Author's Note: What does this have to do with Bionicle you may ask? Absolutely nothing. This is a story I wrote back in 12th grade for my writer's craft class. I shared it with @Chronicler a while ago, and he seemed to like it. So I thought, wynaut post it to the boards? See what other people might think, could be fun!
Written by Wajeeh Khan
“We’re open!” said the neon sign outside. I grasped the frigid metallic handle. The silent shiver of my hand stopped. The weight of the door gradually gave to my bodies’ nudge, and I sauntered in with something like expectation. The room, however, was uninhabited... aside from the one, no two...flickering tube lights that attracted tiny gum moths to the ceiling. There were the strands of blonde, beige and black hair on the ground, no doubt containing lice carcasses. Continuing to scan, I spotted several small sapphire coloured seats pushed up against the left wall. To the right were five special seats, each meant for the customer to be. I sat down on one of those seats.
I found myself twiddling my thumbs. I listened to each tick-tock of the clock experiencing an eternity and a half. I could’ve left, could’ve very well gotten up, gotten out, and gotten on with the rest of my afternoon. I was drawn, however, mesmerized by my own reflection. Not for the reasons you’d expect though — I hadn’t the slightest iota of sex appeal. I stared into the mirror observing the subtle nuances that marked my visage. My spacious snow-white forehead silently trembled. My scruffy straw beard itched on top of my sunken jowls accenting a pointed chin. Sapphire retinas darkly gleamed like an ocean of melancholy. I was a primitive, a missing link, a Himalayan Yeti. I kept looking, searching for the very centre of my jet-black pupils, hoping to find, to capture, or re-capture something; perhaps the why to this incessant waiting; perhaps the joyous freedom of wistful childhood summers; perhaps that disdainful glare on my boss’ mushy face; or perhaps a clue as to my pedantic raison d’être.
Whatever it was, it didn’t matter.
I/Eye identified my pupils, at that moment, and they quickly receded, frightened. The shivering returned. My heart’s beating raced, vibrating like a taser.
Up until now, I hadn’t noticed the obsidian door that stood directly opposite the main entrance. It opened. Squinting into brilliant backlighting, I examined the figure emerging from the secret room. I thought my mirror would shatter into a million tiny fragments as his boisterous voice invaded my surreality.
“OH! Hello, hello...sorry there pal...I was on break.... I meant to close up shop while I was out,” he said convincingly shocked. Our eyes met. His broad sallow face was un-agitated, in fact it was a jovial smirk with gleaming hazel eyes squinting in apologetic indignation. His nearly solacing voice continued. “Tell you what, I’ll give you a cut, and...it’s on the house. It’s the least I can do.”
￼I finally spoke, clearing my tar-paved lungs while staring at his thick Adam’s apple. I said with wretched inflammatory hesitation, “That would be lovely. Thank-you.” Frantically scuttling, his hand extracted scissors from within the special drawer in front of me.
“So...what style do you want?” he mustered.
“No style,” I curtly responded. “All I need is a quick trim, precisely one inch; no shave.”
“Fair enough friend, fair enough.” Thus, the snipping commenced. His hand oscillated over my scalp, looking to meticulously slit each individual hair follicle. His mouth blurting, bantering on about shallow sports, withering weather, mundane monopolies, more and more; truly tiring, uselessly uninspiring; cumbersome commencements of conversations. At some point, my fading intrigue must’ve eventually clicked inside his cerebrum. His unnervingly silent state suppressed my muscles’ shivering. Quietly clipping away, I noticed his right hand slowly reaching for something from the special drawer. I was afraid that I knew where this was going. That spray bottle will not be the premature ending of this event!
“That’s the wrong bottle!” I yanked out in panicked desperation. He seemed surprisingly sensitive to my sudden shriek.
“What’s the problem?” His confused, shivering tone bounced off the mirror into my eardrums as pleasing pressure waves.
I whispered, “I need...gel.”
“What was that?” he asked.
“GEL!” I shouted.
“Oh! Sure, um...if you want gel, I can,” hesitating, “once I’ve sprayed your hair” Who could be content with that kind of empty thinking?
“I demand a dash, a small dab, of gel. Then, you can spritz.” I can’t quite recall his remark, but he, nevertheless, pursued my inference. He caressed my scalp with the palliative gel before spritzing.
When he finished, I announced, after inspecting my image in the mirror. “That’s not right. It will need to be washed. Could you wash my hair please, sir.” There was a long pause. I saw his large Adam’s apple bob. Somewhat without passion, he rinsed and washed my hair.
The tube lights flickered.
With new determination I said, “Actually, could I also get a shave?” That was for the jovial smirk earlier.
He stroked his lavish cocoa beard.
“Most definitely, a shave,” I told him. Surprisingly quietly, even perhaps, submissively, he started rubbing the vanilla cream across my face. It was refreshing, reinvigorating. What an auspiciously riveting rebirth it was! “Yes, a little more there... that’s it.”
When he had lathered me to my satisfaction, he reached into the special drawer and drew out the razor. Like a hypnotic bauble, he flashed the razor in the bluish haze of the overhead tube light sharpening it along the leather thong that hung from the side of the special chair. I eyed him ever so attentively in the mirror. Then, sliding the blade up beneath my chin like a snake approaching, he brought it devilishly close to my left jugular vein and leaned in to whisper hotly, “I don’t know what you’re game is bub, but you’re about to lose.” All of the trembling in my body stopped instantly to listen. “When I lower this blade from your throat, you’re going to get up, get your things and get out of my barber shop, never to return. Do you understand me?” My eyes nodded yes.
The night’s frigid metallic breeze sent shivers down my spine. A quick smirk came upon my face walking along Meridian Avenue. My face was still fully lathered with vanilla cream. I reached for my cigars and stopped to light one. He said that I had lost whatever game it was that I was playing. In fact, I had won. I was elated. Indeed, we had both won. For you see, my game is schadenfreude. The German word means, roughly speaking, “taking pleasure from misery” — my misery, his misery, our misery. It’s a special technique for transcending my post-modern puzzle. It relieves subconscious tension while at the same time promoting mental integrity. Simply brilliant. A little pondering and I think that you will agree.
But I am trying to keep it a secret. I hope that you can appreciate that too much knowing about it will spoil it for everyone.