Every two weeks they met. Every two weeks they looked into each other’s eyes. They had been doing this for years and years.
When Gareth had first met Harry, he had been a student in the local seminary. They had been handed a book on etiquette.1 which recommended that seminarians should get their hair cut at regular intervals. So he had asked one of the lecturers where could be recommended, and ultimately he had met Harry.
All those years ago, Harry had not made it to actually cutting hair. Back then, he looked after sweeping the floor, welcoming men to the shop, and making sure the barbers had all the requisites for their trade.
Gareth first came to the shop with a couple of other students. The age-old “always in threes, never in twos” applied as much in the diocesan seminary as in the monastery.
The rough-and-ready atmosphere in the barber’s shop was a polar opposite from the family-life of Gareth’s colleagues. They found it hard to speak to the other men there. Not following the local football team (or any at all) there was little common ground.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Gareth didn’t follow the football either, but he did have a passion for music. Having a passion for anything helped here: that and having the gift of the gab.
Over the first year, the other two seminarians drifted away from their regular short back and sides, and eventually it was only Gareth who came back fortnight by fortnight.
Over that same year, Harry progressed from chief dogsbody to apprentice barber. No longer did he have to run around after others: there was a new dogsbody now. Harry was starting to learn his trade.
The two young men, met like this fortnight by fortnight, month by month, year by year until the week before Gareth’s ordination. Harry knew that the seminarians would study for seven years and then be gone. He didn’t expect Gareth to be any different. He had seen other more senior students leave: never to be seen again.
So when Harry asked Gareth what he was going to be doing in a few months’ time, he was surprised to hear that he was being sent to the adjacent parish. Gareth was pleased he could come back and get his hair seen to in his usual haunt.
And so it continued, the young men grew into slightly older men: growing up both in themselves and in their chosen vocations. Fr Gareth was moved about the diocese quite a lot by his bishop to gain new experiences, but he always came back to the same place for his regular appointment. And Harry was always there.
Roll on more years, Fr Gareth was appointed as a lecturer at the seminary itself. Nowadays, the students didn’t care for etiquette, nor for hair lengths as he had been told he needed, but for any particular student interested he would recommend the local barber’s shop.
By now, the shop itself was called “Harry’s” as the original owner had died. Fr Gareth was there the day that happened and was able to administer the last rites. After the funeral, Harry and Gareth had sat talking about what would happen now. A man came and talked to them both, thanked Fr Gareth for all he had done: arranging the funeral, sorting the grave, and then turned to Harry and gave him a letter.
The letter told that the old man had had no family. The closest thing he had was Harry who he had taken on as an apprentice about twenty years ago. He had left his whole estate to Harry as he had shown so much promise, attention to detail, and was much in demand as a barber. The two of them sat there stunned.
Fr Gareth turned, and said “I’ll see you next week then, Harry.”
Harry replied, “Aye, you will, but do you really need to come in at all?”
“Of course I do, every two weeks, you know me.”
“Regular as clockwork you are.”
Harry was sure that his old friend knew he didn’t have the hair anymore that needed cut. His friend was practically bald. But they enjoyed having a coffee at the end, and sitting talking, putting the world to rights.
Fr Gareth kept coming in, every two weeks. He knew that Harry had to work to try and find hairs to cut, but he loved the touch of the life-long friend. It was the closest he would ever come to a mate.
The touch from Harry as he cut his hair was the most sensual touch he had ever had. Secretly, he was in love with his barber. He had always been so, but he could do nothing about it.
Nothing, except come back every two weeks.
1. Social Manual for Seminarians was written by Reverend Thomas F. Casey and Reverend Leo C. Gainor, O.P. with a foreword by Richard Cardinal Cushing.
2. This fiction was written in half-an-hour where the writing prompt was the title.