From Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, comes this poignant story of a shattered friendship and a severed beard.
James Hill and Troy Holt pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an incident last May in which they cut off Harvey Westmoreland's beard and forced him to eat it. Westmoreland said he was the loser of a fight that broke out over a disputed lawn mower, and the penalty turned out to be beard-eating.
Westmoreland said his brother Joseph had been doing some work on Holt's property on the fateful day. "They called and wanted me to come around there," he said, "and when I got there, I realized they [Holt and Hill] were already drunk." Westmoreland was not very clear as to what exactly triggered the fight, but it had something to do with a lawn mower.
"Troy offered to buy it from me for two hundred and fifty dollars," Westmoreland told a reporter for WLEX-TV, which made the beard incident its "Big Story at 11" for that day.
"I paid twenty bucks for it. He thought I was trying to cheat him," said Westmoreland, and that's where there seem to be some facts missing. Westmoreland seemed to smile a little when he said he had paid $20 for the mower, which suggests he was trying to get more than $250 without telling Holt what he had paid. Otherwise, it is not clear why Holt got mad. (I like to think that brother Joe blurted out something like, "Harvey, you didn't pay but twenty dollars for that thang.")
According to Westmoreland, matters escalated with bewildering speed: "One thing led to another, and before I knowed it, there was knives, and guns . . . ever'thing just went haywire." Holt and Hill eventually got the upper hand, Westmoreland said.
Then, he went on, "[t]hey cut my beard . . . and forced me to eat it."
The beard-cutters let the brothers go, but warned them not to call police. They called 911 anyway. On Tuesday, November 16, the bad guys pleaded guilty to assault and "terroristic threats" (a term that is now officially overused) and were sentenced to several years of probation each.
Congratulations to everyone involved in reporting the story at WLEX-TV, who all did so with a completely straight face.