One morning in 1972 near Bugsport, Maine. . .

ood morning, George."

"Good morning, Mr. T. I've been expecting you. Here, let me draw the front shades."

"Glad to see you don't have a customer. You know how hot I get waiting."

"I sure do. I usually try to reserve the first two hours every time for you. Hardly anybody comes in until ten, anyway. Now, if you'll just hop in the chair, we'll get started. A nice fresh cloth to start the day. Which do you want first? Shave or. . ."

"Let's start with the hair, George."

"Alright now, where did I put those shears? Ah, here they are. Now let's get this thinned down so I can use my clippers.

swear, Mr. T., my wife could use this stuff in place of Brillo pads. Do you want the same style as usual,or do you want me to leave it a little longer? The same? Okay.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you. Debra's mother is sick. I had to give her the week off. I'll give you a quick manicure, if that will do."

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ell, sir, I must be getting better. I got your hair almost done and its only been forth-five minutes. I saw Deputy Cogburn on the way in this morning. Boy, was he red eyed. He said he spent all night up north of town stomping through the woods checking out prowler and wild animal reports. He said old man Radford's chickens got torn up pretty bad. Which reminds me, better let me brush off your clothes and check your pockets before you leave.

"Did you give yourself a pedicure before you came? Good, 'cause Debra took the big file with her. Seems her mother broke a chair rung, or something an' she wanted to file the ends smooth. I'm glad I can get by without it on your hands. The hair okay now?"

ust fine, George."

"Gee, I hope you didn't catch cold last night. You sound worse than usual. The towels should be really hot now. Soon as I get you wrapped up, I'll start on the manicure. I wish Debra was here. . .

"Did you leave a jacket in the back room? I'll check it out while you soak. Let's see. Ah, got it. Its a little dirty, but you won't have to use the spare you leave here. Now let me change your towel again.

"Okay, give me your left hand. Wish they made these clippers bigger. Yes, sir. Its hard to get enough leverage to have them cut. By the way. If you have time next month, I have a new depilatory comin' in. The ad claimed it could take hair off elephant's hide. If it works properly, we could save about fifteen minutes on towels and things.

"Right hand please. Now I can't do the cuticles fancy like Debra does, but you'll look presentable. Time to change the towel again.

et's see if you're soft enough for the razor yet. Say, I forgot. Deputy Cogburn says somebody got a look at the prowler at the Richman's farm. Young Al, and his date, were walking in the moonlight. The fella passed them coming away from the commotion at the house. Al said he was real stooped over. Maybe even deformed. Saw enough of the silhouette to say the guy had hair almost like a hippie.

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"The razor isn't too rough for you, is it? I wonder if they're going to try and track with with dogs. There was talk about that after the Billings' sheep got ripped up last month. You do want to leave your mustache again this month, don't you?

ell, this is going to be some kind of record, Mr. T. Its been an hour and a half and we're almost done. I'll freshen your lather once more.

"There, that takes care of the beard. Now, the after-shave. Do your hands look alright? Anything showing from the sleeve? Here, stretch that arm out and let me trim a little. Okay, off with the cloth. Now let me brush you off again. There are some mud stains on your cuff. Let me get the clothes brush. I see you took my advice about wearing knee socks. Is it alright if I roll up the shades now? There, that gives us some better light. Opps, better do a quick sweep up before somebody looks in.

ell, sir, we're finished in record time. Shall I call Doc Bronson and see if he's ready for you? You know how cranky dentists are if their patients show up when they're not expected. Just remember not to smile like that when you walk over.

"Hello, Doc. Are you ready for Mr. T.? Good, he'll be right over. How do they look? Oh, 'bout like usual. He didn't break any this time. Looks like your usual cap job will do.

"Okay, Mr. T., the Doc's waiting with poised grinders. Say, thanks, Mr. T.! You're always a generous tipper. See you next month. Let's see, the full moon is the seventeenth. See you at eight on the eighteenth.?

Author's note:

I wrote this story in 1972 while serving with the U.S. Army in Korea. Two miles past the Middle-Of-Nowhere Korea. Based on a stray issue of Writer's Digest I found in the Day Room, I submitted the story to the best paying market for short fiction: Playboy. And I waited. About six weeks later a new issue of Playboy arrived in the unit. With it came a Gaughn Wilson cartoon based around the very same idea!

No, I was not ripped off. That issue had to be on its way to the printer when I mailed my story in. Plus, it is not the first time I've had an idea at about the same time as a professional in some medium. Before the idea appeared in public. Oh well. . .