Cut for Cash by BaldSurfer
Dean wandered down the boardwalk near Venice Beach, nursing the watery remains of his Super Big Gulp soda. It was part of his routine - hit 7-11 for a huge cheap soda. Use just enough ice to keep it cool for awhile, while still getting as much soda as possible in the 64 ounce cup. He could make it last for most of the day. He still had two dollars in his pocket, which meant a decent lunch off the McDonalds dollar menu.
This sucked! He hadn't been able to find a full time job in over six months, and even picking up day labor construction gigs had dried up. What little cash he'd saved was just about gone. He tried to stay away from the apartment because his roommates were running out of patience and were demanding money for rent and bills.
No job. No place to go. So he spent lot of time down by the beach. He'd jog a few miles to stay in shape, despite the crappy food he was forced to live on. He'd swim and surf (on a borrowed board). And he'd wander the boardwalk, just trying to figure out how to get his life back on track. It was a beautiful day, warm with a nice breeze coming off the water. His faded fraying T-shirt was rolled up and hanging out of his back pocket. The sun shone on his tan, trim body - the downy fuzz that could barely be called chest hair glowed in the bright light. And his long blond hair, bleached nearly white by the long days in the sun moved gently in the breeze as it hung nearly half way down his back. Dean caught is reflection as he passed a store window and chuckled, because as the breeze blew his hair behind him, he thought he looked like a shampoo commercial.
As he walked past a bar, a middle aged man ran out and yelled "Excuse me! Can I talk to you for a second?" With nobody else nearby, Dean knew the stranger was talking to him. He turned around and walked up to the man. He was tall, pudgy but not fat - the kind of guy who looks like he works out but still has a beer gut. He had short gray hair, stubble that was a few days away from being a goatee. With a big friendly smile, the stranger extended his hand and said"How you doing, man? I'm Sam."
Dean had no idea what the guy wanted, but he seemed friendly enough so he shook Sam's hand and said "I'm Dean." They chatted for a bit. Dean found himself explaining his lack of job and money. In the back of his mind, Dean wondered what this guy wanted, and why Dean was still talking to this stranger. But with little else to do, Dean lingered.
"Look, I know this is going to sound weird, but hear me out," Sam said. All sorts of alarms were going off in Dean's head. He'd heard stories about gay guys trying to take advantage of desperate broke guys like Dean. Cheap pornographers too. Things were bad, Dean thought, but not bad enough to fall that far. At least not yet. But before Dean could turn way, Sam continued.
"You have amazing hair! And I have a little "hobby". I love to cut guys' hair. It's not a kinky sex thing. I'm straight. I just love cutting hair. And it seems you need money, so I think we can help each other out. I'll give you $1000 cash if you let me cut your hair off. Seriously, nothing kinky and nothing underhanded. Everybody keeps his clothes on, and the cash is in your pocket before I take the first snip."
Dean's mind was racing. Cut my hair OFF? What does that even mean? And a grand in cash? He could get caught up on bills and have some room to breathe. But his hair? He couldn't remember a time in his life when his hair was above his shoulders. Even as a small kid, his mother kept his hair long. What would he be agreeing to?
"How short would you cut it?" Dean managed to stammer. "All the way." Sam answered. Clippered down to the scalp. As he spoke, Sam took a wad of hundred dollar bills out of his pocket and counted out ten of them, and extended his hand towards Dean. "My hotel room is right next door. Come on up and this is all yours. Just for a haircut. Pretty nice deal!"
Dean saw the fist full of hundreds and thought about the mere 2 dollars left in his pocket. He'd been depressed, broke, hungry and bored for months. So without even thinking of what he was agreeing to, he said OK and they headed up to Sam's small room in a sleazy run down hotel. The desk chair was already in the center of the room, pointed to the full length mirror on the wall. A video camera on a tripod sat in front of the mirror, aimed at the chair. Neatly arranged on the dresser was a big black set of Oster clippers, several silver attachments along side it. There were also 2 pair of barber scissors, a brush and a comb.
Suddenly it felt real. He was going to let some stranger mutilate his hair in a sleazy hotel room. But before he could move to escape, Sam firmly pressed the wad of cash into Dean's hands. A shaved head was scary, but not as scary as being homeless if he didn't get this cash to his roommates. So he summoned up enough courage to say "OK. Let's get this over with."
Sam gently laughed and said "Come on. Don't be like that. This will be fun. Change is good." He motioned for Dean to sit down in the chair. Dean put his head down so Sam could pull his hair from under the barber cape that had been wrapped around Dean's neck. On the floor, he spotted a chunk of black hair, nearly a foot long. He wasn't the first one Sam had brought up here. The site of long hair on the floor again reminded Dean of what he was about to submit to. Under the cape, his hand fumbled to find his pocket and Dean clasped the money to remind himself that this would be worth it.
Sam gently combed out Dean's long hair, parting it down the center and letting it cascade over his shoulders. Dean admired his own hair in the reflection. As he combed, Sam complimented Dean's hair for it's color and shine. He asked if Dean had ever had short hair and Dean told him never above his shoulders. Never had a buzz cut? Dean said "Nope. Never wanted one. Even when some of my buds all did it." Talking about his hair reawakened the fear. and again he clutched at the cash in his pocket. Sam witched on the camera and then walked behind the chair.
"Ready?" Sam asked, as he chose a pair of scissors from the dresser. "As ready as I'll ever be, I guess." With that, Sam grabbed a chunk of hair at the back of Dean's head, lifted it up and the scissors sliced through it, close to his scalp. Dean couldn't see the cut area, but Sam handed him a fistful of 18 inch platinum hair and asked if he wanted to keep a souvenir. Dean though he might vomit. With one hand still clutching the money in his pocket, Dean reached up with the other hand and took the hair. He stared at it trying to grasp the concept that this hank of limp hair was his. And that the rest of his hair would soon be gone as well. Sam continued to cut away long chunks from the back, dropping them in Dean's lap. But in the mirror, Dean couldn't see any visible change yet. But he saw the absolute terror on his own face. "Calm down," Sam told him. "It will all be fine. Relax and try to enjoy this. Think about it as reinventing yourself, from the outside in."
Front and sides still untouched, Sam put down the scissors, put the smallest blade on the clippers and flipped the switch. Dean hadn't expected the clipper motor to sound so loud. So "mean". His heart was pounding as Sam forcefully pushed his head forward until Dean's chin touched his chest. Dean felt the cold vibrating blade run up the back of his head. By the third upward swipe, the clippers felt almost hot. And still, he couldn't see what was happening. Sam switched the clippers of and as he reached for the scissors, Dean tentatively raised his hand from beneath the cape, reached around to the back of his head and ran his hand up and down. It was such a strange feeling. The back of his head felt like sandpaper. But his scalp tingled as he touched it. Strange, but somehow pleasurable. But what did it look like? And was this going to happen to his whole head?
Sam walked around to the side, grabbed the front of Dean's hair, put the scissors even with Dean's chin, and cut straight across, as far back as Dean could see. As half his hair fell on the cape, Dean almost laughed at how silly he looked, one side ridiculously bobbed, the other still long. On the other side, Sam cut at an upwards angle, leaving Dean's hair chin length in the front and above his ears as it angled back. All of a sudden, his hair no longer something he could be proud of, Dean was eager to get rid of the rest. He even relaxed his grip on the cash in his pocket, although he wouldn't let it go. He didn't have to wait long, as Sam grabbed the clippers and they roared back to life. Standing behind Dean, Sam pushed the clippers up the back of Dean's head over the crown and right through the center part, turning the part to a stubbly bald stripe, as hair cascaded past Dean's eyes and landed in the growing pile in his lap. A few swipes removed the right side and Dean could now imagine what he would look like at the end. His hair was so pale that the stubble was barely visible. For all intents and purposes, he looked BALD! Sam moved the clippers to the far left side, pushing forward, swip after swipe until only an inch wide stripe of long blond hair remained. "Say goodbye to the last of the old you," Sam said, smiling as he raised the clippers to Deans head. He pushed them forward, intentionally slowly as Dean watched the last of his hair fall past his eyes. As the clippers finished their run, and the last hair fell from the front of Dean's head, he felt an excitement he'd never imagined.
For the first time all day, he smiled broadly, as he raised his hand and ran it over his shorn head. "Dude! I'm freaking bald! I can't believe I let you shave me bald! And I REALLY can't believe how much I like it!" Sam laughed. "I knew you would! Very few of my 'customers" ever regret this. Think you'll keep it this way now?"
"I don't know yet. I'll see how it goes. Maybe I'll grow it back. Maybe not. Who knows, dude?"
"Well, I'll make you a deal. If you ever grow it long again, you can find me here the first week of every month. I'll always pay to take it off again. Of course the price changes, depending on how long you grow it."
"We'll see, Sam. Maybe I'll like it and keep it short. If I grow it back and run out of cash again, maybe you'll see me again."
They shook hands and Dean left, counting his hundred dollar bills as he walked down the hallway. With the money back in his pocket, he couldn't help running his hand over the sandpaper that was now his scalp. While walking through the lobby towards the boardwalk, he pulled up his T-shirt to take it off, and he had the oddest feeling as it caught on his stubbled head. It took some effort to get the shirt off. As he walked out to the boardwalk, the sun hit his bare scalp and he felt its warmth in a whole new way. He looked at a window and nearly didn't recognize his own reflection. He ran down to the beach, dove into the crashing waves and felt the tingle of the cool water hit his scalp for the first time. Everything seemed new again.
A week later, Dean got a full time construction job again. He didn't know for sure that the haircut had any effect, but most of the rest of the crew had really short hair too. He met a new girl who seemed perfect for him. He'd never been happier. He decided to play it safe, not jinx his new luck. So with his first paycheck, he went to a barber supply store, searched for the same model of clippers Sam had used, and buzzed his head every week.
Sometimes, though, he'd think about growing his hair out for a bit. Not because he wanted long hair, but because he wanted to re-visit that dank hotel room where a haircut changed his life.
NOTE: This story was inspired by Sam Cutter's amazing YouTube videos