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Predicament – Part II by htflatnc
This is a continuation of Predicament - Part I (storyid=1864 for PHP buffs). Note to Kaleb McKinley: Thank you for answering. It made a difference in the trajectory of this story. I will use characters in your stories with your kind permission beginning in either Part III or Part IV. I will treat them with respect but also some humor.
Predicament – Part II
"Grab the folding chair over in the corner and let’s head to the bathroom," Jeff said.
Ryan grabbed the chair and a towel as Jeff got the leather bag containing all of his hair cutting equipment. They walked down the hall to the bathroom in their dorm. As they went, one other guy on the hall, Lennie, called out, "Are you setting up your barbershop tonight?" Lennie’s hair was a shaggy buzzcut at the moment.
Jeff said he was and Lennie asked if he could get a haircut as well. Jeff wasn’t going to turn down a chance to practice his art and satisfy his deepest desires. So the three of them headed down to the bathroom.
"Set up the chair in one of the shower stalls while I plug in the extension cord," Jeff told Ryan as Jeff was now clearly in control of the situation.
"You’re getting a buzzcut again?" Jeff asked Lennie which was as much a command as a question. Lennie said he was, so then Jeff asked Ryan, "Do you mind if I cut Lennie’s hair first? It won’t take me long." So Ryan gave way.
Lennie stripped out of his shirt and his jeans and hung them up on a peg by the door. Lennie knew the routine having already experienced Jeff’s haircutting talents a few weeks earlier. He then sat down on the chair Jeff had set up in the shower stall. Jeff also stripped down to his underwear.
Jeff, meanwhile, was unzipping his bag, taking out the three sets of clippers he had in them and arranging them on the counter. He plugged the three sets of clippers into the extension cord. Ryan noticed the different clippers and asked about them.
"I have Oster 76 clippers. They are my favorites. They will plow through almost anything and are extremely versatile. Plus, I love the sound of them. They let you know you mean business when you fire these babies up."
"These are Wahl balding clippers. They do just what the name says they’ll do. They bald. You can put plastic guards" and Jeff picked up a couple of the plastic blade guards to show Ryan and Lennie "on them to cut the hair to a longer length, but I’d rather use the Oster 76 clippers for that. The Osters have metal guards that are part of the cutting head and do a better job. The plastic guards have a tendency to not cut as evenly."
"And last but not least," Jeff said picking up a much smaller clipper, "these are t-edgers. They cut as close as an electric shaver and let you get to places like behind your ears and do a very precise cut. While personally I don’t like line ups and designs and would never want my hair cut that way, they will let me do a line up and designs if my customer wants one. Customer’s always right and I aim to please so they’ll come back."
"So balding clippers are for bulk and t-edgers are for precision, is that what you’re saying?" Lennie asked.
"Precisely," Jeff said. "How short you want to go this time?" Jeff asked Lennie.
"You went with a #1 buzzcut last time. Let’s go all the way this time, how ‘bout using the balding clippers," Lennie responded enthusiastically as he was obviously psyched about going all the way.
Jeff smiled and said, "You’re the boss," as he was about to start the haircut he was hoping Ryan would agree to. He wanted to see Ryan’s sandy blond main falling slowly to the ground. "I’d better warn you though," Jeff said to Lennie, "you’re probably going to want your hair cut real often as the feeling of the hair left behind is addictive."
Lennie was almost bouncing up and down on the metal folding chair and said, "How often?"
"At least every week, maybe even twice a week," Jeff said. "It’s strange but the shorter you cut your hair and you like it that way, the more often you’re going to want to cut it. It’s addictive. After a few days when it’s cut that short, the way the hair feels changes and you want to get it back."
This was all new to Ryan. Ryan was trying to think if clippers had ever touched his hair other than to cut the hair on the back of his neck and then it had been like the small clippers there. It had always been scissors and combs that were used when Ryan got his hair cut – and usually only a trim. And the stylist who was cutting his hair usually was very cute and not an ex-jock. He also had never stripped down to his underwear to get his hair cut before, but that was something he wouldn’t have minded doing with the stylists who cut his hair in the place he first went to with his mother and later on his own. The times they were a changing.
Jeff walked to Lennie’s right side and turned on the balding clippers. Placing his left hand on the top of Lennie’s head, palming it like a basketball, Jeff tilted Lennie’s head to the left and plowed the balding clippers slowly from the sideburn up to the temple accumulating the short strands of brown hair on the teeth of the clippers. Lennie’s hair came off easily in sheets falling softly to the ground as more recently cut hair pushed it off. In the wake of the clippers, what had been a full though short head of hair was left as short stubble cut to the skin. Hair was visible – but just – and if Lennie’s hair had been lighter or less dense, no hair would have been visible for the hair was left at micron length. Ryan, seated on the counter at the sink, watched this process as Jeff slowly passed the balding clippers up the right side of Lennie’s head. Lennie had his eyes closed and seemed to be enjoying the clippers putting forth their best effort to relieve his head of his short buzzcut hair.
It took Jeff about four minutes for his buzzcut to bow to its fate before the implacable clippers. A softly purring mechanical conflagration was reducing Lennie’s hair to a small pile of brown ash. No fire brigade was needed – or wanted – to keep this conflagration from performing its wanton destruction. Jeff then began a second pass of the balding clippers over Lennie’s head to reduce any single hair that would have the audacity not to relent to its inevitable fate.
Jeff switched off the balding clippers and gave Lennie’s head a slow rub both to check his work and its evenness but also because he enjoyed feeling Lennie’s freshly shorn head. Magic. Before Jeff removed his hand, Lennie raised his hand in order to feel Jeff’s handiwork. Their hands touched. And lingered.
Lennie said, "I really enjoyed that, Jeff. Nice relaxing haircut," and he stood up. Ryan could clearly see then from the protrusion just how much Lennie had enjoyed his haircut. Lennie was not in the least self-conscious or embarrassed and was well aware that Ryan saw what Lennie was showing. Lennie went over to the sink, turned on the faucet, wet his hand, leaned over close to the mirror, brushed his wet hand back over his close-clipped head and began smiling. "Awesome, Jeff." Ryan was sitting very close to where Lennie was admiring his new haircut and Lennie asked Ryan to rub his head. Ryan reached up and ran his hand over Lennie’s head.
"Wow, that is short and feels great," Ryan said.
"OK, then, I guess that settles it, Jeff. You’ve got one more customer for a baldie like mine."
Jeff started laughing and Ryan jumped down off the counter where he had been watching Lennie’s shearing. "Hold on just a minute. That haircut is fine for you, but not for me. I’m not having my head shaved. Not now."
"What a wuss," Lennie said mocking Ryan. "Doesn’t want his goldie locks lopped. Toughen up and grow a pair." This wasn’t fun taunting. It was kind of nasty. And Ryan definitely didn’t want to continue this under these circumstances. Jeff sensed this and definitely did not want to miss out on a golden opportunity to cut his roommate’s hair. So, he intervened.
"OK, Lennie. Your haircut is over. Get out of here or you won’t be getting any more free haircuts."
That did the trick. Lennie calmed down, thus averting what to Jeff would have been a disaster – Ryan’s withdrawal from getting a haircut. Lennie left and said, "Thanks for the haircut, Jeff. I was only kidding, Ryan. Geez." Lennie grabbed his shirt and pants on his way out the door and walked back to his room.
"He can go a little psycho sometimes," Jeff said.
"Ya think?" Ryan said as he went over and sat in the chair. Then he remembered the protocol, stood up and disrobed, just as Lennie had. "Never had a haircut almost in the nude. I wonder if I’ll be as enthusiastic as Lennie visibly was," Ryan said, hanging up his shirt and jeans.
"It’s the only way to get a haircut and I hope you are," Jeff joked as he swept up clippings from Lennie’s haircut. Ryan then sat down in the chair. "What will it be?" Jeff asked open-endedly.
"I want it trimmed up. About an inch off everywhere," Ryan said.
"Do you mind if I use clippers?" Jeff asked.
"Fine. You’re the boss," Ryan said.
Jeff filled up the spray bottle and it suddenly began a soft rain in the shower stall. Jeff then put a 000 blade onto the Oster 76 clippers, oiled them and turned them on. Ryan now understood why Jeff loved the sound of the clippers. With a comb, Jeff lifted Ryan’s hair up positioning the comb so that he could pass the clippers over the comb and relieve Ryan of about an inch of his hair. Jeff continued the process until the hair on top had been trimmed up. He did the same on the back and sides. Ryan was facing the mirror so he could tell that about an inch was being removed and he wasn’t going to be scalped. The one liberty that Jeff took was at the very nape of the neck where he gave Ryan a taper rather than blocking the hair in the back. He also used the t-edgers to make sure that Ryan’s hair was cleared away from his ears.
"There you go. One trim," Jeff said.
Ryan stood up and went over to the mirror for a closer look. "Perfect. Just what I wanted. You really are a good barber. It’s cut evenly and transitions from one length to another well," Ryan said.
Ryan helped Jeff clean up, sweeping off the small pile of hair. Jeff took the hair and put it in a plastic bag. Ryan thought that was strange, but he didn’t really care. Ryan put back on his shirt and jeans and carried the chair back to the dorm room. Jeff followed right behind him carrying his leather bag now stuffed not only with the clippers, but Ryan’s hair clippings. He also was carrying his shirt and his khakis. Jeff had hoped for more of a trophy, but there would be other opportunities, Jeff thought.
It was getting late, so Ryan went to bed soon after returning. Jeff was not far behind.
About 2 o’clock in the morning Ryan was awakened by the rhythmic squeak, squeak, squeak coming from Jeff’s bed. It was dark in the room, so Ryan couldn’t see anything, but he knew well enough what was happening. Ryan smiled to himself thinking at least Jeff is that normal. What Ryan didn’t realize was the frustration that was being worked out over on Jeff’s mattress.
The next morning, Ryan followed his normal routine and was walking over to the cafeteria when he received a text message. "I told you the three inches were mine. You think that cutting off one inch is enough. I still want the three inches and I’m adding another inch because you didn’t listen. If you don’t get a haircut by time for afternoon classes, it will be five inches. And that’s all you’ve got left."
Again, Ryan noticed there were special characters for the phone number and in a matter of seconds after reading the message, the message disappeared.
Maybe whoever is sending these messages is for real, Ryan finally thought. But somehow, Ryan felt no fear. Especially after seeing the result on Lennie’s head last night. Hair or no hair, Ryan was better looking than Lennie and Lennie looked good without hair. Lennie also seemed to enjoy having his hair cut off. And the feel of Lennie’s denuded skull was incredible. Ryan shrugged and went about his daily Tuesday routine unphased by the latest anonymous text threat.