I get to write about a dojo! It’s like fate knows me. 🙂
Lekan stopped in his tracks, his claws digging into the dirt in front of the studio. “Come on, dad, don’t make me do this.”
Lekan’s father, Lars, looked over his shoulder and snorted. “No son of mine is going to be afraid of some wussy chipmunk.”
Lekan shivered as he remembered the creatures long teeth and tiny, but deadly, claws. He did his best not to look scared. “He just startled me. I’m okay.”
Lars turned and came to stand nose to nose with his son. Lekan’s tail twitched as his dad glared. “You will do as I say.”
“Yes, sir,” Lekan said in a small voice.
“Now follow me.”
A fox from across the path sniggered, and Lars shot him a withering gaze. The fox shrunk back, just as most animals should from a lynx.
Any lynx but Lekan.
His father’s fur rippled as he pushed his way through the small hole and into the studio.
Lekan followed, his tail between his legs and his head lowered. Why had it come to this? Just because he’d freaked out when a chipmunk had jumped on his face and tried to claw his eyes out. Anyone would be freaked out by that. Even these stupid rabbits.
“Welcome,” a deep, raspy voice said.
Lars let out a grunt.
The scent of unwashed animals, matted fur and strangely sugar filled the air. Lekan risked a glance up.
He’d never been in a dojo before. He’d expected a bunch of rabbits armed to the teeth with things besides their teeth, sitting around waiting to murder anyone who got too close.
That was the thing with rabbits, you rarely faced just one, and they were tough.
These guys were supposed to be the toughest.
Instead of bloodthirsty troops, Lekan found several adult rabbits and a pawful of kits spread evenly across the packed, dirt floor. The kits—baby rabbits were about the cutest thing ever, and they made Lekan hungry—were practicing what looked like jabbing moves with their paws. Lekan flinched as he thought about one of those coming toward his eyes.
“I am Master Buck. What can I do for you today?” The largest male rabbit approached, and spoke to Lekan’s father.
“My son needs some training.”
“I see.” The rabbit’s eyes turned to Lekan. He studied the young lynx for long enough to make Lekan uncomfortable, before turning back to his father. “What kind of training?”
Lars let out a little growl. Every ear in the dojo turned toward the older lynx, and several of the adults tensed. One of the kits cowered. “He’s afraid of chipmunks.”
Master Buck blinked, obviously waiting for more.
Lekan slunk away a bit as his father let out an irritated snort. “He’s a lynx. He needs to understand that he is tougher than a chipmunk. I will not have my son be a coward.”
“Ah.” Master Buck moved past Lars and came toward Lekan. With his eyes down, Lekan didn’t see the rabbit until his fuzzy feet came into view. “Young lynx, do you wish to be trained?”
Lekan lowered his head ever more. This was the most humiliating moment of his entire life.
“I see.” Master Buck moved away.
“I can get you whatever you want. This place is supposed to be the best. You will train him.”
“Why don’t the two of you watch class, and we can talk after?” Master Buck moved away, as if Lars had already given his answer.
“Sit,” Lars growled.
Lekan did as he was told and settled onto his haunches. His eyes moved back to the kits as they lined up in front of a wide cylinder. It was a piece of human garbage with a picture of nuts and some brown and white stuff on the outside. Someone had filled it with dirt and the kits each turned their back sides toward it and kicked.
Lekan didn’t want to be kicked by one of those kits.
The adults were even louder.
“You see, their children aren’t afraid,” Lars muttered.
“I know, father.”
They watched as the kits were put through a series of attack scenarios. Lekan’s eyes kept going wider and wider, and he couldn’t stop them. By the time the class was over, he was breathing hard.
Master Buck bowed to the kits and then came over to the two lynx. “Are you still interested in having us train him?”
“Good. We have a New Year’s special still going. Come into my burrow and we can discuss payment.”
One of the bigger kits sneered at Lekan.
Lekan followed his father, resigned to his fate as the only lynx in history that had to go to the rabbits to get tough.
Today may have been the most humiliating day in his young life, but he knew there were plenty more to come.