Mr. Majewski's Legacy by Manny
A story in six exciting chapters, dedicated to Gary whose baldy cut is truly inspirational!
Chapter 1 - Jeff's Invitation
As Jeff lit the Bunsen Burner, out of the corner of his eye he saw Mr. Majewski approaching him with a set of safety goggles in his hand. The make-up chemistry lab was transpiring as it always did when it was just the two of them were in the room.
"Heavens, Jeff! One day you'll get yourself into a bind without these. It's a good thing I'm here to keep you on the straight and narrow," the teacher commented as he slipped the safety glasses into place.
Then, as was his custom, Mr. Majewski ran his hand through Jeff's dense mane of shimmering black hair and lightly caressed the part that cascaded down past his collar. Jeff savored the attention and prepared himself for what Mr. Majewski would say next -- it was his favorite part of their routine.
"Why don't you come with me tomorrow to the barbershop?" he cooed softly in Jeff's ear, even though no one else was in the room. "My barber will take a set of clippers and run them tightly up the back of you head, like this," the chemistry teacher said as he simulated a clippers with his fingers and buzzed off the shimmering locks of dark hair. "All this taken off close to the scalp....and on top....cropped down nice and flat, just like mine!"
Jeff shivered at the thought of Mr. Majewski's barber giving him a flattop. It was a fantasy and a fear all rolled up together, intensified by the fact that Jeff's locks were iconic at the school. There was no doubt he'd get the 'best hair' superlative that year, like he always did.
"I've already told you, Mr. Majewski, I'd be laughed out of school if I came in here on Monday with a flattop. The guys would point and hoot and the girls would all shriek in horror. They are so fond of my sexy long locks!" Jeff replied, as if baiting his teacher on.
"Then why do I always seeing you eyeing my flattop?" the chemistry teacher asked. "Go ahead, feel the soft, deep pile on top."
Jeff smiled shyly and ran his hand across the teacher's amazing flattop. "I suppose, if I weren't worried about what others thought, I'd take you up on your invitation. The flattop is such a manly, virile look....."
"Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. East Side Plaza Barber Shop. You'll go in looking like a pretty boy and leave looking like a real man!" the teacher said firmly before returning to his desk.
As he worked through the chemistry lab, Jeff snuck glances of his teacher's flattop. Mr. Majewski was in a time warp, circa 1962. Flattop and glasses with thick black plastic rims. Jeff's time warp was circa 1992 with his heavy dark locks along the lines of Uncle Jesse on the hit show Full House.
As Jeff leaned over the chemistry experiment, his thick forelock dangled down in front of his face, perilously close to the burner. If only he would "accidentally" set in on fire. Then he would have no choice about a trip to the barbershop to straighten things out! His lovely black hair on a snowy white barber's cape! Of course, he could never bring himself about to any of this.
As Jeff finished cleaning up, and prepared to leave, he suddenly asked Mr. Majewski, "If I were your son, would you make me get a flattop?"
"If you were my son, you'd be proud to sport one, Jeff!" Mr. Majewski replied without missing a beat.
"But, you wouldn't allow long girlish hair like this, would you?" pressed Jeff, pawing at his lovely, soft tresses.
"That's right. You'd be cleancut. Tomorrow, 10 a.m. Be there!"
Chapter 2 - Jeff's Determined Decision
But Jeff was not there at the appointed time -- just like every other time he'd been invited to take a seat in the East Side Plaza Barber Shop by his favorite teacher. He lay in bed Saturday morning dreaming about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of a flattop....after some stimulating daydreams, Jeff headed to the shower to begin his intensive beauty routine. He loved the way his long hair looked when he emerged from the shower and it was sopping wet, falling in clumps about his face.
As Jeff was finishing with the blow-dryer, his phone rang. "Did you hear the terrible news?" his friend, Alex asked. "Mr. Majewski. Car accident on his way home from school last night. He's in intensive care, but the prognosis is bad. Do you think we ought to drop by the hospital?"
Alex and Jeff were close friends and both fans of Mr. Majewski. The other commonality they had was their iconic hair. Alex hadn't cut his hair since the beginning of high school and his thick blond ponytail trailed the nearly whole length of his back to his waist.
Jeff glanced at his watch. 10 a.m. Just the time that Mr. Majewski should be having the cape fastened around his neck at the East Side Plaza Barber Shop. His mind raced wildly.....the haircut, he should really do it?....it would be a sure way to cheer up his favorite teacher. For the first time, Jeff thought seriously about shedding his tresses in favor of a traditional flattop.
"That's terrible news, Alex! I'd love to go with you....but I have some business to take care of first. Why don't you go ahead and let me know what hospital room he's in -- and what the visitation hours are," suggested Jeff. "I want to arrange something that'll cheer him up when I visit."
"Will do. I'll text you when I can," said Alex.
Jeff took one last look at his sexy long black hair in the mirror and ran his fingers through the silken strands. He would go through with it! A surge of energy charged through his body as the decision to undergo the radical shop was finalized.
The next thing Jeff knew, he was parking his car in the East Side Plaza. The red and white twirling barber pole called out like a beacon. The place was totally 1950's with the checkered linoleum floor, huge chairs on chrome bases, neon lights, barbicide canisters, chairs in the waiting area salvaged from the old downtown stadium that was torn down, a collection of baseball caps, and two geezers clad in matching royal blue tunics busy at work snipping away at two other geezers in the chair. In the waiting area was a young father with two tikes sporting little boy baldy cuts. The father's businesscut was overgrown, with the heavy forelock needing a good pruning and the gleaming brown hair halfway covering his ears.
Jeff felt very awkward walking into the traditional shop. Both barbers turned to look at their new arrival and greeted him. Jeff's attention riveted to the price list hanging above the cash register: Haircuts - $12; Flattops - $13; Kids Crewcuts - $11 (12 and under only). Jeff quickly checked his wallet to see if he had $13 in cash as there was no indication the barbers took credit cards. He only had a $5 bill and quickly stood to leave.
"It shouldn't be a long wait, young man," the barber noted as he saw Jeff quickly heading to the door.
Jeff turned to explain he was only going to get cash, when he noted the eagerness in the barber's eye....he probably was dreaming about taking his clippers to Jeff's mane! "I just need to get some cash....is there an ATM machine around?"
"At the end of the plaza there's a bank with one in the lobby. We'll hold your place in line here," the barber said assuringly.
As Jeff walked down the plaza he caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection of the store windows and noted how his mane billowed in the stiff breeze. He usually loved the feeling of the wind whipping through his locks, but today, the sensation put him on edge. The barber and the clippers were within striking distance.....as was his getaway car, just in case he got cold feet.
A text came in from Alex. "Hospital trying to locate next of kin. Do you know?" Jeff had no idea. As far as he knew, Mr. Majewski lived by himself. Jeff texted back "dont no" before entering the bank.
There was an out-of-order sign on the ATM -- "see teller for service". Jeff turned his attention to the teller windows and saw an empty one. The teller was a young man who sported an immaculate flattop! As Jeff walked up, he also noted that on the employee badge the same teller was pictured with an overgrown thatch in moptop fashion.
Trying hard not to stare at the teller's flattop, Jeff handed over his bank card and stated, "Just $20. It's my first time to use the barber shop in this plaza, but I discovered they don't take credit cards."
"It's a great place -- talented barbers. A real bargain too. That's where I get my haircuts," the teller noted as he processed the transaction.
"Well, you sport a very tidy, well-cut flattop! Seems like you were on the receiving end of a pretty drastic makeover since that badge was issued," Jeff said.
The teller looked down and exposed his plush top. "I guess I need to update this! Yep, happened about a year ago. I had this client who was a flattop enthusiast -- a teacher at the high school. He'd stop by the bank on the way to his haircut and always suggest I pop over there on my break -- get a decent haircut like his. He's the nicest guy...." The teller paused and felt the bristles up the back of his head. "One day, I just said to myself -- 'do it!' -- and I did. Glad of it too!"
"And that's exactly what I'm doing myself. Right now, as a matter of fact!" Jeff exclaimed as he took the $20 bill and his ATM card back. "Mr. Majewski is my favorite teacher!"
"It'll be an adjustment at first...I felt a little numb getting out of the chair after I got shorn...but you probably won't regret it," the teller chirped as Jeff walked away.
Chapter 3 - Jeff Watches Mr. Maxwell Makeover
When Jeff got back to the shop, one barber was just beginning the older kid and the other barber was just finishing the younger fellow. "There you go, son!" he said as he handed him a lollypop. "OK, you're next, Mr. Maxwell."
The father nervously flicked the heavy forelock away from his eyes, and stammered, "Just the boys today."
The barber insisted, "That's what you said last time. Are you turning into a hippy on us?"
"Truth is, I got laid off six weeks ago and we've had to tighten the financial belt," he confessed with a tinge of shame in his voice.
"Lots of people in your situation, friend. What do you say we offer you three butch cuts for the price of two? Father and sons will leave here all looking neat and tidy," said the barber.
"A baldy cut on me?!" gasped the father.
"Sure, Dad!" his son piped up. "You'll love the amazing feel!" he exclaimed as he ran his hand across the eighth inch stubble.
"I guess this mop isn't going to help me get a new job, is it?" the father reluctantly conceded as he studied the shaggy image in the mirror. He nervously ran his fingers through his heavy forelock and tried unsuccessfully for it to stay above his eyebrows.
"That's right," the barber said approvingly. "Take a seat and I'll get you looking cleancut in a jiff."
Jeff watched as the man meekly, albeit reluctantly, complied. The father shifted nervously as the cape was fastened about his neck. "Well, perhaps, I could just pay for a normal haircut," he said with an air of sudden hesitation.
"Nonsense!" the barber exclaimed as he lifted the heavy bangs with a comb and brought the clippers to his client's forehead. In an instant, the clattering metal teeth ate their way across the top of the caped man's head, sending sheaves of glimmering brown hair to the cape.
"Oh, my!" the man murmured. "I've never had a butch before!" he stammered as the shorn swath emerged from the shaggy moptop. Mounds of shimmering hair fell to his shoulder and then slid in a mass toward his lap.
The barber continued administering the butch with relish. "There's no reason the butch shouldn't be more popular with grown men, even professional ones. Lawyers, doctors, you name it -- the cut would work nicely on a variety of people, don't you think?"
"Including marine recruits...." the caped client moped with a bit of a quiver evident in his lower lip.
The barber shoved his client's head forward in order to tackle the nape and back. "The baldy look will grow on you...." the barber said with a slight laugh. "You might end up preferring the butch over the standard businessman's look."
"Just like your boys," the other barber chimed in as he took a duster to the son's closely clipped head.
As he pulled the cape off the lad, the barber turned his attention toward Jeff and his flowing, stylized mane. "You're next, fellow!"
Chapter 4 - Jeff Submits to the Clippers
Jeff's legs felt like jelly as he stood to approach the chair. Now that the drastic makeover was impending, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. Whether or not he asked for a flattop was yet to be seen, but one thing was for sure, he was taking a seat in the chair and the barber was going to have a go at his pretty locks!
After Jeff sank into the welcoming padded leather seat, a huge white cape billowed through the air. Then Jeff felt it being fastened snuggly about his neck. Finally, the inevitable question. "So, what can I do for you today?" the barber asked.
Jeff's throat felt bone dry. He gulped and moistened his lips as best he could. "Do you know Mr. Majewski? The high school teacher?"
"Old Fred Majewski is a regular here. Of course! He's a flattop fan," the barber said, anticipating what my be in store for the pretty boy.
"Cut my hair just like his. Give me a flattop!" Jeff said as quickly as he could.
"Well, that's a surprise. A flattop, eh?" he said as he began to comb the stylized locks. "But, why not go all the way, like Mr. Maxwell here? Take a look at his new tight butch!" the barber said as he swiveled Jeff's chair to see the other client.
The father sheepishly took his hand from under the cape and felt his shorn pelt. "This feels like bristles...and I look more like an elementary school kid!"
Jeff was firm. "No, I've come here today specifically for a flattop -- just like Mr. Majewski's."
"Very well, then," the barber said as he swiveled the chair to face away from the mirror. Then, the barber snagged the heavy forelock that dangled in a sexy, carefree way veiling one of Jeff's dark green eyes. Click! The machine sprang to life. In a flash, the barber ran the clippers over the plastic teeth of the comb and sent a massive tress to the cape. The transformation had begun!
Jeff eyed the gleaming hair that nestled atop the cape in his lap. His beautiful, iconic playboy locks were the crowning glory of his "cool" image at school. And now the old barber had begun the process of cutting them all off, brutally short. Jeff reminded himself he was liberating himself from the peer pressure to be cool and was finally pursuing his own desire...to follow Mr. Majewski's mold. Another massive shank of hair joined the first. Jeff's mind wandered as the barber removed all the length atop his head. First step in his transformation would be getting shorn flat. Then he would shed his trendy threads and adopt Mr. Majewski's uniform: a short sleeve white dress shirt with a button down collar and a plastic lining in the pocket with an array of pens; blue polyester trousers that were hemmed at a flood-water length to clearly display white socks and clunky black wingtip laced dress shoes. And the final piece of the transformation would be to replace the contact lenses that enhanced his green eyes with heavy rimmed black plastic glasses and thick lenses for a total geek look. He would endure all sorts of ridicule and mocking at school -- the certain adversity made him even more determined to go forward with his new persona churning emotionally between fear and fascination. What would it be like to sit alone in the middle of the cafeteria with all the cool kids pointing and laughing at his shorn head and nerdy outfit?
Jeff's attention was distracted by the father and sons getting ready to leave the shop. Out of the corner of his eye, Jeff watched the father stare blankly at himself in the mirror as he fished for his wallet. "This was a mistake," he muttered. "I should have just paid for a regular haircut. My chances of getting a decent job as an accountant with this butch cut are minimal...."
"I'm sorry you feel that way," said the barber, semi-apologetically. "I think it looks fine. You've shed 10-years off your look with the baldy cut. But, I certainly don't want you paying for something you're not happy with. The three haircuts are free. And, you, sir, will be entitled to free butch cuts until you're gainfully employed. My brother-in-law is looking for an additional manager at the warehouse he runs. Perhaps you'd be interested...."
The father smiled a bit, "That's very kind of you. I certainly would.... And, maybe I'll get used to the new look....but I can't say I'm anxious to get ribbed by my friends." Again, he ran his hand over his baldy cut.
"My brother-in-law sports a tight butch. I dare say, your new look will improve your chances of employment with him. In fact, he may even have me take you down another notch or two -- for that look and feel of mere stubble!" the barber said with a laugh.
As the trio left, Jeff's barber shifted phases in the transformation by firmly forcing his client's head forward so that Jeff's chin nearly touched his chest.
Jeff thought of all the times he'd heard Mr. Majewski whisper in his ear...."He'll take a set of clippers and run them tightly up the back of your head, like this."
Suddenly, the feel of the clippers directly on his scalp at the nape sent a jolt of energy and anxiety through his entire body. The authoritative vibration of the clippers' teeth felt nothing like the gentle caress of his chemistry teacher's fingers as he simulated a clippers buzzing through the copious locks of dark hair that flowed from the crown of Jeff's head toward his shoulders! Instead, Jeff felt as if he were being in-processed at marine bootcamp.
There was no going back! The clippers had ensured that. A pit feeling grew in intensity as Jeff struggled to reconcile his desire to make a radical change and his fear of facing everyone. He watched the copious locks fall to the cape in a numb, semi-detached way. A staggering amount of shorn, dark hair quickly piled up on his lap.
The pace of Jeff's divestiture only slowed when the barber began the long, arduous process of tidying up the top and ensuring that every ramrod shaft of hair was perfectly erect and where it should be. Over and over the clippers were employed to whittle and shape the patch of hair that shot straight up from the top of his head.
Although Jeff knew that the change would be dramatic, nothing prepared him for the shock that he endured as the barber swiveled the chair around to face the mirror as the haircut ended. Jeff's image in the mirror was totally unrecognizable! His ears stuck out and he looked like a totally different guy. His stomach churned fiercely. What had he done?! Only the thought of Mr. Majewski, laying in the hospital, brought sense to the jarring site in the barbershop mirror. The old, dear man would be proud. Despite the anxiety he felt, Jeff knew it would be worth it!
"I left it a little longer, especially on top, than Fred Majewski's usual cut. I've found when a fellow gets his first top cut flat that it's best to leave it a bit longer. It can be a bit of a shock, especially when the fellow starts out with the amount of hair you traipsed in here with," the barber said casually as he pointed to the vast collection down Jeff's chest and in his lap. "Then, on your next visit, I can take it shorter if you want. Most people are very nervous about their first flattops. See, you've got a nice deep pile up here. Your hair works well in the flattop," the barber said with a smile as his hand brushed the top of Jeff's plush, deep pile of hair.
Jeff pursed his lips and gripped the arm rests. "No, I want it cut just like Mr. Majewski's."
"Landing strip on top? Sides and back clipped to the scalp?" the barber asked. "Are you sure, young man?"
"Yes. Take me down as close as Mr. Majewski would have it cut, were he here with us," Jeff said firmly.
"Okay, if that's what you want...." The barber left the chair facing the mirror and Jeff watched him plow the clippers across the top of his head so that it more than grazed the scalp. Suddenly a huge white "bald spot" emerged in the midst of the erect hair. Several more swipes and the landing strip was broad and long! More white scalp became alarmingly visible as the sides were totally clipped off at the scalp. Jeff's final look was radically short and severe. He felt totally numb and disengaged from the rest of his barbershop experience. The final touches with the duster and witch hazel, the paying and the walking away feeling his totally shorn head were all a blur. The only fleeting images he took with him were the frozen picture in the mirror of his first glance at the plush-cut top and then a view of the vast field of shorn hair around the barber's feet as he stood up for the first time and almost collapsed under the jelly-like legs.
Chapter 5 - Jeff Appropriates Alex' Tail
Before cranking up the engine of his car, Jeff checked his text messages. There was one from Alex. "Mr M is in 735, south tower. ITU. Visitation restricted to one at a time. Text me when ur on ur way and I'll meet you in the main lobby. He's in bad shape."
Jeff quickly tapped out, "Be there in 15 minutes."
Alex swiftly replied, "K".
Jeff still was in a daze as a result of his severe scalping at the hand of Mr. Majewski's barber when he pulled into the hospital parking garage. He glanced in the rear view mirror and was rattled by the checkerboard-like pattern on his head -- alternating patches of jet black shorn hair and virgin white skin. He was truly unrecognizable. And to be honest, Jeff felt that Mr. Majewski's flattop was not nearly as short as the one that he ended up with. The old barber really gave it to him after Jeff rejected the first longer, plush-top version.
As he walked through the revolving door into the hospital lobby, Jeff quickly spotted Alex and his thick, lush tail that hung down his back like a heavy-duty chord of quality hemp. How would his friend react to the flattop?! Jeff panicked, but knew there was nothing to do but reveal the "new him" to the person who would be his friendliest audience and critic.
"Alex!" he called out softly.
The blond longhair turned and looked, but did not recognize his pal.
"Alex! It's me, Jeff!" the shorn lad repeated.
"Jeff? Jeff!!! Oh my goodness. Your hair! What in the.... You cut it all off!" Alex was totally stunned.
"What do you think of it?" Jeff asked sheepishly, fearing the worst.
"I hardly know what to say. It doesn't even seem like I'm talking to my best friend. You're like a totally different guy without your trendy locks," sputtered Alex.
"I did it to cheer Mr. Majewski up. Do you think he'll be surprised to see me with a flattop just like his? I even went to his barber. Scared s**tless, but I did it," said Jeff with an air of certainty that he'd done the right thing.
"Jeff, you need to know this -- wanted to tell you in person, not text -- Mr. Majewski is in a coma. Just lying there hooked up to machines. He'd be touched, I'm sure, if he could see you with his signature flattop. But the doctor says there is very little chance he'll come out of it," explained Alex.
"That's terrible. But I'm going to his room anyways," Jeff said.
Alex clapped a bear hug around his visibly upset friend. Then he fondled the shorn head gently. "I'm so proud of you for being brave enough to shed your trophy hair for old Mr. M. I've been thinking about doing something special for him too. What do you think of this -- a fund raiser for a scholarship to honor him or in his memory if he passes. Open to anyone going into chemistry with plans to teach high school."
"That's fantastic, Alex! You're just the person to organize and pull it off," replied Jeff enthusiastically.
"I was thinking perhaps we could have a walk-a-thon or something else to pull in some big donations," suggested Alex.
Suddenly a light bulb went off in Jeff's head. "I think you'd raise a whole lot more putting this on the chopping block!" With that, Jeff grasped Alex by his thick ponytail and held it up like a trophy.
"Cut off my hair?!" gasped Alex.
"Shaved bald! Or maybe into a flattop like I did," Jeff added.
Alex pawed at this treasured hair a bit before he broke into a huge smile. "Why not?! If you did it, why can't I? And there are tons of people out there who would pay big time to see my tail fall. Like my parents. They'd kick in at least a grand....."
"We could do it in front of the whole school. Have Mr. M's barber come in with the clippers. Set a goal -- $10,000!" exclaimed Jeff.
"I love it. And to be honest, I was thinking about cutting off the tail before graduation anyway. It's turned into such a hassle -- like an albatross clinging to my head. And my mom's been begging me to."
"You just got your first pledge, Alex. $50! And you and I will be sporting twin flattops when it's over!" giggled Jeff. The two friends let a high-five go and then hugged.
"Or twin baldy cuts! After years of hair overload, I've been itching to go hair-free! Now, go and check on our favorite teacher; I'll go talk to the principal about our plan to see if he'll allow us to do it....I'm sure he will, but better safe than sorry," said Alex.
"Ah, yes. Dear Mr. Knowles. That preening, prissy jerk will surely find some reason to give you a run around....school safety policy or some other BS," smirked Jeff.
Chapter 6 - Jeff Surprises Mr. Majewski
Entering Mr. Majewski's hospital room sent a chill through Jeff. It was darkened and the man lay still in the bed with blinking and beeping machines all about. Jeff leaned over the bed rail and spoke softly to his teacher, hoping that somehow he could hear and understand the words of comfort.
As he spoke, out of the corner of his eye Jeff noticed Mr. Majewski's heavy black plastic glasses on the stand next to the bed. He instinctively reached for them and then looked for a mirror. Jeff gasped aloud as he saw himself through a bit of a distorted image in the mirror wearing Mr. Majewski's glasses. It took him another step towards total nerd! He fussed a bit with his ultra-short flattop.
Just then a nurse came in and demanded, "What are you doing in here?"
Jeff stammered, "Just visiting the old man. He's been wanting me to get a flattop like his, and I did it!"
Both of the visitors to the room were started when Mr. Majewski stirred and suddenly became lucid. "Jeff, what's that I hear? You got a flattop, finally?! Let me see."
Jeff and the nurse both hustled to his bedside. The nurse went into overdrive taking down vitals while Jeff and his teacher talked. "I was sad that you weren't able to make our date to the barbershop this morning."
"If I had known you were there, I'd have ripped these tubes out of my arm and walked there for a front row seat. You look terrific!" said the teacher with a faint laugh.
"It's a little shorter than yours, don't you think?" asked Jeff.
"Maybe -- but a lot better than that shaggy mop you used to hide under," he replied.
The nurse cut in abruptly, "Mr. Majewski, the hospital has been trying to identify a next-of-kin for you or someone to contact. You know, well, when it comes to discharging you and bill payments, etc."
"I don't have anyone. I'm alone - no siblings, no children....except my students," he said softly.
"Can you designate someone, please?" the nurse insisted.
Mr. Majewski looked at Jeff, who instinctively nodded in agreement, "Jeff Carson, here, will be my designee."
"Are you at least 18?" the nurse inquired.
"Yes, and I'm honored Mr. Majewski selected me. He's been like a father to me," replied Jeff.
The nurse gave Mr. Majewski a form to fill out. At the bottom, the man wrote in very wobbly script, "Last will and testament: I leave everything I own to Jeff Carson. I have no living kin."
No sooner had Mr. Majewski signed his name when he slumped and the vitals on the machines diminished and then went flat -- all in less than 30 seconds.
"He's dead!" the nurse murmured as a vain attempt to resuscitate failed.
Chapter 7 - Jeff Riles the Crowd Up
The week had been an emotional roller coaster for Jeff, who was unexpectedly thrust into managing all of Mr. Majewski's funeral arrangements -- not to mention the prospect of becoming his sole heir once the handwritten will, attested to by the nurse, was submitted for probate.
At Mr. Majewski's house, Jeff spent some time searching through papers for clues about any living relatives (nothing turned up) and his financial assets (Jeff would own a two-bedroom house, a modest bank account and $55,000 in investments). However, what Jeff spent most of his time doing as he rummaged through Mr. Majewski's things was trying on his limited wardrobe of geeky clothes! The clunky black shoes fit. And, since he was a bit taller than his teacher, the polyester pants were very flood water! The only time Jeff had ventured out of the house on personal business was getting his prescription fitted into Mr. Majewski's black plastic framed glasses at Lenscrafters. With his severely shorn flattop, Jeff was the image of Mr. Majewski as a young adult!
Meanwhile, his friend had been busy working on the fundraiser for the scholarship. Pledges quickly came in once Alex announced his long ponytail was on the chopping block. Sam Sterling, another moptop who also put his hair on the line for the cause, was competing with Alex for the top money-getter. Sam's huge afro-like collection of dense ginger curls excited many who had secretly wished to see smart-alec Sam shorn to the skull. The two, along with Jeff and the school principal, Mr. Robert Knowles, were selected as pall bearers.
Alex had convinced Mr. Knowles to have the grand-finale of his fundraiser to take place the morning of the funeral in the school gymnasium; school would be dismissed immediately thereafter so that all who wanted could attend the funeral. The East Plaza Barber Shop would allow one of its big barber chairs to be brought to the gym and Mr. Majewski's barber would do the honors of mowing the winner down to a very tight baldy cut.
Jeff had stayed out of public view for most of the week. He planned to unveil his new image to the whole community at the fund raiser when he emceed the event.
Excitement in the gymnasium was high as the students filed into the bleachers. There were two large thermometers marking very close amounts after the Thursday pledges had been added. Alex Eliason - $7,732 and Sam Sterling - $7,125.
Alex stood to one side of the chair with his flowing blond locks unbound and streaming down his back. He revved up the crowd by flicking his head about and sending the heavy chords of hair dancing around.
Sam stood on the other side fluffing out his mass of red curls so that his hair doubled the size of his head. Occasionally he would pull a ginger curl out to its full length showing it to be at least 15 inches long.
Behind the chair was Mr. Majewski's barber holding up an electric clippers and brandishing back and forth in the direction of each longhair.
In front of the chair stood the little-loved principal, Mr. Knowles, who was usually a kill joy. But, for some reason, he had embraced this event -- either to support the students' show of affection for the departed chemistry teacher or because he secretly had tried for years to get the two longhairs shorn, pressuring their parents to do something to "put an end to the hideous distraction in the classroom".
Mr. Knowles pranced back and forth with his fussy businesscut sprayed into place like a helmet of carefully coiffed hair. "Quiet, boys and girls!" he shrieked. "Do you want me to send you back to your classrooms?" he threatened.
"No!" they shouted back.
"Open the barbershop!" one kid screamed out, which made everyone cheer.
"I'm going to turn the microphone over to Jeff Carson, who really stood in the gap and has done an amazing job at handling Mr. Majewski's funeral arrangements. As you know by now, Mr. Majewski has no family and Jeff happened to be visiting during the few minutes of consciousness Mr. Majewski enjoyed right before he passed. Jeff, come out here!" the principal called.
A collective gasp went up from the bleachers when Jeff trotted out from the boys' locker room that was followed by a huge cheer and standing ovation. Jeff was dressed just like Mr. Majewski -- hair, glasses, clothes and shoes!
Jeff took the microphone and warmed up the crowd a bit. "After Mr. Majewski's accident, I became acquainted with his barber. Hard not to notice, eh?"
The crowd roared as Jeff fondled his new flattop.
"Those dreamy long locks were getting a little tiresome, I felt," he exclaimed. "And, I'm glad that Mr. Majewski's barber has volunteered his time and his beautiful barber's chair to bring this exciting fundraising event to a close. Here you can see that the total as of Thursday raised by Alex and Sam was $14,857."
A huge cheer erupted in the gymnasium.
"That's already well over the $10,000 these two great guys aimed to raise for the memorial scholarship fund that will be granted to any student who gets accepted to a chemistry program or who intends to teach high school. In my hand I have the totals from last night that each fellow will add to his thermometer to decide who is the winner. While both Sam and Alex will be on the receiving end of marine induction haircuts, only the winner will be allowed to administer the baldy cut on the lose! The runner-up will be seated and caped first and be shorn by the winner. Then then winner will be caped and shorn by our guest barber. Give Barber Al a round of applause. He cuts a mean flattop!! Do you like my new haircut?" Jeff called out to the audience.
"Ma-jew-ski! Ma-jew-ski!" they chanted back.
"You're a sexy dude, Jeff Carson!" one of the cheerleaders screamed out.
"You too, Jeff Majewski!" shouted another.
Jeff opened the envelope marked Alex and pulled out a slip, "The school treasurer reports another $433 came in for Alex Eliason!" The crowd cheered. "That puts him a bit over the $8000 mark!"
"And now Sam's envelope. Oh my goodness! We have a winner folks!! Sam Sterling races to victory. Can you believe this -- an additional $4,214!"
The ginger-haired athlete erupted into a celebration and then charged towards Alex, grabbing him by his thick blond locks. Alex hammed it up and pretended to struggle and run away, crying out loudly that he didn't want his hair cut. Sam was without mercy as he dragged his rival to the chair. "My secret weapon was....come on out here Mr. and Mrs. Eliason and bring your shears. I'm going to let you take the first whacks at this horrible, hideous mane of girlish hair that's been clogging up your drains for the last four years!" The couple rushed in from the side both brandishing scissors. Alex was subdued in the chair and caped by the barber. Both parents took delight in chopping off huge chunks of Alex' hair and tossing them in the air like streamers. During the whole preliminary haircut, the students cheered and clapped.
"Okay, parents," Sam announced. "You've had your fun. Now it's my turn. Barber, hand me the clippers and make sure the blade is set to ZERO length! Little Alex won't feel like such a stud when he's been clipped down to a baldy!" he ginger-topped boy sneered.
Sam had a marvelous time shaving his rival's head and mocking him by thrusting his overgrown mop of ginger curls in Alex's face. Of course, there were many poses with the curly-headed barber and the knob-headed inductee. The barber, dominant and victorious. The inductee, vulnerable and submissive.
Once Alex' head had been thoroughly shorn to stubble, Jeff took the microphone. "I think Alex' haircut is over. There's nothing left where those flowing locks once flourished. That means....you're next, Curly Sue! Sam, the bigger winner, will shortly become Sam, the bigger loser! Barber - cape up Lil Orphan Annie there and let's get rid of the ginger!!" Jeff exclaimed.
"Shave Sam Bald! Shave Sam Bald!" the students chanted.
In a flash the redhead was hustled into the chair and made to sit still. The huge cape billowed through the air and the barber fastened it securely in place. "When was the last time a real barber cut your hair, son?" the man asked of Sam.
"Never! No clippers have ever touched my head!" he shot back in a shrill, almost giddy tone.
"Then you're in for a treat," the barber deadpanned as he grasped the lad by the curls and yanked his head back just like those military barbers at the Parris Island marine bootcamp did to the recruits. In a flash, the clippers ran down the top of his head and he carved a gorge through the ginger afro. Pulling off a huge clump of curls, the barber held his trophy high and the kids cheered.
"One more baldy, coming up!" the emcee announced jubilantly. "Sam's head will look and feel like an orange tennis ball once this haircut's over!"
Even Mr. Knowles was into the scene big time, prancing in front of the bleachers where the students were, trying to persuade other longhairs to get in line for haircuts while the clippers were still hot. "You, there! James, sweetie. It's time to get that hair out of your face once and for all. You're next in the chair!"
"Buzz off!" the boy replied defiantly.
"I'll get in line right after you, Mr. Knowles," another student chimed in.
Once Sam and been completely stripped of his signature curls he reached out from under the cape and felt his cue-ball. "Wow! I've got some good quality sand paper up here!"
Jeff moved in to end the haircut by unfastening the cape and sending the red curls flying in every direction. "Let's hear it for our shavees! Let's hear it for Mr. and Mrs. Eliason! Let's hear it for our volunteer barber -- Al and this fantastic chair can be found at the East Plaza Barber Shop in case anyone else wants a great haircut."
"Let's hear it for Mr. Majewski," someone called out from the crowd. The whole gymnasium went wild.
Chapter 8 - Jeff Humbles Mr. Knowles
Mr. Knowles grabbed the mic from Jeff and flailed his arms to hush the rowdy students. "Quiet, quiet, please! I'm trying to talk! I have some important information about the funeral."
Jeff watched the unpopular principal preen and scold as he pranced about in front of the barber chair. A mischievous thought popped in his head and he smiled to himself. There would be no end to the cheering if that ass hole could be publicly humbled. The carefully coiffed helmet of hair sprayed into a fussy business cut would join the vast amount of shorn hair on the floor of the gym! That is, if Jeff played his cards right....
After a long winded sermonette, the principal wrapped up his comments, "And, lastly, I want to thank Jeff Carson again for showing real leadership in this time of sadness for the school family. Jeff -- do you have anything else you want to say before I dismiss the students?"
Jeff took the mic boldly, "Of course I do, Mr. Knowles. As you know, we have one final surprise to this event." The principal got a puzzled look on his face, but Jeff continued, "We are less than $100 away from doubling our goal and creating a $20,000 scholarship to help educate a future high school chemistry teacher as good as Mr. Majewski. If we can raise an addition $100 from the audience, right now, Mr. Knowles will certainly to do his part and become our last shavee!"
In a flash, barber Al pulled out his wallet and raised a fistful of $20. "I have it right here, Jeff! $100 dollars! Fred Majewski was one of my favorite clients. I'd be happy to contribute to the cause and also help your principal update his look!"
The students erupted, cheering, "Shave him bald! Shave him bald!"
Alex, Jeff and Sam cornered the totally rattled principal and corralled him towards the barber chair. "But, I'm a professional....a baldy cut would....." he protested as he was forced to back into the barber chair and take a seat.
On went the cape! Mr. Knowles was on the hot-seat....and his fussy businesscut was teetering toward extinction.
Jeff towered over the cowering principal and placed his hand on Mr. Knowles shoulder as if to emphasize he was staying in the chair, "Has anyone ever seen our principal with a single hair out of place?" Then he began to tousle the perfect coif, "Now you have!"
A student called out, "Come on, we want to see Bobby Baldy!" Another chant began, "Bobby, Baldy, Bobby, Baldy, Bobby, Baldy!"
As the audience in the bleachers stomped and cheered, Jeff leaned over and whispered in Mr. Knowles' ear, "So, what'll it be, sir? You submit to the baldy look and be the hero....or you save your fussy hairstyle and leave his chair as the biggest wimp and coward the school has ever known?
Mr. Knowles' adam's apple bobbed uncomfortably beneath the tightly fastened cape. He squirmed in the chair and looked fearfully and Sam and Alex' shorn heads. Then he meekly croaked, "Shave my head."
Jeff motioned for Barber Al to hand him the clippers. He was going to have his share of the fun at playing barber! Instantly, Jeff shoved Mr. Knowles head forward in a demeaning way so that he was forced to sit with his chin to his chest. Then he unleashed the clippers and began to put an end to the fussy business cut that Mr. Knowles so meticulously groom and cared for each and every day.
"BALDY, BALDY!" the kids shouted.
Mr. Knowles humiliation was complete as Jeff rubbed his shorn head and mocked his new look. Once his ordeal, Mr. Knowles scampered away from the barber chair as quickly as possible to go see how ghastly he looked without his fussy business cut.
Chapter 9 - Jeff Hires a Baldy
"You should think about becoming a barber, Jeff!" Al said as he congratulated the student leader on the way he'd commandeered the principal into the chair and administered a fine baldy cut. He didn't seem too happy about the end result, unfortunately."
"You're the one who gave me the idea when I heard you telling that young father whose unemployed at the barbershop that more professionals ought to sport baldy cuts. Remember who I'm talking about?" asked Jeff.
"Of course, Mr. Maxwell -- the former accountant who is no longer unemployed. He's working for my brother-in-law as a warehouse manager. Got the job the day after he got his butch cut! He's coming over with the van and forklift operator to supervise the return of this barber chair to the shop. I told him all about what happened to you in the last week. In fact, I think I see him coming into the gym right now. I need to run now, but I hope you'll become a regular at the shop, Jeff," the barber urged.
"That goes without saying! Bye, Al -- and thanks again!"
Mr. Maxwell walked up to Jeff and laughed as he kicked about some of the long hair that cluttered the floor, "Looks like bootcamp induction day! I'm Steve Maxwell. We met briefly at the barbershop on Saturday," he said as he initiated a hand-shake.
"Of course, you were nervous about your new baldy look -- thought you wouldn't get a job," remarked Jeff. "But Al told me you're working again."
"That's right. It's a paycheck, but not in my field," said Mr. Maxwell. "And it didn't stop me from going into foreclosure on my mortgage."
"Well, has the baldy look grown on you?" Jeff asked.
"A bit. I still feel a little naked without hair. I mean, it's quite practical. No hair care, obviously. It's okay in the warehouse. Hell, most of the employees there sport butch cuts. I think Al's brother-in-law, my boss, sort of encourages the shorn look."
"Well, I guess that cuts down on liability issues with hair getting caught in machinery and other safety situations," remarked Jeff.
"Hadn't thought of that. But, I wanted to ask you something. I mean, with your unexpected situation and being the executor and heir of Fred Majewski, you're going to need help with filing his taxes and transferring titles, etc. That's what I specialized in at my last job. I though you might be interested in hiring me -- I mean you're young and obviously without any experience."
"Hire you? Huh? Well, I hadn't thought of that kind of paper work, you're right....." Jeff replied as he surveyed Mr. Maxwell's butch. "I have so many decisions to make about my future. I had thought about going to college and becoming a chemistry teacher like Mr. Majewski....but, of late, I've also been considering a career as a barber. I really enjoyed wielding those clippers on Mr. Knowles, our principal," he admitted, pointing to the clippers still sitting on the chair.
"I'll only charge you one percent on the amount of any of your benefits and a fair sum for doing the taxes. What do you say, Jeff? It's really a token amount. I just want to stay active in my professional field," the man explained.
"Tell you what. Hope up into the barber's chair. Let me think it over while I tidy up your butch!" Jeff said with a laugh. "Looks like it's grown rather fast over the past week."
"Oh, I was going to let my hair grow out," Mr. Maxwell said with a poorly concealed tinge of disappointment.
"Still a little Nervous Nelly about sporting a tight butch?" chided Jeff. "I think you look quite handsome and manly with your shorn head."
Mr. Maxwell blushed. "Well, I suppose I can humor you while you consider my offer."
The man approached the chair with a slight hesitation and plopped himself in it. Jeff was quick with the cape. He enjoyed fastening it and gently rubbing the soft bristles with his hand. "My you have a very dense head of hair. A nice soft feel too."
"Won't feel like that after you take the clippers to me. I came out feeling like sandpaper last week!" the man laughed.
Jeff enjoyed the sensation of snapping on the machine and tenderly nudging Mr. Maxwell's head forward. The vibration, the hum, the cut snipets glistening in the lights of the gym as they floated down. Jeff carefully folded down Mr. Maxwell's ear and clipped around it. "How am I doing?" he asked.
"I'll be able to tell when you're finished. But how wrong can a person go with a butch? I mean, it's a single length all over," Mr. Maxwell laughed.
"Your boys and you all looked so sweet leaving the shop with matching baldy cuts on Saturday," Jeff said.
"Do you think I should stick with the butch, Jeff?" Mr. Maxwell asked as he looked up and met Jeff's tender glance with his piercing blue eyes.
"Definitely. And I think you should become my financial advisor. But, instead of paying you a percentage, you can move into Mr. Majewski's house with your boys. There'll be room for the four of us there...."
"And does the lodging come with free haircuts?" asked Mr. Maxwell. "I'll need someone to keep my baldy nice and tight!"
"You bet," said Jeff reaching under the cape to shake hands on the deal with his new partner.