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Nick - Trick and Treat by Manny
Dusk was giving into evening when the doorbell sounded for the first batch of kids ready to hold up their pails and ask for candy. I quickly buttoned up the stained barber's tunic and took a quick peek at my "Sweeny Todd" make-up in the mirror before heading to the front door. The beet juice I'd used to simulate blood both on the tunic and on the white cape I'd artistically draped over the huge barber's chair that could be seen in my den from the front door looked so realistic! Most of the kids had probably never heard the story of the demon barber of Fleet Street, but any parents that were accompanying them probably had seen the movie with Johnny Depp or at least knew the plot. As I opened the door, the blood splattered whirling barber's pool that I'd hung next to a sign identifying Sweeny Todd's, cast an eerie glow over the first batch of trick-or-treaters. The little ones eagerly snatched their packs of cherry twizzlers and ran off.
As the evening progressed I got a few compliments from the parents who were accompanying their very small tots about my innovative, scary scenario. If there were any fathers at the door, I always concluded by saying something like, "You, sir, look as if you need a haircut. Why don't you step into my shop -- the chair is right there and waiting for you!" Then I'd let out an evil howl and the men would either act frightened and scurry away or laugh at my eerie invitation.
Most of these were young fathers with standard professional businesscuts -- side part, neat taper around the ears. That sort of thing. I lived in a rather conservative neighborhood with mainly white collar workers.
But there was one father at the door who stood out from all the others -- his thick, flowing blond hair cascaded in waves toward his shoulders, framing a handsome face with penetrating blue eyes. I'd seen him jogging through the neighborhood several times with the locks dancing behind him as he ran and had fantasized about getting him into my home-based makeshift barbershop. I had no idea he was a family man -- but there he was with a little tyke in tow dressed up like a popular super hero!
"You, sir, look as if you need a haircut. Why don't you step into my shop -- the chair is right there and waiting for you!" I bellowed as part of my routine.
He pawed nervously at his pampered hair. The look of fright in the young father's eyes seemed like more than forced theatre.
As he leaned down to coax the tot to ask for candy, his hair was on full display, dangling tantalizingly in front of me. "You don't have to ask your child for permission to have your hair cut," I saidas I playfully grasped his lush locks. "This is very much in need of a good cropping!" I declared as I drew myself to him so that we were no more than an inch apart. I could almost hear his heart beating wildly.
The fellow laughed nervously and stammered, "I'll have to take a rain check, my kid here still needs to gather more candy!"
"Another day, then," I said, staring him squarely in the eyes. With that, I stepped back and dispensed a handful of twizzlers. As the pair scurried away from my door, the young father looked over his shoulder and gave a friendly wave. "Great experience! Very unique! You frightened even me....."
The next day, as I peered out my front window, my heart lept as I saw blondie casually strolling down my sidewalk. His shimmering locks bounced slightly as he ambled. I had never seen him stroll in front of my house before -- only jog by periodically. It was more than just a coincidence, I was certain! I quickly scrambled to go outside and pick up my newspaper in the driveway to orchestrate an encounter.
"Did your kid get a full bag of candy last night?" I asked.
"Sugar over-dose today, for sure," he responded with a smile.
"I'm Chris," I said, extending my hand.
"And I'm Nick," he replied. "You had the best Halloween display in the whole neighborhood!"
"So you liked the scary barbershop?" I chirped. "With that mane of yours, my guess would be that you have a general fear of them!"
He ran his fingers through his hair playfully. "I suppose I must! This hair's grown rather long. Did you bring that barber chair into your house just for the Halloween display?" he asked with genuine curiousity.
"No, it's my prized possession. From my grandfather's old shop. More comfortable than any recliner La-z-boy puts out! It's about 100 years old. Want to see it?" I asked, hopefully.
"Sure," he replied.
As the two of us walked to the house, my heart beat rapidly. This was all happening a little too easily. I felt like I was in sort of a dream.
He oh'ed and ah'ed about the fancy metal work on the foot rest and the fine craftsmen ship that went into its making. "So you use this as an accent piece -- and it has a function -- positioned with a full view of the TV screen. Very nice. I'm an interior designer. I like what you've done here in the den, incorporating the things from your grandather's shop. Very nice."
"Go ahead, have a seat. You can feel how comforable it is," I urged.
Nick climbed into the chair and eased into its worn leather upholstry. "Very nice. Ah, I could sit here all day," he remarked.
"Now, get a load of this," I said as I quickly reclined the chair so that he was in almost a horizontal position. To further discourage him from getting up, I pumped the chair to its utmost height making it high off the floor.
"Very comfortable. I could easily take a nap in his this chair," he said.
I could not contain myself any longer. "You are much more in in need of a haircut than a nap, Nick," I said as I fondled one of the thick locks that hung loosely down to his shoulder.
His face flushed with either embarrassment or excitement -- or both.
"Shall I sit you up and fasten a cape around his strong neck of yours?" I asked.
He broke the nervous tension by joking, "That would be much safer than agreeing to a face shave, I gather, Mr. Sweeny Todd! So are you a trained barber?"
"No, I'm a stock broker. But cutting men's hair is my hobby," I said. "Shall I show you my skill?"
He lay silently, trembling slightly. "Yes, I'd like that," he finally eeked out. "I am so much in need of a decent haircut."
I sat him up quickly and brought the chair down to a level where I could give him a thorough cropping. "I'll be right back," I gasped excitedly as I flew from the den to retrieve the clippers I'd taken to the garage for a proper oiling. "That mop needs a set of fast feed electric clippers!"
As I left the room, I heard footsteps of Nick making a quick exit from the house. I ran to the front window and saw the blond locks flying wildly in the breeze as he hoofed it away.
Drats! I had gotten overly eager! Why had I rushed him?
I sulked around in a funk. But, I hung onto hope. He had, after all, initiated a follow-up visit to my house. The barber chair interested in him immensely. Perhaps he was still toying with the idea of getting the 'big chop' and hopefully he would choose me! I got online and looked up local interior design studios -- all I knew was his first name and the neighborhood where he left. I could contact him, perhaps. Two hours later I'd turned up ZERO. But, I kept up the search until....a knock on my kitchen door.
It was Nick! I opened it up and asked, "What happened?"
"I got cold feet," he said sheepishly.
"Come on in," I urged.
"I'd like to. It's just that I...well, it's sort of....." he stammered aimlessly.
"What is it, man?!" I demanded.
"When you talked about the fast feed clippers....well, I've wanted to go short for a long while, but I'm not ready for any sort of drastic military style," Nick confided haltingly.
"Oh, yes you are!" I snapped as I grabbed him by the hair. "Now get in here!"
His face was etched with total panic.
I lay into him with a no-nonsense pep talk. "I can't wait to clip you down tight, Buddy. Prancing around the streets with you long locks flailing in your wake! That kid of yours is going to think its got two mothers!" I physically pulled him into my kitchen by the hair. It wasn't hard as he only resisted slightly.
"Just this week I had finally made up my mind to get the big chop. All the other fathers in the neighborhood have standard businessmen cuts. Would you be able to give me a short back and sides, Chris?" he asked, almost begging.
"You don't want to look standard and boring like everyone else. You want to stand out! You're an interior designer. Have you ever heard of the minimalist look? We're going to sweep away this cluttered, over decorated pretty head of yours and strip it clean! You know where the chair is. Go take a seat! Now I've got to go into the laundry room to get my freshly laundered cape, and when I come back, I want you sitting in the chair, nice and still, waiting for your haircut. Do you understand, Nick?" I said, a mere two inches from his face.
"Yes," he said, as he diverted his eyes from my gaze.
"I could lock this door, but I trust you. We're going to become very good friends, I think," I said.
When I came back, cape in hand, Nick was in the chair just as he'd been instructed! His gorgeous blond hair shimmered in the early afternoon sunlight.
"Are you excited?" I asked as I stepped into the den with cape in hand.
"Terribly! And nervous!" he said, shifting in the chair.
"I'll take good care of you, for sure, Nick," I said, smoothing down his soft hair. The feel was fantastic. I had a moment of cold feet. To put an end to the gorgeous hair would be a pity.....
The cape flew through the air and I saw Nick trying to conceal a bit of a bulge in his crotch. Then I pulled it on very snuggly and secured it with an oversized metal fastener. "There, pretty boy! If you're good, you'll get a lollypop when your haircut is finished."
Nick moistened his dry lips a bit, but sat speechless.
I brushed through the hair and got a good whiff of the expensive salon shampoo. There would be no need for that once I'd dispatched his girlish hair to the rubbish bin!
"Tell me about your hair....seems like you take very good care of it," I said, still trying to figure out in my mind what I wanted to do with him now that I had him.
"We have a love-hate relationship -- that is, my hair and me. Mainly love....but I get a hankering now and again to ditch it," he said.
"But the little lady won't let you?" I asked.
"There is no little lady. Sad story. She died in child birth. We weren't even married and now I have a kid to raise. Came as a total shock, but I'm doing as best I can," he explained.
"So what made you come walk by my house again this morning?" I asked.
"When you told me the chair was waiting for me last night. It was scary. Everything just came together. I had gotten a little frustrated with my boy when I was helping him get the costume on. Since he started going to pre-school, he's called me Mommy from time to time. I thought it was cute at first, but just this week he's almost defiantly referred to me exclusively as mommy. Finally, last night, I asked him why.....and he said, because you look like a mommy. And then, seeing your your barber chair....I knew it had to go. My precious hair....find a good barber and make me look like the other fathers in the neighborhood."
I continued brushing Nick's hair. "Does this give you pleasure?"
"Yes," he said.
"Shall I start your haircut, now?" I continued. "Or perhaps you should think about it a little more. I shouldn't have been so forceful with you -- I mean, I literally pulled you into my house by your hair!"
"And that turned me on...." he murmured.
That was all I needed. I shoved his head down so that his chin touched his chest. In a flash, the clippers sprang to life. I brought the screaming teeth, slowly and purposefully, right up through the dense locks that hung down to the cape from his nape. In virtual slow motion a huge shank of gleaming blond hair fell to my feet. An exquisitely sharp taper was left in the wake of the machine.
Nick groaned softly as the clippers emerged from the mane at his crown, and he shivered when I blew gently on his newly exposed nape. I clipped off another vast amount of hair from the back of his head, crafting a very close taper tightly up the back of his head. "When I'm finished with you, your little fellow won't have any reason to call you mommy!"
"He won't even recognize me, is my guess," Nick replied nervously. "The idea of a minimalist look grew on me when you went to retrieve the cape. Bald by choice! I never thought of it for me -- but I do favor minimalism in my decorating style. A totally shaved head -- why not? It'll be a great change. Are you taking everything off?"
"Not telling. I want to surprise you," I said mysteriously. Nick would be getting my absolute favorite haircut of all times.
Another run of the clippers toward his ear ended with a flick that deposited the entire load of lovely shorn hair into Nick's lap. "My god! It's happening. Finally! I haven't seen that much hair come off my head since I was persuaded to join the swim team in college. The coach invited me into his office to tell me 'the good news' that I'd made the team, clippers in hand!"
"Tell me more!" I begged.
"Said it was voluntary, but that his very favorite swimmers all agreed to get their heads buzzed before each meet. I felt trapped. He stared at me in with a sort of weird look, and then he told me to take my shirt off. He was forceful with his hand and the machine. My long hair fell onto my chest and back. I felt humiliated and vulnerable. When the haircut ended, he stroked my shaved pate for quite some time. It gave me the creeps. I never let the coach give me another haircut. I never swam in a single meet. And I never had short hair after that....." His words drifted off into a trip down memory lane.
"Until today," I whispered softly in his ear.
Then my clippers cleared away the growth that had dangled over the same ear. The shorter Nick's hair was cut, the more manly looking he became.
With one side of his head clipped into a tight taper and the other flowing freely like a flower-power hippy boy, I said, "I'm going to take a 'during' picture so you can see your transformation mid-way though."
I showed him the photo and he laughed. "OMG! It's like I'm a split person. The cut side is so cool! You're a damn fine barber, Chris!"
"Must be in the genes. My grandpa cut hair for nearly 63 years!" I said proudly.
I picked up the tempo of the haircut, wanting to begin my final hand-crafting of the top. After clipping the sides and back, brutally short, I took the shears and began clearing the overgrowth from the top. With quick 'lift and cut' motions, I scissored off the remaining length. The short dense hair stood naturally erect. Then I took a huge, specialized comb and began leveling out the pile. Shorter and shorter I took it down.
Nick sat motionless. "Are you doing what I think you're doing?" he asked.
"You'll just have to wait. I'm not going to have your makeover spoiled.
Then I ran the clippers closely across the very top of his head and grazed off a slight landing strip to finish my masterpiece.
"Cha-na!" I called out, holding up a mirror.
"OMG! I love it. It so vintage!" Nick cried out spontaneously.
"Young, handsome blond men with flattops....it's really my favorite thing to see! And, I'd like to pair the new look with an oversized pair of black plastic frames. A real 1962 look, Nick! Here, I kept my grandpa's glasses in a drawer here. Let me put them on you. It'll just be a matter of changing the lenses and putting in clear glass."
Nick smiled widely. "Oh, yes! I love this new look! And some clunky wing-tip dress shoes. I will be more authentic than the most earnest hipster!" he exclaimed.
I fondled the clipped taper and the plush pile. "Does this give you the creeps?"
"On the contrary. I could sit here all day and let you do whatever you wanted to me, Chris," he murmured.
"Would you like to see the rest of my house, Nick....?" I said, withdrawing the cape and watching his long golden hair fall to the hardwood floor and collecting in shimmering piles.
"Yes, perhaps we can start with your upstairs.....now it's my turn to give you a treat," he whispered.