It will be nice and cool for summer by Jack
Brad had been waiting in the hot sun for well over an hour. In spite of his great sense of style and his obsession with his clothing and hair he never looked fastidious, just pulled together and professional. The Varvatos jacket had been taken off first, right after he realized that his mobile phone had died. At that point he was grateful that he had at least got the call into the auto club. All he could do now was wait. No calling ahead to warn his clients that he would be late for their lunch meeting. No calls back to the office to revise his afternoon schedule.
It was unseasonably hot and incredibly humid for early May. The rain that he drove through earlier that morning seemed to have made it even worse and also had left the ground on the side of the two-lane highway especially soft. He wasn`t used to being so out of control. His dark brown oxfords that typically were polished to almost a mirror finish were now caked with mud. The movie star good looks and winning personality that had taken him so far in life were of no help here. He walked around the car again and kicked the front tire. The day had actually begun without incident. He went to the gym, lifted weights, showered and was in the car and on his way in plenty of time. He was never late, always reliable and prepared. He knew it would take two and a half hours to get to Franklin; he had allowed three. He hadn`t counted on this.
The late morning sun beat down on him. It was really too hot to sit in the car. He had loosened his tie a while ago. Now he ripped it off and threw it onto the backseat with the jacket. This was so frustrating. What was taking so long anyway? When he called they said they would send someone out right away. These small towns were so backward. He wasn`t used to being inconvenienced. He hated waiting. The humidity was unbearable. The fresh shirt was now limp. The hair that had been so carefully styled and gelled was dripping with sweat. He unbuttoned his shirt. It felt good to feel it blow in the very occasional breeze.
His dad had always encouraged him to take more of an interest in cars. He wished now that he had listened to him. This was probably just some simple thing that needed adjusting. He went back to the front of the Audi and again stared at all of the stuff under the hood. He pulled out the dipstick for the thrid time. This time the greasy liquid got all over his hands. Without thinking he wiped them on his shirt tail. Great! Another casuality. It didn`t seem to matter at this point. It was already too late to make his meeting. He peeled off his Pink shirt. He was stripped down to his tee shirt. He ran a greasy hand through his wet hair. It was so hot. He yanked the tee shirt out of his slacks and began pacing up and down the road kicking gravel and trying to make the best of a difficult situation. How much longer would he have to wait?
The tow truck finally appeared. He flagged it down and it came to a screeching halt a few feet in front of him but not before sliding through a giant pothole. His entire right side was now splattered with muddy water. He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped off his face then climbed into the front seat of the truck. He waited there while the car was hoisted up. The drive into town took less than five minutes. The garage was just off the small town square.
He waited patiently for the prognosis. It was nothing serious and could probably be repaired within an hour and then he could be on his way. He took the opportunity to use the phone and cancelled his lunch date then walked over to the main drag. It was quite charming in an old-fashioned sort of way. The town seemed really sleepy though. He thought about checking out a few shops but nothing much was opened and it appeared that many had permanently closed their doors years ago. Things did look a little depressed now that he took the time to really look around. Food was a consideration but the diner seemed to have fallen victim to the same blight that had taken the other businesses. He was feeling restless and was tired of walking around in the heat. He was sweaty and sticky and really wished he could just jump into a cool shower and wash this entire morning out of his mind. He spotted an old barbershop and walked over to look inside assuming that it would be closed like everything else. He caught sight of his reflection in the large window. Not good. His hair was all wet and matted down, the tee shirt and slacks were spotted with dried mud. His grandmother would have said that he looked like a field hand or called him a rag-a-muffin.
The place was actually opened. There was a guy in the chair, and of course, only the one chair. Very small town, nothing like the fancy places he frequented in the city. It looked like it might be cool inside though. He had been meaning to get a trim for the past two weeks and he did have at least another half hour to kill. He walked in, was greeted cordially and took a seat. The guy in the chair was getting sheared. He was probably under twenty and had a nice head of curly, blonde hair maybe three to four inches long. The barber was buzzing it down to nothing.
The barber was also pretty young, difinitely under twenty-five, not at all what one would expect at such an old, smalll town establishment. The shop itself looked to have had a makeover of sorts. The walls were freshly painted and the chrome on all of the original chairs and counters looked to have been recently polished. There were new black and white prints framed and hanging on the wallls. The old red linoleum floor had been waxed and buffed. From the look of his haircut the baber appeared to be ex-military. Perhaps that`s why everything looked so spit-spot. His dark hair was extremely short, almost shaved to the scalp on the sides and back with the slightest hint of a flattop circling the front. It looked good on him. He was wearing a traditional white barber`s coat. Brad hadn`t seen one of those in years. There was even a scissors sticking out of the pocket. His professional appearance instilled confidence.
The stranded motorist walked around the room to check out the prints. `I took those last month around town. Figured if I was going to set-up shop here it might be nice to add a little town history. I tried not to change too much around here, just spruced it up a little bit. I decided to even keep the old name. Joe gave me my first haircut.` He finished with the guy in his chair and spun him around. The guy seemed really pleased and kept running his hands over his head saying how great it felt. The barber brushed off the chair and motioned for Brad to take a seat.
`Wow, you`re soakin` wet. Do you want to take that tee shirt off?` He had never imagined such a thing, but it was wet and with the air-conditioning on he was starting to feel a little chilly. What the heck. He got up, pulled it over his head and introduced himself.
`Sorry, I`m Sam.` The barber shook Brad`s hand.
`That was quite a haircut you gave that last guy, hmm? Really, really short.`
`Yeah, even shorter than mine,` he ran his hand across his head, `a 000000 H&T with a #1 on top. Did you like that?`
`Looked great, nice and cool. Perfect for a day like this. It`s so nice to be in here out of that heat for a few minutes.` He hopped back into the chair. `Do you do a lot of those?`
`Sure do. Wow, Man, you look so tense.` He began massaging Brad`s shoulders. `I gotta say, there`s nothing like a super short military cut especially in the summer.` Brad politely agreed. The massage felt incredible. Sam had these huge hands that he kneaded firmly into the muscles. He moved to the neck and then to the upper arms. `Looks like you work out.`
`I guess you could say that.` He was feeling so relaxed now, almost faint. The barber moved his hands to Brad`s head next. There was absolutely nothing as sublime as someone massaging his scalp. He was transported to another dimension. All of the anxiety from the morning was dissipating. Sam was quite a talker. He had a soothing voice though, similar to one you might hear on a classical radio station. It almost lulled Brad to sleep.
`So you liked that High & Tight, huh?` He continued massaging Brad`s head.
`Ah, huh.` Sam`s voice was just white noise now. Every muscle in Brad`s body was relaxed. He felt totally euphoric.
`That`ll be great on you. I give the best one in town.` The combination of the massage, Sam`s voice and the air-conditioning had shut him blissfully off to the outside world.
`So, I guess you work outside, too.` He gave Brad`s head a really firm nudging. `You still with me there, Dude?`
He was a little startled, `umm, umm, right.`
`You`re cool with that then, Man?`
`A, ah, yeah.` It was like the barber was speaking through a tunnel; every word sounded really drawn out. Brad reluctantly attempted conversation. `That heat is brutal.` He quickly returned to his comatose state.
`A nice, short haircut`ll make you feel like a new man. Sure did seem to make that last guy happy, hmm?` The barber put the cape across Brad`s bare shoulders, wrapped his neck with tissue and secured it with a clip. `Man, you are really gonna dig this.` He pumped up the chair, placed the #1 attachment on the end of his clippers, flipped them on, and ran them across the top of his customer`s head. He moved them back and forth several times then ran his hand over it to inspect his work.
`That feels awesome, Sam.` He felt the twinges of an erection forming and tried to conceal it.
The barber turned the clippers off and removed the attachment. Brad stirred a little. `Everything okay down there, Dude?` He placed the bare blade at the temple and plowed across the side of Brad`s head.
In his dazed state Brad saw a huge clump of hair come tumbling into his lap. Suddenly he came back to life. `A, umm, what`s going on?`
Sam was quite nonchalant, `umm, nothing much. Wow, these sides are gonna really shine, Baby. You`ve got a perfect head for this.`
Brad was slightly panicked. `You`re not taking this too short, um, Sam? It seems like a lot of hair`s coming off.`
`Yeah, right, you are one funny dude. I left it a tiny bit longer on top, don`t worry.`
His eyebrows arched upward.. He slowly reached to the top of his head and felt the stubble that remained. He leaped out of the chair. Hair went flying to the floor. `What the F***. . .I have to. . .`
`Somethin` wrong, Man? I`m nowhere near finished yet. I`ve only just started to buzz the sides clean.`
`WHAT?` He turned to face the mirror. He was afraid to look. `OH, S**T!` He ran his hand back and forth across the top of his head. It felt like he had gone a day without shaving. The side was even worse, a wide stripe shaved down to the scalp. `What were you thinking? You`ve got to fix this, Man.` He was in a complete state of shock, `you don`t understand. You`ve got to make this okay again.`
`Fix it? What are you talkin` about?`
`I, I can`t look like this. You don`t understand, I`m, I`m an investment banker! I have clients. My boss won`t get this. OH-MY-GOD!`
`Right, yeah, well, Dude, I get it, but it`s way too late. I can`t fix it. Look at it.`
Brad collapsed back into the chair. The barber grabbed his shoulders again and began massaging them. `I am so sorry, Man. I asked you twice. And you said you worked outside, you were all sweaty. . .and your clothes, I just thought. . .and, you really seemed to be into the last guy`s haircut, I mean. . .
`I. . .I am so f***ed. I know, it`s not your fault, but. . .my car broke down. I don`t normally look like this. It was so hot, and wow. . .you really can`t do anything?`
`Man, if I could. . .I, I really think I just need to finish it now. You`re gonna really get into it, promise. I. . .I am really, really sorry.`
`How long is this going to take to grow out?`
`It`s gonn a be really short, Man, maybe, three, four months.`
`Great!` He shook his head and ran his hands over the stubble again, `guess it will be nice and cool for summer.`