Preparations, Part 4

“Yes, ma’am.” It was not in Butch’s nature to be suspicious, but there was a tone in Miss Hayes’ voice that concerned him.

She tutted, smoothed the tablecloth under the tray of lady finger sandwiches. “He’s that Jew teacher they have at the school, isn’t he?”

Butch stared at Miss Hayes as she continued smoothing the tablecloth, each sweep of her hand swift and determined, as if each wrinkle were a loathsome spider. He heard the second hand of the clock ticking on the wall behind him.

Apparently satisfied with her task, Miss Hayes stood upright, turned to Butch, and beamed her most grandmotherly smile. “So tell me — what made you decide to do fencing?”

“Oh!” Butch shook his head, as Miss Hayes led him back to the kitchen. “It was, I don’t know — Rune, my friend, he’s been my friend since third grade, it was during recess — ”

“You fenced during recess?” They had walked back into the kitchen; Miss Hayes opened the refrigerator.

“Oh! No! I meant, we was in recess back in third grade, is when we met.”

Miss Hayes blinked. “I see. So this Rune friend of yours, I take it he fenced before you did?”

“Oh! Yeah!” Butch took the clear plastic carton of apple juice that Miss Hayes handed him. “He was on the fencing team last year. ‘Cept coach — ” he stopped himself from saying Coach Dan — “he don’t call it a team, it’s a club he was saying the other day.”

“I see.” Miss Hayes handed Butch a plastic carton of grape juice, and closed the refrigerator door. “So your friend was on this — club, and you decided what was good enough for him, was good enough for you?”

Butch shrugged. “I dunno. Rune always told me, fencing’s fun, you should try it. So, I did.”

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