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Ed's Excellent Commute by Manny
Ed felt a surge of excitement as the train came to a stop at his destination, the Rossfield station. In a few minutes, the high point of his commute home would materialize. Up the escalator, out of the station and half block away he would see it -- the Rossfield Barber Shop.
Ed glanced at his reflection in the train's window. Opaquely he made out the outlines of his lionesque mane of thick, wavy hair. Ed smoothed it down as he waited for the train doors to open. Ah! The silken feel of his tresses was pleasing.
The next part of Ed's routine was getting a clear view of his blondish-brown hair that hung in a nicely-styled shag style over his ears and past the base of his collar. As he rode the up escalator, off to one side, the wall was lined with mirrors. Ed savored the scene. His hair was quite a prominent feature, and he was quite proud of it. In fact, very proud of it. His pride, however, bothered him and Ed often chided himself about being so vain. He wished he’d at least stop admiring his pretty locks so openly. Ed knew there was an antidote for his character flaw; the quick solution could be found at the Rossfield Barber Shop.
What excited Ed about this part of his commute home was the emotional roller coaster as he progressed out of the station and the twirling red and white pole of the barber shop came into plain view. Each day Ed imagined the shop as his destination....walking straight there....pulling open the door and getting in line for a haircut. Of course, there would be no chance of leaving the shop with just a trim. He would leave shorn -- his mane butchered and finished off by a set of fast feed electric hair clippers that all the barbers there used so effectively.
However, the fantasy never materialized because, each day, Ed would continue walking right on past the shop.
During the brief moments as he passed the large plate glass window with a commanding view of the four identically clad barbers, his eyes would rivet on the scene inside.
This day was no different than the many that had come before it. Ed's view included the three older Korean barbers -- dressed in white from head to toe, including white loafers, with standard gentlemen's haircuts -- busy at work, intently focused on their clients, sitting submissively under billowing white capes.
And it also included the anomaly -- the one young, muscular Korean barber with his closely clipped hair -- whose eyes would meet and lock on Ed's intently for the brief interaction. Ed had always speculated that the young barber must have been one of the older men's sons. Perhaps the three men were brothers and the young was being groomed been to follow their vocation and take ownership of the shop.
The young barber never looked exactly happy at his work. It was evident from the bulging muscled arms that protruded from the short-sleeves of the tunic that he spent a lot of time after work at the gym. Ed found the young barber quite handsome and he fantasized about being made to sit in his chair. Those muscular arms would fastened the huge white cape suffocatingly tight about him if he ever had the courage to enter the shop!
Today, as Ed walked quickly past it, he noticed that the young barber's hair had been cut shorter than ever! It was all buzzed down to stubble except a very small patch at the widow's peak that gave a hint of bangs.
His heart beat unusually quickly. As he had planned for a while, Ed altered his routine ever so slightly. As the two men locked stares, Ed gave the barber a very quick wave! His heart leapt as he executed the motion -- a brief, friendly wave that was meant to convey, "hi, I'd like to get to know you!"
Ed felt almost sure that the barber had responded to the overture with a very slight smile. But, he was in such a hurry to move on, he couldn't be certain. Even blocks later, almost at home, Ed's heart continued to pound rapidly. More than ever, Ed wanted to connect with the handsome and muscular young Korean barber.
As Ed entered his apartment he wondered who cut the young barber's hair. Probably one of the older men -- his father, or an uncle? The young Korean barber looked so manly with his clipped head!
As the apartment door opened, Ed was confronted by the mirror in his foyer by the totally opposite image -- long, wavy, soft, stylized hair. His hair! Ed set his things down and continued staring at his hair. One day he would watch it fall to the floor of the Rossfield Barber Shop! Ed stirred with excitement at the thought. One day, his hair would be clipped as close to his scull as the young barber's!! But, he wanted to be coaxed and wooed inside. He didn't want to just voluntarily walk in and get in line like a regular client.
Then Ed moved to execute the second part of his change to the normal routine on his commute home. He found the number of the Rossfield Barber Shop online. His fingers trembled as he punched it into his phone. The ringing seemed interminable. Finally a foreign-sounding voice answered "hello".
"Yes, could you tell me if you are open on Saturdays?" Ed asked in a businesslike tone.
The man replied in accented by understandable English, "9-3 on Saturday."
Then Ed heard another voice in clear English reminding him of something. "Wait one minute. My son want to tell you something."
"Hi, uh, yes, this is Bruce. We normally are open on Saturdays from 9-3 but not this Saturday because we are having some electrical work done. Of course, we need electricity for the lights and our clippers!" he added cheerfully.
"Yes, uh, thanks," Ed replied....his heart beating quickly to know the young stud's name was Bruce. He wanted to continue their little, mundane chat. "Oh, and just one more thing, haircuts cost how much?"
"Regular haircuts - $13. Cash only, no credit cards. Flattops - $14. Discount for seniors. Boys butch cuts - $10. How old is the client?" Jason asked.
"It's for me. I'm 26," Ed replied. "Every day when I walk past the shop I think I should give it a try," Ed stammered awkwardly. "When I passed a few minutes ago, I almost went in. But, then, I thought perhaps Saturday, or some other evening. Thanks for your time."
Suddenly the voice on the other end of the line became more animated. "Yes, please come! No appointments, just walk-ins. But if you want to wait for a specific barber, you can."
"You mean, like I could wait for you if I wanted to, Bruce? I'm looking for a barber who can give me a nice, crisp haircut. You're the young guy in there, right?"
"Right! And, are you by chance the fellow who is very much in need of a haircut....who waved today?" Bruce asked.
Ed could feel himself getting very hot in the cheeks and elsewhere. He paused before admitting, "Yes." Now there was little chance of not going through with things....
"Come back in an hour. I'll be waiting for you. I'm on closing duty this evening. A very short haircut you said....."
Ed quickly hung up the phone! He was in a total panic. The conversation had spiraled out of control. There was no way he could.....
He ran to a mirror and looked at his hair. Bruce would clip it all off, for sure! Just like his! He'd never had an ultra-short haircut before. He had wanted a special invitation -- not just walking into the shop and getting in line like a normal client -- and Bruce had just made it! And he'd be there (hopefully!) alone with the young stud barber.
Ed watched the clock nervously. If he was going to keep the rendez-vouz Bruce had proposed, he'd better leave. But Ed felt paralyzed. He couldn't go through with it. He could, however, call Bruce again, from the safety of his own apartment.
Ed waited for a bit until he was sure the shop was closed. Then he dialed the number.
The call was answered immediately. "Rossfield Barber Shop....."
"Are you alone?" Ed asked.
"Yes, are you on your way?" Bruce replied.
"I got a bit delayed...." Ed's voice trailed.
"But you're coming, right? Tell me you're coming...." Bruce insisted.
"Yes....because I am very much wanting a change. A big change!"
"You will get one, don't worry!" Bruce assured him.
"But so many of my friends like my long hair," Ed whined slightly. "It’s never been cut short."
"I like it too. Those waves and glossy locks. I will like them so much more on the cape!" laughed Bruce.
"Maybe I should go shorter gradually," Ed suggested.
"That's possible, how much longer till you get here?" the barber asked.
"Five minutes, can you wait?"
"I will wait as long as it take for you to get here. Meanwhile, I’ll change into my street clothes..."
"Oh, no!" Ed gasped. "Please stay in your barber outfit, I want a genuine experience at the barbershop."
"Oh, so you like the way I look in my tunic?!" Bruce teased. "Makes me look like my father or one of my uncles. When this shop is mine I’m going to really update it and make it modern. I really hate these white loafers they make me work."
"Since you want me looking like I stepped out of the 1950s, I guess you’ll want me to make you look like YOU stepped out of the 1950s as well. A flattop will suit you perfectly, uh, what did you say your name was?"
"I’m Ed. But I said I wanted a ‘crisp’ haircut, not a ‘short’ haircut," Ed protested. "And, a flattop is about as short as one can get."
"Oh, my!" Bruce laughed. "You have a lot to learn. And I’m going to be your teacher! See you shortly!"
The mention of a flattop set Ed on edge. It would be a huge change! What would everyone at work say?!
Ed hustled out of his apartment and moved quickly down the sidewalk towards the Rossfield Barber Shop. The street seemed deserted. Dusk was turning to evening and he could see the glow of neon clearly at a distance.
As he approached the shop, he saw the young barber outside, still clad in white from head to toe as he’d asked. Bruce was smoking a cigarette. The swirling smoke about him gave the scene a ghostly Halloween-like aura. Suddenly, a chill shot down Ed’s spine -- his transformation was finally going to happen. The excitement and nervousness he felt built within him simultaneously.
Bruce carefully studied Ed’s mane before speaking. "It’s going to be a treat, taking control of all that hair, Ed." He blew out some smoke rings and flexed his muscles a bit.
Ed was rather taken aback by the aggressive nature of Bruce’s opening remark. Not even a hello! He stammered to come up with a reply and thought about moving on, foregoing the haircut. But, Bruce’s magnetic stare kept him on track for his first very short haircut. Curiously, he found himself wanting to submit!
"Who cuts your hair, Bruce?" Ed finally was able to ask, breaking the tense silence.
"I cut my own. Do you like it?" Bruce replied, rubbing the bristles against the grain.
Unexpectedly, Bruce reached for Ed’s mane and grasped it firmly. "Every day when you prance by with these pretty locks bouncing about I want to grab your hair just like this and drag you into the shop, like this!"
Ed was taken aback by the rough manhandling, as Bruce tossed down the lit cigarette and pulled him by his hair into the shop. The way Bruce pulled him by the hair hurt! Then the domineering young barber closed the door behind them.
Ed was frozen in fear and surprise. He watched Bruce let down the Venetian blinds and turn the door on the side to "closed". Then Bruce turned around and smiled. "Welcome to my barbershop, Ed. Is there anything you want to do before you climb up in my chair? I’ve seen that same look of desire in your eyes when you pass each day and stare inside at me. How about a treat before you get the trick?"
Ed still stood, paralyzed. He felt embarrassed to have been called out like that.
Bruce continued, "I see I’m going to have to take the initiative," he said firmly as he pulled Ed towards him tight to his body. Ed melted into his embrace and allowed Bruce to have his way with him.
The barber cooed in Ed’s ear, "Oh, this long hair feels wonderfully plush and thick and soft. It’s just the type of hair I love to see at my feet. Shall I take it all from you, Ed?"
Ed’s mouth was dry. He could hardly speak. He wanted to remind Bruce that he wasn’t ready to go short yet, but the words didn’t come.
Bruce was firm with his hold as he moved the near paralyzed Ed towards his chair. Ed watched himself helplessly in the mirror as the muscular barber carried out his agenda forward. Ed's lovely, long soft hair would be no match for Bruce’s clippers. Inwardly, he felt happy to be submissive. His beautiful hair would be offered up as a token of his submission.
"Take a seat!" Bruce snapped. Ed complied. He was facing away from the mirror..
Then the barber cast the cape and fastened it snuggly. "Oh, such amazing hair!" he murmured as he fondled the silken strands.
Suddenly, without warning, Bruce grabbed Ed by the hair at the nape and yanked his head back. "This is how they treat the marine recruits at the Parris Island boot camp barber shop."
Then Ed heard a click and the clippers roar to life.
"Not an induction cut, Bruce, please!" he stammered.
Just then the front door to the barber shop jingled as it swung open. Bruce quickly relaxed his grip and changed his tone dramatically, "Oh, hi Dad. I had one late customer stop by just as I was closing. He was pretty desperate for a haircut so I decided to take him." Bruce snapped off the machine.
The old man smiled broadly. "So good to do business like that! Work hard and stay open late. That's a serious son who wants to run a successful barber shop one day. Your uncle and I had a few beers after work, so I want to ride home with you tonight, son. But don't hurry on the haircut. Yes he was quite in need of haircut."
Bruce addressed Ed more formally and politely, "So, you wanted a more tidy, business-like haircut, you said?"
"Yes, a short back and sides, please," Ed replied, relieved that the barber's father had saved him from an imminent induction cut.
"Your hair is very thick and wavy. I'll have to thin it down quite a bit, so that it lays down easily," Bruce said. "Would you like a medium or a short length haircut?"
Ed paused momentarily. Then he gripped the arms of the chair and braced himself. "Short. Very short. A close taper all the way up to the crown, please. On top, just enough length to comb." His heart was pounding. Those were the words he'd rehearsed over and over as he'd fantasized about entering the shop on his way home from work each day.
Bruce firmly pushed Ed's head down into a bowed position so that his chin approached his chest. The clippers came to life again and the first swipe proved brutal! Ed felt the teeth chewing off his plush locks down to the scalp,about a third of the way up and then easing away slightly. Bruce repeated the motion several times taking the short taper higher and higher to the crown each time.
"That is very short, son," the old man noted cautiously.
"You heard him, father," Bruce replied with an annoyed tone. "He wants a short brush cut."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I heard him say business cut. Yes, a brush cut will be a very nice look for the young man," the old barber commented approvingly. "Long hair on men is no good!"
Bruce flashed an evil grin at Ed, putting him on notice that the beautiful mane would not endure in its current estate. Then, he quickly lifted the long forelock that dangled deliciously to the side of Ed's face and pushed the clippers up into it, right near the scalp. Mounds and mounds of glossy hair fell to the cape in a huge, dramatic turn of events.
Ed reeled emotionally inside. He was heading for a short brush cut! Feeling almost numb, Ed stared down at the massive cauldron of shorn hair that collected quickly in his lap. Beneath it there was a noticeable stirring that embarrassed him.
Bruce clipped away at his head like a maniac, using a clipper over comb technique. Ed could tell that most of his hair was coming off. The white cape quickly disappeared with the onslaught of cut locks raining down.
Finally the clipping stopped. When Bruce clicked off the machine, the soft snoring of his father in the waiting area could be heard. Bruce slowly turned the chair to face the mirror.
Ed swooned as his new look came into view. He looked like a 12-year old boy with his tidy crewcut. Virtually nothing save a plush pelt remain.
"Well, is this short enough?" Bruce asked solicitously as he fondled the pelt.
Ed gripped the arms of the chair tightly. Then he eked out, "How much did you say you charged for flattops?"
Bruce smiled widely. "$14, normally. But since you are a new client, the price will be the same. Is that what you want? It will have to be a very, very short military-style flattop, though. A high 'n tight, actually. I've already cut so much off. Or perhaps you'd like to consider a shoe?"
"A horseshoe?" gasped Ed nervously. He paused nervously, then blurted out, "Yes, shoe me!"
Bruce whispered into Ed's ear, "Excellent choice." Then he went to work peeling off the pelt, all under the watchful eye of Ed, who trembled with excitement beneath the cape. He could hardly believe his eyes. More hair was coming off than he'd ever imagined.
Abruptly, Bruce declared, "I'm going to take it all!" The little rim of hair that had begun to form was quickly obliterated. "A Parris Island marine induction cut for you after all, Ed!" Then he reached into the mound of hair in the lap and grabbed the soft locks that encased a very hard core and squeezed. "This is all mine!" Bruce exclaimed as Ed confirmed his declaration with a tense jolt.
As Ed recovered in the chair, Bruce took the duster to him. Billows of talcum encased the bald head.
As Bruce removed the cape, his father awoke from his slumber. "Oh, what happened to the gent?" he asked. "I thought he asked for a brush cut."
"I changed my mind, sir," Ed said as he emerged from the chair and surveyed the hair covered floor. His locks looked amazing -- an artistically placed throw rug at Bruce's feet. Ed felt his stubbled head for the first time, "I decided that since I was making a big change, I'd go all he way. I haven't had a baldy cut since I was a tyke! How do I look?"
"A lot better than when all that hung across your face and over your collar in back," the old man chuckled.
Bruce tossed his father a set of keys. "Go warm up the car, dad. I'll be right out. Just have to close the cash register and sweep up this mess."
As soon as the old man amble out, Bruce pulled Ed toward him and the two were finally alone. His hands explored Ed's clipped head. "I'm sorry we can't spend more time together tonight."
"After you drop off your old man, swing by my place. 177 Chestnut, top floor," Ed said.
"Should I come in my barber tunic, slacks and white loafers?" asked Bruce.
"Yes, but don't expect them to stay on very long...." Ed laughed as he left the shop feeling like a new person.