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A Shave and a Soul Mate

A connection of the souls The blue neon ricocheted off the slick city sidewalk, and she felt the steam on her skin in the hot summer rain. The closer Dot got to the little barbershop, the more she felt sick with confusion. This little shop was where she had met her love, what seemed a lifetime ago. The only light on the street, and it was drawing her in.

Dot and Howard had met twenty-three years ago on another hot and balmy day. Dot was working in the shop, as a clean-up girl and a part-time bartender, for old man Walters. Mr. Walters was a lime-scented character who used to bring in his homemade whiskey, stuff that could peel the bright red paint right off the walls. Dot knew just who to pour for when they walked in the place. Most of the old timers came in for a shave and a hair cut and a stiff shot of whiskey. Afterwards, they would sit around and shoot the breeze, tell bad jokes and swill. Mr. Walters had a laugh Dot could never forget. The sweet chortle that seemed to erase any problems you had at all.

Across the street, Dot saw the barber pole going round and round, slowly spinning a memory in her head. She could almost smell the cheap citrus scent of the after shave and the sharp mix of whiskey and cigarettes. Somehow it soothed her, a flow of warmth filling her skin, and she stood staring at the blue foggy light, smiling.

She stepped off the curb, clouded in a daze of damp memories, when out of the alley came a taxi cab. It's horn blared and the cab swerved to miss her. Her heart leapt as she recovered from the shock, and she watched as the dirty yellow cab pulled over across the street. A couple got out, opened their umbrellas and darted towards the little barbershop with the flickering neon lights. Dot watched in amazement and tucked herself under the awning of an abandoned shoe store. The couple were in love, she knew that for sure. Even in the distant downpour, she saw the way the tall, thin man clutched the woman’s waist. She saw the way the voluptuously rounded woman giggled when the man lowered his mouth to her ear. They held each other tight and walked inside the barber shop.

Dot heard music when they opened the door. What was that? It was familiar. Did she dare cross the street and see for herself? She waited a minute and then decided to have a closer look at least. The building was old, the shutters were ragged with one completely gone. The door looked like it always did though, thick old planks of oak with a tiny round window in the top. Mr. Walters used to stick his wrinkled, round face in there and scare the bejesus out of the women. The wives would come hollering for their husbands and find them carrying on and drinking instead of home eating dinner. Plenty of expletives occurred, but the men always came back.

Dot stood near the door and peeked through the little round window. It was hard to see what was going on, but the lights were still blue and there was definitely music, a waltz. Dot’s heart jumped into her throat as the Blue Danube Waltz played faintly in the night. She closed her eyes and saw the handsome young jukebox salesman... like it was the very first time. Oh what a sight he was.He always stayed longer than he probably should have, but no one complained, least of all Dot.

Reverie took hold. She drifted back to a hot Tuesday afternoon. Dot had been sweeping up hair and joking with the old timers, promising her love to only them, when in walked the most handsome face she’d ever laid eyes on. Howard was tall and stocky, like a baseball player she thought. He wore suspenders and a dark blue suit. When he smiled, the entire place lit up brighter than the sun in the sky. Dot couldn’t take her eyes off him, and she caught his eye as well. He nodded and asked who the owner was. Mr. Walters stepped up and asked what was he selling, as he poured Howard a glass of bourbon. Howard enthusiastically demonstrated the jukebox that he wheeled in from his truck. The Blue Danube Waltz began and everyone swooned. Dot felt something inside lift up and take hold of her very soul.

That day, Mr. Walters bought the first jukebox that Howard ever sold, and Dot and Howard fell magically in love. It was mad and intense, and when they married on the solar eclipse, they felt their spirits join. Dot continued working for Mr. Walters until Howard bought the jukebox company. They bought the rustic cottage and would walk through the garden together, laughing, picking tomatoes, sometimes tossing them in each other’s mouths.

The war came about, stealing Howard away from Dot. Months passed with letters exchanged, but when a messenger brought a note in the rain, Dot’s world collapsed. The years went by and she gradually became whole and alive again, but she never married anyone else. Dot kept her marriage to Howard, the precious of all her memories, as a sacred jewel, deep within her soul.

Now, Dot stood with tear- filled eyes, watching the couple inside. She watched the blur of bodies sway, listened to the rhythm of the waltz, and smelled the mix of whiskey and lather. She stood clutching her heart, as if holding those sacred memories were tangible.

“Excuse me, ma’am, you really shouldn’t be wandering alone in this neighborhood” blurted a young man with a brazen radio and baggy pants. “Crazy” she heard him mumble as he bounced away.

The sun eased up, and Dot suddenly realized that she had been standing there all night. Composing herself, she crossed the street, turned, and looked back one more time. She saw no lights, no barber pole going round and round, no door with the little round window. Nothing, but a “For Lease” sign in the cracked and blackened window. A tear slipped down her cheek as she walked away, a hand still covering her heart.

© All rights reserved Kim Alvarez
The Pinnacle of PR
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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