Every Tuesday from 3 to 5 PM, the Bark Bay High School fencing team holds its practice in the school cafeteria.
The rectangular room is 60 feet long (north to south) and 75 feet wide (east to west). Its primary entrance is a pair of large metal doors on the southern end of the western wall; along the remaining length of the west wall are four deep alcoves which hold the cafeteria’s roll-up benches and tables. The northern wall is only three feet tall and is actually the front of a small stage where some student assemblies and plays are performed. Along the bottom of the eastern wall are foot-tall radiators encased in black metal, vents running along the top; glass windows run up from these heating units to the top of the wall. The southern wall has two large rectangular bays leading to the kitchen; during fencing practice, these bays are closed with metal sliding doors.
The cafeteria’s floor makes it ideal for the fencing team. Tiled mostly in black, the center of the floor features fifteen rectangular areas of white tile, used to arrange the benches and tables for lunch. Each of these white tiled areas are six tiles wide and twenty long (each tile exactly a foot square), with three black tiles separating each white rectangle. Each of these white areas is approximately half the length and a little more than the full width of a regulation fencing strip; two white areas linked together with their narrow ends facing the other (and separated by three feet, the approximate distance of the en-garde lines) provides the Bark Bay fencing team with up to three makeshift strips for each practice.
Yet there are aspects of the cafeteria that make it less than ideal for conducting a fencing practice. Lighting is generally poor; banks of fluorescent lights hang from the high ceiling and buzz constantly, as if in duress, with at least one bank flickering yet refusing to die. The floor’s surface is dusty, and often littered with spills and trash from the day’s lunch; the occasional cockroach or rat interrupts practice. Pungent odors from the day’s meal, along with an underlying scent of marinara sauce, penetrate the air.