El último afeitado, but it’s just part of business

Jul 20, 2017

Guillermo had never liked being told what to do. He only liked doing the telling. All who knew him knew this about him. If they didn’t, then they came to know his rage, as poisonous and swift as any Mamba bite.

When he was little, his mamá had grated on him with her shrill voice until he screamed, begging for relief from her incessant rebukes and directives. When he was old enough to have the faintest facial hair, she had added its care to her list of his daily personal requirements. Her directive for him to begin shaving was the effort at additional control that pushed him over the edge.

It was on that day, when he was twelve, he had warned her to stop. But, she just tilted her head back and laughed at him. That was, until he paid an older street boy to take her finger. It was only a little one and on the left hand but it was enough. She had shut her trap after that.

He paid her well to help his business as he grew older, giving her plenty of money for the things she never had. That shack on the side of the hill near Soldados hadn’t held much for her and Guillermo. He knew she would never forget the past, no matter what he bought her or how carefully he selected her exquisitely appointed domiciles in Cuenca. She remained a private woman, keeping her gloves on at all times. Guillermo knew she despised the stub and always kept it covered from both herself and others.

Guillermo didn’t have a daddy, only a father who he never knew. He didn’t know if his mamá even knew who had knocked her up in some trash-blown back alley 58 years ago. None of that mattered now though, Guillermo was “El Jefe” of everything in southern Ecuador.

Guillermo controlled every facet of his business with fear. In the end, the deaths of men and their families was what got things done. He didn’t view himself as a bad guy but only as a shrewd businessman. After all, he always hoped for the best. He hoped for those who could have immediate and conciliatory opinions. It mattered little to him their sincerity, only their respect and the money that it earned him. And that money he earned, well, it was more than the country’s national debt, if you could believe what the newspapers printed.

So it was and had been for many years now, what was it…twenty? A long time with not a lot of trouble. It was cheaper to not have to kill men and their families if you could help it and the bottom line was simply a result of that, more money in Guillermo’s coffers. He offered his special encouragement to all he knew but occasionally, a fool was blind to his patience and kindness.

It was an occasion like that today as Alejandro had been skimming from the indigenous haulers in the western section of Guillermo’s business. It was unfortunate as Ale was a long-time and key lieutenant in the organization. He was a young sociopath with a head full of brains who had climbed quickly and ruthlessly through the organization. Guillermo had seen this scene unfold a few times before.  Ale was indeed a very bad man, cunning as a fox and with more guts than a hog, Guillermo thought.  He had sensed that an attempted takeover was imminent but soothed his anger by laughing quietly, though sadly, at Ale’s plans. Guillermo never soiled his hands with hard jobs. He pawned them off to his various fixers depending on what sector needed fixing. However, in the case of a direct challenge to his organization, he always personally handled the fixing. Guillermo felt it best that if his men thought Ale had more guts than a hog, he would remind them he had the cunning of a tiger and the guts of an elephant.

Guillermo was a man who attired himself neatly yet unobtrusively. He knew the finer things of life but, in his good judgement, maintained a low profile. He was, however, obsessive compulsive about his grooming and could never reconcile himself with his unshaven face. He knew it was one of his few idiosyncrasies. He had a pact with himself; he was always well-groomed before embarking on an exercise of fixing.

Rubbing his face slightly, he was irritated at the stubble he felt there. For some reason, shaving was such an irritation to him. He didn’t know just why. The distaste for the razor had been with him since he was a child. Other grooming never gave him a second thought, only the damned shaving. Still again, he seemed compelled to keep a clean face and found himself occasionally getting two shaves a day whether a quick stubble check indicated he needed them or not. You’d think a man with all his resources and money could have figured it out, how to stay clean shaven and still avoid the razor, the act of shaving.

Once, he let his beard grow slightly and availed himself of a wax removal. My God! At the first tear, he sprang from the chair like wild animal! He had beaten the man at the spa almost dead and walked into the street with dried wax and torn beard hanging from the corner of his jaw as the silk spa sheet trailed in the wind behind him. It was like a flag of victory, he thought. He knew then that there wouldn’t ever be a last shave, at least while he was breathing anyway.

He stepped quickly up from the curb and entered one of the several barber shops he owned in El Centro.

Coming from the streets, he liked to stay in the streets. Even if it wasn’t the safest way to operate; it afforded him that particular feel for his business that nothing else ever could. He imagined his organization as a living, breathing body and his presence as the hand of a personal physician who constantly kept the pulse of his charge. Sure, he could have afforded the luxury of any discriminating barber of his choosing but Guillermo liked moving about the city. He remained at the helm of his business like a sea captain at the wheel of his vessel. Nothing evaded his eyes or ears as he read the sea of concrete landscape before him. Or, so it would seem. Guillermo paused for his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the barber shop.

The razor’s a little dull, thought Mateo as he began to drag it across Guillermo’s face. A man sat in front of Mateo facing the top of Guillermo’s mostly bald head. Two days had passed since the gangland snuffing had occurred. They were chatting quietly as Mateo worked.

“Yes, please, don’t let it worry you,” Mateo said softly to the man as if not to disturb Guillermo during his shave. “You know as well as anyone it’s part of his reputation, he always keeps one eye open, no matter what,” Mateo again informed the man, who seemed a little twitchy.

“I’ve never seen the likes of it anywhere, it spooks me!” repeated the man for about the fourth time. “Take care of it again,” the man ordered.

“I will in a minute!” retorted Mateo without thinking as he stropped the razor to a keen sliver of an edge. “I told you a lazy eye was lazy, dead or alive!”

But Mateo had spoken too harshly, even challenged him, the man decided. He didn’t like the eye of his recent prey, Guillermo, lolling open, lazy or not. And, he fully expected the mortician, who was shaving Guillermo’s face for the last time, to do exactly as he directed, when he directed, and to again close the lazy yet very dead eye of Guillermo Chavez Juarez Martinez.

It was at that moment that Alejandro Felix Mostos Vera decided that the mortician would be his second murder of the week on his newly claimed soil. After all, didn’t the deaths of men and their families bring respect, and respect…money?

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