Thursday, March 1, 2012

Culver vs. Gamble

Aside from the occasional purse snatching, Westgate Park was known for the sounds of children playing and sporting events. On this day silence fell over the softball fields as Mike Gamble stepped up to the plate, gripped his bat tightly and squinted at the pitcher, Mark Culver.

It was the annual Attorneys versus Republicans charity softball game, formerly known as the Attorneys versus Elected Officials game, but since no one has a chance on the Democratic ticket, they changed the name.

The stands were full of people expecting fireworks from Culver and Gamble. Their most recent riff upset the delicate balance of decorum at the normally serene County Commission meetings. The spectators watched in silence as Gamble stood at the plate, his bat raised over his head.

Culver, who took extra chondroitin with his Centrum Silver that morning to loosen his aging joints, was prepared to bring the heat. He shook off the first three signals from the catcher. The catcher knew the only other pitch in Culver’s repertoire was The Wildcat. He let out a sigh and dug his cleats into the red dirt, preparing for the pitch, which could go anywhere.

Culver wound up and lobbed the ball underhanded. Several seconds later, Gamble ducked to prevent the pitch from hitting his head. A gasp came from the crowd, a group of bingo supporters chuckled and high-fived each other.

With ice cold composure, Gamble stepped back in the batter’s box and prepared for the next pitch. Culver knew he could do this three more times and would enjoy each of them. The next pitch he lobbed with a little extra juice. After some time the ball reached the vicinity of Gamble’s head and he dove for the ground.

The crowd became more raucous, bingo supporters laughed and cheered. Several prominent citizens booed the pitcher.

Culver knew this would upset Gamble to no end. He expected Gamble would jump up, open his mouth to spout all kinds of whereas nonsense and be ejected from the game, but he didn’t.

Gamble calmly stood up and brushed himself off. He resumed his position in the batter’s box, but this time he held the bat out in the strike zone with his right hand and tapped the meat of the bat with his left hand, then pointed to the heavens, just beyond left field.

This made Culver’s bald spot redder than his beard; luckily he was wearing a baseball cap. Culver accepted the challenge to strike Gamble out. He wound up and released the pitch with all his might.

Gamble struck the ball with full force and watched it rocket straight into Culver’s face. He smiled a little as he began to trot to first base. Half way there he noticed Culver lying on the ground and was not moving. Several commission members gathered around their fallen pitcher, some of them began vomiting. Gamble turned and ran to the pitcher’s mound. When he arrived and saw Culver his heart sank. He had knocked Culver’s beard clean off his face. The site disgusted him a little but he was filled with dread as Culver was not moving. “Mister Culver!” he screamed, but Culver did not respond. The beard, lying a few feet away, tried to crawl back to its face. It struggled, shook violently, then collapsed.

Gamble dove for Culver and began chest compressions. He thought about mouth to mouth but was truly repulsed at the site of Culver without his beard. “Mister Culver!” he screamed over and over. Then Culver gasped and coughed. He opened his eyes and looked over to see his beard lying there lifeless and let out a blood curdling scream.

Culver’s beard was placed in an iced cooler was airlifted to Southeast Alabama Medical Center, along with Culver himself. Doctors doubted they could save the beard, the damage was too great.

A press conference was held with Mike Gamble and Dothan’s preeminent Oral-Maxillofacial and Facial Cosmetic surgeon Doctor Clint Evans, which everyone watched on TV because it was too slow to load on Rickey Stokes News.

“Whereas my temper got the best of me today, we must say goodbye to Mister Culver’s beard, nothing can be done and for that I am sorry. Whereas Mister Culver has only a limited amount of hair left and whereas I have an overabundance of back hair Doctor Evans will attempt the first ever back to face hair transplant. It’s a risky procedure as I could lose the ability to, to speak.” Gamble said as he broke into tears.

Everyone at the press conference agreed it was well worth the risk.

“Let’s do this,” Doctor Evans said.

“Wait. I didn’t mean for it to happen like this. I hope the people will accept my apology. That beard has served the county for decades. That’s a long time. How long has he been a commissioner? Does he even have another job?” Gamble pondered.

“Quit stalling. Let’s go,” Doctor Evans said as he escorted Gamble away.

The procedure was a success. Both men survived the operation and the transplanted hair took to Culver’s face.

As he sat in his hospital bed recovering that night, Culver’s new beard of velvety soft blonde hair began itching fiercely and suddenly he was overwhelmed with the idea of forming an independent committee to review Center Stage.

1 comment:

  1. I love the way this starts: "Aside from the occasional purse-snatching ..." You so funny!