Yes, it's true. I'm ceasing with Beard Challenge Fall 2009.... at least for now. Well, the truth is I don't feel like posting photos anymore. Plus, my beard has blossomed into maturity now and is ready to be on its own.
I thought, instead, that I might finish the story I began last week. If you'll remember, Ross and I had gotten into a bloody bar fight. There were darts and stools flying everywhere. There is one correction I'd like to make though. The young lady whom Ross knocked out with a bar stool was not a cute little thing as I had originally described her. In short, she was a hag. Just a real ugly person. I think society will be much more accepting of this scenario. So that's taken care of.
If you'll remember, at the end of last week's story, I had managed to drag an enraged Ross out of the bar. This is where things got messy. As I escaped down York Ave., I had Ross flung over my shoulder.
"Put me down, damn it! I can take her!" Ross was still screaming. I had forgotten that he was never one to give up a fight. I tried to calm him down before some cop noticed us.
"You gotta shut it. Easy there, man. This ain't no Western." But in my heart I knew this was exactly like a Western. I was John Wayne to Ross's Glen Campbell in True Grit. Suddenly, Ross got quiet. He was breathing fast and hard. "Finally," I thought, "maybe we'll make it out of here without anymore trouble." Just then I noticed some drops of blood running down my right arm - the arm holding Ross up on my shoulder.
"Dear God, no!" I whispered. Had I been cut? Was I bleeding?
I turned into the nearest dark alley and laid Ross down against the wall of an abandoned building. I pulled up my sleeve and examined my arm. Nothing. Ross grabbed the right side of his stomach. He was wincing and having trouble breathing.
"She got me, Mike," he said quietly. "While you were kicking the fat guy on the floor, the ugly one grabbed a broken piece of the stool and took a swipe at my side."
"Don't you worry, Ross. I can fix this."
"No. She got me real good. It's all over now. Get out of here before the cops come."
"I'm not going anywhere," I said. "I got you into this mess with my damn beard. It's all my fault. Maybe I should never have grown this stupid thing. Maybe the world would be better off without it."
"Don't you say that, you bastard!" Ross shrieked coughing up some blood. "Don't you ever say that.... not while I'm here. Now get out of here! You and that beard go make somebody happy."
But I wasn't going to budge. I had seen enough medical shows on television and knew that I could save him. I just needed to stop the bleeding and sew up the wound. But where could I find a needle and some string? Where?
Just then out of the farthest corner of that alley emerged a dark figure. He was a typical hobo - no teeth, grizzly gray beard, raggedy overcoat - except that he was carrying a medical bag. "I'll sell you this medical kit. It has everything you need," he said.
"Of course! Anything. What do you want for it?" I asked.
"Your beard versus mine."
"What? You want our beards to battle each other?"
"Yes," he said, "they fight, and if yours wins you get the medical kit."
This was absurd, but I was desperate. When you're desperate, you'll do some crazy things. So my beard battled the hobo's gray beard. I won't even try to describe it. There are just some things that words can not capture, where language becomes no longer adequate. Suffice it to say, my beard won the fight, and the hobo handed over the bag of medical supplies.
"Fine, you can have it," he said, "but why didn't you just got to the emergency room?"
"Because it's too dangerous. There'd be too many questions. The cops would find us for sure." In hind sight we probably didn't need to be so worried about the cops, but at the time it seemed like a real danger.
Everything that I needed was in that bag: needle, string, bandages, and even a bottle of whiskey. It was a very old medical bag. I rolled up Ross's shirt to examine the wound.
"Wait!" he yelled and grabbed the old whiskey bottle. He took a long swig and then poured some over the wound.
"I'm not going to sugar coat this for you. It's going to hurt real bad. But look at me.... you're going to make it," I said. Just then I remembered that I had been carrying a pen in my pocket.
"There. Now chomp down on this."
As I stitched up his side, Ross chomped down so hard on that pen that it snapped in two. By then the pain got so great that he just passed out. The stitching up went ok. But Ross was out cold, and not knowing if something was wrong with him, I began to panic.
"Why, God?! Why?!" I screamed with hands raised to the night sky.
"Don't you die on me, damn it!" I scooped him up in my arms. "Don't you dare die on me, Ross! Don't you die on me!" By now I was sobbing heavily. This continued for 45 minutes as Ross was out cold.
A few days later I realized that my medical care may not have been as skillful as first thought. The wound had turned black and, according to Ross, felt like a burning coal had been placed inside of him. So I ended up taking him to the hospital after all. It turns out that the needle was the last thing that should have been touching anyone's blood. The doctor thought it best to run some tests to make sure Ross hadn't picked up any diseases. We're still waiting for the results.