Nice Hair

He was a hair stylist. His whole life was hair.

Tobias does hair like twenty-four hours a day, his assistant Marco told people. Tobias dreams of hair: styles, products, new techniques. When he wakes up he begins work immediately, Marco said. He sketches out ideas on his pad. I bring him coffee and breakfast. He never stops doing hair.

Marco was from Virginia. Neither Tobias nor Marco talked about their families. That was over now, their old life. All that mattered was hair. He and Marco were based in New York City but they often traveled to Paris, Rome, Tokyo, or wherever they were needed.

Tobias was very influential. Other hair stylists copied him. They were all cheats. Only Tobias was the original.

One year, during New York Fashion Week, Tobias slipped on the ice and broke his arm in the fall. A few weeks later, when he was a little drunk, Tobias fell down the stairs and broke his other arm. He was furious that he couldn't do hair. Now with both arms in casts he would walk around Marco, shouting at him, giving instructions.

Marco, we are on a deadline. Marco, focus! Focus, Marco! No, not that way. Twist the hair this way, clockwise! Marco!

Marco thought about pushing him down the stairs again, but this was good for him. He was doing more hair than he'd ever done before. He was making these hair styles come alive. He was innovating, coming up with his own styling ideas which Marco, though he hated to, said were pretty good.

As Tobias's arms healed, Marco knew it would go back to normal. He would be standing by, watching Tobias work. Which is why he smashed Tobias’s hand in a car door. More specifically, he paid someone one thousand dollars to do it. That’s all it took for this man named El Greco (his parent were fond of the painter) to smash Tobias's hand in the door and make it seem like an accident. But El Greco made a mistake. He smashed the wrong hand. It should have been his left hand since Tobias was left-handed—that would have been best.

I’m cursed, Tobias said as they took him to the hospital. He screamed at El Greco. He cursed him and threatened to sue him, to ruin him.

El Greco left for California. That’s why he needed the money, he was moving to open up a pot dispensary, he said. He couldn’t take New York anymore. Too many crazy people, too stressful.

Tobias had surgery on his hand. Marco kept doing hair as Tobias recovered. Tobias begin to miss shoots, and Marco went alone. People confused Tobias and Marco since they had always been together. There was something about their names that people couldn't differentiate. They were the same person really. People kept calling Marco Tobias and he didn't correct him.

One day, arriving late to a photo shoot, Tobias overhead someone call Marco Tobias. Later that day, Tobias fired him. He said Marco was bad luck, that everything terrible happened when Marco came.

Marco didn't have any money. He slept on the streets. He decided to walk home to visit his family in the country. As he walked, he still thought of hair. He still had his scissors. Whenever he saw a man, woman, or beast that needed a haircut, he gave them one. It's important for everyone to look good, he told the horses. Everyone should be pretty. Hair was all he could think about. He did hair like twenty-four hours a day. He dreamed of hair. Come here, little poodle, come here, Marco said. You need a haircut, don't you? You're looking a little raggedy. A haircut is important, you'll feel so much better afterwards. Come here. Don't you want to be pretty? Don't you?