Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day Six-Eighty-Two: Lace up

"Come vith me."


"Come, come. I have zomezing uv a propozal."

"I'm busy. Can this wait?"

"No. I do not zink it can."

Today and yesterday have been rather tense on the Dauphine. Everyone just returning to the vehicle is still settling back into their old roles, while those who remained with our home-away-from-home are feeling ansty 'bout the Dauphine's longevity. With Libby gone the other mechanics were left to puzzle out the big machine's guts on their own, and they fear it'll break down again. Libby's supervising further repairs as we travel. So, yeah, tense.

I've been doing my best to stay busy. Helps me keep my mind off my troubles. I was in the middle of cleaning gears when Antonio walked up and brazenly pulled me away from my duties, insisting I accompany him to the rear loading bay.

The gypsies remain a weird issue. Lisanna wanted to stay with us while she looked for Traveller, anticipating that our antics would somehow draw him like flies to poop. She obviously wasn't wrong. Yet her band seems hesitant to leave us, even with Traveller returned to the fold (and traumatized, so traumatized!), so good 'ol Antonio remains a fixture of everyday life. 

Despite my mild irritation I was curious as to his intentions... and that curiosity blossomed into interest when we came upon Jeffrey, waiting for us in the loading bay, his fists tucked into battered boxing gloves. Antonio tossed me a pair as he laced on his own.

"You vill be learning how to zpar," he said, raising his fists in front of his face. "Do ziz."

I dangled the gloves from one hand, poking at them, a little excited and a little daunted. "Uhhhh. This is... sudden."

Jeffrey, standing in a reasonable immitation of Antonio's usual style, punched the air a few times. "It was Libby's idea. She heard I wanted lessons and insisted you get in on them too."

Ah. Yes. Libby. Of course it was Libby. "Ooooookay. So... you're gonna teach me... how to... punch...? I'm surprised Libby didn't ask for her own lessons."

Antonio took the gloves from me, shaking his head, and shoved them onto my hands. "Zat vun vuld not benevit from lessonz. Zhe haz a natural ferozity zat vurkz vell for her. It vuld take much training to override her inztinctz, und I do not know zat zhe vuld come out ze better for it. Laze und do ziz."

For the next three hours Antonio led us through the basics of boxing. How taught us how to jab, how to cross, how to uppercut, and the rudiments of blocking. More than anything he drilled us on our stance, roughly tapping our arms and legs into a thin, hunched profile whenever we dared to ease up. Jeffrey picked up on the lessons a bit faster than me, though we seemed equally stiff by the time Antonio let us go for the day.

"I vill zee you zame time tomorrow," Antonio called as we left the loading bay, three sets of gloves strung over his shoulder. "Do not be late, ya? Elze I give you black eyez."

"Among other things," I growled, rubbing my arm. Antonio had used it to demonstrate jabbing. "Yikes. Gonna be sore tomorrow."

"No kidding." Jeffrey rubbed the back of his head. I suspect a purple bruise was forming under his hair, a souvenir from a nasty fall against the deck plates. "It's fun, though. Boxing. Never had much time for fighting back home."

"Yeah, it's... something." I thought back to the boxing match between Cedric and Antonia, seemingly hundreds of years ago. Then the memory burst as more recent images of a disgusting kiss burbled to mind. I shuddered. "Something."

Jeffrey crooked an eyebrow. "Everything okay? You look spooked. I'd have thought getting the chance to punch me in the face again would appeal to you."

That made me laugh. "Naw, once was enough. I'm just tired."

"Okay. Sure." Jeffrey jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. "Food? I'm starving."

"Why not." I wiped sweat from my brow, hoping the gesture might also wipe away the obvious question: Who will cook for us? 

It didn't really work.

More boxing tomorrow, I guess. It's better than brooding over current events.


Dragomir the Wanderer

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