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The Day The Music Died by Deke Cutter (recovered)
The Day the Music Died
By Deke Cutter
The lights came on in the darkened room, Rick, still, groggy from a night`s partying after a successful gig at "The Great Unwashed," didn`t even move. The first thing he heard was a the scream of the air horn. He found himself jumping upright in the bed, the young girl next to him adding to the clamor by screeching loudly. Once he got his wits about him, he realized that it was his father who had picked up the air horn that sat on the dresser. "Dad! What the f&*#?" "Don`t you dare use that language with me Richie, and young lady, get some clothes on and I suggest you leave her immediately. I am sure your parents or the truant officer are out looking for you right now." "Aw babe, stay where you are." "With this crazy man in the room, no thanks Rick, I thought you were cool, I was wrong."
Rick came out of the shower 20 minutes later. He was towel drying his shoulder length wavy brown hair. His father handed him a cup of coffee and a stack of envelopes. Ominously, his father didn`t make any of his usual comments about Rick`s hair or need for a haircut. Instead, his dad dropped another bomb on him. "Richie, I just gave you a stack of unpaid bills: your rent, utilities, cell phone, and this big bill is already paid, your tuition. But, the University has now informed us of your suspension after a semester on academic probation. It seems you have had plenty of time for your rock and roll music, your disgusting exploits with young girls, and a generally dissolute lifestyle. IT STOPS NOW!"
"Come on dad, chill. So, I flunked out. I never liked this place anyway. The town is full of squares and I could do just as well at our local community college. Plus, I`d be closer to the city. I could get more work as a musicia..." "STOP RIGHT THERE MISTER. Yes, you will be coming home and going to the community college and yes you will be getting work, but it will not be as a musician. Your dreams of being the next "Jon Bovi", or what ever his name is, are on indefinite hold. You owe your mother and me over $10,000 and you will live at home with us, under our rules and conditions, until the bills are paid off and you have demonstrated that you can act like a mature young adult. Bulls@#$%, cried Rick, with all the bravado he could muster. There is no f*%&ing way... What ever was coming next didn`t make it out. Mr. Worth, at 6 feet 2 inches still had much of the physique and strength he had shown as an All-American linebacker at college 22 years ago. He had Rick in a headlock and dragged him into the grotty bathroom of Rick`s apartment and proceeded to wash his mouth out with soap. As Rick gagged and fought back, his father drug him back into the bedroom and pushed him down over the bed frame. He pulled off his belt and proceeded to give Rick 10 whacks across his an increasingly flame red buttocks. When he was done, a very subdued Rick lay there face down on the bed.
"I`m sorry son, but you have been out of control. You broke every promise you made to your mother and me when we let you move up here for school. Things are going to change" A chastened Richie, turned over and sat gingerly on the bed and said: "yes sir." The next few hours passed as they packed Richie`s possessions into the rental truck and took care of the administrivia of a move. At 1:30, Richie`s father told him to "get that mess on your head under control and lets go." Richie quickly put his hair into as neat a pony tail as he could and pulled on Mets hat to try to appease his dad who had been a huge Met fan all of Richie`s life.
As they pulled into town a couple of hours later, Richie`s father said, shall we stop at Burgerland for a late lunch?" Richie, trying his best to seem compliant said "sure thing dad." So, in they went. Richie didn`t notice the "help wanted" sign on the door, but Mr. Worth did. Richie excused himself to go to the toilet. When he came out, he found his father gesturing for him to come over and talk to a spotty looking high school kid in the standard Burgerland polyester shirt and paper hat. "Richie, this is Matt, he is the manager." "Hi" said Richie, trying to figure out what was wrong with his dad`s order that would require this little twerp`s involvement. "Matt thinks that he can offer you a job here. It minimum wage, but it will help you get back on your feet."
"Now, Mr. Worth, as I said, I would have to interview your son, and of course, he`d have to be willing to get a haircut. Burgerland is very strict regarding appearance and especially about male employees hair." Richie suddenly wanted to sit down. "Not to worry on that score," said Mr. Worth. "I`ll be taking Richie to the barber myself this afternoon. And if you hire him, all you need to do is let me know if he needs a trim or any other encouragement. Richie really wants this to work, don`t you Richie?" his father asked as he pointedly tightened his belt. Richie, remembering the sting of that belt, glumly answered. "Yes sir." The interview that followed, was, in anything, more depressing than the day had been so far for Richie. Matt made it clear that Burgerland expected staff to treat customers and managers with respect and deference and explained a series of demeaning and unpleasant tasks that Richie would be expected to carry out. Richie agreed to all the conditions asking only "how short does my hair have to be." "Well," Matt said, "there is some discretion allowed, but as a general rule, its got to be as short as the manager believes is appropriate. For starters, lets say that you get it cut as short as mine. I`ve got about three inches on the top and it needs to be nice and clean around the ears and tapered in the back. You`ll need to keep the bangs combed back and under our Burgerland hat." Matt, sensing the atmosphere between father and son said to Richie as he was leaving, "See you tomorrow first thing and remember your haircut should be at least as short as mine"
As they sat in the truck, Mr. Worth said, "well, lets go get that haircut taken care of. And I expect you to take this like a man, no attitude, no snarky comments. You go in there and ask for an `executive taper.`that is what Matt has, I`ve seen im at Tony`s" And so, father and son entered Tony`s Barber Shop, a place Richie had not visited in many years. "Well who is this, asked Tony, a kind man in his 40s with an old fashioned flat top haircut. This isn`t Richie, is it." "Yes Tony, its my son. He`s come home to stay with us for a while and he especially wanted to come in here to get his haircut. "Yes sir", Richie said as he sat in the chair, his bottom still sore from his earlier `attitude adjustment. "I`ve got a new job and need to get an `executive taper.` "One short, neat executive haircut coming up" said the barber. The barber made quick work of the poly tail, laying it aside and saying, not unkindly, "you have beautiful hair, you probably will want to keep this." Richie, overcome by emotion, could barely speak and just shook his head in ascent. The barber, then went to work with his clippers and comb, quickly taking Richie`s hair down to a tight taper on the sides and in the back. He then went to work with the scissors and then the thinning shears. Would you like me to finish it off with some product...I have them all? Richie`s dad spoke up, "Why don`t you just use that new Brylcream product that you use on me. That way we can share it at home." So, Richie was combed and powdered and the 20 year old rock star who entered the barber shop came out looking like a gangly teen.
Richie`s new life as a Burgerland clerk was pretty dismal. He found "Mr. Matt," as all staff had to call him, a petty tyrant. Matt relished embarrassing staff in front of customers. He would often call out Richie in front of the guys or especially the good looking girls who were in their general age group. Richie in his horrible green and yellow shirt and hat would have to take the abuse and simply say "Yes Mr. Matt, sorry Mr. Matt." But he did it. He was going to make this work, get back on his own, grow his hair back and get back to rock and roll. About three weeks in, Matt pushed Richie a step too far and Richie snapped at him, "Ok dude, we all get it, you are king." Matt, turned bright red, but only said, that remark will cost you. Richie thought he found out how when the schedule came out later and he had split shifts all the next week, opening and closing with a gaping hole in his day, in between, just the right time for chores around the house. But, when he got home from his shift that day, his father was waiting. "Richie, I had a call from your boss today.." But daddy" (Richie had taken to this more childlike form of address since his return home and after a couple more spankings). Oh come on son, you knew this could happen. Matt just said that you`re bangs are a bit unruly and he thinks its time for you get them cut. He suggested that we start with a flat top like Tony`s and we can always go for a buzz next if that doesn`t work. And so they were back at Tony`s and Richie was asking Tony for "a haircut just like yours." With his hair already short, Richie thought this would be quick, but Tony took his flat tops seriously and spent about half an hour perfecting Richie`s so that the landing strip was perfect, the sides even the taper perfect. When he was done waxing it up, even Richie had to admit (to himself) that this looked a lot better on him than that dorky executive taper. He still wanted his hair back, but, at least, this would get him some "street cred" back.
The next day, he went in to work and the first thing he did was to apologize to Matt for his outburst and to thank him for the new haircut. "Matt, I am really going to try to be a model employee. I hope you and I can work hard to make this place run smoothly." Matt, for the first time in his life was faced with a management challenge and he rose to it. He smiled and replied, "that is great Richie, I hope so too." Later that day, as the first part of his split shift was ending, Richie was leaving, having removed his hat and Burgershirt. Tony had given him one of the old fashioned flat top combs and he had made sure his hair looked good. As he was walking toward the car his folks let him drive to work. A gorgeous girl came up to him and said "Hi, are you in ROTC up at State, I know the guys are getting ready go back for the fall semester and that is one sharp flattie. I love a man who can make a flat top work. Richie smiled and introduced himself....To be continued....