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by Ashley Chantler

Graham has fucked up. It’s his day off, so he could have arrived earlier, but after a leisurely lunch reading the paper he had a bath, buggered about on Facebook, managed a wank, and rang the council about a dumped microwave at the top of his street. Now, he’s in a queue behind two secondary school lads sniggering at things on their phones and two dishevelled boys whose mum looks stressed.

He remembers when his mum used to drive him to the barber’s in Wingham. It took them at least half an hour to get there. Sturry was much closer; even Herne Bay. There was a strange jar of blue liquid that never had anything in it. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in a laboratory. Once, Graham didn’t even make it to the chair: the barber stood over him, lifted the hair above his left ear with a comb, turned to his mum and said, “Sorry, darling, no can do.” He put the comb in his top pocket. “No can do.”

Graham has never seen Karen or Ruth refuse to cut someone’s hair.

One of the boys looks at him and smiles.

Ashley Chantler is co-director of the International Flash Fiction Association (IFFA), and co-editor of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press. The IFFA’s website is at http://www.chester.ac.uk/flash.fiction.