Reuben's Chair

Reuben's Place is a men's barbershop with a single barber's chair and a potpourri of images and other conversation pieces. For only a few dollars, customers get a descent haircut, the chance to place their cash in an old-fashioned register, and enough wisdom to get them through the day.

Reuben is a distinguished looking gentleman whose slim frame, thinning white hair, and deep brown eyes, suggests that his profession has delivered many a story. Conversation flows freely between his customers and five visitors who stop by each morning for coffee, donuts, and "spirited" conversation. Though they appear to be retirees, like Reuben, they are angels or as they prefer to be called, guardians. It is their dialog and personal engagement that will beguile a young professional and his clients.

Alessio is a clinical psychologist specializing in anger management. On his first visit to Reuben's Place he is surprised to be drawn into the group's discussion on the personal challenges about someone everyone in the shop seems to know. But instead of just gossiping about another person's issues, the conversation turns into a problem-solving session. Alessio's concentration is sometimes interrupted by Reuben's editorial comments, bringing clarity to the story and/or challenging the trained psychologist to listen carefully to what is being said.

In time Alessio will realize that five of his clients are also customers. Art and Charlie are coaching antagonists fighting for the opportunity to take their baseball club to the nationals; baseball parents, Naomi and David are experiencing serious marital problems; and Benson is the umpire whose actions on the diamond triggers a war between good and evil.

Every encounter at Reuben's Place, Alessio's office, and a local baseball field where the story's climax takes place, will include interactions between humans, the guardians, and a number of demonic characters referred to as shades.

Prior to the story's culminating event, the young psychologist is subjected to a discourse on virtues, life's choices, and the search for happiness. As each angel spins their position, it becomes clear that their commentary parallels the troubles his clients currently experience. Confused and angered, he attempts to gather his senses as he rushes to the field where he knows coaches, parents, and the umpire will be present. What he doesn't know is that all his clients will soon be in the "crosshairs" of evil.

Alessio is shocked by the incidents on the field, causing him to rush back to the barbershop hoping to share what he witnessed with Reuben and his friends. But as he approaches his destination he is stunned to see a shingle hanging from the yellow building that reads, Annie's Antiques. Questioning his sanity, Alessio cautiously approaches the shop and looks in the window where Reuben's chair is clearly visible.

With heart pounding he goes inside and is immediately approached by the owner who hands him a sealed letter. Alessio sits down and beings to read:

"Alessio, we realize today's events have left you quite unsettled..."

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Reuben's Chair

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