Kevin Comes Under New Management by Manny
"He's such a slug!" Barb wailed as she complained to Betty about her husband. "Lots of time playing video games, watching TV, shopping online....and meanwhile I've picked up the slack working overtime! I know it wasn't his fault getting laid off, but he really hasn't done much to end his extended vacation."
"I hope he's at least stepped up to the plate on the home front....cooking, cleaning, laundry....that sort of stuff," replied Betty.
"NOT! I said he was a slug," Barb remarked ruefully.
"My husband said that Kevin wouldn't have been let go if he'd been a more productive employee. He always thought Kevin needed a firmer hand from his supervisor, more accountability. Oh, knowing the value of projecting a more tidy, workplace image. That surfer look reinforced his laid-back, lazy image, Sam always said."
"Don't get me started on that!" gasped Barb. "His long pampered hair that he's so proud of. I wish someone would shave him bald! You can't imagine how much money he spends at the salon on hair care, not to say tying up much of his Saturday when he could be mowing the lawn or doing something constructive."
"Well, whatever Kevin's faults are, looks are not one of them. He's my idea of a heart throb....like a young buck with a sexy, sultry look on the cover of a steamy romance novel," murmured Betty.
"I guess that's what attracted me to him initially, but after a while, that's not so important," Barb replied. She paused for a bit, in thought, before continuing, "Your husband's comment about Kevin needing a firmer hand. I've often thought the same thing. If someone could mentor him -- someone like your husband, yes, someone like Sam! Your husband's gone up the career ladder at the firm; he could help Kevin, I'm sure."
Barb looked a bit nervous and then confided, "Actually, Betty, it would be so great if Sam could use his influence at work to recall Kevin. I hear they are going to expand production. Kevin needs to get back to work. Our finances are so stressed just now. In fact, I don't see how we're going to pay our mortgage this month -- that means foreclosure! It'll be our third time to miss a payment. I'm so stressed out."
Betty leaned forward and gave Barb a hug. "I'll ask him, Barb. Sam is a little sensitive about me advocating for people in the hiring process. He gets so many requests. But, he does like you, Barb. He's okay with Kevin too, but not exactly a fan. Judging from some of his past comments, I know for sure there is one area that Sam would be more than happy to help Kevin out with...getting rid of his pretty boy look!"
Barb's face lit up. "Oh, Sam's military haircut is so manly! Once a marine always a marine....."
"Yep, he still goes to the base barbershop regularly to keep his regulation cut super sharp," Betty said.
"Your boys too? They sport such cute crewcuts!" Barb noted.
"Even though the base barbershop only charges $11 for a haircut, Sam cuts our boys' hair himself. He enjoys being an amateur barber. His set of electric clippers could put a quick end to Kevin's expensive trips to the salon," laughed Betty.
"Hey, I like that! Might be a bit of a wake-up call for that slug. Frankly, I wouldn't mind watching Kevin on the receiving end of a brutal head shave as a bit of a punishment for being such a lame husband," Barb scowled before she let out a sinister sort of a laugh. "Wouldn't mind recording all that pampered hair being shaved off and posting it on my FB page!"
"Tell you what! You and Kevin -- come to our house for brunch on Saturday morning. I'll have Sam set up his little barbershop in the garage, and we'll see what can be done for Kevin," Betty said.
That evening, Barb broached the topic with Kevin. "Betty invited us for brunch on Saturday. This will be an opportunity for you to let Sam know how eager you are to be recalled at the plant," Barb said.
Kevin feigned interest, "Oh, that would be nice, if he could use some of his influence to get me back. His opinions are highly valued by all the right decision makers. But, I'm afraid I'll have to take a pass on the brunch. I already have an appointment at the salon. My hair is getting so long, I just don't want to put it off again. I noticed a few split ends this week and definitely need a good trim!"
"Well I agree about your hair being too long. It desperately needs more than a trim; it needs a good cut. But, I don't want you passing up the brunch. You need to re-schedule your appointment, or perhaps we can find a cheaper alternative for you. Kevin, to be honest, the fact is, we cannot afford a $75 trim at the salon for you every few weeks! If you'd get a job, maybe. But, I'm not paying for any more salon visits for you!" she said with a huff. "Do you realized we probably won't be able to pay our mortgage this month? You know what that means?!"
"Okay, okay. I'll go to the brunch. Don't be so witchy, woman!" he lashed back.
"I wouldn't be if you weren't so lazy! Maybe Sam can take you with him when he gets his hair cut on base. Betty told me he only pays $11," Barb chided.
"And he looks like a jarhead!" huffed Kevin.
"If you ask me, he looks like a man. A real man. A virile, hunk of a man! But you....when you come back from that salon with your hair all fluffy and styled. The metro-sexual look is such a turn off, Kevin!" And with that, Barb stormed from the room.
A cold peace existed between Barb and Kevin after the blow-up which held until the morning of the brunch. "Be nice to Sam, Kevin," Barb nagged. "Remember, you want to be recalled to the plant. Just be pleasant and go along with what he suggests. Got it?" she admonished as they drove toward Barb and Sam's place.
"Got it! Laugh at his jokes. Follow his advice. Do what he tells me. I'll grovel and suck up...." moaned Kevin.
"....and end up employed instead of sitting idly around the house like a leech," Barb snapped.
"Hate to say 'I told you so'........but, I couldn't get another appointment at the salon for three weeks!" Kevin pouted.
"That settles it. You can't wait that long. We need to find you some place that doesn't require appointments, a place that's a lot cheaper. I'm going to ask Sam about his barber," Barb stated flatly.
"I'm not going to get my hair cut on any military base, I can assure you of that," Kevin retorted as he dropped the visor and took a look at his thick, auburn hair that cascaded down in full waves towards his shoulder.
The brunch proceeded quite nicely, and Kevin made a good effort to engage with Sam. Barb was impressed at how Kevin was doing everything he could to ingratiate himself with Sam.
Toward the end of the breakfast, Barb introduced the topic of men's haircuts. Referring to their two sons playing in the yard, she mentioned, "I hear you give the boys haircuts yourself, Sam. You're quite a barber! Those crewcuts look very professional!"
"Just tidied them up this morning. Having a home barbershop is convenient and cheap. Actually, it's cost-free once you buy the clippers!" he said.
"Hear that, Kevin? He was just moaning on the way over here that he can't get an appointment at his salon for another three weeks! Truth is, we can't afford that high price service anymore," Barb noted. "Kevin was wondering if anyone can go to the barbershop on base you use, Sam?"
Kevin shot Barb a dirty look -- that was the farthest thing from his mind! To turn his tresses over to military barber who be a nightmare.
"Afraid not. Just active duty and retired military," Sam explained.
Kevin sounded a defiant note, "Actually, I've decided to let my hair grow out and pull it into a man bun. I won't need any haircuts for a long while."
"Man bun!!" Sam and the ladies exclaimed. Kevin's face reddened at their disapproving gasp.
"I've heard it all," moaned Barb.
As they got up from the table, Sam said, "There's something I want to show you in the garage, Kevin."
Kevin followed him through the door that led from the kitchen into the garage.
"Actually, I just wanted a little privacy to discuss something with you," said Sam. "Betty told me that Barb is worried you're going to lose your house. She wants me to bring you back as one of my team members to help you guys out financially. Is it true that things are so bad for you?"
Kevin stammered a bit, "Yep, that's what I understand. Barb's being working a ton of overtime, but we just can't make ends meet."
"Didn't you get a full six months severance when you were laid off?" Sam asked. "The other guys that were laid off at the same time were a picked up at the HCT plant in Highland. Surely, you could have found a good job with all that time!"
"At first I decided to just take a month off, like I was on vacation. Then that dragged on longer than I first planned. I guess I established a new routine, basically just milling around. The idea of pounding the pavement trying to get a job, well, it didn't resonate. I'd fired off a few resumes from time to time, when Barb would get spun up, but there haven't been any real prospects. I mean, my skill set is perfect for the job I left! Why should I try to develop new ones? And, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the new lines of production would start at our plant. I figured I'd wait for a call back at the plant," explained Kevin.
"Did it ever occur to you that you got laid off because people at the plant weren't happy with your work....or more precisely, your work ethic?" asked Sam.
The suggestion took Kevin by surprise! In fact, he'd never considered that!
"Betty has begged me to hire you back, but I'm not sure it'll work, Kevin. That is, unless there are big changes you're willing to make," warned Sam. "I'd be a supervisor that keeps close tabs on you; and, just to be clear, I have high expectations and standards. Get my meaning?"
"Yeah, you'd ride my tail and not let me be a slacker," Kevin said flatly.
"Precisely. Things will be quite different. Understand?" Sam pressed.
"Hey, at this point, I'd agree to do anything," Kevin sighed.
"Be to work early and stay late? Volunteer for the hard jobs no one wants? No complaining or dragging your feet? Are you willing to be that kind of worker, Kevin?" Sam asked.
"I am. Or, let's say, I will be," he said simply.
Then Sam's eyes locked on Kevin's glossy, thick mane. "And I have a solution for the other problem Barb raised at the table. This," he said, grasping a shank of Kevin's pampered hair. He fondled it momentarily, while Kevin stood frozen with fright. "See that stool over there? Scamper over there and take a seat," Sam instructed.
"You're not going to....."
"Are you dragging your feet, Kevin? Perhaps the new attitude you promised me isn't going to materialize!" Sam snapped.
Kevin got the message. His eyes became wide as saucers as he moved toward the kitchen stool and spotted the clippers still plugged in on the garage workbench. Uneasily, he mounted the stool and sat precariously,looking quite vulnerable.
"There, that's much better. You're already learning how to comply without making a fuss!" Sam laughed. Then a huge cape sailed through the air, and Sam fastened it into place. He smoothed down Kevin's pretty hair with his hand and stroked the gleaming tresses. "I'm going to make a new man out of you, Kevin!" His strong hands lingered in Kevin's lush hair. Then he whispered in Kevin's ear, "All you need to do is sit still. Submissive and cooperative. At work too. Submissive and cooperative. I'm going to put an end to all your bad work habits as sure as I'm going to shave off all of this girlish hair." Again, Sam plied his fingers through Kevin's lustrous mane. Kevin concentrated on sitting still even though he felt himself beginning to twitch as the result of Sam's fixed attention.
Then Sam called out, "Hey, Betty. Hey, Barb. Come in here -- there's something you'll want to watch!"
The ladies rushed into the garage and let out a shriek when they saw Kevin caped and cowed. "It'll be a back-to-work haircut for Kevin! He starts Monday on my team, ladies. Turning over a new leaf and starting it off with a new, streamlined look."
"Oh, let me get my phone to record this!" Barb squealed.
"Great!" replied Sam. "You'll be able to watch it a few times and get the knack for home haircuts yourself, Barb. Kevin's going to be a sport and help save money by shedding this salon look for a nice tight butch! That's a single length all over. No skill required."
"A butch....!" Kevin gasped from under the cape.
"Yes, do you have any objections?" Sam asked.
"Uh, no, a butch will be a nice practical haircut for me," Kevin whimpered.
"Okay, Barb. Pick a number between 0-3," Sam instructed. "The lower the number, the shorter the cut will be."
"Oh, Kevin's had such very long hair for such a long time...." she said, pondering her selection. Then, she suddenly exclaimed, "ZERO! Take it all off. He's due for a very big change."
Kevin's eyes bulged in horror.
Sam snatched the clippers and stripped the guard. "Yes, it'll be an induction cut! Introduce Kevin to a very different lifestyle." The bare metal teeth were ready to chew off Kevin's treasured hair, right at the scalp.
Betty and Barb took out their phones.
Sam towered over the still and silent Kevin as he played with the thick, lovely hair for a few remaining seconds. "The zero length will be a little shy of a five o-clock shadow, Pretty Boy! Are you ready? Sit up nice and straight now. And don't squirm!"
Sam brought the chattering teeth up past Kevin's frightened face. Instinctively he tried to dodge the clippers as they were poised to strike his hairline at the top of his forehead.
Sam grasped him by the hair at the back of his head and subdued him with a very tight hold. "Sit still. You can say bye-bye to your dream of a 'man bun'!"
The women let out a cackle of pleasure watching Kevin's reaction.
Sam wielded the clippers with full authority as he slowly, but forcefully pushed them into Kevin's gleaming mane of thick brown hair. In almost slow motion, large shanks of cut hair slipped from the crown of Kevin's immobilized head, falling dramatically to his shoulders and then sliding slowly down the cape.
"Just like reception day on base. The new recruits bussed in....and straight to the barber shop!" laughed Sam as he pulled off another massive shank of Kevin's gleaming locks.
Kevin's nervous eyes darted about, trying to watch the carnage, while holding his head steady as Sam had instructed. The amateur barber continued to shear off his long hair.
"Oh, this is wonderful," Barb gushed. "I should have had you shave him bald a long time ago, Sam. You look so muscular and authoritarian as a barber!"
Sam pulled off another of Kevin's tresses and held it up as a trophy. "Good riddance, eh, Kevin? No more time-consuming hair care in the morning!" He dropped the lock and enjoyed the feel as it came to rest atop his flip-flop. "I want you at work, sitting in your desk, a full half hour before the shift begins. That's how much time you'll save without all the elaborate hair washing and drying in the morning, I bet. No drifting in late. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," Kevin replied meekly.
Sam played with the clipped top. "Oh, cut so close it feels almost smooth!"
"What a sight!" shrieked Barb. "A hippy with a severe male pattern baldness! Can you give him a bit of a comb-over so I can get a funny 'during' shot for my FB montage? My friends are going to LOL for sure at Kevin's makeover."
Betty saddled up to Sam and purred in his ear, "Thanks for taking Kevin back at the plant. You're a real hero, you know that? As much off the battlefield as on it!"
"This is just the start of a long term mission," laughed Sam. "I dare say not a hint of the old Kevin will be left by the time I finish with him! Will it, Baldy?!" he exclaimed as he playfully fashioned an old-man's comb-over to the delight of the women who were recording Kevin's humiliation.
Sam began to tackle the hair on the side of Kevin's head, exposing his left ear for the first time. The uncovered ear revealed a tiny diamond stud! "Take out that earring, Kevin!" he barked. "Buns, earrings....did you forget you were a man?"
Kevin complied as quickly as he could. This he took a handful of cut hair from his lap and fondled it nervously.
"Betty, go fetch a pair of nail clippers. Kevin's manicured hands might inhibit him on the assembly line. Let's clip the nails down to a nice, short, practical length!" instructed Sam.
"The baldy is shaping up quite nicely, Sam," Barb murmured in admiration. "It'll feel so stimulating to rub the stubble!"
"Do you want to try your hand at the hair clippers, Barb?" Sam asked.
"Sure, if I'm to become his new barber. How often will I have to clip him?" she asked.
"Once a week. Or, as often as he needs a little reminder that we're all watching the new Kevin closely and the old Kevin is no more."
While Betty was away fetching the nail clippers, Sam smuggled up behind Barb and helped guide her hand as she moved the clippers through the remains of her husband's tresses. She squealed with delight as clumps from the nape drifted over her hand and then fell to the floor, "Timber! No more long hair, honey! Just a nice, round, bald head left!"
When Betty returned with the nail clippers, Sam instructed her to clip the professionally shaped, manicured nails very short. Everything that Kevin took pride in was being stripped from him.
Sam finished the haircut and snapped off the machine. Then he rubbed the tightly clipped head over and over. "Come feel this fine stubble, ladies!" There were giggles and laughs as the trio explored Kevin's shorn head as he sat silent and still.
"And, now, for the new you, Kevin! Ready?" Sam announced, holding up the hand mirror.
Kevin gasped in shock as he surveyed his bald head in the reflection. "I don't recognize myself!" His hand slowly came out from under the cape and he stroked his own bald pate for the first time.
The other three laughed heartily as Sam unfastened the cape. "Okay, Baldy! Get a broom and sweep all this up. The girls and I are going to relax with a beer on the deck in back."
Kevin was left, feeling his shorn head and feeling quite isolated. He looked down at the floor of the garage in disbelief. His hair, all his beautiful hair. Lifeless, worthless -- a pathetic reminder of his days as a slug on the couch at home. He reached for the broom....strangely he felt better about himself, suffering all the humiliation at the hands of macho Sam. Sam was a boss he could look up to and even emulate. The women were attracted to his strong, authoritarian ways. The people at the plant too.... Kevin picked up the hand mirror and stared at himself again. He was, in fact, a very different person. Not just in looks, but how he felt. Kevin swept the cut hair into a massive pile and then emptied four dustpans full of it into the trash. Sam had begun a transformation in him that was long overdue....and Kevin felt grateful. Good riddance to his old, self-absorbed self! He would be a better husband and a better employee with Sam keeping him on a tight leash.