In the fiery seat of a barbershop evangelist

My hair was long and I could pull the front ones past my nose. It was COVID hair. I hadn’t had a haircut in six months. I was meandering through the Toco Hills shopping center when I noticed a sandwich board advertising this new barbershop. I stuck my head (and shaggy hair) inside. It was late afternoon in the spring and the empty barber shop had the smell of fresh paint.

Suddenly, I hear in the back, “Sweetie, go ahead and have a seat. I’ll fix you up.”

When I heard “sweetie” I turned to leave. I like quiet haircuts.

“It’s our grand opening weekend. You can’t be leaving me,” she said.

I sat in the barber’s chair. She snapped the collar and barber’s cape on me and locked the chair in place.

“Ms. Janet is going to make you look good.”

“Anyone else here?” I asked.

“Just Ms. Janet.”

“Is she in the back?” I asked.

“That’s me.”

She pulled out her scissors and a straight razor from the cylinder jar with the blue disinfectant.

“Are you the owner?” I asked.

“Nah. This isn’t even my real job,” she said.

“How long have you cut hair?” I asked.

“Off and on for a few years. I’m just trying to take care of my grandkids.”

“What’s your real job?” I asked.

“I’m an evangelist.”

She set the scissors and razor down and turned on her clippers.

“What do you do, sweetie?” she asked.

“I’m an evangelist too. I’m a minister.”

She turned off the clippers.

“Well, sweetie we need to talk. We got some work to do. You smelled the weed outside, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t notice it.”

“Well, you’re probably not around it like I am. I’m trying to keep my grandkids away from it even though people are trying to make it legal. I tell them about the lake of fire. I tell everybody about it. Do you tell your congregation about the lake of fire?

“Ummm. Not lately. I have just been trying to encourage them during COVID.”

“If people don’t watch it, they are going to be encouraged in their sin and burn up in that lake. How short do you want your sides?”

“A number two,” I replied.

“What are you preaching about this Sunday?”

“Not the lake of fire,” I thought to myself.

“Well, I see this barber’s chair as my church’s pew and I’m the preacher. I got to teach them about Daniel. Remember Daniel saw God in a white robe, bright as snow, and he was sitting on a throne of flames.”

I began to squirm. Her agitate voice rose in lyrical cadence. Her hands pushed the clippers with escalated force and deliberate, confident strokes. She turned me to the mirror.

“That short enough?”

And at this point, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about jumping up and leaving with cape and all. I had half a haircut, but reasoned it could pass as a new metro look for the in-town crowd. I remained still. I didn’t want to get into a theological debate while she held the scissors. I was at her mercy. I nodded each time she made her point and tried to divert conversation. She finished with the hair cuts and unsnapped the cape. She used the straight razor on my sideburns. I paid.

She said, “I hope you enjoyed your hair cut. I’m going home here shortly to see my grandkids. You and me. We’re evangelist. I need you be an evangelists for our new shop. Tell them Ms. Janet sent you.”

“I’ll have plenty to tell,” I said.

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