greater good. And it just goes on. And you’re like, “Dude, you already lost a job over this, can’t you let it go?” But he can’t. And the more that you try to reason with him, the harder that he digs in. Some people are just like that, I guess.


Zeke Jarvis is a Professor of English at Eureka College. His work has appeared in Moon City Review, Posit, and KNOCK, among other places. His books include, So Anyway..., In A Family Way, The Three of Them, and Antisocial Norms. His website is

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