How could I have known this night would lead to my hyoid twitching from the cold blade of a barber’s razor, and butchery amid the smell of Bolt Barbers Bay Rum?
What takes place on a Friday night comes back and haunts you on a Wednesday afternoon in a small, southern town named Crystal River.
This southern, Florida town has a decreasing population of thirty-three hundred people but an increasing population of the Manatees, a fat Guido looking vegetarian sea creature. It is easier for the Manatee to find work here so the people keep leaving and dying. I had to learn the hard way that my interactions with anyone can boomerang at any time, unlike big cities where you meet and never see that person again.
As I have said before, I always put a drink next to me at a bar to keep the riffraff away from me. I let my guard down and gave the barstool up to a girl wearing a tight short skirt on her date with a six foot-four, muscular Hispanic in a black wife beater T-shirt. A real fashion statement, a boldness of not wearing the simple white, wife-beater a lot of the men wear here on their nights out.
After about an hour of getting some pretty suggestive, non-verbal signals from this girl, I decided to be friendly, but tread lightly with a friendly openness like she was showing me with her occasional parting thighs.
“Are you two on your first date?” I said.
Her eyes lit up that I spoke. The kind of eyes that was like looking at the sun. So I blinked a lot. The smile on her face was as wide as her occasional parting thighs. Oh yeah, I just wrote “parting thighs” again, but I digress.
“No, we have been friends for almost a year and decided to try and take it to another level, so we’ve been out before.”
Not for a second do I believe this relationship is going anywhere on any midnight train.
She introduced herself as Karen and her date as Ricardo. I could tell his Latin jealousy was simmering beneath those muscles. He must have sensed her interest in me before I said a word. I really was not making any moves on her. I’m twenty years older than both of them and shorter than Ricardo, and my only muscle is my hyoid that keeps my mouth talking. At least I don’t believe I was making a move on her.
Personally when I’m out on a date I want other people to converse, makes for a better time. I guess Ricardo felt she was being too “open” with me.
Karen started telling me she worked near The Villages. A massive retirement community and she is an Optometrist near there. She said these eighty year olds are having sex parties in which the men put their room keys in a hat and the ladies draw who they are going to be with that night. She informed me that they have unprotected sex and are transmitting herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases. It is close to an epidemic and that some of these viruses she has observed are being transmitted to their eyes from sex.
“In their eyes?” I asked.
She giggled and told me it is not what I was thinking and explained their hands would end up touching their mouths or eyes and transmitting the virus.
“I guess this proves love comes through the eyes.”
She laughed at my charming wit. Ricardo gave a sneer that hit me like a two day old bad taco and he walked away.
She went on for twenty more minutes, touching my arm or hand that made me feel she was getting a little too close with Ricardo on the loose in the bar like an enraged pit bull. This was when I gave a suggestion that maybe she should go find him.
Karen came back pretty quickly and said he’s acting like a possessive, jealous asshole and she hates it. Ricardo was off trying to get her jealous in another section of the bar.
This attractive and seductive woman looks me in my eyes and says to me; “You are going to have to take me home.”
There was an ice cream parlor back in my younger days called Farrells. They served a humongous banana split in what they called a trough, suggesting you had to be a pig to attempt to eat it. On many occasions I did. As much as Karen reminded me of that banana split with all those sweet toppings and mounds of melting ice cream, any other time I wouldn’t pass it up, but there was no way I was going to be a pig. This was her doing, and I never meant to oink into their date.
We talked a bit more and I said to her to go and make up with Ricardo. She left me her number but I knew I wouldn’t use it. The night ended and did leave a sweet tooth that went unfulfilled.
Five days later I went to get a haircut. I had been going to a place that was charging me a little more than I thought I should pay. I went to a new place and walked in and saw three chairs filled and one open and no one waiting. The barber turned around and it was Ricardo. I’m a dead man.
This is the moment where you must take the pit bull by the tail and face the situation or run. My mind was racing like a Chihuahua in circles. I wanted to leave and piss outside instead of in my pants in the barber shop. He intentionally picked up his straight razor and started to lap it across the leather strap attached to the barber chair and put a big grin on his face while looking at me. I thought of doing a Bob Hope whistle and leaving out the door.
I remember my gangster history. Lots of them died in barber chairs. I never thought I was going out in a barber chair like mob boss Albert Anastasia by one slip across my throat. Here in Florida all those crazy stories happens. The headline proclaiming barber’s hand slipped would not be out of the question. What irony if he cuts out my hyoid. I Hope he’s not from Columbia and I get that necktie Johnnie Cochran talked about in the OJ trial. Where’s my Kato Kalen to witness the fact that it wasn’t a slip and he murdered me in a jealous rage? Ricardo will get away with murder because no one can prove he knew me. The jury will rule “slip happens.”
“Chair is open, come sit.”
He starts getting his tools ready and I look on the wall and I read his barber license and a cosmetology license then nervously say; “Is that cosmetology license like a master’s degree for barbers?”
“Chez, I got license when construction went bust last year. I carried lots of bricks and heavy lumber;” he said with that Hispanic accent.
“Nice to have something to fall back on,” I replied as he threw the sheet over my body and tied that protective collar far too tight.
“Chez it is. And I got a nice woman now who makes good money to help too.”
I did a quick, insincere chuckle while I tried to extend the collar with one finger.
“You don’t have much hair, choo want a trim?”
“No cosmetology stuff for me, use a number one and a half on the clippers.”
I know I’m going to lose the tip of my ear first. This will be a death by a thousand cuts. He’s seething under that barber’s smock. He’s far too cool and polite about this and shortly talc powder will be flying everywhere and I’m going to die in a pool of blood and Bolt Barbers Bay Rum.
Look at this situation I’m in just to pay seven dollars for this haircut. It would have saved my life just to stick with the ten dollar haircut. My life will be gone for three measly dollars. Father Phil will say over my closed casket, through the loud crying by unidentified women; “God works in mysterious ways by taking the hair on the top of this man’s head and leaving the sides growing like Larry from the three stooges, and it caused this poor soul to still need a barber. If only God took all his hair he would be alive today.”
He starts buzzing my head and pressing pretty hard with those sheers on my scalp. Brrrrrummm. Brrrrrrummmm. I know he must be drawing blood because his smile is as big as a Taco Bell sign in the mirror. Brrrrrrummmm. Brummmmmm. He takes the top of my ear and pushes it in half. I can’t hear out of that ear now but feel the vibration of the sheers. I’m wondering if my ear will flip back into shape or if I’m going to look like Prince Charles. He does the other side and now the moment comes.
Ricardo picks up the straight razor and says; “We just ran out of chaving cream.”
Noooooooooooo. Liar ! Maybe if I tightly put my chin into my chest he won’t be able to cut my carotid artery.
The slip is coming at any moment. I pray; “God, I promise never to look at another banana split or any woman with her legs split again. I believe.” I threw that in because I just learned there are no Atheists in barber chairs.
The cold, stainless steel razor scrapping off my hairs on the back of my neck must have gone below the epidermis level. I tried to take my chin out my chest and look up to see how much blood is dripping on my shoulders.
My head rises as he moves in front of me he picks up a pair of clippers and says; “How about a trim on your stash?”
This is it. The stash won’t be touched. I’d rather be dead then look like Hitler. “No thanks, I’m growing it out.”
Ricardo puts the clippers down, while I check for any blood. He pumps the bottle of Bolt Barbers Bay Rum into his hands and proceeds behind me, slaps it on my neck and rubs it in with a force that my brain felt like it was shaking out my nostrils.
And it was over.
My head was still attached to my body.
At the cash register I paid him seven dollars and gave him five for a tip. He said; “Tanks, and maybe you handsome enough now to find your own girl.”
I smiled and walked out rubbing the back of my neck. It just didn’t feel right. I got home, and used a mirror to check it out. One side was “chaved” an inch higher above the collar than the other. I ended up at my more expensive hair cutting establishment and had them “re-chave” my head for ten dollars and then went to the Dairy Queen for a banana split.