A Close Shave - Part 2 - A Craven Danger Mystery
Craven Danger sat in the barber’s chair and did what he always did when he got his haircut. Closed his eyes and hoped for the best.
He knew Angelo was a lousy barber, but he was cheap and convenient. Located directly across the street from his office on East 88th street.
Angelo liked to play opera and to explain the goings on to Craven while he mutilated his hair. Craven enjoyed the ritual. He felt, somehow, that he was getting a cultural education. And that it was well worth the six bits he paid for it.
“This is a beautiful aria being sung by the peasant woman Ramona,” said Angelo. “She cries for her Pasquale, who has gone off with Carmela the prostitute. He has told Ramona it is only so that he will be a better lover to his one and only Ramona. That the woman means nothing. And that he is willing to spend his very last dime to make himself a lover worthy of the woman he hopes to marry.”
“And she buys it?” said Craven. “I don’t see it. The woman I know around here woulda fed him to the dogs a long time ago.”
“You don’t understand Italian culture, Mr. Danger,” said Angelo. ”We are a passionate people.”
“I don’t have ta know any Italian culture ta know ya don’t get nowhere bein’ a heel.”
“If you don’t want me to play the opera no more, Mr. Danger, then I won’t play the opera. Maybe I’ll play some of your fancy pants music like, Jeeppers Creepers, Where’d You Get Those Peepers?”
“I love that song!” said Craven. “Me and Betty play it back at the office all the time. But I come here for the opera, Angelo. And I like it even better when I don’t know what they’re sayin’. I like ta make up my own mind. That maybe she’s singin’ about what a swell guy she’s got in Pasquale. And how happy he’s gonna make her.”
“If we had people like you writing the opera, Mr. Danger,” said Angelo. “They’d burn down the theater and hang you by your ankles. I mean, who’s going to pay good money to see a happy opera? People come to the opera to see people being miserable. They want to leave the theater sayin’ ‘Hey, my life ain’t so bad after all.’”
“Well, if it’s all the same to you, Pasquale,” said Craven. “I’ll make up my own mind about what’s goin’ on in them operas. You just work on the hair.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that, Mr. Danger,” said Angelo. “I’ll give you such a haircut that your own mother wouldn’t recognize you.”
“Did you have ta mention my mother?” said Craven.
“What’s the matter?” said Angelo. “Don’t you like your mother?”
“I like her just fine,” said Craven. “It’s the man she lives with that gets my blood goin’”
Back at the office, Betty Fletcher screwed the lid off of her fountain pen and put the finishing touches on Vivien Leigh’s mustache.
“There, that’s better,” said Betty. “Just try kissin’ Gable with that crumb duster.”
Then it was off to the bakery to order a pumpkin pie for Craven’s mother.
“I never met a fella’s mother before,” said Betty. “This is gonna be somethin’”