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21. Doves 23. Meeting the Queen

August 23th, 2020

Testament 2

'Of course you'll be clean.' 'Sorry?' 'Do you want to shave now?' Absolutely not, he thought. Why do I need to shave? I'm seventeen, there's barely anything there anyway. 'Sure, why not.' He gave a little laugh that the Hair Lady was kind enough to reciprocate. 'Here's a razor.' The woman handed him an electric razor. He had never used an electric razor before. He only needed to shave once a fortnight. Was this the moment he learnt how to use an eclectic razor? Was an electric razor something you needed to learn how to use in the first place? He'd seen it done before of course a thousand times, his dad used one, and there were plenty of shaving ads on TV showing chiselled men with perfect skin, the blades gliding smoothly through the perfectly placed foam. She hadn't offered him foam so that cleared that up, no foam. 'Thanks.' Turn it on, that's got to be step one. He sat up in the chair, looking at himself looking at the razor. He arranged his face which looked to naive. Where was the ON button? Surely he could get away with not being used this model? Or is there a standard power mechanism. 'Aha.' He muttered out loud when the switch clicked and the razor buzzed into life. He looked up quickly but the hair lady was somewhere else anyway. He examined the top of the razor. The top? Is that what it's called the bit where the blades are? The front perhaps. Gazing into his own eyes, his mind slipped up and out of his body and hung overhead, watching intently as he slowly brought the razor to his cheek. The experience was not unpleasant, the minuscule teeth roughly brushing across his face, Slicing deftly through the few short hairs that they found there. He started with his cheeks, the big fleshy bit first he thought, less chance of scratching anything. Then he went under the neck and found that it moved quite easily over his chin without catching or rubbing. Soon he was moving like a pro, as though he'd shaved every morning for the last twenty years and knew the ins and outs of his follicles like they were maps on Call of Duty Modern Warfare II. The edges of his hairline trimmed he moved onto the top lip, secretly enjoying the tickle as he moved the razor over the bumps under his nose. It reminded him of a cat, sniffing inquisitively at his face when he'd eaten something messy, licking his fingers his tongue smacking around and about. Top lip clean he moved to the bottom, pushing his lower jaw out so the hairs clinging there stuck up and where scythed by the humming chin-mower. The woman came back, just in time to stop him curiously start shaving his arms, or the arms of the chair, or the mirror. Instead he looked hopefully at her, for some sign that he had shaved correctly, which, of course, she did not give, only took the razor a wrapped the cable around it, packing it into a small cloth case that she tucked away in a big canvas bag before coming back to the boy in the chair. 'That'll do you then I think,' she said, 'Thanks for coming in.' 'Right,' he said, cheerily, having not been sure what to expect, he had no idea when he was done. On the train home he texted his girlfriend and told her everything that had happened like he'd been inducted to the Hall of Fame and spent the night being wined and dined at the Bellagio. Once the fear of the unknown had past, excitement was an understatement. ——— Another early train, much earlier than the last. Before the morning commuters could crowd the short platform he was on the train to London and positively bouncing with anticipation. Off the train at Kings Cross and the tube down to Greenwich. Sitting on the front seat of the DLR and pretending to drive (they've got stickers on the consoles now so you can push buttons and pull levers). At Greenwich he followed the directions on the piece of paper he'd printed the night before in case he forgot the way, though there were small orange triangles cabled-tied to lamppost that helped him out, as long as he wasn't accidentally following a bicycle road-race. The Old Naval College at Greenwich has been used as the backdrop to as many films as there are stories set in an indiscriminate time in the past. The big open squares of Paris in Les Miserables are there. The opening of a Pirates of the Caribbean in Georgian London. The grand pillars and dirt/mud streets evoke a sense of a Victorian world, where traffic runs haphazardly under a smog sky, and the men go busily arguing while the ladies waltz daintily under parasols. The boy arrived and was pointed, on recognition of his minor role, towards a building which was being used as the extras holding bay. In the film the outside would be part of a shot, the windows tinted slightly to hide the costume rails and trestle tables inside. He was directed to the men's changing area and found his uniform amongst a dozen others, in a section that looked rather more put-together than the higgledy piggledy collection of regular Londoners. The scenes were V day, a huge celebration as the news of victory made its way through the wires to the capital, where the people took the streets in wild celebration. A few soldiers were present, wounded mostly, or by chance on leave. The rest were factory workers, street sweepers, traffic wardens, washer-women, bankers, advisors, jailers, and vagabonds, the rag-tags and stiff upper lips together in joyful celebration of nearly a decade of pain. The lead, having heard news of their brother's (or lover's, or both) death, acted a stark contrast to the jubilation as they pushed their way through the conviviality.

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