His name was Ruy. He became a barber at thirteen.
Because his father was a barber, and his godfather was a barber. And he
lived in the barbershop. And he practiced on the head of his little brother
and his five year old neighbor.
His mother sold sweets next door to make ends meet.
Your mother does not love me. She does not want me. She loves another
man. She wants to be with that man. Ruy found the note on top of his
bed. He wasn't too surprised. But his heart was broken. He ran out of the
house after his father. But the father was gone forever.
He killed the man who married his mother. This new man was now his
stepfather. He killed him everyday. He read old novelitas de
vaqueros his father had left behind. And he killed that man over
His father's sanity had been on and off. One day, when he was well enough,
the father left the note and went away. There were many children in the
family. But the father wrote the note to Ruy, the eldest.
Ruy felt guilty. He had once secretly wished for his mother to get closer to
this man. Not to marry him, just get closer; close enough for the family to
share in his wealth. Now the guilt was overwhelming. But he was young and
energetic and could suppress it. He was a good barber. He read the exciting
little novels at the shop.
There were three sisters. And one little brother who missed his father very
much. Ruy and his little brother missed their father's stories. And every
day at the barbershop Ruy killed the man. Ruy had friends and drank with
them on the weekends.
The man had money. He was a businessman with much success. The man, their
stepfather, was a distributor of sweets. The mother was a handsome woman,
but what the sweets distributor liked about her was her enterprising spirit.
She sold sweets, took good care of home and children, and wished for real
mobility. He was her supplier.
The ex-husband had never done well enough for her. The barbering was only
good for food. Not good enough, she thought. She liked money. If you had
enough of it, you could buy anything and everything. She had complained that
she never went anywhere. That the barbering was not good enough and that was
why she sold sweets. And that was why she allowed the man to get very close.
The new husband moved the family to a new home. It was an expensive house;
in a new neighborhood; it was the biggest and best looking. She didn't have
to sell candy anymore. The new man wanted her to take care of the children,
his and hers. The new man had two boys from a previous marriage. The new man
liked her three daughters and always acknowledged how pretty they were.
Ruy heard the gossip at the shop. The girls now had everything. The new man
gave them money. He liked the girls and thought them very pretty. Ruy was
comfortable at the shop. That's why he didn't go live with the family. He
told stories to the customers. He cleaned the shop everyday. His godfather
was old and slow.
The new man in their lives offered Ruy a loan. Renovate the barber shop, he
said. You'll get more customers that way. Ruy didn't say no. He told the new
man a story. He didn't say yes either. He and his godfather were comfortable
working at their leisure. Ruy cut the new man's hair and when he left the
shop Ruy killed him again.
Miguel Gardel lives in New York. His stories have appeared in LILA, Red Fez,
Inertia Magazine and others.
Read his postcard.
Detail of art on main page courtesy
of Thiago Fonseca.
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