Note: This is a critical scene from Chapter 2 that I’ve wanted to revise for a while. Not sure how long I’ll be on this scene, but that’s one of the beauties of this medium — when you start something, you never where you’ll end up, how long it’ll take you to get there, or how you arrived. With that said, here goes . . .
Coach Dan wasn’t sure how to respond to Kassie, a feeling he had unfortunately had come to expect in his dealings with the slim teenager. “Could you tell me why you feel today is so different?”
Kassie said she didn’t know. She just felt that Coach Dan had to be prepared for something unusual to happen today. Coach Dan scratched the short curls of his black beard. “My friend, I’ve only been coaching this fencing team a few years now, but I’ve already learned that there’s hardly anything usual about this team. In other words, I’m confident we’ll be able to handle anything that comes our way. And with that said — ” he lifted his chin, spoke with rising volume — “everyone line up!”
He pointed to one of the borders of white and black tile on the floor of the Bark Bay High School cafeteria. The floor of the large room was mostly covered with shiny black tile, with several rectangular islands of white tile throughout. When he had begun the fencing team, Coach Dan had noticed that each of these white rectangles was nearly the exact width of a standard fencing strip, and nearly half the length. It was purely a coincidence, but the cafeteria had turned out to be the perfect location to conduct the team’s practices.
The team members positioned themselves along the border Coach Dan had indicated. Annie, the nimble sophomore, was the first to place the toes of her right foot on the line, her pony tail prancing behind her head as she crouched down into ready position. Rex, a junior, stood to her right, the shoulders of his tall thin frame forming a line over Annie’s head. Bernie, another sophomore, wiped his long greasy hair from his eyes as he placed himself next to Rex. Butch, yet another sophomore, watched as the three teens lined up, then waddled his rotund body into position next to Bernie.
Coach Dan looked at the four teens on the line, then darted his gaze behind them. Annie turned, saw Kassie, the team’s only freshman, standing by herself, several feet behind and off to the left, a thin wall of black hair nearly curtaining her eyes. “Over here,” she called, pointing to a spot on the floor to her immediate left. Kassie nodded, smiled shyly as she walked quickly up next to Annie.
“Double-J!” Coach Dan’s shout was directed at a teenaged body sitting on the floor against the far wall, head resting on arms folded across propped knees. Double-J lifted his head, drooping eyes seeming to open in protest over the line of his thick black moustache. His response sounded labored. “Yeah?”
“We’re starting. Line up.”
“We’ve only got an hour.” Annie was tapping her right foot and staring back at him, hands digging into her hips, pony-tail pawing the space behind her head. “Let’s go.”
Double-J grunted, rose, walked slowly to the line, eyes opening slowly as if being lifted with a heavy lever. Annie sighed impatiently when he finally toed their line.
Coach Dan clapped his hands twice, crouched down several feet in front of the line, facing his team. “All right, simple advances and retreats. Just follow my movements. Advance,” he commanded, taking a step back. The team advanced one step forward, except for Butch, who had taken a step back.
Coach Dan called a halt, was about to explain the mechanics of the drill (again) to Butch, when the metal cafeteria doors opened with a loud KA-KLACK.