Character Data: Big Paul

Full Name: Paul Ketterling

Height: 5′ 7″

Weight: 170 lbs.

Build: Burly and clumsy, Big Paul is an imposing figure, especially when he fences. He tries to use his size and strength to overwhelm his opponents, yet is often defeated by his lack of speed and coordination.

Academic Year: Junior

Fencing Experience: Big Paul joined the Bark Bay High School fencing team toward the end of his freshman year, inspired by his friend and football teammate Myles. He had some success at the start of the previous year, but as “the book” on how to defeat him spread among the high school fencing community, he became frustrated. He now attends about half of the team’s practices in the fall, and has expressed no interest in competing in any tournaments.

Family: Paul’s father is the former football coach and athletic director at Bark Bay; the school fired him five years ago for his involvement with a prized student’s collegiate athletic scholarship, and now works as a retail manager. His mother works at a bakery. He has an older sister, a freshman at an Ivy League college.

Tag Phrase: C’mon!


Character Data: Micky

Full Name: McKay Milosev

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight: 140 lbs.

Build: Tall and thin, with shoulder-length brown hair, Micky’s athleticism is second only to Annie’s on the Bark Bay High School fencing team. Highly competitive, Micky gets frustrated easily.

Academic Year: Senior

Fencing Experience: Micky began fencing two years ago, and began competing in both foil and epee the prvious year. She does not attend any practices in the fall, and while she insists to Coach Dan that she’ll resume fencing over the winter, she is evasive when asked about her absence.

Family: Micky’s father died when she was an six; her uncle (a photographer) moved in with but did not marry her mother (a reporter for the local weekly newspaper) shortly after her father’s death. She has an sister two years older who works as a waitress at the Pizza Place, a restaurant in Bark Bay, and a brother, Coy, three years younger and also a fencer on the team. Twin sons of her uncle from his previous marriage are the same age and academic year as Micky, and also live in her home and attend Bark Bay.

Tag Phrase: Hey!

[Updated 8/2/2015 — Added a younger brother]

Character Data: OK

Full Name: Aurora O’Kelly

Height: 5′ 4″

Weight: 120 lbs.

Build: OK’s brilliant, long and wavy red hair is the perfect complement to her energetic personality. She is always smiling, even on the rare occassions when she is evidently upset or angry. 

Academic Year: Sophomore

Fencing Experience: Limited. OK showed up at the Bark Bay High School fencing team’s first practice her freshman year, but has only been at practice sporadically since. She only fences foil, and has not competed in or even attended any tournament. Since her energy is appreciated by Coach Dan and every member of the team, her occassional appearances are always met with joy. 

Family: Her father is a well-respected plumber in town, and her mother is a real-estate agent who works frequently with Annie’s uncles. She has two sisters, two and three years younger.

Tag Phrase: OK (as much responsible for her nickname as her last name)

Character Data: Juan

Full Name: Kwon Joo-won (mistaken for Juan by his second-grade teacher, and the name has stuck with him)

Height: 5′ 2″

Weight: 160 lbs.

Build: Shorter and stockier than most members of the Bark Bay High School fencing team, Juan is faster and less powerful than he seems. His straight dark hair never seems to change its appearance, even when his acne-scarred face is covered in sweat.

Academic Year: Senior

Fencing Experience: Juan has fenced both foil and saber since his sophomore year. He has decided to focus on college preparation as a senior, so he rarely attends fencing practice.

Family: his parents came to Bark Bay from Korea when Juan was four. His father, a doctor in Korea, worked as a janitor for several years before finally finding work as a lab technician for the county hospital. His mother does alterations at a dry cleaners. He has a sister two years younger, and a brother and sister both born in the US.

Tag Phrase: Yes (always said with a quick nod)

Character Data: Double-J

Full Name: John Johnson

Height: 5′ 1″

Weight: 155 lbs.

Build: Short and powerful, Double-J also possesses remarkable reflex speed. His thin black hair hangs over his head in a perpetually uncombed mess. His moustache is similarly thin and unkempt.

Academic Year: Senior

Fencing Experience: Double-J has been with the Bark Bay High School fencing team since the end of his freshman year. Soon after joining the team he took up saber, which is now his only competition weapon. He rarely attends practices with the team, ostensibly because nobody else competes in saber.

Family: His father is a career military officer who rarely spends time in Bark Bay. His mother is an attorney in the city; the parents divorced when Double-J was five. Since that time, Double-J has lived with Lefty, a friend of his father’s and the owner of a garage where Double-J has worked since he was eleven. While Double-J is happy living with and working for Lefty, he resents how both his parents have treated him. 

Tag Phrase: Seems to me   

Character Data: The Bird

Full Name: Cassandra Wernick

Height: 5′ 3″

Weight: 110 lbs.

Build: Her body seems more frail than she actually is. Straight black hair almost completely obscures her face.

Academic Year: Freshman

Fencing Experience: None. During practices with the Bark Bay High School team, she prefers to observe more than participate.

Family: The Bird lives with her mother, Janet, an actress known for her role as Save-Anna, an outrageous character in commercials for the Stop and Save grocery chain. The Bird has never met her father, Janet only saying that he was an agent she had met in Los Angeles and abandoned her when she became pregnant. Her mother’s mother lives in the city, and spends a good deal of time with her daughter and granddaughter.

Tag phrase: The Bird rarely speaks unless in direct response to a question, and has no phrase she uses habitually.

A Lunge in the Dark

Two years after starting this blog, I created a second that was focused on my career as a competitive fencer. Titled A Lunge in the Dark, I’d post to this blog a few times a month, most entries coming immediately before and after a tournament. But it was always a secondary effort to my work on this blog, and as I’ve dedicated myself over the past year to improving the quality of my primary effort, that second blog seemed more like an obligation than a passion. At the beginning of the year, I posted what was in effect a goodbye message, and haven’t followed that post with another.

It’s been obvious for some time that I needed to let go of the second blog, but if for no other reason than an unjustified feeling of self-importance, I didn’t just want to discard all of the material I’d written there. So I compromised by way of merger — earlier today, I imported all of my posts from A Lunge in the Dark into this blog. If you’re interested in reading a novice fencer wear his heart on his jacket (it’s not pretty, but it’s all real), click through the category I created today for the imported posts.

As for that fencing career . . . this morning was my first tournament in five months. Results were — well, insignificant and besides the point. Today was about competing: getting my butt back on strip, strapping the gray metal face over my head and pushing seeing what I can do with a (mostly) sharp weapon in my hand against opponents with as much battle lust as me. And while I took far more hits than I gave today, I came away with the goal I’d been seeking. The fire in my soul was ignited again, burning with an energy that charged through every cell in my body, a jolt of pure life that I feel at few other times. So yeah, I gave up more touches today than I scored in each of my bouts (save one, where I came back from 2-4 with the benefit of a few calls that went my way — sometimes it helps to have your coach serve as the official), I felt like a winner when I left today’s tournament.

Character Data: Rune

Full Name: Hugo Banks

Height: 5′ 7″

Weight: 140 lbs.

Build: A high metabolism kept him slender as a child, but a disinterest in exercise has led to an increasing roll of fat around his waist. He has long wavy hair which is perpetually slick with grease. Acne inflicts his face and skin like a plague.

Academic Year: Sophomore

Fencing Experience: Less than one year. He joined the Bark Bay High School in the middle of his freshman year.

Family: His father, Paul, is an accountant who works for a tax preparation firm. His mother, Jenna, is an English professor at the state university outside of the city. He has an older sister at an out-of-state college, and a younger brother. The Banks family lives in a comfortable home located in a too quiet subdivision outside of town.

Tag phrase: I don’t know (even said at times when he does know, and immediately before a lengthy explanation) 

Character Data: Annie

Full Name: Anna Hutchinson

Height: 5′ 6″

Weight: 135 lbs.

Build: lean and athletic; her long brown hair is perpetually tied in a pony-tail that swishes behind her head with an energy that makes it seem almost alive.

Academic Year: Sophomore

Fencing Experience: Annie has only been fencing for a year, but in that time has learned to use her extensive background in dance and gymnastics to her advantage. She’s fond of saying, “You fence with your feet.”

Family: The Hutchinsons are the weathiest family in Bark Bay. Her father, Carl, comes from a long line of successful businessmen, and is running for the state legislature, the first political campaign in the familly’s history. Her mother, Laura, is a former real-estate agent from a middle-class family. Annie has a brother, Sierra,  a senior at the Academy, an elite private school an hour away from the Hutchinson’s home.

Tag phase: Really (used in multiple ways — a question, phatic statement, adverb etc.)

Character Data: Butch

Full Name: Benjamin Goodman

Height: 5′ 3″

Weight: 190 lbs.

Build: Short and fat; short blonde hair sits in spikes on top of his head, like a recently harvested wheat field

Academic Year: Sophomore

Fencing Experience: None, prior to joining the Bark Bay team at the beginning of the academic year

Family: His father, Cyrus, is the minister of the First Baptist Church of Bark Bay. His mother, Faith, volunteers for several charitable organizations linked to the church. Butch is the youngest of eight children, and is the only child still enrolled at Bark Bay High School.

Tag phrase: Oh!