am not going to suggest to you that a butcher knife is better than a boning knife. Even a paring knife can be formidable in the right hands. Choose your knife based on your own familiarity with that variety of knife and your sense of the corpulence of your victim (if you know—if you have simply been passing through backyards checking for unlocked doors and unsecured sliders, you may not). No, my sole advice is that you acquire your knife at the house in which it will be used.
You may object that the problem with getting a knife at the house in which it will be used is you can never tell how people are at sharpening them. You get a dull one and it slips or turns instead of slicing through and, there, you’ve cut yourself, left a bit of yourself at the scene. Before you know it, they’ve got a bead on you.
But you can’t bring a knife from home either. That’s no good once they show up at your house and realize that you’re a knife short of a block. Or once they discover that, despite your precautions, despite all the scrubbing, there is still a daub of blood between the tang and the scales of the knife you sentimentally kept.
And you can’t be the kind of person who just goes around buying knives willy-nilly. That gets noticed too.
No, you have to be prepared to make the most of whatever is at hand. Bring a whetstone with you and then, once you choose a knife from their block or from their drawer, take a few minutes to sharpen it. If you practice at home, you’ll soon be able to sharpen a knife by feel, in the dark. It becomes, so I have found, a meditative practice that can center you marvelously, the whsk-whsking of the blade over stone making you acutely aware of your connection to everything that surrounds you, including the person or persons you are about to kill.
It is difficult to enter a properly meditative state if your intended is tied up, hard to focus when someone is screaming, albeit muffledly, into a gag. Better to take the risk that nobody in the house will awaken to hear the gentle sound of stone whetting steel. And if they do, or, if, say, an inhabitant of the household comes downstairs in search of a glass of milk, well, at very least the knife is sharper than it was a few moments before. And if it is still not sharp enough, if you nevertheless cut yourself and leave a trace, nobody is perfect. If necessary, once your work with the knife is done, you can always burn the house to the ground.
Brian Evenson is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press 2016) and the novella The Warren (Tor.com 2016). He has also recently published Windeye (Coffee House Press 2012) and Immobility (Tor 2012), both of which were finalists for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the American Library Association's award for Best Horror Novel of 2009. His novel The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection), Dark Property, and Altmann's Tongue. He has translated work by Christian Gailly, Jean Frémon, Claro, Jacques Jouet, Eric Chevillard, Antoine Volodine, Manuela Draeger, and David B. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship. His work has been translated into Czech, French, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Persian, Russia, Spanish, Slovenian, and Turkish. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Critical Studies Program at CalArts.