Remington, Sunbeam, I don’t even know the brand, and I’ve got two of them but only one works, electric shavers and trimmers to tidy up sprouts of eyebrows and ear stuff that makes me look old and then I thought about Roy, seeing him walking with his wife and his dog and I stopped yesterday as I was driving by, dropped the window to say hello. Floyd came over to the car, leaned in, pulled a patch off of his right eye. He looked diminished.
‘How am I doing, or what am I doing?’ he said, arms on the window sill. I said how, and right then I knew it wasn’t good. His eye looked bad.
‘Got a huge melanoma in my eye. They take the eye out next week.’ He twisted his mouth, shook his head. He was fifty yards from his front door, next to the sidewalk around the greenbelt in our neighborhood, where tree trimmers hacked and buzzed the last two days, where dogs bark from behind fences and brick barbecues and under the canopies of hot tubs and gazebos, in the comfort of backyards in this comfortable neighborhood.
I stand in front of the mirror admiring my brown eyes and trimmed brows and yes, I have a few grey hairs I need to pry out or cut back like weeds that spring out this time of year—my hair grows well, Julie Ann said last week when I got mine cut—and I take pride in my well-cut short hair, I don’t have to shave it yet, the sign of either going bald or a mid-life moment gone awry.
‘Can’t talk about it,’ Roy said. ‘Or I fall to pieces.’ His wife stood by on the sidewalk holding the dog on a leash. I don’t know the dog’s name. I don’t know Roy’s wife name. I know Roy. I know Roy, who owned an auto repair shop in town that still bears his name and pays him rent on the land. I know Roy from homeowner’s association meetings and landscape committee walk-throughs where we inspect shrubs and trees, watch the lawn for other-worldly greens we need to eradicate, sterilize, do over-seeding and re-planting and the seasonal work that keeps the neighborhood property values in line even through the downward slide.
Roy knows where I live. He nodded when I reminded him. Anything you need, Roy. He nodded. I grabbed his hand and it was strong. Big hands for a man his size. He moved back to the sidewalk, kicked a pinecone, I nodded to his wife. She had a grim smile. Roy told me once he carried a gun in his compact truck when he rides around in the neighborhood, this coming after a punk robbed a person walking his dog up the street one night. The word about the robbery had gone around the neighborhood. Roy was taking no chances. Said he told the Police Chief he was packing. Wasn’t taking any chances with a gun in his glove compartment. He said the Chief didn’t seem too concerned. A Chief that let a citizen do what he thought was right and didn’t call in the National Guard or something, overreact, trusting a long-time resident in a moment of concern in a neighborhood that had a blip on the radar.
I trimmed out the grey this morning. It looks okay. Julie Ann does a good job on the hair. Two weeks before the next trim. Shampoo, a little conditioner, maybe Elia will have my neck over the bowl, rub my temples, Julie Ann taking her three-hundred dollar scissors across the top, along the sides, carefully around the ears, nice and short, little feathering around the bald spot on the crown. Nice. Check the brows next week for those little stragglers. Listen to the lawnmowers and the weed whackers and leaf blowers on Monday and Tuesday, all the machines and tools for cutting and trimming the unwanted. A scalpel going in to Roy’s eye to pull it out. A silent scream. And then what will the neighborhood look like?