The sun rose at 7:15..about 30 minutes after Kevin had woken up. He had been waiting for it with excitement as he was sipping his very own-made double espresso outside his house while watching the chilly crisped leaves falling from the trees. It was Kevin’s third day in Saint Ann’s, and first day of work. He still had 45 minutes till he had to start, so he thought he would take advantage of the panoramic views his house offered. Situated on a small hill, the part of the infamous neighbourhood where Kevin rented the room actually had a positive, nice ‘Boyz n da hood’ vibe to it, with many families and kids running around, a playground where you could often see the homeboys working out and a pub just a minute away from the house. 

“Ahh what a wonderful morning and new start to a new stage of my life!” exclaimed Kevin as he threw his cup in the bin and set towards his workplace. Kevin was a graduate in Fine Arts but after graduating he found it hard to get a job in his field so he took up a job as a barber. “A man’s gotta eat” he thought to himself.

“Plus it’s kind of related..Modelling someone’s hair is art. It goes beyond simply cutting the hair. The cut needs personalising as to fit the character, add expression to it and help it express himself at the same time. A cut can say a lot of things about people: their cultural background, their level of education, their economic status, or on the contrary, can deceive about one’s origins. Hence-wise it very important that a barber cuts the hair impeccably, without mistakes as to cater for the client’s needs.”

“Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever head anyone speak as passionate about cutting hair as you. You can start Monday if you’d like to.” The interview flash-backed on his way to the barber-shop. It was called ‘The People’s Barber.’ “I think I will love this job. Meeting so many people every day will be indeed an unforgettable experience.”

On the other side of Saint-Anns, another soul had just woken up. “Time to get a fresh cut” Niko thought to himself as the early morning rays gently tickled his forehead. “What a night, Mr. Alfreton, I was so exhausted I don’t think I turned even once. Hope I didn’t disturb you with my snoring though. ” he grinned as he cleaned his face with a couple of wet wipes.

“Ah, your silence speaks more than any words could, Mr Severin. Thank you for the hospitality last night. I shall visit you soon.”

Niko got up and started stretching. As he was stretching he was brushing off the crumbled dry leaves off his running gear. For a homeless person he was very meticulous when it came to his appearance. He always made sure he looked fresh.

“Right, off I go. Have a good day Mr Severin, hope someone will visit soon.” Mr Severin was his only friend. He was the only one he could speak his mind to. And he was always there for him. But he would only visit once a month, on a Sunday evening when he would spend the night over. He did not want to disturb his rest too much with his constant blabber.

The ‘People’s barber ‘was approximately 1.8 Kilometers away from where Niko was. “I usually run at an average speed of 17.1 KM per hour so that means I will get to the barber’s in about..*he paused as he started doing the maths in his head* – “right on time, right on time” he chuckled out loud grinning. It took him aboutβ€― 5 minutes 48 seconds to get to the People’s Barber.’

The barber-shop opened at 8 but usually no-one was really there except for the cleaner who would open the doors and sit clients down who would then wait for the barbers to come in, who would usually arrive around 8:30. Kevin was there at 7: 45.

“The early bird catches the worm, my man, always remember’ said Kevin to the cleaner with a smile on his face. The cleaner was a dark skinned young man. His name was Callum, but everyone called him C-Sharp. He had a couple of jobs throughout the day. It kept him focused he said, helped him keep a ‘sharp mind.’

“It seems you already caught it Kevin, there’s someone at the door already” said C-Sharp as he reversed the closed/open sign.

“Thank you brother, here’s some change for your troubles” Niko winked as he slipped a couple of coins into the kid’s check shirt’s chest pocket.

“Welcome to the People’s barber, sir” the young man greeted Niko on an excited tone, “where we cater for everyone and we do so much more than cuts. We do urban art and excel in contemporary hairstyle design.” 

Niko sat down anxiously, thrilled at the thought of having a fresh cut. “It’s been a while” he thought to himself. “Change is always good. I’m gonna make a fresh start with this fresh cut.”

“You can hang your jacket and cap over on those hangers if you’d like to, sir” stated the barber politely.

“I’m all good brother, thank you.”

“So what can I do for you today? Shave? Asked Kevin, assumptious based on Niko’s refusal to take his cap off.”

“No, the beard will stay..for now..heh..I just need a fresh the scalp!” Niko replied fiddling in his chair as he was anxious for something to happen.

“Okay then, shall we take this cap off then? Kevin went on on a puzzled tone”

Niko looked the barber straight in the eyes and with his own big eyes he replied grinning “No, brother! The cap stays on! Just use it as a hairstyle model. Let the cap guide you”

His first instinct was to laugh, as a part of his brain perceived it as a joke. Most of its brain though, didn’t, especially as the crazed man looked him straight in the eyes. This whole process plunged the Kevin’s mind into a state of confusion. He had never cut anyone’s hair by following the lines of a cap. What was that madman’s desire? Would it compromise his barber’s code of conduct? What if the others saw him and judged him by taking on such a ridiculous request. What if the crazed man would eventually take a selfie of the resulting haircut and then post it as a review of his services? He was just a young barber at the beginning of his career. He did not want to mess it up. All these thoughts blurred his vision as he aimlessly started looking around dazzled seeking for answers in the flying eyeworms that had just emerged from his confusion.

“It won’t wait, brother, it waits for no-one so get on with it” exclaimed Niko.

“Excuse me?” replied Kevin as his mind was submerging even more into the depths of confusion

“Time. It ticks and it tocks, and it knocks off your socks!”

The young barber picked up the scissors and started fiddling with them as he was examining Niko’s hair. Every time he looked at the mirror he would see Niko’s deranged excitement at the sight of scissors. His pupils dilated and his heart beatings intensified. He had waited for that moment for exactly 73 days. As the scissors drew their first blood, Niko’s grin intensified.

Kevin chopped bits of the side hair and then asked Niko again: “Are you sure you don’t want to take the cap off?”

“No brother, you’re doing just fine. Keep at it!” Niko replied on the creepiest tone Kevin had ever heard.

The young barber put the scissors down and grabbed the electric shaver. “Fuck it, here it goes!” Kev screamed in his head as he closed his eyes and plunged it into Niko’s scalp. Niko was watching the whole spectacle with content from his chair. He felt as he was watching a movie at the cinema or better yet, a drama play. The confused barber who seemed to have betrayed his principles and gone along with the madness was merely an actor on display for Niko’s entertainment. But the barber’s pain would end soon along with Niko’s show.

“Is that what you wanted sir?” Kevin looked dazzled with teary eyes in the mirror at the new fresh cut he had given Niko.

“Fresh! That’s exactly what I’m talking about”

Niko stood up and put 20 pounds on the barber’s desk. “That should cover the cut plus buy you a pint or two to cure that broken heart! Haha!” Niko exclaimed as he took his cap off and made his way towards the exit.

Having witnessed everything, especially Kevin’s freak-out, C-Sharp turned to him and chuckled: 

“Welcome to Saint Ann’s!”