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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Orange (the color) (11/19/09)

TITLE: Curtain Call
By Virgil Youngblood


Curtain Call

“Come in young feller and take a seat if you want a haircut. Those fella’s parked in the chairs don’t have enough teeth left to bite so you’re safe enough. “If you’re selling raffle tickets on that shotgun the Letterman’s club is sponsoring, you’re too late?”

“Grandpop said you could give me the kind of haircut I need” Kevin replied.

“Kid, yuh better turn around and run for your life” said a portly octogenarian named Sylvester. He leaned forward clutching his overall straps and expertly directed a brown stream into a brass spittoon at his feet. “‘Les’ yuh favor whitewalls ‘cause that’s the onliest way Slim knows to cut hair.”

“Who’s your grandfather?” Slim asked, darting a quick look at Kevin. His scissors snipped musically on the man in the barber’s chair.

“Ron Baxter”.

“Nooooo! The Ronnie Baxter? Class of ’56? Number 42 on the State Championship football team? Mr. Orange, loved by one and all?”

“I… I guess. He doesn’t talk about it. I remember a picture of him in a football uniform with that number. He just came to live with us last month. Sometimes he can’t remember things very well.”

“What’s your name, son?”

“Kevin Hardcastle.”

“Kevin, when your turn comes, your haircut is on the house. See that dusty picture over the shoeshine stand. That’s your grandfather in his prime. He refused to let our team lose, scoring the winning touchdown as time ran out. Orange Bluff High had never won state before or since in anything. That was the best thing that ever happened in this town. No one ever had a better teammate.”

“He said you might remember him. Some understatement, I’d say.”

A rancher type, judging by the scuffed boots, stretched his legs, wiggled his toes and chimed in. “Looks like somebody good been cutting your hair. Just what kind of haircut did Ronnie think Slim could fix you up with?”

“Well, I’ve got a part in the school play. The setting is in the 50’s. Grandpop said if I was serious about the part, Slim, uh…Mr. Crockett, would remember how to cut a flat top with duck butts.”

“Hot dang, Slim! That’s the way Ronnie used to wear his hair” the cowboy exclaimed. “You need to sell tickets on this haircut. I mean, talk about history repeating itself.”

“Why’nt Ronnie come with you?” the portly tobacco chewer asked.

“Momma’s taking him to see a doctor in Dallas. She’s hoping they can adjust his medicine, or something. He can’t seem to get over Grandma being killed last year by a burglar. It was the one night all year he wasn’t home with her.”

“Next!” Slim said. “That’ll be you Kevin. He swiped loose hair off the orange seat of the barber’s chair. These guys won’t mind waiting. They are mostly loafing to get out of honey-do’s.

A chorus of “Go Ahead’s” and “Get in the Chair” emanated from the magazine flippers.

Kevin sat in the chair and Slim deftly swirled an orange and white striped apron over him. “Are you sure about this?” Slim asked. “There’s no turning back once I start.”

“Grandpop said if I wasn’t willing to give a hundred percent, I’d never know what I could have done. He said you taught him that, Mr. Crockett. I want to do it.”

Slim bowed his head for a moment, before beginning to wield his scissors. “Kevin, I always pray before I cut someone’s hair. I just ask the Lord to help me do on one side what I did on the other. Some people get real upset if things don’t turn out to suit them.”

“Grandpop said it would be like getting a haircut in a Bible study class. He said you introduced more men to the Lord, including him, than he ever did as a preacher.”

“Don’t you be believing that Kevin. The Lord has used us both. He will use you too. Just think of the opportunity you’re going to have after you win state with that school play and everybody wants your autograph. You might want to think about adding a scripture address below your name – you know, to give credit where credit is really due.”

“Gee, thanks Mr. Crockett. I will … but first we need to win district.”

“Sit still now. If I don’t get the top level as an aircraft carrier’s deck you’ll look more like a Generation X hippie than a fifties Baby Boomer.”

“Oops!” cried Sylvester, teasing.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 11/27/09
You did a great job creating atmosphere in this piece. Felt like I was right there.
Colin Swann12/01/09
A story of reminiscing, woven round a barber's shop and a haircutting job. Very creative. Colin
Jan Ackerson 12/02/09
Wonderful, wonderful story. Superb setting, atmosphere, dialogue.

My only (tiny) nitpick is that the color orange is almost an afterthought here, and other colors would do equally well.

Other than that, this may be one of the best-written pieces I've read this week.