Some customers are worth keeping, others, the crude and the lewd, you wished you’d never met.
‘Oh, God, Jill, look who’s crossing the road.’
Jill followed June’s pointing finger.
‘Oh, no, not Short Backsides, it can’t be time for him already, surely?’
June looked at her sister, her mouth downturned, her pale blue eyes pained ‘I’m afraid so, it has been about six weeks.’
Jill groaned, she’d had a bad day so far, Billy, her five-year-old, hadn’t wanted to go to school that morning and had to be dragged kicking and screaming. Isobel, his nine-month-old sister had puked on her on as she was being readied for nursery putting her way behind time.
The two women barbers braced themselves for what they knew would be a relentless onslaught of risqué old jokes and smutty remarks spouting from him and strained bonhomie on their part.
‘Afternoon my bonny birds cried Warren R Sowell, aka Short Backsides, grinning broadly as he breezed into the shop. He glanced around the empty waiting area ‘no hot lovers in pursuit of you both today I see, well, great. No one to share you with my wicked, winsome wenches.’
‘Afternoon Warren’ said Jill, forcing a smile ‘I’ll be with you in a minute. She stepped out into the back yard of the shop she and June had inherited from their late father and lit a cigarette. She’d promised herself she would cut down on smoking and she had done, too, but old Short Backsides always brought out the need in her. He was a seventy-five-year-old potbellied little nerd, yet the silly old fool still thought he had sex appeal. And why did he insist on her cutting his hair, what was wrong with June doing it now and then?
She cringed inwardly drawing deeply on her cigarette at the thought of suffering the lewd remarks of this preening old goat. After a few more drags, she crushed the cigarette underfoot. Ah, well, best get on with it she thought, the sooner it’s done the sooner he’ll be gone.
She re-entered the shop to find him already sitting in her chair regaling June with some oft-repeated sleazy tale from his youth in the Navy. ‘That’s what those Hong-Kong bar girls were like in those days’ she heard him say. Then he looked up ‘oh there you are, at last, Jill. A quick shag, sorry, fag was it?’ he grinned inanely at his own crude joke.
Jill forced a smile ‘What will it be today, Warren, the usual?’ she knew the best way to deal with him was to ignore his pathetic attempts at humour.
‘Yes, short backsides, please.’
Jill sighed ‘a short back and sides it is, sir’
His laugh sounded like a donkey braying ‘you’re getting used to me, eh, learning my code?’
Jill gave a wan smile and reached for the electric clippers. She worked as quickly as possible without appearing to rush. At least there were no other customers before him so this would be a shorter session than usual, thank God. Most barbers confined their chat to the person in the chair whilst those waiting their turn sat quietly reading. Not so with Warren, he foisted himself on all within earshot, inflicting upon them the tired tales of his navy days and his claimed sexual prowess.
‘I used to come here when your dad ran this place, you know. Twenty-five years I’ve been coming here ever since I left the Navy. I was almost as good looking then as I am now.’ He winked and sniggered at his reflection as he always did when delivering this line.
Please, god, thought Jill, not this again. Every bloody time the old fart comes in it’s the same tale. “Yer dad always asked me if I wanted anything for the weekend, blah blah, you know, a packet of three, wink, wink. Barbers were about the only ones who sold condoms in the good old days” etc.
Jill tried to politely steer him away from his long boring monologue of yesteryear. Today, she was in no mood to listen. She cut him off.
‘Yes, Warren, you’ve told us all that before’ she grinned broadly so as not to give offence ‘Not losing yer marbles, are you mate?’ To June, her sister’s laugh sounded almost convincing.
‘Not lost anything, love’ Warren said cheerfully, patting the front of his trousers suggestively, ‘you ask my missus.’ He leered into the mirror, his gimlet blue eyes sparkling in his turtle-like face, his ill-fitting false teeth shone like two rows of bleached tombstones.
Jill felt her stomach lurch. The old boy had the knack of introducing sex into every topic of conversation, no matter how innocent. He’d turned it into an art form.
Jill coughed ‘yes, well, pressing right on, Warren,’ she said with a tired smile, desperate to get him onto a sex-free topic, ‘are you going anywhere exciting for your holidays this year?’
Warren said ‘well, I was thinking of going to Thailand, but the wife isn’t into strip clubs these days and she doesn’t want all those foreign birds after me body’ he chortled ‘We’ll be going to Clacton-on-Sea for a week in June as usual.’ He looked slyly across at June, undressing her with his eyes ‘that would be good, eh? A week in June.’ He thrust his hips forward, underlining his double entendre.
June’s hostile glare would have curdled cream, causing his face to sag with disappointment ‘Not many strip clubs in Clacton’ he ended weakly. A few moments of embarrassed silence followed as even he saw his attempt at a tasteless joke fell flat.
‘Jill was, at last, coming to the end of his trim, the seven minutes it had taken seemed like an eternity to her. It was always the same with Warren, non-stop prattle, bad jokes and sexual innuendo. If her husband Bob knew he’d give the old boy a flea in his ear and send him packing. But June was probably right, he was just a dirty-minded but harmless old scrote and as mad as a barking duck. He always tipped well, though.
Warren arose from the chair, embarrassment quickly forgotten ‘I suppose you’re going to mention money now?’ he said with mock shock ‘and we were getting on so well, too.’ It was what he always said on every visit.
‘That’ll be six pounds, Warren, please.’
He withdrew his wallet and, as usual, produced a crisp ten-pound note and again, as usual, he said ‘keep the change, love.’
Warren took his coat off the stand, and beamed at them both ‘see ya soon, you sexy sirens.’
Both women knew that when he got to the door he’d turn and say, ‘And if I can’t get in next time, I’ll just send someone over with the money, OK?’ Same old, same old.
Only this time he surprised them.
‘Next time I come I’ll have a big surprise for you girls.’ he said in a low, conspiratorial tone ‘the wife would go mad if she knew I’ve taken it out and shown you.’
Both women’s eyebrows shot into their hairlines as their mouths fell open. It was June who recovered first, her suspicions spinning around her brain like demented dervish dancers. ‘What the hell are you talking about’ she asked sharply.
Warren didn’t pick up on her brusque tone ‘Just you wait and see’ he chirped throwing them a lecherous grin, ‘I’ll give you a clue, it’s quite a big one and it shows its pleasure when stroked.’ He turned before the shocked women could think of a reply and walked out of the shop whistling, a swagger in his step.
‘Oh, God’ said Jill as the door closed behind him, ‘I hope I’m never alone in the shop when he calls, that old perv gives me the creeps.’
‘He was one of daddy’s best customers and he brought a lot of his mates here, too. I don’t think we can ban him without losing a lot of custom.’ June said her worried face reflecting Jill’s thoughts. ‘Has the old boy finally lost it d’you think?’
The weeks passed and the incident sank into the morass of their daily routine.
June’s phone buzzed. ‘Oh dear, Jill, my old man has had an emergency call-out, I’ll have to leave to pick the kids up from nursery, good job we’re quiet just now.’
‘OK, love, but please, try to be back for when the main schools come out, we’ll be very busy then.’
June had been gone about ten minutes, Jill, all alone in the empty shop, was contemplating nipping out the back for a quick smoke when Warren barged in, his face beaning a wider and even more inane grin than usual ‘Hello Jill, me darlin’ I’ve got you all to myself have I?’ Without waiting for an answer, he threw himself into her chair and spread his legs, ‘short backsides, please’ he quipped.
Jill nervously draped the cape around his skinny shoulders and, with trembling hands, tucked it into his collar. Warren shuddered with ecstasy ‘Core, wonderful touch you have Jill, your old man’s very lucky to have you seeing to him. His eyes narrowed, his usual lewd smile played about his lips.
Jill picked up the shears and began to work, deliberately ignoring him so as not to give him encouragement. She was inwardly praying for another customer to call in but at two fifty-five on a wet Wednesday afternoon, it was highly improbable. Warren’s grin got wider but he said nothing, he just kept watching her in the mirror almost slavering with anticipation of some word or deed.
Finally, Jill finished.
‘Remember last time when I told you I wanted to show you something special’ he said, his tone dark and mysterious? ‘Well, it’s right here, in my trousers.’ He whipped the large barbers’ cape aside.
Jill glanced down and noticed a long bulge extending from his groin down his left trouser leg. His hand slid, down and stroked it before he reached towards his waistband. Jill gasped in horror and stepped back, her hands flying over her mouth her shears clattering on the floor. She stared, transfixed.
Warren slowly undid his top button and slid his zip down. ‘Don’t be afraid Jill, just slip your hand down here and give it a stroke, it won’t bite.’ his eyes twinkled brightly as his teeth showed their skeletal, white gleam, adding to the horror of the moment.
Jill screamed and leapt further back ‘What the hell are you doing, you crazy old sod?’
Warren got out of the chair and turned towards her, a gargoyle-like grin on his face ‘don’t be afraid love, it’s not that big and it’s very friendly, the wife loves it.’ He thrust his hand deep into his trousers, he seemed to be having difficulty extracting it. ‘Come to daddy’ he muttered then at last his hand came free. ’This’ he announced, ‘is Georgie-Porgy’ and produced his wife’s pet ferret. ‘it’s the only way I could smuggle him out, the wife would go daft if she knew.’
All her life Jill had had a terror of mice, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, anything small and furry sent her into meltdown. Her eyes bulged as Georgie-Porgy’s enquiring little nose came sniffing towards her, thrust forward by Warren. Jill screamed, overwhelmed by hysteria.. She grabbed for the shop broom. ‘Get it away from me. Get it away!’
Warren was shocked to his core, a bemused look on his face ‘I thought you’d be pleased…’
Jill lashed out with the broom, hitting Warren’s wrist and knocking poor Georgie-Porgy to the floor. The frightened ferret took off as the terrified hairdresser leapt onto the counter scattering clippers and combs in every direction, clutching her skirt to her thighs.
At that moment the prayed-for customer entered.
Seeing the terrified, screaming woman being confronted by an old man with his trousers wide open, off duty constable William Harper put two and two together and came up with five. ‘You dirty old bugger’ he roared and grabbed Warren, throwing him into a painful armlock and wrestling him to the floor.
‘Not him. Not him Jill shouted, pointing at Georgie-Porgy as he scuttled along the skirting board seeking a place to hide.
Harper left Warren wailing woefully and dived for the ferret which promptly turned around and ran under him back towards Warren. Seeing his chance, Warren grabbed the petrified creature and stuffed him hurriedly down his underpants.
Poor Georgy-Porgy was totally confused by the din and the rough handling. Stuffed unceremoniously into the dark, smelly confines of Warren’s Y-fronts he mistook the flabby wedding tackle for a hostile one-eyed ferret sank his teeth deep into it.
Warren shrieked and started jumping up and down, beside himself in pain and panic. Georgy-Porgy realising his enemy didn’t taste of ferret, let go and dashed down Warren’s trouser leg to make his escape.
At that moment a lady with two young boys opened the door and stood gaping at the sight of a woman standing on the counter and screaming, an old man with his hand down his trousers jumping up and down howling his head off. There was also another man on his hands and knees, his arse high in the air looking under the barber’s chair saying, ‘here ferret, ferret.’
The horrified lady hurried turned around and ushered her charges out, white faced.
Georgie-Porgy saw his chance to escape the mayhem. He ran out and onto the main road. ‘Noooo’ cried Warren and dashed after him. Harper leapt up and tried to stop him, but Warren was surprising nimble for a man of his years. He slipped past Harper and out after his wife’s beloved pet who was scampering across the main road. Warren charged after him in wild arsed panic. He was just in time to meet the front of an oncoming bus. Gorgy-Porgy ran off home to the safety of his cage.
They lost Warren’s custom for good that day.
Copyright ©J A Milligan 2019
Copyright ©J A Milligan 2019