|Phillipe (princephillipe) wrote in londonconfess,|
@ 2008-06-19 23:05:00
|Entry tags:||charles brinkley, prince phillipe|
(Phillipe and Charlie) Shave and a Haircut
Who: Phillipe and Charlie
What: Shave and a haircut
Where: C. F. Brinkley's Barber Shop
When: Thursday morning
Bright and early on a Thursday morning, Charlie Brinkley of C. F. Brinkley's Barber Shop was already up and about, busily sweeping the stoop of his shop with brisk strokes of a broom. The sky was clear and breezy, with fat white clouds hanging high above the heads of the citizens of London, and the sun shed balmy beams onto the hunter green awning and brightly polished brass letters of the shop. It was going to be a nice one that day, and maybe even warm. Charlie, a slender young man with a head of neatly-groomed brown waves, stood up a moment and balanced his broom on the brick wall, rolling up the sleeves of his crisp white blouse. For him it would be no day of recreation, but a day of work -- he had appointments all day long, except for this one hour here in which he had planned on doing a little extra around the store. It was spotless already, of course, as its owner was meticulous, but it never hurt to give the razors a little extra sharpen or the scissors a little extra oil. The floors of the store shone with fresh wax on their wooden faces, and the chairs had not a scratch or flaw in their dyed green leather. The mirrors were otherworldly clear, having just been wiped down. Displays of nice beeswax hand cream and lavender scented hair gel decorated the front counter. Finished sweeping, Charlie went inside and turned his sign from "closed" to "open".
Charlie didn't have to wait long for his first customer to breeze into the shop, the bell on the door clinking merrily to signal his arrival. The customer was a tall young man dressed in a dark gray suit with slicked back blonde hair and somber blue eyes. He stood just inside the doorway and scanned the shop with his eyes, shifting from his right foot to his left as he removed his hat and folded his suit jacket over his arm. He appeared to be a creature of habit, for he had shown up on the exact same day at the exact same time one year before.
Charlie perked up at the sound of the bell and smiled automatically, a big, healthy grin with full displays of white teeth. "Hello, hello! Good morning, and welcome to my barber shop!" he greeted the man, setting aside his box of combs and coming up to the front of the desk. "I'll take your hat and coat, sir. What can I do for you today?" He offered both hands out to take the man's articles, a dark wood coat rack waiting to hold them on its outstretched arms.
Without returning Charlie's smile, the customer transferred his coat and hat to Charlie's arms as though they were just another part of the scenery. "Shave please," the man requested. His voice was low and distracted, with foreign notes that fourteen years in England hadn't been able to completely erase. He raised his hand and ran it slowly over his head thoughtfully before he added, "And a haircut."
Charlie was used to difficult or quiet customers. It was very early in the morning, after all, and he found that his first few customers of the day were usually grumpy as they were still halfway asleep, or only awake to do some unpleasant yet important thing. It was best to be extra-nice to them, or else the tip might suffer. Nodding to the man, Charlie perched the hat and coat on the hanger, making sure they were nice and straight and unwrinkled, before stepping further into the shop. He paused at one of the chairs and indicated it with a wave of his hand. "Here you are, sir. Might I offer you a cup of hot tea as well? It's on the house."
The customer paused for a moment as though considering Charlie's offer. "Yes," he decided finally. "Cream and one lump." That taken care of, he turned and strode to the offered chair, his polished shoes squeaking slightly on the waxed floors. He sat using the armrests for support and immediately crossed one long leg, resting his ankle just above his other knee.
A table covered in a velvet cloth, one of the finer things Charlie had purchased, held a shiny silver platter upon which rested a fresh pot of steaming water and delicate ceramic teacups especially for customers. He was very proud of the set-up, having saved for three months to afford the platter itself. He had placed a lettered card that said "serve yourself" before it, but customers rarely dared, and so he served the tea himself. Carefully, he poured the water into a cup with a hiss of steam, and then dunked a metal cage of tea leaves into the water. When it was dark enough, he applied a spot of cream, and then with little tongs dropped in a sugar cube and with a diminutive spoon stirred it together. The ready cup went onto a plate with a delicate doily, and this he served to his customer. "Here you are, sir." Charlie said invitingly, giving him the cup. "Are you new to the area?" He had to admit, he hadn't seen the blond anywhere before, and if he had he was sure he would have remembered -- the man was gorgeous! It was going to be a pleasure to work on him. On the work station, he took a bowl and a bottle, and worked the liquid into a rich lather with a shaving brush.
A line appeared between the customer's brows as he took a careful sip of tea. "No, I've lived here most of my life," he said, setting the cup down with a little clink. "In fact, I believe I came to this very barber shop one year ago. It's interesting that you don't remember my face." After all, he was constantly surprised by how many people did recognize him. Then again, he took care to avoid scandals, and he hadn't been mentioned except in passing in any reputable news publication for about three years.
"A year is a long time." Charlie sighed, setting the bowl down. "Let me take that cup for you..." Unfortunately it was time to give up the tea, because it was time to replace it with a warm towel on the man's face. He took the tea cup from his client and set it close by on the station, and after doing so lifted the lid of a discreet stoneware bin and removed from it a moist towel he'd heated over the fire earlier. It was only pleasantly warm now, and Charlie gently set it over the lower half of his client's face. He was standing behind him now, reclining the chair just enough that he could look down at his client's face and smile amiably, wrinkling the corners of his brown eyes. "You should come to see me more often." With nimble hands, he gently began to massage his client's face while the towel sat a little, softening up his client's skin for the shave. His fingers started near the temples of his forehead, deftly working down his cheekbones and around his eyes.
The towel felt nice enough on his face that the customer didn't regret giving up his teacup. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath through his nose and willing the frown line between his brows to vanish. He was too tense, and it had been far too long since his last haircut. He had come to Charlie's barber shop because Charlie was known for his discretion and his talent, and his fingers were nimble and strong and soft. Bit by bit, the customer allowed himself to relax into the massage.
To see a customer soothed was one of Charlie's favorite things about the business, and he felt his own face relax into a more genuine smile of serenity. He noticed that little line between his client's brows and put the tip of one finger to it, gently rubbing his brow line into a more pliant state. Massage finished, he removed the towel and picked the bowl up, giving the foam a light stir before swishing it over his client's chin. "You have very nice hair." he complimented. "It'll be a pleasure to work with. Such nice color you have." Some guests disliked small talk, so he stopped there, picking up the blade he freshened earlier and drawing it cautiously up his client's jaw. The spent shave cream was flicked expertly into another little bowl on the station. In no time at all, the client was clean-shaven, and Charlie dabbed off the remaining shave cream with a wet cloth. Now it was time for a cooling splash, a bit of lightly-scented liquid to calm the skin. Not that Charlie ever gave anyone irritation. He was too careful.
The customer kept his eyes closed throughout the shave. After Charlie brought out the cooling splash, he spoke for the first time in a while. "That smells nice." Shifting slightly in the chair, he decided to make some small talk of his own. Normally it did irritate him, but Charlie's cheerful chatter seemed an extension of the barber's personality. "Do you get a lot of business from upper-class customers?"
Charlie chuckled obligingly at that as he rounded the chair, opening a draw in the station to pull out a simple linen cape. "Yes, I do, actually. I recently did Lord Wandsworth's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony. The bride wore daisies. I can't say that it was a typical choice, but it worked for her. Such a curious little nymph, she is." Behind the client again, he tied the cape on around his neck. "What style would you like?"
The customer waved his hand dismissively. "The color choices at that wedding were extremely tacky. I think women plan their weddings so that they are the only ones who look decent." Shifting his attention to his hair, he looked into the mirror and ran his hand over it thoughtfully. "I don't suppose you can tell what it looked like before it grew out. I don't like to change my appearance overmuch."
To say the least, Charlie was surprised by the customer's assertion. "Truly, now? You were at the wedding?" he remarked, both eyebrows raised high. "Well, then... that's very interesting. I do suppose that's a woman's perogative. After all, it is her special day." He brushed his own hand through his client's hair, giving it a soft ruffle along the top to see the way the hair fell. He could see the lengths well enough, and reached over for his scissors. "Do pardon if this is too personal, sir, but were you invited on the groom's or the bride's side?" With the measure of his comb, Charlie took a few even snips off the back.
"Oh, my family is rather well-connected," the customer said, closing his eyes once again and letting Charlie work on his hair. "This requires me to make an appearance at all sorts of social obligations. In the case of the Wandsworth wedding, my cousin was good friends with the groom's family. So while I am only acquainted with Lord Wandsworth in passing, I sat on the groom's side."
"Ah, I see now. I was on the bride's side. That's how I missed you." Charlie hummed gently, swiftly trimming up his client's hair. The back was finished now, so he moved around to groom the sideburns with measures of his comb. The story of connection was one he heard time and again, and it didn't seem to phase or impress him an awful lot beyond a polite smile. He didn't want to speak into his client's ear while he was trimming his sideburns, so he finished first the left, then the right, and answered again once he he was back to fixing up the top. "I'm too curious, sir. What is your name?" It wasn't really important for him to know, as so far it sounded like Charlie knew at least fifty people like this gentlemen, but he was always indeed curious.
There was a long pause before the customer answered. "Phillip," he said carefully. "Phillip Leopold." It wasn't actually a lie, but more a shortening of his true name. Charlie's customer was, in fact, Prince Phillipe of Belgium. Like the other members of his family, Phillipe had no surname, but he had five given names. Although Charlie was known for his discretion, Phillipe wasn't comfortable sitting in a barbershop, confessing that he was a prince. He hoped that Charlie was either not as connected as he claimed, or that he wouldn't make the connection right away.
"Oh." That was all the answer Phillip got from the serenely smiling barber, who moved around in front of him now to comb his hair. His eyes were fixed upon his bangs, combing them to the side fashionably. "I'm very pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Leopold." He couldn't think of a Leopold family at all. Who in the world were the Leopolds? Ah well. Charlie gave his services to whoever could pay. It didn't really matter. "We're about finished here. Do you prefer the scent of lemon, rose, violet, or spice?" He was talking about the scented gels in little pots he had on the station for fixing Phillip's new hairstyle.
Phillip was silent a moment as he thought. He made all of his decisions, no matter how trivial, in this slow, deliberate manner. "I'm partial to the scent of rose," he decided at last. He raised his hand to the back of his head, testing out his new haircut. "This is acceptable," he said.
Charlie waited patiently, taking the time to towel off his scissors and slip them into a glass for cleaning later. "A fine choice." he asserted, picking up the mauve bottle and tapping a coin-sized dollop into his palm. He rubbed his hands together and worked the cream around, before spreading it through Phillip's hair. "Perfect!" he chirped, smiling brightly once more. "You look dashing, sir. I'm so glad you approve. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Phillip studied himself in the mirror for a moment, tilting his head back and forth. Finally he shook his head. "Not today. I may return next week, however." Reaching into his pocket for his purse, he pulled out a handful of coins and offered them to Charlie. "Is this enough?" he asked, knowing it was much more than enough.
Charlie accepted the coins from Phillip and rolled them in his palm, taking stock of them only very discreetly so as to create the illusion of trust. My goodness, what a fabulous tipper! He had to come back with haste! But he still did not want to make a big deal out of it lest he looked peasantlike. "That will do very well sir, thank you kindly. Would you care to make an appointment? I would be delighted to see you next week." With a charming look, Charlie flipped open a thick book bound with brass rings on the desk, and picked up a fountain pen. "I have an availability on Thursday."
"Thursday is fine," Phillip said, replacing his purse. He stood up and brushed invisible hairs from his tailored shirt before adding, "Same time as today." Satisfied that he was looking as pristine as when he had come in, he looked at Charlie expectantly.
Charlie scrawled down Phillip's name in the space next to that time, and then took a card from a brass holder and wrote it again on the card. He straightened up, offering the card to Phillip. "I do so look forward to seeing you again, sir. It's been a pleasure." He seemed very genuine in his assertion, his eyes meeting Phillip's calmly. No, he wouldn't mind staring at this one all day long if he got to. But that was best kept to himself.
Summary: Charlie unknowingly entertains Prince Phillipe at his barber shop, earning himself a nice tip and possibly a repeat customer in the process.