Just Lather, That's All

by Hernando Téllez

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What had Torres previously ordered (before coming to the barber's shop)? Why did he want the town people to see this? According to Torres, what will happen at six in the evening?

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Before coming to the barber shop, Torres had ordered four rebels to be shot. He then ordered the entire town to report to the patio of the school and to file before the bodies of the dead rebels, who were mutilated with bullet wounds. He wanted the townspeople to see the dead bodies so that they would be afraid of rebelling against him and his forces.

He tells the barber, who is the narrator of the story, to report to the school at six o'clock that evening. Torres's plan is to show the bodies of the rebel soldiers he has captured and who his forces might have already killed. He says that he has captured 14 rebels and that they will all die, so it is likely that at 6 o'clock, he will display their dead bodies, as he earlier displayed the bodies of the four killed rebels.

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According to the story, Captain Torres had ordered the execution and the hanging of four rebels at the local school prior to coming to the barbershop. On that particular day, he had made the whole town file into the patio of the school to witness the mutilated bodies of the rebels. Captain Torres' aim was to ensure that the whole town understood what the fate of those who rebelled would be.

As Captain Torres sits for a shave in the barber's chair, he engages in conversation with the barber. He invites the nervous barber to the school at six o'clock that evening. When the barber questions Captain Torres' intentions, Captain Torres tells him that he plans to have a newly captured group of fourteen rebels executed. The captain answers cryptically, however, when questioned as to how he plans to execute the rebels.

"Come to the school today at six o'clock." "The same thing as the other day?" I asked horrified. "It could be better," he replied. "What do you plan to do?" "I don't know yet. But we'll amuse ourselves."

When the barber timidly asks whether Captain Torres intends to execute the whole lot, the captain replies in the affirmative. The story ends with Captain Torres admitting that he came to test the barber, implying that he knows all about the barber's secret revolutionary activities.

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