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From Fresh Starts to Fresh Cuts by Armando94


From Fresh Starts to Fresh Cuts
(A sequel to From High Times to High ‘n Tight)

This summer had been a scorcher so far, not at all what most folks had intended considering the mild winter from before. But the atmosphere was balmy and humid, making no one want to be outside for too long. Unless of course you were outside by a pool or in the park, but even still, that was still sure to make you sweaty and feel groggy and gross. That was, of course, if you hadn’t gotten a summer haircut yet.

And at the local barbershop in town, it was busier than ever. Men and boys alike, going much shorter or getting totally new fresh cuts. Ed Shepard, the man who own and ran the shop, had been here for nearly forty years. In the past he’d had other help but usually he preferred to run the shop solo, give it that old timer feel. But soon that would change, or it had already felt like it was changing. Ever since his nephew Chuck had come to town and moved in with him. Everyone in town was in love with Chuck, they luckily didn’t know of the kind of man he was before. All they saw in him was the sweet young man who attended mass with his uncle, sitting in the same spots each week in their smart sports coats. Or the Chuck they knew from the supermarket who within a month of being there knew the store like the back of his hand, as if he had grown up in town like some of these others. Then there was the Chuck that night timers knew from the local pub, while not being a bartender but being able to at least socialize and become friends with some other young men around his age spread his name around town and got him involved in YMCA sports teams and clubs.

And of course, the Chuck that everyone knew that helped out and worked at his Uncle Ed’s shop. He was there on Fridays and Saturdays when they were busiest, and other times during the week when he could fit it in to his schedule when he wasn’t at the supermarket. At the shop, he was in charge of many different tasks, like making sure every man paid for their cut, sweeping up the clumps of hairs on the floor, polishing and cleaning the windows inside and out, making sure towels were hot, fresh and ready, and keeping an eye on the queue of when everyone would come in and wait for their appointment. In fact, most guys did not mind waiting for a haircut even if it was a long while, because if it was on a day or time when Chuck was there, he was able to talk people up and keep them in a positive mood. Even the younger kids or crabby teenagers who most certainly didn’t want to be there were more bright-faced when Chuck talked to them or asked them questions. It definitely put them at ease and that is what Chuck did for most of the clients that came in to the shop now.

And every other Friday, after Chuck and Uncle Ed did the usual cleaning up, Chuck would hop into the chair and his uncle barber would freshen up his high and tight. Not much hair would come off but Chuck still enjoyed this ritual. Also, this was also the time that allowed Chuck to try his chops on his uncle. Tidying up his necklines and keeping his sides short, and slowly learning a bit more on how to cut the top of someone’s hair correctly. They still were going to the state penitentiary every Sunday afternoon to cut inmates hairs and this was definitely a place and experience Chuck was learning from. But in the fall he would start at cosmetology school and in the spring receive his barber license. He was looking forward to that day, and looking forward to the fall when his uncle would slowly start to let him cut hair. He was dying to get started already but his uncle was serious about not letting him until he was officially enrolled and in his schooling.

"But I’m learning so much from when we go on Sundays or all the time I’m here. Uncle Ed, I can be a big help when you need it most. Just look how crowded its been getting recently."

Uncle Ed had to think this over for a while when Chuck proposed it to him towards the end of June. Then the Fourth went by and then it was the end of July on one particular Friday when they were cutting each other’s hair before Chuck had to go to the pub later at night and work. That is when Uncle Ed decided, "Saturdays, that’s what I’ll let you have for now and that’s it. Like you said a while back, it is getting a lot more busy and I could use the help, but I only want that help from you on that day. Every other day I’ll need you to do your usual tasks here, and I may even let you spruce up the place a bit if that pleases you. Nothing flashy though, I don’t want this place to loose its charm to you millennials."

"Really??" Chuck said in the chair, excited from under the cape as his uncle discussed this and began to peel his nephew’s sides down to the usual #0.

"Saturdays," Ed said, "and we’ll discuss the other terms of your new contract later this weekend."

"Tomorrow is Saturday, does that mean I can start then?"

"I said Saturdays, so what do you think," his uncle laughed. He continued to cut his client and before moving on to the top with the usual #2 Chuck had become used to, Uncle Ed said, "What do you think about your haircut, son?"

"I like it," Chuck commented, rubbing one free hand against the back of his head. "Definitely keeps me cool with this heat. I might try something new though, I don’t know if I’d do it now or wait till fall though."

"What did you have in mind?"

"Still real short on the sides, and then I’m thinking a flattop crewcut. That way it’s a flattop but a nice, buzzed, dense top that styled and short. Manageable but fashionable too, what do you say boss?"

Uncle Ed felt the top of his nephew’s head and said, "You’ll definitely have to grow this hair on top then to get that look, but with the thick locks you came into here with back in the spring, I think you could pull it off just fine. How about we just leave the top then as is and you can get started on my trim?"

"Deal," Chuck said and his uncle brushed him down and then they switched spots. As Chuck began to cut Ed’s hair, he said, "I assume that you’ll want me in one of the other two chairs tomorrow?"

"That would be correct," Ed chuckled. "Pick whichever you’d like, although, it would be strange if there’s any empty one between us. But your choice."

"Nah, I’ll be right next to you to show off my skills."

"Watch it Charles, just because I’m letting you do this does not mean I am totally trusting you. Take this as a test, just like every Sunday with those men. The summer is still hot and I’m sure the younger boys will be thrilled to see you working tomorrow that they will completely forget about their vanity of having to get buzzed down."

"Got it, sorry about that, didn’t mean it."

"That’s alright, tomorrow will be the real test of how you interact one on one with the client IN your chair." Chuck finished up his uncle’s haircut and then they closed the place up, heading back home for a quick dinner so Chuck could get changed into his all black look for the pub and head off for the night shift.

He was excited that it wasn’t too crowded of a night, he was looking forward to getting out earlier if he could so he could be home to get some rest. His new buddies swung by later on after he’d been working for a bit and tried to convince him to say after his boss said he could go home for the night. But he told them he needed to get some sleep, "But I hope to see you fellas swing by the shop tomorrow once you’ve got your asses out of bed," he teased them.

He drove home real fast, thankfully not getting pulled over, and tiptoed up the steps knowing that his uncle was well asleep by now. Chuck brushed his teeth and washed his face, then went to his room and stripped out of his work clothes and put on a pair of shorts. No need to be wearing any shirts to bed in this heat. Then he laid out a pair of black slacks and a short-sleeved, white button down, and a pair of nice black shoes he had from the past. His uncle had not given him a tunic yet, but this look definitely would work and make him look like a barber. All he’d need to do to put it all together is put a comb and pair of scissors in the front chest pocket and he’d look the part. Then he hopped into bed and shut his eyes, excited to wake up for the next day’s event. He would have stayed up all night waiting for it if he could, but that wouldn’t be responsible. He need to be patient, just like with his uncle letting him even have this opportunity so soon.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

The next morning, Chuck woke up to an early alarm and headed straight for the shower. Washing himself off real good and scrubbing all over his body. He wanted to make sure he smelled like he just came out of the shower all day long if he was going to be cutting men’s hair. Then he towel dried himself off and went back into his room, quickly changing into the outfit he had laid out the night before. He polished the shoes up a bit so they shined more, and then took a look at himself in the mirror. He was looking for and more the part. Chuck pushed his right hand across the top of his head. He would need to be patient about his hair growing back in so he could get that flattop crewcut he desired. But it would be worth it! Chuck just knew it.

He started to hear Uncle Ed getting ready himself, so Chuck went downstairs and figured he’d get the coffee pot started and would make the two of them a nice breakfast for the occasion. They usually didn’t do this nice of a breakfast except on a Sunday, but today was different. Chuck put some bread in the toaster, threw slabs of bacon in one frying pan, and some scrambled up eggs in another. He was doing this all the while Uncle Ed was getting ready himself, not anticipating any of this until he came down the steps and could smell the cooking.

"What in the world are you doing?"

"Good morning to you too Uncle Ed," Chuck laughed.

"What’s got you making breakfast like its tomorrow already?"

"We both need our energy today, we’ll both be on our feet all morning and afternoon, sir."

Uncle Ed beamed and said, "Alright boy, just don’t burn those eggs."

The two of them sat down to a nice breakfast before most the town was up. Uncle Ed was looking to read over the paper but Chuck kept interrupting him. He was bubbling with ideas for the shop. "So I’m definitely gonna paint you a price sign, nothing too big or flashy but you need one. And then maybe we’ll need to wax the floors so they don’t look so dirty."

"Thanks for noticing."

Chuck laughed at his uncle’s comment, "And then maybe we can also repaint the walls, I like the off white, grayish blue look. But it definitely could be updated. And maybe something about the waiting area, although that could wait."

"All great ideas, fine by me."

"I didn’t tell you about the big one," Chuck said. "Well, big ones, plural I should say. I know you use your own concoction for hot towels when you give a shave. I was thinking, what if we created more than just that? You know, also things for hair products and such, candles with good smells like as if your home smelled like the barbershop, and other sorts of products. Create our own sort of brand. This will definitely take time and trial and error but I think that could be really cool if we made our own product line."

"That I will definitely leave to you Chuck, I know nothing about that stuff except how I do it," Uncle Ed answered. "But I like the way you think, and if you think this is a worthy venture then I say go for it. Try it, and see how people react to it. Even if its just sold out of our shop, that is fine by me and even preferable."

"I’m thinking of calling it Shepard Boys, you know, if we ever get around to making real products and putting them in cases and making wrappers for them."

Uncle Ed beamed again at this and said, "I would say Shepard Men, but I don’t mind where you take this because its your idea son. I leave it all to you. Make a table or cabinet, whatever, to sell it in the shop. You can totally take over the garage out back and use that as your warehouse slash laboratory to try it out. Get your buddies at the Y to be your test subjects."

This all got Chuck really excited. It did sound like an awesome plan and a great way to keep him busy on the side. Something totally new and different, but so had become everything else. And Chuck realized he wanted to make other men and boys feel good about themselves especially their looks. And this new business venture of sorts might be another way to get at them, and just be a creative opportunity for him to play with for a time. He got up from his seat and slapped Uncle Ed on his back and kissed the top of his head, "Thank you uncle," and then he collected both their empty plates and washed them off. The two of them finished getting ready and then were on their way to the shop. Chuck was so excited for his first day, as a barber.

They usually arrived to the shop fifteen minutes before. But today they were earlier than that, arriving just a little after 7:30. Chuck was that eager to get there and get ready and his uncle knew it. They turned on the lights, swept the place up a bit, opened the blinds, cleaned off all the machines. Uncle Ed had enough machines to go around so Chuck was covered for the day. He was so excited to oil his clippers and wipe down the scissors and combs. "Maybe leave the face shaves to me today," his uncle commented.

"Sure, no problem. I figure you’ll just be giving me the younger crowd anyways."

"The younger crowd will want you anyways," his uncle added. And then they waited, the waiting game on a Saturday of who would get there first. Would it be the older crowd who was friends with Uncle Ed? Or would it be a father-son duo, or a father with multiple boys?

First to come in was one of Uncle Ed’s buddies who frequented here even when he didn’t intend to get his haircut. One of those old timers who used this as a spot to hangout at when they needed something to do. So Uncle Ed took him in his chair and got him ready.

Then right around 8:01, a father and son came in. In fact, it seemed to be the same father and son duo that Chuck remembered from when he first stepped foot in the barbershop, back when he was known as Charlie. The boy was probably around eleven years old if Chuck had to guess, his father in his early forties at the most They saw that Ed was busy with someone, just starting out to be exact. But Ed smiled at the two of them, before turning and saying, "Chuck? You got an opening?"

Chuck immediately stood up from his chair he sat in, grabbed the cape hanging on the arm and whipped it out into the air. With a big grin across his face, he asked, "Who’s next?"

The father and son were stunned, they’d been here before but didn’t know Chuck to cut someone’s hair. "I didn’t know you were cutting hair," the father asked.

"Letting him try out for real now," Ed commented. "Besides, I bring him to the penitentiary every Sunday to help cut their, and he’ll be starting school in the fall and getting his training and license in. No problem if you’d prefer to wait for me though Tom."

Tom looked at both barbers back and forth and then to his son. The young boy seemed to have a pleased look on his face when he learned that Chuck was cutting hair. His father said to him, "I can go first if you want buddy?"

"Can I go first?" he asked.

Tom was shocked and said, "Oh, uh, yes of course Mikey. You can go first."

The boy proudly but also timidly walked over to Chuck. The barber gave his hand out and said, "I’m Chuck, how are you?" and this softened the boy up to smile. Even Uncle Ed smiled over from his station.

Chuck got Mikey in the chair and caped him up real tight. It was really starting to happen now. He was really cutting a client. Chuck pumped the chair up and made sure the boy could see himself good in the mirror. Chuck turned around to the father and said, "What are we doing today, pops?"

Tom responded that it was getting warm out today and that something good and short would work for his son for camp during the week. Chuck asked Mikey if there was something he wanted. The boy said he wanted it short too, but not too short to see skin. But he wanted it to be buzzed down still so he’d stay cool. Chuck suggested they start with a #5 on top and go from there. And so they did, with Mikey’s longer hair on top falling down in drifts to the cape. The boy had longer hair on top but luckily the clipper attachment being used would give it a longer buzzed look. He asked his client how his summer had been, what camp was like and if he was ready for school to start. All these questions were good to ease the boy up to being in his chair. Chuck used a #4 on the sides and back of Mikey’s hair but after doing that, the boy interrupted him saying, "Can you make the top that short?"

"Of course buddy, do you want to make the sides and back shorter after that?" the boy nodded his head in agreement and so Chuck took the #4 he was already working with and moved back to the top of his client’s head, clipping back even more hair this time. Then when that part was done, he used the #3 on the sides and back. Starting with the left side and then realizing he should show Mikey how it looked. He turned the boys head to the side to show him and he said, "How’s that?" and the boy just nodded again but with a smile this time. "Alright, let’s keep going then." Chuck continued with this attachment until everything was perfectly cut to the right size. Then he took another clipper out and edged out around the sides of the boy’s ears and neckline. He grabbed a handheld mirror and showed him the back of his head and said, "What do you think?"

Mikey just smiled again and nodded in agreement, and so Chuck brushed him off real good before releasing the cape. Then the boy stepped down and Chuck gave his hand out to his and they shook hands again. He ran over to his father and said, "Dad look at my hair, feel it!" The father laughed and told him he looked great.

He looked up from this and over at Chuck and then over at Uncle Ed and said, "Ed, hope you don’t mind but-"

"Go on, Tom, let my nephew have a go at your ‘do," at this point Uncle Ed was finishing up with his friend, and there were a few other older gentlemen waiting to get cut too.

Tom stood up from his seat, telling Mikey to stay there, and he approached Chuck. They shook hands and Tom said a quick, "Thank you," to which Chuck responded that same back. Tying him up under his cape, Chuck felt through Tom’s business man look and asked him, "What are we thinking today, sir?"

Tom said, "Usually just have the sides taken down to a #2 tapered back up to a #3, and then lightening up on top what’s gotten to be bulky, and parting as it is."

Now Chuck would be put to the test of dealing with scissors. The clipper work wouldn’t be too much of a problem. But the scissors would really have to show if he could master them yet or not. Not too many guys at the penitentiary needed too much scissor work, but Tom’s would definitely require it. Chuck responded, "Okay," and then grabbed the pair of clippers and began to work with the #3 first around the sides and back of the head, then moving on to the #2 making the lower half of Tom’s skull a bit shorter. He was delaying cutting the top as much as possible, so he even edged out with the other pair of clippers around the sideburns and neckline. But he couldn’t keep pushing it off. Now was time to act or never do.

"How much would you like off," Chuck asked, raising some locks of hair up in the air to the mirror to get a better idea of what Tom had in mind. Measuring his fingers up and down the length of the locks he plucked up.

Tom said, "Just an inch, that should be fine," and now Chuck could even tell that Tom was nervous of loosing even just one inch up there. Perhaps the sides you could hide and all but the tops of your hair is a whole other story. Even Chuck knew this and perhaps that is why his uncle had made sure he didn’t easily let him start cutting actual clients’ hair.

So, Chuck took the small pair of scissors from his chest pocket, lifting lengths of hair up in the air and fitting it between his pointer and middle fingers, eyeing it up to an inch, and began to lightly trim. But he stopped himself real quick and said, "How about I wet your hair first?" and this definitely reassured Tom.

Chuck took a spray bottle and literally soaked Tom’s head to the point you would have thought Chuck had thrown him into a pool. After this, Chuck combed out Tom’s hair based on the part he wore. Then, Chuck reassumed what he was starting originally, eyed up a good inch of hair, and began to cut. He continued this process lightly and carefully, making sure that he was delicate with this task. He was used to cutting the top of Uncle Ed’s hair but Tom’s was a lot thicker and he wasn’t a relative. He would not be happy if Chuck messed it up even the slightest bit he had a feeling.

Chuck continued this semi-familiar process around the lengths of Tom’s hair. To distract his client and himself a bit he decided to keep striking up conversation with this man to put him at ease. Asking him where in town he lived, what he did for a living, the usual s**t to shoot. This definitely put both guys at ease and the haircut seemed to then proceed with no major issues. Once Chuck felt it was significantly cut up there, a noticeable and presentable difference, he took the blow dryer and began to sift it through Tom’s hair with one of the brushes. Combing it out so it was no longer damp and now was parted more perfectly. It didn’t look that bad Chuck thought himself, nothing that a little product couldn’t help with. So he took a dimeful of that in his one palm and rubbed it through Tom’s hair, making the part more direct and taking a comb to it to even the whole look out. Then Chuck got the handheld mirror and showed Tom his haircut from all angled and asked, "That look good?"

"Yes, in fact it does," Tom reached to the top of his front hairline and smoothed his hair down the part. "I rarely ever put product in my hair if I’m completely honest. It looks great though!"

"I figured it would help settle your hair and make it less bushy," Chuck clarified. "I was actually talking to my uncle earlier and I’m thinking about trying to create a product line of hair products to use and sell here at the shop."

"Well, with your luck of giving a great haircut without having your license yet, I’m sure it will work out for you, Chuck."

This made Chuck beam and he said, "Thanks Tom, I am learning from the best." His uncle didn’t look his way but hopefully he had heard him. Not that Chuck was trying to suck up or anything; he really did mean what he said. He was trying and learning and Uncle Ed was true to his word, helping Chuck out with his fresh start in life. Chuck brushed Tom off and released the cape from him, and then the two of them and Mikey went to the counter upfront to have their haircuts paid for. Tom graciously tipped Chuck and said he was looking forward to seeing him cut their hair again. "I’m working just Saturdays for now, but once I finish school in the spring then I’ll be full-time here."

Then the father and son duo were off and the rest of the day was ahead for Chuck. A bunch of the usual older men were in to have their haircuts and Uncle Ed was glad to see to them. So when Chuck had finished with his first two clients, he was glad to take on more. Another father and his two boys were waiting for their haircuts and Chuck asked, "Who’s first?" Both younger boys were instantly pleased to here that Chuck was an option for them. Their father told the oldest he ought to be first and so the teenager got into the chair and Chuck started the same process again of asking the father what they wanted to do today. He said that both boys would be keeping their summer butch cuts until before school started so Chuck got started with the #3 on the teenage boy. He could tell that he was not happy with receiving this haircut but Chuck said, "Hey, I used to get the same haircut back when I was younger in the summer, from that man right over there. My uncle," Chuck pointed over to Ed. "You’ll look good with this cut I promise you. Then in the fall maybe we can try something else if you’d like." And this easily put the boy at ease. Chuck talked to him about his schooling and this and that, trying to make the kid comfortable so that by the time they were done, his younger brother was eager to talk with the barber. And he was definitely a chatty one which was fine by Chuck. All he cared about was making sure that both boys felt comfortable and at ease. Then the father received an even shorter cut than both his boys and him and Chuck were able to go back and forth on town talk. He recognized Chuck from all over the place which made Chuck both embarrassed but happy at the same time. He really was starting to enjoy the life he was having in this small town. He wasn’t looking to change it too much yet.

The rest of the day was followed by other haircuts for Chuck to teenage and younger boys, who were more than happy to hop in his line for a haircut. Some of their fathers were even cut by Chuck and were delighted to talk with someone new. Thankfully most the boys’ haircuts were super short and only required majority of clipper work, that made Chuck feel totally relieved. It was fresh summer cuts for everyone today!

Then around noon, some of Chuck’s buddies from out at the bar or at the YMCA in town strolled in. They did keep their word of stopping by and were surprised to see him working. But all of them were also bouncing off the wall excited that they could get a haircut from Chuck, fighting over who got to go first. This put a smile on Uncle Ed to see the response some were having to his nephew starting to work. Looks like giving him this opportunity was the right move. All Chuck’s buddies didn’t care what they got, they were just excited their friend was cutting their hair after so much talk about how he was going to become a barber and how good he was gonna be at it. So it was mostly buzz cuts, high and tights, or keeping some of their haircuts in check with slight trims. It also helped move the afternoon along that Chuck forgot about whether they should break for lunch or not.

The rest of the day went by a bit more slow before it was getting close to closing time for the night and weekend. Chuck was letting Uncle Ed cut most of the remaining clients unless of course they wanted him to have a go at their head. So mostly by the end it was Uncle Ed cutting his friends’ hairs and Chuck getting the occasional teen walking into the shop and being surprised by the second option he’d have at who was cutting his hair. Even if all they wanted was a slight trim to their shaggy mop, Chuck would oblige to their wishes even though he’d tease and say, "You know a simple #1 all over would be much easier." Some of them could laugh it off, others looked scared s**tless in their pants. But eventually Chuck was able to put them at ease and relax once their haircut got going.

It was almost 4:30 at this point and no one was waiting for a haircut for a good while and Uncle Ed was finishing up on someone. Chuck was checking and counting the money, sweeping the floors even though he had already done that easily a hundred times today it had to be. When Uncle Ed wrapped up with his client and cleaned up his station a bit, he told Chuck he was going to go into the back of the shop to check a few things. Chuck stood by the counter, keeping eye on the money as the summer day outside drew on.

Then, the door swung open and in came a young woman with her young son. He probably was going into kindergarten age and she had to be in her mid to late twenties. Her hair was pulled back in a dirty-blonde pony-tail, wearing a pink t-shirt and jean shorts. Her son was wearing a baseball cap, gym shorts and a plain white top. She seemed a bit out of breath and said, "Are you still open or are we too late?"

Chuck looked up from is work and was in absolute awe of this young lady. She was beautiful in a very natural way. She was not done up like all the girls Chuck had known in his life, who tried so hard to be the best version of someone else other than themselves. But this young woman was definitely the picture of grace and elegance without gloating it. Effortless beauty, and so young, but yet…perfect?

"N-no ma’am, I mean miss…" Chuck fumbled on his words as he stared back at the beauty. "We close at five, can I help you?"

"Ah, thank goodness, I hoped that would be it. Is it possible for my son to get his haircut? Its just been so hot out there and he really needs it."

"Absolutely," Chuck said and then got down on level with the young boy and said, "I’m Chuck, nice to meet you buddy," he put his hand out to shake.

The little boy shook his hand gently and then choked out a, "Andy."

"Well, its great to meet you Andy. You want to follow me," Chuck pointed to wards the barber chairs. As the three of them walked over Chuck said, "Oh, uh, yes… I’m Chuck, uh-"

"Julie," the girl said with a smile, "Its nice to meet you too Chuck, and thank you for seeing us on short notice."

"Not a problem," Chuck shyly smiled back. He placed one of the booster rests across the seat, and then helped Andy up to it. Chuck asked him for his cap and Andy gave it to him, revealing the boy had thick, brown hair on top of his head. It was an overgrown look but nothing too shaggy like a skater boy back in Chuck’s days. Then he carefully caped the boy up and put the tissue strip around his neck, but not too tight so not to scare the youngster. Chuck turned to Julie and said, "Is there something you had in mind?"

"Something short and manageable for the rest of summer. Andy, what do you think?"

The boy wrinkled his nose and squinted his eyes at the mirror, "Short is good."

"How short do you want it little man?" Chuck asked Andy.

The boy brightened up and said, "Can I have my haircut like yours?"

"That’s pretty short my man!" Chuck laughed a little to break some tension. He swiped his hand up the side of his head and said, "Shoot, I don’t know, do you really want to be like this on the sides?" Chuck bent down a bit so the boy could feel the bare sides.

Andy’s hand’s were magnetic to it, but then also quickly flickered away after the slightest touch before returning his palm back to the sides. And then he continued his hand across to the back of Chuck’s skull, feeling the barber’s occipital bone.

"Its really short, Andy. Your call."

The boy turned around and said, "Mom, can I please get my haircut like him?"

Julie smiled and said, "Up to you honey, but its going to be a totally different haircut than what you are used to. Go ahead, if you want to try it you can. Grandpa and Grandma are going to be surprised its you though."

Chuck looked at the boy in the mirror, and Andy looked at the mirror too and the barber asked, "We ready?" and this made the boy smile and nod his head up and down real fast. Chuck clasped his hands together for a loud clap and then went to his station and picked up a set of clippers. He realized the top of his hair was growing out some so he wasn’t going to make Andy receive a #2 on top, a #3 would suffice for now. And Chuck would make sure to make the sides taken down to a #0 but also fade it a lot closer to the top and crown of the head so it isn’t totally bare like his.

Chuck clacked on the clipper and watched the boys expression in the mirror as he began to buzz back from the center of Andy’s forehead. The brown hairs fell down instantly at the mercy of the clippers, leaving the stubble hair behind in its wake looking a lot lighter in color. Chuck kept stripping down the rest of the top of the head to the #3 and all the while Andy was smiling back in the mirror. Chuck asked him how old he was and a few other simple questions that kids could answer at that age.

Uncle Ed came in at one point when Chuck was still working with the top of Andy’s head, and he announced, "Last haircut for the day huh?" with a smile and happy expression.

Everyone else in the shop smiled and Chuck said, "Saving best for last I think."

Ed went up to Julie and said, "I’m Ed, I own the shop."

"Hi, I’m Julie. That’s my son Andy."

"Nice," Ed said, turning to the barber and his client in the chair, "That’s my nephew Chuck."

"Oh, your related?" Julie asked.

"We are indeed," Chuck said back.

"You from around here miss?" Ed asked.

"Oh, no. Not really. We are just in town for the weekend. But we are hoping to move here. Andy starts kindergarten this fall and I got a job opportunity teaching at a school about twenty minutes from here. It would be good to move this way, my grandparents live here."

"Well it’s a great town, can’t deny you that," Uncle Ed said. "Where you from now?"

"Oh, we’ve been at my parents up in New England since I had Andy. But I wanted to have a fresh start for us and when I found about this opportunity from an old sorority sister of mine, and how close it is to my grandparents, I couldn’t say no. Plus with Andy starting school it’s the best time to do it rather than later."

"Well, in that case, welcome to the town and hope you come back," Ed winked.

Chuck had moved on to the sides and back of Andy’s hair with no attachment on the clippers, but then eventually fading the bare sides to the top of the head. The haircut was looking good on the boy, or at least Chuck thought so. Plus, it would definitely keep him cool for the rest of the summer based on the rate of how short this haircut was shaping up to be.

"So you’re a teacher?" Chuck asked Julie.

"I am," she responded. "I’ve moved around from school to school but am hoping this next one is a bit more permanent. The two of us need it."

"What are you going to be teaching?"

"Middle school, seventh grade English to be exact."

"That sounds like such the perfect gig," Chuck commented.

"I’m really looking forward to it. Such a good age group to work with," Julie added. "What about you? Have you worked here since you finished school?"

"Actually no," Chuck laughed, as he continued to shape up Andy’s haircut. "This is a whole new venture and career for me. Believe it or not I’m turning 33 this fall."

"Really?" Julie said in amazement. "Wow, I thought you were younger, no offense."

"None taken," Chuck responded with another laugh.

"It must be that nice, short haircut your uncle gives to you," Julie flirted a bit.

"Oh, it must be. I definitely didn’t look this way when I arrived back in the spring."

Eventually Chuck was done with Andy’s hair, dusted him off which tickled the boy a bit. And then he grabbed the handheld mirror and showed his new client the back of his head, "What do we think, champ? Looking fresh now, huh?"

"Yeah!" Andy exclaimed. He reached his hands up from underneath the cape and felt all around his head. Chuck helped him out of the cape and down from the chair and the boy ran over to his mom saying, "Mom, mom, look! See! Feel my hair!"

"You look so handsome, I must say Andy," Julie said, kissing her son’s forehead. Then turning to Chuck saying, "Thank you, Chuck, sorry we held you up."

"Not a problem at all, again, we don’t close till 5 on a Saturday."

"Well, glad we made it in time then," Julie reacted. Then Chuck led them up to the front of the shop where Julie paid for the haircut and gave Chuck a tip, and Andy was able to choose from a lollipop and high-fived Chuck before leaving.

"Well, looks like we might see you back here again in the fall," Chuck responded from the doorway as Julie and Andy were walking away.

"Yes," Julie said. "We will see you soon, I’m sure."

"Goodbye Chuck!"

"Goodbye Andy, take care now!" and then the mother and son walked off and away further into town. Chuck re-entered the shop and saw his uncle sitting in his chair, and then look up from his newspaper with a cheeky grin and eyes.

"What?"

"I said nothing," Uncle Ed responded and then slapped the paper down. "Come on, lover boy. We need to get you home so you can go to your next job."

…………………………………………………………………………………………

The next day, Chuck woke up and went for a morning jog while Uncle Ed made their usual Sunday pancakes. After they ate breakfast, Chuck showered and cleaned off and got changed into a pair of chestnut khakis and a summer sports coat with a pink button down underneath. He came down the stairs to find his uncle ready to go and say, "That sure is a different number you’ve got on today."

"What? You don’t like it?"

"No its fine, I’m just shocked about the pink. Guess I know why though."

"Oh come on, what are you getting on uncle?"

"Nothing, nothing, let’s go before we don’t get our seats."

As fate would have it, they arrived at church and were surprised to see more people there than usual. Luckily, there seats in the second row on the right seemed to be open but with others already there. So, the two gentlemen squeezed by and took their seats for the remainder of mass. What happened after mass was something entirely different.

"Chuck!" Andy shouted out in the front of the parish, running over to him.

"Hey! Andy, what’s happening," Chuck high-fived the boy.

Julie strolled over in her Sunday best and said, "Andy spotted you during communion and was so excited, he wanted to say hi then. But I told him to wait." Julie’s grandparents came over soon after and she introduced them to Chuck. Chuck mentioned that Ed was his uncle and of course, Julie’s grandfather was just one of the many heads that Ed had cut for years.

"Well, it was nice getting to see you again. I take it your heading out of town today?"

"After lunch we were, or planning to. Do you have work today?"

"Me? Nah, my uncle closes the shop on Sundays and Mondays. Today, later on, we go to a state penitentiary and give haircuts to the inmates there. And later on tonight, I’ll have my late overnight shift of stocking the supermarket."

"The work never stops around this town!"

"It doesn’t when your me at least," Chuck laughed and this made Julie laugh too.

Then they had an awkward moment of silence before she broke it saying, "Well, it was nice seeing you again before we go. But I guess we’ll be seeing you again?"

"I’d love to," Chuck said, "I mean, yes, I will be here. In town, for sure." He stuck his hand out and she shook it but smiled back. "Have a good rest of your summer Julie."

"I will, you too Chuck. Try and enjoy it if you can."

"I will try for you," Chuck responded. He got down to Andy’s level and said, "I’ll see you soon bud okay?"

Andy smiled and was ready for another high-five with his new barber before Julie and him and her grandparents left. Chuck watched them walk off to their car and watched the vehicle drive away, before he turned around and saw his uncle and some of his buddies back behind him closer to the doorway of the church looking at him. He shook his head in disagreement and walked their way with his hands up like he was at the scene of a crime, "I can explain, I can explain…"

Thankfully, Uncle Ed did not pester Chuck about Julie on their way to volunteering today. He didn’t pester him on the way there or on the way back or when they had dinner. But that didn’t stop Chuck from thinking about the young girl he had met yesterday while he was stocking the shelves of the supermarket that night. While there was so much left to enjoy in the summer remaining, Chuck was excited for the fall when he would start his proper training. And maybe excited for something else now.




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