His great grandfather had been a barber in the war. Which war, he wasn’t sure, he never got to meet the guy, so it was just this story he’d always heard. “Your great grandfather was a barber in the war.” And for whatever reason, he’d always wanted a proper shave by a proper barber. If you asked him he’d shrug, he’d make it seem he really had no idea. But if you questioned him long enough, if you approached it from the right angle, you could see that it was a bit that he felt it was something his grandfather, or great grandfather, or whoever, would have approved of. It was a way to feel a little closer to a man he’d never met.
Plus it seemed bougie as hell and therefore a bit of a lark.
The thing is, do you know how hard it is to find someone that can do a straight razor shave. He’d moved to a few different cities throughout his life for college, for a girl, for a job. Every time he moved he’d walk the streets of this new conglomeration of buildings and people and businesses and keep an eye out for all the regular things, the potential new favorite coffee shop, Thai food place, book store. But he’d also be looking for a barber.
Every city had a barber. Even when he had to travel to some tiny city who’s only claim to fame was having a hotel cheap enough that his company would host their annual meeting there, he could find a barber shop. But most barbers were the electric kind. They could give you a cut and a shave and it’d all be done in less than twenty minutes, and all with a little electric device whirring in your ear the whole time.
Of course he got those cuts and shaves. Of course. But they weren’t what he was looking for.
And then when he joined this latest company, his boss a bit of a dick, and the directory mentioning the possible cities from which he could work, the cities they’d welcome a “man on the ground,” as the directory called it, there was just something about the cities name that called to him. Something a bit throwbackish about it. A bit Mayberry, if you will, a town he only knew through stories, like his grandfather, or great grandfather or whatever.
Which is how he found himself in Three Rivers: City of Elms. And it was true, there were, three rivers and elms. “Rivers” seemed like a bit of a stretch, he would have called them creeks, but there were three and they converged at a lovely if a bit loud spot just outside of town, a gorgeous walk and especially in the spring as he’d just discovered. The elms looking vivid with their leaf buds everywhere, the water tumbling from all directions, especially thunderous with the winter runoff.
He’d checked the city online before moving, of course, who wouldn’t. He knew there were the important things: a grocery store, gas station, mechanic, doctor, pharmacy. And he knew that nowadays you could live just about anywhere and get just about anything thanks to the internet and UPS. He also knew he could live anywhere for two years and move on if he didn’t like it. So the decision was made and he was now a resident of Three Rivers.
He arrived on a Sunday and spent the day unloading the contents of his trunk into his new home, a dilapidated single wide he’d found cheap and that he could always turn into a rental if this didn’t work out. There wasn’t much to move, a couple suitcases worth of clothing, a box of books, a good lamp, a duvet he’d gotten from an ex that he’d kept in the breakup. He’d furnish the place with garage sales or IKEA if he had to. The furniture was irrelevant. He’d already ordered a new mattress and it was set to arrive the next day. He could tolerate the floor for one night.
Move-in complete he went for a stroll. It being Sunday the town was quiet, businesses closed, a thing he’d have to get used to but was charmed by.