What makes the story so suspenseful in "Just Lather, That's All"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    The suspense in Hernando Tellez's short story, "Just Lather, That's All," comes from the expectation that the barber may use his razor on the throat of his adversary, Captain Torres. The reader knows from early in the story that the barber is secretly a rebel, who obtains as much information as possible through small talk in his barber chair. The barber has a grave decision to make: whether to kill the captain, who has murdered and tortured so many of his friends and comrades; or to provide him with what he comes for--a shave, "just lather, that's all." The barber's dilemma stems from his code as a barber, to never spill a drop of the customer's blood. But if he does not kill Torres while he has the chance, the captain will spill more rebel blood. In the end, the barber provides a shave and keeps his hidden identity intact, only to discover that Captain Torres has a secret of his own.