diary / by Edward Mullany


There’s a Raymond Carver story whose narrator, a man getting a haircut, in a barbershop somewhere in Oregon, doesn’t utter a single line of dialogue, though he is witness, by way of the mirror in front of which he is seated, to a conversation about hunting that begins between two other men who are present, waiting for their turn in the chair, and that escalates between the two of them into an argument that the barber, who is affable but firm, is able to intervene in, and bring under control, before it comes to blows, so that a silence ensues, after which one of the men who’d been arguing gets up, from his seat against the wall, and, with an air of annoyance, departs, making the remark that he’ll return later, since the company at the moment leaves something to be desired, though after a while even the other man stands, and apologizes, and goes out the door, so that neither of the men who were arguing remains long enough to get the haircut for which he’d arrived, though it becomes clear, from what the barber then says to the narrator, as he proceeds with the clippers and the scissors, as the scene continues, that he has cut both men’s heads of hair before, and that he won’t hold hard feelings toward either of them, in light of the incident, if and when they show up again, though he does happen to reveal, through his ponderous way of talking, that one of the men, the second one, the one who apologized before he left, and who in fact had started the argument, though not, it might be said, without reason, for the first man seemed to have been asking for it, due to the nonchalant way he’d recounted his hunting story...yes, the barber happens to reveal that he has known this second man a long time, and that this man has not been himself of late, for he is dying of emphysema.