I knew the owner of the restaurant and he knew me, but with all that crap on my head he had no idea who he was dealing with. He rattled the stick back and forth.
“You go away! I call the cops!”
“Hiroshi, it’s me… Don’t call the cops! For God sakes..!”
He cocked his head. “Who you?”
“It’s me, Andy from next door!”
He let the cane down and leaned on it, immediately relieved, even at ease upon recognizing who he was facing.
“What the hell you doing?” he giggled.
The girl and her mother watched the exchange warily from the entrance of the restaurant. Meanwhile, the building super, a big joker who spends most of his time minding other people’s business, was glad to find me on the street in a bind.
“Hey Satch!” That’s what he calls me, “You’re lookin’ pretty!” He leaned the weight of his fat little body back on his hips and laughed into the sky.
“Sorry guys,” I said, with my heart still thumping, “I got to go now.”
“Hey, good-looking! Hey Satch! Wait a minute..!”
But I was already half way down the block. Luckily I had decided to venture out in my get-up during mid-morning. The street was only spotted with pedestrians, but all of them had something to say as I passed by.
By the time I hit the door of the drug store I’d almost forgotten why I had made the trip. I arrived out of breath, with no rehearsed routine and still shaken from the run-in with Hiroshi.
My man at the register gave a double take that almost pulled him off his feet when he got a look at me; it must have been some sight - all the panting, the dripping colors, and the shower cap to boot. Then I caught a look at myself in the convex mirror when I approached the counter and burst out laughing.
That didn’t help my plan much.
“Say,” I burbled over the counter, “I was just in the middle of this… this here business with my hair…” I pulled a wedge of the shower cap near my ear and let it thwap against the side of my head. A narrow stream of pink and neon green shot out onto the tiled floor.
“Oh! Sorry bout that!” I said, delirious with laughter.
My friend leaned over the counter to get a better look. I was surprised by his restraint; it must have been his nature. I certainly wouldn’t have put up with that kind of behavior.
“It’s you!” he declared with a hand to his forehead.
“It’s me! Yes, it’s me!”
“But, sir…” he fumbled.
“We’re not in Kansas anymore, are we boss?”
“Where are who?” he asked, delicately.
“Oh, never mind,” I said, coming down a notch.
“You are in the middle of something?”
“Yes, I’m in the middle of something. You can see I’m in the middle of something?”
“Of course!” he said, offering his palm toward my head. “Look at that!”
“I know, I know! That’s why I’m here.” I stomped.
A woman walked into the store and we both turned to watch her enter. She took one look at me, turned around and walked out without looking again.
“Sir, I can’t let you – you’re going to have to…” he looked after the door and his voice trailed off.
“Look, I’ve just got a question about this… This!” I pointed to my head.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Why, it’s the stuff I’ve been buying all these days for my hair! You know, I’ve been in here buying all this crap to – Say, don’t you remember me buying all this crap?”
“No sir, I’m sorry but I don’t…” he shrugged and offered his palms a second time.
“You mean to tell me that you haven’t even noticed that I’ve been buying all this stuff? I mean – You ring it up! You check it out!”
“But, sir...,” he said apologetically, “I am so busy here!”
"I know you’re busy, that’s not…” I let out a long deep breath.
“Are you going to tell me that you haven’t noticed?”
“Noticed what?” he asked, blinking.
“Noticed what? Notice what?” I was squealing. “You haven’t noticed how similar our hair is? How much we’ve got the same balding thing going on!?” I tapped the shower cap again.
He stared at me silently from behind the counter. I continued.
“I mean - it’s been years now! Years! You must have noticed!”
“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You don’t,’’ my mind raced. Was it possible? Was it me? All along was it me?
I pulled the shower cap off my head and wiped a handful of green and pink off and onto the floor.
“Just look at this, would you? Just take a look here!” I leaned over to show him my head. When I pulled back up he wasn’t looking at my head at all. He was staring, stock still, at the splatter on the floor.
“Sir,” he said, mournfully, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“I’m sorry, sir. You’re making a mess; you’re frightening the customers. I have to ask you to leave.” He looked sad.
“But I only wanted to…”
“If you don’t leave, sir, I’m going to have to call the police.”
“But I thought you always knew…”
“I’m picking up the phone now. Please leave.”
“Don’t you want to talk about our - aren’t we..?”
He pointed towards the door. I hung my head and turning, gave one last attempt to speak. He pursed his lips and strengthened the muscles in his outstretched arm.
Well, as I said, it’s been a week since I had that bright idea. Now I’m sitting here and there’s no toilet paper left in the bathroom. There’s no dishwashing detergent either. I suppose I could hump it four blocks to the grocery, it’s not a bad walk, but I don’t feel like it.
I’ve been using the all the cleansers, and volumizers and all the rest of the stuff a couple of times a day now. I’ll use it until it’s gone. My wife tells me that the owners of the drug store don’t want me to come back there anymore. She stopped in when I asked her to pick up a few things but they recognized her and said they wouldn’t sell her anything because it might be for me. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right. It just doesn’t.