Warning Signs 11

Confident that Double-J would indeed accept his invitation, Dan stepped through the crotch strap of the fencing jacket he had selected, and after slipping his arms through its sleeves, turned his back as he stepped towards Jimmy. “Little help?”

Jimmy fastened the back zipper, lifted the slider, the back folds of the jacket enclosing Dan. Having retrieved his own jacket (a long plastic tie hanging from the slider allowed the teen to zip the back without assistance) from the equipment sack, Double-J walked several paces away before beginning to suit up.

“Hey.” Jimmy’s voice not a whisper as total concealment would be impossible in the almost empty room, but soft enought to be unintelligible to anyone not as close as Dan. “What’s this about?”

Dan turned, looked down at Jimmy’s right pocket, the corner of the letter still visible. “Just another leson, my friend.”

Jimmy stuffed the letter deep into his pocket. “Why you givin’ any mind to this? You know as well as me, this ain’t nuthin’ but small talk from small minds.”

“I hear you.” Dan bent at the waist, picked up the fencing mask and sabre he had picked out earlier. “But this isn’t about what’s written in that letter. It’s all about responding to letter writers.”

With a satisfied grunt, Double-J stood upright and stretched his arms, the zipper pull falling behind his jacketed back. The teen then picked up the mask and sabre at his feet, and hustled to the makeshift strip at the center of the cafeteria floor, arriving a few steps ahead of Dan, who tapped the floor outside the strip twice with his sabre, his eyes calling to Jimmy.

The owner of Squisito Catering and at times reluctant volunteer assistant coach of the Bark Bay High School fencing team sighed, and with a frown walked to the referee’s position.

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