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aruna
04-29-2014, 09:45 PM
It's a scuffle between two men. There are some old garden tools lying nearby; one of the men picks up an old rusty cutlass (machete) and strikes; it hits the other in the chest, cutting him open.

Don't need to go into to many details but is it plausible that a rusty cutlass could do so much damage? Would it be able to get the heart? I can easily make him bleed to death, rather than having the heart damaged. There would not have been good ambulance/emergency services.

Hmmm. Just thinking aloud; had the idea that it could be a rusty old pitchfork which baddie thrust at goody; that would go deeper, I think, bore the heart.

Cath
04-29-2014, 10:00 PM
The heart is pretty well protected by the rib cage. I believe it would take a very lucky strike to hit it with either the cutlass or the pitchfork. For the pitchfork, you're coming in at an angle through the ribs, not head on. Up and under the rib cage is unlikely to happen unless the handle is broken.

I'd believe puncturing the stomach, kidneys, and other less protected organs sooner than the heart.

If he needs to die quickly, aim for an artery. The carotid, the jugular, or the femoral arteries might suit your purposes.

Trebor1415
04-29-2014, 10:05 PM
A machete is a slashing weapon, not a piercing weapon. If the tool is described as a machete I would have a hard time believing it would pierce the body, much less reach the heart.

I'd have the attacker grab the machete and swing it at the victim. The victim instinctively raises in arm to block the swing and receives a so-called "defensive wound." In this case it's a nasty slash across the arm that severs an artery. Without medical attention he'd quickly bleed out so you could even have them continue to struggle for a minute or so until the victim loses enough blood to pass out and eventually die.

You could also have him slash the victim in the neck and sever the artery there if you want a quicker death, especially one from one swing.

The "pitchfork in the chest" thing is done quite often, btw. And yes, that would pierce far enough to hit the heart, most likely.

waylander
04-29-2014, 10:08 PM
Pitchfork in the abdomen that hits the aorta would do it.

melindamusil
04-29-2014, 10:09 PM
Disclaimer: Not a medical professional.
If the machete (or just about anything else) hits him a few inches up, in the neck, I think you can easily sever the carotid artery.
I would actually think the machete could go deeper than the pitchfork. IMO the man holding the machete would need to be able to put a lot of energy behind the thrust, like maybe thrusting from a few feet away. I'd want the tip of the machete to strike first, so all the energy is funneled into the tip. Plus he'd need a bit of dumb luck, so the machete slides between the ribs.

aruna
04-29-2014, 10:36 PM
Thanks for all super info. Everything most useful!
Bleeding to death is fine; think I'll go that route with either cutlass or pitchfork.

Bolero
04-29-2014, 11:37 PM
To me a cutlass is a sword with a slightly curved blade, as carried by Naval officers in the Napoleonic war. I'd be wondering what one of those was doing in a garden shed. Machete - no problem.

mirandashell
04-30-2014, 12:00 AM
I was thinking that as well. A little confused why a pirate weapon was in a shed.....

LOL!

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&authuser=0&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1093&bih=534&q=cutlass&oq=cutl&gs_l=img.1.0.0l10.1500.2040.0.5039.4.4.0.0.0.0.68. 234.4.4.0....0...1ac.1.42.img..0.4.233.UJlnSGzf610 #facrc=0%3Bpirate%20cutlass&imgrc=_

Trebor1415
04-30-2014, 04:13 AM
I was thinking that as well. A little confused why a pirate weapon was in a shed.....

LOL!

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&authuser=0&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1093&bih=534&q=cutlass&oq=cutl&gs_l=img.1.0.0l10.1500.2040.0.5039.4.4.0.0.0.0.68. 234.4.4.0....0...1ac.1.42.img..0.4.233.UJlnSGzf610 #facrc=0%3Bpirate%20cutlass&imgrc=_


Me three. If you call it a Cutless, we'll all be looking for pirates.

ULTRAGOTHA
04-30-2014, 04:43 AM
I would totally believe a cutlass in a garden shed. You've never heard of Tractor Jack? (http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/arrogant_worms/the_last_saskatchewan_pirate-lyrics-92014.html)


Well you think the locals farmers would know that I'm at large
But, just the other day I saw an unprotected barge
I snuck up right behind them and they were none the wiser,
I rammed their ship, and sank it, and I stole their fertilizer!
A bridge outside of Moose Jaw spans a mighty river
The farmers pass in so much fear, their stomachs are a-quiver
Because the know that TRACTOR JACK! is hiding in the bay,
I'll jump the bridge and knock them cold and sail off with their hay!"

WeaselFire
04-30-2014, 06:08 AM
Use the fork, Luke...

Seriously, with the number of machete fights seen in the sugar cane industry, you'd see a lot more deaths if it were a viable weapon. Bleeding to death is about the only possibility and slicing weapons don't do that good a job of killing. They're great for some serious scarring and occasional limb loss though.

Jeff

aruna
04-30-2014, 08:19 AM
To me a cutlass is a sword with a slightly curved blade, as carried by Naval officers in the Napoleonic war. I'd be wondering what one of those was doing in a garden shed. Machete - no problem.

Sorry, folks, but a cutlass is what it is called in Guyana (and all the Caribbean) where the story is set, so it will have to be a cutlass! Though if readers start thinking it's a pirate sword --- no, I'll have to make it clear that it is called cutlass there. Somehow. Though you are right -- almost all the online dictionaries define it as a pirate sword. It would never have occurred to me that it was anything other than a machete -- cutlasses are so common in Guyana, every household has one, and I never heard the word machete till I travelled in South America!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machete


In the English-speaking Caribbean such as Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada and in Trinidad and Tobago, the term "cutlass" is used for these agricultural tools.


But I'm thinking, they could have a fight with the other guy using the pitchfork to threaten him, and then he falls to the ground, and he rams the pitchfork in from above.

Bufty
04-30-2014, 02:30 PM
I always prefer a good dictionary to wikipedia.

My dictionary also defines a cutlass as a short sword, often with a curved blade and formerly used by sailors. A machete is described as a broad, heavy knife.

I've lived in the Caribbean and yes, the machete was called a cutlass by the locals.

aruna
04-30-2014, 02:36 PM
But it's not a question of dictrionary definitions, but of actual usage. In the country where the novel is set it is called a cutlass; nobody would know what a machete is there. I want to stay authentic, use vocabulary the locals would use; the trick is to make this clear to readers who have a different definition in their heads. So that's me job as the writer.

It just so happens that Wikipedia is the only online reference I found that includes this definition; that makes it BETTER than others in this case! Because cutlass IS the right word in that part of the English speaking world, so it should be included in other dictionaries as an alternative definitiion.

Bufty
04-30-2014, 02:38 PM
Agreed, but without the dictionary definition you wouldn't know you were using a term that meant different things to readers outside the area where the story takes place, as evidenced from the posts here.

Good luck.

aruna
04-30-2014, 02:55 PM
Yes; I will make it clear in the story that this is the correct local usage.

Bolero
05-01-2014, 12:58 AM
:) Depending on the characters you could have the passing tourist commenting on the machete to the local trimming his hedge (or whatever) and being told it is a cutlass a few pages before the scene.

There is a Tom Clancy where he drops info in a two line conversation about three pages before the reader needs to know it. I just noted it when I read the book a few years ago and thought that actually worked. Wouldn't want to do it too often but...

PorterStarrByrd
05-01-2014, 01:29 AM
Sounds like you are on the right track. A machete is not generally kept razor sharp, just enough to cut grass and until they can't do the job, they are left alone. Not likely it would break through the rib cage but it could damage arm or neck if swung pretty hard.

Mr Flibble
05-01-2014, 01:49 AM
Just a thought here...


When I were a nipper my dad had a sickle* and a...bugger, can't recall it's name (hook perhaps? Can't recall), It was to hold the grass or whatever away from you while you used the sickle. Basically a handle with three long nail like prongs on it. Which, I imagine, could really do some damage :D Would something like that be in use in the area?



* he called it a swap hook, but hey.

Elhrrah
05-01-2014, 03:49 AM
A good thing to keep in mind is that the clavicle is relatively fragile. A solid chop into the top of the shoulder could reasonably cut through the clavicle and the first rib or two, deflecting off from the scapula and getting wedged against the sternum. While the blow wouldn't be immediately lethal, it'd put someone down and make for a fairly bloody scene. The possibility of having to wrestle the blade out of the torso would also be useful.

aruna
05-01-2014, 07:50 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions! It has given me lot of inspiration!

Lauram6123
05-01-2014, 08:11 PM
Yes; I will make it clear in the story that this is the correct local usage.

When I saw this question, the first thing that came to my mind was killing someone with an mid-eighties Oldsmobile.

I guess context for a "Cutlass" is important. :)