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Mr. Sig and Otto, the Auditor by Manny
I had been asked by my colleague to review the financial records of the Beecher Ward Military Academy for this year because he suspected some embezzlement of funds by staff members but couldn't find any conclusive proof that certain donations were being used for personal benefit by one or more staff members. His main suspect was Robert Siggenthal, which seemed a bit far-fetched because one of his titles was chaplain, along with guidance counselor and campus barber. What a strange combination, I thought to myself as I drove up with long, stately drive towards the Administrative Building. Preaching a sermon one minute and giving a haircut the next!
Several hours into the audit process, I gained a clear understanding of why my colleague was suspicious of Mr. Siggenthal. There were no receipts for some very large expenditures and the notes were very sparse, like "$20,000 for miscellaneous expenses."
At the end of the day, I decided to brief the academy's academic dean, Mr. Philip Price, about my concerns. His large, paneled office with leaded and stained glass windows was very imposing. At first he seemed very interested in what I was saying until I mentioned the person it concerned.
"No, no. There must be some mistake. Robert Siggenthal is a pillar of this institution. He cannot possibly be involved in a scheme to embezzle money," he stated flatly, averting my gaze.
"Then, perhaps I could interview him and ask him to provide a more fulsome explanation to what some of these notes mean, like $22,000 for 'community relations'? He needs to justify and document these expenditures," I insisted.
"If you want to speak with him, be my guest. At this time, he's probably in the barbershop. There's no phone there, but you can walk down. Turn left out the door and the second hall to the right. You'll see the red and white pole turning if he's there. We all call him 'Mr. Sig', by the way," Mr. Price explained.
I felt a bit strange looking for a barber to question over almost $50,000 in questionable expenditures! And I also thought the dean's "know nothing" approach to my serious reservations was strange. As I walked through the halls, my thoughts turned to my own hair because I was quite overdue for a haircut. It had been on my nerves for a while -- long and floppy forelock tumbling into my eyes. Hopefully, Mr. Sig wouldn't notice!
As I approached the shop, I pushed my hair back off my face as best as possible. Looking in the window from the hall, I saw that the barber had a young man in the chair -- his head forced down with chin on chest and the barber pushing a huge set of clippers up the back. The fellow seemed to be getting his short, military haircut, cut even shorter.
I opened the door and cleared my throat a bit. "Uh, excuse me, Mr. Siggenthal?" I said tentatively.
Without looking back, he stated curtly, "Have a seat there, I'll be with you shortly."
It was like I was in line for a haircut! I complied with the barber's instruction. As I shifted impatiently in a waiting area chair, I got a better look at just how much I myself was in need of a haircut. I had very thick, dark, wavy hair and it needed a good pruning. Not any military kind of haircut like the young fellow was getting, but a good session with the scissors and thinning shears would be optimal.
Just when I thought the haircut of the fellow was finishing, I watched the barber begin applying lather around the entire sides of back of his head. Then he carefully scraped it clean so that the gleaming white scalp contrasted dramatically by the patch of dark pelt that was left on top.
I began to shift nervously, thinking in a crazy sort of mode that instead of discussing the audit concerns I would be the next in line for a military-length haircut -- and end up with skinned sides and a very short pelt on top! A massive amount of my thick, wavy hair would fall in the wake of the clippers. Imagine going back to work, looking like GI Joe!
Just as I was thinking about the military haircut, the barber swiveled the chair around to face me. Then, he locked his eyes on me and asked, "So what do you think? This would be a good look for you, uh, what is your name, sir?"
"It's Otto. Otto VanZandt," I replied. "That's a very sharp look for your client. But, I'm not here for a haircut, Mr. Siggenthal. I'm here to ask you a few questions as a part of the financial audit I'm undertaking for Beecher Ward. There are some expenditures attributed to me that seem rather thin on justification." I tried to sound and look as professional as possible. Yet, out of the corner of my eye, I kept seeing the overgrown thatch in need of a good pruning and wished that I'd gotten a decent haircut over the weekend.
The barber didn't respond. He just slowly withdrew the cape from his previous client and went about his business collecting his fee and tidying up the counter. Then he walked over and flipped the sign on the window to "closed".
He walked right up to me and towered above me in a rather imposing way. Finally, he spoke. "I don't care to discuss school business in front of the students and other staff members who don't have a need to know, Otto." His tone was flat and chastening. I felt like he'd taken me down a few notches.
It was an unusual situation. As an auditor, I was accustomed to asking the questions that made people squirm and stammer. Yet, here, this Mr. Sig had me on the defensive. I mopped my hair away from my eyes nervously.
"I'm so sorry about that, sir," I said meekly, shifting my eyes down.
"Okay, into the chair. Let's go!" the barber said, pointing to the huge barber chain in an authoritative manner. "All that hair in your eyes has been interfering with your ability to study the books, I see."
"Really, sir...." I began to whine. "I just have a few important questions to ask you."
"Once I've caped you up, Otto, I'll be all ears," the barber replied with a stony look on his face.
I stood and submissively walked over to the chair and took a seat. I felt nervous and clammy. It felt totally humiliating.
Mr. Sig smiled slightly as he cast the large white cape around me and fastened it with a huge metal clip. I was his prey now, totally at his mercy -- small and insignificant.
I gathered up my courage to speak. "There was a $20,000 expenditure without receipts labeled 'miscellaneous expenses' on March 27 with your signature beside it, Mr. Siggenthal," I said with a tentative voice.
The barber did not respond. I watched him reach for the huge set of balding clippers. In a flash, he clamped a strong hand atop my head and forced my gaze down to my lap. I felt helpless and subservient. Then, I heard the machine spring to life and felt the chattering teeth crunching their way tightly up the back of my head -- from nape to crown. He was beginning to scalp me!! I would end up like the previous fellow -- with just a small patch of pelt left on top!
The clipping went on as he stripped away more of my hair. I watched the cape beneath my blank, helpless stare transition from white to dark brown. Still, the barber gave no answer to my question.
Finally Mr. Sig let me sit up straight. My sides were skinned to stubble and contrasted with the floppy, uncut, wavy top.
Then, the barber spoke, "Do you have any other questions?"
I decided to lay all my cards on the table. "Yes, there's another entry for $22,000 labeled 'community relations' without any receipts."
The barber snapped the machine back on. In an unexpected move, he grasped me by my hair and then ran the clippers straight down the top of my head. He pulled off a huge wad of shorn hair and tossed it in disdain to the floor. He was clipping me bald!!
I felt humiliated. And, to my surprise, my cock had sprung to life. I was fully erect.
With a few more swipes of the clippers he had cleared my head of hair. I looked like a military recruit.
Then, he took the duster and ran it over my clipped head and face. Without saying another word he unfastened the cape.
I looked at myself in the mirror, momentarily dazed by the surprise baldy he'd given me. I felt very low and humiliated.
"If you have no other questions, than I believe our business has been completed," the barber announced.
I stood, unsure of what to do next.
"But the unexplained expenses, Mr. Siggenthal...." I said, pushing the issue.
He reached over and grabbed me by the ear and twisted it so that it hurt.
I involuntarily gasped, "Ouch!"
Then, he dragged me back through the curtained partition to a private area. In a flash, the barber leaned me over the table. I watched him reach for the paddle that was nearby.
I could not believe what was happening. THWACK! THWACK!! THWACK!!! Three swift smacks with the paddle left my butt stinging.
"Now do you understand the expenses, Otto?" he asked, his voice dripping with irony.
"Yes, sir," I stammered. "Understood. No more questions!"
`"Good! Now stand and look at me. I'm only going to say this once, and then, I expect compliance. I want you to go straight to Mr. Price's office and let him know that all the matters have been cleared up to you satisfaction," he snapped.
"Yes, sir. Immediately, sir!" I replied.
As I hustled out from the back of the shop, he said, "Oh, and give my fond regards to your colleague with the nicely cut ginger hair who was here last year looking at the books. But, next year, it's you I want back here. I'm going to scrape you clean from head to toe!" He opened a small drawer and showed me a collection of short belts that could be used to strap me to the chair.
"I'll be looking forward to that, sir!" I said, intrigued by the treatment I was to expect on my next visit.
"Oh, and you can call me 'Mr. Sig'. Everyone does," he said, flashing a huge grin with his charismatic blue eyes sparkling and I scurried from his shop, feeling my shaved head for the first time.