The Dude with the Killer Do

“How many flies did you get today, Emmett?” The barber Robert Lloyd yawned and stretched his back.

“I got me six, maybe seven if you count that weird one in the morning,” Old Man Emmett Freedle took another sip from his whiskey flask, “but I’m not sure it was a fly at all. could have been a-”

Emmett stopped mid sentence when a stranger entered the barber shop. He was wearing road dust on his clothes, his hair, his shoes and his knuckles. He sat at the chair in front of the mirror, reached for his billfold and removed a five dollar bill: “Give me the best hairdo a man can get in the west.”

“Why mister, for that kinda money you can get much more than a hairdo,” the barber Robert Lloyd hustled to the stranger, “you could get a woman, maybe three, whiskey, a horse-”

“But I didn’t ask for just a hairdo,” he grabbed the barber’s wrist and twisted it slightly, “I asked for the best hairdo.”

Robert Lloyd flinched and tried to break free, but could not maneuver out of the stranger’s iron grip. Not sure what to do, he settled on doing nothing and waited a couple of moments, until his wrist was finally set free.

“Alright, but let me throw in a shave and a shoeshine,” he caressed his wrist and then barked at Old Man Emmett Freedle, “Hey Emmett, get down there and do your thing!”

They covered the stranger with a white sheet, started working his hair and shoes, and for a while, the only sounds that echoed inside the barber shop were the snip snip of scissors and the whoosh whoosh of the shoeshine cloth. But the curiosity of the barber and the shoeshiner could be held at bay no longer:

“So, ah, what are you doing in this god forsaken town anyway, mister?” Said the barber Robert Lloyd.

“The nearest railroad track is many miles away!” Old Man Freedle raised his eyes from the stranger’s boots, “Why, no stagecoach would even travel here!”

“I’m attending a funeral,” said the stranger, his eyes monitoring the scissor work through the mirror, as well as the occasional lock of black hair that fell onto the white sheet that covered him.

“But mister!” Old Man Emmett Freedle was so shocked he stopped working the cloth for a moment, “I am coffin maker, undertaker and shoeshiner of this here town. If there was a funeral, I would have known about it!”

“You will.”

“Well,” the barber Robert Lloyd grabbed a blade, put some cream on the stranger’s face and started doing his shave, “what’s the story with this funeral?”

“Eighteen years ago, I had a job interview at the saloon, in this very town. I was fixing to be the barkeep. I went out to the barbershop an hour before my interview with the owner of the saloon, and being the innocent youngin I was back then, I closed my eyes as the barber did his thing. That was a mistake. I could hear a giggle every now and then, but I didn’t pay no mind. That was a mistake too. When I opened my eyes, I looked in the mirror at what must have been the worst hairdo west of the Mississippi. I lost out on the job on account of my hairdo. Who would buy whiskey from a barkeep with a hairdo like that? I recall the owner of the saloon shaking her head, boy, you can’t even sell tequila looking like that. I could not support my sick mother, and she died starving. My girl left me. My dog pissed on my head in my sleep and left me. Even the flies left me. I went out to the outback and joined the posse of Three Legged John Yeller, and after his demise I formed my own posse, who is as fearsome and ruthless as any posse in the west. But I never forgot the promise I made to my own self when I left this hellhole of a town eighteen years ago, with empty pockets, stinging pride and a crooked hairdo: That I would live to attend the funeral of the black hearted devil who wronged me and my hair.”

“Lord Almighty!” Old Man Emmett Freedle looked up in awe, “are you Calvin C. Cook?”

“I am.”

“As in the Calvin C. Cook, the horse thieving, booze drinking, sheriff shooting, train robbing, highway thugging, sucker punching, nut kicking, whore whipping, child hanging, poker cheating Calvin C. Cook?”

“In the flesh.”

“Calvin, please! It was a joke!” The barber Robert Lloyd pleaded his case, “and I have reformed, took on the path of the Good Lord, and had not given a crooked hairdo since!”

“The Good Lord may forgive a crooked hairdo, but Calvin C. Cook don’t.”

Calvin C. Cook and the barber Robert Lloyd eyeballed each other through the mirror, motionless. The razor blade was on Calvin’s neck, with some shaving cream on it. Two sets of eyes narrowed, while the third set widened with disbelief down below. A tendon moved in the arm holding the blade, the slightest of motions, and at that very split second a gun went off from under the white sheet. The bullet punched a hole right through it and got the barber Robert Lloyd in the heart. As he collapsed, the razor blade glided upon the neck and removed the last of the stubble and shaving cream.

Calvin C. Cook stood up and grinned at the mirror, for that must have been the best damn hairdo in the west. The shave and the shoeshine weren’t too bad either. He then took out a glimmering rock from his pocket and dropped it to the floor, next to the terrified old timer.

“Go build the finest coffin ever built, and dig the warmest hole in the ground.”

Old Man Emmett Freedle bit down hard on the solid rock: “Why, this right here is real gold, mister!”

“I owe this barber that much. Without him giving me that crooked hairdo, I would have probably been a barkeep at that piece of shit saloon to this very day, and not become the notorious son of a bitch the devil conspired me to be. Now go prepare the funeral. I’ll be waiting at the saloon.”

Calvin C. Cook then walked out of the barber shop, satisfied as only a dude with a killer do can be.

16 May 2014

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