Where the 'Angry Young Men' Are

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, December 16, 2006

Darrell's barbershop was as quiet as a monastery this Saturday morning -- an alarming development in a shop that always does a booming business on weekends. Owner Darrell, regular barbers Bobby T. and Boogie, and barber trainee Fatmouth were sitting in their chairs at 10 a.m., waiting for the first customer to come through the door. Clearly something was wrong.

"What could it be?" asked Bobby T., breaking the silence. Boogie, who always has something to say, just shrugged.

"Man, this place is usually jumping about now," Darrell said.

"Think the police are conducting another roundup of brothers?" asked Fatmouth, putting into words their worst fear. Peering out the shop's picture window, he said, "Man, the streets are empty."

Minutes later Jerome the trash talker entered the shop. He fancied himself a know-it-all. Jerome was once overheard bragging to a new customer, "Yeah, I predicted David over Goliath."

Darrell, resigning himself to enduring minutes of foolishness before receiving the truth, plunged ahead and asked: "Jerome, where's everybody?"

This time, Jerome didn't play around.

"Man, they're gone," he said.

"What'd you mean 'gone'?" asked Boogie, anxiety rising in his voice.

"Just what I said, my man -- gone," replied Jerome.

"Gone as in what?" a now-aroused Bobbie T. demanded. "Gone as in disappeared from the 'hood? Dead? Gone as in day-old bread"?

"Read my lips," Jerome said, grinning. "Gone as in -- gone to Iraq."

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