“That’s really what she said?” Coach Dan did not often openly challenge his students on the Bark Bay High School fencing team, but he had trouble believing what he’d just heard.

“Yuh-huh.” Butch’s eyes as round as his face. “Coach Gavy, she said if we didn’t have — ” he reached across his chest with his left hand, tapped his right shoulder — “what are they called?”

“Plastrons.” Standing to Butch’s right, Rune waved his greasy hair off his forehead. “Dammit, she knows we don’t have equipment like that.”

Coach Dan laid a reassuring hand on Rune’s shoulder. “Lemme talk to her, see what’s going on.” The middle-aged English instructor and volunteer fencing coach quickly scanned the gymnasium, no recognition registering in his searching eyes, which then landed back on Butch. “You said she was going to talk to the bout committee?”


Coach Dan shook his head. “Supposedly?”

Butch nodded. “Yeah, stuposedly.”

Coach Dan opened his mouth, but then his body stiffened, as if here were suddenly under someone else’s control. Excusing himself quickly, he then left the wall of the gym where the team had deposited their equipment.

“You know, that’s not really a word.” Rune’s tone was almost apologetic.

“Oh!” Confusion contorted Butch’s round face. “You mean plastron?”

“No, no. Stuposedly, I mean.”

“Yeah it is.” There were times Rune would have appreciated less self-assuredness from his friend. “You say it when you think you know something, but you’re not a hundred percent sure. It’s like that other word.”

“What other word?” Rune regretted the question before Butch gave his answer.


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