Muriel conveyed to Miriam that her weapon of choice was a boning knife, though the particular one she herself wanted to use seemed a tad too long, so she had a butcher take an inch or so off, and then she was satisfied she was all set to face Miriam. But Miriam had second thoughts about dueling and slicing by moonlight, and when Muriel arrived at the park near twelve o’clock, Miriam was nowhere to be found. There was, however, a heavy white index card propped against the pedestal of the life-size statue of Tom Thumb. On the card Miriam had printed: “What say we duke it out tomorrow at noon with welding mitts rather than hack it up tonight with sharp blades. If you agree, you’ll find a pair of mitts in a Michael Kors bag in the trash can next to Tom Thumb. If you don’t agree, then my only other suggestion would be for us to claw it out a month from now with jagged fingernails.”
Muriel was crestfallen and very disgusted when she read Miriam’s card, but she certainly wasn’t going to quit, and she didn’t want any kind of prolonged wait, so she pulled the mitts out of the bag and slipped them on. They dwarfed Muriel’s hands, but she gradually got the hang of flexing the gloves open and closed, and of practicing the footwork she knew she’d have to have to be able to advance, step back, or circle her opponent, while all the while she punched ahead or scooped straight up with force, or looped and closed a vicious semi-circle, or used her forehead alone to launch forward and butt her enemy, and pretty soon, sure enough, there was genuine and discernible progress: Muriel began to identify holes and traces clearly visible in the nighttime air wherever her outsized and moving fists or brow had been just a second earlier.