JAMES ISLAND -- A man was beaten with a metal chain early Wednesday, just a few hours after he allegedly whacked away at his best friend with a machete.

Incident reports from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office state the events unfolded like this:

At 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies were called to a Seaside Lane residence, where 53-year-old Prince Rivers said he had been arguing with his best friend, who stabbed him in the chest with a 3-foot long machete and also slashed at his left hand, nearly severing three of his fingers. Rivers was taken by EMS to Medical University Hospital. Deputies found a machete near him, as well as several pools of blood.

Deputies were told the suspect, Rivers' best friend, had already fled. They attempted to find him, without success.

Several hours later, at 2 a.m. Wednesday, deputies were called back to Seaside Lane, this time for a report of a man being assaulted by a mob.

Deputies found William N. Davis Jr., 53, also of Seaside Lane, in a back shed, bleeding from his head, chest and elbow. Davis told deputies he was standing in the road when two men approached him and started beating him with a metal chain. Davis said he did not know the men who beat him. Davis' brother told deputies he didn't see the beating but he heard the chain hit the cement and saw two men walking away from his brother. He described the attackers as short black males in their late teens who were wearing dark clothes.

Deputies didn't find a weapon or the suspects.

Davis was taken to Medical University Hospital for treatment. Deputies followed the ambulance and later arrested Davis, charging him with attempted murder in the machete attack on Rivers.

A judge on Thursday set Davis' bail at $250,000.

"It sounds like a retaliation attack," said sheriff's Capt. Jim Brady. No arrests had been made by Thursday, he said.

Reach David W. MacDougall at 937-5655 or Andy Paras at 937-5589.