(With thanks to James Franco)
Frank Malaise sat slumped in the barber’s chair, reeking of sweat and onions. His folds of pale fat covered him like a quilt made of bacon rind, swaddling his weak frame just as, far beneath his rib cage, they swaddled his anaemic heart. One day that heart would give out and his funeral would be attended by every person whose life he had touched and whose love he had earned in his time on this planet – which is to say, no one.
‘Hey,’ he called across the barbershop. ‘I haven’t got all day here.’ This was true. His plans for the afternoon included poor-quality microwave meals and wallowing in his own ignorance. In response to this petulant demand for service, Sid the barber stalked across the room and stood behind Frank. He paused for a second, his scissor blades hovering near Frank’s neck.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, directionless hatred bubbling in the pit of his soul. Sid was a deeply unpleasant man, subject to misanthropic murderous rages that he liked to think of as his “purging” instincts. His wife, herself a morbidly obese and profoundly stupid human being, took perverse pleasure in adopting a chirpy, sing-song voice as she warned Sid that one of these days he would “flip his lid.” The truth was that one day he would, that blood would be spilled and that the world would be better for it. God, I hate people.