All the Secrets You Told My Chair

She liked the simplicity. The basic concept of cutting straight lines into a round shape. This is, after-all the premise of a haircut. Elevation. Angles. Lines. Cuts create corners. Remove the corners. Connect the lines. Suddenly, straight lines become a round shape, and hopefully, a beautiful haircut. She explained this to anyone who showed interest in the geometry of hairdressing, or anyone who might listen.

Listening was the bulk of her job. She had an inviting quietness about her — a warm smile that seemed to say “Come in. Sit down. Tell me your secrets.” Within the first two licks of the cutting comb, the secrets would seep from beneath the client’s cape. Cheating on your wife? She knew. Suffering from high blood pressure? She’d recommend and accupuncturist and which fad diets wouldn’t help. Whatever that deep-seated secret was, it was only a matter of cuts until she knew it.

She collected secrets, first in her memory, and later on tiny scraps of paper in an emtpy comb jar labeled Barbasol. They were as toxic as disinfectant, but she wasn’t willing to let them go.

For a while, she considered compiling a book, All the Secrets You Told My Chair, but realized she was not only crap at writing titles, but crap at writing in general. A retelling of reality would cost her clientele, and bring more misery than secrets themselves. So she kept them.

But, the secrets began to haunt her. At night she’d wake from sickly dreams of muddled meanings. The woman with the A-line bob sleeping with the son of the tapered fade. The wife of the man with plugs takes the story to the paper. The A-line bob jumps from the window of her fourth floor walk-up in attempts to avoid jail time for statutory rape, but winds up paraplegic.

None of this happened. These clients didn’t know each other but the nightmares didn’t care. She tried everything. Hyponsis. Sleeping pills. Meditation. Hot yoga. Retail therapy. She tried the hardest approach; she became less worthy of secrets. She stopped smiling at clients. She didn’t nod in agreement or understanding when they shared. She played loud music with the hopes it would drown the secrets from their mouths and her brain simultaniously.

On a day fueled by nightmare-exhustion a man walked through her door. She’d never seen him before, but his unruly mane of questionable curls begged for a trim. She motioned to the chair. He sat, apprehensively, darting his eyes from the floor to her face in the mirror. She fastened the cape and grabbed a comb, wetting his hair. Dragging the tiny teeth through his thick locks, she finally looked in the mirror. Their eyes locked.

“I killed a man once.” he said without hesitation.

“Did you shoot him in Reno,” she asked, jokingly.

“No. Lodi,” he responded.

“How?”

“He begged me to,” he said, catching her eye again in the mirror.

“Oh?”

“The human body’s ability to lose blood is as great a phenomenon as it’s ability to make it,” he responded with a gentle smile.

“Oh.”

“Just like secrets — you can create them, grow them like seedlings in a jar, but a pin prick to the mouth and you’ll lose them all faster than they can reproduce,” he said.

“I see,” she said, lining up his sideburns.

He handed her two twenties, and caught her eye again.

“There’s never peace of mind in the knowledge you cannot share.” he said with a knowing nod.

He strolled out as quickly as he’d strolled in. She shoved the twenties in her apron, walking into the back room. There was the jar, almost full of tiny scraps of paper secrets. She gingerly picked up the jar, and dropped it, as if it say “Oops?” with an innocent seduction.

She picked up a shard of glass. Remembering her love for angles and lines. Cutting straight lines in a round shape. She made her first cut. The blood poured out like a million little secrets. Ears might be tiny, but they bleed. The blood covered the floor. Blood seeped through all the paper secrets, as she fell to the ground, ear in one hand, peace of mind and a shard of glass in the other.

She liked simplicity — two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.