Myles smiled appreciatively, as Double-J called to Butch, who was closest to long canvas sack that contained the Bark Bay High School fencing team’s foils. “Give coach a foil.”
Butch bent over the sack, then stood upright, turning towards Coach Dan. “Which one?”
“Any one.” Coach Dan maintained his cold stare at Myles. “It doesn’t matter, just give me a foil.” Blades klacked as Butch searched, then came the sound of one rustling against the canvas as Butch retrieved it. Coach Dan turned, smiled at Butch as he accepted the foil.
“You’ll need this.” Annie stepped in front of Coach Dan, mask in hand. Behind her was Butch, carrying the thick black coaching jacket, worn and brown at the chest from hundreds of practice touches. Coach Dan took the mask from Annie, then pointed with his foil at the jacket. “I won’t need that.”
Annie and Bernie looked back silenly at their coach, their eyes widening. There were times he would conduct drills without his jacket, even times he would let himself be touched. But those were isolated incidents, occurring for the sake of convenience only, to complete an instruction (keep your arm out, turn the wrist, now extend — good — and lunge without interruption. But this challenge from Myles was not one of those times.
Coach Dan smiled quickly. “It’s OK.” He turned towards Myles, with a determination that made unnecessary any request for Annie and Bernie to clear the space between the coach and his former student.