Peter Chowles

Damon Runyon

Peter Chowles was a nice man. He was also a first-class barber.

He had No. 1 chair in the Star Barber Shop. Everybody liked Peter Chowles.

He was always singing as he worked. He had a low, bass voice. But he gave good shaves and haircuts.

Peter Chowles was married to Letitia Soors, who was very beautiful. Her father was old Sim Soors, the plumber. Sim was no account, but Letitia was an excellent cook, and would have made Peter Chowles a splendid wife if she hadn’t been so beautiful.

Everybody but Peter Chowles knew about Letitia and Irving Burkestrom, who was president of the Burkestrom Dry Goods Company. He had plenty of money, and a black mustache.

Irving Burkestrom was very proud of his black mustache. He would go to the Star Barber Shop every day, and have Peter Chowles shave him, and wax his black mustache, and then Irving Burkestrom would go out in his big car and meet Letitia Chowles, and they would have a good time together.

Irving Burkestrom said Peter Chowles was the best barber in the world. He liked to have Peter Chowles sing to him while he was getting shaved and having his black mustache waxed.

Irving Burkestrom was about forty years old, and seemed very healthy. He always boasted he never had been sick a day in his life. Once he chinned himself nine times hand-running on a door to prove how well he was.

Everybody in Our Town was therefore greatly surprised when Irving Burkestrom died in Peter Chowles’ barber chair one day when Peter Chowles was shaving him and singing to him.

Peter Chowles hadn’t got around to waxing Irving Burkestrom’s black mustache when he noticed Irving Burkestrom was dead in the chair. It was a shock to Peter Chowles. He hated to lose such a good customer as Irving Burkestrom.

The Coroner held an inquest over Irving Burkestrom, and it was decided that he had died of heart disease. He was buried in Riverview Cemetery and Peter Chowles sent a nice wreath.

Letitia Chowles did not even attend the funeral.

Someone once asked Peter Chowles what he was singing to Irving Burkestrom when he died. Peter never told anybody but Letitia that he was singing to a tune he made up himself for the exact words of a love letter from Irving Burkestrom to her that Peter found in her handbag, and that all the time he was singing he was keeping time by stropping his razor.