The devil walked into a barbershop and ordered a shave and a haircut. He looked like the devil–I mean, he had that look. That devil look. It was pretty obvious, really. He was wearing a top hat and a charcoal-coloured Victorian suit for some reason.
The barber, Mr. Antoine, said, “You want a shave and a haircut from me?”
There was a flash of hellfire in the devil’s eye, but his smile never vanished. “Precisely,” he said, voice smooth as smoke.
He hung his hat on the hat rack. Mr. Antoine had been cutting an old gentleman’s barely-there hair, and the two of them watched the devil stand politely in the barbershop with his hands folded behind his back. The old man crossed himself and kissed his finger and thumb.
“Will that be a problem?” the devil asked to fill the void of silence.
Antoine snipped busily a few times, cutting the elderly chap’s hair unevenly (but it was so wispy and inconsistent already so no one would notice).
“Please have a seat,” Antoine said to buy himself some time.
The devil nodded, looked at the seat, and cleared his throat, remaining standing, hands ever hidden behind him. His hair was devilish and perfect, and so was his facial hair (he had that kind of devil facial hair, you know), so Antoine didn’t know why he needed anything cut or shaved at all. This was like some kind of biblical test, he thought. Or a literary one. Would he be offered a deal? Was the haircut the deal? Was it a favour?
“I will pay in cash,” said the devil as though he were talking to himself.
A mind-reader, thought Antoine. So it was true. The devil knew just as much as the almighty about the secret thoughts of men. There were no tricks to play, no schemes.
“A simple transaction,” the devil added to Antoine’s thoughts.
Antoine gulped. The elderly chap pushed Antoine’s hand away when he went for the shaving soap. “Not today…” croaked the pious man, rising, paying, leaving widely around the devil, out the door, then running.
And the devil approached. He took his seat with a smile, and let his hands move smoothly in front of him to rest on his lap as Antoine threw the cape around his neck to cover him. The cape was blue, and the devil looked at it in such a fashion as to say, “This is not my colour…”
“What would you like?” Antoine asked.
The devil looked at Antoine’s reflection in the mirror, a bounce of fire against glass, burning into Antoine’s vision. “Surprise me,” said the devil. “I trust you know what you’re doing.”
Antoine licked his lips. The devil’s hair was more perfect than Antoine had the skill to cut himself. To alter it would be making it worse, not better.
“Well?” said the devil.
So Antoine went to work. A standard cut, short on the sides and back, a part on the side. He held the hand mirror behind the devil.
“Magnificent,” the devil said. His smile never fell or rose an inch since he’d been in the barbershop. “Now for the beard.”
“Off?” asked Antoine.
“Everything around it.”
Antoine lathered up the shaving brush. He swiped it over the devil’s face and neck except for the beard. He pulled his straight razor out of the barbicide tube, dried it, sharpened it, then held it before the devil’s face.
“Have you ever seen that play, Sweeny Todd?” the devil asked.
Antoine had. He was just thinking about it.
The devil’s eyes flashed again, and he laughed a laugh of smoke and fire.
Day 289’s three random writing prompt categories were, “The devil,” “Shave and a haircut,” and, “Out of a hat.”
I’m surprised Mr. Antoine kept his hands from shaking! A good barber is always rock-steady, even in the face of Lucifer.