You’re Gonna Be A Star

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I arrived early for the day-long job hunting seminar at the Holiday Inn conference center.  Local companies laid off more than five thousand workers during the economic downturn.  Opportunistic entrepreneurs, always ready to profit from others’ misfortune, advertised training sessions for pink slip recipients.  They promised instant results and access to data banks containing hundreds of job vacancies.  All you had to was shell out $100 for the service.

These were vultures preying on people desperate to find steady work.  No matter how much I disliked what they did, I couldn’t really blame them because I was doing the same thing.  Plenty of needy job seekers would respond to the ad, and at least half of them would be female.  Among them I hoped to discover the “star” for our next video.

I spotted her as soon as she entered to conference room.  Her name was Kathleen, I learned by reading her stick-on nametag as we clustered around the coffee urn waiting for the workshop to begin.  She was not yet thirty and her ring finger was bare, a hopeful sign.  I noted these things and one more–she was by far the most attractive woman in the room.

Kathleen stood about five foot seven, tall, but not exceptionally so, with a slim, graceful figure.  Her breasts were on the small side, but that wasn’t my main concern.  My eyes immediately fastened on her long, dark brown hair, parted down the middle, pulled back and gathered at her neck into a neat bundle hanging down between her shoulder blades.  Barrettes on each side of her head restrained grown-out bangs.  I yearned to remove the clips and loosen the elastic band that restrained her long hair so I could view those raven tresses floating free, unfurled in their full glory. But that guilty pleasure would have to wait.

My intended victim offered other visual delights.  Her eyes were a haunting pale blue-gray shade and her complexion was a flawless milky white.  Despite her obvious beauty, she did nothing to call attention to her good looks.  She wore a trace of pale pink lipstick, but no other makeup I could discern.  Her conservative business suit was identical to the outfits worn by more than half of the women in the large room.  For her starring role I would clothe her in a form fitting cocktail dress with a plunging neckline, but that would have to wait as well.

Her manner was shy and diffident; she held back from conversation and spoke only when another registrant directly addressed her.  She tended to look away and self-consciously tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear when speaking.  I had seen her type before; bashful and lacking in self-confidence; completely oblivious to her own considerable charms; totally unaware of the allure of her physical assets.  I had a gut feeling she might be easily swayed by my “sales pitch.”  I knew I couldn’t come on too strong; that would only scare her away.  But, if I played my cards right and used a more subtle approach, she might be my next “discovery”.

I chose a seat in the row behind Kathleen and endured the first ninety minutes of the tedious PowerPoint lecture, sneaking occasional glances in her direction while trying not to be too obvious in my observation.  I passed the time daydreaming, imagining Kathleen wearing different hairstyles, each one radically shorter than her current style.  As the time for the scheduled coffee break approached, I weighed the best way to introduce myself.  I didn’t want her to think I was stalking her, which I was. Like a pick-up artist, I rehearsed opening lines to strike up a conversation without appearing too forward.

When the break finally came, I slipped behind her in the coffee line.  “I hope it’s good and strong,” I remarked in her general direction, “I need to stay awake.”

She stepped aside with a full steaming cup in her hand, smiled timidly, and rose to the bait.  “Yeah, I know what you mean,” she replied with the sympathy of a fellow victim.  “Sometimes it’s a struggle.”

Those words were all the opening I needed.  I introduced myself and we began chatting casually.  I kept my full attention on her, hoping to draw Kathleen out of her protective shell.  I asked what brought her to the workshop.  She explained that a well-known software firm recently furloughed her from her job as a programmer.  “The company was downsizing and I had no seniority,” she said.  “I got two months’ severance pay and they paid my fee for this training session.  Sure hopes it does some good.”

I shared my counterfeit story, explaining that I had recently left a small CPA firm to search for a more lucrative position in sales.  It wasn’t a complete lie.  I had quit my accounting job, though that happened more than a year ago. I didn’t reveal my current position as a free-lance talent scout.  That would come later.

When we were summoned back for a second session I occupied the vacant chair on her right.  “Mind if I join you?” I asked, confident that she was too well brought up to refuse.  Kathleen nodded her assent, as I knew she would.  I smiled inwardly; so far everything was going according to plan.

At lunch we critiqued the trainer over salad and sandwiches.  We agreed the information he presented was useful, but his delivery was overly repetitive and mind-numbingly boring.  Kathleen remained reserved, more than willing to let me do most of the talking.  However, I was able to coax out some useful personal information.  I learned that four years ago, after graduating from college, she came to the city from a small town upstate lured by a job offer from a big name corporation and the prospect of a more exciting social life,. Computer science was an atypical major for a woman, but she had a logical mind and soon discovered she had a talent for programming.  She located an apartment by answering a newspaper ad. Her roommate was a nurse who worked the night shift at the regional medical center.  At first everything went swimmingly.  Kathleen bought a used Honda and had a steady boyfriend by her second month, another programmer for the same company.  Fortunately for me, that romance soured when she caught him flirting with her roommate.  Kathleen then moved to her current residence–a tiny studio apartment on the third floor of a large home in an older section of town.  After being laid off she found a job waitressing evenings and weekends at a chain steak house.  The work was demanding and the money she made in tips was barely enough to pay the rent and buy groceries.  She was dipping into her savings to make car payments and cover other expenses.  She had no health insurance and worried how much longer she’d be able to make ends meet.

I listened to Kathleen’s story, pretending to share her concern, but privately congratulating myself.  She was exactly the sort of young woman I hoped to find–attractive, single, alone in the city, and facing increasingly desperate financial straits.  I grew more confident that she would listen when I revealed my true motive for insinuating myself to her life.

When the session was over I waited for Kathleen in the motel parking lot.  “Would you like to go someplace for a drink and a bite to eat?” I offered.  “My treat.”  I felt sure that the prospect of a free meal would entice her, overcoming any reticence she might feel about going out with me.

She agreed and followed me to a quiet bar not far from the motel, a location I had scouted the day before in anticipation of meeting a lovely prospect like Kathleen.

After ordering drinks—white wine for her, a local microbrew for me—we resumed our lunchtime conversation.  “And what do you do, I?” she asked.  “You don’t act like you’re unemployed like the rest of us.”

I briefly considered inventing a cover story, but decided against it; she would learn the truth soon enough.  “I’m not really unemployed,” I confessed.  “After I quit my job at the accounting firm I went to work with a friend of mine.  He’s an independent filmmaker and I work for him on a contract basis.”

“You’re not an actor, are you?” she inquired.

“Hell no,” I chuckled.  “I guess you could call me a talent scout.”

“A talent scout?” she asked, full of curiosity.  “How does that work?”

“Well, my partner tells me the type of people he needs for our upcoming films, and I look for man and women who fit the bill.”

I could tell she was intrigued, a very good sign.  “You make it sound so simple.  I’m sure it’s not as easy as that.”

“Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not,” I answered truthfully.

“And who do you look for?  I thought all the movies were made in Hollywood.” Kathleen seemed eager to learn more.  The conversation was headed in the right direction;

“Actually, a lot of independent films are shot outside of Hollywood.  It costs two or three times as much to shoot a movie in one of the established Hollywood studios.”

“But I thought that’s where all the talent is.”

“Yes, most of the big name stars work for the famous directors, but there’s lots of undiscovered talent in every community.  You’d be surprised.”

“And what kind of films does your friend make?” Kathleen asked pointedly.  I knew our conversation had reached a critical juncture.  When I revealed the nature of the films my partner made Kathleen might freak out.  It was a chance I had to take.

“My friend makes movies for a specialty market.  They are instructional films,” I replied evasively.

“Instruction in what?” she insisted.

“Instruction in haircutting.  Our films demonstrate the latest techniques for creating up-to-date hair styles for barbers and hair stylists.” Once again, I skirted the truth.

“So you aren’t looking for trained actors; you need models,” she corrected me.

“That’s right,” I confirmed, “although some acting ability definitely is a plus.”

“And how do you spot a model for your films?”

“I look for a woman who is reasonably photogenic.  Of course, she needs to have a good head of hair.  That’s very important.”

“And she has to be willing to have her hair cut in whatever style is in fashion right now,” Kathleen added.

“Yes, that’s right.  You catch on fast.”

Kathleen paused for a long moment.  She appeared to be carefully framing her next question.  “Is that why you brought me here, Mike?  Are you trying to recruit me for one of your friend’s films?”

I was surprised by her directness.  This girl was brighter than most of the women I’ve approached.  If she suspected I was conning her, she might walk out the door and I’d never see her again.

“I cannot tell a lie,” I admitted.  “You caught my eye as soon as you walked into the conference room this morning.  You would be perfect for one of our instructional films.”

“Do I look like someone who needs a haircut?” she demanded testily.

“No, not at all,” I quickly responded.  “But you are a very attractive young woman, just the type who would make an excellent model.”

“I suppose I should be flattered that you consider me pretty enough to appear in one of your friend’s films.  But I thought you were interested in me.  Now I see that you’re only interested in my hair.”

“I hope you do feel flattered, Kathleen.  Yes, I think you’d make an excellent model for one of our films, and I also find you attractive, very attractive.  If you’ll hear me out, I have a proposition that may be mutually profitable.”

“Is this a proposition to appear in one of your friend’s films?”

“Yes, that’s right.”  I knew that she might well terminate their conversation any moment.  It wouldn’t be the first time a prospect had walked out on me.

But Kathleen stayed.  She was still talking to me.  That meant she was interested.  I had a realistic chance to sign her.

“You said profitable?  How profitable?” Kathleen continued.

Now I knew for sure Kathleen was interested.  I felt like an angler casting into a deep mountain pool.  A prize trout had spotted my lure.  Now I had to set the hook and reel her in.

”We pay our models a substantial fee,” I offered vaguely.

“How substantial?” she insisted.  She was taking the bait.  I silently rejoiced.

“Our standard fee is a thousand dollars,” I said as I studied her reaction.  I could see that the amount definitely got her attention.

“And what happens to the film?” she inquired.  “Where is it shown?”

“After editing it’s offered for sale on our website.  We have a network of clients all over the United States and in several foreign countries.”

“So you think I should cut my hair?” she challenged me, abruptly changing directions.  I had not expected our negotiation to progress this quickly.

“That decision is entirely up to you.  Your hair is gorgeous, but I think you would look stunning with a shorter style.  Have you ever thought about cutting it?”

A nervous smile crossed Kathleen’s face, almost as if she had been anticipating my question.  “Of course.  I guess every girl with long hair thinks about it at one time or another.  I’m sure life would be much simpler with short hair.  Occasionally I see a girl with a really cute short cut and think someday maybe I’d like to try something like that.  But long hair is what I’m used to; what I’m most comfortable with.”

She paused for a moment, collecting her thoughts, then announced, “And it would take more than a thousand dollars to persuade me to cut it off.”

Now I had her.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  Less than thirty minutes into the conversation and she was hooked.  Kathleen was dickering.  I was almost certain she’d accept a higher offer.  Some of my discoveries took weeks to reach this point.  All I had to do was find her price.

“How much more?” I asked.

“Well, that depends.”

“Depends on what?”

“It depends on what kind of haircut you and your partner have in mind.”

“We film all kinds of haircuts, but most of them are rather short,” I revealed. “The shorter the haircut, the higher the modeling fee.”

I beckoned to the waitress and ordered us a second round of drinks, Kathleen and I continued talking about other topics.  After finishing the dinner, Kathleen concluded our conversation.  “Well, you certainly have made an interesting proposition.  As you know, right now I need some additional income, but you’ll have to make me a better offer and I’ll need some time to think it over.”

“Yes, I understand.  I’ll talk to my friend and see if he’ll go higher.  I think he may, but I need to know how much you will need.”

“Tell you what,” Kathleen proposed.  “You give me the address for your friend’s website.  Let me check out the videos he sells.  Then I’ll get back to you.”

“Fair enough.”  I pulled out a business card and scribbled an address on the back.  “Here’s the address and my phone number.  Call me back and let me know what you think.”

It was risky, I knew.  The haircuts shown in our videos all were pretty extreme.  Each model received a radically short haircut; some had their heads shaved completely bald.  But there was no way I could avoid it.  Sooner or later, she had to learn the kind of films we made.

“Okay, I’ll do that,” Kathleen said as she got up to leave.  We shook hands.  She smiled warmly, keeping my hand in hers longer than the standard business handshake.   “It’s been good getting to know you Mike, even though you had an ulterior motive.  Maybe sometime can we do this without the business agenda?”

“Sure, I’d love that,” I readily agreed.

Late that evening I called the unlisted number of Curtis Dixon, my silent partner in the filmmaking enterprise.

Curtis answered in his usual brash manner.  “Hey Mikey, what you got for me?”

“Hi Curt.  Think I found a model for you.  She’s a real beauty.”

“She got big boobs?”

“No, but she’s a real looker.”

“She a blonde?”

“Brunette.”

“You sign her up?”

“Not yet.  But she’s definitely interested.”

“What’s the chance she’ll model for us?”

“Better than 50-50, I’d say.”

“Call me back when this chick is ready to sit in the chair, Mikey.  Anything else?”

“That’s it, Curt.  I’ll call back when I’ve got something definite.”

“Good boy, Mikey.  Keep prospecting.  Someday you’ll hit pay dirt—blonde, good looking, with real big tits—all in one perfect package.”

That was Curt, always with his eye on the bottom line when it wasn’t fastened on some woman’s breasts.  Making money was his main concern, and he was good at it.  His primary business was running a rather shady nightclub, but he was always looking for other ventures.  I worried that Kathleen might be repulsed if she met my sleazy partner.  I was sure she had no experience dealing with characters like him.  If she decided to make the video she would have to be approved by Curtis.  There was no way to avoid him, and that could be a problem.

Over the next week I waited for my phone to ring, but there was no word from Kathleen.  Each day without a message on my answering machine whittled away at my optimism.  After a month with no response I decided that the super-short haircuts depicted in Curt’s videos had scared her off.  This wasn’t terribly surprising.  Very few young women, no matter how strapped for cash they were, would willingly submit to the extreme haircuts our clients preferred.  Vanity usually won out over poverty.

However, ten days later I finally received the call I’d been waiting for.  “Hello Mike, it’s Kathleen.  Remember me?”

“Of course I remember you.  I never forget a pretty face.”

“Or a head of long hair,” she pointedly added.

“Are you calling to say yes?” I asked hopefully.

“I’m calling to say I’d like to talk with your partner.  I saw the kind of films he sells; I did some research.  Those are not instructional films.  You sell them to men with fetishes; guys who get off on seeing girls having their hair chopped off.  They’re one step removed from pornography.”

“I’m not going to argue with you, Kathleen.  Some folks find our films instructional; others consider them erotic.  It takes all kinds.”

“I’m sure it does.  If people are willing to pay, I’m sure people like your partner will make the films they want to see.”

“So, are you considering modeling for us?”

“I am, Mike.  The balance in my savings account is double zero.  My credit card is maxed out.  I can’t earn enough from the waitressing job to make ends meet.  I don’t have many options besides except moving back home with Mom and Dad, and I’m not ready to do that.  So I’d like to talk with your partner.”

“All right.  I’ll set up an appointment.  Curtis will spell out all the details; the two of you can negotiate.  If you and he agree on a price, we’ll draw up a contract.”

“Will you be involved?” she inquired hopefully.

“Oh, I’ll be there all right, but Curtis handles all the finances.  If you two agree on a number, I’ll take care of the details.  That’s me, the detail guy.”

 

Two days later, promptly at four, Kathleen arrived at a nondescript office building located in a rather seedy part of town.  I was waiting in the nearly vacant parking lot and stepped out of my Lexus as Kathleen emerged from her beat up Civic.  She was dressed to impress in a tight fitting hot pink sheath and stiletto heels.  I noticed she was wearing lip gloss, eye shadow, and mascara—much more makeup than at our previous meeting.  I took this as a good sign.  She had seen how the models in our films were made up and copied their look.  Her gleaming hair was pulled back into a high pony tail that swung as she walked toward me.  Even at that distance I was getting turned on.

”Kathleen, it’s good to see you again,” I called.  “Right on time.  I like that.  How are you?”

“Hello Mike,” she replied.  “I’m okay, I guess.”

“Nervous?” I asked.

“Sure, I’m nervous,” she confessed.  “This is a big step for me.  I don’t know what to expect.”

“You’ve got nothing to worry about,” I assured her.  “Curt will explain everything; go over all the details.  If you’ve got any questions, he’ll answer them.  If you’re not completely happy with the deal you can walk away.  There’s no obligation.”

“Yes, I know that,” she told me.  “But that doesn’t make me less nervous.  I guess I’m afraid that I’ll say yes.”

“And we’re hoping that you will, but not unless you’re completely satisfied with the terms and conditions.”

She glanced at her watch.  “Your partner is expecting us.  Let’s go in”

We walked to the entrance together.  I held the door and ushered Kathleen into an unmarked office suite.  We walked through a deserted reception area toward a back room.  A heavyset man sporting a thin mustache rose from his desk to greet us.  With his slicked back hair and sharkskin suit, Curtis looked like a character out of “The Sopranos.”

“Hey Mikey, how you doing?” he boomed.  Then, turning to Kathleen, he extended his manicured hand.  “And you must be the lady Mike’s been telling me so much about.”  His eyes critically roamed Kathleen’s trim figure.  “I see now why he’s so hot to have you sign with us,” he leered.  “I’m Curtis Dixon, but most folks call me Curt.”

Kathleen blushed and shook his hand. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Dixon,” she said in a voice barely louder than a whisper.

“Take a seat, darlin’, please,” he told her without sitting himself.  When she was seated he walked behind Kathleen’s chair.  “If you don’t mind, sweetheart, undo your ponytail.  I’m sure you understand why I need to check out the goods before we make any commitment.”

“Of course,” Kathleen replied coolly as she reached behind her head and removed the elastic band that bound her dark locks.  She shook her head so her hair spread out around her shoulders and the grown out bangs fell in her face.  The dramatic contrast with the fabric of her dress made her hair seem even more luxurious.

Curt handed her a brush.  “Now brush it out if you don’t mind.”

Kathleen did as she was told.  Curt watched intently as she groomed her shining locks, a sly smile spreading across his slightly sinister face.  “Nice, very nice,” he whistled as he stepped behind his polished oak desk.  “Mikey, you weren’t lying.  This babe is the real deal.” I was delighted.  My partner didn’t usually display so much enthusiasm in front of a potential model.

“My dear, I think we can do some business,” Curtis beamed.  He then explained in detail how his films were made, marketed, and distributed.  Kathleen listened solemnly and did not interrupt.  After fifteen minutes of his non-stop sales pitch he paused.

“Now let me explain our fee structure.  Mikey tells me that you find our standard amount too low.  After seeing you in person I can assure you that we are willing to go higher.  Here’s what I’m prepared to offer.  I’d like to see a series of haircuts.  The first one would cut off about ten inches of your hair, so it just brushes your shoulders.  Our barber would also give you bangs to complete the look.  For that we will pay you $500.  The second haircut would give you a neat little bob, about chin length.  You’d get $500 more for that one.  The third cut would be what we call a little boy’s cut—short on the back and sides, but longer on the top.  That would be worth another $500.  The fourth number would be spiky and short on top, about two inches long at most.  That would put another $500 in your pocket.  If you go from there to a buzz cut, that would be worth another $500.  If you’re willing to be shaved completely bald, you would receive a $1,000 bonus.”

Kathleen sat silent, deep in thought.  “If I consent to the first two haircuts, I’ll get $1,000, right?”

“That’s right, honey,” Curt confirmed.

“If I go for the short and spiky cut you’ll pay me $2,000 total?”

“You got it, babe.”

“And it would be $3,500 if I let you shave my head.”

“Right again.  Say, you got a real good head for figures.”

Kathleen ignored Curt’s compliment.  “Well, I can tell you right now that I will not be shaved.  That’s just too extreme.”

“Okay, I understand,” Curt replied.  “What about the buzz cut?”

“How short would that be?”

“About a quarter-inch all over.”

“Still too extreme,” she declared firmly.

“What about short and spiky?” he quickly inquired, sensing that Kathleen might be willing to go that far.

“Do you have a picture?  I’d like to see what you have in mind before I agree to anything.”

Curtis opened a folder on his desk and extended an 8 x 10 color photo.

Kathleen studied the photo intently, saying nothing for two minutes.  Both of us waited anxiously for her reply.  Finally she broke the silence.  “I could do this one, but not for $2,000.”

“How much would it take?”

“I’d be willing to do it for $3000.  That will pay my rent for six months.  “I won’t take a penny less.”

Curtis sat with his arms folded across his chest.  I sensed he and Kathleen had reached an impasse.  He had only paid that much once before, and it was to a very well-endowed blonde who left our studio with her head shaved bare as a cue ball.  I could feel the deal slipping away.

“Kathleen, why don’t you step outside for a moment?” I said.  “Curt and I need a little privacy.”

She rose silently, went into the outer office, shutting the door behind her.

“Are you crazy, Curt?  You can’t let this babe walk away.” I argued passionately.  “The video of her short haircut will sell a thousand units easy.  You’re going to make bundle of money with that girl.  Give her what she wants.”

“I dunno Mikey.  You know the only time I went that high was for that blonde who shaved her head.  You remember that sexy babe?  This chick is cute, I’ll grant you that, but she’s hardly got any boobs.  She doesn’t rate high on my sex meter”

“Curt, you gotta realize that 99% of our customers don’t give a damn about boobs,” I pleaded.  “All they want to see is hair falling on the floor, lots of it.  Our guys will love seeing Kathleen getting her hair cut; they’ll go crazy, I guarantee it.  So she’s not real sexy, so what?  She’s the sweet, innocent, girl next door type.  Lots of guys dig that.”

“Lots of guys like you, Mikey, ain’t that what you’re saying?  I think you’re sweet on this broad.  You’re letting your cock mess with your brain.  Look, I’m the one putting up the bucks here and I don’t wanna wind up in the red if her video don’t sell.”

“Tell you what, Curt,” I countered, “if you’re so concerned about losing money, I’ll take half my usual commission.  If her video sells more than a thousand units in the first twelve months, then you’ll give me the full amount.  How does that sound?”

“Sounds like you’re thinking with your cock, Mikey,” my partner sneered.

“So what if I am?” I argued.  “It won’t cost you a dime.  Do we have a deal?”

“Yeah, sure, it’s a deal.  Go ahead and take care of the details with the broad.  Set up the shoot for next Friday—6 PM in the usual place.  Call Della; see if she’s available to do the haircut.  She’ll add some sex appeal for guys like me who like big boobs.  I’m outta here, Mikey.  Gotta get back to the club before those lousy bartenders rob me blind.”

After Curtis disappeared out the back entrance, I opened the office door and saw Kathleen seated on a couch looking slightly apprehensive. “Kathleen, can you come in?” I called.

As soon as she saw Curtis was gone Kathleen’s face grew more concerned.  “Where did he go, your partner, I mean?”

“He had to get back to his club.  That’s his main business; making movies is just a sideline.”

“He doesn’t want to film me, does he?  I could see it in his eyes as soon as I said my price was $3,000.  Your partner doesn’t like me.  He probably thinks I’m a greedy bitch.  But I’m not being greedy, Mike, that’s what I need to get by on until I can find a steady job.”

“Relax, honey.  It’s nothing personal.  Curtis is a businessman from start to finish.  He’s only concerned about making a buck.  But we were able to work something out.”

“You were?” Kathleen asked hopefully.  “It doesn’t involve shaving my head, does it?  You know I won’t go that far.”

“Relax, honey,” I assured her.  “Curt agreed to pay you the full amount—$3,000—and you won’t have to cut your hair any shorter than the spiky cut he showed you.”

“How did you manage that?  I could see he didn’t want to pay that much.”

“Let’s just say I can be very persuasive when I want to be.”

“I suppose I should thank you, Mike, but I’m not sure.  Now I’ll have to get my hair cut and that’s going to be very traumatic.  I’ll probably start blubbering like a baby and ruin your film.”

“Nonsense, you’re gonna be great, Kathleen. There’s nothing wrong with a few tears.  It makes the film more realistic.  Now there are a few details we need to go over.”

I handed her a contract and showed her where to sign.  Once I saw Kathleen’s signature, I wrote out a check for $500.  “This is a down payment,” he explained.  “You’ll get the remaining $2,500 when we finish shooting.”

“What shall I wear?” she asked.

“Something pretty; something sexy and revealing.  You got anything like that?”

“Last summer I bought a short red dress.  It’s got spaghetti straps and a neckline that’s cut pretty low.”

“Sounds like just the number,” I declared.  “Don’t worry about makeup; we’ll have someone to take care of that.  Wash your hair in the morning; use lots of conditioner.  Just show up at this address at 6 PM on Friday and we’ll take it from there.”

“I wish I could be as confident as you are, Mike.  I’m afraid that I’ll do or say something stupid to ruin your film.  Then Curtis won’t want to pay me.  He’s not a nice man, I can tell.”

“Curt’s no Boy Scout, you’re right about that, but you’ll be fine.  If you like, I can tell him to stay away while we’re shooting.”

“Yes, I’d like that,” she said.

“Sure, no problem,” I assured her.  “He doesn’t need to be there.  I’ll take care of it.”

“Yes, I’d prefer if you were in charge; I’ll feel much better that way,” she told me gratefully.

“Well, that takes care of it,” I informed her.  “Show up at six o’clock sharp and you’ll have your money by eight.  If anything comes up, you have my number, just call.”

I walked Kathleen to the door.  “I can’t wait to see you with short hair,” I told her as she prepared to leave.

She surprised me with a hug that was more than businesslike.  “I hope you’ll like me with my hair cut short,” she whispered in my ear.

I watched Kathleen cross the parking lot and get into her old car.  I stood in the doorway until she was out of sight.  Usually I don’t get emotionally involved with the girls I recruit for Curt’s films, but Kathleen was different.  She seemed so innocent and vulnerable.  She reminded me of my kid sister who was about the same age.  I felt the need to protect her.  Yet, at the same time, I was getting turned on by the thought of her impending haircut.

I’ve nursed a fetish for short hair for as long as I can remember.  I was the one who told Curt there was money to be made shooting young girls getting their hair cut.  “You’re joshing me, ain’t you, Mikey?” Curt had said when I first proposed that we become partners.  “You mean straight guys are gonna pay good money to watch stupid haircut videos?  No sex or nothing?”

I assured him that if we found attractive models, used high quality cameras and sound equipment, and hired an experienced film editor it would be easy money.  Curtis already had some experience making porno films, but he found it hard to compete with bigger commercial operations.  Shooting haircut videos was an appealing alternative, a niche market without too much competition.  “You sure this is legit?” he asked.  I told him that the only way we could get in trouble was if the girls were underage.  As long as the models were old enough and signed the proper releases, there would be no problems.  Other firms produced similar films, but they were low quality amateur outfits; they couldn’t compete with a professional company.  As we got established in the business, I introduced Curt to the hair fetish world and acted as his technical consultant.  Brisk sales of our first videos quickly covered production costs.  After that Curt was sold.

 

It was ten o’clock Thursday night when my cell phone rang, the one I use for business calls.  Right away I sensed trouble.

“Mike, it’s Kathleen.  I hope you don’t mind me calling so late.”

“Not at all, Kathleen.  Is there a problem?”

“Mike, I can’t do it.  All week long I’ve been thinking about the haircut.  I don’t think I can go through with it.  I’m going to panic; I do that sometimes.  I’m going to freak out.  I’ll start screaming or go completely hysterical.  Ill ruin the video and Curtis won’t pay me.  He’ll probably make me pay back the $500.”

I tried to assure her.  “Kathleen, you’re gonna be great.  You’re gonna be a star.  Nothing will happen, believe me.”

“You don’t know me, Mike.  It’s happened before.  In high school I had a part in the senior musical, not a big part, just a few lines, but I froze.  I was standing in the middle of the stage on opening night; my family was in the audience, so proud of me, and I forgot my lines.  Everyone was waiting for me to say something, but I couldn’t get the words out.  Finally, another girl said my lines and then they pushed me off the stage. Needless to say, I was replaced for the rest of the performances.”

“Okay, Kathleen.  I’ve got a solution for your stage fright.”

“What is it?”

“You just sit tight.  Give me your address and I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

Kathleen opened her apartment door as soon as I knocked.  “You got here fast,” she observed.

“Got here as fast as I could.  It sounds like an emergency.”

“It is an emergency,” she agreed.  “Mike, I don’t think I can go through with it.  I don’t want to get my hair cut tomorrow.  Will Curtis be angry?”

“You bet he’ll be angry.  But it’s happened before.  He’ll get over it.  Just give him back the five hundred bucks and he’ll be okay.”

“I can’t do that, Mike.  I already spent the money.  My rent was two weeks late.  I just signed the check over to my landlady.  I’m flat broke.”

I was tempted to loan her the money.  That would have been the gentlemanly thing to do, but I wanted to see Kathleen with her hair cut short.  I wanted to witness her transformation into a short-haired beauty.  Instead, I told her, “Then you really do have a problem.  Curt has some very mean guys working for him.  You don’t want to be home when they come looking for his five hundred bucks.”

“Oh Mike, what am I going to do?” she sobbed.

“There is one possible solution.”

“What’s that?” she asked hopefully.

“Take one of these little pills tonight and another one tomorrow before you come to the studio.”

“What are they?” she asked hesitantly.  “I don’t do drugs.”

“These are just tranquillizers,” I explained.  “One will help you sleep tonight.  The other will calm you down before the shoot tomorrow.”

“What’s in them?  They’re not addictive, are they?”

“No, they’re not addictive like pain pills.  These are perfectly safe.  Millions of ordinary people take them every day with no ill effects.  Get a glass of water and take one now. But don’t drink any alcohol.  That’s not a good idea.”

Kathleen did as she was told, swallowed the pill, stepped closer, and kissed me on the cheek.  “Thanks, Mike.  You’re the best.  I’ll be there tomorrow—6 o’clock sharp.”

“You sure you’re going to be okay?  I can stay here if you like.”

“No.  I think I’ll be all right,” she assured me.  “I feel better already.”

“Get a good night’s sleep.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Kathleen arrived at the studio at the appointed hour wearing the revealing red dress she had described.  I greeted her at the door and planted a friendly kiss on her cheek.  “You look lovely, my dear.  Your dress is just perfect.  How do you feel?”

“I’m nervous as can be.  Hundreds of butterflies are having a convention in my stomach.  I’m just barely holding together.”

“Did you take the pill?” I whispered.

“Yes, and it helped.  Let’s get started before it wears off.”

I took her by the hand and led her inside the studio.  A simple salon chair was positioned in front of a blue canvas backdrop.  Two large cameras were positioned on either side of the chair.  An array of spotlights illuminated the set.  A busty blonde woman wearing a white barber’s smock approached us and extended her hand.  “Hi, I’m Della,” she said warmly, “and you must be Kathleen.  Mike said you were pretty; he didn’t tell me you were beautiful.  Your skin is so clear and lovely; your eyes are haunting; your lips need a little color and they’ll be luscious.”

Turning to me, Della said, ‘Mike, you better get your vision checked.  This girl is not just attractive, she’s drop dead gorgeous.”  Kathleen blushed at the unexpected compliment.  I could see that Della was beginning to put her at ease.

Della took her client by the hand.  “Come over here with me, honey, we’re going to give you the works, not that you need it, but because that’s what I get paid to do around here.”

The hairdresser led Kathleen off to the side, seated her in a tall chair and went to work applying foundation, blush, lipstick and gloss, eye shadow, mascara, and eyeliner.  Kathleen patiently endured the beauty treatment.  When Della was done she held up a mirror so her client could observe the finished product.  “So, what do you think, honey?”

“Wow!” she exclaimed.  “Who is this girl?  She looks so glamorous.”

“It’s you, honey; the new you,” I offered.  “When we’re done with the haircut perhaps Della can give you some pointers on applying the makeup.”

“Sure, Mike,” Della replied.  “Be happy to give Kathleen a little clinic.  But first we need to do her hair.  You ready honey?”

“I guess so,” Kathleen replied, still sounding unsure of herself.

Della had plenty of experience dealing with uneasy models.  She took Kathleen by the hand, led her over to the vacant salon chair, and gently steered her into the seat.  “We’ll get the cameras rolling in just a minute.  You just sit there, look pretty, and let me do all the work.  Before you know it, your haircut will be done and you’ll look even more beautiful.

“I will cry,” Kathleen said, her voice quaking with emotion.

“You go right ahead and cry if that’s what you need to do.  Lots of girls cry when I start cutting.  It’s a perfectly normal reaction.  I’ll work as quickly as possible, but if you need a break, just say so and we’ll turn off the cameras.”

Kathleen sat quietly as Della busied herself preparing the instruments she would need.  Some women chattered compulsively while being sheared, making jokes and random observations as a diversion from their ordeal.  Kathleen’s reaction was the opposite; she scarcely said a word.  I recognized her silence as a coping mechanism; a method to hold her emotions in check.  I realized that she feared any conversation might betray the grief she felt over submitting to this radical makeover.  It was a dignified response to a very stressful situation, consistent with everything I had observed about her shy and unassuming character.

Joe, the chief cameraman, switched on the powerful lights and took his position behind the big camera. His assistant stood ready next to the second camera. He nodded to the two women and began filming.  Della approached from the rear with a white tissue in her hand.  She pulled Kathleen’s long locks out of the way as she fastened the wide strip around her client’s exposed neck.  Kathleen bit her lip and blinked back her tears.  The tissue was followed by a maroon cape that completely shielded her dress and bare shoulders.  The blonde barber carefully arranged the cloth over the tissue, leaving a two-inch white collar between the protective cape and Kathleen’s head.  Our model looked vulnerable and helpless.  I suspected she was having second thoughts; I could see the anxiety and regret written on her face.  Yet, she had signed the contract and willingly climbed into the chair.  She had gone too far to back out now.

Some girls in our films are happy to have their hair cut; they smile for the camera and act like they can’t wait for the barber to begin cutting.  Kathleen definitely wasn’t one of these eager victims.  She bit her lip and blinked back her tears as Della began spraying and combing her abundant tresses, a picture of sadness as she contemplated the haircut that was moments from beginning.  I felt a surge of sympathy for this beautiful young woman whose long hair would soon lie scattered on the floor.  At the same time, I knew Kathleen’s silent struggle to maintain her composure would enhance the commercial value of the film we were shooting.  Many customers wanted more than a simple haircut.  Adding a layer of drama on top of the actual hair cutting promised to make this video a more poignant spectacle.

Kathleen held her head erect, projecting an air of dignified resignation.  She reminded me of an English noblewoman like Anne Boleyn or Mary Queen of Scots bravely putting her head on the executioner’s chopping block.  I admired her courage.  This was the point of no return, the time when some models changed their minds, throwing up their hands, bolting from the chair, sobbing hysterically that they could not go through with the haircut. I was certain that this dark-haired beauty was not going to back out.  For better or worse, she was committed.

Joe rolled his camera in for a close-up.  A pensive Kathleen appeared lost in thought.  No doubt she was contemplating her impending conversion to short hair.  Would she regret her decision?  Would she look attractive with a short haircut?  Before long she would find out.

It was cruel, I know, but I knew her visible anxiety would enhance the value of our film.

Della circled the chair, spraying Kathleen’s dark hair and combing the luxurious locks that hung almost to her bra strap. She neatly sectioned her hair, pinning half to the top of Kathleen’s head while the bottom section remained spread across her shoulder blades.  Our model’s expression never changed, but I imagined she must be feeling heightened anxiety as her shearing neared.

The blonde barber took her scissors in hand, and carefully cut a ten-inch swatch from Kathleen’s dampened mane.  I watched with rising excitement as more ribbons of severed hair slid down the cape and came to rest on the floor.  Della carefully cut a straight line from right to left so the tips of Kathleen’s hair now ended just at shoulder level.  After the bottom section was cut to the desired length, Della released the clips so the remaining long hair fell down and resumed cutting just as she had done the first time.  She worked slowly and precisely, making sure every lock was cut to exactly the same length.

When the back was done Della sifted to the left side and continued cutting at the same length.  Within minutes, Kathleen’s hair was cut all the way around.  She didn’t cry as she had predicted, but she didn’t smile either.  The same solemn expression was plastered across her face as her hair was dramatically reduced in length.

Next came the bangs.  Della placed her comb half way up Kathleen’s crown and pulled a mass of raven hair down over her forehead.  She blinked and peered through the dark veil now covering her face.  Della placed her scissors at the bridge of Kathleen’s nose and began cutting.  These would not be brief, mini-bangs. She was creating full, lush bangs that would completely conceal her customer’s pale brow.

Kathleen did not flinch as bits of hair fell from the scissors and landed in her lap.  She stoically endured repeated snipping as Della extended the bangs beyond her forehead and angled them slightly downward toward each ear.  When she combed the newly outlined bangs a second time and continued making minor adjustments until they were perfectly even, I recognized that this barber was a perfectionist.

Our model appeared to breathe a sigh of relief when Della exchanged her comb and scissors for a round styling brush and blow dryer.  She realized that the cutting was over, at least for the moment.  The barber directed a blast of hot air at Kathleen’s shoulder length hair and began shaping the new haircut so the ends curved slightly inward.  For five minutes the dryer’s drone was the only sound in the studio as the barber put the finishing touches on her creation.  When at last Della was satisfied she shut off the dryer and removed the cape and tissue that had shielded Kathleen’s clothing.

Della held a mirror so her client could see the marvelous haircut she had fashioned.  For the first time since her haircut began, Kathleen displayed an emotion other than fear and dread.  “I love it!” she exclaimed as a broad smile lit up her face.  I had to agree.  It was a perfect page boy style reminiscent of Prince Valiant from the Sunday comic strips of my youth.   Kathleen playfully tossed her glossy locks from side to side, enjoying the novel sensation of shortened hair flipping across her face.

Della signaled to Joe who switched off the lights.  We would take a break before progressing to the next stage of Kathleen’s haircut, if there was a next stage.  I worried that Kathleen might be so enchanted with this superb new style and that she would decide to stop here.

“You were great!” I told her as I walked up to the chair.

“Oh Mike, I love this look.  My hair has never looked so wonderful.  Della certainly is a marvelous stylist.”

“It’s going to be a shame to ruin it, but you know that this style is only temporary,” I reminded her.

“Oh, Mike, do we have to?” she pleaded.

“You can stop at any time, you know that, but you will leave without the money we agreed on.”

“Yes, I know,” she sighed.  “But give me just a minute more to enjoy this look.”

I let Kathleen have another minute to inspect this first haircut before signaling the resumption of filming.  As a dedicated connoisseur of women’s haircuts I had to agree that defiling Della’s masterpiece would be criminal, but that’s exactly what was about to happen.  Della would use her demonstrated talent to create another, dramatically shorter, hair style for Kathleen.  No doubt our model would be sad to part with more of her raven tresses, but my excitement was mounting.  Her first haircut was thrilling, but the next one promised to be even better.

I motioned to Joe, and the bright lights came back on.  Della resumed her position behind the chair with the cape draped over her arm.  Kathleen understood that we were ready to continue filming and once again took her seat.  The smile had disappeared from her face, but she appeared calm and ready to continue.  Della wound a second wide band of tissue around her neck, only this time there was no need to lift her customer’s long hair out of the way.  Once more she fastened the cape around Kathleen’s shoulders, completely overspreading her sexy little dress.  Our beautiful model again resembled a spring lamb waiting to be shorn.

Della sprayed a fine mist of water over Kathleen’s marvelous page boy and started combing her locks although they really didn’t need it.  She sectioned the dark brown hair and again clipped the upper portion atop Kathleen’s head.  Her look grew more solemn as Della took up her scissors and placed them at Kathleen’s neck.  Our model bowed her head, acknowledging her fate, as her barber grasped the damp hair between the fingers of her left hand and began cutting with her right.  These cuts were less severe than the first round, removing only three inches from the back of Kathleen’s head.  Della continued, creating a straight line that left Kathleen’s hair at collar length, exposing her lovely neck.

Kathleen sat quietly with longer hair still hanging on both sides of her head, more than enough to cover her ears.  I didn’t have long to wait before discovering what Della planned to do with these sections.  She began slicing upward at an angle, removing considerably more hair than she had from the back.  With a few expert snips, she exposed half of Kathleen’s delicate ear.  I saw now that Della planned to continue the line from Kathleen’s bangs diagonally downward down until they connected with the shortened hair at her neckline.  The remarkable page boy style was being jettisoned in favor of a delightful cap of dark brown hair.  To my relief, Della kept Kathleen’s sumptuous bangs at the same length, still covering her forehead and eyebrows.

After finishing both sides, our barber exchanged her scissors for the blow dryer and styled Kathleen’s shortened locks a second time.  I knew our model was concerned about the outcome of this haircut.  Before we began filming she confided to me that her hair had never been shorter than shoulder length, but her expression never varied while Della as snipped and sliced.  She remained outwardly composed, although I suspected she was shuddering inside.  Kathleen was proving to be a real trooper.

I thought this new haircut was charming, perhaps not as elegant as the first one, but a look that most women would love to wear.  Nevertheless, I worried that our model would call a halt to the shoot if she was displeased with this creation.

Della removed the cape and tissue and then slowly turned the chair so the camera could capture the new cut from every angle.  The sight of Kathleen’s bare neck and shoulders sent a thrill through my body.  This new style was considerably more sophisticated than the uncomplicated lines of her previous cut.  She looked more mature and professional, less like a schoolgirl.  But my opinion was not the one that counted.  Kathleen managed a weak smile when Della held the mirror, but it was clear that she didn’t share my enthusiasm.

“Darling, you look marvelous,” I told her, doing my best Billy Crystal imitation.

“Do you really think so, Mike?” she plaintively asked.  “It’s so short.  My hair’s never been this short before.”

“Short hair really suits you,” I said, trying to shore up her sagging morale.  “You have a lovely neck and this style really draws attention to your beautiful eyes.”

“I bet you say that to all of the girls who get their hair cut,” she said, gamely trying to make a joke of it.

“Of course, I do,” I admitted, “but this time I really mean it.”

After a brief interlude, Della chimed in.  “Okay, ready to get started again?”

I feared that Kathleen might call it quits, but she resumed her position in the chair.  I appreciated that she was someone who took her commitments seriously.  Once she had agreed to do something, it was unlikely she would renege, no matter how difficult or unpleasant the task.

Della covered Kathleen with the tissue and cape for the third time as she swallowed hard in anticipation of the next stage of her transformation.  The blonde barber combed her hair and pinned the longer hair on top once again leaving a section above her neck exposed.  Instead of using scissors, she powered up a set of clippers with a long guard over the blades.  This was the moment where some models flipped out; the thought of having their hair cut with clippers was more than they could bear.  To her credit, Kathleen did not try to escape when she heard the ominous buzzing in her ears.  The tranquilizer she swallowed earlier had had the desired effect.  Della placed her hand on Kathleen’s head and the compliant victim meekly bowed her head to accept the next haircut.

Della placed the clippers at the base of Kathleen’s neck and guided them upward into her dark mane.  I watched with growing arousal as she repeatedly sent the blades part way up the back of her head.  The guide was a large one and did not produce a drastic change, but after a few passes the glossy patch of longish hair was replaced by a neatly clippered thick brown pelt ending in a short feathery fringe.  Della then removed the guide and used the clippers’ inverted blades to remove a few fine hairs and carve a clean straight line across Kathleen’s neck.

The blonde barber let down the hair pinned atop her client’s head, sprayed and combed it, and took up her scissors.  She trimmed some of the length from the back, and then used a razor to fashion a more graduated, tapered look.  Della did not touch the sides or the top this time.  Her only other change was to draw a part down the left side of Kathleen’s head, brushing her bangs across her forehead instead of straight down.

This third haircut was not an extreme alteration like the other two, but the shortened back gave a hint of what was to come.  I must admit that I wasn’t in love with this style.  Kathleen appeared relived that there was little visible change from her previous look.  When Della offered her the chance to take another break she declined.

“No, let’s go ahead and get this over with,” she replied.

Kathleen seemed almost impatient to continue.  Having seen many of the haircuts Della administered, I knew this next one would be considerably shorter and would involve more extensive clipper work.  I was delighted that we had reached this stage without incident, but feared Kathleen’s reaction when Della resumed.  Still, I couldn’t wait to see her with the short spiked style she had agreed to wear.

After Kathleen posed for another set of still photos, Della held the tissue for the final time.  Kathleen tilted her chin upward so the white collar could fit around her neck.  Then came the cape.  I checked her eyes for tears, but none appeared.  Della approached from behind with her clippers humming, but Kathleen gave no hint of the emotion she must have been feeling.  I thought she was incredibly brave.

This time Della pushed the clippers higher up Kathleen’s head.  Each upward thrust ended with a flick of her wrist that sent a clump of thick dark hair tumbling toward the floor.  The merciless blades did the job they were designed to do, mowing her gleaming locks into a shortened fleece that extended half way to her crown.

Next Della aimed her clippers at the sides of Kathleen’s head.  Here the change was more revealing as the hungry clippers chewed off all of the hair hiding her ears, imparting a decidedly masculine image.  The sophistication of her previous cut was gone, replaced by a boyish look, one that I found far more exciting than any of her previous styles.  Only Kathleen’s bangs and the hair on top of her head retained some of their original length and I knew this would not last for long.

Our barber sprayed and combed Kathleen’s remaining longer hair in preparation for the final assault.  Working methodically, Della seized a section from the top between her fingers and sliced away three inches before moving on to the next piece.  Stopping regularly to check the length, she systematically reduced the top until no hair was more than two inches long.  Random tufts stood straight up, giving a hint of the finished look.

Della trimmed around Kathleen’s ears and up the side of her face until her forehead was the only place where her hair retained any length.  The barber then combed Kathleen’s bangs to the front and drew a horizontal part across the front of her head.  The section behind the part was cut as short as the rest of the top.  My heart was racing raced as our single-minded barber lopped off three-inch pieces that fell past Kathleen’s face.

 

 

 

Now it was time to reduce the bangs to a length consistent with the rest of the style.  Della wetted the front of Kathleen’s head and took up a cutthroat razor.  Holding the bangs between her fingers, the barber sliced away about half of their length.  Bangs that had been thick and even were transformed into a jagged, feathery fringe that that bared a wide swath of her pale forehead.   This was far more than I had expected, and it created a look totally different from any of the previous haircuts.

I thought Della was finished, but she took up her scissors again and, apparently not yet satisfied, resumed cutting the hair on top of Kathleen’s head shorter still.  I wondered how much more our model could stand, but she stoically endured these final cuts.

One last time Della turned on the blow dryer and aimed a blast of hot hair at the radically shortened hair on top of Kathleen’s head.  She coaxed it upward with her fingers until all of it was standing upright in a thicket of dramatic spikes, none longer than two inches.  As a final touch, Della worked a handful of gel into Kathleen’s shortened hair, teasing and pulling individual strands until at last she was done.

Della removed the cape and brushed a few stray bits of hair from Kathleen’s neck and shoulders.  Our model sat perfectly still as Della slowly rotated the chair, displaying her creation from every angle.  Kathleen peered into the camera, her icy blue eyes revealing none of the ordeal she had just endured.  Her gaze was cool, almost haughty, as if to say she was impervious to any criticism from those might ask why she sacrificed her crowning glory.

I was stunned by her transformation.  I knew Della was a skilled barber, but this was her best work by far.  Where Kathleen’s gorgeous dark mane had once hung in a satin curtain nearly to the middle of her back, a profusion of short spikes now sprouted in every direction from her scalp.  Her neck and ears, once hidden, were now fearlessly exposed.  Except for her piercing eyes and flawless complexion, I would not have recognized her as the same young woman who entered the studio two hours earlier.  Before she was attractive, but her beauty was buried beneath a thick layer of hair.  Now she looked confident and bold, no longer a timid wallflower.  I only hoped she wouldn’t hate me for engineering this makeover.

Della held a mirror so Kathleen could see the finished work. “Is that me?” she asked, stunned by her amazing new look.

She reached her hand up to feel the clippered hair on the back of her head.  “It’s so short,” she murmured.  “I didn’t think it would be this short.”

“Honey, you look absolutely spectacular.  You’re gonna stop traffic when you go out in public,” Della said, trying to cheer up her stunned customer.

“But I’m not sure I want to stop traffic,” Kathleen complained.  “I’d rather not stand out.”

“That’s not going to happen, honey.  You’re a natural born beauty.  You’re gonna have to get used to it.”

At last Kathleen rose from the chair.  It had been a taxing couple of hours and I could see she was emotionally spent.  I held out the check for her modeling fee.  “Here’s the rest of your fee.  You earned every penny of it.”

She said nothing as the folded the check, tucked it into the bodice of her dress, and started for the exit.  “I was going to show you some makeup tricks,” Della called to her.

“Some other time.  I’ve got to go home now,” she called over her shoulder as she hurried out into the night.

I congratulated the blonde barber.  “That was an incredible haircut, Della, your best work by far,”

“Yeah, I thought so too, Mike.  That girl is a real knockout.  You’re gonna make a lot of money selling that video.”

“I think you’re right.  I just wish Kathleen wasn’t so emotional.”

“She’ll get over it, Mike,” Della assured me.  “Sometimes it takes a while to get used to a big change like that one.  You gotta get acquainted with a completely different person.”

“Della, you’re the best.  It was a pleasure watching you work.”

“Yeah, I could see you were enjoying yourself,” she said with a knowing wink as she reached down to pat my rock-hard cock.

 

Five weeks later my phone rang late in the evening.  I wasn’t expecting a call.  A sweet voice greeted me.  “Hello Mike.  It’s Kathleen.  Remember me?”

“Kathleen!  What a surprise.  Of course I remember you.  How are you?”

“I’m just fine, Mike.  How are you?”

“Frankly, I’m delighted.  When we parted last time I wasn’t sure I’d ever hear from you again.”

“Sorry if I left in a rush.  I was an emotional mess that night.  I had gone through such a radical change.  I just needed some time by myself to process what had happened; to get used to my new image.”

“And how did that turn out?” I asked.

“Just fine, I’m happy to report.  It took a few days to adjust to being a short-haired woman.  I’d had long hair for such a long time.  But everything’s fine now.”

“I’m glad to hear that.  I was worried when I didn’t hear from you again, afraid that you were angry with me.”

“No way, Mike.  You helped me get back on my feet financially.  I’ll always be grateful.  You were a gentleman, even if you did approach me under false pretenses.”

“Yeah.  I apologize for that.”

“No need to apologize.  I forgave you the minute I cashed my check.  But you’re probably wondering why I called.”

“Yes. I suppose this isn’t just a friendly social call.”

“You’re right, although I hope we are still friends.  I need your help.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Do you have Della’s phone number?”

“Of course.  You gonna get your hair cut again?”

“Right, nothing radical this time, but I’ve got a job interview next week and I want to look my best.”

“Great.  I’ll give you her number if you agree to meet me for dinner after your job interview.  I want to hear all about it.”

“Sure thing, Mike.  It’ll be great seeing you again.”

So I gave Kathleen the number she needed and we made plans to meet at a cozy Italian restaurant not far from her apartment.

The days passed slowly.  Although Kathleen was friendly over the phone, I worried that she was only being nice to me to get Della’s number.  Would she show up at the agreed upon time or would she stand me up?  If she did show, would she be interested in a more intimate relationship?  I knew she didn’t have a serious boyfriend at the time we made the video of her haircut, she was a beautiful woman who probably attracted lots of male attention with her stunning new haircut.

 

I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and selected a table with a view of the entrance so I could observe Kathleen before she saw me.  I didn’t have to wait long.  She walked through the front door looking every bit as beautiful as she had six weeks before.  She scanned the room, then smiled and waved when she spotted me.  I rose to meet her.  I wondered, would she greet me with a businesslike handshake or a friendly hug?  My question was answered when she wrapped her arms around me in a very warm embrace and an amiable peck on the cheek.  Already, this was more than I hoped for.

“Kathleen, you look marvelous!  Your hair is stunning, I believe it’s a bit shorter than last time.  And your makeup is smashing.  I see you let Della give you the pointers you declined before.”

“Hi Mike.  It’s good to see you too,” she beamed.  “Glad you like my look.  You should since you’re the one who made it happen.  And, yes, I told Della to cut my hair shorter than last time.  See how brave I’ve become!  And I owe it all to you.”

“No hard feelings then?”

“None at all.  On the contrary, I’ll always be grateful to you.”

Our waitress interrupted our reunion, and we placed our orders before resuming our conversation.

“So tell me about the job interview.  How did it go?”

“I think it went really well, Mike.  The woman who interviewed me was really enthusiastic about my qualifications.  I think she’s going to recommend that they hire me.”

“And what kind of job is this?  Programming again?”

“Not exactly.  They want me to develop their website.  It’s a growing business and they haven’t have much of an on-line presence up to this time.  I’ve done some work with websites before, but I’ll have to learn a lot more.  It seems like a great opportunity.”

“What kind of business is it?”

“It’s a string of hair salons.  There are only three so far, but the owner has plans to expand.  He wants to open five more in the next two years.”

“Wow!  That’s great.  Getting in on the ground floor, so to speak.”

“Yes.  And I’ve got you to thank, Mike.”

“How’s that?”

“Well, the interviewer took one look at my haircut and said, ‘You’re just the kind of person we’d like to hire.  Your bold look is exactly the kind of corporate image we want to project.’  In fact, she asked if I would be interested in modeling for their advertising campaign.  For a generous fee, of course.”

“You said yes, of course.”

“I did.  I told them I had some modeling experience.”

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that things turned out so well for you.”

“And it’s all your fault,” she joked.  “I’m not going to quit my waitressing job just yet.  I’ve still got some bills to pay.  Then I’m going to go shopping for a better car.  My old Honda has almost 200,000 miles on the odometer.  I don’t want to press my luck any farther.”

I can’t recall what I ordered that night or what we talked about for the rest of our dinner.  I only remember that when we finished dessert she invited me to her apartment for a nightcap and I didn’t make it back to my place until six the next morning.

Kathleen’s video was our best selling release of the past year and Curt gave me a hefty bonus for signing her, something he’d never done before.  I’m still scouting for models for our videos, but Curt has turned over most of the day-to-day business operations to me.  He made me a full partner and I hired Kathleen to work part-time on our productions, counseling the young women who are about to have their hair cut and sharing with them the story of her own life-changing makeover.

 

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