You never know who is going to sit in your chair.
I’ve been a barber my whole life.
My dad was too.
He always said the trick to a barber shop
is to keep them coming back.
You got to know your customers.
With some you talk, others you don’t.
The Racer came into the shop with some guy in tow.
We asked the guy does he want a cut, but he says he’s good.
He must not have mirrors in his house.

The Racer doesn’t know I follow his career.
I never bring it up.
Don’t want it to get awkward.
Oh, I follow the gossip
on Facebook, and on TV.
He isn’t a talker.
He only comes in before a race,
always wants to be his best.
I guess that’s part of his game.

I’m all business when I give a cut.
For him, I take time to do the detail stuff.
He’s a good tipper and his repeat business
tells me I get the job done.
I tilt his head forward to trim his neck,
then straighten up his sideburns.
How can this man with such an angelic face
be such a desperado on the track?
He’ll bump and bang you, then push you out to the wall.
It’s all fair as long as you don’t knock’em down.

On the Mile, he knows when to pull the trigger.
He’ll make impossibly fast laps,
drafting past them when it matters.
His last lap antics made him a legend.
The riders shake his hand on the cool-off lap,
but you can tell they’re gutted.
Trimming his brows, I look into his eyes,
and can only imagine what they have seen.

What kind of rider wins? The ruthless rider. [Bryan Smith, by Andrea Wilson]
His friend is some kind of reporter.
He asks The Racer the same questions
in different ways
but The Racer doesn’t blink.
His one-word answers make it clear
he doesn’t want to talk about it.
The reporter will not give up.
He’s wants the dirt,
but The Racer doesn’t take the bait.
I guess there is honor among thieves and desperados.

Holding up the mirror, I show him my work.
He nods his head yes, hands me the cash,
thanks me, pats my shoulder, and heads for the door.
But pauses to grab a lollipop.
He might be a beast on the track,
but there’s still a kid in there.
Yeah, just another day at the shop.
“Who’s next?”

 

Michael Lawless [@electric_horseman], our ‘Poet of Packed Earth’, is the Flat Track Editor for TheVintagent.com, and has his own blog: Electric Horseman
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