Just a Jacknife Has Old McHeath, Babe*

He glanced at himself in the mirror. He was ready. Good thing too because it was time to do this. He’d been looking forward to it for a while – so long that he could practically taste what it would be like. His lips curved into a half smile as he headed quietly down the stairs.

There she was, just as he’d expected. Yes, this was going to be easy. Then he felt a prickle of nervousness. What if something went wrong? It had been known to happen. If it did, the whole thing would be ruined. No, he reassured himself, it wasn’t going to be a problem. OK, so he hadn’t done this sort of thing before, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t pull it off beautifully.

He looked at her again, moving gracefully from kitchen to dining room without even seeming to be aware that he was watching her. So much the better really. Without speaking to her – after all, what was there to say, really? – he made his way to the kitchen. He swallowed once and drew open the cutlery drawer. It made no noise, thank God. He’d oiled that persistent squeak the other day knowing he wouldn’t want to be bothered by it today. He selected the knife he wanted and ran it a few times through the knife sharpener. By the time he was done, it was honed perfectly. It would go in smoothly and easily.

He paused for a moment, listening to the soft clink as she put out wine glasses on the table. Good, she hadn’t heard him. He felt like a pro already. He was just leaving the kitchen when he noticed that he’d left the cutlery drawer open. Stupid! He carefully closed it and listened again. No sound from the dining room. Well that likely meant she was fixing the flowers on the table or folding the napkins. No problem there; he could finish this almost no matter what she was doing. But he really did need to get going now if he was going to do it at all. Timing was critical. He glanced at the knife in his hand, at the way the kitchen light made it gleam. Then he headed for the dining room.

He must have made no noise at all because she didn’t look up at first when he came in. Just as well. He was a little nervous and having her watch him would just make things harder. But something got her attention because she glanced up from the forks she was putting on the table. She smiled a little and said, ‘Oh, there you are! I didn’t hear you come in.’
‘Sorry, did I startle you?’
‘Maybe a little, but it’s OK.’

He walked closer to her, so close he could just catch the scent of her Oscar de la Renta. When he got close enough there was no more holding back. He swallowed once more, raised the knife and…

…carved his very first Thanksgiving turkey!  It came out beautifully, too. 😉


To all of my American friends, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. May this time with friends and family keep you warm.


To my friends everywhere, whether I’ve met you (yet) or not, my deep thanks for being there for me. You mean more to me than I can express in a blog post. I wish you all well.



*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Marc Blitzstein’s Mack the Knife.


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16 responses to “Just a Jacknife Has Old McHeath, Babe*

  1. Very clever, Margot. You have a good Thanksgiving day too.

    I saw your Crime Alphabet summary page, which reminds me to go try some of those authors I haven’t sampled yet.

    • Tracy – Why, thank you 🙂 – Glad you enjoyed. And thank you for the good wishes. As to the 2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet, I debated actually whether I wanted to have a page on my blog devoted to it or just do a post. In the end I opted for a page. On the one hand I ran the risk of cluttering up the look of the top of my home page. On the other I thought it might be easier for people who wanted to look at those posts to find them easily. It’s good to hear you found the page without any trouble.

  2. Excellent, Margot – or should I say Polly Pocket?
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  3. I knew it! Although, you had me on the edge of my seat. Enjoy your turkey!

    • Clarissa – Why, thank you. And I sort of figured you’d guess what was going on. If I had a mystery author on the edge of her seat, I count that a victory. 😉

  4. kathy d.

    And Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Margot. Your blog means a lot to us.
    And so glad to see mention of Mack the Knife from the Threepenny Opera, which I grew up hearing; this post reminds me to dig out the record.

  5. Margot: Happy Thanksgiving! I did not see the conclusion coming. Well done. I wish I could say my carving is done well but I do not have that skill. Does your family share watching football with eating turkey?

    • Bill – Thank you very much for the good wishes and the kind words. I’m no expert at carving, either. I admire people who can make it all look elegant. And yes, in my home, there’s plenty of both turkey and football on Thanksgiving.

  6. The poor turkey! He must have dropped dead as soon as he saw the knife in the man’s hand. Great one, Ms. Kinberg! A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!

    Incidentally, “Pongal” is a Thanksgiving festival, at the end of harvest season, celebrated by Tamilians, the natives of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s the closest we have to a Thanksgiving Day, though the Sikhs of Punjab and others in North India observe a similar festival called “Baisakhi” when farmers offer prayers to the Lord for good harvest.

    • Prashant – I didn’t know about Pongal or Baisakhi – thanks for sharing that. I think it’s interesting that so many cultures have harvest festivals and celebrations. It makes sense, considering how important a good harvest is. And I’m glad you enjoyed the little story – Thank you for the good wishes.

  7. Great story. A (belated happy thanksgiving to you too. Hope you’re not spending too much in today’s sales.

    • Sarah – Thank you – on both counts 🙂 – I am actually studiously avoiding today’s insanity. We all have our weaknesses and faults, and one of mine is that I do not do well in big crowds. So, I compensate by not being in them if I can.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving Margot! Nice post.

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