Blue Man

“Has he been here before?” the customer whispered.

“I can’t say that he has,” said Hari. “And I’m not sure why he’s here today.” He looked at the blue man slyly; it was the first time that one of them had entered his barbershop. There wasn’t a notice forbidding them, but they knew they weren’t welcome; they weren’t welcome anywhere, but it never stopped them from coming.

This wasn’t your average blue man though, for he had said nothing. From what Hari knew, they never stopped talking. Their incessant chatter drove people mad; it sounded like turning train wheels, and to humans was incomprehensible. They tried to conceal it in public, but were rarely successful. This blue man, however, was very well behaved. He just sat there quietly, looking out of the window.

“What will you do for him?” whispered the customer. “Is his hair like our hair?”

“I’m none too sure,” said Hari. “I’ve heard it’s much thicker, like a horse’s tail.” He glanced in the mirror at the blue man. “A huge curly horse’s tail.”

After their unusual skin colour, blue men’s most distinctive feature was their mass of golden hair. It went down to their waist and often beyond. They wore it loose, never tied up with anything; for it was necessary for their hair to “see the sun”. It was rumoured that if their hair was covered for a day they became ill, and if covered for a week they died.

Hari allowed only classical music in his salon. He knew that his apprentices played dance tunes in his absence, but as long as it was back to sitars and tablas, or the news, upon his return, he was ok with that. He listened beeps, and then: “This is the twelve ‘o clock news on Global 12. Riots continue for the fourth day in the City. There is a heavy police presence. The Authority is not blaming anyone, but says that both humans and blue men are involved. It has threatened stern punishment for anyone caught and convicted of crimes…”

“Bloody hell!” blurted out the customer. There was a mutter of bloody hells around the walls, from others awaiting their short backs and sides. Everyone looked at the blue man, wondering if he’d begin his train wheel chatter, but he didn’t say anything, just kept sitting there, looking out. The customer pushed Hari’s hand away, spun his chair around, and said to the blue man, “What do you have to say about that?”

In Hari’s book this was not good manners. He spun the customer’s chair back round, and said, “There’s plenty of time for chatter later. Let me finish your haircut first.” His years in the merchant navy had taught him the value of running a tight ship. He was captain here and must retain good order.

The blue man turned towards him and smiled. His perfect golden teeth seemed to increase the light in the room. They dazzled Hari momentarily and he lost concentration.

“Ow! Ow!” said the customer, pulling away. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry Sir,” said Hari. “No harm done. It’s just a tiny nick. No bleeding.”

“Leave me alone.” The customer swung his chair around again. “I want him to answer. What does he think of the rioting going on? Is he going to do anything about it?”

Hari swung the chair back around. “You can have a beer with him when I’ve finished your haircut. Till then sit tight. And if he…”

Police sirens rent the air outside; there was thumping and running; garbage cans clattered and car alarms wailed. The sound of a helicopter somewhere and…. turning train wheels.

The customer pushed Hari’s hand away and stood up. “See! I told you! Look what’s going on!” He stared at the blue man.

Hari said, “Sir, you are welcome here. However please stop bothering my other customers.”

“Bothering your other customers? Bothering your other customers? Who are you kidding! I think your ‘other customers’ are bothering us!”

The blue man looked over. He was no longer smiling but his golden teeth still showing. Was he grimacing?

Hari had a flashback. Upon leaving the merchant navy, he’d taken over his father’s salon. Those days were different. People came in once a month, sometimes weekly, and you built good relationships. You sold them razors, scents, creams, first aid materials, and of course, “something for the weekend”. You got to know their families. Now it was only quick ins and outs between phone calls.

Hari wondered about the blue man’s age. Though it was an unforgivable cliché, they really did all look the same – short, sturdy bodies, blue skin, and golden manes. Like those two staring in the window right now – they could be twins. Others running with garbage cans, and those throwing real estate boards and poles, could also be related.

“Bloody hell!” shouted the customer. “They’re coming in here!” But the only action “in here” was that the blue man arose, walked to the window, and went outside. They heard turning train wheels and the radio signal was lost. “That bastard’s joined them! We should have nailed him here while we had the chance. Lads, get ready to fight!”

Beeps and dashes repeated on the radio. Though his Morse Code was rusty, the third time around Hari got it. The message said: “These young ones are foolish. You have done what you can with your people in here. Now I will go and speak with my people outside. Please offer my turn to someone else. I’ll come for my haircut later. What time do you close?”


One Response to “Blue Man”

  1. I like it. I am getting interested in the origins of the people in the valley. “Bloody Hell!” shows some British lineage, and “I’m not sure” (meaning “I don’t know”) is rather Canadian.
    Better would be “never tied up with anything, for . . .” (or use the semicolon and delete the “for” ).

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