Flash Friday 07/03/2014: Bit Off The Top
“Oh, thank goodness,” Harry said. “I was beginning to think they forgot they promised me a haircut before I was put to death.”
“Uh, no,” the executioner said, putting Harry’s head on the block. “I think this is a bit different than just a haircut.”
Harry didn’t quite hear what the executioner said. His mind was too busy getting all excited about finally having his ragged, unkempt hair taken off of him. Months spent in a dungeon did that to your locks. However, he was confused as to why they were doing it outside. It was a nice sunny day, sure, but not every hairdresser was keen to do their work in the open. Then again, not every hairdresser had an uncomfortable wooden block for a headrest, either. And come to think of it, all the people surrounding the stage, throwing boos and hisses in his direction, wasn’t really the norm either. Not to say he couldn’t blame them; he hated his current hairdo, too.
“So, what’ll it be today?” Harry said. “What do you recommend?”
The executioner dusted off the gigantic rusted axe. “What do you mean?”
“We could go for a nice trim, I think. Maybe layer it down to the back. Oh, or maybe a cut closer to the head this time? A shorter, more strict sort of affair.”
“Well.” The executioner hoisted his axe off of the stage. “I have an idea as to where we could cut.”
“And where’s that?”
The executioner rested the blade of the axe against Harry. “About here.”
“Oh. Well, obviously I don’t know much about hairdressing, but I can’t say I understand the logic of cutting my hair only around the neck.”
“It won’t just be the hair around your neck, mate.” The executioner lifted the axe over his head.
“Oh. Well, I hope you won’t charge extra.”
The executioner held his axe in the air for a couple of seconds, the crowd around him watching with bated breath. Finally, however, he let the axe back down onto the stage, rubbing his temple with a free hand.
“Listen, mate,” the executioner said. “You’re being put to death.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, I know that. I got tried, and they gave me the death sentence, and they said they’d let me have my last meal and a haircut and then they’d snuff me out. Weirdly enough, they decided to give me my requested last meal early by giving it today. Still not sure what that was about, really. Kind of defeats the purpose of a ‘last’ meal, really.”
“There’s a reason for that. It’s because you’re being put to death right now.”
“Wait, what? No, that can’t be right. I still haven’t had the haircut they said they’d let me have.”
“Well,” the executioner said, raising his axe again, “that’s how life goes, I suppose.”
“Wait, wait, wait, just a minute.”
The executioner waited.
“You can’t just…lop my head off when you lot haven’t delivered what you said you would. Do you have any idea how mad I’d be? I’d be so mad, I’d come back to haunt you bastards again. Except I’d be a ghost with really bad hair, so it’d be even worse.”
“I’m not entirely sure what you want me to do about it.”
“You have a gigantic blade, don’t you? Put two and two together. I have hair that needs cutting, you have an axe made for cutting. We can work something out, I’m sure.”
“I’m…” the executioner began, looking over the axe. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to do many hairstyles with this.”
“Well, just any old one will do, at this point.”
“In fact, I think I can only do one.”
“Well, hit me with it then.”
The executioner looked between the axe and Harry. Then, after a good firm shrug, he lifted the axe again and brought it down, with expert precision, across the top of Harry’s head, shaving off the hair.
“Uh.” The executioner pulled the axe out of the stage. “It’s done.”
“Already? Is there a mirror on hand?”
Someone in the crowd was kind enough to donate a mirror. Harry, however, wished he died without knowing.
“Oh heavens,” he said, looking at his new hairdo from side to side. “This is awful.”
“I’m sorry, but I–”
“I asked you very nicely if I could have a haircut, and — to be honest with you — I expected something with grace and glamour from someone as skilled with a blade such as you.”
“I tried, but I’ve never–”
“And now you’ve gone and given me a mullet hundreds of years before they actually come into style.”
“Well, I didn’t mean to, it’s just that I–”
“I can’t believe you just ruined a man’s final request.” Harry stood up from the block, shooting the executioner with a glare. “You know what they should do with people like you? They should have your head.”
“Well, I mean, it was an accident, right? Right? I mean, everyone here agrees with me, right?”
The sour looks from the crowd were not agreeing with him.
“Take him to the courts!” one person yelled.
“Off with his head!” said another.
The executioner went to say something about how everyone shouldn’t be hasty, but was mostly overwhelmed by a swarm of people boarding the stage and carrying him off towards the nearby courthouse. Before long, Harry was left by himself in the courtyard, looking in the mirror again.
“You know what, he was right all along,” he said, smiling to himself. “A little trim at the hair around the neck area would look just right, actually.”
Then — with nobody around to stop him — he walked off whistling to the nearest barber.
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