Scene Synopsis: Dead shows Lena-the-newbie how to punch a bag. Theoretically it should be better than kicking a shin?
Date: November 9, 2010
Location: Winter Park: Safehouse The basement of Winter Park is a huge one, with polished cement floors stained in a marbled, warm brown. Outfitted as a safehouse, it has any number of amenities: as you enter through the door, you find a hallway to your left, routing around to a meditation room, the gym, and a reinforced training room. Other rooms to your left are six bedrooms to outfit cubs and drifters, two bathrooms, and an infirmary outfitted for all manner of injuries. To your right is a sealed door to the armory, the laundry room, a kitchen and a dining area. In the far corner of the room is a lounge, complete with a big TV, video games, and all manner of donated books to keep people entertained. There's also a pool table, as well as a foozball table down there.
The smell of sweat hangs heavy in the air in the hallway that leads to the gym in the safehouse. A normal state for the hallway, but today with the doors flung wide to allow more air conditioning in, the sounds of huffing breaths and grunts can be heard accompanied by the sound of dull thuds and slams. Inside the gym, Dead is circling large punching bag suspended from the ceiling and is frankly beating the crap out of the thing, his fists slamming into the canvas bag again and again at times with one-two punches, other times just stinging the canvas with rapidfire blows. Most people would be dressed in work-out attire, but not Dead. He is dressed the same way he is every day. Best to train in what you're likely to be attacked in, right?
Lena visited to check the grocery list and ended up noticing someone looking overwhelmed with some laundry. So, after putting away the perishables, Lena went back to laundry room to assist. Soon she is walking through with a pile of freshly cleaned and folded towels. She places a few in one bathroom and then walks along the more narrow path toward the other bathroom and pauses when she sees a door open that usually isn't. Hugging a few towels, she furrows her brow. She had no idea there was a gym here.
Continuing to slam his calloused knuckles into the canvas bag again and again, it is another few minutes before Dead finally gives one last punch that sets the punching back swinging, he steps back and turns to make his way over to a bench press bench and seats himself. Breathing a little hard, he reaches over, patting along the seat with his hand until he finds his water bottle and brings it up to his lips to sip at it. Or more like guzzle it, downing over half without coming up for air.
Lena watches a bit too long, going from surprised to seeing a blind man beating up a punching bag, to perhaps seeming a bit like a voyeur. She clears her throat while Dead drinks his water and then calls from the doorway, "Mister Dead, is something the matter?" Blind guy beating up things in a gym, looks like he might be angry. She hugs the towels to her and her voice sounds a little nervous as it softens and she tries to offer aid, "Perhaps.. something you might want to talk about?" Yeah, she goes to a therapist who encourages communication. It's rubbing off. She cautiously steps into the room.
As he brings his head up, Dead purposefully slows his breathing, taking deliberately deep, slow breaths of air and clears his throat a bit himself. "The matter? No. Not beyond the usual, I assure you, Lena. Thank you for asking though. That's a very nice trait that I wish more of our kin had." he says with a nod to emphasize his own words. "Just getting in some exercise. Attempting to delay the inevitable." he says with a slow grin as he makes the cryptic statement.
Lena moves further into the room once Dead starts speaking, and seems to not be angry. She offers a polite smile even though she knows he cannot see it. "Any time I've tried to hit something it was usually because I was very upset or frightened. You do not seem frightened." She pulls one towel from the pile she is hugging, "I was bringing towels to the bathrooms, would you like one?" As soon as Dead makes that cryptic statement, her smile begins to fade, "The inevitable, Mister Dead?"
"No. Not frightened. Just working out. Keeping fit. - As for the inevitable? You know better than most people that I smoke. I smoke almost as much as I breathe. I am expecting to come down with Wyrm Cancer one of these days. It's an ailment that only strikes spirits or those who are part spirit." Dead explains as he reaches his hand out towards her, expecting the towel to either be handed to him or tossed over his arm. "I'm old enough that I'm highly unlikely to change my ways now and it soothes me, keeps me calm and happy. I'd much rather die doing what comes naturally to me and gives me that much more happiness." he smiles even in the face of such grim statements.
Lena cringes a little at the mention of smoking and the tension from the reaction stays as Dead defines Wyrm Cancer. A soft, sad sound comes from her as she is told. "It's never too late to take a different path." She holds out the towel, making sure it brushes at his hand so he knows where the towel is. "There has to be other options.. something else that can make you calm and happy." She then cheers up a little as she comes up with the idea, "You did like the chocolate chip cookies.. perhaps cookies could be an alternative until something better comes along. The way you were just exercising, you most likely would not gain a pound." Her head turns to look toward the punching bag. "The only regular exercise I get is walking.. and I've done less of that lately." No more walking home alone at night for Lena.
"Cookies? So that I have to work out that much harder to stay in shape? As good as your cookies are, I would much rather have the devil I know." Dead chuckles as he takes hold of the towel and brings it to dry his face and hair and then hangs it loosely behind his neck, allowing it to flop loosely against his chest. Something she says though seems to catch his ear and he arches a brow. "Sounds like you require a new method of exercise. And it would be nice if you were able to assist in your own defense." he says, voicing a proposition without saying as much.
Lena giggles softly, "..Perhaps cookies aren't the best alternative. But, please consider reducing your smoking?" For his health and for her to not have to deal with a phobia. Looking at the bench press itself she asks, "I hope you're not suggesting that I lift weights? I'm lucky I can carry my canvases around. And, then so.. the larger ones are very difficult." As for defense, she says rather weakly, "I've kicked shins before.. it.. sort of worked.."
"You've... kicked... shins." Dead would stare if he could, but instead his tone reflects just how unimpressed he is by this 'accomplishment'. "Right, well. No, I am not suggesting you lift weights. Or lift /these/ kind of weights." he says, patting the heavy bench press weight. "I am however suggesting that you be taught how to throw a proper punch, block, dodge, and yes, kick. But I'd much prefer if you happened to be kicking groins instead of shins." he says as he slowly stands from the bench to walk those few paces back over to the punching bag. "A lot of thought and energy goes into a single punch. For instance, did you know that in reality a proper punch does not start in the arm, the hand, or even the shoulder. It starts in your feet."
Lena blushes with embarrassment as Dead does not hide how unimpressed he is with her kicking shins. She hugs the towels to her again, looking like she might want to hide behind them. Not that the blind man can see that. When he mentions kicking groins, she makes an astonished sound and states, "I couldn't do that." She has a romanticized view of dueling from watching classic films. Not the sort of thing that would suit reality. But, when Dead starts talking about how to throw a punch, she had no idea it started in the feet. She confesses, "The only thing I ever punched was a pillow. I imagine that is not a proper punch?" She looks at Dead's feet, "How.. does something you do with your hands start with your feet?"
"It's called kinetic linking. The rear foot drives backwards into the ground. Like links in a chain, the energy travels up the leg where it snaps the hip, causing the upper torso to rotate. The energy is then transferred from the torso to the shoulder and comes along the arm. Elbow coiled, arm is then snapped forward, further amplifying the energy and finally culminates with that kinetic energy being transferred into the object you are punching." Dead explains before he demonstrates slowly. "See the step?" he asks as he makes a point to drive his rear foot back, moving slowly so that Lena might be able to imagine that transfer of energy and force, extending his arm, "Now see, I do not lock my elbow but instead snap it almost like a whip." he says before he does it in full motion and punches the bag quite hard. "That is a proper punch. And while mass and muscle certainly play their own rolls, 90 of a punch is technique. Ever heard of Laila Ali? She's the daughter of Mohamed Ali. You know, 'fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee'? Well his daughter is a pretty damn good boxer. Smallish thing too unless I was told wrong. Yet she can still kick some major ass."
Lena went to college, so she understands kinetic energy. Watching Dead move in slow motion she tilts her head and comments, "If you weren't actually trying to punch, I'd say it looked like you were dancing." She's not familiar with either Ali, but she understands what a boxer is and that he is explaining that someone that is small can kick butt. "Mister Dead, I paint. Everything important to me is done with my hands. If I actually tried to punch something.. what if I hurt myself? I.. I don't want to break a hand exercising. Surely, if I was in danger it's worth the risk.. but.. How do you not hurt yourself?"
"Well, the first step is to have a proper trainer to teach you this stuff, so that you can learn it and are able to apply it practically when the time comes, without hurting yourself in the learning stages. - Congratulations. You've accomplished step one. Step two, you listen to what said trainer has to say and do exactly as he does. The outcome of step two has yet to be seen." Dead says before he turns his head this way and that a bit. "Now you see those cupboards over yonder?" he points towards the side of the room. The very last cupboard on the right, should be at about eye level with you, there should be some yellow memory fiber cloth and some white cloth tape. If you would, bring those items here and we'll start training your hand and wrist so that you don't break either."
Lena looks confused a moment when Dead explains she accomplished step one and then explains step two. She draws in a deep breath, "Alright, I'm willing to try." She looks toward the cupboards, "Memory fiber cloth?" She starts walking toward that direction and then asks curiously, "Mister Dead, how do you know the cloth is yellow and the tape is white?" And surely enough, there is white tape and yellow cloth in the cupboard. She leaves the towels there before she begins walking back toward Dead, "You have limited sight then?" She briefly waves the hand holding the tape as she steps closer. The waving is not in his face, but is more in front of herself. She waits for an answer.
"I have no eyes, Lena. Awfully hard to see if I have no eyes. - No, I know what colors they are because I know what colors they should be. Wrapping cloth is usually yellow while bracing tape is always white. If you had asked for clarification upon not finding those colors then I would have walked over and felt for the objects, meaning that someone had moved them or we might have been out." Dead says as he holds out his hands for the objects and then reseats himself on the bench. "Whichever hand is dominant first, please." he says, placing the tape aside and holds the yellow wrapping cloth, unspooling about six inches of it as he holds out his hand waiting for Lena to place her arm in his palm.
Lena gasps and immediately moves a hand to her mouth to try to hide the sound. No eyes? She draws a breath through her nose and has to wait a moment before lowering her hand, making sure she would sound composed. She speaks very carefully, "There is plenty of both cloth and tape." Once she hears herself sounding alright, she moves closer to Dead and places the items in his hands. When he asks for the dominant hand she reaches out with her right and touches her fingers to his hand, not realizing he wanted the arm. She says softly, "Your glasses are so dark, I would not have known if you did not tell me." A small smile forms, "Or, perhaps your hair distracted me." If she would paint a feature of Dead's, it'd be his hair. She has already considered it. Her hand stays still, her gaze moves to watch whatever he does with that cloth and tape.
Dead does not seem offended by Lena's ignorance of his condition. Instead he just chuckles and shakes his head lightly. "You remember at the Halloween party, how it appeared that I did not have any eyes? You were not looking at some trick of Hollywood makeup or some other clever cosmetics. What you saw was very real." he explains though he does not demonstrate or show her the fact that his vacant sockets were, in fact, very really vacant. He slides his hold upon her further up her arm, a few inches past her wrist and begins to loop the light, breathable yellow cloth around her arm, like a second skin. He artfully passes and guides the cloth, alternating hands quite smoothly. "Now very, very loosely ball your hand with your fingers about an inch from touching your palm." he instructs.
Lena closes her eyes tightly, "My goodness.. I.. I thought it was Halloween makeup. Professional." She swallows audibly, finding herself very grateful that his sunglasses are on. When he slides his hold further up her arm there is an outburst from her in the form of an uncontained giggle that lingers. However once he is wrapping the arm she is able to stop giggling, "I'm sorry. I'm ticklish. I've been told, I'm unusually sensitive to a light touch. It used to amuse my father endlessly." She chuckles happily at the memory evoked. Her head tilts to look at her own arm and she closes her hand into a loose fist. "I think, that's about an inch."
"Well, your guess is better than mine. It's been a while since I've seen an 'inch'." Dead muses as he cants his head to one side, almost as though he were listening to what he is doing. He wraps the stuff around her wrist and up to the first knuckle of her thumb before ducking and wrapping the stuff around her thumb to the second knuckle and continues on under to wrap the yellow memory wrapping over her the bridge of her knuckles two or three times before tearing it off. He smiles at the explanation as to the giggling and nods in a fairly parental manner himself. He then taps her cloth-covered wrist. "Stay still now. Even more so than you would with a sighted person. You move and I have to start all over." he explains, putting down the wrapping cloth and takes up the tape. He begins tearing narrow lengthwise strips from it, creating criss-crossed brace guiding lines that he can follow on her hand and wrist and then begins to wrap her a bit snugly with the tape, around and around her wrist, cutting it off, around and around her knuckles before cutting it off again, and finally doubles back over his own bracing lines with the full width tape. And then goes back over the whole thing with the tape once more. "Now the purpose of this is the train your hand and your wrist to have the correct posture and to make sure that you don't go bloodying your knuckles. It will keep your wrist straight and your fingers from becoming unusable." he says, dropping her hand from his grasp. "Never tuck your thumb into your palm. That's the surest way to break your thumb. But you have to keep it close." he says, taking her hand once more and sculpts her hand into a loosely balled up first and tucks just the tip of her thumb into the crook that her forefinger creates. "There. This is a fist. You punch and hit with these." he traces his fingers over the ridge of her four knuckles.
Lena finds herself becoming more quiet, just watching the odd ritual of cloth and tape. When she is told to stay still she says, "Alright." Her entire body becomes tense with the effort to stay as still as a statue.. at least, as humanly possible. She holds her breath for a moment not realizing she was, until it becomes uncomfortable. She forces herself to draw in a breath. When he mentions the surest way to break a thumb she states, "Do not want to do that." When he indicates the knuckles she admits, "This is much more complicated than I thought. I appreciate you showing me this. Do you really believe this would be good exercise to make up for my walking less?"
"Well, once you are able to wrap yourself up, the prep work for this only takes about thirty seconds for each hand. And not only is this good exercise. It's practical. Just think, one day when I am gone and unlikely to come back in this body, you'll be teaching some Garou just what ol' Dead taught you." He chuckles as he stands once more, leaving her other hand untaped for now. "Now, extend your arm and press your knuckles against the bag. Keep your arm straight yet don't lock your elbow. - You see where you ended up standing? Now shuffle yourself just about an inch closer to the bag. Because you're not going to punch the bag. You're going to punch an inch /beyond/ the bag. - Now arms at your side. Feet a shoulder's width apart. Now once you've done that..." he says, doing all of this just as he instruct, "We're going to do this in slow motion, just like I explained before. You're punching with your right hand. Right foot falls back, drive it into the ground and plant it firmly, push off and allow your hip to swivel, your upper torso turn, extend your arm and snap your arm just like a whip, making contact with the bag with your knuckles and give the bag a good thump. When you punch, exhale, when you pull back you inhale. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth and you almost /want/ to make that 'huh!' sound when you connect. You'll find your own rhythm. - Now go on. Try it." he says before he moves to stand behind her and places one hand loosely upon her right shoulder while the other moves to rest upon her left hip.
Lena shakes her head, exhaling in an amused manner, "I doubt wrapping a hand only takes thirty seconds." As for the mention of Dead being dead one day she speaks softly, "Mister Dead, though your nickname might imply otherwise, I much prefer to not think of your demise." As she is instructed, she tries to mimic Dead. She watches him as she moves herself, looking like she is trying to learn a dance move rather than how to punch something. She breathes in through her nose and exhales through her mouth, just like she does when trying to prevent or calm a panic attack. When she is encouraged to try she smiles, "Alright, but I very much doubt the bag is afraid of me at all." She chuckles and moves her feet to prepare for her first attempt at a punch. She does not react to the hand touching her shoulder, but as soon as she feels a hand rest on her hip her entire body tenses. She sounds nervous as she says, "I hope the hand on my hip has a noble purpose.." As long as the hand does not wander anywhere improper she does not try to remove it. Instead, she carefully tries to go through the motions of Dead's instructions ending with a weak punch and sharp exhale that is not quite a 'huh' at all.
"Fair enough," Dead responds to his demise. "And as for the bag, it doesn't need to be scared of you. In fact, the element of surprise has won more battles cleanly than any forces of numbers. You'll scare the sand right out of it." he encourages her though he does notice the tension that enters her body. No, the hand does not wander, nor does it intend to. "Just there to watch you and your form is all." he assures her before he feels her throw the punch. It takes a moment for the analyze all that he has felt and heard before he shakes his head. "When you plant your foot, shove off of it and really /snap/ your hip forward. Snap-twist, extend, snap again with your arm, first like the tip of a whip. /Snap/! and then recoil. Pretend your arm is a rattle snake. Snap-recoil. Then you can bounce right back onto that foot you already have back and shove off again." he says, patting her shoulder. "Again. More noise. Grunt if you have to but make some noise."
Lena softly giggles, "I wouldn't want to scare the sand out of it.. I'd feel guilty. But, the element of surprise does sound like a very good idea. I look rather average, I think surprise is what I'd need." Average? Well, she thinks so. When he explains the purpose of his hand being on her hip she nods her head, "Alright." She relaxes a bit and is able to shift her focus on trying to learn how to punch the bag. Only a blind man could get away with that, that quickly. "I'm not quite sure how a snake would be. But I've seen whips in movies.. Like Indiana Jones?" She moves her arm to pantomime to try to get a feel for it. Then when she is encouraged to try again, she blushes at the instruction to grunt. But, she tries her best all the same. This time, a bit of a 'huh' does come from her, revealing effort.
"Better." Dead allows as he reaches out and wraps his hand about her fist from behind. "Picture there is a roll of quarters in your hand. Right now that roll of quarters is parallel with the ground. When you punch, rotate your fingers inward towards your center so that the moment you connect with the bag, the roll of quarters is perpendicular with the ground. - And we're not holding or striking /with/ a whip. We /are/ the whip. So what you want is a strike, a snap and then recoil back the way the tip of a whip would." he explains more, actually mimicking the motion while he is holding her fist and punches the bag before releasing her fist and rests his hand on her shoulder once more. "Again. This time more sound. Punch harder. The moment you realize you are not made of glass is the moment you free yourself from quite a bit of fear. - You remember Aladdin? Genies can't kill, but you'd be surprised what you can live through.- Again. Punch. Hard."
Lena repeats, "..Roll of quarters.." and, "..are the whip.." She nods her head, letting these ideas sink in. Letting her imagination run with the imagery given by the blind man. At the mention of -not- being made of glass she whispers, "I like that." She's still breakable, but she's inspired. She takes her time, starting from the beginning, moving through the dance move that should result in a punch. She looks at the bag and her eyes lose focus for a moment as she tries to imagine looking through it, aiming where Dead mentioned earlier. Then she moves. Her strength is average, but by the sound that leaves her it seems she gave all she could. Immediately after, she makes a startled sound as if surprised by herself.
Upon feeling her form, the impact of the punch, Dead pats Lena upon the shoulder once more and then her hip before he steps back from her. "And that was a proper punch." he says with a quiet smile, moving back to sit on the bench, rubbing his face with the towel still about his neck. "Just remember the recoil after you deliver the punch or you'll leave yourself just hanging out in the middle of nowhere which leaves you open and exposed." he says before he rolls his head around his shoulders and then straightens his back a little, then rolls his shoulders themselves. "Now do that twenty more times exactly the same way. Get some muscle memory for it and then you can try more on your own and start improvising with that once you feel comfortable. - I am likely not suited to teaching you much more. I can only see what you are doing with my hands. And beyond this, you might get the idea that I am a lech. Which I am. But I maintain my professionalism as wanted or needed." he says, reaching out to take his bottle of water up once more to quench this thirst and re-hydrate himself.
Lena sounds pleased as she is told she performed a proper punch, "Really?" Her voice lifts merrily. When he mentions the recoil she nods, as if he could see that. But also speaks, "I find if I keep the arm out, I want to lean on the bag. Certainly if it was not a bag, trying to lean on anything I punched would be the complete opposite of clever. I just break the urge by bringing the hand back?" Twenty more times? Now? "Um.. hit the bag twenty times, right now?" When he explains he can only see with his hands, it does not phase her. However upon mentioning the idea of him being a lech and that he is one, she immediately blushes at the notion. She says kindly, "You've hidden it very well, by being nothing but a gentleman." It's a compliment, and she means it. She looks at the bag then and slowly moves through the motions she just performed moments ago. There is a soft sound of her coming in contact with the bag and then moving away from it.
"Yeeeah. Let's not lean against the person you just punched. You remember this: the person you just punched is likely going to try to punch back. And you need to punch him again and again and again before he can punch you. - Go ahead. Twenty times." Dead says, shaking his head with that same quiet smile. When it comes to his nature, he chuckles. "Well, I'm not exactly able to go girl-watching like most guys which automatically makes me a little 'handsy' which pretty much makes me a lech. So until the day that they put out a gentleman's magazine with audible descriptions..." he trails off, giving a helpless shrug.
Lena makes a small sound that merges into her sentence, "I don't ever want to be punched." When he mentions, again, twenty times she sounds like the number was a thousand, "Twenty times?" But there is a soft swish of fabric from her skirt as she moves to stand properly in front of the bag. She proceeds to strike the bag once, maybe twice before Dead is referring to himself as 'handsy' and thinking about audio mens magazines. She stops to exclaim, "Mister Dead!" She's not one hundred percent offended, thanks to him not going into detail.. but her tone is certainly a surprised reprimand. Then, she proceeds to try to set herself up and strikes at the bag again. She only has so much strength and cannot surpass it. Her punches hit a plateau and she cannot improve past it at this time. But, at least she seems to be becoming consistent.
"Told you so." Dead says after he hears that exclamatory reprimand and stands, listening to her punch again and again. When it seems she is done, he moves and pats her on the back as he passes her, heading towards the door. "You're doing well. Just keep it up. Once a day. Tomorrow wrap both of your hands up." advises before nodding towards her over his shoulder. "Think I'll hit the showers and catch a smoke. And thank you again for the cookies." he says before stepping out into the hallway.