At the barber shop 

I want to get my hair cut today.

I’ve got an early start dropping the wee man off at school, so I’m at the barbershop a few minutes before opening time.

I don’t like waiting. I want to be first in the queue. Quick in, quick out.

But he’s not there.

So I hang around. Standing outside the shop, peering in the window like the world’s worst robber.

The time which the sign in the door says the shop opens passes.

But he’s not there.

I hang on. It’s his own business, he can be a few minutes late.

People I know pass me in the street. A few say hello. A few stop for a brief conversation. I pass the time but I’m keeping an eye on his front door.

But he’s not there.

There is nobody else waiting. I want to be first.

I nip across the road into a gift shop, just to pass the time.

I make sure I can see the barbershop front door at all times.

There’s nobody else in the gift shop. The assistant’s eyes follow me as I pretend to be interested in candles and porcelain bowls. I peer across the road, to the barbers.

But he’s not there.

The gift shop assistant keeps watching, like she’s onto me. I end up buying a birthday card, just to prove myself. I don’t know anyone with a birthday coming up.

I go back across the road.

But he’s not there.

So I nip to a coffee shop and order a cappuccino. While the barista froths the milk I’m straining to see out the front door. To the barbershop.

But he’s not there.

I get my coffee to go and stroll up and down the street, examining the cracks between the slabs of the pavement.

I look in the window of the barbershop again. For some reason I try the door. It’s locked.

It’s getting later in the morning. I know I have to move my car.

I’m parked on the Main Street. I’m already over my time. A red coat walks past me.

I’m working out how long it will take me to move my vehicle to the car park.

Maybe five minutes. Less if I rush.

I take one more nervous look in the window of the barbershop.

But he’s not there.

I sprint to my car. The traffic’s mercifully light. I’m into the car park and back out onto the street without even having to breathe out.

I go back to the barbershop and look in the window.

He’s there.

And there are six other men there too. All ahead of me in the queue, waiting to get their hair cut.

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