Back at the manic barber’s

by Ron Hardwick

I was back at the manic barber’s again. There was only one of the girls on duty. Her toddler son was at the far end of the salon in one of those cradles with wheels that force the child to stand upright and thrash his legs around like a fly stuck in a pot of jam. The child was sucking on something sticky, so that seemed to take care of him for the time being.

Seated next to me, awaiting his turn, was a fat, greasy chap in a disreputable suit that was as shiny as the Vanderbilt diamond. The front of his pate was bald.  At the back of his head, lank, oily hair swirled down over his collar. I shuddered when I realised that the hairdresser would be using her implements on me after him. Fortunately, he grew fed up of waiting and left the shop.

The hairdresser was working on a nervous-looking teenage boy with protuberant ears, and seemed to have been doing so for an inordinate length of time. She was cutting his hair in the modern style, that is, to make it look as if someone had lightly passed a strimmer over his head.

She eventually called me to the chair. The girl was about twenty-five, short and inclined towards dumpiness.  She had close-cropped, peroxide-blonde hair, through which you could plainly see crow-coloured roots.  She wore an immodest red patterned blouse and beige trousers. I asked for my usual eight on top and four at the sides, although I can never remember which way round it is. One day, I’ll get it wrong and come out looking like the late Sir Bobby Charlton.

I soon found out why a haircut took so long. The hairdresser was extremely garrulous. I was quite unprepared for the avalanche of words that spilled from her lips. I hardly managed to get a word in edgeways. A fragment of the monologue, rather than conversation, went like this:

‘Do you log onto Facebook?’

‘Not very…’

Well, they’ve got a group for selling things. I sell lots of baby clothes on that.’

‘I don’t like…’

‘Anyway, I won’t let the buyers into my house. I wrap the stuff up and leave it on the doorstep, put an arm out of the door, get my money and close the door in their faces.’

‘Is that…?’

‘Anyway, a friend of mine sold a lawn-mower, I think it was, yes a lawn-mower, to a bloke. He was weird. She let him into the house and he refused to leave. Three hours later, he was still in the passage, staring, like.  Really weird.’

‘Why didn’t she…?

‘Call the police? Yes, that’s what I thought. She ended up having to get a neighbour to remove him. A big bloke the neighbour was, a bouncer at a nightclub. I think they called him Geoff, or was it George?  The weirdo soon went. He could have had a knife or a machete or anything. She might have been viscolated.’

After twenty-five minutes of similar flapdoodle, she picked up a mirror that was lying on the shelf and held it up behind my head.

‘That do you?’ she said.

‘Fine, thanks.’ I replied.

I gave her a gratuity because it was a first-class haircut.

‘Thanks,’ she said, pocketing it. ‘You’ve had a good haircut and a nice little chat into the bargain.’

I’d had that, all right.

Ron lives in East Lothian, Scotland. He has written well over two hundred short stories and pieces of flash fiction. He has
a Masters’ Degrees in both Literature (distinction) and Creative Writing (merit) from the Open University.

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