Chapter 5 – January 1K

Dr. Schmidt excused himself, turning his attention back to his student Ed. Coach Dan recommended to Jimmy that they check on Annie, who they saw engaged in a bout on the far strip.

Jimmy pointed a thumb behind them as they walked. “Please tell me he’s like that with everyone.”

“Schmidt? Nah, don’t take him personally. He actually has a great sense of humor — can be quite charming once you get to know him.”

“Huh.” A loud buzz from a scoring machine was followed by a referee’s command to Halt. “You mean, once he gets to know you.”

“You’re not being cynical, are you?” There was an exaggerated playfulness in Coach Dan’s voice. “You do know there’s no room for cynicism in this sport.”

They stopped, having reached the strip where Annie was fencing. “I may have been away from this sport for a while, Daniel, but I work with people every day, for years. Customers, employees, suppliers — banquet hall managers.” They watched Annie parry an attack from her taller, stronger male opponent, her riposte landing on his weapon arm, the scoring machine buzzing and illuminating the white off-target light. “I’ve met many good people in my day, and I’ve also met more than my share of people who won’t give you the time of day until they know what you can do for them, or how you threaten them.” The referee waved Annie and her opponent into position on the strip, commanded them to fence. “Schmidt the guy who runs the fencing school?”

“En Garde! Fencing. He’s in the city, been there seven, eight years.”

“Huh.” Annie lunged, her brown pony-tail flying behind her; blades clattered, the scoring machine remained silent as the two fencers retreated a step from the other. Jimmy ponted in Annie’s direction. “Her father’s going back and forth to the city all the time.”

“As do you, my friend.”

Jimmy half-turned in Coach Dan’s direction, and raised an eyebrow. “I already done said I ain’t looking for no job.”

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