“Boy, let me show you something. Stand here… yes, just there.” He dug through his pockets for a moment, until he found what he was searching for: a small wedge of white chalk. Mumbling to himself, the Barber began to pull the chalk here and there, in lines, in swirls, in curves and in dots.
“Now. What do you see?” he said, gesturing to the mess of symbols.
“I don’t know. It’s an explosion!” Ethan simulated the explosion by jumping and swinging his arms out wide.
“Guess again. But first—step backwards a little.” He took Ethan by the shoulders and pulled him back.
“WOAH!” Ethan exclaimed. As he stepped back, the lines and dots, though still in the same place on the pavement, seemed to move together, until they combined to make a face, with swirls for eyes, a toothy smile. “How did you do that!” Ethan danced around the Barber, throwing his arms into the air.
“Just a bit of trickery,” the Barber tapped his nose with the chalk, leaving a white smudge. “Well, anyhow, the Earth is much like this drawing here. When you stand so close to the earth, as you and I do, It doesn’t much look like what it really is: A giant ball. If you stepped away from the earth a ways, you’d see this for yourself. Yes, a giant ball, slowly rolling around through the air. Now, lots of folks have their own thoughts on where this great ball came from, why it’s rolling slowly through the air. I, however,” the Barber straightened up, raising one hand in front of him, like an actor, “Know for certain. It began a long time ago. Before I was even born, before the sky woke up and laughed for the first time. Two creatures called Robbleramps where playing a game. I can’t tell you exactly how they look, as I wasn’t there, but from what I’ve heard they’re hairy. Very hairy. Indeed they have so much brown hair covering their enormous bodies that their eyes look like shiny black beetles in a patch of burnt grass, and when they speak it’s in a muffled kind of ‘RRmph’. Now, these two Robbleramps were playing golf. One of them, named RRmphrMMM, (the Barber pronounced this with a kind of hum at the end) was grumpy because the other Robbleramp was being difficult. The other Robbleramp, RRmphrRRH, (the Barber pronounced this with a little shout at the end) was bored of the fields they usually played on. He wanted to perfect his game. There was a glint in his little black eye when he thought of himself, raised onto the shoulders of his fellow Robbleramps, shouting his name, having just been made their king. Golf is the center of every Robbleramp’s life. Every one with sense, anyway. The Robbleramps whose game was flimsy, were made to eat garbage, which was mostly made up of bent and broken golf clubs. Don’t ask me how they eat with all that hair, that’s a question left to a Robbleramp specialist. The Robbleramps whose game was mighty became leaders, with one chief leader called the ‘RRRRR’ (the barber growled reverently).
RRmphrRRH had dreamt for many years of becoming the RRRRR (a passerby on the street looked at the Barber amazedly, and pulled her child away around the nearest street corner) and had heard that if you hit a ball off of the Cliff of Strangeness, your game would become mighty. The reason none of the other Robbleramps dared to hit a ball off the Cliff of Strangeness is because it was considered cheating, and cheating, if discovered, was punishable by banishment into the ocean of stars. The Cliff of strangeness was not exactly a cliff at first, rather a slant, and then a drop. On this slant are all types of sticky things unknown and unexplored to Robblerampkind.
So, RRmphrRRH strode gallantly forward, through the mustache jungle and past the lake of… er… shaving cream, into the wild unknown. As they reached the last of the mustache trees, and broke out into the great spacious Plain of Strangeness, their breath was snatched away from them, as if two invisible hands reached down and plucked it out of their mouths. It was a glorious sight. The solar wind was breezing gently, and the ocean of stars lay spread out against the atmosphere, almost filling up their entire eyes with its hugeness.
RRmphrMMM exclaimed that it was too much a sight to behold for long, and pleaded that RRmphrRRH hit a ball off the edge and be done with it. RRmphrRRH shook himself out of his Strangeness-trance, and walked up to the edge of the Slant of Strangeness. After peering over into the hazy, mucky purple fog that covered the slant for a moment, he laid a ball into the red grass and took a few practice swings. At last he laid his club up against the ball, drew back, and THWACK! (the Barber made a knocking sound, and then made an arc with his hand accompanied by a whistle) The ball soared! It pierced the sky! It was RRmphrRRH’s finest shot! It dropped, down into the purple fog, and found the slant, and began to bounce, and to roll, through all the muck and gloop and unexplainable things. First it rolllllled forward through some very blue very wet strangeness, and thus oceans were wrapped around the golf ball. And then -- BOUNCE! And with that, the great plains of Africa were stamped onto the side of the golf ball. BOUNCE! America! BOUNCE! Iceland! After the last BOUNCE, which some believe to have been Australia, it came to the edge of the cliff, and stared over the unbelievable space that lay out before it. The Earth gulped nervously… and fell, fell fell. And today, it is still falling. Falling and rolling slowly through the air. And someday, there will be a great BOUNCE, when we hit the floor of the bowl of the ocean of stars, and who knows what will happen then. But I wouldn’t put much thought into that, it won’t be for a very, very long time. “
The Barber finished his tale, grinned and bowed extravagantly to Ethan’s applause, which was absolute magic to him. A small clique of townspeople were standing at a distance, and one of them muttered that he would never put himself under this particular man’s scissors if he hadn’t known him to be an excellent barber in spite of his lunacy, to which the rest nodded and “Hmph’d” in agreement, and parted to their various day’s entrapments.