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The Haunted Chair (Part 1 of 2) by JB


{{{ The Haunted Chair }}} Part 1 of 2


"Careful, Chuck. There's a pothole comin' up," Wade says. The two brothers have been
driving in Chuck's pickup for almost 2 hours through rolling, fir tree covered foothills.

"I see it," Chuck replies.

"Well then, I guess yer TRYIN' to hit the danged things. You've already hit three of
'em...that milkshake I had an hour ago is turnin' to cheese in my stomach."

Chuck grins and aims for the pothole in the road...[KERCLUNK].

Wade looks accusingly at his brother, "You ARE tryin' to hit 'em!"

"Just that one... a little jostling now and then is good exercise." Chuck looks at his
brother's middle-aged bulge and grins, "It looks like you could use some...now that yer
'over-the-hill', the big four-oh."

"Hmmph...Yer catchin' up to me, y'know. Two more years and it's the big four-oh for
you, too." Wade takes some satisfaction in pointing that out to his younger brother. He
looks at the road ahead, "I would'a thought you'd be more careful with yer truck
...slammin' into potholes like that is a good way t'get yerself a hefty repair bill."

"This is just an old beater truck I use for haulin' stuff. My pride 'n' joy, my shiny new '79
Ford Ranger is back home sittin' in my garage."

Chuck has been a barber for almost 10 years, since 1970, and is part owner of the
Campus Side Barbershop located near the university back home. A customer, a
researcher from the university, told him about an old barber chair he might be interested
in, located in a ghost town in the high-desert area of the state a couple of hours away.
But he'd have to act fast because the town is scheduled for demolition in 2 weeks.

Wade starts to tire of the long trip, "Well, this is a fine howdy-do. I travel across 3 state
lines for a visit and the first thing you do is stuff me into this truck, trundle me down 200
miles of bad road, and put me to work salvaging some old chair."

"It's gonna take two of us t'get that barber chair into the pickup...Besides, where's yer
sense of adventure?"

"Hmmph...back in my childhood, where I left it...I'm over-the-hill, remember?"

Chuck grins. His older brother has always been the practical down-to-earth type, having
little use for 'adventure'; completely opposite of himself.

For the last half-hour, the hills have been leveling out and the woods transitioning from
fir trees to pines mixed with juniper and sagebrush. They reach the top of a crest and see
a fairly modern town up ahead.

"Is that it?" Wade asks, "Huh, I was expecting an old-west kind of town...y'know, a ghost
town."

Chuck slows the truck to a halt just short of the town's Main Street. There's a sign next to
the road that's shot-up with bullet holes and the paint is peeling, but it's still legible,
"Mountain View, Pop. 7,200," Wade reads, "For a small town, that's pretty good sized
...and you say it's deserted?"

Chuck turns the truck's engine off, "Yep. A ghost town. Nobody here since 1964
...According to the university guy I know, it began as a logging camp around 1910. A
sawmill was built soon after that and, well it just grew from there...grocery store,
clothing store, gas stations, schools; everything you'd expect to see in a small town."

"So what happened? Where'd everybody go?"

"See that small lake on the other side of town?"

"Yeah. Nice."

"Nice and deadly...Notice how this whole area is in a kind of shallow depression? Well,
it turns out that the town of Mountain View was built in the caldera of an extinct
volcano. That is, they thought it was extinct. Down at the bottom of that lake is a
volcanic fissure, sorta like the Yellowstone geysers. Every so often it erupts and spews
forth a toxic cloud of gas; hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, stuff like that." Chuck
motions toward the town, "The main street in front of us acted like a channel, funneling
the deadly gas right down the center of town...anybody there at the time, well, they didn't
have a chance."

The brothers get out of the truck and walk down the street, looking about, until they're
standing in front of the barbershop. Chuck looks at the lettering on the window,
"Roy's Barbershop...fine old name for a fine old shop."

All the storefronts on the main street have been vandalized over the years; windows
broken; doors left ajar. The barbershop however, is still intact; seemingly untouched by
time.

Wade, "Huh...why do ya suppose all the shops have been trashed except this one?"

Chuck, "Maybe the vandals were long-haired hippies and were too scared to enter the
barbershop." They laugh.

Chuck does a stoned hippy impersonation: "Hey man, I'm not goin' in there. That place
looks bogus, man. A medieval torture chamber."

Wade laughs, "Yeah...Hippy Hell." He glances down the street, "You sure that lake isn't
gonna erupt while we're here?"

"Well, not 100% sure. But the scientists have studied tree rings in the area and they say it
blows every 50 years, give or take...The last one was 15 years ago, in '64, so they don't
expect another one for at least 30 years or more...but who knows."

"Hmm, I remember reading about it now. They said there were bodies layin' around
everywhere...adults, kids; at least a hundred."

Chuck looks down the street, silently picturing the scene at that time, "...After they
bulldoze the town they're gonna put up a barrier fence with DANGER signs everywhere
to keep people out..." He snaps out of his melancholy reverie, "So, what d'ya say we get
that chair and hightail it out'a here."

"Don't have'ta tell ME twice...this place gives me the willies."

Chuck fishes a key out of his shirt pocket, "The guy from the university said this key
should fit the lock." He inserts the key, "Huh, it's already unlocked. Weird." They enter
the shop.

Chuck, "Wow. Look at this place...it's pristine; nothing out of place...It's like the barber
just stepped out for lunch and will be back in an hour."

Wade looks around nervously, "Yet, we're the first guys to be in here since 1964,
amazing...kinda gives ya the shivers, doesn't it?"

Chuck picks up and old magazine and tosses it back down, "That means the last haircut
was given in '64 too...Other than the occasional pompadour, I bet this place has never
seen a long hairstyle. Just butches, crewcuts, flattops, and tapercuts...There's our chair
...what a classic!" He examines the barber chair close-up, "Maroon colored leather
upholstery, chromed footrest, white enameled cast iron base- yessiree, definitely worth
the trip."

Wade's expression turns somber, "Wonder if anyone was in the chair when the gas hit."

"Well, thanks for THAT bit of imagery dear brother," Chuck says sarcastically,
"...There's some nice old clippers here too, with a bunch of blade attachments...Think we
should take them too?"

"I don't see why not...you said this whole place is comin' down in a few days anyway
...That's a nice hand mirror there, too."

Chuck scans the old shop for other treasure, "And that framed wall mirror would go great
in my shop...There's lots'a stuff here we could rescue...even that hatrack...Well, let's pull
the truck up and get the chair in first. We can stow the other stuff around it. Good thing I
brought all those thick blankets for padding."
__________

- One week later -

The Campus Side Barbershop is a mishmash of old and new. The 3-chair shop was built
in the late '50s and remodeled in the early '70s with all the decor one would expect from
that era: brightly colored formica countertops, oak cabinets and shelves, chrome-and-
vinyl waiting area chairs, and recessed lighting. More recently, 2 potted plants have been
added to make the place seem more trendy. A few relics from the original '50s shop still
remain: an old 1930s console radio sits between the waiting area chairs (it still works),
some framed black-and-white vintage photos of high school and college football teams,
and a couple of posters proclaiming the virtues of Butch Wax and Wildroot hair cream.

On most days, like today, there are 2 barbers in the shop and 3 on the busy weekends.
Currently however, there is only 1 barber, Vern, just getting started on a customer.
Chuck has been in and out, installing the old rescued barber chair and some of the other
salvaged items. A college student in his mid 20's waits his turn next to the old radio.

The bell above the door jangles as 3 teenagers enter and make themselves comfortable in
the chairs against the wall. Scott, Derek, and Matt are high school seniors. They grew up
in the same neighborhood and have been buddies for as long as any of them can
remember.
They're typical teens with long, center-parted, feathered-back layered haircuts, all except
Derek- he wears his dark brown hair unparted, just a long shaggy bowlcut. None of them
have any ears, apparently.
Matt is wearing a T-shirt that says "Property of Benton High School Athletic Dept.".
Scott has a T-shirt that says "Class of '79". Derek is wearing a football jersey with the
school's nickname- "Mustangs" emblazoned on the front and back. They've been coming
to the Campus Side Barbershop for many years and they know Chuck well. He's their
regular barber and they prefer to have him cut their hair.

"Hey, Vern. Where's Chuck?" Scott asks, "Isn't he working today?"

Vern looks up from his work, "Oh yeah. He's here." He points his humming clippers
toward the old barber chair, "He brought that chair in a while ago; said he had to go
home and get some other stuff. He'll be back any minute now, if ya wanna wait for 'im."

"Yeah, we'll wait. We're not in any hurry."

After a couple of minutes, Chuck returns to the shop carrying a box with the old clippers,
attachments, and hand mirror inside. He spots the teens sitting against the wall, "Hey
guys, perfect timing! Just got this classic barber chair up 'n' ready t'go." He removes the
things from the box and lays them out on the counter, "I put that old mirror up on the
wall behind you, too...and that hatrack standin' next to ya."

Scott gets snarky and adopts a cowboy accent, "Yep, we'll be sure'n hang our Stetsons on
thet there rack next time we come moseyin' in, partner." His buddies snicker.

Chuck grins mischievously, "Oh, a wise guy, huh?" He brandishes the rescued clippers,
"I just got these old clippers, too. How 'bout I test 'em out on that golden haystack of
yours? Mow ya down to a nice flattop." The teens laugh.

Chuck pats the barber chair, "This old chair hasn't been used since 1964. Thought I was
gonna have'ta get it restored, but the chrome is still shiny and the leather is still supple
...So which one of you jokers is goin' first?"

Matt looks over at the college guy, "I think it's yer turn, you've been waitin' longer than
us."

He responds, "You sure? I don't mind waiting. Looks like you guys know each other
pretty well."

Chuck, "Yeah, I've been cuttin' these guys' hair since they were pickin' their noses in
grade school. They always come in together, too; guess they travel in packs," he grins,
"Go ahead and climb into the chair, these bozos can wait. They've got nothin' better to
do, school's out for the week; Spring vacation...Haven't seen you in here before; you a
first-timer?"

The college guy gets up and walks toward the old barber chair. He has a side-parted,
long layercut that just about covers his ears, with bushy sideburns that extend down the
sides of his cheeks, "Yeah, I just moved here recently to attend college. I'm studying to
be an electrical engineer...Hope to be working on that new dam they're going to build up
the river from here."

The college guy steps into the chair as Chuck unfurls the cape, "Looks like we got us a
thinkin-man here." He motions toward the teens, "The 3 Stooges there wouldn't know
about that," he grins.

"Hey, we get good grades...sorta."

As Chuck throws the cape around his customer, the college guy's jaw goes slack and his
eyes glaze over for a second. The flurry of the cape distracts the others and they don't
notice the momentary odd look.

The ghost/spirit/essence of Rusty, a scrawny redheaded 10 year old from 1963 and
former resident of the town of Mountain View has entered the college guy's mind and
body. Rusty sees his reflection in the old mirror and flattens his 1 1/2 inch bangs onto his
forehead. Outwardly, the others see the college guy flatten his 4 inch bangs, nearly
covering his eyes.

Chuck, "So what're we doin' today? Just a regular trim?"

Rusty/college guy says in a slightly higher tone of voice, "Naw, Dad says I gotta get my
summer haircut now that school's out, you know, a crewcut, like I always do."

Chuck smirks, "A crewcut!...Aren't you a little old to be havin' yer dad choose yer
haircut?"

Rusty/college guy nods his head vigorously, "That's what I told him, and boy howdy did
he get mad! I told 'im all my friends were growin' their hair longer but he didn't care
about that and he said he'd take his belt to me if I sassed him again...so I'm here t'get my
summer crewcut, like I always do," he says dejectedly.

The 3 teens give each other sideways glances, not knowing what to make of this sudden
behavior from a guy who seemed like a mature adult one minute and a weak-willed kid
the next.

Rusty/college guy looks at the teens, "Wow, wish I could grow my hair long like you
guys; bet yer dad doesn't make YOU get summer haircuts like my dad does...um...are
YER dads making you gets crewcuts too?" he asks, hoping he isn't the only one getting a
summer buzzcut.

"Uhh, no."

"I didn't think so..." he says, crestfallen, "Maybe when I'm a little older, like you."

Matt furrows his brow and looks at his friends, "Is this guy for real?" he says quietly.
Scott, "He must be jokin' around, pullin' our leg."

Derek shrugs and grins, "Well then, let's play along." He looks back at the college
guy/Rusty, "What would yer dad do if ya got a longer haircut, y'know, somethin' besides
a crewcut?"

"I'd get a whuppin', that's what!"

The teens laugh.

"It's not funny, it HURTS!"

They laugh harder.

Chuck is getting a little impatient and more than a little confused. He'd expected the
inaugural haircut in this old chair would be a pleasant experience, "This guy is either a
jokester or a weirdo," he thinks, "not at all what I was hopin' for."

"OK guys," he says, "that's enough playin' around..." He turns his attention to his
customer, "So, ya really want a crewcut, huh?"

"Well...no. But I gotta, so yes."

Chuck sighs in exasperation, "OK then...yer gettin' a crewcut...how short do ya want it?"

Rusty/college guy holds up his thumb and forefinger, indicating somewhere between 1/2
and 3/4 of an inch, "Bout this long...but not TOO long or my dad'll get mad and shave
my head like he did last time."

The 3 teens can see that Chuck is getting a little upset and they don't want to make things
worse, but they can't stop from snickering anyway.

Chuck, "So about 5/8 of an inch on top?"

"Yeah, I guess...and make it kinda flat, too...Dad likes it when that stripe goes down the
middle."

"The landing strip?"

"I dunno what it's called but you can see the top of yer head showin' through when it's
flat on top...Dad likes that," he repeated.

Chuck sighs again, "OK then, a flattop crew...anything else I should know before I start
cuttin' yer hair?" He almost adds 'kid' at the end of his question.

Rusty/college guy thinks about it, then adds, "...Make sure ya cut it real short here too,"
he sweeps his hand up through his bushy sideburns and continues to the back of his
neck, "Y'know, so it's all bare around my ears and stuff...Dad likes that, too."

"whitewalls?"

"Yeah, that's what my dad called it. Only, don't go TOO high OK? Just up a little ways."

"You got it." Chuck reaches for a pair of close-cutting edger clippers, gives the cord a
shake to free it up, and switches the clippers on with a [CLACK] and a [hummm]. Using
a comb to hold the college guy's side hair up and out of the way, he positions the
clippers at the bottom of one of his well-developed sideburns and plows upward over his
cheek leaving a bare swath in its wake. Due to the width and sheer volume of the
sideburns, he has to make several more passes before the cheek is laid bare. He walks to
the other side of the chair and does the same to his other sideburns.

The 3 teens watch this with amused curiosity; not paying too close attention. The college
guy's appearance hasn't changed much yet. They're waiting for the main event, which is
about to start.

Chuck swaps out the edger for a pair of heavy-duty rotary clippers. As they begin to
[whrrrr], he again lifts the college guy's side hair and runs the clippers up through the
thick bulk, removing a hefty clump which falls onto his shoulders and tumbles into his
lap. With quick repetition he performs the action over and over, working around to the
back and finishing up on the other side.

At this stage, the college guy's hair looks like a very choppy tapercut; close around the
ears and mushrooming out near the top in an exaggerated, comical fashion. His top hair
is flopping down irregularly in all directions. The 3 teens are paying closer attention
now, offering up smirks and chuckles every few seconds.

The rotary clippers are switched off and put away, allowing them to cool down like an
over-ridden horse. Chuck grabs the pair of old rescued clippers and attaches its 5/8 inch
butch comb. After dribbling a drop of oil on the blades, the clippers are switched on,
making a raucous clattery sound. Chuck tweaks the adjustment screw and the clippers
settle down to their usual [hummm].

Chuck lifts the college guy's bangs off his forehead and places the clippers at his
hairline. The 3 teens crane their necks to get a better view, their mouths slightly agape.
Chuck shoves the clippers up and over the top; a clump of cut hair builds up on the butch
comb until the clippers are lifted away at the back. The clump rolls off and falls silently
onto the floor leaving a 2 inch wide swath of short hair standing upright down the center
of the college guy's head.

"Geez," Scott whispers, "he's actually going through with it...he's gettin' a crewcut!"
There's some nervous snickering from his buddies.

As his salon-styled layercut hits the floor, the college guy/Rusty seems disinterested,
bored even. He glances around at the shop's decor, looks out the front window and, from
time to time, catches a glimpse of his reflection in the old mirror, seeing his hair get
buzzed down as if it were a familiar routine- which it was.

Being a little perturbed by the weirdness of his customer, Chuck feels a sense of glee as
he mows down the college guy's hair one swath at a time, like a farmer harvesting wheat.

The old clippers go quiet as Chuck removes the butch comb attachment, leaving the
college guy with an all-over 5/8 inch buzzcut. Rusty/college guy looks in the mirror and
feels the top of his head, "Gee, wish I could leave it like this. Then it wouldn't take so
long to grow back again."

Seeing the college guy's butched hair, Derek involuntarily reaches up and feels his own
hair. After a second or two he realizes what he's doing and sheepishly looks around to
see if anyone noticed. He grins when he sees Matt doing the same thing. Matt looks back
at him, "What," he says.

The old clippers start to [hummm] again, minus the butch comb, as Chuck whitewalls the
college guy's sides 2 inches above his ears and up the back of his neck. Using an
upward-and-outward motion with the clippers he blends the stubbly whitewalls with the
longer 5/8 inch hair, "Short enough for ya?" Chuck asks.

Rusty/college guy nods his head forlornly, "Yeah. You shaved it up higher than I
wanted, but my dad'll like it like that."

Chuck switches back to the edger clippers and begins removing the stubble around the
college guy's ears and the base of his neck, leaving nothing but bare skin, "Yer dad'll
REALLY like this then," he says sarcastically.

By now, the novelty of the college guy's weirdness has worn off and the 3 teens aren't
even snickering anymore. Like Chuck, they aren't sure if the guy is joking around or just
plain crazy. But they're still curious and amused by the sight of a guy, not unlike
themselves, getting buzzed down to a tight crewcut.

Having finished the sides, Chuck focuses on flattening the top of the college guy's
crewcut. Using a flattopper comb and the old clippers, he crouches down a bit so he's
level with the top of the college guy's head. He holds the comb flat and level and slides
the clippers over the top, sending a flurry of short hairs onto the guy's face.

Rusty/college guy reaches up and brushes the hair away, moving his head this way and
that. Chuck quickly lifts the clippers away, "Whoa there, bud. Hold still or you'll end up
with another shaved head."

"Sorry. It tickles...and my name isn't Bud, it's Rusty."

"OK then, Rusty. Glad t'meet ya. My name's Chuck."

Rusty furrows his brow, "I thought yer name was Roy."

"Nope. Chuck. Always has been." Chuck repositions the comb and takes several more
swipes across the top with the clippers, leveling off Rusty/college guy's crewcut, "So
how's that for a landing strip? Will that make yer dad happy?"

Rusty/college guy looks into the old wall mirror and bobs his head around, seeing his
white scalp flashing down the center. He reaches up and feels the crunchy, stiff hair
forming his landing strip, "Yeah, Dad'll be REAL happy...you made it even shorter than
last time." He resigns himself to having a short summer crewcut once again, "...oh well."

As Chuck dusts the loose hair away from the college guy's face he wonders what the guy
meant by 'shorter than last time', "This guy said he's a first-timer," he thinks, "how can
there be a 'last time'?...hell, this guy's nuttier 'n a squirrel in a peanut butter factory."

When Chuck removes the cape, Rusty/college guy bounds out of the chair and walks
toward the door. Halfway there he stops. His eyes glaze over briefly and Rusty leaves the
college guy's body, going back to wherever it was he came from, or perhaps, to wherever
it was he was going.

Chuck watches the college guy with disbelief; he calls out, "Hey! How about payin' for
yer haircut, Rusty?"

The college guy stops and seems confused. He thinks, "Why am I standing here?" He
turns and looks at Chuck, "You mean me? My name's not Rusty, it's Tom...and why
would I pay for a haircut I haven't gotten yet?"

Chuck slaps the top of the old chair in exasperation and motions at Tom's crewcut, "Well
what d'ya call that, then!"

Tom frowns uncomprehendingly and looks at himself in one of the wall mirrors. The
frown is quickly replaced with utter shock, "What the hell?..." He puts his hand firmly on
top of his head, "...What the hell!", he repeats loudly, "You did this?...When?...What the
hell!...I must've fallen asleep in the chair, except I don't remember doing that...and even
if I did, what gives you the right to cut a guy's hair off just because he falls asleep on
you!" He walks closer to the mirror, "Oh man! You even skinned it up the sides..." He
brushes his hand across his landing strip, "I look like a Marine!"

Chuck still isn't sure what game this guy is playing, "Now listen here, 'Tom' or 'Rusty' or
whatever yer name is, yer the one who said ya wanted a crewcut. I thought you were
joking at first, but you insisted, so that's what ya got- a flattop crewcut with whitewalls,
just like yer dad wanted...and you weren't asleep either, you were wide awake."

"My dad? What's he got to do with it?...And you're saying that I told you to give me
this...crewcut?"

Derek is just as confused as everyone else but feels the need to defend his friend, "You
did, man...you asked for a crewcut just like Chuck said...everybody here heard you say
it."

Tom looks around and sees a lot of nodding. He shakes his head in disbelief, "This is
crazy...you're all crazy."

Vern, the other barber in the shop, breaks his silence, "He's right, son. You got the
haircut you asked for...so maybe you should pay up?"

Tom has had as much as he can stand, "Fine!" He whips out his wallet and tosses a 5
dollar bill, "You're the one who should be paying ME!"

He storms out of the shop, still managing to find time to sweep his hand up the back of
his bare, bristly neck.

As Tom walks down the sidewalk, his voice can still be heard inside the barbershop,
"What the hell?!..."

Inside the shop, everyone is looking around at each other with disturbed, yet amused
expressions.

"Has this ever happened before?" Scott asks, half grinning.

"Not since I've been here," Chuck says, starting to get his composure back. Vern picks
the money up off the floor and puts it on the counter, "Me neither. This is a first."

Matt grins, "Well, he did say he was a first-timer. Guess he meant a first time for what
just happened here." He gets a bit of a chuckle from the others, which lightens the mood
in the shop.

Chuck strives to lighten the mood even further by being his usual chipper self, "So who's
next...Matt? Is that you? I didn't know you were here...thought maybe someone had
brought their sheepdog in for a shearing."

Matt grins, "Gee, that's so funny I forgot to laugh." His buddies begin to snicker, which
Chuck takes as a good sign that things are returning to normal.

"Have a seat and I'll see what I can do about that shaggy black mane of yers.

As Matt climbs into the chair, the barbershop phone [RING, RINGS] and Chuck lifts the
receiver from the wall, "Y'ello. Campus Side Barbershop..."After a few seconds he takes
a couple steps over to the appointment book, stretching the phone cord, "How about
tomorrow?..."

As Matt waits in the chair, he goes slack-jawed and glassy eyed for a moment, just like
the college guy before him. Matt is now inhabited by the ghost of Arnie Gunderson, a
burly 40 year old logger from 1955. He is/was a part-time resident of Mountain View,
spending some of his time in a logging camp 30 miles from town.

As the one-sided phone conversation continues, Arnie/Matt remembers that he's still
wearing his wide-brimmed hard hat. He steps out of the chair again and hangs it on the
old hatrack, leaving his wavy black hair plastered to his forehead. He looks at himself in
the familiar old mirror on the wall, "Hmm, maybe I should'a cleaned up some before
headin' back to civilization." He reaches up and scratches the heavy dark stubble on his
face. His well-worn logger boots are caked with dried mud, as are the thick wool socks
stuffed into them. His torn and mossy dungarees are held up with broad, red suspenders
over a heavy-duty hickory stripe work shirt that's stained with dirt and sweat. His chest
hair is spilling over the neckline of his shirt. He adjusts his collar and tugs on his
suspenders.

Arnie turns and climbs back into the barber chair, leaving chunks of dried mud on the
floor. The others in the shop simply see Matt retake his seat after preening in the mirror.

Chuck finishes with the phone and begins caping up Arnie/Matt, "So what'll it be Matt,
the usual?"

Arnie doesn't realize Chuck is talking to him, not recognizing Matt's name. After a
second he answers in a deep, gruff voice (for a teen), "Who me?..Naw, I'm gonna be up
in a logging camp for a few months," he reaches up and pushes his bangs away, "I don't
want this mess gettin' in my eyes. Gimme a close butch, quarter inch on top, skin it
around the ears and up the sides a ways, will ya?"

Scott and Derek look at each other and grin, "What's Matt doing?" Scott asks quietly.
Derek replies, "Did he say butch?" "I guess he's jokin' around like that other guy...like
he's actin' in a play or somethin'."

Chuck frowns, "Matt, Are you sayin' you want a butch cut?"

Arnie furrows his heavy brow, "That's the second time you called me 'Matt'. I'm Arnie,
Arnie Gunderson, remember? I've been comin' here t'get my ears lowered for years...And
yeah, gimme a butch, like I said."

Chuck looks at Scott and Derek for a clue. Derek shrugs and grins. Chuck suspects that
Matt is continuing the college guy's joke, "Look Matt, if yer goofin' around like that
other guy, why I'll give ya just what yer askin' for...a nice, close, whitewalled butch.
How does THAT sound?"

Arnie is partly concerned and partly perturbed, "You feelin' OK, Roy? Yer not bein'
yerself today. Now gimme that butch like I asked...I've got work t'do." He shifts his
clodhopper boots on the footrest, causing some more clumps of dried mud to fall off,
"...Sorry about the mess on yer floor, there."

Chuck looks at the floor but doesn't see anything. He thinks, "What's Matt talkin'
about?...and why'd he call me Roy?" Losing his patience, he follows up on his threat,
"Well OK then, one quarter-inch butch with whitewalls comin' right up."

"Bout time." Arnie answers.

Chuck grabs the old clippers off the hook and slips the quarter inch butch comb over the
blades. [CLACK, hummm]. He lifts Matt's long bangs and shoves the clippers down the
middle of his head.

Derek's eyes open wide, "No way!" He and Scott laugh nervously.

Arnie looks at the two teens as if noticing them for the first time, "What're you two
laughin' at? Ain'tcha never seen a guy get a haircut before?...Maybe not, seein' as it looks
like ya never been to a barber in a month o' Sundys. Good lord, what a shaggy mess!
...Roy, you be sure'n take these boys down good 'n' short...their dads'll thank ya for it."

Scott and Derek look at each other, a little amused, a little worried.

It takes Chuck only a minute to buzz Matt/Arnie down to an all-over 1/4 inch butch.
"Hmm," Chuck thinks, "I thought for sure that seein' himself get butched would freak 'im
out; make 'im stop playin' this game...well let's see if a pair of whitewalls will snap him
out of it."

Chuck gives Matt one last chance to stop his ongoing joke. He clears his throat and
announces in an obvious manner, "OK 'Arnie'. Ready for a big ol' set of white-
sidewalls?"

Arnie/Matt grins, "Now yer talkin'. And don't be asceered ta press them clippers hard up
the sides, neither...Ain't nothin' worse than yer hair pokin' over yer ears from under yer
hard hat...it itches like hell."

Derek grins at Scott, "I never heard Matt talk like that before."

Scott, "I didn't know he COULD talk like that...You won't catch ME gettin' butched over
some bogus joke....he's crazy."

Chuck removes the butch comb from the old clippers and flicks the switch [hummm],
"So ya want me t'peel it real high, huh?"

"That's right, clear-cut it. The higher, the better; it's gotta last awhile."

"All right, then." Chuck holds the clippers horizontally, high up on Matt's temple and
clears a swath on the side of his head near the top all the way to the back. He does the
same on the other side, leaving Matt/Arnie with a bare white stripe all around his head
with his quarter inch black-haired butch above and below.

Scott can't keep himself from snickering, "He looks like an Oreo...Geez."

Chuck clear-cuts all of the logger/Matt's hair below the stripe, giving him the set of high
whitewalls he asked for. He reaches for the edger clippers and removes the slight stubble
left behind by the old clippers.

As Chuck starts to blend the abrupt edge where the velvety top hair meets the bare sides,
Arnie stops him, "Don't bother messin' around up there, Roy. Nobody's gonna see it
under my hard hat anyway."

"Suit yerself," he says and then thinks, "That's the second time he's called me 'Roy'
...Where've I heard that name before?...Guess he's just copying what that college guy
called me...but then, why did THAT guy call me Roy?"

Chuck uses the duster brush on Matt/Arnie and gives him the old hand mirror. Arnie
firmly runs his hand across his butched top a few times, "Yeah, I reckon that'll keep the
hair out'a my eyes for a spell." He rubs the heavy stubble on his face, "Guess I'll take
care of these whiskers myself, back at the camp." This strikes his buddies as hilarious
since Matt has a baby-smooth face.

The logger/teen climbs out of the chair, reaches for his wallet, and gives Chuck a dollar,
"Here ya go, Roy. Don't spend it all in one place."

Chuck looks annoyed, "Uhh, Matt, Arnie? Whatever yer name is, haircuts are still 5
dollars."

Arnie looks aghast, "5 bucks! for a haircut? Why, that's highway robbery. Iffin' I'd
knowed that, I would'a just singed my hair off in the campfire!" He pays anyway and
heads for the door, grabbing his hard hat from the hatrack on the way out.

Derek asks, "Where's Matt goin'? Isn't he gonna wait here for us like we usually do?"

Scott replies, "Didn't ya hear? He's got work t'do. Guess he's headin' back to his logging
camp to singe all those whiskers off his face." They burst out laughing. Chuck grins,
even though he's still a bit miffed.

Outside, Arnie/Matt walks past a few shops, his heavy boots clomping on the sidewalk.
He stops in front of a furniture store as he notices one of his leather bootlaces has come
undone. "Golldang it!" he says, and kneels down to tie the lace.

Matt's eyes glaze over.

Having completed his unfinished business, Arnie Gunderson leaves his temporary body
and moves on. Matt finishes tying the shoelace on his Nikes, stands, and reaches up to
brush the lanky bangs out of his eyes as usual. Only this time there isn't any hair to brush
away, "Hmm..." He tries again, this time reaching higher, and feels the soft bristles on
his head, "What the...?" he says. He sees a mirror on display in the furniture store
window and looks at his reflection, "Where's my hair!..." He slaps his hands on top his
head, "I've been butched!..and whitewalled!..How the hell did this happen!..And when?"
He plops down on a bench outside the store, gets up to look at himself in the mirror
again, then sits on the bench once more, "What the hell happened?" Matt experimentally
runs his hand forward across the top of his head, noticing how soft and velvety his hair
feels. Then he swipes his hand backward toward the rear and is surprised at how stiff and
bristly it feels. Visually, it looks the same either way. But to Matt, it feels like every hair
is going against the grain. He smoothes it forward again, "Why can't I remember what
happened?...Did I join the Marines?"


- Continues on Part 2




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