They Died with their Boots On

“I never shot anyone, saved anyone, or did anything other than slog along.  The Russians did the real fighting, but we came home the heroes, most of the Jews were dead by the time we got there and half of Europe was lost to Stalin, none of us wanted to fuck with the Russians.  It was easier to fuck hungry women for a pack of cigarettes or a pair of nylons and come home and get a job, a house, a car, wood cabinets to hold God knows how many boxes of Jell-O and become hypnotized by Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Uncle Miltie, cheap gas, Disneyland and Las Vegas.”

He coughed into a phlegm caked handkerchief.

"Billy wanted to teach high school English after the war.  Me, well I guess you already know, a barber – barbers used to be the doctors, bleed people to heal them – can’t do a thing anymore with these hands, that’s why you’re here.  Did you bring it?”

He looked at me with yellow eyes.  I took a velvet bag out of my pocket, opened it and let the straight razor fall out on the table.  The handle was inlaid with ivory.

“Open it.”

I did as he asked.  The blade reflected my eyes, the edge honed sharp.





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