Rex couldn’t see the connection Jimmy was making between fencing and life, but the teen thanked the older man as he stepped out of the van, his feet stumbling to find an even surface among the hard ruts of mud. He began to close the passenger door, but stopped. Looked back at Jimmy, whose body had resumed its typically calm demeanor.
“You’re from the south, right?”
“Born and raised in New Orleans, Slim. Why’d you ask?”
Rex bit his lower lip. “Just — curious. Mind if I ask, why you came all the way up here, to Bark Bay?”
Jimmy paused, Rex sensing his new coach was deciding between several potential answers, all of them true yet each conveying a distinct aspect of his personality. The older man then wiped his mouth. “Bugs. The heat and humidity I could take, but all the bugs that live off’n it — drove me crazy.” He pointed out the windshield. “Don’t like the cold, but least it keeps the damn bugs away.”
Rex smiled. “I’m glad you’re our new coach, Mr. Saunders.”
A hyperbolic look of horror fell over Jimmy’s face. “I ain’t mister nobody, Slim. Or coach nobody.” A beam of light from within the trailer illuminated his pearly smile. “You kids just call me Jimmy, OK?”
Rex waved, closed the passenger door, and walked up the decaying wood steps leading to his family’s trailer as the van pulled into reverse, then back onto the road.
End of “The Log”