Saturday, January 7, 2012
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Evelyn had not said a single word to him in the three days since the man, now known to Sam as The Pennyman, had left her at the Bazaar. She followed him around and listened very well, doing everything he asked of her, but said nothing in response to his questions. She sat in the corner of his, no, their he corrected himself, cubicle, brushing her red hair, struggling with a tough knot.
“Come on then,” Sam said, digging through the duffle he kept most of his tradable goods in, pulling out the a pair of shaving cakes and one of the pair of scissors he had pilfered on his last trip into town. He took Evelyn by the hand and led her through the corridor of stalls. He was growing tired of the silence that proceeded them as people saw them walking, and even more weary of the whispers that followed them. Finally, gladly, he found the cubicle he was looking for. “Thomas, what’ll you give me for these?”
The grizzly looking man looked out from behind his blonde bangs and smiled, his yellowing teeth peeking through the shaggy mustache he sported. “For you Sam, I’ll give you a ten haircuts and 3 shaves.”
Sam peered at the barber, “Fifteen haircuts and half a dozen shaves…”
“How about an even dozen haircuts, and four shaves, beside, the beard suits you well.”
Sam reached up and rubbed the dark stubble that had begun to grace his chin. “Ok, you have time for one of those haircuts now?” He handed over the goods as Thomas removed an index card from a stack, signed his name to the top and drew twelve circles and four squares on it before handing it to Sam.
“Hold on to that.” Thomas smiled. “Give me fifteen minutes and I will, you want me to shave your head?” He chuckled to himself.
“Nah, it’s for Evelyn, do whatever she wants.”
For the first time, Thomas looked down at the small figure that stood hiding behind Sam’s legs. “Why hello!” He said, exaggerating the ‘o’.
She huddled even closer against Sam’s legs but managed a weak smile.
“Come on, let me see what I have to work with.”
Sam prodded her and she cautiously let go of his leg, stepping out from behind him.
“Oh, I know just the thing!” Thomas disappeared further into his area. Sam and Evelyn heard the rustling of papers before Thomas returned minutes later with a picture of Taylor Swift. Her eyes lit up and she nodded vigorously.
The time passed slowly as Thomas tidied up his work area before he finally invited Evelyn to have a seat. He began to run his hands through her hair before turning to Sam, incredulous. “When was the last time her hair was washed?”
Sam shrugged. “Not in the last three days...”
Thomas let out a disgusted sigh. “Come on honey, let’s do this right.” He took her hand and tried to lead her through the building, but she resisted, looking to Sam, who nodded.
“Go on with him, I’ll come too.” Reluctantly, she agreed and they all went to the bathrooms where Thomas spent nearly a quarter of an hour scrubbing Evelyn’s hair as she stood bent over a sink. A towel wrapped around her head, they went back to Thomas’ cube and he cut her hair, cracking jokes at the young girl, trying to get her to come out of her shell again but she did not.
Once the haircut was done and Evelyn was again by his side, Sam turned to leave when he felt Thomas’ hand on his shoulder. He turned and smiled, noting the barber’s outstretched hand. Sam pulled the card from his pocket and watched as Thomas
crossed out one of the circles.
“Thanks Thomas, it’s been a pleasure.”
As they walked back towards their own place within the rows of cubicles, something caught Evelyn’s eye and she ran to a stall that had a handmade redheaded Raggedy Anne doll sitting on a table. She picked it up, first holding it at arms length before pulling it close and squeezing it tight. A young black woman watched the scene from within the cube and laughed when Sam approached. “Looks like I have a sale.”
“I’ll give you…” He felt around in his pockets and came up empty. “Uh... Oh!” Sam pulled the pistol out of the holster that never left his hip and slid a bullet out of the cylinder. “Will you take this?” He handed the round to the woman who nodded.
“Thanks, I’ll throw in that small doll there too.” She pointed at a small Raggedy
Andy, half the size of the doll Evelyn now held.
Sam grabbed it and pulled the young girl away from the stall. “I hope you like them.” He handed the smaller doll to her. “These are some expensive dolls,” he chided.
“Thank you,” Evelyn said so quietly that had he not been looking at her, Sam would have missed it. The statement was punctuated by the meal bell ringing followed by someone shouting that Anna Maria was calling everyone to a meeting.
“It has been suggested to me that as spring draws near, we should try to re-establish communications with some of the other communities.” Anna Maria was speaking into the microphone to the large group that had already assembled when Sam and Evelyn arrived. “I want James Andrews to pick three men and head north, for a week, then come back, talk to everyone you find, let them know we’re still here, Scott Hughes, you do the same and head back east. Randy, Randy Goeth? You’ve got the southern roads and Brandon Marten, you head west.”
“What about White Sands? It’s more than a week out!” Someone in the crowd shouted.
“Frank,” Anna Maria scolded, shaking her finger at the outspoken man. “You know as well as I do that it was overrun by Others before the winter hit.”
“But someone could have taken it back!” Frank called back.
“Fine, you are welcome to head there yourself if you would like.” Anna Maria smiled, thinking she had solved the problem.
“Why can’t the guy with the car go?” Protested Frank.
“Because I need him to go to Boulder City…”