I read this short story in the 1960s, although it may be older. The main characters are hobos who discover a small flying saucer crewed by tiny aliens who project a telepathic field that makes potential threats see what they hate the most. The main character hates to shave, so he sees the aliens as small razor blades.
I read this short story in the 1960s, although it may be older.
"See?", a short story by Edward G. Robles, Jr., available at Project Gutenberg; first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1954, which is available at the Internet Archive. You probably read it in the paperback anthology Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales edited by Isaac Asimov and Groff Conklin.
The story seems to have been inspired by a novelty song:
Well, there was this song a few years back. You know the one. Phil Harris singing about a thing that you couldn't get rid of, no matter what you did, a thing so repulsive it made you a social outcast. Never thought I'd see one, though. Dirty Pete found it.
The main characters are hobos
We're hobos, understand? Now a hobo is a different breed of cat than you think. Oh, people are getting educated to the idea that a hobo will work and move on, whereas a tramp will mooch and move on, and a bum will mooch and hang around, but you still find folks who are ignorant enough to call us bums.
who discover a small flying saucer crewed by tiny aliens
So, the four of us wander across the field and, sure enough, there was this silly looking object lying there. It was about eighteen or twenty feet across, and two feet thick, and I nearly made a fool of myself. I almost screamed when I saw six straight razors crawling out of a hole in its side.
who project a telepathic field that makes potential threats see what they hate the most.
"Look, fellows, suppose you were a being from another planet that wanted to take over here. Suppose, further, that you were rather small and relatively defenseless. To finish the suppositions, suppose you were a positive telepath, with not only the ability to read minds, but also the ability to create visual and tactile hallucinations. How would you protect yourself?"
A light began to dawn, but I didn't say a word about it.
The Professor continued. "If you could do all this, you'd make yourself look just as useless as possible. To Pete, you'd look like a bar of soap, because he never uses the stuff. To Sacks, you'd look like a shoe, because his dislike for shoes is evident in his mind. To Eddie, who is proud of his beard, you'd look like a razor, while to me, you'd look like a bottle of booze, because I dislike its effects intensely. In other words, you would assume an imposture that would assure you'd never be picked up, except by someone like Pete, who would see in you a salable item, even though not a usable one. It may be, Pete, that you have saved the world."
The main character hates to shave, so he sees the aliens as small razor blades.
Show me a man who doesn't let his beard grow once in a while, even if it's only for a day or so, and you've shown me a man who thinks more of social pressure than he does of his own comfort. And show me a man who says he likes to shave, and you've shown me a man who is either a liar or is asking for punishment.