Preparations, Part 2

Butch shrugged, and ran his right hand over the top of his crew-cut blonde hair as he looked down at the bruise on the back of his left hand. “It happened at fencing last night. Rune hit me on the back of the hand, by mistake.”

“By mistake?” Miss Hayes was now staring into Butch’s face with the same morbid curiosity she had displayed when examining the bruise. “He wasn’t supposed to do that?”

“No. I mean, yes.” Butch shook his head. “He didn’t do nothing wrong, it was me.” He threw his left arm back, as if attempting to hide the bruise. “When you’re fencing, you’re supposed to have your arm back, like this, so it don’t get hit.”

“Really?” Miss Hayes’ confusion seemed to be growing.

“Yeah, ‘cuz you don’t score by hitting someone in the hands. Actually, Rune was saying last night, that’s only the rule for foil, which is the weapon we was using, if we fenced with a different weapon, he said they were called weapons not swords — ”

Miss Hayes shook her head. “So if you’ve got your hand back there, how are you supposed to hit anybody?”

“Oh!” Butch extended his right arm. “I fence right-handed, Miss Hayes. And there’s this metal thing above the handle that keeps you from getting hit. It’s your other hand, the one you don’t fence with, that’s the one you’re supposed to keep behind you. See, if I was left-handed like Rex, he’s this tall guy — ”

“I think I understand.” Miss Hayes pointed to the bruise on his left hand. “So you’re left hand — you were supposed to have it behind you, but you didn’t, so this Rune person, he hit you there?”

“Not on purpose. He was trying to hit me in the chest.” Butch patted his chest. “But my hand got in the way, and that’s when I got hit there. Coach said that if that happened in a real bout, the referee would have given me a yellow card, but he didn’t say what I was supposed to do with it.”

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