Wednesday, December 23, 2020

"A Dangerous Maniac"

PRIMARILY BECAUSE OF a lack of information, mysteries can manifest themselves almost anywhere, such a one being . . .

"The Barber-Shop Riddle."
By R. K. Thompson (?-?).
First appearance: The Cavalier, July 1910.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at (HERE).
     "Put me out of my suspense!"

Believe it or not, there was a time when a man walking into a barber shop could expect to get a shave and not just a haircut, but our protagonist, living over a century ago, will discover to his amazement that it ain't necessarily so . . . .

Principal characters:
~ John Arthur Barnes:
  "They say I'm cured."
~ Clancy:
  "The divil, ye say!"
~ The desk sergeant:
  "His face, as he listened, turned from angry red to smiling, natural pink again."
~ and various tonsorialists.

References and resources:
- "a Black Hand bomb": "Black Hand extortion was a criminal tactic used by gangsters based in major cities in the United States. The Black Hand was a precursor to organized crime (Mafia) although it is still a tactic practiced by the Mafia and used in organized crime to this day." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "with my collar off": In those days men wore detachable collars, "invented by Hannah Montague in Troy, New York, in 1827, after she snipped off the collar from one of her husband's shirts to wash it, and then sewed it back on. The Rev. Ebenezer Brown, a businessman in town, proceeded to commercialize it. The manufacture of detachable collars and the associated shirts became a significant industry in Troy." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
A detachable collar circa 1910.
- Dire doings in a barber shop have been the subject of a play and a film made from it (WARNING! SPOILERS! Wikipedia HERE).
- We can't find anything other than today's story either by or about R. K. Thompson (FictionMags HERE), the only possibility being a Find A Grave entry (HERE) about an octogenarian who passed away in 1911.

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