Homicidal Barber

(An animated sequence that leads us to a suburban hairdressing salon. A customer comes in. The barber is standing in a white coat washing his hands at a basin.)

Customer: Morning.

Barber: (flinching slightly) Ah ... good morning sir, good morning. I'll be with you in a minute.

(Customer sits in barber's chair. Barber carries on washing. He seems to be over-thoroughly washing and rewashing his hands and lower arms. Barber turns and smiles humourlessly, at customer. At last he has finished washing. He dries his hands thoroughly, turns and coma over to the customer. There are very obvious blood stains on his coat and his lapel is torn off. One stain could be the mark of a bloodstained hand which has slipped down the length of it. He picks up a sheet and shakes it out. Sound of iron and heavy objects falling on the floor. He throws it around the customer. As he knots the sheet at the back he is about to pull it tight and strangle the customer. His face sweats, a wild look in his eyes. Then with a supreme effort he controls himself. Customer smiles reassuringly at him.)

Barber: How... how would you like it, sir?

Customer: Just short back and sides please.

Barber: How do you do that?

Customer: Well it's just... ordinary short back and sides.

Barber: It's not a ... razor cut? (suddenly) Razor, razor, cut, cut, blood, spurt, artery, murder... (controlling himself) Oh thank God, thank God. (sigh of relief) It's just a scissors.

Customer: Yes... (laughs, thinking the barber must be having a little joke)

Barber: You wouldn't rather just have it combed, would you sir?

Customer: I beg your pardon?

Barber: You wouldn't rather forget all about it?

Customer: No, no, no, I want it cut.

(At the word Cut barber winces.)

Barber: Cut, cut, cut, blood, spurt, artery, murder, Hitchcock, Psycho... right sir ... well ... (swallows hard) I'll just get everything ready. In the meanwhile perhaps you could fill in one of these.

(He hands him a bit of paper; the barber goes to a cupboard and opens it.)

Customer: All right, fine, yes.

(On the inside of the door there is a large medical chart headed: 'Main Arteries'. His shaking hand traces the arteries and he looks occasionally back at the customer.)

Customer: Excuse me, er...

Barber: What?

Customer: Where it says: 'next of kin' shall I put 'mother'?

Barber: Yes, yes ... yes.

Customer: Right there we are. (hands form to barber)

Barber: Thank you.

(He gets scissors and comb ready and comes up behind the customer and spreads his arms out, opening and shutting scissors as barbers do before cutting.)

Barber: Right!

(He can't bring himself to start cutting; after one or two attempts he goes to the cupboard again, gets a whisky bottle out and takes a hard swig. He comes up behind the customer again.)

Barber: Ha, ha, ha ... there, I've finished.

Customer: What?

Barber: I've finished cutting... cutting... cutting your hair. It's all done,

Customer: You haven't started cutting it!

Barber: I have! I did it very quickly... your honour... sir... sir...

Customer: (getting rather testy) Look here old fellow, I know when a chap's cut my hair and when he hasn't. So will you please stop fooling around and get on with it.

(The barber bends down to the floor and drags out a tape recorder which he places behind the barber's chair, talking as he does so.)

Barber: Yes, jes, I will, I'm going to cut your hair, sir. I'm going to start cutting your hair, sir, start cutting now!

(He switches on tape recorder and then he himself cowers down against the wall as far from the chair as he can get, trembling.)

Tape Recorder: Nice day, sir,

Customer: Yes, flowers could do with a drop of rain though, eh?

Tape Recorder: (snip, snip) Did you see the match last night, sir?

Customer: Yes. Good game. I thought.

Tape Recorder: (snip, snip, snip; sound of electric razor starting up) I thought Hurst played well sir.

Customer: (straining to hear) I beg your pardon?

Tape Recorder: (razor stops) I thought Hurst played well.

Customer: Oh yes ... yes ... he was the only one who did though.

Tape Recorder: Can you put your head down a little, sir?

Customer: Sorry, sorry. (his head is bowed)

Tape Recorder: I prefer to watch Palace nowadays. (electric razor starts up again) Oh! Sorry! Was that your ear?

Customer: No no ... I didn't feel a thing.

(The customer rises out from his seat, taking the sheet off himself and looking in the mirror and delving into pocket. He turns round for the first time and sees the cowering barber)

Customer: Look, what's going on?

Tape Recorder: Yes, it's a nice spot, isn't it.

Customer: Look, I came here for a haircut!

Barber: (pathetically) It looks very nice sir.

Customer: (angrily) It's exactly the same as when I first came in.

Tape Recorder: Right, that's the lot then.

Barber: All right ... I confess I haven't cut your hair ... I hate cutting hair. I have this terrible un-un-uncontrollable fear whenever I see hair. When I was a kid I used to hate the sight of hair being cut. My mother said I was a fool. She said the only way to cure it was to become a barber. So I spent five ghastly years at the Hairdressers' Training Centre at Totnes. Can you imagine what it's like cutting the same head for five years? I didn't want to be a barber anyway. I wanted to be a lumberjack. Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia . . . (he is gradually straightening up with a visionary gleam in his eyes) The giant redwood, the larch, the fir, the mighty scots pine. (he tears off his barber's jacket, to reveal tartan shirt and lumberjack trousers underneath; as he speaks the lights dim behind him and a choir of Mounties is heard, faintly in the distance) The smell of fresh-cut timber! The crash of mighty trees! (moves to stand in front of back-drop of Canadian mountains and forests) With my best girlie by my side ... (a frail adoring blonde, the heroine of many a mountains film, or perhaps the rebel maid, rushes to his side and looks adoringly into his eyes) We'd sing ... sing ... sing.

(The choir is loud by now and music as well.)

Barber: (singing) I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...

Continue to the next sketch... The Lumberjack