December. The first Tuesday.
Coach Dan lifted his chin, called to Rex and Double-J as they walked towards the cafeteria exit. “Nice work tonight, guys.” His voice was labored from exhaustion, the short black curls of his hair and beard glistening with sweat, fencing jacket unzipped, flaps draping loosely.
Rex turned, swept his right arm up, his tall thin body bending like a parentheses. “Thanks Coach.” Double-J waved without turning, continued to the large metallic cafeteria door, opening the thick metal release bar, kla-klack.
Coach Dan turned, saw that Jimmy was sitting against the low wall in front of the stage. His eyes were closed, head resting back and pointed up at the ceiling, forearms resting on raised knees. If his face wasn’t covered in sweat, Coach Dan thought, you’d think he was sleeping. Coach Dan walked in Jimmy’s direction, was surprised when he suddenly started speaking.
“Daniel, please explain to me why I let you talk me into this.”
Jimmy’s eyes were still closed, but Coach Dan shrugged anyway. “You seemed to be enjoying yourself.”
Jimmy smiled. Opened his eyes, found Coach Dan’s gaze. “Problem is, my body can’t keep up with my enthusiasm. It’s been twenty years since I last picked up a weapon, and I’m gonna wake up tomorrow with about two decades worth of aches and pains.”
Coach Dan lowered his body, sat next to Jimmy, legs sprawled straight in front, hands in his lap. “I’ve learned that I can only keep up with them for a short period of time. Give myself time to rest between bursts of energy.”
“Bursts.” Jimmy laughed. “Right now I feel about ready to burst.”
Coach Dan nodded, waited for Jimmy to regain his composure. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen those two boys work that hard at practice. You really pushed them tonight.”
“You always call them boys?”
“Don’t tell them I said that.”