Monday, November 30, 2009

"Taking Things Too Far"

Mark and Steve were best friends. I say were because they are now both dead. This is how their competitive natures led to their demise.
“Mark, check this out. Blood drive at the bookstore today at three.”
“I bet I could donate more blood than you.”
“Bull shit.”
“I doubt you could give up a gallon, you pansy lightweight.”
“A gallon? I give up a gallon of blood every time I take a dump, asshole. Compared to me you’re practically anemic.”
“Get in the car, dipshit.”
They continued their argument on the way to the bookstore.
“At my last check-up my doctor thought I was menstruating because I was bleeding so much without even noticing.”
“The only reason you seemed to be menstruating was because you’re a weak little girl who needs every last drop of her blood for her body to function to process the fear she is experiencing every time blood is even mentioned.”
They got to the store and sat down in two chairs, side-by-side, to have their blood drawn.
Mark said to the nurse, “Can you put a few more needles in me to speed up the process? I’m going to make a significant contribution today. The most out of anyone here.”
“Shut up,” said Steve. “Nurse, can you please use a thicker tube on me? Maybe a garden hose inserted into my heart? I could give you all my blood in ten heartbeats.”
The nurses ignored the men and drew their blood the standard way. After taking two pints from each of them, Mark and Steve demanded more. And more and more. They began to feel light headed.
“Hey Mark, I bet you feel pretty tired over there! Well this is nothing! I’ve stayed awake for a month straight on just one red blood cell before.”
The nurses agreed to draw more blood. Eventually the needles came up dry.
One of the nurses said, “Sir, I’m afraid it looks like we’ve sucked you dry. Can you hear me?”
“Loud as a horn, ma’am.”
“This is unusual. Both of you are out of blood, yet still seem to be alive.”
Steve was furious. “We both gave up all our blood? So there’s no winner?”
“Sir, we’d like to think the only winners here are the sick people who are very thankful to receive your contribution.”
“No. This is purely a contest of will. Do you accept marrow?”
“Do I accept it? This isn’t a bank, sir.”
“Yeah,” said Mark. “Take our marrow. Someone could use it.”
With a sigh, the nurse unloaded the marrow-drawing equipment. Ten minutes later, Mark and Steve were all out. The tubes were sucking empty bones and bags were filled with the men’s marrow.
“I gave so much marrow,” said Steve. “My bones are so hollow there’s an echo in there.”
Mark sighed. “What about teeth?”
For fifteen excruciating minutes the men had their teeth pulled out with pliers and without any painkillers. Since they were out of blood, the teeth came out dry, like plucking keys off a keyboard. The men just stared directly into each other’s eyes the entire time, without blinking. When the last tooth came out, Mark felt a single tear slide down his cheek.
“That’s it!”
Vacuum tubes were attached to their eyeballs and sucked their tear glands till they were hard and porous.
Both of them were weak and their bodies were very dry, but neither showed signs of giving up. Mark was feeling frustrated and spat on Steve. The nurse knew what was next.
She attached tubes connected to a hydraulic motor to their tongues. It sucked and sucked everything out of their salivary glands and mouth until their tongues felt like
cotton.
Mark looked to the nurse. “What is our saliva used for anyway?”
“Honestly no one wants or needs your saliva. I just want someone to win.”
Both of them, still alive but their voices reduced to dry hisses, demanded more.
“Can we give skin?”
The nurse rolled her eyes, found a knife, and skinned them. While she skinned them, Steve read a book and didn’t make a sound. Mark made a sarcastic fake phone call to his mother about how everything is fine and he’s in absolutely no pain.
“Well this is just great,” Mark said, staring at his skinless friend’s red body, looking like an anatomical diagram of muscles, hollow bones, empty blood vessels, and a deflated heart that looked like an empty balloon. Their skin lay like old jackets in a pile in the parking lot. “No one is closer to winning.”
The Nurse had an idea. “I can take your fingers and your penises, but that’s it. We were supposed to close fifteen minutes ago.”
“Okay, said Mark. Whoever gives the most fingers and penises wins.”
The nurse sawed off all of their fingers and both of their penises. “Looks like you’re both alive. I guess there’s no winner.”
“What about all the people you said needed our parts?”
“They needed your blood and marrow, but not your skin or your saliva. Is this seriously coming as a surprise to you? Not only is it common knowledge, but I told you while this was happening.”
“I guess you did,” said Steve. “So we’re stuck as disgusting bloodless muscle-monsters for life? That makes me not want to live.”
“That’s it! Whoever kills himself the best way wins.”
“You’re on!”
On the drive home, Mark waited until they were going about 70 miles per hour on the highway. He climbed onto the back of the car and did a graceful swan dive directly into the windshield of the car behind them. He crashed through it and the glass cut his head clean off. His red, muscular face screamed at the car’s driver until he ran out of breath.
Steve was furious. How could his best friend do his part of the contest so suddenly and without warning? He drove to the hardware store and then to a fifty-story building downtown. He set up razor wire at neck-height in front of a window facing the highway on the top floor, then put a flamethrower in front of it. He doused himself in gasoline and ran through his trap. His red form caught on fire, then his head was severed, then his flaming, limp body crashed through the window and sailed five hundred twisting, spinning feet down to the highway below, where it landed right on the dashboard of the very same car that Mark had dived into.
They were finally dead, although neither won their contest.
The driver of the car they landed on still doesn’t know what he did to deserve it.