The father drags the razor along the camber of his jaw, over the nub of his chin, and a tiny red drop pools and hangs there. The stubble is clumped on the razor, forming an ugly trough of hair. Hot water from the tap blasts the blob into the sink and he cleans his hands, churning the water.
In the cabinet on the middle shelf, between the stuff he doesn’t use, but his wife does use, there is a space where his son should be, he means his razor.
He stares into the cabinet.
If only my son could see what I have to do everyday, everyday, all day, well not all day, particularly when that globule of fucking blood has not congealed. The red spot, he thinks, is threaded through his veins to ventricles of his bumbling heart.
But today there is no Bic. There was one Bic left yesterday nestling in the packet, ready to be plucked, cap slipped off and applied to his face.
The father hunts for his son in the living-room; the son has pulled the chairs and tipped the sofa into the corner to make some kind of shelter. The father takes away the chairs and the son is cowering with the Bic in his hand.
The father is confused, different motives cross into his mind then out again, then the motives have dialogues with each other and after some vast symposium there is still no idea in his mind what to do.
The father takes his son out into the quiet streets and takes him into the car. There is a punishment, there is something to be done but father doesn’t know what it is.
Drive. Get into the car and drive, there is something of an authority in driving, gloved fingers clasped on the wheel, with your son in the passenger seat, even though he has now inversed himself, and his shoes have printed scuffed marks on the dashboard.
In the school grounds up near the downs, at the corner of the sports field, the father spies a curious ragged shape battling with the difficulty of remaining upright. The father slows the car and the couple witness the confused man with the bruised face and mass of ungovernable hair staggering in his own hellish circle, like some spinning toy slowly withering to stop.
The man, wearing a long black overcoat, and a beard that covers his scurried face and sticks out as if the bristles were stabbed there by a huge production line of tiny torturers, stares at the car and the father with his son, his expression blank.
The father improvises a hurried admonition to his son before the man can rise:
– This is what happens without razors. This what will befall you when there are never any razors in the house. The beard is only the beginning. But leave the face unattended and the ruin will set in. You will become like the man there.
The drive back home is quiet but the son is sitting up. On the way they stop and buy packets of the razors and the son is told to put them back in the cabinet, he asks if he can open the packets to feel the tear and hear the crinkle of the packet and his father declines the request. The son slumps across the chair in the front room and picks at the material of the armrest until it becomes frayed.