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Roger's Nightmare by Deke Cutter

Roger, pull the car over and park now." This began Roger’s nightmare. It was three weeks since his wife had allowed him to return to the family home. He was still sleeping in the den on the blow-up mattress and would remain there, his wife said for 6 months, until blood and urine tests showed him clear of STDs. Roger had been unfaithful to Vivian, his wife and the mother of his 2-year old and 3- month old children. His wife had agreed to try to save their marriage. She had, however, conditions. There were the temporary separate sleeping quarters and forced celibacy and a requirement that Roger give up control of decisions regarding his personal freedom until such time as Vivian’s sense of trust was regained and pain of betrayal was greatly lessened.

Roger and Vivian were on the way to an engagement party for two of Vivian’s colleagues at work. As Roger pulled the car over to the curb, he saw that they were stopping in front of a very old looking barber shop. "Oh no," thought Roger, "not my hair." Vivian had told him to cancel his regular appointment to have his hair trimmed. Roger’s hair was "his thing." It was thick, shiny and full of body. He wore it rather long, with a center part and treated it with great care. He thought he looked like a rock star. His hair made him stand out at work. He thought it made him more successful. He knew it’s what attracted women to him.

"We are now going into that shop where you will request a short regular haircut. No complaints, Roger! You know our agreement." They got out of the car and entered the shop. The single barber was trimming the fringe of an elderly client. The barber himself appeared to be well into his 70s wearing thick glasses. Vivian and Roger sat down on two ancient looking chairs. Vivian had a slight grim smile on her face.

When the barber had finished with his previous client, he looked at Roger and said "haircut? I don’t do fancy styles." Roger rose and walked to the chair like a man walking to his execution.

"Yes, sir, a short regular haircut please."

Vivian piped up, "we just recently had our second child and my husband need a short no nonsense haircut. Something he can quickly run a comb through in the morning, a good man’s cut."

"I never have understood you long hairs, fiddling around with your fancy pants stylists and spendin’ hours primping. I’ll put an end to all that," said the barber. Roger had visibly blanched. "Sit up straight in this chair boy!" The barber turned Roger away from the mirror and almost instinctively faced him toward Vivian. He placed an ancient looking pair of clippers at the bottom of Roger’s left sideburn, turned them on and pushed them up the side of Roger’s head, beginning the slaughter. Stroke after long stroke, making sure the glossy long hair fell onto his shoulder and slid into Roger’s lap. Roger started to tear up. The barber gave him a venomous look. "Stop that sissified crying right now or I swear I will shave you bald!"
Vivian took a pack of tissues from her purse and gave one to Roger and told him to compose himself and apologize to the barber. "I’m sorry sir."

The barber said, "now apologize to your missus for showing her up in public."

Red faced Roger said, "I’m sorry Vivian, this haircut is something I need." The barber then went back to work destroying the right side and then started removing the back. He went alarmingly high, or so Roger would have thought if he could see the damage. Soon, you could clearly see Roger’s ears "popping out" on either side of his head. The barber then removed the small guard on the clippers and replaced it with a smaller one and proceeded to taper the sides and back, rather painfully, Roger thought. The barber knew this would leave an unmistakable "clipper welt" for a day or two but thought that Roger deserved it. Finally, the barber removed the guard and proceeded to raise Roger’s hairline just above the bottom of Roger’s ears. He radically shortened the sideburns and created a noticeable arch around each ear.

Next, the barber took a long barber’s comb out of a jar filled with Barbicide and began shearing down the long hair left on top starting from the crown and moving forward. Soon the only remains of Roger’s former glory were his bangs hanging down in his face. The barber combed them down to their full length and cut them at a severe angle from mid forehead on the left almost to the hairline on the right. He looked at Vivian and said "I prefer the angled bangs. I find if I cut them straight, they will just comb the forward. This way, we get them in the habit of combing their hair over to the side." He then picked up the thinning shears and proceeded to remove any remaining bulk from Roger’s hair. The barber then parted his hair on the left and went over each side with clipper and comb to blend in everything. Roger next felt the neck strip removed and a towel being tucked behind him and warm shaving cream massaged around his head. The barber carefully, but with remarkable speed for a man of his age, shaved away any remains of Roger’s sideburns and original natural hairline. "Now, I’m going to turn you around and show you the haircut before I apply some Vitalis to show you both the dry and wet looks. I’ll have no histrionics."

Roger looked in the mirror and took all the self-control he had not to burst into tears again. He looked ridiculous. A haircut normally seen on a five or six-year old boy sat on his head. Each feature and flaw was magnified. He looked, at best, average. Everyone who knew him would stare and whisper. Strangers would not notice him. He began to understand. All this was in the few seconds before the barber said "I’ve cut the hair, so you will part it on the left, you see how nice it lays. Now take a little Vitalis rub it to your hair, as the barber did, and you can comb it over and comb the front back off your forehead. Perfect for work and formal occasions."

"Perfect" agreed Vivian. The barber then raised a mirror behind Roger to show him the carnage in the back. Roger felt physically ill.

"He’s skinned me, look at those welts," thought Roger. "Oh gawd, I will be a laughing stock. What he actually said was "thank you sir for this haircut. I apologize again for my earlier bad behavior." He got out of the chair and paid the barber.

Vivian thanked the barber and assured him that Roger would be back. Back in the car, Vivian told Roger to drive home, as she certainly wasn’t taking him to the party if he didn’t have his emotions under control. He could leave the children with her mother and he could pick them up once he had a chance to "cry it out" and decide if he wanted to show off his new haircut "wet or dry" to her parents.

Roger went home and did shed some tears. But as bad as he felt that Saturday was nothing compared to what he would feel after the jokes and abuse he suffered over the next week at work. But Vivian had more in store for him.

To be continued?

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