September 23, 2008

Hair On The Floor

His hands smelled like pennies.

He smelled his palm and could taste it in his mouth.

Outside the window, cars floated by silently.

The window was smudged with fingerprints and dirt.

Someone should clean it, he thought.

A bell clanked against the door, as a man with wrinkled grey skin shuffled into the barber shop.

“Hey, Harold,” he said.

The old man shuffled to the big black chair, staring at the floor.

“Its’ Friday,” the old man said.

“It sure is.”

Bobby owned the shop. His father left it to him 23 years ago, when he retired. It had provided Bobby with a stable job, and kept him from having to go to college.

The old man settled into the chair, shifting from side to side with his elbows. Bobby threw a cape over the man’s chest.

“Can’t believe it’s already Friday.”

“Wilma ain’t doing good at all,” the old man announced.

“Sorry to hear that, Harold. So sorry to hear that.”

“She can’t get out of bed no more. It’s her legs. They done stopped working.”

Bobby studied his shears. The polish had worn off around the rings. They needed sharpening.

The old man heaved a sigh. The cape lifted with him, then floated down over his knees.

“The doctor ain’t no help. Never has been. They don’t know nothing.”

“Yeah,” Bobby mumbled.

He remembered being a boy, sitting in the corner while his dad cut hair. It was the same big black chair he’d climb in when the shop was empty.

Back then his dad’s razors were magic wands. Mysterious machines that whirred and buzzed until the cape flew off the man in the chair and he stood up, brushing hair off his neck.

They’d always stoop over, nose almost touching the mirror, squinting. They’d run their fingers above their ears, and eventually nod approvingly.

There was nothing magical about cutting hair anymore.

“For God’s sake, she’s 83 years old. Ain’t she got a right to stay in bed?”

“Sure does, Harold. She’s earned it.”

Another heavy sigh and the hair on the cape slipped to the floor.

Bobby pulled the cape off, the old man stood up, and stooped to squint into the mirror.

“Ten dollars, Harold. Sure hope Wilma comes around.”

“Oh, she’ll be fine. The doctors said so.”

The bell clanged and Bobby grabbed his broom from behind the door. He watched the old man shuffle to his car.

Someone should clean this window, he thought.

© March 22, 2008

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