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“So what year are you now?”
“I go to community college.” I reply as he sprays water from his squeeze bottle.
“Reynolds.” The scissors start clacking.
“Ah, I had a buddy who was up at Reynolds.” The scissors stop, and a piece of hair lands on my nose. He looks at me, but not the real me; the me in the mirror. “Say, you don’t happen to know a kid named Damon Washington, do you?”
I shake my head. “Keep still!” He shouts, like the building’s on fire. “Sorry, you just can’t move your head like that while I got the scissors out. It’s a liability thing.”
“A liability thing,” I mutter. I was pretty sure I said that in my head, but he’s soon spouting about it like I was talking to him.
“We take liability very seriously here. After a past few incidents, we have our safety all up to date. You should have read about it on that waiver you signed, no?”
The hair on my nose itches like crazy, but I’m afraid that if I try to brush it off, he’ll yell at me again. He looks at mirror-me blankly, until I say, “I just stuck a John Hancock on it.”
“Maybe it’s good you didn’t read it. If you’d seen the part about that guy a year back, you’d be walking out that door.”
I’m not really interested, but he continues.
“It was a nice Saturday morning in May, I’m working the early shift, and this guy walks in.” He takes out an electric razor and plugs it into a wall socket. “This guy, he had the thickest hair you’d ever seen. Molasses. Jet black. Real nice stuff. People’d probably pay thousands if this guy sold a wig. He coulda sold it all to cancer. Anyway, guy walks in, says he wants to trim an inch off the top, use a three razor on the sides. But this hair was long and bushy around the ears, so I had to take some of it with the scissors. These real sharp scissors. Like the kind surgeons use to open people up. I’m trimming his hair on the sides, snip snip snip, and all of a sudden I look at the scissors, and the tip is bright red. And I look at the guy, and he’s missing an ear.”
His voice is heavy and muffled, like he has something in his mouth, maybe soup or honey or something. The punchline is blunt, like every other word. “Did he tip you?” I ask, giving my smile a restraining order.
“I’ll get there. The man starts cursing and screaming at me, blood spurting from where his ear was, or I should say, where the ear used to be, and then he just went quiet and looked down at the floor. There was the ear, surrounded by an almost perfect circle of that luscious black hair. It was the kind of thing you’d see in a surrealist painting or something. He immediately started talking about how he was going to his lawyers; he was one of those folks. He picked up the ear and turned around and all I see is the little bell on the door jingling like it’s dancing the salsa. Man walks out with half a haircut, doesn’t even pay. And leaves me to clean up all the blood.”
“That’s a good one,” I say. “Got any more stories?”
He ignores me. “Looks good?” He holds a hand mirror to the back of my head. I nod, gently enough so he won’t lose it again. As he takes off my black smock, I tilt my head a little, hoping he won’t notice. My ear is still there.