Don Celestino held his brother’s thin hair and trimmed the very tips, then whisked away the remains with his comb. There was no point in arguing with him. He came around the chair to get a better look from the front. The left sideburn needed a little more adjusting. He cupped his brother’s chin and turned his head a few degrees to the left, then back toward the center, and then ever so slightly to the right. The only thing left to do was snip some of the hairs along the rims of his ears and growing out from his nostrils. After he ﬁnished he reached into the bottom of his tackle box for a small oval mirror. Then he swiveled the chair around so the old man would have his back to the larger mirror hanging from the closet door.
“Tell me if the back looks good, the way you like it.” He handed him the oval mirror but ended up holding it himself when his brother had trouble keeping his hand steady enough.
Don Fidencio peered into the small mirror, trying to make his eyes focus on the reﬂection of his image. He felt conﬁdent that his brother had done a good job with the back, the same as he had with the front and sides, but he wanted to see this for himself. He stared into the mirror and turned his head this way and that way, as if he were really examining the ﬁner details of his brother’s work and not the cloudy image of what appeared to be the back of a man’s head, though not necessarily his own.
“So, what do you think?” Don Celestino turned the chair back to its original position. “Is it good that way or you want me to cut a little more?”
“IF IT WAS ME, I WOULDN’T LET HIM TOUCH ANOTHER HAIR.”
They turned around to ﬁnd The One With The Hole In His Back sitting up in bed. The Gringo With The Ugly Finger and two nurse’s aides were also watching from the doorway.
“¡Qué guapo!” The One With The Flat Face said. “Mr. Phillips, don’t you think he looks handsome with his new haircut?”
“It might surprise you ladies to know, but I had a very similar haircut when I was working for Pan Am,” The Gringo With The Ugly Finger answered. “Back then, I was what they used to call ‘a looker.’ ”
Don Fidencio turned toward the larger mirror again and kept gazing into it until he could see the faint traces of a face he had almost forgotten.
Reprinted with permission.
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