The Proposal (Part 4): Destiny’s Place
As Mr. Fate entered the shop, he embraced Mr. Destiny and quickly, Kelly joined in. It was good to see her old customer from America, but in the short time she had been in London, Mr. Fate had changed. He looked older, even feeble.
After all three of them exchanged words of greeting. Mr. Destiny said, “It is so good to see you, but I didn’t expect to be here.”
“I didn’t either my friend, but circumstances have changed our plans.” Mr. Fate responded. I had hoped to see you in America in a few weeks, but our appointment had to be moved up.” Mr. Destiny put his hands under his chin and both index fingers over his mouth for a long minute, as if to consider the situation.
Finally, he offered: “Well, we will just have to make some adjustments after we bring Kelly up to speed, what?” Mr. Fate looked down at the floor just slightly and said, “I’m afraid so.”
“It’s time we had a talk Kelly,” Mr. Destiny said, looking her directly in the eyes.
With that, Mr. Destiny lifted up a piece of molding in the oak paneling and reviled an electronic device of some sort. He put his right eye close to the device and a section of wood paneling snapped ajar revealing that it was a hidden door activated by a retinal scanner…a heavy door.
Mr. Destiny swung it open and invited Mr. Fate and Kelly into a beautiful living room. The light of a big crystal chandelier came on as soon as they entered and Mr. Fate walked over to a huge fireplace with two chairs in front of it. He pushed a button and turned a knob and blue and yellow flame engulfed a stack of logs that had already been stacked in the fireplace. He pulled a third chair from across the room and invited Mr. Fate and Kelly to sit down, as he asked what they would like to drink.
Once they got settled in, Mr. Destiny pulled his chair close to Mr. Fate and asked, “Please tell me how you are doing.”
“The prognosis isn’t good, the cancer has progressed and I don’t have much time. Maybe just days.”
“Then we will just have to adjust the plan to that schedule,” Mr. Destiny said. Kelly looked at her friend. Fragility made sense now. She got up, bent over and gave him a long hug, dropping tears on the back of his shirt. “I’m so sorry.” Was all she could say. Then she added, “I will pray for you.”
“I knew you would. That is part of why you are here.” It seemed a cryptic thing to say, but as she sat down, Mr. Destiny turned to his new progeny.
Kelly, “I’m sorry, but I thought we would have more time. Make yourself comfortable because what I’m about to tell you will be a little overwhelming; but please, just listen to the end.”
He went on, “Mr. Fate knows a lot of what I am about to tell you, but he only knows a fraction of the story. I am not just a barber. My official title is
Cinerius Audientes, in Hebrew my predecessors were called Sapar Maazinn. Roughly in English, I am a Barber Listener. I am one of a long line that dates back to ancient times. Since medieval times we have served the aristocracy of Europe, and sometimes Asia and Africa, and almost exclusively, the military. However, more recently my services have been requested by some women inside and outside the military, a few in the new world.
Kelly couldn’t help herself interrupting. She had worked her way through college as a barber, and she had a degree in Latin and a minor in History. She decided to stay in the profession that put her through college. She said, “The Latin means ‘Hairdresser Listener’.”
The two men grinned broadly, “You are correct.” Mr. Destiny explained, “I am a hairdresser listener.” He went on, “In the beginning, men seldom cut their beards like they do today, but they did cut their hair.”
“I told you her Latin would come in handy,” Mr. Fate quipped.”
Mr. Destiny took a deep breath and after a long pause he said. “Kelly, when a man is dying, he is forced to face his past. There are some secrets that carry a shame too deep to share, even with a minister, for fear that his confession will be rebuffed.” That is where I come in.
“It is well documented through the ages, that a dying soldier will try to position his body the way he will want to be found when he is gone. Often laying straight and crossing his arms across his chest. It is the same on the inside. In the end, it is between them and God and I am only there to listen, not to judge.” They bear their conscience while I give them their final haircut and shave. There is little on earth that can make you feel better. And I listen to them.”
Finally, he took Kelly’s hands and said, “You are here to take my place.”