The Bald Man

In the town, that’s just over there, by that wotsit and near to the thing, no not that one, the thing next to it, there is a barbershop. Now inside the shop lives an extraordinary barber, who has been profoundly blind since his birth. His skill has been to assess a head by touch alone and they say, that’s them, not I, they say that he is deft with the scissor and also with the blade. 

  One day, a stranger happened to stumble into the town, that one just over there, by the doodah and next to the thing, no not that one, but the thing next to it, and the stranger was bald. Well, almost, but not quite yer know, just a bit of fluff growing over ear and off the crown. He was almost completely bald, but not fully, nor profoundly bald, if you catch my drift. Well, this stranger was a little tired and weary, not a lot, just a bit, yer know, like when one’s just finished work, or finished a labour. A tad tired he was and went to the saloon, to refresh his gullet; not to get drunk, that was never in his thought, but possibly in mind. So he wanders deliberately into the saloon and stumbles upon a licensed bar. ‘What fortune,’ he thinks and orders a drink, not a large one, nor a small one, just one big and wet enough to moisten his throat and stomach. 

“Hello, barkeep,” says the fellow, “may I possibly have a drink please that’s large enough to moisten my mouth but not small enough to make me thirst for more? Just one large enough, not too big, nor too small.”

“How about a whisky,” asks the barkeep.

“Ah, sir, you know your trade. The bottle will do, so I can measure the quantity just right, so it’s not too small, nor too big, if you get my drift…”

And the barkeep passes him over a bottle of finest whisky and a glass without a handle that’s a little bit small, but not too large neither. And the baldish man pours a drink, just the right size, for he is, at the moment, of sound mind and can gauge the correct amount of alcohol required to quench his thirst. Then, the bald fellow catches his handsome reflection in the mirror behind the bar, ‘neath the shelves and above the cupboard. 

“My, my, I am handsome! What could enhance my roguish looks? I know, a haircut is what I need! For a hair cut is a hair enhanced! Barkeep, whither is thy barber, or dentist, that I may approach him and barter for a shave?”

“See Blind Jim, across the street, he’s the one we all use.”

“Blind Jim? That inspires no confidence! I see cigarette paper over your neck and cheeks, where a follicle’s been nipped, I fancy.”

“I shaved myself this morning, that’s why I’m blooded, but we all use Blind Jim for the dentist and barber.”

“Well, after my instinct I must go but first have some courage, save I face my fate in the hands of a blind barber who shaves sighted men and has a beard of his own. Why does he not shave himself?”

“On account of his facial balance. He too is bald, but as a coot, and without the beard, he’s all too weird, looking that is.”

“Hmmm,” thinks the bald, but not profoundly bald man. “Then in him I place my trust! And I trust his razor has no rust? For he can’t see blemish, blade or pimple!”

“His wife changes the blade each day! Are you going over or what?”

“After another spoonful of luck, or courage, whatever favours me most.” 

The man slid the glass over the polished bar to the barkeep who wasn’t too far away. Taking another swig of his concentrated ale, the almost bald man went to meet the blade. And over he went, to see Blind Jim. He crosses the street, up on to the path, looks in the window to see the lay of the land, catches his ruggedly handsome reflection in the window, then goes in as so to enhance his visage for self and the women.

“Hello,” he says,” are you Blind Jim?”

“Well, yes that I am, come right on in!”

So the man sits down in the chair, bottle in hand and about to put his trust in a blind man.

“I’ve come for a shave, on my head and round to the chin, for I’m almost bald, as a coot. I have this little bit of fluff on top and around the ears, not too much, but more than a little. I need the skills of a barber to smooth my head and face, can you help?”

“Well, I surely can! Sit down and I’ll come over to assist.”

“Now that doesn’t inspire the confidence, as I’m already seated! Why should I trust my head and face to a stranger, who’s been blind since birth?”

“Sir, I’ll have you know that many a folk have commented on my certain skill to wend a razor over scalp and chin! I got myself a bonafide certification from the barber’s academy at St Louis!”

“It’s bonafide? How much it cost you?”

“Sir, I paid not a dime! That was earned by blood, sweat and tears!”

“Whose blood? Why did they sweat? And of whom was the tears? The widows of the many men you slain whilst earning a trade?”

“I’ll have you know I’m bonafide! I’ve shaved for nigh on the best of 30 years!”

“30 years? So you’re senile as well as blind? Heck, I must be outta my mind!”

“Sir, you’ll just have to trust my skill with the blade, for I never lost a customer, or cent, to my trade! Trust me, I’m bonafide. Now let’s take a look at your scalp…”

And the blind Jim placed his hands over the gentleman’s head, gently feeling with finger tip and palm, then without delay began to mix soap with oil of the palm, until the paste was frothy and thick. A brush was then placed in the bowl and the brush was rubbed with lather into the near profoundly bald man’s head. There was not too much, nor too little and none was needed for the crown in the middle of his head. Then dawned the moment of dread, for the blade was sharpened on the strop, ready to slice follicle from head. 

“Sir, if you’re ready, I’ll begin…”

“I’ll never be ready, but go ahead and start! And be careful not to shed my blood, it belongs to my heart! And keep my head attached to my neck, it’s been that way since I was born and I’d like to keep it there!”

“Sir, have a little faith in my skill. Everyone in this town trusts me to cut their hair and shave their skin.”

“What everyone? Even the women?”

“No, no, no! Just the men! No clam up, calm down and let me begin.”

So the blade neared his flesh and moment he’d dreaded came to bare. The first run of the blade was smooth and when he dared to open an eye, and sneak a look, the mirror showed no trace of red. There was no blood, just bare skin instead. Another run of the blade completed real soon and he snuck another look and still no crimson was on his head. So he opened his eyes wide and observed the man who was truly bonafide, with certification from St Louis, as he shaved round lips and neck, ear and eyelid, for oh yes, the barber he also shaved the brows off of eyes with a flick of the wrist, being so adept was he with the blade, the now profoundly bald man had indeed no need to have feared or be in mortal dread. And after Blind Jim had completed, he rubbed oil over the man’s head. The stranger waited until the towel was removed, then inspected the mirror to confirm the truth.

“You sir, are truly bonafide! And with your skill, you should have such pride! You sir, have made me as smooth and soft as the day my mama nursed me at her breast!”

“Of course I have! I may be blind, but I ain’t ignorant. I have used hands all my life and the one thing I know, is how to feel to get ahead!”

“Why, I certainly mostly apologize for any inference that I trusted you not! You sir, are a barbershop genius!”

“See, I told you I was bonafide!”

“You truly did. My faith and trust has been rectified. I’m sorry for not placing my trust in you and making myself out to be a fool.”

“Aww, have no worry, your fear was justified, just as it was when I was in training, for many young men feared for their lives… But least said the better there as it does not inspire the best of confidence and if I’d led with that particular argument, well, let’s just say it would have seen you scruffier tomorrow than the day before yesterday!”

Then the stranger paid his fare, whilst feeling his smooth head that was now fluff free and bare.

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