The Barber Shop

The barber man was cutting the business man’s hair with choppy scissors, talking over and over and over about racing hounds and fine cigars. All the other barber and business men too, talked over and over about racing hounds and fine cigars. And then, the barber man stopped cutting, noticing the blood on his comb and choppy scissors.

The business man started to bleed from the head. Everyone stopped and looked all calm, and it was like, for a minute, a still photograph. But the only thing giving it away was the steady stream of blood that was coming from the top of the man’s head. It went down the side of his face and spilled onto the apron, then dripped onto the floor, and they all just stopped and looked.

No panic. No urgency. Just watching until this business man quietly passed out through lack of blood. His head just went backwards nice and gentle like. Then the blood started going down the back of the chair and splashed down onto the barber man’s shoe. Meanwhile, he was still holding the bloody choppy scissors and comb. When the business man was surely dead the barber man called to his assistant.

“Come lad, and clean this.” He said. “Do you want more coffee gentleman? Yes, yes, more coffee for the gentleman, lad.”

The lad, unfazed, seemed to know straight away the method for cleaning, and so I thought he must have done this many times before. And it must have been the strength of youth, for the lad was able to heave the business man over his shoulder and carry the body off to the back. I don’t know what happened to the body after that, I never saw it again. I was next up and as my luck would have it, the lad finished cleaning the blood before one of the other barber men finished with their clients.

“Please, my good fellow, won’t you come and take a seat?” Said the barber man.

“I shall.” I said, acting all confident and unperturbed.

But it was clear, to me at least, that I was not thinking straight because I spoke words in a strange manner, not like I would usually talk. The barber had spent a few minutes scrubbing his hands in the manner of a surgeon and so was ready to cut my hair.

“What can I do for your head my dear boy?”

“Not cut it, may I request.” I said. And we all laughed. Me, the barber men, the business men, all had a jolly-old laugh like the sort of old cigar-smoking pals that we were not. Even the assistant lad could be heard in the back room having a cheek-splitting chuckle.

“I guess I better not use this then?” Said the barber man producing a huge meat cleaver from almost thin air, with the skill of the magician’s hand, like some sort of cartoon joke. And all of the men, the barbers and the business laughed even harder, they were all in hysterics, uncontrollable.

Not me. I was stone-faced glaring into the big mirror I was facing, watching all the faces disfigured by maniacal laughter, looking at the barber’s loose, wobbly arm that waved the huge butcher blade in unpredictable swings and circles right behind me.

“Well.” I said. “I think that would leave me with a cut I’d be dead happy with.”

And I laughed hard, expecting the same roaring laughter to continue at my joke.

But, it did not continue.

The men went abruptly silent, they stared at me in the mirror with expressions of disgust and disbelief. They shook their heads and muttered things amongst themselves like, ‘what the hell was that’, and ‘unbelievable’.

The barber man suddenly became very rigid and proper and stale. He placed the meat cleaver on the shelf in front of the mirror, calmly. His face was blank and he went professionally distant, like I was being served by a very boring robot. He didn’t look me in the eye.

All the other business men and barber men acted in the same way, eyes down, focusing on the hair chop chopping. Nobody spoke, nobody so much as smiled. There was just the incessant sound of the choppy scissors making their swishing metal sounds.

“What can I do you for?” said the barber man, with dead, hollow eyes.

I survived, and was cut without bleeding, which is a shame.