The Silent Victim

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I had just finished with my regular customer, Mr. Mathews when the bell chimed at the door. A man who was probably in his late thirties, walked into my barbershop, along with a woman (who I believe to be his wife) while my previous customer paid.

“Thanks a lot, John. See you in two weeks.” I smiled as he exited and welcomed the duo.

“Good afternoon. What can I do for you?” I asked.

“My wife would like a haircut,” the husband declared and it was then I actually noticed that he had a super tight buzz cut already.

I slowly glanced between them, hesitating, “I am afraid I am not very equipped with women’s hairstyles. There’s a nice salon just two blocks—”

“No, she will cut it here,” he interjected, almost forcibly. “You know how to cut it short, right? That will do.”

It was weird how he was making all the decisions for her while she stood mutely, but what else could I do? Offering a smile, I invited her to the chair as she slowly sank into the leather seats. I wrapped a tissue, followed by the long cape, and slowly freed her hair from the bun. It was pretty long and spilled over the white cape.

“How short are we doing today?” I asked, combing the luscious golden-colored tresses. “Something like a bob?”

“Absolutely not!” the husband protested vehemently. “The blond look has to go. Do something really short and tapered.”

I looked at the wife in the mirror who visibly gaped at her husband’s instruction but quickly assented. “Yes, anything short, please,” she added demurely. I had half a mind to ask her if she was being forced, but I didn’t want to meddle into their affair.

“Okay.” I shrugged and reached for the clippers. Bunching the thick mass of silky hair in my left hand, I turned on the machine and attacked the hair. The wife visibly flinched with the unexpected sound but somehow remained stoic as I chopped off the massive length and reduced it to a choppy and uneven bob.

Carelessly, I discarded it on the floor and pulled out a comb from my pocket. I began from the back, lifting a chunk at a time and snipping off until the back was short and no more than two inches. Next were the sides, as sheaves of hair fluttered down the shoulders and back and accumulated into her lap.

All this while, she had her eyes glued to the mirror until I turned the chair away to do her right side. And every time a thick hunk of hair would roll down, she would turn pale. It was weird for me as well because I had never cut a woman’s hair and especially from this long to short. Once the back and sides were around two inches, I tackled down the top and opted for scissors over the comb. I kept it slightly longish because she was a woman, and made the bangs wispier for styling.

“This is short enough, ma’am?” I asked, turning the chair back to the mirror.

“It’s…I…” She stammered, looking at her husband.

I almost forgot about his presence until he put down the newspaper and stormed over. “I told you to give her a short haircut!” he fumed. “This is not short enough.”

I was done with this man’s temper.

I wanted to snap back and tell him that I have just reduced twenty-four inches of hair to a boy-cut with exposed ears and wispy bangs, but this man seemed to be out on a mission to have her wife scalped. What angered me, even more, was the fact that the woman in the chair did not utter a bloody word.

“Alright sir, I will reduce it,” I clipped out and marched over to my counter. Grabbing the largest Wahl from the hook, with no guard at all, I returned back to my silent victim on the chair.

He wanted it shorter? Fine, I will give him shorter.

“Bend down,” I ordered the woman and clamped a firm hand for precise control. And without a warning, I drove the buzzing clippers from her nape to the crown, leaving nothing but white skin in its wake. This time, I purposely dropped the chunks into her lap just for the heck of it.

It took four to five passes to completely strip off the hair at the back as I inspected my handiwork. By now, there was a strange sensation of dominance coursing through me. It seemed like I was enjoying scalping her more than I’d admit.

I turned the chair away, and before she could look up, I pushed her head aside. “Don’t move.”

The clippers touched her sideburns and crackled, climbing higher and higher, almost the brow level. Ruthlessly, I bend the ears like I would do to a naughty schoolboy and strip of the blond hair in the perimeter. In less than ten minutes, the back and sides were stripped clean by the clippers.

Satisfied, I grabbed a Number 4 guard, snapped to the clipper, and directly stood behind her. I could tell that she has held her breath for what’s to come, but I was not in a mood to give her a quarter anymore.

With one hand hooked under her jaw, I titled up her head and placed the clippers at the forehead. Those lovely wispy bangs I had cut earlier were going to be history now. The machine came alive and sailed through the middle of her head creating a wide trench. With repeated swipes, the clippers reduced the top of her head down to a soft pelt of hair. It took another minute to taper it close and form the perfect short flattop.

Was it enough? Maybe, but I was secretly enjoying the cut so much that I was not willing to stop. Taking control of her head once more, I placed the clippers at the crown of the soft pelt and dragged it to the middle until a bare strip appeared. The landing strip!

By now, the silent victim in my chair must have already resigned to her fate. She couldn’t see herself in the mirror, couldn’t fathom that her long hair had been reduced down to a horseshoe flattop that I only reserved for military men. I ran my hands all over her head, feeling the (almost) denuded scalp and exposed nape, and it was like the best sensation ever.

So I decided to give her the real treatment of a barbershop and reached for the can of shaving foam. I smeared the thick white layer, all over her back and sides, and as high as I would shave a man in my chair.

“Stay still now,” I issued a warning, flashing the cut-throat razor and took control of her head once more. There was an immense gratification to take it down to smooth skin, save for the U-shaped pelt at the front. I took my time, using slow and short strokes, and every time the razor touched her skin, she shivered a little. Perhaps, she thought that clippers were the worst until I used the menacing razor. And finally, the shave was complete.

“You’re done,” I announced after I applied a good dose of styling gel on her horseshoe pelt to give a nice wet look. There was no need to use a comb—in fact, she wouldn’t need one for the next two months.

Taking the cape off, I released her from the chair. Her first instinct was to reach for her head, and when she did, she gasped loudly. She turned to the mirror, moving her head from side to side to catch any glimpse of hair but there was none. Only a little covering at the front.

It was the husband who was smiling from ear to ear, feeling her wife’s freshly shaved skin and caressing the top. They whispered something I couldn’t hear, but the way he was grinning, it was clear he loved it. As for the demure wife, she could believe that her hair was shorter than her husband’s buzzcut.

“That be $10,” I said when the husband came over to the payment counter and added a huge tip.

I watched them leave while the woman was still stroking the back, almost in disbelief that she was walking out with a horseshoe flattop. On my part, I thought it was the only time I’d ever get a chance to carve out such an extreme look, especially on a woman. But the prediction turned out to be wrong.

One month later, the same couple walked in, with the husband ordering a ‘short’ haircut for his wife. This time, I was more than glad to do it all over again and even shaved the landing strip smooth.

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