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Wigs & Ripov
by Albert Russo

That morning, for some inexplicable reason, a number of people in Ripov's neighborhood awoke completely bald. This state of affairs stirred the individuals concerned to band together in an association that called itself 'The Hair-Rooted Crusaders.' It was an impromptu set-up, and, as such, it had no specific aim other than that of lamenting in chorus over its plight. Its motivation stemmed primarily from a sense of dismay and bewilderment.

Full of compassion, Ripov decided he'd do something about it. Thus he went to his little Italian barber and spelled out the situation. Wigs! The idea sprang almost simultaneously into the minds of both men.

Yes, the little barber would supply himself with a quantity of wigs to save the whole association. As for Ripov, he would rally up the bald folk and convince them of the appropriateness of such a proposition. (Let it be stressed that Ripov's intention was of a purely altruistic nature. No strings attached - he emphatically declined the twenty percent commission on sales offered by his Italian partner.)

The news spread like simmering lava, and the next morning about fifty people cum dog and/or cat presented themselves at the barbershop. Amidst a cacophony of slurs, moanings, barks and meows, Ripov struggled to calm down the party by lining them up. He had to raise his voice so that they would keep quiet and behave.

“You will all be attended to in due course,” he assured them, adding, “and please, don't panic should a wig not fit you. The right sizes will be delivered to us as soon as possible.”

While the first customer-victim was trying on a wig, Ripov addressed each person with a kind word. Some whimpered, others sniffed. They all looked so disconsolate! Even the dogs and their feline arch-enemies seemed to appreciate the gravity of the moment, for they too stood still.

As Ripov inadvertently stroked the gleaming head of a young woman - she was queuing up next to her husband, right behind their two children and pair of cocker spaniels -, the facts suddenly dawned upon him. A hair-raising discovery indeed! Those poor souls he was taking care of were either singles or members of a household and all of them had one thing in common: they were cat or dog owners.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Ripov. “Cru-, cru-crusaders ...” he went on uttering. Then, oblivious of the crowd, he mentioned something to the effect that he had once cast a spell on animal owners because he deemed it criminal that humans should use a cat or dog to have them as servile playmates.

Berore he knew it, Ripov was running for his life, protecting his head from which tufts of hair had been pulled out. Flying like a daft eagle, Ripov eventually escaped the mob.

Ripov has now joined a circus. No one would ever imagine that those three bald patches on clown Ripovski's head are anything but a wigmaker's whim.