He went for his usual appointment with Lin, but she wasn’t there. Gone off her rocker, said her colleague, Suyin, a catty woman who chewed ginger and specialized in perms. Lin had been cutting his hair for months now, found her shop by chance one day when his barber was shut. It was a simple shop–hard pink chairs, no magazines and one potted plant. His hair was limp and a mousy brown but she never made him feel bad. She cut his bangs with such precision it was if she held an imaginary ruler against his forehead. She didn’t talk much, always smiling–once she told him he had good features, you have devil eyes, she said mischievously as she rubbed mousse in his hair. He loved to watch her move–so willowy and ethereal like a living ghost. He often thought of asking her out–they’d go to some little Italian hole in the wall, read Mallarme together and later she’d lie naked on his plaid sofa as she trimmed his moustache. Lin real upset, she run out of here like fire, Suyin said as she clipped away, nicking his neck. He closed his eyes, listened as she sucked the ginger–a waterfall in his ears. Got a phone call, neighbor found her husband hung up in the closet, love of her life, I hear. He stared at the mirror, his hair looked chewed up–severed by a miniature lawnmower. Okay, we done here, Suyin said, holding out her hand for a tip.
Category Archives: Shelagh Power-Chopra
I play poker with these guys on Tuesdays. Most of them are parents; smoking, drinking, holding kids under arms, talking politics. Some are lucky, others just dumb, not wise to the seasons, not wise to signals, not wise to love. I think Sam is having an affair with Nan, he leans over the table and taps his ash in her ashtray, tap, tap, I’m not looking at your hand, no, no, he winks heavily as if a lead sinker was thrown on his eyelid. She’s motionless, her husband at the next table, grim, studying faces and dirty chips. I fucked the dealer in his car last game, he gives good face, his eyes always going nowhere fast. I hear crying in a bathroom and someone kicks a chair clean across the room. There’s a dirty bowl of peanuts next to a boy sleeping on the couch. I drink too much, stain the rug, a wide, red splash of wine thrown down like a poor hand. He’s got a flush!, someone yells in the next room–the first in weeks, doughy knuckles grab the pot, happy grumblings.
When I hit the dog, Abe screamed like one of those girls in a Japanese horror movie–a shrill wail that went right through my skin. I didn’t feel much as I got out of the car–I was more annoyed at the scream, the icy air around us and our eventual destination–his parents, the club, small talk, all that drunken insignia. I watched him as he examined the dog, patting its stomach, searching for signs of life. The dog was certainly dead, one ear was torn off and you couldn’t make out much its face; it looked like one of those old family photos where there’s something blurry in the background, something or someone you can’t really make out. I just couldn’t associate any feelings or memories with the dog, as I had never had a pet as a child. Dogs were like overgrown rats; I was always irritated when people spoke endearingly of them as if their own spouses had been regulated to sheds while animal and owner trolled the streets. “It’s dead,” was all I said but Abe frowned and tugged at my sleeve. I looked at him, at his ridiculous black trench coat and pulled it off his back and threw it over the dog–but you could still see it’s feet, isolated as if in mid run. Then, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach, a swift jab as if the nasty, little world had come rushing right in.
Maybe they’re done, maybe we can’t hold on to any of this anymore–this
one whale town and its jiggery, sunken gait and sallow wooden fences,
strewn with aged buoys and weak neighbors who walk the oyster shell
driveways and brush the tips of beach plums with their soft
fingertips–wasn’t like them to miss an opportunity to gab on the
broken curb, smoke pouring from gristled lips in front of the bar and
we’d know who gutted Stripers that day, what ya got for dinner? What
ya got for home? Or how may Quahogs were raked and whose girl had left
or abandoned the day, left the mix of salt and sunshine dim,
forgettable, still and heavy in the still tide. Now, there’s Massy
coming towards me, thin, ropey calves and shaded jaw, herring for bait
in hand but a rash on the forehead, spreading towards his cheeks and
Kern is whistling now, making fun of him, rashes from eating old
shrimp bait and jabbing me with his elbow, nodding towards the old
tackle box we all seem to share. Tonight, I want eels, cooked in
butter and shallots with a risotto and I want Roan to swim up on the
shore after dusk, in her striped bikini, throw a damp towel down in
the watery, rocky sand and throw the conch shells she’s collected on
my lap and we’d watch nothing on TV, nothing at all, after all summer
is here and should remain, should remain forever.
Leonard mourned in the shower that morning. Stood under the cruel
sting of hard water and blubbered into the mist. Kin had left last
night, packed her silver suitcases with her lavender leotards and her
surplus of cheap silver. All was destroyed now; their daily ritual of
drinking Snowballs in the den, singing ragtime hits while sunbathing
in the driveway and their dalliances with chocolates moles and other
He reached down and grabbed the shampoo bottle, “Fancy Me”, he read
and remembered Kin picked it up at The Dollar Store. They had a good
laugh and had crazy, acrobatic sex that day in the shower, Kin cooing
“Fancy Me” in a strange sing-song voice as she rubbed his bottom. He
read the words on the back of the bottle and cried a little more:
“Lather, Rinse, Repeat”. He wondered who actually followed this
foolhardy advice—wasting shampoo, letting a myriad of bubbles pour
senselessly down the wretched drain.
And now he remembered Kin’s hair wasn’t very beautiful; more like an
elementary school mop that was tangled and dragged about by an old
janitor. He hated her nose, barely there—a Sharpie smudge and her body
in general reminded him of sacks of damp fodder left in a field. He
stopped the shower and recounted his life, now: Kin-less and plain.
The phone rang, it was Kin. “You can’t find that shampoo anymore. The
Dollar Store’s like that, find something, gone the next day,” she
cooed into the machine.