Short Payback and Sides

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Hazel sat in chair, admiring her hair, flicking the fringe this way.
So glad I finally plucked up the courage to get this pixie cut last week. I’ve been getting so many more compliments and bigger tips ever since I got rid of that stupid blunt cut bob. It doesn’t take half an hour of religious straightening to make it perfect either. 
She glanced out the window and saw potential customers heading towards the door. Standing she adjusted her outfit slightly. The barbershop that Hazel worked in wasn’t traditional and she enjoyed continuing that trend by shunning the usual smock and dull trouser pairing. Today it was a red corset over a short sleeved black mesh top, flared tartan mini-skirt, sheer black nylon tights and red-on-black high heeled knee high boots. To this date her outfits had never caused any customer to turn and walk out upon seeing her and they almost always relaxed once she had them in the chair and chatting.
 
Her chair was second from the window and was a bucket seat red leather chair with matching armrests, a chrome base, footrest and details. The padding was set in such a way so the client would be most comfortable sitting as far back as in the chair as they could. Hazel’s was the only red chair with the other two chairs either side being black. One her bosses and the other belonging to another barber who only worked at the shop 3 days of the week. All the chairs faced towards the same wall which had three giant mirrors placed on it. These went all the way from floor to ceiling and together stretched the full length of the wall to the back of the shop with gaps in-between for sleeves that held every cutting instrument and product a barber would ever need. The other walls had exposed brickwork with lots of pictures of men’s hairstyles that were framed in silver. The waiting area was one long leather bench so waiting customers could watch any haircut going on no matter where they sat.
The bell chimed and Hazel looked up to see a mother with her twin boys walk in. One was looking decidedly grumpy while the other looked positively gleeful.
“Oh I’m so glad you’ve started opening on Sundays now” the mother beamed at her “I don’t have the time to take them during the week and these two always play football on Saturdays”
Hazel couldn’t help but smile to herself. Andy, her boss and owner of the barbershop, had been resistant to opening on Sundays claiming people have got better things to do than get a haircut. He had finally caved though when she had offered to be solely responsible running the shop on a Sunday and would take any losses out of her wage and add on 75% of any profits to it. It had been slow at first, she barely broke even, but once word got around Sundays were now a useful earner for her.
 
“Your first Justin, into the chair now please and no moaning” The sullen of the two boys trudged over to the chair and dumped himself into it. Hazel walked behind him and had played a little with his thick, chestnut brown hair. It looked like a mushroom cut that hadn’t been cut in a couple of months at least. His brother had the exact same style. Grabbing the nylon red cape and draping it over him Hazel glanced at the mirror and noticed his brother still looking giddy with excitement.
 
She turned to his mother and asked,  “Just a touch up?”
 
“No.” came the firm reply almost instantly “We’re going to the south of France on holiday next week and one of my girlfriends suggested these two get summer buzzcut’s so here we are. What do you normally give as that to kids?”
 
Ahhhh… so that’s why these two are so emotive. It’s time for the drastic summer clipping.
 
“Usually I do a one length all over clipper cut for kids” Hazel replied, “A number 2 seems to be what most mums prefer. Not close enough that they start to look bald but short enough that it requires no maintenance at all for a good length of time.”
 
Nodding the mother replied, “I trust your judgement miss…?”
 
“Just Hazel is fine”.
She turned back to the counter and casually picked up the number 2 guard and snapped it onto her clippers . As she did, she could see Justin glowering at his mother in the mirror.
 
Better get this over with fast or this ones going to throw a tantrum.
 
Hazel flicked the switch on the clippers and they sprang into life. The other boy was watching her intently but she wasn’t going to hang around too long and started straight down the middle of the young boys forehead. A mound of hair fell down the back of the chair, quickly followed by another and then another. She wanted this kid sheared in under two minutes and before each mound had even hit the floor she was already starting the next pass. Before he could even begin to moan he had been sheared like a sheep, she had turned the chair and he was beckoned out of it. Hazel thought she heard a grunt in thanks, but really wasn’t sure, nor cared if she was being honest.
“Ok Jake, your next!” The other boy jumped up and almost ran to the chair before climbing in.
Hazel turned the chair back to the mirror and wrapped the cape over him. He was positively beaming at me in the mirror and was happily waving his dangling legs around in anticipation. Hazel checked there was no one else coming into the shop any time soon so it looked like she was free to take her time.
 
Again the clippers jumped into life and this time the young boy tilted his head down in anticipation.
 
I guess this one hates the mushroom cut. I’ll let him enjoy this. Almost certainly means I’ve got a regular when he gets older.
She brought the clippers to his forehead and slowly eased them back. Instead of letting the trimmings fall down the back of his head though she grabbed the mound of hair with her free hand and lifted it up. Slowly she let the locks tumble out of her hand in front of his eyes and into his lap. She did this with every single pass until all of his hair was left in his lap. She even went back over his whole head twice just to be sure. Jake was beaming at her in the chair.
 
Once he was properly shorn, he hoped out the chair chiming a loud “Thank you!” as he did. His mum thanked Hazel as well as she paid, leaving a fair tip. She quickly brushed up the trimmings and tossed them in the bin, checked her blonde pixie cut with the clipped nape still looked perfect before settling down in the chair facing it towards the window. From where the shop was positioned she could see the whole square easily and could usually pick out anyone who was making their way to the shop. That was when she spotted him.
 
It took Hazel a couple of seconds to figure out who exactly it was but she knew she recognized the face under all that hair. Her old high school crush Lee. He and his girlfriend Lara were known as “L.L.” and were the stereotypical high school sweethearts. Both very pretty and popular to boot. Lara had a Thai background so she wasn’t the tallest girl in the world but had such an natural easy beauty and her black hair always shinned perfectly. Back then Lee’s hair was shorter, usually heavily gelled into spikes or a crude fohawk. Now though he looked almost like the dad of the twins who came in earlier, his black hair a long and straggly mess that did nothing but hide his face. And he was heading straight for the shop.
He got to the door and strolled in confidently.
“Hey, are you op…….Hazel?!” he exclaimed wide eyed.
She wasn’t surprised he was unsure if it was her or not. Hazel had had a habit of dying her hair unusual colours in high school and always had it long, not to mention she become much more fitness aware after she left high school.
“Ye it’s me Lee.” she replied with a smile, “Long time no see, I’m guessing you tried about as hard as I did to keep in touch with people after high school as well?”
He’s actually dumbfounded at me. He can barely hold his eyes above my neck. He never even gave me a sideways glance when we hung out at high school!
 
“How’s Lara? Are you guys still L.L.?” She knew the answer to that question. Lara was always high maintenance and there is no way she would allow any partner of hers to look as scruffy as Lee did. She had said it enough times in high school.
 
“No…no we broke up a couple of months after prom, we just started hating each other when we picked different university’s and the long distance thing clearly wasn’t going to work out. I’m back here for my brother’s wedding next week. But I’ve been told I need to get this fixed up” he gestured to the mess on his head. “I’m in rehearsals or fittings or something all next week and this is the only chance I have. I didn’t know you owned barbershop here?”
 
“I don’t own it, I just run it on Sundays by myself. Come on and get in the chair and I’ll get you all set up.”
 
She gracefully slid out of the chair and offered it to him. As he was hanging up his coat and getting into the chair Hazel checked her phone and noticed it was near as good closing time. So she flicked the off the neon “Open” sign and turned around the sign on the door before sending a quick text to her room-mate. She turned back around to see Lee sitting in the chair, one foot casually resting on his knee.
 
That’s fine. Get comfy. I really want to take as much time catching up with you as I can.
 
Hazel walked around him so he would be looking away from the window and leaned against the counter.
 
“I just want it tidied up and shaped a little you know. Nothing too difficult.” commanded Lee, almost condescendingly, “I want to see if I can pick up a bridesmaid at the wedding so I’m hoping to impress.”
 
Hazel bit back a snapped retort before calmly replying, “Oh we can get to the hair in a second. So what did you get up to after high school? Did you finish uni? What job have you got these days?”
 
And with that Lee went off into a tangent. Telling of his amazing years at university, his gap year bag packing across Australia and in general giving his life story like every man does when you ask him three questions at once about his life. It’s seemingly impossible for them to omit any detail. By the time he was nearly finished the square outside was much quieter with everything closing for the day. Hazel had discretely moved a little closer to the chair and was glad to hear the door chime just as Lee was finishing up.
 
Lee looked around and in the doorway stood a petite Thai woman with gorgeously long silky black hair.
“Hello Lee.” purred Lara.
A panicked looked creped across Lee’s face and he made to get up out of the chair. Before he could though Hazel’s leg flashed out catching him firmly in the groin with her foot. He slumped back into the chair with a groan and winced slightly as Hazel pressed down against his crotch, pinning him to the chair. She grinned deviously at him before looking back at Lara at giving her a wink. Lara returned the wink, cocking her hip as she surveyed the seen in her white tank top, denim hot-pants and skin toned lace-up wedge booties.
“Oh don’t bother getting up” piped Lara “Your not going to be going anywhere until we have a little chat.”
With that she stepped into the shop, closed the door behind here and locked it. She then lowered the blinds over both the door and the window so no one could see in or out of the shop before walking up and standing beside Hazel to face Lee.
“Oh by the way. After we broke up me and Hazel became really good friends. We’re room-mates now so she knows all about that little slut Miranda and how you were basically using me while you were screwing her on the side all the way up to when you dumped me as you went off to university. Hazel was the only one that I liked that stayed in this town and she me picked up and helped me get back on track. She got her barbers licence and I’m a lawyer for a local firm now. Oh that reminds me, don’t bother trying to run. There’s two of us and only one of you so I can create some sexual harassment nonsense and pin it on you without breaking a sweat.”
Lee just sat looking perplexed, occasionally squirming to try and ease the pressure that was being put on his junk. He gave Hazel a pleading look.
“I recognised you while you were walking up. I thought Lara might want to see you again so I sent here a little text. You talked for a good 20 minutes and never once did you actually look at my face you pig or even mention missing Lara or this girl Miranda. You deserve what’s coming to you. Now remember, don’t you dare try and get up.”
Hazel eased her foot back, allowing Lee to relax a little in the chair. She stepped away and went to the back of the shop for a couple of seconds and reappeared with a cape in her hand. It was a large and heavy, made from a satin and polyester mix that made the light shimmer and shift as it moved. Most noticeable though was the colour, bright orange.
“I don’t get to use this cape much. It was a gift from Lara as a celebration for when I got my licence. It looks a bit too flash and out of place in here but I keep it in the shop just in case of special occasions.”
She strolled behind him and billowed out the cape and dropped it over his shoulders and pulling the neckline up. Using her free hand to lift the mess of hair up she buttoned the overlapping seams and then walked around the chair lifting the edges out so it covered the armrest and came down past Lee’s knees. Standing behind him she began to run her hands up through his hair.
Looking up to Lara she asked, “Soooo…what do you think we should give our little Romeo?”
Lara smiled, “Oh I think Lee already knows what haircut I want him to have. He would always come up with some lame excuse not to get it while we were going out.”
“Lara please…” pleaded Lee, “No one will recognise me next week. And I love having it longer like this way.”
 
“Oh man up” scolded Hazel, “It’s just hair and it will grow back, but until whatever this cut is grows out it can be a reminder of your cheating bastard ways. What is it anyway?”
Lara took out her phone and starting tapping intently, occasionally pulling a face as she disregarded what she saw. Eventually she found what she wanted and invited Hazel to come and see, making sure to keep the screen hidden from Lee. Hazel took a glance at the picture and knew straight away what Lara wanted. She glanced up at Lee with a grin, quickly reminding herself of the little details of the cut she was about to do. She turned to the counter and calmly pulled forward all the tools she would need before she picked up her clippers and attached the shortest cutting blade she had. Turning back to Lee she slowly walked behind him, making sure he could see the clippers gleaming in the light. Lara sat down in one of the spare barbers chair, ready to enjoy the show.
As she stepped behind him Hazel took a handful of hair from the top of Lee’s head and forced his chin down into his chest. She didn’t want to hear any protest from him as she started up the clippers with a loud pop. The low hum from the clippers seemed to fill the room with the noise making sure all attention was focused on what was about to happen. She brought the clippers up to his neckline and held them there for a good few seconds, letting him feel the tickle and cool the steel.
Slowly she pushed up and through the mane. His hair was thick and coarse so she took care not to go too fast and risk any snagging. She didn’t want to hurt him, this was supposed to be an emotional lesson, not a physical one. The tone of the clippers changed as they chewed through the hair, almost purring as they left behind a bare strip of skin up the back of his neck. As she reached his crown Hazel flicked out the clippers, sending a mass of hair tumbling over his shoulders and into his lap. Before he knew it the clippers were back at his nape scything upwards again. A chill ran through him as he he saw his locks sliding past his eyes and felt the air slowly creep up the the back of his bare neck.
Hazel made multiple passes up the back of his head making sure to leave no hair untouched before finally realising the top of Lee’s head and letting him look up. As he did, all he could look at was the black heap in his lap which stuck out like a sore thumb against the orange cape. He tried to turn his head to see how short the back was but Hazel had been careful to cut just enough and no more. She wanted to dictate when he saw his bare skin. Lara gestured to Hazel to pause for a second before she continued the cut and took a walk behind him. Lee tried to take his hand from under the cape to feel the back of his head but it was slapped down before he could reach up. Lara stepped out of her chair ran her hand up his neck. Lee gasped loudly, he could feel nothing against her hand, maybe just the faintest hint of stubble.
“Just like that the whole way around…” she said with a smile, looking up at Hazel.
Hazel gave a reassuring nod and waited for Lara to get comfortable in her chair again. Stepping back in beside Lee, again placing a controlling hand on the top of his head, she put the clippers at his sideburn. Looking back at the mirror to make sure Lee was watching intently before again easing the clippers up, flicking away as she neared the top. If Lee’s face had a slight hint of fear before he saw his bare skin, it now changed to a look of shear horror. The tone difference was very pronounced between his slightly tanned neck and his newly shorn hair. He knew he had no chance of passing himself off as having this cut for a while. Everyone would know he had recently received one hell of a drastic haircut.
Hazel smiled a little to herself as she moved his ear forward and worked the clippers up and around them. With each movement up of the clippers so was mindful to keep to the imaginary line she had started at the back of his head. Once she had married one side to the back she moved over to the other. She had to lean a little closer on the other side and made a note when she noticed just how close she was putting her chest to Lee’s face. Usually this was a subtle tactic she would use to reel in a new male client who could be a regular, but now this was a little test for Lee and if he did as much as glance sideways he would be getting the imaginary line taken just a little higher and more hair would be sheared off. Thankfully that wasn’t required as she again married the side to the back and turned off the clippers.
Lee stared at himself in the mirror, dumbstruck. His once full head of hair had been reduced to hellish looking 1980s bowlcut and he knew even more was coming off. The worst part was no matter how hard he racked his brain he couldn’t think of a way to stop this humbling experience. He noticed Hazel had now picked up a pair of scissors and was holding them out for Lara.
Lara took the scissors, looking a little puzzled.
“You can cut some if you’d like.” Hazel smirked, “Just make sure you leave more than an inch on top.”
Lara couldn’t help but grin. She hoped out of her chair and stepped behind Lee. Pretending to ponder as to were to start cutting into the mop that was left on top of his head. Hazel slide onto the chair Lara had been occupying to watch the show for herself. Lara reached round and grabbed a section of his fringe and pulled it up. Hazel noticed just how long it was now, a good 7 inches by her guess. Lara slid the scissors over the hair a little more than halfway down and cut. The thick lock of hair came loose in her hand and she held it up like a prize before purposefully dropping it in-front of Lee’s eyes and into his lap. He followed the lock down in the mirror before it was lost among all the other trimmings. Lara pulled some more hair up, this time at random and savagely cut in, casually tossing everything she took off over her shoulder. Hazel let her go on a couple of minutes butchering his hair before she stepped in.
“Looks better already.” she piped mockingly as she took her spray bottle and comb and start to wet through the hair. Lara settled back down in her chair, proud of her handy work that had left Lee with a heavily lopsided school boys cut. Lee was trying not to let his lip tremble, trying to blink to hard, trying to hold back any sign that this was getting to him.
Hazel set the spray bottle back down and took the shears back from Lara. Using her comb she lifted the hair around the crown straight up and out. Sliding her fingers in so they pressed against to be sure to leave around 3/4 of an inch after cutting. The scissors came across and snapped closed sending wet trimmings jumping from her fingers. She shook her hand a little to rid it of the now severed hair and started working her way forward. Every time she slid her fingers in she was always sure to have some of the already cut hair to make sure it was even. She couldn’t help but giggle a little at Lara and how drastic some of the differences in lengths she had cut were. She noticed a few of wet trimmings were stuck to Lee’s face and how he was obviously too scared to move to try and rid himself of the annoyance. With a little pity she brushed the hair clear from his eyes and mouth and went back to chopping down the rest. As she reached the front she took a quick look at his natural hairline and decided to was good enough to keep the fringe in length with the rest of top. A couple more delicate cuts and she was done trimming the top.
Lee couldn’t recognise the person looking back at him. He had never had his hair cut anything like as short as this in his life. He felt like some sort of army marine looking at the bare skin around his ears. He jumped slightly as Hazel popped on the clippers again and picked up her comb. She stood in close holding the comb at a slight angle on his head were the clipped hair met the sheared. The rasp as she dragged the clippers across the teeth of the comb sounded like thunder in his ear.
Hazel was careful not to make take the blend too high. She wanted to keep the stark change from bare skin to very short hair that was almost traditional in military type haircuts as much as she could. She worked one side back to the crown before switching to the other side and doing the same, preferring to blend in reverse as to how she had started the haircut. She took her time with the back. His whorl was to one side so she had to be careful to shape the back so one side didn’t seem to stick up more than the other. Finally once she felt happy she turned the chair to the side and to face Lara.
“Too your liking?” she asked playfully.
“It looks perfect Haz, just like I always wanted it” she looked mockingly at Lee, “You remember one of our teachers in high school had that haircut. If you had just got this while we were going out like I asked I would have given you the best nights of your life and we might even have stayed together.”
She was interrupted by Hazel turning the hair-dryer and going over Lee. Most of the trimmings flew off the him and cape but the sheer amount of thick black hair on his lap meant she had to use her hand to shift it to the floor. Once all the cuttings were on the floor she stepped behind behind him, undid the cape and dragged it off, snapping it a little to by sure everything was cleared off it. She expected Lee’s hands to go straight to his head or for him to jump out the chair, but he just sat still looking stunned and numb.
Hazel leaned in and whispered in his ear “If you do pick up a girl at that wedding, if it gets serious and maybe you feel like getting another ‘Miranda’ on the side, take a look in the mirror because this will take a loooong time to grow back to where it was.”
Lee got up out of the chair slowly and left the shop in silence. He never did get another Miranda.
END

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