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December 14, 1940 - Image 2

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1940-12-14

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Page Two

'PERSPECTI VES

THE BURNT LEMON
...Continued from Page 1

ta with dust-strings and old insect-
'.1b coated with woodsilt which accum-
ul:ted on it for so many years.
Not until later did he remember that
thers would be no servants' entrance,
that even if there were one it would
be closed.
Igo one lived there to let him in any-
way.
By himself he passed it, noticing the
wall, high and thick, and the doors,
douile and dusty, set in a pointed arch-
way black with shadows and age and
sum~.ounted by uncounted series of cu-
pOii , noticing, too, the black space un-
de'_ing the house like an indentionless
colar. If this were all a face, thought
'Cii-r. and if its main front tooth were
'oo'' the door would be open; and if
-its aide black collar were removed, it
would no longer support the face in its
4ioverings.
.at the main tooth seemed neve1 to be
ioose nor the even black collar removed.
Oscar rather enjoyed his nights now.
ha's following morning it would be evi-
denot in his shaving technique. His
.itrolkes were varied, deft, poised and con
fidet. So that Mr. Dorpenny nodded his
approval even when Mr. Williams was
tine chair.
CEN OSCAR got back from the shop
one late afternoon he expected that
:tight would be the ideal time for the
a idream to come together. He hoped
s,:syway, because despite the joy of it,
Is was beginning to get very worried. It
ristrbed him not to know what was
gliiii on.
te planned carefully for the nightly
cc ct. He had avoided thinking too hard
or overstraining himself that day be-
r cs he wanted to be in adequate con-
cii ion for it; he did not want to be
ir't when he finally faced it. To be
iy was everything. Ripeness is all,
Ss know.
And so he went to bed very early,
ichosing the most conducive position he
i lC think of.
'%r. Williams," he thought, "now
disn; you interfere tonight because I'm
going to be too busy. Very busy indeed.
Ai wo't have time to discuss things or
yeas-on with you."
De even said please to Mr. Williams.
Which was unusual, for Mr. Williams
was i Catholic. But he did it just to carry
cut the dream program. Besides, he
growled to himself after every please.
"Mr. Williams, please don't appear
thia evening. Please don't disturb as
you do with the burnt lemon. This is
ros'~ to be different."
lit where was the burnt lemon, by
the way? He would have to think about
thai tomorrow.
Already he was walking along from
SthIe hop. It was as dark as usual if not
a little darker, and the arc-light tilted,
Eback and forth tossing bundles of light
dovwna the alley next to the building on
cne side and the wall on the other,
,da icing them up against the distance's
deep blue. The wall was on the left side
.es you faced the street. It was on Os-
car' left side too. But Oscar was right-
s der:._
Ft expected the gate in the wall to
'be pen. So it was. But of course that
:ap happened before when he came
wali:.ng by at night in the horizonless
1'-s; wide open, you understand. In-
so as usual, it was only slightly ajar,
en hat you could catch a glance of the
d rn neutral space between the wall and
, ir edge of the house-door by walking
lioat completely past it before looking
sk'en he had done this. Oscar turned
b i -vway around. The vacant, empty
,,; p .t was there, and the door ...
"Gut," he sensed, "the door must be
open. It's all darkness in there. That
door must be open."
Just as soon as he realized that it

was, he felt that he would have to go
in. He knew now that all the while he
had unconsciously anticipated going in
whenever it might be open. This was
what he had been waiting for. The
door to be open.
It was.
Now. Right now.
He never thought to look up and down
the darkness to see if anyone were about.
Naturally, he didn't do that. In fact,
he didn't even glance over at the arc-
light to see if it were still lighted. It Was
all right, he thought, this tvas what he
had to do.
But nevertheless he felt now as he
did when he dropped an open razor one
time and found himself catching it. They
had taken off the finger later because it
only hung by a thread anyway.
Of course he didn't have to walk in.
He just had to wish himself in and there

chair. To the eyes of the man in the
chair. He would not impatiently, seem-
ing to await some sign [rom the silent
man before continuing, waiting im-
patiently because all the while the hair
was soaring up from the still head,
pushing down from the still neck, the
silent chin, the closed mouth, and sliding
along the floor.
The beard was rolling over the chest,
gaining on the barber.
Back to work he went without a sound.
At times,: he was cutting with both
hands: shears in one, razor in the other:
shears in left hand, razor in right.
Suddenly Oscar realized that he was
standing solemnly in the room, that he
could see dimly who the barber was.
The barber was he! Oscar was the
barber! He was the one getting behind,
the one losing out. The man in the chair
with his dead eyes and his live, agile

Martin L. Dwor is is a graduate in political science and nolds a Conely
Scholarship in government. His essays have appeared in the S.R.A.'s
"Controversy."
Lawrence P. Spingarn is a graduate of Bowdoin College, Maine, and
was editor of the "Bowdoin Quill." His work has appeared in "Poet Lore."
Edward Bart, Rhodes scholar, is a graduate of the University of Utah,
where he was an English instructor last year. He is now working upon a
volume of poetry.
Yun-tsung Chao, of Canton, China, is a graduate student in chemistry,
in his second year at Michigan.
Emile Gel is a junior from Gulfport, Mississippi, majoring in English.
He is a night editor on The Daily.
Paul Lim-Yuen is a junior in electrical engineering. Before coming to
Michigan he was a scholarship student at University of British Columbia.,
Charles H. Miller, Hopwood winner in both the fields of fiction and
poetry, is a senior at Michigan.
James Turner Jackson is a senior English major preparing a novel for
the spring Hopwood contest.
Nelson Bentley is a senior English major who won a Hopwood award in
essay last spring.
Gerald E. Burns is majoring in English, and is a junior editor of
The Daily.
Irving Weiss is a sophomore in the school of L.S. and A., the recipient
of a poetry award while in high school.
David Stevenson is a junior majoring in English. In his freshman
year he won a Hopwood award in fiction, and since then has contributed
to "Perspectives"

tioning him with a glance. Thought
car: "It is twice now that he hs
truded during the night, I am unprot
ed. He can't do this, not to me. o
the barber."
But right next to the wobbling, s
gering pole revolving jerkily, with
red stripe brimming out at its thr
and running down, staining the w
as it wove in an out: near the barb
pole behind the shimmers, there was
Williams with his hand outstretched
Then who was the man in the chair
the man with the lively hair which
getting ahead of him. Who was it.
God! Ach! Who was this whose be
was pushing forward, making him 1
out, so that he was becoming more
more impatient and could not, wo
not stand it much longer.
Who was this whom he could not
dure much longer: neither his living I
in dropping curls, nor his lost invisi
eyes, nor his dead fingers which w
racked over the cold marble arm-r
Those fingers slipped once, falling
to a round washbasin standing on
pedestal beside the chair. Oscar did
place them back where they belonged.
But, a few moments later when t
were again racked over the arm-rc
they were dripping small round, d
water drops.
Yes, who was the man but the o
he had expected!
He advanced the shears along t
back of the still neck while bringing
razor up over his beard and upper che
The two together were like a big n
cracker or a sharp pincher of some ki
The razor was sweeping gently, all
its old grace and finesse present-u
changed. The shears were foreign to
hand, but performed their function ca
ably. Both were swinging up: one
hind the neck, the other in front of
neck. Both rising up and in, togeth
in good time, and proficiently, with li
tle waste of motion.
His grey heart swelled because p
haps he was clipping Time's threads
the lengthening beard and the curl'
hair like a Fate. Like'a single grey litt
Fate.
Meanwhile the instruments were o
erating smoothly. Where were Gottfri
and Mr. Dorpenny to give him a me
ingful nod?
But Oscar, the little grey man in t
one-chair barber shop in the one lar
room of the house behind the wall, w
increasing his impatience, with this e
pected man's hair gaining on him, cree
ing into a lead over him. With his rep
tation in barbering now clearly at stak
For this was the man who might be ex
pected.
Mr. Williams, who was also on th
other side of the dim shimmers, re
ceived Oscar's glance by peering
wonderingly. And now he seemed abou
to shout. On the verge of shouting wit
his mouth wide open, gaping; but n
sound to be heard. Then, too, the queer
est, most twisted look on his face. T
strangest, most peculiar expression o
his face .
If Oscar had anything to say abou
it, it would not have been his custo
to awake at this terrible point. But h
didn't have his say. So it was his cus
team anyway whether he liked it or not
And the entire night passed witho
a suggestion of the burnt lemon.
ON HIS WAY HOME from the sho
Oscar used to pass the Catholi
church. It was an ugly affair, deservin
Oscar's epithets describing it, "Ach was
zerzaust .. . dummbutter . .. hasslich!"
Built of dirty-cream stone, it looked like
a giant mildewed cheese or a pile o1
sour cottage-cheese cakes indifferently
arranged. The huge carved figures past-
ed on its sides contributed to the genera
effect, which was one of forgotten dairy
(Continued on Page Eight)

he was: past the wall-door, not remem-
bered past the house-door, hardly re-
membered; and drifting into a dimen-
sionless room which was all space with
no limits.
N FRONT OF HIM there was a bar-
ber's chair with a man in it sitting
quietly. A man silent, but his hair still
growing because he was but newly dead.
Worse than that , it was growing inord-
inately fast. "O too fast," thought Os-
car, "faster than I could keep up with."
And so it was. For the hair was getting
ahead of a little grey barber working
over its creeping mass. A little barber
in the gloom, with thin grey cloth pulled
over his barber's chest. With a great
pair of shears snipping snipping. snip-
ping, clip-ip-ip. At a clip-clip-clip. De's-
perately he was shoveling up huge mas-
ses from the lengthening beard, almost
ripping them off. Yes, almost wringing
them off . . . rip, clip-clip. On and on.
The man in the chair was quiet but
his hair was. growing faster and faster
and more smoothly, curling out of his
head and running down from his chin
like a baby's milk.
Now and then, in the darkness, the
grey barber would swing the chair
around to presentthe black, hidden mir-
ror to the lost eyes of the man in the

hair was gaining on him. On Oscar the
barber.
He fell to tying up huge strands in
looping knots. Must keep it off the
floor, he thought. No one to sweep.
At first, he couldn't see who was
standing outside of the shop window.
For there was a shop window beyond
him now. Just like his shop. And back
of its foggy, cellophane-like glimmer.
old shadow-blown and night dusted,
who was standing-looking at him?
Who was watching him?-holding out a
hand with something in it; but still
spying on him. He coudn't help it if he
were getting behind. He was a good bar-
ber. The best in his, shop. He had bar-
bered for thirty years. This washis most
difficult case. The hardest job he had
ever had. This was not just any bar-
bering assignment to be done without
thought. He had never had any practice
in this sort of thing. Well of course
not!
To be sure he was getting behind,
but that was no reason why a peering
person outside, behind the foggy glim-
mers, should wonder at him, should
peek at him.
Who was it? Yes, yes it was . . . it was
...no other, no other, why ... Mr. Wil-
liams! . . . Mr. Williams. looking in on
him again, bothering him again, ques-

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