A Story a Day #34: Hernando Tellez
March 17th, 2020
"Just Lather, That's All"
A formidable man comes into the protagonist's barber shop and asks for a shave. He is the Captain of the local military and in charge of killing and torturing rebels. As the shave continues, we learn that the barber is himself a rebel and contemplates how easy it would be to kill him right then and there. But he does not want to be a murderer and does not do it. On the Captain's way out, he pauses and says that he was told that he would kill him and that killing isn't easy.
Though very short, this story was very suspenseful the entire time. There were very real stakes that either one of the characters could die at any moment. Held in a tentative suspense, I kept reading quickly to find out what happened. Although it seemed to end on a rather anti-climactic note (no killing) it was equally as thrilling. I had many questions. So the Captain knew all along? He trusted that this man was a coward or simply thought he was not a rebel? Will the barber be killed now that he's been exposed? We don't find out these answers which makes this story even more appealing.
I love the way that tension is built slowly despite being such a short story. Things unfold very slowly as more and more details are revealed. We know that the man who comes into the shop is dangerous, but we don't immediately know why. We know the barber is nervous, but again, not why. The generally hot and tense atmosphere gives a real tone to the story. It is a very visceral read.