Return of Myles 3J

Myles leaned forward more, now resting his forearms rather than hands on his knees, his masked head pointing straight down at the tiled floor of the Bark Bay High School cafeteria. He talked as if addressing someone standing behind him. His voice was soft.

“There’s . . . no point, coach. You . . . I can’t . . . are you trying to prove — ”

“I’m not trying to prove anything.” Although the bounce between his feet had dissipated into a gentle back-and-forth rocking, Coach Dan remained in his en garde crouch as he spoke. “I’m trying to win this bout, a bout that you requested.”

Myles continued to address the imaginary person crouching between his legs. “Then . . . then attack.”

“But that’s not my –”

YEAAAHHHR!” Myles stood up suddenly, brought his hands up to the sides of his head, tore off his fencing mask in one sudden, violent motion. His sweat-drenched face pained with hate, Myles held the mask over his head like a prehistoric caveman lifting a boulder, then swung his upper body down, arms following and continuing and releasing the mask, which clattered with a hollow mettalic echo against the tiled floor, bouncing once, twice, then rolled gently along the convex oval of its front face.

The members of the Bark Bay High School fencing team stared in disbelief as Myles, their former captain, turned from the makeshift strip, took three steps, then fell on his knees to the floor, his chin dropping until it fell on his heaving chest.

“Call it.” Everyone in the room except Myles turned to the sound of Coach Dan’s voice. He was addressing Rex, who’d remained standing at the director’s position. Coach Dan pointed the tip of his foil at Rex. “Call it.”

Rex shook his head, pointed at Myles without looking at him. “Black — black card.” Later that evening, Bernie will explain to Butch about the three levels of fencing infractions, how directors kept three cards with them, would show a yellow card to issue a warning, a red to penalize a touch against a fencer, and black for violations egregious enough to warrant immediate disqualification from a tournament. Yes, Bernie will explain, poor sportsmanship could be grounds for a black card. No, he will explain, he had not seen a black card infraction prior to this afternoon.

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