A Girl in the Shop
To my readers,
This is another story that I knew was lost. It too was stored on the recovered hard drive. Quite a bit of editing was necessary to get it into the shape it’s in. I hope you enjoy the story.
Claire (aka Dreadlocks)
I can still remember the atmosphere of the place to this day. With the smell of Bitterroot and cigarettes permeating the air, it was a place delegated to men. As the sun shone through the window, which was always a little cloudy, I could just make out the red and white pole, spinning in its endless cycle, as I sat in the chairs with my father.
It was so different from the beauty parlor my mother took me to, which always smelled of hair dye and permanent treatments. This was so much nicer; so much more friendly. Then, of course, there was the sound of the clippers that the barbers would use. I used to love to watch them being used.
My father was an ex-marine and never stopped looking the part, even though he was wounded in Vietnam when I was three. He was a tall thin man, with a gaunt but loving face.
Every Saturday morning he would go to the barbers, Tony’s to be exact, and ask for the same haircut. ‘The usual’ he would call it, but I knew from looking at the pictures on the wall that it was called a high and tight. The picture showed a young man in uniform with his hair almost completely shaved, all except for the top, which stood straight up from his head.
I used to watch, as the barber would run the clippers over my father’s head and then use a straight razor to shave the back and sides. Then, with a comb and a small set of clippers, he would trim the top, until it was perfect. I used to love it when my father asked me to go with him.
Every week without fail, the barber would finish up with my father and as he dusted off the chair he would look over to me and say, “You’re next small fry.” And hold the cape as if to invite me into his chair. My father would laugh heartily, saying that my mother would kill him.
If they only knew the feeling that came over me when that chair was offered to me. It was a strange stirring in my belly that stayed with me for an hour or so, during which time I would daydream about being in the chair and getting “the usual”.
I remembered one time, I had gathered the nerve to stand up and say “Okay!” when the barber made his offer. I climbed into the chair and the barber jokingly fastened the cape around my neck as my father looked on. The barber played a little with my hair, but then it was time to go, and the fun was over. For a moment, I thought he might actually cut it, and was sad when he didn’t.
From the time when I was little, I always wore my hair long and straight down my back. It was blonde and my mother would love to brush it in the mornings before I would go to school. Every month or so she would take me to the beauty parlor with her and I would get the ends trimmed. Those ladies would always be talking about this and that, all day, and it got on my nerves. They always told me how pretty my hair was and that I should never cut it.
When I was ten years old, my mother got very ill. My father would never talk to me about it much, only I knew he was upset. I often heard them talking in their bedroom about me. Not long after that, my mother passed. It was a tough time for my father and me, but somehow we managed to make it through.
My father had let his hair grow out during that time, and I was wondering if he was ever going back to Tony’s. One Saturday, while we were eating breakfast, he said he was going to the barber, and asked if wanted to come. I nodded my head vigorously and off we went.
When we got there, the barber was happy to see my father. They talked awhile about my mother. The barber didn’t even ask what he wanted when he got into the chair, he just took the clippers and peeled off two months’ growth. As he was cutting, my father said something to him that I couldn’t hear, and the barber simply nodded.
When he was finished clipping, my father’s hair was a lot shorter than his usual cut. Then the barber took the shaving cream and instead of just spreading it over the back and sides, spread it all over my father’s head. I watched carefully as the barber started at his forehead and with short quick strokes, shaved my daddy’s head completely bald.
That funny feeling spread through my belly again, while I watched. I imagined that it was me in the chair, as the barber wiped off the excess shaving cream, leaving him with a shiny bald head.
As my father got up, the barber smiled at me and said, “You’re next, small fry.” Exactly as he always had. I giggled as that feeling spread lower in my belly. “You’re next, little girl.” The barber was more insistent this time. I looked at daddy and he nodded his head that I should do as the barber asked.
I was shocked! Was it actually going to happen! I climbed up into the big red chair, the barber fastening the cape around my neck, this time with a more determined look on his face. “Your Dad asked me to cut your hair shorter so that it’s easier to take care of. Now, you’re not going to cry on me are you?”
I shook my head no, emphatically, and gave him a smile. He carefully combed out my long blonde hair and then took a rubber band and fastened it into a ponytail, like my mother used to do. Then without much warning, he took a pair of scissors and cut it off, close to my head. When he was done, he slipped it into an old shoebox and handed it to my father.
“I’m sorry sweetheart,” he said, “but with your mom gone, I just can’t take care of your hair the way she used to.” He walked over to me in the chair. “How would you like the barber to cut your hair, honey?” I thought for a minute, looking at the reflection of the ragged bob that framed my face.
“Just like yours, Dad.” I blurted out. “Shave it all off.” They both laughed and said that girls just don’t do that. “It’s okay,” I assured them. “It’s summer after all.” It was true. School had just let out, and it was already getting hot.
“Give her what she wants, Tony.” He shrugged. “Shave her.”
The barber looked me straight in the eye and seemed very serious now.
“Are you sure this is what you want? Once I cut it, I can’t put it back you know.” He said, as he ran my hand through my bouncy bob.
“Yep. Shave me bald.” I asserted.
He nodded, reaching for the clippers that I’d seen so many times. The little stirrings in my belly had grown to a buzz now, to match that of the clippers that were placed under my hair at the back. I felt the warm metal climb the back of my head, knowing that in their wake was the shortest of stubble. I tried to reach back and touch it, but the barber pushed my hand back into my lap.
After the first pass, the barber quickened his pace, running the clippers up the back and sides, blonde hair falling everywhere. Suddenly, the clippers were at my forehead, and then they weren’t, as they pushed back over my balding head. Three more quick passes and the clippers fell silent, the barber hanging them back on their hook.
I looked at myself in the mirror and saw what resembled a little bald boy, with ears that stuck out from the sides of his head, only it wasn’t a boy, it was me! I smiled and the smile turned into a giggle.
“You like that, don’t you?” The barber asked. I nodded without taking my eyes away from the mirror. I noticed that a few people were looking through the window of the shop, apparently stopping to watch. One of them was from my mother’s beauty parlor. Looking her right in the eye, I managed to stick out my tongue before she shook her head, and walked away.
Distracted, I felt something hot being laid on my head, realizing it was a towel soaked with hot water. I was going to tell the barber it was too hot, but I held my breath, not wanting to give him any excuse not to shave me. As the towel was heating up my head, I heard some laughter from outside the shop.
When the towel was finally removed, I looked over to see a couple of boys from my school walk through the door of the shop, ready for their summer cuts, no doubt.
“Be with you boys in a minute.” The barber spoke directly to them. The lather smelled wonderful, and tingled against my sensitive scalp. As the razor began to shave my head, I looked in the mirror at the two boys. They were talking to each other, but I don’t think they recognized me without my long blonde hair.
I knew the one was always looking at me in class, and I thought for sure that he would know me; but he didn’t, it seemed. I was loving the fact that my hair was slowly being shaved away, even though it kind of hurt. Soon enough, the barber was running the towel over my head. I was bald and I could feel the texture of the terrycloth against my scalp. Running my hands slowly over my head, there was absolutely nothing there; completely smooth and shiny.
“All done!” The barber said as he whipped off the cape, the last remnants of my blonde hair scattering across the floor. Only then, did I remember that I had worn my floral dress. As I got up from the chair, the boys regarded me strangely as I straightened myself. Both their jaws dropped, however, once they realized who I was. Then they smiled, and the smiles turned to giggles and then to laughter.
My father gave them a look before we walked out of the shop, and headed for home. Of course, I couldn’t keep my hands away from my head.
“Are you okay, Sweety?” He asked, probably concerned about the boys.
“Never better, Dad, never better.” I smiled and he scrubbed his hand over my scalp for the first time.
Needless to say, I didn’t wear any dresses for the rest of that summer, and as my hair slowly grew into a crewcut, I knew that I would soon have to face all the kids at school, that I had so carefully avoided all summer.
I’m twenty-three now, married, with two little girls of my own. I take them to visit their grandfather, often. So, when we were there one Saturday morning and my father asked them if they wanted to go with him to Tony’s, I smiled, wondering if they would feel as I had.
The following Monday, we were about to head back home. I was taking one last stroll through the old town when I came upon Tony’s barbershop. I peeked through the window, expectantly, and there was Tony, relaxing in his chair and reading the morning paper. Not much had changed, except for Tony, who was markedly older now, his hair greying at the temples.
I stepped through the door and bell above the jamb tinkled, startling Tony.
“Can I help you, young lady?” he asked, as I wandered over to him.
“Do you remember a little girl with long blonde hair that asked you to shave her head once?” I asked, smiling at him.
“Oh, my goodness!” he said with a smile “You have certainly grown into a handsome young lady, Miss.” He paused for a moment “I’ll bet you’ve never forgotten that, have you young lady?” he asked laughingly.
“No… I haven’t” I hesitated for a moment, but took a seat in the other chair. What on earth was I doing? I knew this was going to happen, it was only a matter of time, but right then and there? My dark blonde hair was about shoulder length now, a nice easy style for a busy mom and housewife. I could feel the familiar tingle in my belly settle low in my sex as Tony grabbed a cape, tossing it around me and fastening it around my neck.
He didn’t say anything or ask any questions. The look in my eyes said it all as plainly as if I had asked him out loud. He simply lifted the clippers from their hook, and flipped them on.