Those Wounds Heal Ill That Men Do Give Themselves
Chandler leaps off the couch and begins to gesticulate wildly as he focuses his ire on Phoebe.
"My toe? You had to cut off my toe! You couldn't tell a story where I don't lose my toe!"
Phoebe sits up and shakes her head, looking at Chandler as if he were a child unable to grasp a universally accepted concept. "I didn't cut it off, that was Monica and Ross."
"Phoebe!" He looks back at Monica and stammers as he lets loose with an exasperated sigh. "I can't believe another terrible Thanksgiving where I lose a toe."
"Oh, you didn't lose a toe."
Chandler spins around and smiles. "Oh, thank god. So, I guess it was just a scratch or something?"
Phoebe looks up at the ceiling to avert his eyes and tilts her head. "Kind of. If losing all the toes on your right foot can be considered a scratch or something."
Phoebe sighs and sits back on her legs. "Chandler, this is just what happens. You know, I guess in every lifetime you lose some toes. What's the big deal? You don't use them anyway."
"Yes I do!"
"Ooo, for like, sex stuff?" Phoebe looks over at Monica and waggles her eyebrows.
Monica screws her face up in disgust. "Phoebe! Ewww!"
"Really? You don't like foot stuff? But you guys seem so kinky."
Ross shudders and slowly turns to look at Phoebe. "As much as I like that we are all spending time together, I would appreciate it if it didn't involve me picturing my sister with a foot fetish."
Phoebe shrugs off Ross's protest and returns her attention to Chandler. "Really, you shouldn't be mad about having your toes cut off, it's your destiny. If you actually think about it, you should probably apologize to Monica for getting mad about it last year. It wasn't her fault, it was fate."
Chandler turns to Monica and scoffs as a skeptical smirk spreads across his lips. "Can you believe this?"
Monica shrugs her shoulders and tilts her head. "I don't know, maybe you do owe me an apology. Like she said, it was fate."
"I am not apologizing to you for you cutting off my toe!"
The 16th Century
Chandler opens his eyes and a hazy fog blurs his vision. As he begins to wake up, and everything begins to come into focus, he realizes that he does not recognize the tent he now occupies. He rubs at his temples and tries to stitch together his memory of what happened to him that led to waking up in this strange bed. He remembers yelling, a small crowd of people from the troupe, and two people were fighting, but after that, all he can recall is pain. Pain he still feels as he looks down at his throbbing foot, smothered haphazardly in bandages.
He blinks his eyes and tries to shake the cobwebs from his brain. This tent is larger than the one he usually sleeps in. It is almost as big as his mother's. The cot he is lying in is raised up off the floor, which is something new for Chandler. There are crates set up as makeshift furniture, with vials and jars scattered about upon them. Each container has some unrecognizable contents floating in liquid.
He notices a desk in the corner covered with drawings of people and there is a wood carving of a fish on top. He squints his eyes, trying to see exactly what else might be decorating the tent to give him a clue as to where he is, but he is pulled from his reconnaissance when he feels someone tugging at his injured foot.
"Ow! What are you doing?" He looks down and locks eyes with a thin, lanky man he does not recognize. His clothes are disheveled and poor fitting. He has thick black hair and a thin beard and mustache. The man darts his eyes nervously around the room as he shifts uncomfortably at the foot of the bed.
"Hey buddy. I'm glad you're up. You've been sleeping for a while."
"Well, you got your toes cut off. Luckily, we were able to seal the wound. Now I'm trying to see if I can find you some kind of substitute for the toes you lost. You know, to help you get around, so people don't start calling you Sir Limps-a-Lot."
"What? I have no toes?" Chandler looks down and sees the man moving shriveled up objects over his foot, pressing them against his stump as he measures them.
"Hold still will you pal? I'm trying to help you."
Chandler tries to sit up so he can get a better look at what the man is doing to his foot. "What are you doing? What are those?"
"Dehydrated apricots. I tried apple, but it fell right off."
"What kind of doctor are you?"
"Oh, I'm not a doctor. I'm Eddie. I started living here after they brought you in. I don't know whose tent this is. I just needed a place to crash so I followed the crowd when they were carrying you around. I figured, you know, you were dead, and I could get your tent. I have been sleeping on the floor over there." Eddie points to a rolled up blanket next to Chandler's bed.
"What? This isn't the medical tent?"
"I don't know. I haven't seen no doctor. When I walked in here everyone asked me to fix your foot. So I lopped of the mangled toes and burned the wound closed. You know, I'm starting to think that we don't have a doctor with us because nobody should have let me anywhere near your foot. I mean, I had no idea what I was doing."
Chandler angrily points down at his bandaged foot. "You did this to me?"
"Hey, why are you getting so bent out of shape. You weren't this mad about it when I was sealing up your wound."
"I was unconscious!"
"Yeah, but you didn't say anything. I've been watching you sleep every night, and not a peep."
"You've been watching me sleep?"
"Well, this is our tent, roomie. I mean, where else am I supposed to go at night? My brothers? Not after the last time he kicked me out."
Chandler looks down and sees Eddie lining up more dehydrated fruit to his stump. "Stop doing that!"
"Do you want new toes or what? I'm thinking orchid fruits would be best. How do you feel about apricots?"
Chandler sits up and begins to wave his arms frantically. "Get out! Get out! Take your stupid small fruit and get the hell out of here!"
Eddie stands up and throws the dehydrated fruit on the floor in anger. He then locks eyes with Chandler as a crestfallen look settles upon his face "Wow. I have to tell you; this is all coming out of the blue. You were much nicer before you woke up. I mean, you were the perfect roommate. We were pals."
"Again, I was unconscious!"
Eddie shrugs his shoulders and nods. "I don't understand what you're trying to tell me. Do you want me to move my blanket?"
"But all my stuff is here."
Chandler points angrily at the entrance of the tent. He shakes his fist and yells out an unintelligible "Gah!" at the top of his lungs.
Eddie shakes his head and makes his way to the entrance of the tent. "Fine. I'm going." He looks over at the wood carving on the table. "Don't touch my fish while I'm gone!"
As Eddie leaves, Joey and Ross step inside the tent. They look around for a moment but then face Chandler. Both wearing nervous smiles.
"Hey buddy. How you doing?"
Chandler looks at Joey and shakes his head. "Better now that that lunatic is gone. Did he really operate on my foot?"
Ross steps over to the cot. "Uh, yeah; by the time we all realized he wasn't a doctor, he had already cauterized your foot."
"So, I have no toes?"
"Well, just on the one foot. That isn't too bad."
"Are you kidding me? I'm going to be hobbling all over the place now."
Joey snickers at the image but then composes himself as Chandler eyes him angrily. He starts to pat Ross on the back and pushes him towards Chandler. "Hey, buddy, Ross is here to say something."
Chandler folds his arms and sits back, clearly agitated. "What?"
Ross looks down, his cheeks flush as he feels a swell of embarrassment rise in his chest. "I just wanted to say I was sorry."
"It's kind of my fault that you lost your toes."
"I was fighting with Monica over a sword and you got caught in the middle of it."
Chandler looks off to the side as his eyes narrow and he recalls the events from the day the sword landed in his foot. "Oh yeah, now I remember. Dammit! Why the hell were you coming at me with a sword?"
"Everyone said that you were doing my sister?"
Chandler begins to stammer as he tries to make sense of what Ross just said to him. "What? I'm not sleeping with your sister. She hates me."
Joey slaps Ross on the arm. "Yeah, I mean, your sister is way too hot for Chandler."
Chandler shakes his head and rolls his eyes. "Thanks Joe."
"Yeah, and now that he has no toes? I mean, the chance of a woman, let alone your hot sister, ever wanting to have sex with Sir Limps-a-Lot over here is so low, you are never going to have to worry about it."
Chandler sits up again and huffs loudly. "Thanks Joe. I think he gets the picture!"
"I mean, have you seen that mangled foot under there?" Joey shudders. "Disgusting. A woman repeller if I ever saw one."
"Although, I do know this lady with one leg…"
Joey turns to look at Chandler and shrugs his shoulders sheepishly. "What? I thought I was helping you two be friends again." Joey rubs the back of his neck nervously and then faces Ross. "Anyway, she's got that Pete guy going after her now."
Chandler goes quiet as he darts his eyes between Ross and Joey. "What? Who's Pete?"
Ross shakes his head. "Some showoff with a lot of money. His family invented bottled beer. They're making a killing on it."
"Beer in bottles? That doesn't even make sense."
Joey nods. "Yeah, well, you've been out for about three weeks now. A lot has happened. Your mother couldn't wait here outside the city any longer. The rest of the troupe went on to London while some of us stayed here with you. Pete financed this whole thing. He brought these cool tents and these cots. It's been great."
Chandler looks down at his bandaged foot. "Yeah, best days of my life." He then looks up at Joey. "How do you know all this?"
Ross lifts the wooden fish from the desk and inspects it. "Oh, he's sleeping with your mom."
Joey's eyes go wide as he flares his nostrils. "Ross!"
"What? If I'm going down for the toes, then you're going down for banging his mom."
Chandler shakes his head. "I can't believe this. You're sleeping with my mom. Ross and Monica cut my toes off. Hey, maybe we should call Phoebe and Rachel in here and they can jab my eyes out."
"Chandler. Look, it isn't that big of a deal. So I'm banging your mom, I mean, look at the bright side. Maybe we get married and I can be your step-dad."
"Joe! My mother is not marrying you. Stop being ridiculous."
"That is no way to talk to your new dad."
"Will you both get out."
Ross wrinkles his brow as he turns to face Phoebe. "I don't think this is when bottled beer was invented."
Phoebe rolls her eyes, having no patience for Ross's interruptions. "Fine, beer cans then."
Ross forces out a chuckle. "Uh, I don't think so Pheebs."
"Then maybe it was a jug. I don't know, why is this important to you."
"Because if you're going to tell a story, it should at least make sense."
Chandler shakes his head. "Oh, sure, because up until now, this all made sense. But glass bottles in the 1500s? Now that's how this whole story falls apart."
The 16th Century
Chandler wakes to find a man lying on a cot next to him. He has armor on, which looks to be twisted and mangled. His helmet is off, and the has light brown hair and a thin goatee. Chandler rolls over to try and fall back asleep, but the man starts to groan, obligating Chandler to check on him.
"Hey, uh, you okay guy?" Chandler rolls back over to face his new tentmate and notices a lance sticking out of his side, under his ribs. "oh my god! You have this giant thing stuck in you! Did you know that?"
"Yeah. Ow. This really, really hurts."
"What the hell happened to you?"
"I was in a joust and I guess I got distracted. But you know what, I am going to learn from this and get better."
"Learn what? How to walk again? You're missing an entire part of your body!"
"Yeah, but I'll get better. I hear they have a great doctor here."
"I have some bad news for you guy."
"Yeah. I'll get better. Stronger. And when I do, I'm going to compete in the games again and I will be the ultimate champion."
"Or you'll be dead." Chandler winces as he turns his head away. "What's your name."
"Oh, hey, yeah, you're bankrolling all this, right?"
"Yes. I just love the plays your troupe puts on. That Gunther is a genius! I figured though, while we were waiting, I would have a tournament ring made. You know, to entertain everyone."
"Sure. Just one question. Why would you do that?"
"Well, I want to say it is because I need to continue my training, but really, I was looking to impress this girl. Monica."
"Monica is here? I thought she would have gone to London with the rest of the troupe."
"No. She wouldn't leave. I told her that we should forget London and go to Rome, but she wanted to stay put. So, I thought to put on a show. Win a few jousts, win her favor, get her to marry me."
"Oh." Chandler looks down as his brow wrinkles in confusion.
"Just between you and me, I don't think it matters what I do. All everyone here can talk about is how she is in love with this Chandler person. I think that's why she stayed here. Do you know who that is?"
"Uh, no. I'm, uh, Toby. I don't even know if this Chandler guy is real."
Pete tries to sit up but groans loudly in pain. He coughs and some blood spatters out of his mouth and onto his lips. His wounds from the joust appear even larger then when Chandler first saw them.
"Wow, you know, you are bleeding pretty bad there. Maybe we should get someone to help?"
"My trainer will be here soon. He'll help me out. I am feeling a little woozy. I guess they put the real serious cases in here. Lost limbs, lances through your body, dangerous stuff like that. What are you here for?"
"I don't wanna say."
"Oh come on buddy, it can't be any worse than what happened to me. I fell off my horse, my horse then ran over me, then my opponent drove his lance through me while I was trying to stand up, and I got stuck on it and he dragged me for a few feet."
"Wow. You really are not good at the games."
"We all have war stories pal. Seriously, between you and me, what happened? Fight for the hand of a woman? A duel against a slanderous rival? Defending the Queen, fighting a band of brigands?"
"A sword fell on my foot."
"When are you getting back to me Pheebs? I'm tired of hearing about toes and manure and Monica's exes. How about we get to the good stuff!"
Monica chuckles. "What? I'm not the good stuff?"
"No, Mon, you're fine. Really, but I want torrid romance not, slapstick comedy."
Chandler glances at Rachel. "What is wrong with slapstick comedy? It was good enough for The Three Stooges."
"Well, no one wants to sleep with The Three Stooges."
Phoebe sharply turn to Rachel and shoots her an incredulous glare. "Really? I feel like that Curly could show you a good time."
"Fine. Fine. We'll get to all that. This part is all about the guys while Chandler heals. The next part is about the girls while this is all going on?"
"What? Phoebe, I don't need some sophisticated narrative. I just want to find out what hot guy you hook me up with!"
Phoebe shakes her head. "Man-alive! I cannot get a moment of peace so I can just tell you what happened. You know, I have half a mind not to finish this story and leave. Then you guys will never know how it ends."
Chandler and Ross both stand up and share knowing glances. Ross looks over at the clock. "Well, it is getting late."
"Yeah, I have to get up early tomorrow."
Monica and Rachel both clear their throats, each raising admonishing eyebrows at Ross and Chandler. Ross groans and sits back down. Chandler drops himself back on the couch and eyes the room sarcastically.
"Oh no. Please. Phoebe do not leave us in suspense. Your story is the greatest one ever told."
"I can sense your tone Chandler Bing and I do not condone it, but, this is a great story, and so I accept your apology."
"But I didn't apologi-"
Phoebe cuts him off with a wave of her hand. "I said apology accepted!"
The 16th Century
Chandler wakes up as he hears someone enter the tent. He looks up as he sees Phoebe enter with a tray of food.
"Hey. I brought you this. You should try to get something down."
"Oh. I'm not really hungry."
"But you have to eat. Monica said you have to get your strength up."
"She made this for you."
Chandler allows a slow smile to spread across his lips. "Yeah?"
"Uh….sure. At least have the soup."
"Okay." Chandler sits up and looks over to where Pete was recovering the other day. "Should we offer any to Pete when he gets back?"
"I guess we can, but I don't think he will want any."
"Well, Pete's dead."
"Yeah, turns out, he isn't any good at this jousting stuff."
Chandler nods. "Yeah, you got that right." He starts to spoon himself some soup. "So, uh, Monica. What is she up to? How come I haven't seen her yet."
"She feels terrible about what happened."
Chandler folds his arms and scoffs. "If she felt bad, why send you in here with soup. Unless she is too busy flirting with bottle heirs."
"Will you stop that! Do you know the first thing she did when you passed out? She wrapped your foot up in some of her sheets and then ran around and found you a doctor."
"I have news for you, he was not a doctor!"
Phoebe purses her lips and tilts her head. "Yeah, but, that's beside the point. Don't you like Monica?"
"What? No, I mean, I don't know." Chandler looks down at the soup and then back at Phoebe. "Sure, she's thoughtful, and smart, and devoted and passionate, and don't tell her I said this, but the woman is always right."
"Plus, she has the breasts of a Greek goddess." Phoebe allows her mind to wander as she pictures Monica in her mind.
Chandler looks over suspiciously at Phoebe and she quickly comes out of her stupor and self-consciously bites her lip.
"You all right Pheebs?"
"Yes. I have to go." Phoebe stands up quickly and rushes out of the tent.
Chandler looks down again at the bowl of soup and the tray of food that were prepared for him. He lets his mind drift and he thinks about Monica, not as someone he seems to constantly match wits or trade playful barbs with, but as someone he genuinely enjoys spending time with. As he recounts everything that has happened over this long trip from their hometown to London, he realizes that he has spent more time with Monica than with any other person in the group. Joey was always disappearing, which now that he knows it was to sneak off and have sex with his mother, made Chandler feel very ill. Ross was always sniffing around Rachel; Rachel was on the prowl for eligible bachelors. Phoebe flitted in and out, always having something secretive to do. Monica was the only constant.
They ate together, took walks, set up tents and bedding. They shared details of their childhoods and found many similarities in the absence of their parents' favor. He helped her set up when it was time to cook for the troupe, she cleaned his clothes even though he told her not to (although he is fairly certain that was more for her than him). He made her laugh despite herself, and she made him realize that it was okay to want more than what he was getting out of life.
Then, he let his thoughts go back to a week before the unfortunate toe-cutting incident. It was late at night, and everyone had gone to sleep.
"Here." Monica tosses a satchel at Chandler and sits down next to him.
"You have no purpose here. I've been watching you and you don't do anything."
"I like not doing anything."
"No you don't. I can tell."
Chandler scoffs and then peeks inside the satchel. Parchment paper, quills, graphite pencils, ink. He looks up at her and shakes his head.
"I don't understand."
"I saw you scratching some words on a piece of wood the other day."
Chandler stammers a bit as he tries to collect his thoughts. "Oh, I was making a note."
Monica eyes him suspiciously. "To who?"
"The, uh, woodland creatures."
Monica scoffs and shakes her head. "You were writing. I couldn't make it out, but I know I've seen you doing it during the entire trip. Now, at least when you write something, you can keep it with you. Who knows, maybe some of your mother's talent rubbed off on you."
Chandler looked down at the satchel. "Where did you get this?"
"I did some bartering. Spent some of the money I got paid cooking. I got the bag from the Bloomingdale's. They help Phoebe sew the costumes."
Chandler nods. "You didn't have to go through all that trouble."
"Chandler, if you want to write, you should. You shouldn't waste time doing odd jobs around here that you don't like. Find your passion."
"Is that what you did?"
"I'm a chef for Shakespeare! I think I'm doing pretty good."
Chandler looks inside the bag once more. "I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop."
"No shoe. I owe you this. I pay my debts."
"What do you mean?"
"Remember when you visited our family before you and Ross left that first time. When you called me fat."
"uh….this feels like the other shoe dropping."
"No. It's not. You also told me how good my cooking was and how I should be a chef."
"Yeah. It figures. One of the most important days of my life and you have no recollection of it." Monica stands up and begins to stomp her way back to her tent. "Men!"
Chandler looks into the corner of the tent and lets his eyes fall onto the satchel that Monica had gifted him. She no longer seems like she is his adversary. His nemesis. Not like when this trip first started. Now, weeks into their journey together, he realizes, she is his friend, and he wonders, if maybe she can be something more.