Hidden in the shadows of Rimini lies a bar called La Brezza. Most nights Rimini's gin palace heaves with people looking for a flash of lightening. But tonight is Monday and the gin palace is quiet. A red neon sign on the back bar mirror advertises 'Blond Red Weiss Beer' and a few locals lean on the bar. The man with the big white beard and the cigar isn't here tonight. His son is pouring the drinks toninght. We pour in through the door. Arms laden with pizza and piadina. "You can't bring your own food in here," the barman shouts. "You can't eat the food in here," the photographer shouts. "Get out," says the barman. "Pour us a drink," says the photographer.
We occupy the big leather couch by the bar. From his spot on the wall above, David Lynch stares across the room. Ignoring the show below. He looks to the corner, where the barber's chair stands motionless. The barber and his dog sit down next to me.
"So you survived the Tsunami?" I said. "Yes, we were in Sri Lanka." "What happened?" "I was having a coffee and saw the wave. A wall of water, moving toward the hotel. I ran back to the room and grabbed my family. Then we climbed to the top of the hotel."
"We stayed for five days before returning home," said the barber. "A lot of people lost their lives."
The barber is tall and thin and has a pencil moustache. I first met him when I needed a haircut. The photographer had sent me:
"His name is Sandro," he said. "Don't be fooled by his appearance. He is the best in Rimini."
I left my first visit to Sandro smelling like a cheap Italian playboy. He had doused me in the Italian equivalent of Pinaud-Clubman Aftershave. And having assured me that women find the scent irresistible, sent me on my way. Neither his haircut nor his aftershave got me laid.
Chico came over to the couch, a bottle of wine in each hand.
"What happened to the gin?" I said. "You're leaving tomorrow. Tonight we drink wine."
The big couch wrapped around a table piled with pizza and piadina. The piadina, Francesca and I had prepared earlier that afternoon. Before she had suggested dinner and gin at La Brezza.
While we ate and drank, Gio handed me a small blue heart shaped piece of paper, marked with the words senz atomica. Something to do with nuclear disarmament.
"It was the only stationery I had in the house," she said. "What is it?" I said. "Read it later." "He'll need a translator," Silvia said. "Yes, Gio's writing is a bit like hieroglyphics," I said. "I was referring to your Italian," said Silvia.
I slipped Gio's aomic heart into my pocket. Perhaps Francesca would help me decipher it later. Behind us, the photographer and the barber were examining the old barber's chair that stands in the corner by the door. While the barber tested the chairs articulation, the photographer fiddled with the lighting. These two wide-eyed lunatics were up to no good. Sandro whispered in his wife's ear and Chico pulled on his jacket.
"Those two wide-eyed lunatics were up to no good," I said.
Sandro whispered in his wife's ear and Chico pulled on his jacket.
"Where are you going?" I said. "To Sandro's shop to get the clippers," said the photographer.
And they were gone. Twenty minutes later they returned with a bag of the barber's tools. While photographer settled into the chair, the barber laid out his instruments on the table: the clippers, the scissors, the cut throat.
He was ready ... and so was the crowd.
"Sir, you have hardly any hair for me to cut," said the barber. "Perhaps if I water you it will grow, open wide."
"Just a little off the gin, I mean chin," said the photographer.
"I am wonder woman. I wonder where my money goes, I wonder how I am getting home, I wonder where my tequila is, I wonder how I ended up in this chair, in fact, I just wonder why I wonder ..."
"In my chair," said the barber. "Sandro, you cut my hair a week ago," I said. "I already look like an Italian playboy. There is no need for more cutting." "In the chair. I need to neaten you up before you leave for London." "All, right. But just a little tidy up."
I climbed into the chair and the clippers came to life, a dull hum.
"What are you doing?"
The barber does not answer, only the dull hum of the clippers.
"It feels like your carving lines in the back of my head. What the hell are you doing you lunatic?"
The barber does not answer, only the clippers hum.
"Let me free. I have a plane to catch."
The barber says nothing, only the clippers hum. And then he's done.
"Silvia, what has he done? Quick take a picture and let me see."
She takes a picture and shows me. The Demon Barber of La Brezza has struck.
Testa di cazzo.