Leo lifted the lid of his freezer and examined the beards inside. They all looked similar, with slight variations in length. He used number 4 last time, about two inches long. Number 5 would do today.
He removed the 2.5 inch beard gingerly from the freezer, chilling his thumb and forefinger as he held it. He passed it from hand to hand while returning to his change room. There, he fixed it to his face, the frosty hairs brisk against the warmth of his flesh, digging into it, sinking in just right. The snowy white whiskers were darkening by the second.
A voice from outside the change room: “Are you ready?”
He grabbed his tennis racket, checked once more to see he had his beard on right, and left the change room. A minute later, he was on the court, still feeling the sharp frost on his face, cooling it, keeping him alert. His opponent leaked sweat with every swing and back swing, but Leo only dribbled condensation from his mane. Yes, the frozen beard was melting, but it would keep him cool long enough to get ahead.
There was no way he should have won, everyone said. He was an inferior player. Was it drugs? Luck? A bad day for his opponent?
Blood tests turned up nothing. But when they went looking, they found his secret, hidden deep in the box freezer. Counterfeit beards, genetically perfected to retain ice and keep a man cool and fresh for nearly an hour straight.
Leo was disqualified when they found out. Worse than that, his famous mane was a sham. He was no longer the lion of the court.
278’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Tennis,” “A beard on loan,” and, “Deep freezer.”
Beards are cool.