I was completely unmindful when I was purchasing this house that it was way too big for two people. But, Aidon loved this place. I didn’t exactly remember what prompted me to be a foster carer as a single man three years ago, but it truly was the best decision of my life. The second best decision was probably to rent out a portion of the house.
Although I was not very keen initially, the recommendation came from a dear friend, and the guy’s profile was spotless.
Kenneth Carter, an ex-Marine, running his security firm along with one of his army buddies. He only needed a decent place with the shortest commute, just for six months. It sounded so perfect that I readily have a lawyer draw up a contract and finalized it.
Carter – that’s what he liked to be addressed – wasn’t exactly a man of many words. He has a tall stance of about 6’4″, muscular build of strong arms, bold thighs, and firm abdomen, along with the quintessentially short pelt of hair like Marines.
“Dad, Carter looks like Vin Diesel!” was my eleven-year old’s first reaction, and I could only laugh and add, “Well, he is taller than Vin Diesel, for sure and has a little bit of hair.” If you could actually call that stubble ‘hair’.
Over the next three months, Carter has warmed up to Aidon, smiling at him once or twice at his antics. He even took out time to teach him volleyball and a few other games. On my part, I only conversed scantily, smiling at their growing bond, and silently admire that short pelt of his on his head at times.
It was one of those haircuts that captivates your attention, in an oddly enticing way, but you wouldn’t have the balls to go to a barbershop and demands to have it cut the same way. Well, at least, I didn’t.
I was a businessman, for God’s sake, who has to attend board meetings and meet clients all day long, looking dapper and sharp in appearance. Right? So I could never part away with my fancy business cut that needed to be blow-dried, combed, and gelled every morning.
Our lives were going on exactly as planned, with me working office and spending time with Aidon as much as possible, and the silent but formidable presence of Carter. Most of our conversations were only formal, except we also shared a couple of beers on weekends when Aidon was busy doing homework.
I was wondering if Carter wanted to extend the six-month time because I liked how my son bonded over with him when suddenly the lockdown situation came over, and all three of us were quarantined at home.
A week into it, and Aidon started missing his school buddies, his football matches, and while I did my best to keep him occupied, it was Carter who tirelessly played with him in our yard. There were a few moments when I surely ogled at him a little too long, mindlessly wondering how the idea of him living with us, beyond six months, would encapsulate.
“Daaaad!” Aidon trilled from afar, beckoning me to join them.
“Hey, what’s up, buddy?” I asked, sauntering closer and flicked a look at Carter who was all flushed in sweat.
“Carter taught me how to hold a plank for three minutes!” my son beamed with pride.
“Really?” I smiled at Aidon. “You are a strong man now, champ. But go on and take a bath because you are all sweaty.”
“It’s all because of this hair, dad!” Aidon whined, clearly unhappy with the floppy locks grazing his eyes. He was due a haircut, and I would have taken him, had it not been a lockdown situation.
“All the salons and barbers are closed now. I promise I will take you for a haircut once this lockdown ends.”
“I want a haircut like Carter!” Aidon blurted out, and I was stumped, barely able to come back with a reply and glimpsed at Carter’s head.
“Err…Aidon, son, what if the boys at school make fun of you?”
“And long hair would make him look better?” Carter challenged, adding his sarcasm into the mix while I was torn.
“Well, I suppose, a bit longer version would be more practical…”I trailed off, giving Aidon’s hair a bit of a ruffle. My boy has such a wonderful head of hair and he wanted to chop all of it?
“No! I want them short!” Aidon protested vehemently.
“I can cut them short if you are okay with it,” Carter dropped the bomb, knowing I wouldn’t obviously refuse in front of Aidon. The little smirk on his lips was more than evident.
“You are a barber?” I narrowed my eyes at him.
He shrugged his broad shoulders. “Don’t need to be one to give a buzz cut. I am quite good at that.”
Surely, I couldn’t disagree and gave up. “Okay.”
Aidon ran into the house as we followed him, and I could already feel the scrutinizing pair of eyes on my hair. The wild side of me wanted to know what he thought of my hairstyle and the things he wanted to do to change them.
The impromptu barber station was set up in my expansive bathroom, and I watched Aidon jumped up on the wooden stool, being all excited and eager.
“Aidon, are you sure you want a haircut like Carter’s? You might regret it later,” I asked him one last time, hoping he would recognize the gravity of it while Carter went to retrieve the necessary items.
“Positive, dad,” he replied, and I realized that he had learned the word from the military man.
Carter entered with nothing but a giant clipper in hand while the cord was wound around his wrist, and I found it hard to rip my gaze away from those burly hands holding the menacing instrument.
“If you want a pair of scissors, I can look for one in my bedroom,” I offered.
“Won’t need one,” came the instant reply while he plugged the device.
I propped myself against the wall and watched the clipper buzzed to life in his hands. Carter positioned himself behind Aidon, placing his big paw over my son’s little head, and drove the machine from nape to crown. A swathe of lustrous hair fell unceremoniously, and before it hit the ground, the man went for the next swipe. And then the next…until the back was nothing but stubble of mousy brown hair.
Carter flicked a glance my way, and I could swear I saw the man smirk even with his tightly pursed lips. He smoothly moved on to the sides, stripping the curtain of hair the same way as the back before holding the clippers at Aidon’s forehead and encouraging him to tilt his chin up.
And once he did, might I add gleefully, the machine buzzed its way over the top, leaving behind stubble, probably less than one centimeter in length, matching the sides and back. A one-length burr cut.
“You’re done, buddy,” Carter told him, stroking his head before whisking away the towel and dusting off the hair.
Aidon jumped out, leaning into the mirror as he ran his fingers to feel the pelt. A veil of disappointment clouded his features, and I knew this was inevitable. My son was already regretting this haircut.
“But…but it’s not as short as yours!” Aidon complained, looking back at Carter. “It will grow back in a week.”
He chuckled. “Then I will cut them again in a week. Is that okay with you?”
“Okay.” He shrugged, coming over where I was. “Do you like it, dad?” he asked enthusiastically.
“I think I do,” I replied feebly, stroking his soft pelt. Aidon had the softest mousy brown hair that glistened under the summer sun. But, now it was all gone. “Go and get freshen up,” I told him, and he trotted out of the bathroom.
“Did you really like it? Honestly?” Carter asked, catching me off-guard.
“Well, it’s a little short, but umm…great for summer, you know, easy to maintain.” I feigned an easy look.
“It is,” he acquiesced with a smile. “C’mon. Take a seat, then.”
“What? No! I mean…err…” I hated to stumble over syllables. “I don’t need a haircut.”
He sauntered closer, crowding my space, and all of a sudden, that expansive bathroom started looking too confined. His hands reach out to touch my longish hair around the sides as if he was inspecting. “You are afraid of clippers?” he taunted. “Didn’t daddy ever take you to a barber for a nice, clean crewcut?”
Frowning, I stood a little straighter. “No. I had normal haircuts as a kid.”
“So you never felt clippers on your pretty little head?”
“I didn’t need one,” I retorted. “I know you guys were supposed to have a crewcut in the army, but—”
He cut in. “I had a crewcut all my life.”
I almost gasped. “Even as a kid?”
“Even as a kid,” he confirmed with pride in his voice. “My old man was in the army too, and we were raised like that. A tight crewcut all year round, except for the summers, when we had to keep our heads smooth.”
“Man, that’s cruel!”
To my dismay, he actually laughed. “Believe me, crewcut feels like long hair when the barber actually shaves your head.” He rubbed a hand over his head, like recalling a bitter-sweet memory. “But once you get used to it, you wouldn’t mind.”
I was too dazed to speak for a moment.
“What are you thinking?” Carter snapped, dragging me out of my musing. “C’mon, let’s get this over with. I don’t have all day long.”
“But, I said that—”
“And I heard you the first time.” He grabbed my forearms, like dragging an unwilling kid into a barbershop, and made me stand before the mirror as I gripped the sink for support.
There was no towel or stool for my convenience, and I watched him pick up the clipper and take the plastic attachment off. Instantly, my mouth went dry. I tried to ask or negotiate but felt completely paralyzed.
“Ready?” he asked rhetorically, and grabbed the back of my neck, pushed it down, taking advantage of the few inches of height he had over mine. The whirring clipper was pressed against my nape, but somehow I managed to wrench out.
“Wait. Wait! I can’t be bald. I have meetings and clients and then firms…” I didn’t realize that I was rambling until a sharp yank at my hair shut my mouth.
“Do you want a haircut or not?” he asked in a voice edging on ice.
My response was automated. “Yes, Sir.” Shoot! I was nervous as well as bloody excited in my pants.
“So are you going to do as you’re told?”
“Good. Now bend over and hold your knees,” he ordered.
That deep baritone of his strict voice did something to me, and I immediately complied, folding over to grip my knees for support. With a hand clamped over my crown, he brought the vibrating device close to my skin and began to shear my head. Every meticulous swipe removed sheaves of hair that he purposefully dropped before my eyes.
“This hair is a disgrace!” he muttered, tilting my head to the side and ran the clippers from sideburns to the highest point of my temple. Then he took great pleasure to twist my ear and clipper the growth around it.
“Ow!” I squeaked, earning a grunt of disapproval.
“You are getting a proper haircut, boy, stop complaining!” he admonished like I was some impertinent child.
Next, the clipper was positioned over my crown and smoothly sailed down as I helplessly watched a chunk of glossy brown hair hit the floor. It continued to pile up until the drone of the clippers stopped.
“Now, this is so much better.” He rubbed my clippered head, taking the feel of my newly-shorn scalp, and then tapped my ass, “See yourself in the mirror.”
“Holy Shit!” My hands skimmed over the scalp, with nothing to grab or feel, save for the texture of sandpaper. Unlike Aidon’s, it wasn’t soft because he had taken me all the way down. Total skinhead.
When my eyes fell on the hairbrush, I picked it up and sighed, mumbling, “Well, I guess, I won’t need this for a long time.”
“Don’t be so sure about it,” Carter smirked, grabbing the wooden hairbrush from my hand.
SMACK. I heard the sound before the sting coursed through my body as the back of the wooden brush connected with my ass.
“That’s for having girly hair all your life.”
Another THREE ruthless smacks followed. I jerked forward, bending over the sink involuntarily.
“That’s for fussing over a haircut.”
Then, another TWO smarting whacks over my sit-spots. “What’s that for?” I croaked.
His mouth hovered over my ears, whispering, “That’s for ogling at me in the swimming pool.”