“Haircut” by D. McCollum

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Introduction  There is a touch of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” in this week’s story. It’s about decorum and human contact. It’s about aging and social interaction. It’s about vulnerability and habit, which means going on in the only way you know how. “Haircut” by D. McCollum considers the ultimate whys in life. Quietly. Examine the social/metaphysical values of one of your characters in a short short and send it in to flashfiction@sacurrent.com. Always be thinking.

—Lyle Rosdahl

“Haircut” by D. McCollum He knew that paying $15 for a haircut was too much—especially because he was on a fixed income and had it cut every Tuesday without fail.  The $15 didn’t account for the tip Flor expected either.  And depending on his mood, her thoroughness, and her mood, the tip usually amounted to a five dollar bill.  By now she expected it, and anything less would likely result in some form of retribution the following Tuesday; this he knew from experience and he liked keeping her in good spirits. The cut usually lasted ten minutes. He had begun to time her after an unusually quick visit a month ago and he often saw her check her own watch through the mirror as she talked incessantly about her boys and how they were now in middle school.  The oldest one it seemed couldn’t pass the eighth grade and the other had a white girlfriend that she thought was too old for him.  This was what she typically spoke of and hearing the same stories didn’t bother him.  He felt they knew each other because of them, and he felt a sense of closeness, a sense of relationship when he heard them.  He knew she shared stories with him that she likely shared with others, but this was okay.  The conversation was only part of the allure she provided. He came every week because she would caress his square head while she snipped away aimlessly, quietly directing his head in the course she needed, his head obedient and falling limp in quiet ecstasy to her demands. He came because she innocently blew the cut hair away from the nape of his neck and revealed the scent of her lunch and the heat of her soft breath.  He came because she combed his thinning grey hair in the style of a gentleman and commented on how handsome he looked, announcing the judgment to the mirror before them.  He came because he missed the gentle intimacy of a woman’s touch, and for a man of his age, this seemed to be the only dignified way.

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