Joining up Part 3 by Stillcropped
As I got off the train Sandra was waiting as we kissed on the platform she rubbed my virtually bald scalp and exclaimed ' wow they really skinned you I didn't think you could have got it cut any shorter than it was before you left' As we cuddled I told her I had got it done that morning especially for her and she showed her appreciation. The weekend flew by, my mates slagging my haircut, my mother saying how much I'd grown, I visited the barber who had originally shorn me on the Saturday morning to thank him for the warning he had given me, as we chatted he pointed to a young lad in the waiting area who sported a five inch long mop 'tell him , he joins up on Monday' I looked at the boy and said to him 'two choices, keep your money in your pocket , it's all coming off like this anyway and I rubbed my own scalp or let him take care of you' and I nodded towards the barber . The colour drained from the boy's face as he said ' that's not an army haircut you've got , that's just shaved' I shrugged my shoulders ' just like you'll be Monday' and I left the shop.
The 18 weeks of no alcohol took it's toll as I made up for lost time and ended with an inevitable scuffle in the pub on the Saturday night my military training and fitness coming to good use but still on returning to the barracks I sported a bruise beneath my right eye which was noticed by the sarge and resulted in extra cleaning duties in the toilet block. The next four weeks were a whirlwind of intense training, deprivation of sleep and the forming of relationships that would last a lifetime, then disaster struck. I was summoned to see the commanding officer and was astounded to be met by two military policeman, it seemed that the manager of the pub had reported my scuffle and in my absence the blame for the trouble and damage to the premises had been put down to me,I was to be escorted back by the MP's to face charges. My mind was spinning as I asked what my choices were and nearly collapsed as the CO explained that if I missed the final two weeks of training I would have to start again but more importantly if found guilty in court and given a custodial sentence then I would be drummed out of the army as I was still in basic training. I asked if there was any alternative and advised to admit my guilt now to the MP's the army would pay for the damages and take it out of my wages, and report to the court that I had been dealt with, on completion of my training an army internal enquiry would be held and I would serve some time in a military jail, I was only offered this as I had an exemplary good conduct record. Weighing up my options I signed the papers heard the advice of my CO ' put this out of your head, complete your training, pass out and I will put forward a reccomendation that you be treated leniently'.When I wrote home asking why no-one had told me, it was because no-one knew as the guy I hit had been the landlord's son and had concocted a different version of what actually happened. I did complete my training and was proud to invite my parents and Sandra to my passing out parade and celebration in the mess hall. On the day before the passing out parade it was once again a visit to the barber however on this occasion we were all treated to as near a 'regular's ' haircut as our still short locks would allow, the only deviation being our sideburns. As I sat in the chair with my dress cap in my hand I watched as my hair was given a sharp parting, the hair thinned and combed flat, the clippers carving a sharp line across my neck a full 1 1/2 inches above my collar, then I put my cap on , the barber straightened it then took his clippers and edged a line in my hairline on my temple where the cap sat, then I removed the cap and with a set of silver manual clippers he 'clack- clacked' them up either side of my head to at least 1/2 inch above the line he had created shaving off any hair to the skin.
I soon found out military justice is swift as everyone else was given a 72 hour pass after the parade I was confined to barracks awaiting the enquiry, the first time I wore my dress uniform was 36 hours later as I stood to attention in front of a visiting major, my own CO and a sergeant from the military police, my admission of guilt was accepted , my CO gave me a glowing report , and I was sentenced to seven days for the fight and a further seven days for 'bringing the army into disrepute' but as long as I kept out of trouble for a year all charges would be removed from my army record.
I was marched out by two MP's taken to my billet and ordered to dress in fatigues, then I was handcuffed and put in the open back of a jeep to be taken to the military prison over a hundred miles away. After about 15 mins the jeep stopped and I was released from my handcuffs the MP's offered me a cigarette and explained that the show in the camp was for the top brass, I could sit up front with them until we got to a couple of miles from the jail where I would be cuffed and put in the back. The stories of military jail are legendary, it is a very harsh regime and starts the moment they sign for you, I was marched at double speed having to jog on the spot when being questioned, or waiting on doors to open. The medical was thorough and intrusive as a full body search was given looking for contraband, I passed the medical no problem, but the dentist ordered two fillings with no anesthetic and one extraction with only a tiny amount,the dentist's knee firmly in my chest as he yanked the offending molar out.Spitting blood I was given two aspirin as pain relief, then sent to the barber, not a word was spoken as I sat down dressed in shorts and vest then to my surprise he took a comb and made a parting about 1 inch into my hairline and combed down a short fringe which was just long enough for him to grip which he did with his left hand then he proceeded to push my head from side to side and front to back as he sheared all the rest of my hair off with a set of manual clippers. These clippers grabbed and almost pulled the hairs from their follicles rather than cut them , and once he was finished with them there were red blotches all over my scalp which was now devoid of hair except for fringe. Just as I was about to stand up from the chair both his hands grabbed my shoulders and firmly pushed me back down, I saw him reach above his head and from the ceiling an electric razor attached to a wired pulley was brought down, it roared into life as he once again grabbed my short fringe forcing my chin to my chest and I felt the rotating foil on the nape of my neck, he held the razor close to my scalp and ran it time and time again over my scalp removing the bristles the hand clippers had left. Now bald except for the fringe,he yanked is hand towards the door as he released me, I was met at the door by a Sargent who quick marched me into a courtyard where I was ordered to stand stock still. There were 5 other prisoners there all of us in a circle, after about 15 minutes shivering in the cold one of them collapsed, immediately he was lifted by 2 guards and dragged away as the rest of us were informed that he had just earned another 7 days in jail. eventually we were brought inside given a bowl of thin soup then locked up in isolation. The following 2 weeks were brutal, scrubbing, polishing, hard drills, long runs in full kit and always at double time. On the first Sunday afternoon we were ushered into the recreation hall to witness a boxing match or rather the ritual slaughter of unsuspecting victims as, who was soon to be crowned the champion boxer of the army was fed sparring partners who he knocked around the ring. I was about the fifth victim and felt pleased with myself as I survived the first round by trying to keep out of his way and covering up as best I could when he caught me,the second round was different. As soon as the bell rang he was on me,a left hook merely grazed my jaw, but the right that followed jolted my head down and I saw his left glove explode on my chin and my gum shield fly out of my mouth the impact of the following right closed my left eye as the canvas rushed towards me I saw blood then darkness. I awoke back in the dentist chair with smelling salts bringing me round I could only see out of my right eye but howled in pain as the doctor inserted four stitches to my left eyebrow, I was kept overnight in the sick bay and it was the following morning before I could inspect the damage, apart from my face my rib cage was a mass of purple and green bruises I may have only been in the ring five minutes but the pounding I had taken lasted for the rest of my sentence.
At 9 pm on the evening before I was to be released I was summoned to the medical centre, another full body search was conducted then after being hosed down in the showers I was left shivering naked in a holding cell, eventually I was given shorts and a vest and told I would be dismissed at 6am and to get some sleep. It was still dark when my cell was opened but the attitude of the guards had changed I was allowed a warm shower, given a bowl of porridge and my fatigues had been returned. As the cell door was unlocked I stood to attention and two guards escorted me towards the reception area , I stood eying the door watching the clock which showed 5.56 as the big hand moved to 5.57 I heard the order 'in here' as I entered the door to my right I recognised the barber from two weeks ago, again he was silent , nodded at the chair then grabbed my now slightly longer fringe and set about me with his clippers , digging them deep into my scalp and sheared every square inch of my head leaving only the fringe behind.He then spoke for the first time ' I never want to see you again'. As I left the room I was met by an MP and my sarge from basic training as they signed my release papers my sarge said to me ' first and last time, let's get you home , and rid of that ridiculas haircut!' They were the best words I had ever heard.