Pale with shock that I would accept an ax in the face, my trembling hand grasped the wood shaft and jerked the thing free— wedged tight though it was in bone near the cheek.
Not the first time, nor was it the last, my face would advance before common sense (as my father would say) into the world of stubborn desires and pitiless men.
Yes, it is true the scar always aches when a storm’s on the way. And with women around, I’m the stuttering guy who stands by the wall to keep in the dark that side of my face.
But when I was a boy, if you wanted an ax, there was only one way: [End Page 132] you insulted a man, took it full in the face, staggered off with your prize. It still works like that in parts of the world. [End Page 133]
john biguenet is the author of seven books, including The Torturer’s Apprentice: Stories and Oyster, a novel, and six plays, most recently a verse drama, Broomstick. He is the Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.