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The Pine Ridge Barber by Kaleb McKinley
The Pine Ridge Barber
The time had come for me to do what I had been promising myself that I would do for years. I would move from the city where I was born and raised and settle in a small town about sixty miles away. I owned a security and computer-based business that I could operate from almost anywhere. My childhood hometown wasn’t extremely large, but I had grown tired of the traffic and the hustle and bustle. My new life would afford me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy things that I had been missing. I was single, the self-proclaimed bachelor who wouldn’t be tied down. At thirty-nine years old, my family had long since stopped asking when I would settle down with a nice girl. In fact, I have a cousin or two who might have begun to wonder if I was gay. The fact is I didn’t know what I was. I didn’t necessarily have feelings one way or the other. The only thing I could be sure of was I got excited about barber shops.
I don’t know why. Barber shops? What in the world is that all about? I could almost hear the questions, had anyone known. It was a little slice of my life that I kept to myself. As I understood it from my ventures on the internet, many gay men didn’t even understand this particular fetish. For many years, I thought there was something inherently wrong with me, but, over time, the amount of material that I found online suggested that, while it is a subculture, I am definitely not the only one to get aroused by barber shop activities. I also came to accept the fact that I was turned on by not only men’s haircuts, but by men in general.
My business was successful and it required me to travel. I can’t recount to you the lost time I’ve had as I would look up the addresses of old fashioned barber shops and then set out to find them. I’d drive by and was many times disappointed to find that "old fashioned" meant there was a barber pole outside, nothing more. The rest of the shop would be modern in every way. Some of them had women sitting next to men in stylists’ chairs. To my dismay, a few even had female barbers, who I had never been fond of, standing behind the chairs wielding scissors and providing mediocre cuts. What a bummer and a waste of time. My most fruitful trips came when I visited small towns. So many of the shops appeared to have been virtually unchanged since the mid-1900s. Large plate glass windows framed a picture-perfect view of old barber chairs with worn leather and scuffed chrome. Part of the Saturday Evening Post nostalgia was the sight of men, heads down, being clipped close or necks full of white shaving lather dispensed from one of those silver hot lather machines. A welcome treat was being lucky enough to witness one of the men fully reclined in one of those big, sturdy barber chairs. Those old chairs, well crafted by Koken, Paidar, Kochs or Belmont are the performance stages of the barbering business, where the guy is on display for the world, or, at least, the town, to see.
I came to love small towns. Not only for their barber shops, but for their ways of life. The people seemed happier and friendlier and I wanted some of that. So, while the search for barber shops didn’t precipitate my decision to move, it certainly didn’t discourage it. In fact, I didn’t even scour this town for a barber shop. From my current residence, this town happened to be about fifty miles closer to one of my biggest and most demanding clients. The decision was simple. I would find a small office space to rent in the downtown area of this community and set up my operation. This would put me in short driving distance from my clients and my family. My single life with no children allowed me to save money over the years, so I would put a large down payment on a house and live my dream.
The town of Pine Ridge had about 4,500 people according to the latest data available online. That would be 4,501 now. My biggest disappointment was that the town appeared to have no barber shop. I couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t big, but it was certainly large enough to employ a barber, especially since there were at least three factories on the outskirts of town that provided work to many men. "Hmm", I thought. "That doesn’t make sense". There had to be one. I’d find it.
In the days that followed my decision, my life was a whirlwind. Needless to say, my barber fetish was the last thing on my mind. I had located a small 900 square foot office space downtown through my realtor who had also found a house for me. I signed the office lease practically sight unseen! I was more concerned with my new home since I was purchasing it and once I accepted the mortgage, the house and any associated problems would be mine to pay. A moving company was hired to pack up my furniture and everything else in my old house, bring it to my new place and set things up. I would focus on my office. Everything was falling into place.
It was a clear Wednesday morning in May just before daybreak when I pulled out of my driveway at 111 Birchfield Road for the last time. Pine Ridge, here I come! With some cool old tunes pumping out of the speakers and a large cup of coffee, I made great time on the interstate. As I drove up Main Street in Pine Ridge, the sun had come up and the day was bright, shiny and warm, matching my disposition. I turned off onto a side street just before my office and used the one lane back alley to access my back door. The next five hours were spent unpacking and getting my desks in place. As I moved to the front office which had a large window looking out onto Main Street, I noticed something that I hadn’t before. My heart felt like it missed a beat. There, right in front of me, was a barber shop! A real man’s barber shop with two large plate glass windows on either side of a door with full length glass and two old barber chairs with a razor strop hanging on the side of each. From the looks of the matching chairs, they were either Koken or Belmont. The red, white and blue striped barber pole was spinning, inviting men to come inside.
How did I miss that?!? I guess that the how is not important, but thank goodness that this little office was right across the street! Of course, this front room would be where I decided to set up my personal office with my desk facing the window.
As I regained my composure, I set my sight on the man sitting in the chair closest to the window. He was about 45 or so, with jeans and boots. The rest of his body was covered up with a cape that appeared to be sealed tightly at his neck. A small portion of a white towel was peeking up from the white cape with the print of the clippers, straight razors and combs across it. I assumed the work truck parked on the side of the street just past the shop was his. His hair, at present, was a standard length businessman’s cut with a slightly tapered neckline that had become shaggy and short sideburns that had lost their sharp definition since his last barber shop visit. I realized I was staring, so I sat down where my desk should be and pretended to look through my packed boxes. As I was sneaking another look and wondering what haircut he would get, I notice that the barber was partially in view standing behind the chair but turned to his left with his head bowed down slightly. He appeared to have something in his hands. The barber stood about 5’10" with somewhat wide shoulders, dressed in the traditional barber’s jacket. I could not see his pants as my view was obstructed by his "shoe/boot shine available" sign. As he turned to his customer in the chair, my eyes widened and my heart fell into my stomach.
He was a SHE!
The person that I thought was a man was actually a stout woman. Her legs were now in view and I could clearly see a white skirt just below the knee. I was a bit dumbfounded. Her hair was predominantly white with streaks of brown and was styled in what can be best described as "old lady". She appeared to be around sixty and slightly heavyset. My perfect view was now a disappointment. "An old lady barber giving old lady barber haircuts", I thought. As I glanced up again, the two appeared to have a very brief conversation. As I was about to move on, I saw her left hand roughly push the man’s head forward as her right hand brought up a large Oster clipper. In the blink of an eye, a large swath of hair was sheared from the back of his head and tumbled down to the floor behind the chair. The action must have startled him because he moved his head up slightly. It was like watching an old silent movie. She firmly returned his head to its proper position and, judging by the movement of her lips, she said something rather loudly. My stomach suddenly had butterflies. I couldn’t believe that I was actually watching this. Her clippers cut another path up to the crown.
Just as she twisted his head to the side, I heard someone call out "Mr. Thomas?". It was my landlord. He had come through the unlocked back door. Of all times for him to show up. Why now? "Hi, there, Mr. Sanders, I said, trying to hide my aggravation. He was only checking up on me to see if I was getting settled in alright. I shouldn’t be annoyed, but, damn it, I’m missing what appears to be a great haircut. "Just call me Ralph", the old man said happily. I returned with, "Thank you. Please call me Scott." He laughed a jovial laugh as though I had just told the joke of the century. "Let me show you a couple of things here in the building, my boy", he stated. It’s a 900 square foot building. What on Earth could he possibly need to show me? "And, I want you to meet my business partner. He’s waiting in the car", my effervescent landlord said as he led me down the hall. His business partner turned out to be his son, Kevin, a good looking guy about twenty-five years younger than his fifty-five year old dad and every bit as friendly. Our ensuing conversation lasted for exactly thirty-six minutes. Believe me, I had checked the clock. "Well, we’ve kept you much too long", Ralph said in his trademark loud voice. "We’ll be going now and we’ll let you get back to it. I know you’re busy", he said as he started his car. I waved as he and ol’ Junior drove away.
Racing back to the front of the building, I knew I would be too late. I was right. The chair was empty, but as my eyes darted to the right, I noticed the customer was getting his ball cap from the hat rack in the corner. The barber took a seat in the now vacant barber chair. I couldn’t help but notice she looked rather pleased with herself although I wouldn’t say she was smiling. It was more of a smug look, as though she had accomplished what she set out to do. He began to put on his cap, but quickly the old lady barber pointed in his direction and said something. He lowered his hand that held the cap as he opened the door and stepped onto the sidewalk, It felt as though my blood raced from my head to dick when I saw that she had ‘shoed him perfectly. He was sporting a razor shaved horseshoe flattop and I had missed it! He stopped at the bed of his truck and looked at something in the back. As he bent over, I got my first good view of a landing strip that made me weak in the knees. As he got into his truck, he didn’t dare put his cap back on, at least, not until he got out of the view of Pine Ridge’s strict lady barber.
Just then a truck from the electric company parked across the street just before reaching the barber shop. The worker emerged from his truck, put on his safety belt and began to climb the electric line pole nearest the shop. His hair was mostly covered by his company-issued cap, but I could see it was brown and had been blocked in the back during his last cut. He quickly came down the pole and crossed the street. He entered a couple of the businesses, remaining for a few seconds and then coming out. He finally got to my office. He entered and smiled saying "I hate to inconvenience you, but you may experience an outage for about fifteen minutes here shortly while I work on the line." Of course, I said "no problem". I was taking him all in. The name tag sewn on his khaki shirt said "Billy". Billy was about 6’1", 200 pounds, brown eyes, broad shoulders and, I would estimate, around 30 years old. I noticed he had a manly smell. Not a nasty smell, just the masculine scent of a man who had been working in the warm weather all day. His smile was captivating and his teeth were straight and white. He thanked me for understanding, walked out and quickly crossed the street. Naturally, I had to watch his cute butt which was packed into to those Wrangler jeans. He poked his head into the barber shop and spoke with Brunhilda. That wasn’t really her name. At least, I didn’t think so. That was just the name I gave to her after watching her manhandle that guy a few minutes ago. I saw her nod her head and he left, heading back to his place at the top of the pole. He was right. The electricity went out for no longer than fifteen minutes. As power came back on, ol’ Brunhilda exited her shop and was standing on the sidewalk. I looked at her as she was framed in the doorway. She was a strong looking woman and definitely a force to be reckoned with. As the power company worker walked by, she engaged him in conversation. The two spoke for a moment and he shook his head, first indicating no and then yes. He briefly returned to his truck and then walked back to the barber shop without his safety belt. The barber was standing just inside the door and ushered Billy in. The two walked to her chair and he seemed to pause for a moment. Reaching up, she pulled his cap off of his head and tossed it onto the counter behind the chair. She pointed at the chair and said something. Billy obediently climbed into the chair where she was waiting with a cape that was printed with a rustic American flag. Apparently, he was a little too slow in sitting for the barber’s liking because with the cape still tucked in the crook of her arm, she placed her hands on his broad shoulders and forced him into the chair. A towel wrapped around his neck was followed in short order by the cape being secured tightly. She turned the chair toward the window which she had not done with the previous guy. Billy was looking directly at me. His face showed a mixture of confusion and a little bit of fear. As she turned to the backbar, readying her tools, all I could think was "shear him, Brunhilda! Shear him and shave him!"
Part Two on the way…