My friend is glistening in my hand, shining like silver. Smiling at me, telling me to go on.
I smile back, a cold smile that doesn't reach my eyes. Should the customer see this smile, he would think it is the smile of insanity – and I wouldn't blame him.
But he cannot see me, he cannot see the look on my face. He can probably sense the razor getting closer and closer to his skin, but he isn't worried.
Why should he? He asked for a shave, and I'm the barber. The barber of Fleet Street.
He's been babbling since when he got in. I have no idea of what he's saying, nor do I care – but God, the mere sound of his insufferably merry cheerful voice is enough to annoy me.
It's time to put a stop to this torture, isn't it, my friend?
I smile again as I rest the blade on his throat. I inhale deeply, already tasting the moment in which his blood will make the silvery blade shine with rubies.
"What do you think, Mr. Todd?"
Hearing him calling the name I chose for myself suddenly stops me. I look down at him, the razor still on his throat. "Excuse me?"
He gives a carefree laugh, completely oblivious of how close to death he has just been. "You weren't listening, were you? My apologize, I guess you just couldn't care less of whatever I said until now," that insufferable laughter again "people always tell me I can be terribly annoying when I start chattering about my daughter."
My mind is blank for a few moments, my grip on the razor loosening ever so slightly. "Your daughter," I repeat, my voice shallow and emotionless.
"Yes, my little Sarah," he said, a deep fondness in his voice. A kind of fondness that stirs something in my mind, briefly bringing back to life the man who lies there, buried under the pain, the hate and the desire of revenge from which Sweeney Todd was born.
"Tomorrow is her birthday, and my wife and I still haven't decided what could we do for her," he goes on, completely unaware of the reaction his words caused in my mind.
"How old is she?" I ask, and I can barely recognize my voice. My hands go on with their usual work as if on their own accord.
"Almost five," the man says proudly "and she can already speak correctly, you know. She uses words I didn't even know existed!"
I bit my lower lip, tasting the blood as I go on with my work. Benjamin Barker never got to see his daughter's fifth birthday. He was long since gone by then – Sweeney Todd had already taken his place.
I finish shaving him as if in a dream, my mind lost in bittersweet memories – Johanna's first smile, so similar to her mother's, and the day her father brought her a doll…
I press the razor on the customer's throat once more, Sweeney trying to take control once again…then I remove the razor and put it down, my eyes lingering on the blade one more second. "Here you go, sir," I hear myself saying as I hand a towel to the man.
He rubs his cheeks, clearly satisfied with the shave. "My word, Mr. Todd, you truly are the best barber in London. How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing," I hear my voice saying, and I know it's Benjamin Barker who's speaking now.
He seems surprised by my answer. "But, Mr. Todd, I cannot accept…"
"Go back home. Go to your wife and daughter. It's the greatest gift you could do for them both."
The customer is clearly taken aback from my reply. "But…"
He gives me one last glance of surprise as he thanks me and finally leaves, closing the door behind him. I glance at my silvery razor – it's still smiling in the light despite everything, knowing that his moment will come soon anyway.
I smile back again, the smile still not reaching my eyes, and glance out of the window to see the customer walking away. I realize I never asked his name – not that it bothers me. I will never know his name, and he will never know he's a survivor.