July 8th, 2007

ledbetter tat

I stood where O.J. stood

The moment I mentioned O.J., the owner of the store who was a well-groomed man with snow white hair and a complicated goatee gave me a sidelong glance that went all the way out the door and around the corner. I went to Ross Cutlery, the oldest knife shop in downtown Los Angeles, to get a new set of clippers, the kind professional barbers use before they slap on that cool sting of Clubman aftershave.

“There’s not a day that goes by when somebody doesn’t ask me about O.J.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to be your one today.”

“That’s okay.” He started to tell the story, polished from daily use, and there was no stopping him even if I wanted to. Two weeks before O.J. butchered his wife and an innocent young man, he came into Ross and bought a large knife with a bone handle. “Just like this one,” he said, pointing to a blade on the bottom of the showcase. He told me that the police took it, sealed into an envelope, and it never came out at trial.

“Fuhrman said that it was the Swiss army knife that he got as a gift,” I added from my vast and useless knowledge of the trial. “The police photos showed the empty Swiss army box in the bathroom, but they never found the knife. Fuhrman said he used the fish-scaling blade.”

“And he was right. That knife down there never could’ve been the weapon. They showed me the autopsy photos and I knew it wasn’t my knife. The Swiss knife, now, that could cut through steel.”

I wondered how many people mentioned to him that he was the first potential prosecution witness to sell their story to the National Enquirer, thus making any testimony he might’ve given invalid, and that’s why the knife was never introduced at the trial.

I know I didn’t touch that one with a ten-foot sword.