Seamus


I'm sitting in a barber chair staring straight ahead with a blank expression on my face.  The barberess is plump and blonde.  She tries to engage me in conversation to no avail.  Her strong, fat arms dance around my ears, the sharp, clipping of the scissors accompanies her efforts to talk.  She has many questions like what is my job, have I the day off, am I on holidays, am I married?  The man in the next chair has a mobile phone to his ear.  He sounds like a businessman by the conversation he is carrying on with the phone.  I don't want to say anything to the barberess.  I believe that it is all so much fuss and bother, that we are condemned men just biding our time for the big send off party, maybe a giant cannon to scatter our ashes over the city, thirty-four different shells fired from a gun barrel mounted on top of a one hundred and fifty foot high monument, to carry your remains that have been pulverised into a consistency that is optimum for the blast.  It will go straight up.  The wind will take it.  It will drift down onto the smoky rooftops.  Some particles may fall into the river with the sun setting above the steeples and bridges, the final fire ball of a salute.  I believe that everything we do, whether good or bad, is sent up in a rocket in the end.  You may wonder how I avoid conversation with the chatty barberess?  I don't want to be impolite or rude so a grunted incoherent word that may be yes or no will do.  The businessman in the next chair is talking loud enough to cover up for me.  I believe that people don't really care about you.  They ask these questions to see how your answers might apply to their own lives.  I stare at the blank expression reflected back to me from the big mirror.  I look sallow.  As I sit in that barber's chair, I begin to figure out how I could live on a small pension.  It takes about six minutes to complete the haircut so I don't have much figured out by the time I'm standing at the cash desk, paying.  The girl smiles pleasantly and says call again.  She is happy with the tip I give her though it's not enough to buy her a new hat.
      After a haircut little flecks of hair fall down on the page of the newspaper open at the sports.  I'm on the number five bus headed for Blackpool.  I'm thinking I might risk packing in the job.  I could live on the cheap.  I could watch every penny.  It might be worth it, barring all strokes, tumours and accidents, I might make it to a decent age before the big send off in the rocket.  But who'd waste money on blasting my pulverised bones up in thirty-four different shells?  It makes me laugh.  I might have saved enough money after all my frugal days.
      I get off at the bridge and walk up the lane.  I'll go home so and write a story for that competition.  It must not exceed eight hundred words.  It must not be pornographic but I'm thinking a little bit of riding would not go astray.  You have to think of the people.  You have to figure out what they want.  It's like playing silly, teenage games.  I love it.  I sit before the computer screen which kindly does not throw back my yellow face.  The postman brings me bills and news from the doldrums.  I'm going to take a chance and get out of there.  My heart beats with excitement.  I can do it.  I can make it.  I don't need that much.  I could live here up this lane, making up stupid, emotional dialogues to pass the time.  That's what I want to do.  Sit here all day writing poems.  Occasionally, I might get someone in to read them too.  I could stand next to the bookcase, which I call my library, and read them out like a real poet in a New York bookshop, upstairs, wine reception, a girl holding back the tears.  The last time I tried it, she held back the tears alright, but they were tears of fear.  Jesus Seamus, she said, you're depressing the life out of me.  That reaction knocked the silly proud grin from my face.  She was genuinely horrified.  The poems cast depression into her eyes, her face, her body; she almost collapsed in a heap.  I tried to explain about Apocalypse Now, Kurtz and the hollow men, T.S.  Eliot and all that.  She said she wouldn't watch a film like that if she was paid.  I'd forgotten how sensitive she was.  I didn't see her again for awhile.  Not to worry.  I have plenty of blues records.  I have the slow burning depression that will get you through the darkest days.  Small things cheer me up.  The cat on the backyard wall stalking a bird and the bird flipping up onto the clothes line out of the way.  Milligan shoveling coal into the bucket wearing his new Celtic jersey with R. Keane 16 on the back.  He must be seventy if he's a day.  How much of a pension would I get?  I try to figure it out.  I will be very poor but at the moment I reason that I squander far too much money on unnecessary items.  If I stopped squandering and lived frugally, really, really frugally, all day in here, some one euro bottles of beer in the fridge, all the farmers far away on the farms, all the pigs in the swill.  I believe that it is all a fuss and bother leading to the same thing year after year, and all of the years' conclusions leading to the big send off in a rocket.  The day at work is short and then when I'm released I scud like a missile back across town to my back lane books and music, all comrades waiting to greet me.  In short, as I lie here now listening to all the different voices in the building, we have Spanish, Ukrainian and Polish, I conclude that really, things couldn't get much better.  
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