Jeremy looked into the barber shop for a minute before he entered. It had been nearly a year since he had visited this particular barber shop, because it was a three hour drive away from his apartment, which was in another town. The staff changed. He recognized two of the girls–the other four were new. He hoped the two wouldn’t recognize him.
A brunette with wild curly hair tightened her lips around her teeth in an approximation of a smile when Jeremy approached the desk. Melissa. He didn’t need to read the name tag to remember. She had a husband whom she was faithful to.
Just a haircut for you? she asked in a tone that was familiar in a customer service sort of way.
And a shave, said Jeremy.
Melissa nodded backwards, but stopped halfway. Jeremy was clean-shaven. His last shave was right before the three hour drive to this barber shop.
Janelle, the other familiar hairdresser, was cutting a man’s hair. She kept glancing at Jeremy and Melissa. Her client looked finished. Janelle took her time about brushing away the hair on the man’s shoulders. Janelle had a long-term boyfriend a year ago.
I can take you, said a new woman.
Melissa turned on her heal to the woman, then back to the desk, her arms frozen in front of her, locked at the elbows like a gunfighter. She said nothing. Jeremy continued to the chair.
Shave and a haircut, he said, if you please.
The new girl had freckles. Ringlets of cherry blonde hair framed her ears.
You’re the boss, she said as she drew the smock over Jeremy’s shoulders. Your hair looks well taken care of. You just want a touch-up, or?
I’m Jeremy, said Jeremy.
Searching eyes, watching Jeremy from the mirror in front of him.
Haley, the woman said.
Jeremy made small talk. Joked with her and laughed at her jokes, until she stopped being funny so he wouldn’t shake and fidget so much with laughter. His hair was too short to trim without being very precise. And she didn’t want him laughing while she had a razor to his neck.
Then Jeremy asked her questions, questions. How long have you lived in Banff? Beautiful weather lately, eh? Do you know any good places to eat nearby?
I go to the Maple Leaf with my boyfriend all the time, she said.
Does your boyfriend live in Banff? Jeremy asked. What does he do? Did you meet him here?
The shave and haircut were over.
Can you recommend a hair product for me? Jeremy asked.
And how about a beard balm? he asked. For a friend. That is, also, I’m thinking of growing mine out.
And so on. He bought a three-pack of hair care products, beard balm, and a razor. He threw them all in a gym bag, which rattled when he heaved it up so the strap wrapped over his shoulder. He decided that Haley was serious with her boyfriend.
When he left, he walked to the next closest barber shop.
Today’s three prompt categories were, “Gym bag,” “Romance,” and, “Shave and a haircut.”
A haircut is kind of like a date, right?