By the time we saw Dud, of course, the damage had been done.
It was Steve who spoke first.
"I don't believe it," the tall cowboy said.
There, on Dud's head, was a sculpture of such blasphemous proportions as would silence all of us in attendance at the Mule Barn truck stop's philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank. It was beautiful, of course, but it was also tragic.
"They call it feathered," said Dud, turning red. "A razor cut."
We just stared at the haircut without saying anything. It curved gracefully around his ears, it waved softly in sculptured layers over the top of his head. It fell in gradually decreasing thicknesses down the long back slope of his head toward its tapered termination at the neck.
"It was Anita's idea," Dud said.
"She gave me the money for it and everything."
Finally, Doc spoke. "What's Kelly going to say?"
"That's the worst of it, all right," Dud said. "I know he's going to be hurt."
Kelly hadn't really worried too much about the future of his barbershop when Fantasy Fantails set up shop. He assumed it was a haircutting place for women who didn't want to take the time to go to the beauty parlor, and for guys who came to live in our small town from the city.
Kelly's had always been the stronghold of local manhood here. You wouldn't find a single advertisement showing a guy wearing a sweater tied around his neck. Not at Kelly's.
In the past, when magazines were magazines, you could read how some guy captured gestapo headquarters with his headhunter brides.
"Well," said Doc, shrugging. "That haircut of yours is a work of art, without a doubt. But there's at least one good thing about getting a really expensive haircut, Dud. Sooner or later, it'll grow out."
Brought to you by "Sun Dog Days," available from University of New Mexico Press at www.unmpress.com.