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January 29, 2012
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     Eddie from Indiana travels alone, is ready to sell his motorcycle business back home and move to Belize. We've just met. We sit at adjacent tables in an otherwise empty restaurant. Funny thing is, we seated ourselves. Former military, he asks what I think of the US economy. "The fix is in," I say, "Washington DC bought and sold." We talk a good long while, alternating mouthfuls of food with conversation. When he gets up to leave he hands me this thing. "You've seen these before, haven't you? You know what it is?" I look it over closely: a dull point and the pink eraser looks chewed down, but otherwise unexceptional--just another yellow #2 pencil. "What's the catch?" I ask as I hand it back. "It's for protection," he says, "you go for the throat and eyes. Don't use it against someone with a gun; that's just gonna get you shot. But if someone with a knife is after your wallet or wife you can give 'em a surprise." He makes convincing quick stabbing motions, then slips it into thigh pocket where it's always in easy reach. I nod knowingly and thank him for the advice.