Preparations, Part 3

Miss Hayes tutted, and shook her gray head as she lead Butch over to the refrigerator (opening it always made Butch smile, it being one of his earliest memories). He had pulled out the tray of lady finger sandwiches, had begun removing the plastic wrap, when he heard another tutt from Miss Hayes. “Why on earth would you want to do something like that?”

“Oh!” Despite the persistent chill of the basement, Butch felt himself starting to sweat. He discarded the plastic wrap into a large gray trash bucket with a black liner, then pointed at his bruised hand. “It’s not what I meant to do, I pulled my hand in by mistake — ”

“That’s not what I meant.” There was a tone of authority in her voice that made Miss Hayes seem ten years younger. “That bruise was an accident, I understand that. What I can’t understand is — ” and the tone of her voice softened, and she was once again the kindly widow so loved by the members of Bark Bay Baptist Church — “why fencing? What on earth possessed you to take up such a — dangerous sport.”

“Oh!” It occurred to Butch that this was the first time anyone other than his parents had asked him about the fencing club he had joined several weeks ago. He hadn’t known what questions to expect, but certainly not this. “It’s not dangerous at all, no ma’am. We wear jackets, they’re really thick, and these metal masks — ”

“Well I should hope so!” Miss Hayes had begun carrying the tray of finger sandwiches from the kitchen into a large room which served as the church’s social hall. Three round tables, each with eight chairs, had been set up in the center of the room, a large rectangular table for food set off to the side. “I mean, you’re trying to stab each other with swords, I would expect you’d wear protective equipment! You say you do this at the school?” She placed the sandwich tray on the rectangular table.

“Oh!” Butch scratched his head. “Yeah, it’s a club, it’s run by Mr. Jacobs — ”

“Jacobs!” Miss Hayes turned on Butch suddenly, her eyes wide.

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