"What, people with nut cancer don't get haircuts?", snorted Combover.
We'd just learned that Buzz' brother was in the hospital with testicular cancer. The consensus was clear. Being in the process of losing one of your balls was a poor excuse for not taking your chair at Hilda's barber shop every other Saturday, as per routine. When it's your turn for abuse, better to show up for it. The coward. Of course, his brother and the rest didn't cut him any slack just because he was absent.
"I bet he never says 'I'd give my left nut' for anything again", said Flattop. "No matter which side he's losing. Which side IS he losing?"
"I dunno", said Buzz. If I survive this haircut, I'll text him and find out."
"Quit talking", said Linda between trimmer strokes. "The fat on your neck keeps rolling."
"Either way", said Combover. "That phrase is done."
"So what next?", asked Hathair. "Does he get chemo? Lose his hair?" Everybody laughed. Linda gasped. Evidently, hair loss was mostly a moot issue for Buzz' brother. Linda pretty much trimmed his eyebrows, shaved his neck, and massaged his shoulders extra, charged full price. One of her favorite customers.
"Maybe he'll get radiation", Buzz said. "Most heat he'll have felt down there since his wife died!"
"You don't know that", Linda scolded.
"Unless you've got something to share", Buzz continued, "I'm pretty sure. He lived for that woman."
Flattop got solemn. "Do you think he's ba.., um, uh, got enough fight in him to beat it? If it gets bad?"
Combover started laughing, "Ballsy enough? Were you gonna say BALLSY ENOUGH?"
Flattop shook his head, laughing. Buzz shook his, too. "He's pretty tough. Kicked the shit out of me our whole lives. But I dunno... Lance Armstrong beat it, I guess."
"Lance Armstrong was on steroids and had a bicycle seat jogglin' his nuggets twenty hours a day", offered Flattop with anger and conviction. "He deserved it. What was your brother riding? What drugs did HE take?" Whoa. Maybe some issues there.
"Technically", said Mophead, who'd snuck in while I wasn't paying attention, "Lance didn't take steroids." We all glared at him. Even Linda. He wilted.
"Well hopefully", Buzz continued mercifully, "he'll just be off his nut, it won't have spread, and we'll fish this summer like we'd planned". Linda was removing the last of the hot cream with straight razor, and she thumped him to hold still.
"Not once in forty years in this God forsaken place,"whined Combover, "have I fished the way I'd planned all winter. A few good trips, sure, but something always comes up, keeps me busy not fishin'."
Hathair cleared his throat, like he does when he has something important to say. "Life comes up. The time you should be fishing just happens to coincide with the same time things are growing, and the house can be painted without frost, and folks come up from Outside, and twenty two hours of light isn't even enough for all the stuff that you've got to do... Life comes up, and you cancel fishing, and then your wife dies, and then you get nut cancer."
Linda fired up the vibrator and ran her hands over Buzz' shoulders. We waited. He handed her a bill, let out a big sigh. "Listen, when you assholes are voting on whether I'm gay after I leave, take into consideration that I worked with only men for thirty two years, and I love my wife AND my brother. Seeya next time." Then a parting shot for Mophead, who had no idea what we were talking about, "Who gives a fuck what KIND of cheater drugs he took. Jeesus." Then he left.
Flattop was already settling into the chair, and Combover had the broom, but there wasn't enough hair to sweep. "Nope", said Hathair. "Don't think so", said Combover. "Prolly not", from Flattop.
"I don't know", I said. "Those are the ones that'll fool you."