At Manny's - The Old Man's Legacy by Manny
It was not often that I saw the owner of the hotel wandering around the facility since he was getting up in years. But there he was -- Mr. John Lange, Sr. accompanied by his son (John, Jr.) and grandson (John III) -- walking through the main lobby of the hotel. The three were dressed in conservative business attire and engaged in quite a heated private discussion. Hands were motioning and by the looks on their faces, no one was happy.
The trio were men I did not care for at all. John, Sr. was a grasping mean sort of old geezer. All about money and power. John, Jr. was a pompous, vain windbag. Full of himself, an aging prima dona. And John III was a slacker. He'd been born with a golden spoon in his mouth and grew into an adult brat. Snarky and spoiled.
Suddenly, the youngest broke from the small group and began walking toward the barber shop. It had been years since I'd gotten a good look at John III. As a child, he'd spent many hours playing in my shop. He loved to swirl about in the big chair and have me pump him up and down in it. Of course, I kept his schoolboy 'short back and sides' haircut perfectly clipped and tidy. His copper-colored hair was a joy to cut -- thick and full of texture. But, as he reached puberty, John III abandoned the barber shop and grew his hair out into an almost hippy length. He rarely showed up at the hotel, much less in a business suit!
John III's long hair was nicely combed and emitted a coppery glow as he approached the shop. I thought he might be dropping by to say hello, for old times' sake.
The door swung open and he burst in forcefully. "Manny! Long time, my barber friend!"
The length of our hair was almost the same. I glanced at my shiny chestnut-colored locks with fiery auburn highlights -- almost the same color as John III's locks, I thought to myself. Just two shades darker, which helped showcase my natural highlights that delighted me so much.
I extended my hand to shake, "Johnny -- it's been ages. Have have you been? So nice of you to drop by and say hello to your old barber."
"To say hello and to get a million dollar haircut," he announced as he plopped into the red leather upholstery of my barber chair.
"Here for a haircut?" I asked absentmindedly, as if doubting my own good fortune. The locks before me were in desperate need of a good shearing!
"Yep, I turn 21 today, and Gramps is signing over one tenth of the hotel shares to me -- well over a million bucks! And he's giving me a seat on the management board, along with my father who also owns a tenth. Dad isn't too happy that he and I will have equal shares!"
"So, you want to look the part of a serious businessman?" I asked with a semi-declaratory tone as I reached for the cape.
"Hell, no!" came Johnny's quick response. "It's Gramps' condition for the bequest. For ten years I've been badgered by him to 'get a decent haircut' and now he has me by the short and curlies. He is adamant that there will be no signature on the legal document until this is all shorn off to my old schoolboy haircut, I'm afraid," Johnny said, rather lightheartedly for one facing a radical change in image.
I fastened the cape and admired the coppery sheen. The clippers would slice through the dense mane effortlessly. Ole Manny would turn back the clock to Johnny's childhood with a severe 'short back and sides'!
"Well, I can see his point. You look like a playboy, Johnny," I commented. "But, these clippers will take care of that!"
I nudged his head forward.
"I'm surprised my grandfather hasn't made you get a decent haircut, Manny! You'll notice that there are no longhairs working in the hotel," Johnny commented while I dawdled with the clippers in hand.
I snapped the machine on and brought the chattering teeth up through the coppery locks. A lovely sheaf of hair fell to my feet. Ah, he would have a magnificent, short taper!
I paused from my work. "Yes, but remember Johnny, I'm not a hotel employee. I lease space in the hotel. I'm my own boss! And I rather like my hair long and flowing like this!"
Then to emphasize the difference in our situations, I thrust his head further down and ran the clippers aggressively up the back of his head. My, my! Johnny was getting scalped!
"Your hair wasn't always long, was it?" Johnny asked. "I remember when you first opened, it was very short."
My mind fled back to that time and to the humiliating haircut my old flame Robert had inflicted on me, in my own shop. He had barged in, made me take a seat in front of the young clients who were hanging out there and thrust the clippers into my long, pampered locks in the most humiliating manner possible. He forcefully buzzed my head and then lather shaved the whole thing clean. All I was left with was shiny, smooth skin! To drive home his point of being master, he sent the fellows out and told them that I still had a few lessons to learn. As soon as the door closed, he took a paddle to me.....leaned me over the barber chair and unleashed his dominion over me. That was the last straw in that lop-sided relationship with Robert. I decided to move -- give up my old shop and break away from Robert. By the time I relocated far from Robert and leased the shop in the historic hotel, my chromedome had sprouted a nice, thick pelt.
I jerked back into the pleasant reality, away from the painful past. "Ah, yes. I had gotten a buzzcut for some reason," I said, rather vaguely.
"Why?" Johnny insisted.
"My significant other thought it would look good on me....." I said. "It sure felt better -- that nice, tight butch! And you'll feel much better too without this long mane flopping about, Johnny," I said, taking the focus off of me.
"But, I'll look like a total dork," he pouted.
To proved his point, I combed his long, thick bangs forward and straight down over his face. They hung, invitingly, down to his chin. I snapped my barber shears open and shut a few times, to give him warning that a radical change was about to happen.
I started on the left side, aiming above his eyebrow and took the first big crunch in a dramatic transformation from a veil of hair to hideously short, angled bangs! Crunch, crunch, crunch! The shears moved in a sharp diagonal, almost to the hairline on the right side.
Johnny stared at himself in the mirror with a horrified look. The shorn hair completely soiled his cape.
"These angled bangs will allow for a nice, rigid side part and plastered down look," I commented, as I flicked my lush locks back from my face.
Then, I proceded with the shears to snip around his ear as I reduced his longhaired look to total nerd.
"It's like I'm ten years old again -- not 21!" whined Johnny.
I returned to the clippers and proceeded to taper him into a very scalped, barbershop look. Over and over and over I ran the clippers up the sides of his head, taking them tighter and higher each time. Then I tackled the bulky copper-colored locks on top and thinned them down to whispy strands of tidy hair. He looked totally miserable throughout. "You're grandfather will have nothing to complain about, young John!" I chirped.
"Well, he'll be mighty happy today. But, once the shares are mine -- I'm not getting anymore haircuts to please him! In fact, I would like to grow my hair out until he hangs to my waist! How would I look with a thick ginger braid hanging down my back, with a large tuft nestled in the cleft of my rear end?" Johnny laughed.
"We'll never find out, is my guess," I laughed. "Long hair can be such a pain!" I continued tackling the thatch on top with thinning shears, crunching the remaining life out of poor Johnny's coppery mane.
All that was left was to clean up his neck and around his ears with lather and finish off with a dollop of stinging witch hazel! Then I rubbed some foul smelling pomade his his short hair, turning it from copper to dark brown. I slicked it all down, close to the scalp and pronounced the haircut over!
"There, you're a new man!" I declarced, as I withdrew the hair laden cape. I held up a mirror to showcase his shorn back.
Johnny winced. "Wow! Gramps sure got his money's worth today," Johnny commented. Then he touched his tightly tapered nape. "Nice....." he murmured.
As the lad left the shop, I thought that would be the extent of my involvement with the John Lange family for the day. How wrong I was!
I was straightening up the shop, preparing to close for the night, when I saw the old man coming towards the shop. He pushed the door open.
"Mr. Lange, sir. It's been quite a while since you've visited Manny's Barber Shop, sir," I said politely. I thought he probably dropped by to thank me for giving his grandson a proper haircut.
"A document came across my desk for signature today, Manny. To renew your 10-year lease on the shop," he snapped humorlessly.
"I thought that was already finalized. Your son told me...." I stammered.
"My son and grandson are minority share holders. I make the decisions," the geezer stated tersely. Then Mr. Lange pointed to the back room. "Let's carry on our discussion back there, Manny. I want to see how much space this shop is taking away from us. I'm considering turning this area into an upscale boutique -- and make some real money here!"
My heart sunk. My beloved shop was suddenly on the line of extinction!
"Mr. Lange, with all due respect...." I stammered.
As soon as we moved into the back room, I felt Mr. Lange grasp me by my hair and give it a firm yank, "And I'm not at all happy about this! I despise men with long hair -- especially men that work in my hotel!"
"I'm not an employee....." I balked.
"You're a tenant -- but only for about ten more days. Unless....." he glared at me.
"Unless what?" I gulped.
Mr. John Lange, Sr. eyed my hair critically. "Before I made my fortune and we were struggling economically, I was John Jr.'s barber. Every other Saturday in the kitchen -- head clipped down to a tight butch. A #1 all over. Oh how he hated it, especially as he grew into adolescence! Go get a cape and clippers, Manny. We'll do it right here! Right now!" Mr. Lange ordered.
"Please, Mr. Lange. We need to maintain a professional relationship...." I pleaded.
"WE don't need to do anything! But YOU need to get a haircut, Manny! Or pack this place up.....I'm not renewing your lease!" Mr. Lange growled as he stormed out of the back room.
I trotted after him, catching a view of myself in the mirror. My beloved chestnut colored locks with fiery auburn highlights! "Then, let's do it right here, in the shop, Mr. Lange. I'm ready for you to be my barber! I can't give up Manny's Barber Shop!"
The old man stopped suddenly and whirled around. He was smiling! "Yes, I think that'll be possible. Take a seat, Manny!"
I sat nervously in the chair. My white tunic swallowed up in plush red leather upholstery..... He caped me like an expert!
Mr. Lange fondled my plush locks. "Just like my grandson's....until you barbered him this morning! But, I don't have the skills to give you a tidy short-back-and-sides. No, my only experience is in administering no-nonsense, tight butch cuts!"
The old man seized a set of clippers with a gleeful look on his face. I sat watching helplessly in the mirror.
"What I wouldn't give to have my son back under my cape again!" the old man growled. "You two are about the same age. He's so pompous with that expensive salon cut!" Then he yanked me by my hair in bootcamp barbershop fashion and brought the screaming clippers up before my face.
As his hand moved up, I noticed a look of pain overtaking his face and his skin turning an ashen color. He began gasping and struggling for breath. Mr. Lange staggered and as his hand collapsed at his side, the screaming clippers grazed my head and a small clump of hair fell to the cape. My hair -- a wad of about two inches long on the cape!
Mr. Lange staggered to a chair in the waiting area. "My heart," he groaned.
I jumped up from the chair and yanked off my cape. I quickly dialed 911 and then called for help from the front desk.
In minutes, Mr. John Lange Jr. was on the scene, followed by the ambulance personnel. The confusion was chaotic. The old geezer was carted out on a stretcher and the hub-bub quickly subsided.
At the end of the ordeal, John Jr. cornered me in the shop. "Thank you so much, Manny, for your quick action. I think you saved my father's life. But what was he doing down here?"
My mind surged into overdrive. I would use the situation to my advantage -- a comeback....from almost getting clipped to carrying out a longstanding desire I had to John, Jr.
"He stopped by to thank me for giving your son such a nice, short haircut," I replied quickly
"If you ask me, he got scalped!" the father said with a bit of an amused laugh. John Jr. glanced in the mirror and admired his nice full salon style. I had seen that look on his face many times.
It was not uncommon for Mr. John Lange, Jr., the hotel's titular general manager, to stop by my shop during the workday and ask to use a hand mirror. He would admire the soft hair that fell in groomed waves to mid collar. His carefully styled thick brown hair was definitely a contributor to Mr. John Lange Jr.'s notoriety for being very vain and pompous. Not a gray strand to be seen.... He would murmur some pretext for the visit like 'I was wondering if I needed to schedule a trim at the salon'....but I knew if true purpose was to just admire his nice hair.
I decided to carry my agenda forward. "Right before he began to succumb, your father was telling me how much he wished I would give you the same haircut, Mr. Lange. A decent short back and sides," I said with a straight face.
"Me?!" he gasped. "I use an exclusive, expensive salon...."
"But, nothing would please Pa Pa more than a tidy, short-back-and-sides. Have you ever wondered why he's never upped your shares of the hotel to more than 10%?" I asked mischeviously.
Mr. John Lange, Jr. fondled his pretty hair nervously. "Let's see what happens with Dad. He may not pull through this and then, well.....it'll be a mute point. With a little luck, I'll be the 90% shareholder tonight!"
"For shame, sir!" I gasped.
Being called out for verbalizing such a disgraceful comment made the middle aged man flush red with embarrassment. "Oh, I shouldn't have said that...." he murmured.
"That's an understatement. I am shocked that you wish your father dead! Take a seat. RIght now! Or, I'll have to tell you father......" I said firmly.
A look of fright covered Mr. John Lange, Jr.'s face. "Oh, Manny, please don't tell him...." He quickly took a seat in the chair.
I shook open a cape -- the very same one that his father had placed around my neck. I fastened it snuggly in place. "Your father told me he was your barber before the family came into wealth. Just how did he cut your hair?"
Mr. John Lange, Jr.'s face blanched in dread. His mouth went dry. Finally he eeked out, "A number #1 butch!'
My trusty clippers sprung to life. I taunted him by letting the screaming machine linger in front of his terrified eyes. I looked at the carefully styled mane. It was on death row! Then I glanced in the mirror at my own lush locks. One day....
The famished teeth crept slowly and firmly across the top of Mr. John Lange, Jr.'s head. His soft, pampered, stylized business cut fell in the wake of the unforgiving clipping machine. The first swipe obliterated the vain, pompous manner of Mr. John Lange, Jr.! He squirmed in humiliation and fear.
I continued the butch cut much as I imagined the geezer had administered it in the kitchen those 30 years ago. Quickly the soft brown hair covered the white cape.
"Your father will be so happy to see your butch, John Boy, if he pulls through this spat. Think how happy he'll be when you visit him tonight in the hospital! The butch suits you! So long as you let me keep you clipped tight, your little secret is safe with me!" I whispered in his ear.
He looked at me with fear and dread and nodded in agreement. Now, he would be my regular! No more expensive salons to feed Mr John Lange, Jr.'s vanity!
I glanced at my lovely long hair in the mirror....at that moment happy to remain unshorn, but remembering with a bit of nostalgia the way Robert had once put a humiliating end to my own vanity and pride. I thought about the way Robert had paddled me.
My eyes drifted to my unwilling client, whose head was now clipped down to a #1 all over. What I wouldn't do to be able to give Mr. John Lange, Jr. a similar paddling at the end of his haircut! I smiled to myself. Yes, that would drive the lesson home. I pictured the shorn man being made to lie over the side of the barber chair and my paddle coming down swiftly to bring him ever lower. Yes, he would benefit from being both shorn and spanked! Before removing the cape, I let down all the blinds of the shop. We needed a bit of privacy for the next phase of Mr. John Lange, Jr.'s attitude adjustment.
"John Boy, when you were growing up, did your father ever spank you....?" I asked.
Fear filled his eyes as he nodded in the affirmative. I smiled to myself. Yes, he would get the full treatment!