For my friend Alex who couldn't hurt a fly, but I would totally bet on her in a knife fight with David!
The Ring Toss
It started with a sign, as many things in this world do. The sounds of the Monroe County fair reverberate in the dark recesses of David's memory. Flashes of times past seemed to echo back to him on the darkest of nights, on nights when the moon closes its giant eye and the world seems engulfed in shadow, when even the best of intentions twist into foul play. The remembered smell of a white hots linger across his nose, the sounds of children laughing to the haphazard beat of carnival music, mounds of cotton candy float by leaving circular sugar imprints on smiling faces, ping pong balls bounce happily as goldfish dart back and forth in their tiny abodes, waiting for some kid to swing it around in a plastic bag, most likely introducing it to an untimely death before leaving the fair grounds.
"If you are not allowed by law to be in possession of a weapon, please don't play this game." David stares at this sign and wonders what kind of person in Monroe County, anywhere, could not lawfully play the ring toss at a fair. With the last few dollars clutched in his hand, he contemplates getting a garbage plate and Jolt cola or trying his luck. He notices the colored blades immediately, and he feels strangely drawn, compelled to play.
David looks down realizing he was unconsciously stroking Arlo's handle. He won Arlo in a snickersnee tournament in Mexico City off of a very angry Indian. The handle, carved out of buffalo bone, showed measured and exceptional craftsmanship, a small totem with ancient symbols with an eagle topping it off. Arlo's sharpness had spilled many men's blood, won him food and money and was the reason he was still alive today and would hopefully carry his life through the night. "Thank you again Big Red," he mutters crossing the street.
Alexandra silently watches him approach the Rusty Nail from the alley, she sees his hand reach and gently slide across his blade's handle, like a subconscious tic. She notes the eyes first, always the eyes. You can read into the deepest caverns of a person's being through their eyes if you are trained right and know how to look. "There is a heaviness of spirit around this one," she thinks, they are often surprising in a duel, but their heaviness slows them down and none have escaped the swiftness of her blades. She thinks of her beloved Akecheta and her pact for vengeance ripples through her body; she feels this is the one who claimed her Love's life and took his blade, every cell in her body radiates and she knows this man with the heavy spirit stole her fighter's life and weapon and she will take it back and steal his life as payment.
The Rusty Nail is nothing special. It's floors are grimy, regulars sprinkle the bar,their backs hunched over cupping their pints like the holy grail, a fine haze of smoke shifts in the air with each new patron and the sounds of the young and carefree fill the room, the cracking of billiard balls serving as some sort of rhythmic staccato for this place's theme song. David stares deeply into his glass of whiskey almost wanting it to give him some sort of answer or reason, to spit out a why. He's sensed someone watching him since his approach and knows the time is soon.
Leaning back in his chair, he takes the room in recognizing two men with concealed weapons and a bartender that has an itchy trigger finger, most likely a shot gun underneath. He continues scanning the room and meets her gaze; he can feel the hatred and the fire and realizes he's not sure if he can duel a woman. The only sacred beings in his life were women and even though he can feel this one has enough anger to fill ten men, his ambivalence towards life, towards mankind is suddenly compromised. If he leaves, he is done, no forfeiting a match no matter who the opponent. David weighs the long journey, the blood spilt, the heaviness and loneliness for this quest, for this reason for finding one's self and respect again.
Before a decision can be made as to which path he'll continue down, she is standing before him silence thundering and pulsating with rings of hate in her eyes. The room seems to fade into nothing and they begin to circle one another. He can see her blade reflecting in the gold specks in her eyes, she strikes quickly and rips his shirt for sport. He moves defensively not committing, throwing it all away. "Akecheta!" She yells spins and thrusts her blade. He concentrates on the gold in her eyes and smiles.
The sun warms his face, leaves are glowing with light, he squints with determination and tosses. Eight knives total. He grins at himself and gingerly holds the colored handles, offering a pink blade to the sky, he thrusts it into the earth, a signpost of his winnings.