A Short Tale of Horror
There was a queue. Peter hated queue’s. His least favourite letter of the alphabet.
A stack of magazines and tabloid newspapers sat on top of the sturdy, low mahogany table. He wouldn’t be caught dead reading any of that basic drivel. As far as Peter was concerned it was just pointless small talk in print. These cheap publications did not deal with the real issues of the day.
He had a copy of this week’s Economist tucked under his arm. Peter was a socially conscious man and wanted to make sure everybody in his local town knew it. Sure, he was a country bumpkin, but he had spent time in the big city. He was better now. He had raised himself above his station – he would command respect. Peter adjusted his thick, non-prescription glasses and unfurled the crumpled magazine and began to read.
The barber called him to the chair just as he finished off an intriguing article on the worsening situation in Catalonia. He left his magazine on the table, removed his thick woolen jumper
“What can I do for you my friend?” drawled the barber in his broad country accent.
“I’ll have a number two on the back and sides, blend it in to the length on the top, keep the length on top please. Oh, and a beard trim, with scissors.”
The barber nodded and smiled and wrapped a tight smock around Peter’s shoulders.
An elderly man entered the shop, took a seat and picked up Peter’s copy of the Economist. Peter noticed this in the mirror as the barber worked on the side of his head.
“Sorry! Excuse me! That’s actually my own magazine that I brought from home!”
The old man raised a hand in apology and placed the magazine on the empty seat behind him. The barber gave Peter a look of disappointment, which Peter confused for jealousy.
“I have to bring that with me when I get my hair cut at home man, you know? I mean, the Mirror and the Sun? I couldn’t read that shite.”
The barber smiled. “Oh yeah? Why’s that?”
“It’s just so blaah! You know? Like, why would I care if some celebrity was doing coke off a midget’s head in a nightclub? That doesn’t concern me. I pay attention to the real issues. I pay attention to political situations in the world man, I pay attention to society. Leicester drew one all at Stoke? Who cares, man?”
The barber uh-huhed and ah-hahed, all the while working his razor on Peter’s head.
“People are starving in Sudan! Leo Varadkar runs half marathons? So what! Donald Trump is destroying America! These issues need to be paid attention to, you know?”
The barber grunted. Peter knew that he was educating the man. The barber placed his razor back on its hook.
“How’s the hair look?” he asked.
Peter turned his head from left to right. It was a fantastic hair-cut. If he did just as good a job on the beard, he’d be getting a tip, or maybe even a positive Google review.
The barber took out his scissors from the sterilizing glass and commenced work on Peter’s balm-softened beard.
“What about people who read tabloids? What do you think of them?” asked the barber.
Peter mulled this over for a second.
“I feel sorry for them, man. They’re asleep, you know? They just live their mundane lives, not aware that there’s a whole world out there for them to explore and shape to their preference. They prefer to take it at face value. That upsets me, man.”
The barber nodded to the elderly man waiting for his hair cut. The old man got up, bolted the door of the barber shop and pulled down the blinds.
“Closing early?” asked Peter.
“Just not taking in anyone else until after I have my lunch. Now, I’ll just edge the rest of this with the straight razor.”
Peter was impressed with the authenticity of this beard trim. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends about this experience after work the next Thursday while sipping some micro-brewed nitro stout.
The barber finished off the shaping and asked Peter his opinion.
“I love it!”
The barber smiled. “Great, oh wait, I missed a bit!”
He grabbed Peter roughly by the hair, pulled it back and dug the blade deep in to Peter’s neck severing all his major arteries. The mirror was covered in blood. He turned to the old man, brandishing the razor with a manic grin on his face.
The old man chuckled, “Jaysus, you dragged that out Sweeney. Now, bring him downstairs and let’s eat. I’m starving!”
He took the copy of the Economist with him and threw it in the bin.
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