Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Barber

This works as a stand alone story but is also the backstory for this one.
For audio click here
Alexi lathered the cream onto the man’s face and then lit a cigarette. With the filter clamped between his lips, he stropped his blade on the leather belt and then turned towards his customer. He was ready.
‘Been a long time sir,’ Alexi said. He put a thumb just below the man’s eye socket and scraped the blade down his cheek.
‘Sorry,’ the customer replied through gritted teeth, he didn’t like talking with a knife-edge so close to his face; it wasn’t called a cut-throat razor for nothing.
‘Since you were last here, sir. It’s been a long time.’ Alexi repeated
The man remained quiet, he was thinking. Had he been to this barber’s shop before?
‘I never forget a chin, sir.’ Alexi said.
The customer looked at the barber while he worked, could he really remember him from 6 years ago?
‘I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been here,’ he said.
Alexi still hadn’t taken the cigarette out of his mouth; the ash grew longer until it fell on the floor amongst the clippings. He wiped the soapy blade on the towel and continued his job.
‘What was it you said you did?’ Alexi said to the man.
‘I’m an acrobat,’ the man said and then winced as Alexi nicked his skin with the blade.
‘I’m sorry,’ Alexi said and took a tissue and held it over the cut.
In 35 years of barbering, Alexi had never once drawn blood, but his hand had tensed as soon as the man had told him his profession. His normally steady hands shook with rage and the cigarette burnt his lips. Alexi tried to control his anger and get on with the job. He put his thumb on the man’s chin but it was no good, there was no way Alexi could shave this vile man.
Like he'd dreamt about doing so many times before, Alexi drew the blade across the man’s neck. Blood squirted from various veins, the colour ran from the man's cheeks as life slipped away.
What had he done? More to the point, what on earth was he going to do?
Alexi turned the open sign over so no customers would come in. He took a deep breath, he had to clean up, get rid of the mess.But where to start?
The bell tinkled and someone came into the shop. Alexi had turned the card over but forgotten to lock the door. He froze to the spot.
‘Hello,’ the man said in Russian, ‘what has Alexi been up to?’
Alexi turned around to see his old friend Dimi.
'Oh Dimi, thank god.' He'd never been so pleased to see someone in his whole life. 
Dimi took charge, within minutes he had the whole thing under control. Cleaners, decorators and removal men descended on the little barber’s shop in Shepherd Market. The workers busied themselves while Alexi chain-smoked nervously and Dimi watched on, an amused look on his face.
‘How can I ever thank you?’ Alexi said when all the men had gone.
Dimi looked around the sparkling shop and smiled.
‘Well my friend, there is something you could do for us.’

1 comment:

  1. I have just started to wonder: If I were a man, would I trust a barber to let him put a razor next to my neck? I doubt I would…. Iam a coward:-) However, I think it must be an interesting experience for a man: each time he is being shaved he must think: yes, I am still alive… and one bad movement can change that… omg :-) man’s life’s hard :-)