A Hairy Situation (pronounced: si-chee-ay-shun)

“I jus’ don’t know how to tell ‘im, Lyle,” said the old barber to the thin man preoccupied with the days newspaper.

“Tell ‘im what?” he asked placing the paper in his lap.
“He’s got the lice.”  Bill Jones was not a man to be taken lightly.  He laughed at jokes and always held a pleasant attitude, but never joked himself.
“Naw.”
“Yep.  It’s the lice alright.  And you know how hard ta git rid of ‘em they are.  Those thangs’ll get the best a anybody.  You remember how there was a whole plague of ‘em last year in the school.”
“Sure do.  All of them kids runnin’ ‘round buzzed and bald—and that was the girls!”
The truth of the matter struck them both, and they broke into laughter remembering how the reporters from neighboring towns had a hay day with it.
“Anyhow, he’s got suh much blasted hair.  I dunno what ta tell ‘em, but that’s the only way he’s gonna have a chance of gittin’ rid of ‘em.”  Bill picked up a comb and wiped it with a small towel.  For a moment, as if a solution had just come to him, he paused, squinted, and as if the idea retreated, he started rubbing again.
Lyle raised his paper and began to talk while pretending to be interested in it. “You’re makin’ this too big a deal, Bill.  Just ‘accidentally’ take a big ‘ole honkin’ chunk out of his hair and tell him that to make it look alright, you’ll have to chop it all off.”
“You know I cayn’t do that, Lyle.  I’ll jus mention it to ‘im.”
“Well, if you wanna take your life into your own hands, that’s your choice, but I’m tryin’ to be a real friend here for ya.”
“I know, ” Bill turned to look at Lyle.  “Why don’t you take your lunch breaks someplace else?  You don’t even eat your lunch half the time you’re in here.”
Lyle knew it was Bill’s anxieties doing the talking for him.  Lowering his newspaper, he sarcastically replied, “You know why I come in here for my lunch.  It’s the stimulatin’ conversations we all git into over here.  Over at the garage, we just talk about fast cars, women, and crazy stuff we all done.”  Anyone who knew Lyle knew this to be a heaping pile of B.S.  Lyle made it appoint to avoid the subject of women and reckless adventures from the past.  They were just that: the past, where Lyle believed those things should stay.
As Lyle finished this last statement, Jackson passed by the front shop window.  Lyle raised his eyebrows and grimaced at Bill, who in turn rolled his eyes and sighed.  The door flung open, and a giant of a man stood before them.  He was, how should I describe him?  Massive.  Hairy.  Like I imagine Goliath might have looked.  He made Paul Bunyan look short and metrosexual.  Standing at a conservative 7’2,” with a barrel chest, watermelon biceps, and emitting a hardy assortment of odors, he made most lumberjacks look like 4 year olds in leotards.  He had a mane of thick black hair that started on his head, snaked its way around to the front of his face and continued undeterred to the rest of his personage.  Yet, for all of his pervasive manliness, he was well-mannered and soft-spoken.
“Well good afternoon, Lyle. Bill,” he said nodding to each.  “You ready fer me, Bill?”
“Sure am,” said Bill sneaking a glance Lyle’s way.  Lyle looked out of the corner of his eye, shook his paper, and once again raised it.
Jackson set his gargantuan self down into the barber’s chair and Bill lowered it as far as possible.
“The usual, would ya Bill?” Bill grabbed a stool to stand on (not being too tall himself) and the largest gown he could find.  He draped it round Jackson’s tree trunk of a neck and cleared his throat.

“Jackson, now you know I admar your hair and all. Great hair but…” He sighed. “Fact is, you got the lice.”  Lyle peeked over the top of his paper at Jackson.

“The lice?” Jackson asked.

“Yep.”

“What’s that?”

Lyle opened his eyes wide and quickly raised his newspaper to hide his sniggering.  Bill shot him an angry glance.

“You never heard of lice before?” Bill asked.

“Nope.” Jackson said and gave a scratch.  Bill jumped back off of his stool and said, “Don’t do that!  That itchin’ goin on thar, that’s the lice.”

“Oh.  I guess I do that a plenty. How ya git rid of ‘em?”

“Gotta shave ya.”

This time Lyle didn’t try to hide his interest.  He set down his newspaper and watched for a reaction.

“Shave?” Jackson asked, looking scared. “Wull, how much?”

Bill considered for a moment.  “Probly all of it.”

“Whatd’ya mean all of it?”

“For you?  Head to toes.” The matter-of-fact tone that Bill used made Lyle burst into a fit of laughter.  After a few seconds, Lyle cleared his throat and apologized.  Jackson seemed unperturbed.

“Do what’cha got to,” Jackson said reluctantly. Bill looked at Lyle in surprise at how easy this was, pulled out his electric razor and told Lyle to “pull the shades.” As Lyle did this, Bill pulled on a pair of gloves, and the process began.  It took a long time, and by the end of it, Jackson looked thinner–like a shaved poodle. He was unrecognizable, and the enormous pile of hair (had it not been for the amount of lice) could have been donated to a museum needing hair for a black bear exhibit.  Bill kept himself busy decontaminating the shop floor and trying not to make eye contact, while Jackson got reacquainted with his own reflection.

After a few minutes, Jackson stood, thanked Bill, and asked how much.

Bill, afraid that Jackson might try to kill him in his sleep after getting a good, long look at himself, said, “No charge.”

Jackson walked out of the shop and Lyle walked over to raise the shades.

“Bill,” said Lyle. “Jes ‘cause he’s big as a bar, don’t mean he’s gonna act like one. I told you, you’re overreactin.’”

“You never know what he’s gonna be thinkin’. He don’t say much and in my experience, ya cayn’t underestimate a quiet man.”

“I got ta go.  My lunch break was over ‘bout 20 minutes ago.”  Bill waved him off and tied up the trash bag containing all of the hair.

“Whadum I gonna do with all this daggum’ hair?” Bill mumbled to himself.

Comments

  1. Kate Adams says:

    Anna! I haven’t read any of your stuff before, but I just followed the link from the tribute to your mother (lovely, by the by). You should write a book! I love these! And there is always a dearth of well-written new literature. In my opinion, anyway.

    Katie. 🙂

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