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The Mad Hatter's Dead
Life is tough. Sometimes you get a nice easy day, with easy nice customers, but some days you get a crowd off noisy dirty men, yelling and arguing over silly things such as the Soviets and their Sputnik satellite. Today was one of those days. Men jammed into the small barber shop, shouting that no, they were next. I just don't get paid enough for this.
Ralphie boy and I wait on one customer after another, all wanting the same ducktail cut like Elvis Presley or sideburns like James Dean. Does nobody have a mind of their own?
It took hours to clear some fifteen out of the Hotel Park Sheraton barber shop. It is a nice, typically quiet place. The place where men who want to lie low might get their haircut. If only that barber shop around the corner had not bankrupted, most of these customers would have gone there instead.
Finally, when just about everyone was gone and I thought I could finally take a breath, you know what happened? A big, smelly man came in. He wore a suit and looked around menacingly. Only one other man was at the shop, but that guy threw some money at Johnny, the barber, and hurried out.
This new customer was clearly important, not someone to be messed with, judging from the way Johnny and Ralphie boy were fawning all over him, bowing. I sure am glad I have my dignity and, you know what, I'm just going to sit here. Whoever this man is, he won't get my respect.
“Gimme a trim, crumb,” the smelly man snapped, pointing at Ralphie boy.
He nodded, “This way.”
He gestured towards me! To me! I don't need that greasy man over here, messing up my own little area of the shop. Then, he sat on me! Sat on me! The big, smelly, dangerous-looking man sat right on me! Has he no respect!
“Chair’s lumpy,” the man said angrily.
I resent that. You don't hear me calling him disgusting and filthy...to his face.
Ralphie boy nodded vigorously and fell all over his feet trying to apologize. “A cut's $2.95,” he managed to mutter without wetting himself.
The customer glared at him. “You know who I am, crumb? Albert Anastasia, Lord High Executioner of Murder Incorporated. You know who I am, of course. You'll get what I give you and be happy, got it? I've got a button that'll do you up with no question. Now, gimme a nice trim.”
Come'on Ralphie boy, give him a piece of your mind.
Ralph just nodded, “Sure thing, I'll just-”
We never did get to find out just what Ralphie was going to do, because the little bell over the door rang and two more of those slimeballs in monkey suits came into the shop. Ralphie went silent and I cringed. This crew are wearing scarves around their heads and aiming guns right at me. Right at ME! What did I ever do to them?
“Capo,” one man growls.
The man whirls me around so fast that it stung and snarls back, “What do you want? I've got dough. I've even got some stuff you can have.”
“We don't want your swag,” the other man retorts.
“Yeah, we're gonna straighten out this beef once and for all,” the man spat, “You ain't the boss no longer, now you the mark. Lansky ain't giving you no money”
A loud bang echoed through the barber shop, rattling my legs. These Italians apparently don’t even notice that Ralph and Johnny snuck out. They are intensely focused on this greasy slimeball sitting on me. How could Ralphie boy leave me?!?! I could be killed!!!
“So long, Lord High Executioner,” the shorter man smirked.
Anastasia (also known as the man who won’t get off me) smiled grimly, “And you remember. I’m the Lord High Executioner. I’m your capo.”
A volley of shots chorused a tune of bangs and pops. I’ve been hit! I want to yell and scream. How could they do this to me? I’m just an innocent chair! Yet they must have missed Anastasia as he leapt up and propelled himself towards the mirror, their reflections. Before he could realize his mistake, the second volley stopped him in his tracks and he crumpled to the ground like a child’s rag doll.
“Let's get out, Boss. The feds'll be here soon. Don't need the heat,” one of the murders said. The other one spat, “C’mon, the boys’ll be pleased. The Mad Hatter’s dead and we killed him.”