With a sigh, the director flipped the quarter into the air, let it fall to the hardwood floor. The quarter turned in a circle, fell flat.
“Heads.” The director turned to Butch. “You have priority.” Coach Dan explained to the tow-headed teen that there would be one more minute of fencing time, with the first person scoring a touch being the winner. And if nobody scored during that minute, then Butch, having won priority through the coin flip, would be the winner.
“Oh! So I won?”
Coach Dan shook his head. “Only if you get a touch, or time runs out.”
“Oh! So what — ”
“Tell you what.” Coach Dan put his hands on Butch’s shoulders. “Why don’t you just fence, and I promise, we’ll let you know what happens, my friend.”
“Oh!” Butch tilted his head to look at the director. “Is that OK?”
The director looked back despondently, like a patient waiting for a root canal. “Nothing would give me more joy than seeing this bout to its conclusion.”
After some whispered advice from Geri Masters to the Hillcrest skeleton, the bout resumed. Rune looked up at the clock — the scoring machine buzzed, the director called halt, and when Rune looked back at strip he saw her raising her hand. On Butch’s side.
“No way!” Annie’s voice was a delighted whisper.
“Well done!” Coach Dan clapped vigorously.
“Whaddaya know?” Jimmy looked down, shaking his head.