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Tour de Life: Tough guy
Section One
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Tour de Life: Tough guy

by Beau Burriola - SGN European Correspondent

I stood grimacing in the mirror, biting a pencil and not looking at my hand while I prepared the work area around me. A bottle of whiskey sat on the counter next to a pile of bandages, a set of large scissors, and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

Army Medic Beau Brent was back! All my years of army training gave me the discipline to stare pain in the face.

I took a deep breath, took a shot of the whiskey, and then went in with the scissors. I was going to get the damn thing out, even if it killed me.

Earlier in the day, I'd gone to the hospital. I tried to explain how I managed to gouge a half-foot-long piece of shrapnel into my finger, but didn't want to wait the three hours to get someone to look at it. Brussels has great socialized health care, but it takes longer than I have the patience for. So I left, and on the way home I stopped by two pharmacies, a liquor store, and a knife shop.

I looked at my finger and back into the mirror. I poured another shot of whiskey and downed it, then I poured another.

Then I went for it. With a big, manly roar that would echo off any canyon walls, I pulled and twisted with precision and speed. And only hurt myself more.

I poured another shot of whiskey and downed it just as the door to the bathroom opened.

"You got that splinter out yet?" Julien asked, looking around at my tweezers, the box of band-aids and the half-empty bottle of Bailey's on the counter.

"Almost," I said.

"Oh give me that, you big baby," he said, and with one fluid movement, he took out the two-centimeter-long piece of wood without any blood or gore.

"I almost had it," I said.

"Mmmmhmmm," he mumbled. "I heard you screaming like a girl. My big, tough guy."

When he left and closed the door, I looked around at the blood and gore, the giant board he had pulled from my hand, and I poured a shot of whiskey to ease the pain.

"In memory, everything seems to happen to music."
-Tennessee Williams

Beau Burriola is a wobbly, big tough guy. Check out more at www.beaubrent.com beaubrent@gmail.com.

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