The town ritual

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Elenor was driving from New York to New Mexico to visit relatives.
The drive, the wind in her hair felt like freedom, a true woman’s dream come true.
She must’ve taken a wrong turn, for a sign indicated 45 miles away from her closest destination.
A stop at a run of the mill was required and she was getting impatient.
Elenor ran into the shop’s store where a plump, bearded man rested.
“Excuse me, sir. Do you know how to get to Bolder from”
Tired eyelids opened their crusted sockets.
“Baldur, eh?”
“Sure, whatever. Do you know the way?”
He smiled,”Damn straight I do. Go south 6 or miles and when you see a roadside sign with a pinup girl. You’re there”
Elenor thanked him and tipped him 5 bucks before getting in her car and speeding away.
The seemed rougher at first but after the 6 miles, the road softened drastically and the low billboard appeared.
A painted pinup girl sat on a painted stone carving but something was… off.
The painter probably forgot to draw her hair.
The words: Baldur accompanied the girl and Elenor she was in the wrong place and she couldn’t go back because he tank was empty.
Parking her car by a gas station, Elenor briskly walked up to the shop.
A flier caught her eye though, it was an add for head wax, a photo of a woman in a sundress was rubbing her bald scalp with the wax.
Weirded out, she confusedly entered the shop.
“Evening Ma’am”, a young man said,”Can I help you with something”
“Yes, I-“
He cut her off,”I don’t know you, you knew here?”
“I was just passing through”
He scratched his head,”I’m not supposed to talk to newcomers”
Elenor was shocked,”Why”
“Town rule”
“Are you kidding me!”
“I’m sorry miss, ask anyone around here, they’ll recite what I just said”
Elenor was pissed but exited the shop reluctantly.
She entered the town and searched for answers.
Women of the town were most strange, baldness seemed to be the norm around these parts.
Store after store refused to speak when she said she was new in town.
The last shop she could try to investigate for answers was a vintage barbershop.
Opening its door made of cedar and gold paint shining its brand.
“Good evening, ma’dam”
A barberette waved with a brush in hand, the other, clutching silver clippers.
In the chair, was a young lady, wrapped in a beige cape.
“If you would just give me a sec, sweetie, to finish my client. I will tend to you soon. Please have a seat”
Elenor sat in an Antebellum chair straight from history as the two gals went back to chatting.
Elenor glimpsed a snippet of the work, the clippers sailing on the shorn scalp.
The young lady was getting shaved, how brave of her but very peculiar that almost all the women in this town had the same style.
At last, the shearing came to a hairless conclusion and the young lady loved her bald head.
Her cape was removed and the lady hopped out with excitement.
“How much do I owe you?”
“It’s on the house cause you’re a newcomer”
Then it clicked:
The young lady bid her stylist farewell and waved at Elenor on her way out, still rubbing her scalp.
“Ok, miss-“
“My name’s Elenor”
The stylist wrote down the name in the record book.
“Alright, Elenor. Come this way”
Elenor started,”Excuse me, but I don’t want a haircut but thank you for the offer”
The hairdresser stopped,”I’m sorry, miss. But you’re a newcomer, it’s the rule of this town that every newcomer to here must get the standard haircut and I’m a stickler for the rules”
Elenor wasn’t sure what to do and the barberette was getting Impatient.
“Ma’am. You have two choices: either you get the cut or I’ll be powerless to help you get you where you want to go”
What was a girl to do but obey this executive order.
Elenor removed her earrings as she began her walk towards the chair.
“Please”,begged Elenor,”Please don’t cut it short”
The stylist used a hair clip to pin the mid-back length, dark hair to Elenor’s skull,”I’ll try not to”
A piece of roll paper was torn and tied around the nervous girl’s neck.
The beige cape was flipped to rid it of the previous one’s hair and flung onto Elenor.
The hairdresser pumped the chair up three times before unclipping the hair.
Brushing it out, the stylist took pride in her work and she made sure Elenor knew that.
“This has always been a pleasure. To style a young lass’s hair is the greatest pleasure to me”
The barber took up her shears, and taking a cluster of tresses in her tight grip, she chopped off a huge clump of hair.
Elenor yelped, seeing the amount of hair chopped off.
Elenor was in such of state of shock that her body froze completely.
Clump after clump fell on the beige cape or slipped down onto the floor.
When her hair was jagged, uneven, and messed up, the hairdresser unhooked the silver clippers.
Taking a brush, she dusted them off as Elenor wept slightly for the loss of her treasure.
The barber also blew on the tool to dislodge any tiny hairs.
“Let’s get you cleaned up for your trip ahead”
Lifting up Elenor’s chin, the barber was frustrated that her chin wasn’t cooperating so she trapped the jawline with her thumb and forefinger.
But the chin kept slipping so the barber took hold of the cheeks and squeezed lightly.
“Hold still, dearie”
With the other hand, she flicked on the device.
The buzzing hum brought chills up Elenor’s spine.
With the friction close to her hairline.
Elenor shut her eyes tightly as if to evade the inevitable.
Slowly, the clippers entered through the middle of the hairline and stopped short of the end of the crown.
Timidly, Elenor opened her eyes to see her stylist’s eyes meeting her.
The barber stepped aside, revealing a naked strip of scalp laying amongst the covers of tresses.
Behind her client, the barber had less trouble keeping up Elenor’s chin by cupping her hand under the radical chin.
Reaching the clippers to the front of the hairline, another pass was done, again and again.
More and more strips were shed to the floor.
“You have a beautiful scalp”,marveled the barber, Elenor didn’t whether to be offended of gracious so she just stayed silent.
Letting the chair down some and tilting Elenor to the right, the clippers moved up the left side and then some.
The same was applied to the other side
Tilting the head down, the barberess took great pleasure in shearing the last part of scalp.
Then: TING!
A lady entered the shop, younger then both Elenor and her predecessor.
The speech Elenor received was recited to this one as well.
As the last of the long hair was buzzed off, Elenor’s head was readjusted properly and she looked at the young girl, she had pretty Auburn hair that smelled like honeysuckle even from far away.
With dashes from the brush, the hairdresser dusted off her specimen and unwrapped her.
Elenor rubbed her stubbly head.
“How much do I owe you?”
The words mirrored the last last exchange of words that Elenor’s previous girl heard.
With that and a final wave at the hairdresser and the new girl, Elenor took her leave.
A look back at the two woman seemed calming, the handshake and the stylist inviting the Auburn girl back, a new cycle begun.
Going back to the gas station, Elenor found the young man.
“Now, do you know how to get to Boulder?”
“Yes, ma’am”

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