[Today’s prompt from The Daily Post: Waiting Room]
Rex extended his foil in a line running high above his vanquished opponents head. His arm was barely thicker than his foil; to Rune, standing at the end of the strip, the weapon and arm seemed like a telescope, projecting out of the observatory of Rex’s body.
Rex and his opponent completed their salute, and met briefly at the center of the strip to shake hands. A moment later, he joined Rune at the end of the strip.
“Know what I noticed during your bout?” As he spoke, Rune reached behind Rex, helped unclip him from the cord reel. Not knowing how to respond, Rex waited for Rune to continue.
“You never attacked.” As the reel pulled the cord into itself, Rune held the plug at the end, bending down and finally releasing when the plug was nearly at rest. “Everything you did was off a parry-riposte. I didn’t notice until you got the second touch, and I was like, that was a parry-riposte, same as the first one. Then I started looking for it, and after you got to four I was like, is he ever gonna attack himself? But you didn’t.”
Rex had folded the top of his long frame down towards his legs, retrieved his purple plastic water bottle from the floor, and was now unfolding his body. “Didn’t need to.” He flipped the gray cover of the bottle, drank swiftly. “Fenced Horty a few times, he’s real quick. Good blade work too. But he’s impatient, like a lot of fencers — likes to be the alpha, if you know what I mean.”
“Sure.” Rune’s nod was less an affirmation than an invitation for the tall teen to continue.
“Sometimes it pays to be the alpha dog, lead the conversation with your opponent. Other times it’s better to play the beta, let your opponent take the lead, wait for him to make the mistakes. I’ve tried going toe-to-toe with Horty before, and he usually outblades me when I play that game. What I learned, what you saw today — that was my beta game.” The wintery sunlight filtering through the gray windows seemed to find Rex’s broad smile. “And it worked.”