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  • Writer's pictureHenery X (long)

A Cut Above

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

A short story

Children are young adults in training. So, instead of attempting to protect them from the world, we need to prepare them for it. In fact, the preparation is the protection. — Henery X

A Cut Above

2022, Henery X ©

Seventeen-year-old Finn Jefferson was a master barber who loved doing what he did. But like all those who eventually discover what they’re destined to do, his journey was one of humble beginnings.

Finn has worked at A Cut Above since he was ten-years old. His employment at the popular barber shop was due in part to his father’s relationship with the owner, Melvin “Street Life” Bell. The other part was that Mister Bell loved Finn as if he was his own son.

Melvin didn’t start out wanting to be a barber. In fact, he wouldn’t pursue this craft until he was forty-two-years-old. His claim to fame would be street basketball, which is how he gained his nickname, Street Life.

When Melvin was thirteen, he began teaching himself the game of basketball, and based on the lessons he learned from watching NBA players on television. He would study the players’ moves and then go act them out on the basketball court, at the local playground. This routine was the only thing that mattered most to him. He was determined to be the best he could be.

When he turned eighteen, he was good enough to defeat all the local streetball players. No one wanted to challenge him, so it was time to take his show on the road. With the financial help of people who loved him, he could enter tournaments that offered substantial cash prizes. Seeing he had decided this was going to be his livelihood, losing wasn’t an option.

At age thirty-six, Melvin retired from the street ball circuit undefeated and a very wealthy man. Three-years later, A Cut Above was open for business. Three-years after this, and thanks to one of the skilled barbers renting space, he began the journey of a master barber. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Winter, 2017

“Hey, Street. Would you teach me how to cut hair?” Twelve-year-old Finn said. He was sweeping up hair from off the barbershop floor.

“You sure this is what you want, Finn?” Melvin said. He was lounging in one of the seven barber chairs present. The fifty-three-year-old didn’t look a day over forty.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“Why? I mean, you could do anything else and be quite successful.”

“But I think nothing else would make me happier.”

Melvin chuckled, “You’re just twelve, and this is your first job. You’re going to experience so much more in life.”

“It’s what I want, Street.”

Melvin saw the determination in Finn’s eyes and heard the sincerity in his voice. “Alright, little man. I’ll teach you. But you have to promise you’ll stay committed.”

“I promise, Street.”

‘Alright. Now, take a seat. The journey is about to begin.”

Finn sat the broom up against the wall and then sat down in one of the many chairs designated for awaiting clients.

“Cutting hair is just half of the story. The other half, and most important part, is how you treat your clients. Every person is different, but most appreciate people who make them feel good. You can be the best barber in the world, but if you possess a poor attitude, your skills will eventually be of no use to you. So, always treat each client with the utmost respect. Got it?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You need to be a good listener. Barbers are like bartenders, clients just love to share their life stories with us. When we’re willing to listen to people, they’ll be eager to come back. But just don’t listen to secure their loyalty. Do it with the thought you could make their day better. All my clients I regard as family, and the feelings are mutual on their end.”

“Wow, Street. I just thought being a barber meant cutting hair. I mean, I hear the conversations, but I just thought it was the norm.”

“Most things are always deeper than the surface, Finn. The more effort we put into what it is we do, the more we’ll get out of it. Sure, a great cut is always something that’ll keep you a client or two. But if you’re out to be regarded as one of the best, you’ll need to have every person who sits in your chair feel as though they’re your favorite client. Seeing you’re a well-mannered young man, I don’t see why that would change the older you get, especially with the men you have helping to guide you.”

“I appreciate you, Street.”

“I love you, Finn. So, now let’s get down to the hair cutting aspect of the craft. First thing you need to know is this… the lineup is everything. The lineup makes the haircut stand out.”

“I see. So, that’s where we’re going to start?”

“Yeap. The lineup is everything.”

Summer 2022

Thanks to Melvin’s tutelage, Finn was now cutting the hair of not only all his friends, but that of their friends and certain family members as well. And what made this that much sweeter was the fact he did it in the place he learned the craft, and beside the man who enlightened him.

“Yo, Finn. Let me tell you about what happened with me and my lady April last night,” a young man sitting in Finn’s chair said.

“I’m all ears, bro,” Finn said cheerfully. He smiled as he glanced over at Melvin, who winked at him and flashed a smile of his own.

The end.

What are you willing to sacrifice to live your dreams? If it’s not everything that has nothing to do with the journey, then your dreams will more than likely remain just that… dreams.

This is the seventh of ten short stories I’m writing and that will make up a book meant to inspire the inner child in us all. The main characters will all be under the age of eighteen, showing that there’s no age requirement when it comes to living dreams. I want the stories of these youngsters to encourage the elders who happen to read them because again, there’s no age requirement when it comes to living dreams.

Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge my offering.

Remember. I’m not here to convince you to believe. I’m here to offer you something else to consider.

May we never lose our desire to outdo what we’ve already done.

Peace, Love, and the utmost Respect.

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