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Revised Russell's Haircut Adventures: VI by Just_Me


I originally posted this, and a comment from Slick Boy made me realize I needed to clean it up, and tell "the rest of the story". I had hesitated to write it, because the story brings up strong emotions in me.

Revised: RUSSELL’S HAIRCUT ADVENTURES: PART VI

I haven't said much about him, but I have a little brother, Stephen. My feelings toward Stephen were mixed most of our lives. Sometimes I loved him, sometimes I resented him, sometimes he was fun and sometimes I thought I hated him...no matter how I was feeling about him, he almost always irritated me. (I don't think I'm the only sibling who’s ever felt like that.)

From my perspective, he was a lazy brat who rode through life on my coattails. I fought for everything as we grew up and he reaped the benefits. I didn’t blame Mom and Dad--I resented Stephen. Now, I realize my parents letting Stephen get by with things made sense. Why should they go through the same battle with Stephen if I had fought them, and they agreed something was OK for me? Anyway, I felt like Stephen was a spoiled brat and got by with a lot more than I ever did. (I'm probably not the first oldest child to feel that way either.)

Here’s a typical example of how Stephen didn’t have to fight the battles I fought. Dad shaved my head because I had let it get too long while he was working out of town, and Mom and I fought a hard battle to get Dad to let my hair grow back out. I guess it was about a year after I won the battle to let my hair grow out that Stephen got to let his hair start growing out. He didn't even have to say anything to Dad. He talked to Mom, and she dealt with. I remember the night she talked to Dad about it. We were all sitting in the den, and Mom turned to Dad. All she said was, "Al, Stephen won't be going to the barber shop with you any more. I'm going to start taking him to my hairdresser."

Dad sighed, took a long draw on his pipe, exhaled, took another draw on his pipe and then sighed again. I was keyed up. I thought, "Hot dog! I’m finally going to get to see Stephen really get it! Dad’s going to blow up on him!"

I was crushed when all Dad said was, "Well, you both know how I feel about that. He can't let it get too long and it's always got to be kept clean and neatly combed."

That was the end of it. I was disgusted with Dad. Why hadn't he given Stephen as much hell as he'd gave me about it?

I sat there and stewed and fumed for a while, and then I grabbed Stephen by the hand and said, "Outside. Now."

Mom and Dad looked at me strangely, but neither said anything.

Once we were outside, I turned to Stephen and said, "Ok, I'm waiting."

He said, "What the hell are you talking about?" (Stephen had a potty-mouth from the time he was eight or nine--at least when he was talking to me and his friends. Around Mom and Dad, he was a perfect angel. I called him a "two-faced snot".)

I said, "You at least owe me a 'thank you'."

He said, "Once again, what the hell are you talking about?"

I went on a long rant then. "I went through eighteen months of sheer hell trying to talk Dad into letting let my hair grow out a little, and I've put up with crap every step of the way as it got longer. Now you get to waltz in and just tell him you're letting your hair grow? It just ain't fair!"

Stephen gave me a smirk, and turned around and went back in the house without saying a word. I thought, "I wish I was a dragon. I’d just fry his ass on the spot!" I don’t think I’ve ever been as mad at him as I was in that moment.

The day I got my first horseshoe flattop, Dad and I had finished lunch and were sitting there talking about the day and rubbing our heads. Stephen walked in and erupted in gales of laughter. He was laughing so hard he had to sit down. "What the f**k is wrong with you, Russell? Why the hell would you get a stupid-looking haircut like Dad?"

I guess he hadn’t seen Mom, but the look on her face told me that she had heard him. She actually shuddered. The she got "the look" in her eyes—you know, the look that kids all dread to see coming out of their mother’s eyes.

I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face when Mom grabbed Stephen by the ear. The surprise on his face was priceless! She drug him into the bathroom by his ear, giving him a hard time the whole way. She was in rare form, and at top volume. "Boy, I’ve taught you better than to talk like that. I know you know better, and I’m surprised at you! How dare you talk like that in my house?" I don’t remember what else she said, but none of it was good for Stephen.

I couldn’t help but smile. From experience, I knew what was going to happen. Mom was going to take Stephen’s toothbrush, fill it with soap, and then very firmly scrub his mouth with the toothbrush, to "wash all those dirty words out of his mouth." I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard her say, "I may not be able to stop you from cussing, but, by god, I know I can make you regret it."

Soon I heard Stephen gagging, and I gagged in sympathy. (Mom had only had to wash my mouth out with soap once. To this day, if I smell Lava soap I get sick to my stomach.) I really kinda felt sorry for him. I knew Mom was mad at him, but she was still angry at me too, and was probably being a little harder on him that she normally would’ve been.

Later Stephen stuck his head in my door, and said, "Oh sweet Jesus! You mean to tell me you’re going to smoke a pipe too? Holy crap! I think I’m going to be sick. Why? I thought you looked like the biggest damned nerd in the world with your stupid haircut, but this is even worse!" (He’d obviously not learned a thing from his experience with the toothbrush filled with soap.)

I’d always accused Stephen of having a glass face. A total stranger could read what he was thinking, and the way he was looking at me let me know that he liked the haircut and was wishing he was brave enough to get a flattop too. I said, "Stephen, you’d better thank me for opening the door for you. It will be a lot easier on you when you finally admit you want to follow in my footsteps."

He laughed and said, "If this is the path you’re taking, the devil will sell ice-skates in hell before I’ll ever follow in your footsteps."

He shook his head, and said, "There just ain’t no way in hell," but his face told me something completely different.

A few years later Stephen started treating Dad horribly--or like a typical teenager. The little angel was replaced by a demon. The house fairly rang with Mom and Dad yelling that he was being defiant, rude or belligerent. He never passed up an opportunity to berate Dad about his clothes, haircut and pipe. Dad handled each incident, and Stephen spent more time doing extra chores or being grounded than he did doing "normal" stuff, but none of it seemed to phase Stephen. He kept acting like a foolish idiot.

I tried talking to Stephen, but nothing I said seemed to have any more effect on him than all of Dad’s punishments. One day when I tried to talk to Stephen about the way he was treating Dad, Stephen said, "You think you’re Dad’s favorite just because you have a s**tty haircut like he does and you stink like an ashtray."

It wasn’t too long before I realized that Stephen had his own "Operation Look LIke Dad" going on, and he was acting exactly like I had. "Oh, my god! As much as it hurts to admit, he’s acting just like I did. I’m ashamed of myself." I tried to appease my burning conscience. "Russell, I don’t think you were that bad. Sure, you acted like a jerk, but it was mild compared to this." My inner voice kept talking. "Don’t kid yourself, Russell. You might not want to admit it, but you acted the same way he is--and not too long ago."

I saw plenty of signs that let me know exactly what he was going through. One day I saw a lot of grease in his comb. "Aha! I was right. He’s been slicking his hair back." Some of my cigars disappeared. Pages in magazines started disappearing…and of course, it was always right in the middle of the article I was trying to read. I noticed some pictures missing from the newspaper. Instantly my mind said, "You know he cut them out to add to his jack-off stash: wherever it is." I had to fight myself to keep from going to look under his bed.

I watched his behavior for a while, and kept waiting for him to come to his senses. It had taken me awhile to work my nerve up, and I kept hoping he would get his nerve up, and that it would solve the problem of his behavior. The more I tried to talk to him, the more profane the cussings I got for my effort became. After one cussing, I thought, "Damn! He never learned a thing from getting his mouth washed out with soap." Then I had to laugh. "Russell, don’t be a hypocrite. You didn’t learn from it either. Your thoughts and the way you talk is liberally sprinkled with four-letter words too."

Not being able to reach him surprised me. I had always been able to talk to Stephen and make him behave, but not this time. Even though I tried for several months, I couldn't get through to him.

After about six months, I'd had enough. I was writing in my journal, and all my thoughts poured out in my writing. "Today, I decided I’m going to put a stop to Stephen’s nonsense. I figure I owe it to Dad, since I put him through enough hell to last a lifetime. Dad doesn’t deserve the kind of treatment he’s getting, and probably doesn’t know why Stephen is acting like such an idiot. I am NOT going to stand back and let Stephen continue to play the fool any more. I’ll stop him."

It took me a while to figure out how I was going to handle Stephen’s behavior, but I finally figured out a plan, and modesty prevents me from admitting what a brilliant plan it was. I decided to execute it…but I was smart enough to tell Mom first.

When all the details were worked out, I went and talked to her. I started by saying, "Mom I don’t know if you noticed, but Stephen has really been treating Dad badly lately."

Rather sarcastically, she said, "I’m not blind. I’ve noticed."

I said, "I know what’s going on with him, and I know how to deal with it. I promise, I can convince him to change his ways if you’ll let me."

Quietly, she said, "I’m intrigued. Tell me what you’re thinking."

Once I had filled her in, she said, "Russell, you are absolutely brilliant. I love it, but why did you come to me instead of your father? He would love to be involved in this."

I said, "Mom, in case you don’t remember, Dad surprised you twice with a haircut for me, and I surprised you once. I’d rather not have to go through another day like that. I didn’t want to surprise you, but I’d love to be able to pull this off as a surprise for Dad. I think he’ll love it."

"Well, you have my full support. Someone needs to get Stephen’s attention, and I think you’ve come up with the perfect plan. Let me know if I can help." Then, rather gleefully she said, "Oh, I wish I could see this. I’d love to see Stephen’s face when you put this plan into motion."

I said, "Thanks for the support, Mom. I think I’ll do it Christmas Eve. This’ll be a perfect Christmas present for Stephen, and an even better present for Dad."

On the appointed morning I knocked on Stephen’s door and said, "Come on, Stephen. Let’s get out of here for a while."

He didn’t know what we were going to do, and he didn't ask. He was always up to doing something. He had decided months ago that the joy of getting out of the house outweighed his embarrassment at being seen in public with me.

He frowned when I pulled up in front of Mr. Callahan’s barbershop, and said, "Why didn't you tell me you were going to the barbershop? I don't wanna sit around with a bunch of old geezers waiting for you to get a haircut. It's bad enough I have to put up with your stinky old pipe. I sure as hell don't wanna smell all their smoke too."

The memories of me saying the same type of thing a few years ago made me laugh. Boy, was he in for a surprise!

I turned around and looked at him and said, "I'm not the one getting a haircut. You are. You’re going in there and getting a haircut just like mine, and just like Dad’s."

His hands flew to his hair, and he "Bull! There ain't no way in hell I'm walking in that barbershop."

I glared at him. "We can do this one of two ways. We can do it the easy way, or we can do this the hard way. Either way, your ass is going in there and coming out with a flattop. Now, which is it going to be?"

"Why?"

"You've been treating Dad like crap, and you're going to atone for your sins. Stephen, listen to me. I mean it. I don’t like violence, but if you force me to, I’ll resort to it. Now, are you going to listen to reason, or am I going to have to knock some sense into that thick skull of yours? You know how dad is always talking to us about taking responsibility for our actions? Well, your actions have consequences, and you’re going to deal with them today. Do I have to beat your ass first, or are you going to walk in there without a black eye? It's your choice."

I saw all kinds of emotions pass over his face: first it was anger, disgust, and fear. Then I saw longing and a look that was almost lust.

We argued for a while, and I got tired of it. I got out of the car, walked around and opened his door. I grabbed him by his hair and pulled hard enough that he had the choice of losing a handful of hair and a piece of his scalp, or getting out of the car (By then Stephen's hair was long enough that he wore it in a ponytail sometime. Every time Dad saw Stephen with a ponytail he would shake his head in disgust.)

He glared at me, and for a moment I thought he was going to fight me. I said, "Come on! I’m ready for you. If you want a fight, you’re gonna get the fight of your life." Either my words, or the look on my face told him I was ready to take him on. I knew I'd won when he looked at the ground.

He started walking towards the door and I said, "Where are you going?"

That got his dander up. I saw the anger in him flare up.

"I'm going into the damned barber shop to get a messed-up haircut that I don't want! That's where the hell I'm going!"

I reached in my pocket and pulled a cigar out. I said, "Are you going in without a cigar in your mouth?"

He looked at me like I was deranged. "What the hell? Of course I'm going in without a cigar. It’s disgusting enough having to smell them all the time. What makes you think I'd want to smoke one of those smelly old things?"

"Stephen, save your self-righteous indignation for someone else. You might've fooled Mom and Dad, but I know you've been sneaking around smoking cigars for a long time. I know where all the cigars that have disappeared from my room have gone. I've smelled the smoke on you, and I've smelled it when I walked by your room."

He said, "Screw you!" and started toward the shop.

I opened the door for him, and when I walked in Mr. Callahan said, "Russell, what the hell are you doing here on a god-d**ned Monday? Saturdays are your day."

"Mr. Callahan, I've got a surprise for you. You know I’ve talked a few of my friends into getting a flattop, and promised to try to get some more in here. Well, I’ve got you a new recruit for you, but this time it's not a friend, it's Stephen. I've finally talked him into getting a flattop like mine."

Mr. Callahan and Stephen talked at the same time. Stephen said, "Some talking you did. I'm being forced."

My Callahan said, "I don't care if it's a god-d**ned Martian as long as I get to get rid of the mop of hair he has on his head. What did Al say? I'm surprised he's not with you."

"Well, you see, Dad doesn't know about it yet. It's a surprise Christmas present for him."

Stephen said, "It's a HUGE surprise for me too!" (he tried to sound surly, but I could hear the excitement in his voice).

Mr. Callahan said, "Well, it’s a god-d**ned surprise for me too, but I like it."

He spoke to the man who was getting his hair cut. He said, "Vern, I’m done with your sorry ass. Get the hell out of my chair." He looked at the man who was evidently supposed to be next. "James, you’ll just have to wait. I’m gonna take care of this here hippy right now. Stephen, get your ass in this chair."

Stephen looked at me. "Do I gotta?"

I said, "You heard Mr. Callahan. Get your ass in this chair."

He said, "Crap! I was afraid you were going to say that. Well, dang it, give me a cigar. I've heard all about your experience a million blasted times, and I don’t want my story to be just like yours. I want my own experience." Then he pulled a lighter out of his pocket.

As I handed him the cigar I said, "I thought you didn’t wanna smoke a ‘stinky old cigar’ but I see you’re already prepared. Explain that, please."

He gave me a "go to hell" look, but didn’t say anything. He just lit the cigar.

Mr. Callahan said, "Russell, give me one too. Your cigars are a helluva lot better than mine." I sighed, and pulled another of my precious cigars out of my pocket. They were the best ones I owned. I figured I had just paid for Stephen's haircut with it. Mr. Callahan took the cheap cigar he had in his mouth and threw it in an ashtray. After he and Stephen lit their cigars, there was so much smoke in the air for a few minutes that you could barely see them.

Mr. Callahan had the cape around Stephen’s neck faster than I’d ever dreamed he could move. He didn't waste time trying to see if Stephen was sure, like he had with me. He didn't say a word. He just turned his clippers on, obviously looking forward to attacking Stephen's hair.

One of the old geezers yelled, "Hot dog, this is going to be fun to watch."

I said, "Hold on Mr. Callahan, you're forgetting something."

"What in the hell are you talking about? Are you trying to tell me how to do my god-d**ned job?"

I pulled the camera out of my pocket.

He got a huge grin on his face, and said, "Russell, I knew there's a reason I like your sorry ass!"

I took as many pictures as I could, just to be mean and make Stephen wait as long as I could. I wanted to prolong it. I was enjoying it. I loved torturing him and seeing him so uncomfortable.

I have a great picture of Stephen and Mr. Callahan with their cigars sticking out that I absolutely love. There’s another one of the three of us.

I finally said, "He's all yours, Mr. Callahan. Let’s get this show on the road."

He had the clippers in his hand, and turned on in record time. Obviously he was looking forward to this. Right before the clippers hit his head, Stephen called out, "Wait."

He looked at me and said, "Can I at least keep my sideburns?"

I didn't bother saying anything. I just shook my head.

"I didn't think so, but I thought I'd try."

I looked at Mr. Callahan and said, "You know what to do. Shave those sides and give him a wide landing strip." I patted my head and said, "Just like mine."

Stephen looked like he might cry, but then he looked like he might burst with happiness.

Mr. Callahan grinned at me, blew some cigar smoke my way and his clippers came alive. He shoved Stephen’s head forward, lifted the long hair at the nape of Stephen’s head and took the clippers all the way to the top. Waves of curly hair started falling to the floor.

I watched Stephen’s haircut just as closely as Dad had watched mine. So did everyone else in the barbershop.

Even though I knew from experience what to expect, I watched for each step with bated breath... And a hard dick. Each swipe of the clippers was a thing of beauty to me. I loved seeing the white scalp being exposed, and knew each swipe was taking away some of Stephen’s rebellion. The sideburn fell off, and I grinned. It was a pleasure when Mr. Callahan took the first swipe down the center of Stephen’s head, and I saw the first hint of the flattop shape taking place. I was enthralled.

Stephen shuddered, and looked like he was going to cry when the first bit of his long hair hit the cape, but he got past that quickly. Soon it was obvious to me that Stephen enjoyed the rest of his time in the chair. He was all grins, and tented cape. I had been right years ago. Everyone in the shop saw the evidence of what a haircut did to him.

After the haircut was done, and Stephen had admired himself for a long time, Mr. Callahan said, "Stephen, cutting a god-d**ned flattop for the first time is a helluva lot of work. Don't you ever let that crap get this long again. I don't wanna have to put that much time into your ass again."

Stephen said, "I imagine I'll be here every blasted Saturday morning with Dad and this son of a so-and-so standing beside me. I don't imagine Dad will ever let me let my hair grow out again, thanks to this sorry bastard I'm forced to call my brother." He said it half jokingly and half seriously. I wondered if our relationship would be strained while he learned to deal with his new look.

I said, Stephen, "It's not Dad you have to worry about. It's me. Until I see a huge change in your behavior your going to be sitting in that chair every week."

As Stephen and I were leaving, I turned to Mr. Callahan and said, "Thanks. I really appreciate your help in turning this pathetic douche bag into a presentable human being. I owe you one. I'll see you Saturday, Mr. Callahan."

I don't think I've ever been more honored than I was when he said, "Russell, you can call me 'Sarge'."

I guess I need to explain why I felt honored when Mr. Callahan said I could call him, "Sarge". He was very particular about what you called him. You had to say Mr. Callahan or first sergeant. One day I saw him reduce a man to tears when the man called him "Ralph" without being told it was OK.

"You don't know me from Adam, and you haven't earned the god-d**ned right to call me by my first name. Only my very good friends call me Ralph or Sarge. Your sorry ass will call me Mr. Callahan until I tell you otherwise. Do you understand what I am telling you, you sorry pissant?"

Sarge shook my hand. "Thank you, Russell. Another blasted hippy was just wiped off the face of the earth, and I’m grateful for it. I can’t wait to see who you bring me next."

As we walked out of the shop, Stephen said, "I don’t know whether to knock you out or say thank you. You were right, I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and didn’t have the nerve. Now, I don’t know if I’ll have the nerve to leave the house until it’s grown out."

I thought, "We’ll see about that."

Stephen whined, "This really is unfair though. You got to deal with stuff on your own timeframe. You made me deal with this before I was ready."

"Well, I ain't sorry. You took too danged long. Grow a pair of balls next time!" I paused. "I was just kidding about the balls, Stephen. Honestly, I thought I was doing what was best for you and Dad. I didn't want you to go through years of hell like I did, and I sure as hell didn't want Dad going through all of that crap again. I love you, little bro. I only want what's best for you."

I took a draw on my pipe, to give myself time to figure out what I was going to say. I said, "I might've lied to you a little bit just then. I guess maybe I am a little sorry I forced you into this, but only a little. I really didn't mean to hurt you, but you were being a horrible little so-and-so, and I knew it had to stop it. If you remember, I tried talking to you about it several times and all I got for my efforts was a good cussing. It ain't my fault you're so danged stubborn!"

We talked a few more minutes and he said, "Ok, let’s get the hell out of Dodge. I guess I’ve got to go home and face the music now."

I said, "Get in the car. We’ll go home in a bit, but I’ve got a few stops we’ve got to make first."

His eyes flew open, "You mean you’re gonna make me go out in public? I’m not ready for that!"

I grinned, and said, "Ready or not, here we come!"

I followed the same path Dad and I had gone the year before. We stopped at Wal-Mart. When we left Wal-Mart, we went to the pipe shop, and I bought Stephen a few cigars. On the way I had to feel of his freshly shorn sides more than once, just to convince myself I’d made it happen.

I called Mom before we left town, to tell her we were on our way. I knew she wouldn’t want to miss out on Dad seeing Stephen’s new haircut. I said, "Mom, don’t say anything to Dad. Stephen and I decided we wplan to just walk in and see how he reacts."

Just before we got home, Stephen rolled down his window, and started to throw his cigar out. I yelled at him, "What do you think you’re doing"

He said, "I’m getting rid of this before Mom sees me. She’ll kill me."

"Nope! Not going to happen. You’re not going to be sneaking around any more. If you’re man enough to smoke ‘em, you’re now man enough to smoke ‘em around Mom and Dad. You’re gonna face the music, just like I did."

Stephen waved at me, but somehow only his middle finger stood up while he was waving at me. He didn’t argue though. He put the cigar back in his mouth, and kept puffing away.


Mom and Dad were in the front yard when I pulled up. Mom gave it away before we got out of the car. She started clapping, and then gave a very loud wolf whistle. Stephen was hesitant, and I said, "Stephen, get your ass out of the car--now!"

When Stephen stepped out, Dad looked flabbergasted. "Holy crap! What in the hell happened to you?"

I said, "Merry Christmas, Dad. Here’s the only present you’re getting from me."

Stephen whined, "I really didn’t want to get a haircut but Russell made me."

Dad said, "Well, it’s a helluva present, I can promise you that. As a matter of fact, it’s the best present I’ve ever got!"

He looked us both over, and reached out to rub the top of Stephen’s head. He shook his head, grinned like a possum and then said, "Well, I’ll be. I’m about the luckiest buzzard on the planet. I now have two sons with flattops. I can’t wait until Saturday morning so the three of us can go see Sarge at the same time. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that pleasure. I don’t know what the hell I did to deserve it, but I thank my lucky stars that I lived to see this god-d**ned day."

Mom said, "Al! Your language!"

Dad completely ignored her. After he had looked Stephen up and down, complimented him profusely on his looks and hugged him, Dad shook my hand and gave me a hearty, "Thank you." Then he gathered me in a big hug and said, "Son, I didn’t think I could ever be happier than I was the day you made me take you to be shoed by Sarge, but I think I’m even happier today than I was then. Thank you for making Stephen clean up his act. I had less hope that he'd ever clean up than I had that you would."

He wiped some tears from his eyes, and said, "How in the hell did you convince Stephen to get his hair cut?"

Stephen piped up, and said, "There wasn’t any ‘convincing.’ He literally drug me into the barber shop by the hair that I used to have on my head."

I said, "Shut up, Stephen. You know you wanted it."

Dad laughed like a loon after I described how I had "convinced" Stephen to get a haircut. He said, "I would’ve paid good money to see that!"

As usual, nothing was said to Stephen about smoking. He just started joining Dad and me when we lit up. It disgusted me, but I knew there was nothing I could do, so I just dealt with it.

Dad, Stephen and I spent many hours sitting on the porch talking. One night we were sitting on the porch having a beer and reminiscing. I told them I had named my torment (I didn’t say fetish) "Operation Look Like Dad".

Stephen laughed. He said, "I called mine ‘Mission Impossible: The Flattop’."

Dad, Stephen and I went to the barber together every time we could for the rest of Dad’s life and Stephen and I talk about our first flattops fairly regularly. I still wear a flattop, but Stephen doesn’t. Mother Nature decided she needed his hair more than he did. He started balding when he was in his early twenties, and within a few years he didn’t have more than a dozen hairs left on the top of his head--a fact I enjoyed. However, he let the little hair he had left get long--really long.

One day I tried to talk to him about it. "Stephen as you so often do, you grew your hair ass backwards. When you were young and had a head full of hair you kept it peeled tight. Now that you’re going bald, you left your hair get long--just the opposite of what a normal man would do. It makes me want to cringe....I actually feel sorry for you sometimes. Your hair makes you look a lot older than you are. You were so good-looking when you were young, and I can’t imagine how you feel when you see yourself looking so old, and let's face it, unattractive. You’d look so much better if you’d at least buzz the sides down. This long fringe of hair on the sides can’t compensate for the lack of hair on the top of your head. I don't mind saying I think you look like a fool... But who am I to say anything? I don’t have to live with you."

Well, I got a cussing, and he did nothing about his hair but let it get longer, and stringier.

He eventually was able to grow a decent goatee, and it did improve his looks--some.

When Stephen started balding, he had a real hard time dealing with it. Once his balding head became a bald head he came to me so depressed that he was actually crying. "I look like Mr. Frank (our old next door neighbor), but I ain’t going to grow a combover." He whined, "I don't know how I'm going to deal with having no hair on my head. I know most folks say I should shave it, but I don't wanna. " He kept complaining. "I never dreamed I'd go bald. You and Dad have every hair on your head that you've ever had. It's just not fair."

The wounded teenager in me thought, "It's karma baby. You gave me so much crap about my first haircut that karma is paying you back!"

"Well, if you're not going to shave it, which by the way, I think would be the best thing you could do, would it make you feel any better if I shaved my head into a MPB? I'll be happy to do that."

"Really? After all the hell I've put you through you'd do that for me?"

He sniffed, and I thought he was going to cry some more.

I said, "Sure! I'll do it for you. You want to cut it, or do you want to go see Sarge with me?"

I could see he was thinking, and I knew what he was going to say before he said it. He'd never learned to take responsibility, no matter how much Dad had tried to teach him. I knew from his expression that he really wanted to see me with MPB, but I also knew he didn't want to be responsible for me doing it. He said, "I really don't want you to do that! Any way, I don't think it'd make me feel any better. I'd just feel bad about you doing this for me."

"Why would you feel bad about something I’m doing? If I hate it, I can always shave it or let it grow out. Who knows, it might make you feel better, and if it does, it'll be worth it to me. Anyway, I've always been curious about what I'd look like with MPB. Let's do it. The question remains. You--or Sarge?"

"I'm really tempted, but I'd probably mess it up. If you're seriously going to do this for me, let Mr. Callahan do it."

"Well, what are we waiting for? It's my day to get a haircut anyway. Why not a MPB? Get your ass in my truck."

I grabbed my pipe as soon as we got in the truck. He pulled a cigar out of his pocket and we both lit up.

Once we were parked in front of the barber shop, in an uncharacteristic move, Stephen grabbed my shoulder and looked me square in the eyes. Real emotion filled his voice. "Russell, I'm serious. Don't do this if you don't want to. I'll manage somehow. I don't want people making fun of you like they've teased me! It ain’t easy, believe me."

I got a tear in my eye. "Stephen, you know good and well I haven’t cared what people think of me since I got my first flattop. You also know I don't do anything I don't wanna. Let's go."

When it was my turn in the chair, Sarge caped me up, reached for his clippers.

I said, "Hey, wait a minute. Aren't you going to see how I want my hair cut?"

He looked at me like I was on drugs. "What the hell are you talking about? I've been shoeing you for ten god-d**ned years--or more. I know what you want!"

I gave him an evil grin and, "I’m doing something different this time, and I'll bet you'll never guess in a
million years what I want. Wanna try to guess?"

"Russell, I ain’t got all day. Shut up and tell me how you want your blasted hair cut."

Sarge laughed so I hard I thought he was gonna have a stroke when I told him what I wanted... as did all the old geezers sitting around. He said, "I've often given brothers the same haircut. Hell, I once gave a father, his sons and a daughter the same haircut, but this is a first." He laughed some more. "This is gonna be fun. Russell, set your ass in this chair. Stephen, you sit beside him so I can match his baldness to yours." He laughed again, and said, "Russell, I can't believe you're doing this for Stephen's sorry ass."

I laughed, and said, "Honestly, I can't believe it either, but let's get this circus show on the road."

He turned to Stephen and said, "Give me one of your cigars. I know you're a cheap ass and don't like to share, but I figure a good cigar is a small price to pay for what Russell’s doing for you."

I could tell Stephen was reluctant, but he handed over a cigar.

Sarge said, "One MPB coming up" and turned the clippers on.

He instantly turned them off again, and said, "Where the hell is Al? He'd get a kick out of this."

I immediately wished I had thought about going and picking him. I just hadn't thought about it.

Stephen said, "I thought about getting him, but decided not to. It's embarrassing enough without Dad seeing it."

Sarge said what I thought. "That sounds like you, Stephen. Selfish to the end, huh?"

Stephen got his dander up, stood up and said, "I don't have to take this kind of crap. Come on, Russell. Let's forget about this. It was a stupid idea anyway "

Sarge bellowed, "Stephen, get your panties OUT of a wad. There ain't no way I'm going to pass up an opportunity this god-d**ned good. Sit your ass down and enjoy the show."

He turned the clippers back on and attacked the top of my head. In seconds he had completely destroyed my beautiful flattop.

After he had done the initial clipping, he went over and examined Stephen's head and came back and cut some more hair off the top of my head, taking the baldness lower in the back. He looked at what he'd done, and went back to look at Stephen's head. A little more hair came off the sides. After he'd gone back and forth a few times, he muttered, "That's as good as it's gonna get. Russell's hair is so much thicker than Stephen's I don't think I'm ever gonna get it to look exactly the same."

After critically examining my head again, he put some shaving cream on my head and wrapped a hot towel around it. The three of us talked (and smoked) for a while. Then he took the towel off and spread some more shaving cream on my head. I heard the sound of him sharpening his straight razor on his strop, and for the first time I thought, "Russell, you're an idiot. What the hell were you thinking?"

I knew it was too late to do anything about it, so I just waited to hear that sound I'd always enjoyed so much: the rasping sound of a razor shaving off my hair.

Once he had the top of my head shaved, he stepped back, and shook his head. He was thinking so hard I could almost hear his thoughts. I finally said, "What's going on in that little head or yours, Sarge?"

He shook his head again, looked at my head again and said, "I don't know. I just don't know. This is the most messed up haircut I’ve ever done. You look like a blasted clown. You’ve got too much god-d**ned hair and I can’t make it look natural. This is about as good as I can get without waxing it."

"Oh, HELL no! I’ve watched videos of guys being waxed, and it looks painful. I love Stephen, but not that much!" I looked at Stephen. "Sorry, bro."

Sarge said (very sarcastically), "Stephen, in case you haven’t noticed, the hair on the sides of your head is a lot longer than Russell's. Get you ass I'm this chair and I'll take it down so you match."

Stephen looked like he wanted to argue. He finally sat down in the barber chair, took a big draw on his cigar and exhaled loudly. He said, "I don't suppose it would do me any good to say 'don't take it down too short' would it?"

The evil barber in Mr. Callahan grinned and said, "Nope! It'd probably make me take it down lower."

I was hoping he would...

Stephen sighed, took another draw on his cigar and said, "Do what you're going to do. I've dealt with it before when you and Russell ganged up on me. I guess I can deal with it again."

I was surprised at Sarge. He put the #2 guard on and took the six inches of hair Stephen had around his head off. I had expected him to take Stephen's hair down to the scalp.

We took a picture of Stephen and me sitting together. I hadn't realized how bad I looked. Stephen's hair looked natural. Mine looked awful. You could see the shadow of all the hair I had, the lines didn’t look natural... It looked awful--it looked worse than awful.

I pretended to be enthusiastic to keep from making Stephen feel bad.

Of course Stephen loved it. He asked how long I planned on keeping my MPB cut. I was very noncommittal, and just, "We'll see."

I dropped Stephen off and hurried home. I grabbed the first hat I came across and shoved it as low as I could on my head. I felt worse than I had the day Dad forced a very short high and tight on me when I was twelve. I moped around the house all night Saturday and part of Sunday.

I finally realized what I was doing, and said, "Ok, Russell. You don't like your haircut. What are you going to do about it?"

I picked up the phone book and looked up Sarge's phone number. I dialed and he answered with, "Who the hell is calling me on a Sunday night?"

"This is Russell."

"Oh, I've been expecting your call. Are you ready for me to shave you down and start over again?"

"Absolutely! I know you're normally closed on Monday, but...."

"You don't have to ask. What time can you get your sorry ass to my shop in the morning?"

"I'll meet you at 3:00 AM if you want me to. You're doing me a favor. Just tell me when you want me, and I'll be there. Heck, I'll probably be waiting for you an hour before you get there. I've done some stupid stuff before, but I think this takes the cake!"

"I can't say I disagree with you. You were a god-d**ned fool to think this was going to be anything but a disaster. Have your sorry ass sitting in front of my shop at seven in the morning."

I was trying to say, "I can't thank you enough" when I heard a dial tone. The contrary old buzzard had hung up on me.

I thought for a moment and called Stephen. When he answered, I said, "Hey, buddy. I'm sorry, but this MPB thing ain't working for me. I hate to do it to you, but I'm meeting Sarge in the morning. Can you forgive me?"

Once again he surprised me. He said, "I've been expecting your call. I figured you'd decide to shave it off. Do you think Sarge would mind doing two shaves on his day off? We’ve done matching flattops and matching MPB. Maybe we can go for our third haircut that's alike, if you don't mind."

"I sure as hell don't mind, and you know dad gum good and well Sarge won't mind. He'll be tickled pink... And let me say I'm glad you're doing this. I don't think you'll regret it. See you at 5:30 in the morning."

He started sputtering. "Did you just say 5:30? Why so early? No one in their right mind is up at that time!"

"You will be. I promised Sarge we'd be there early."

I was surprised to see Stephen sitting on the steps when I got there the next morning. He said, "I've been so excited I couldn't sleep. Let’s go do this."

Sarge was waiting for us when we got there. I knew he would be.

"One of you get your ass in this chair."

Stephen said, "Let me go first. You got the first flattop. I want to finally do something before you."

I pulled my pipe out and started to pack it. "Be my guest. I'll just sit here and watch the show."

Then I laughed.

Sarge and Stephen both looked at me expectantly. "What’s up?" Stephen said.

"Oh, I was just thinking. You did something before I did. You went bald first."

Stephen gave me a lazy wave. It was so lazy that only his middle finger stood up.

Sarge grinned, and said, "Ahh, brotherly love."

I was happy to have the picture we took after Mr. Callahan finished up with us with the two of us. We both looked good...or do I dare say we were a couple of handsome devils with our bald heads shining?

This is "the rest of the story".

The inner pain and brokenness of spirit Stephen showed the day he came to me crying because of the loss of his hair did something to me. I felt something in me break, and I started letting my resent toward him ebb away. Now it didn’t all go away instantly, and the healing in my heart took place slowly. As the healing started taking place, I realized more and more how much I had resented Stephen, and how I had taken my resentment out on him. Thoughts like "How could I have been so stupid? How could I have been so blind? Oh my god! I was so insensitive to his feelings!" bounced around in my head.

I began to wonder if some of the things I’d done to him had helped shape him into the person he was. I was mortified to think I had hurt him, but some honest soul-searching made me realize I had treated him badly at times. I really wanted to try to mend the fence with him--well, mend the fence isn’t the right term. We’d always been friendly since we became adults. I wanted to have a real relationship with him: one based on respect, trust and liking each other.

A few days after we shaved our heads, I called Stephen and asked him to come over. We sat on the back porch over a few beers. He said, "Russell, I can’t thank you..."

I interrupted him. "Stephen, I know you’re grateful, but I asked you to come over here so I could ask your forgiveness." I told him how much I had resented him, and how I had let that resentment color the way I acted toward him. I admitted how horrible I had been toward him.

Always the emotional one, Stephen started crying. "I never knew. I always thought you hated me because I was so inferior to you. You were good at sports, you made good grades, you were good looking and had a wonderful personality. I was none of that. I thought I deserved it."

I was gobsmacked! I had no idea. I started crying. "Little bro, I’m so sorry! I can’t imagine you feeling that way. I know saying I’m sorry doesn’t change anything, but I truly am sorry. I’d give anything to go back in time and change that for you."

He laughed. "I always accused you of having a ‘superiority complex’."

We started talking over each other. "Stephen, I was always…"

"Russell, you should’ve…"

"But, little bro, I didn’t…"

The insanity of our attempted conversation finally overcame us, and we started laughing. We laughed like only those in intense emotional circumstances can laugh.

I finally stopped laughing enough to grab Stephen. I wrapped him in the tightest hug I could, and said through the tears flowing down my cheeks, "Listen, you little brat. I love you, always have, and don’t you forget it."

He started sobbing, and once he could talk, he said, "Listen, you bigger brat, I love you too. Always have. Always will."

We cried away the pain, and a restoration happened between us. We did start liking each other, trusting one another and respecting each other.

Sometimes he still says things that let me know there’s residual effects of my actions. I’m often ashamed of how shallow and insensitive I was toward him...but we now are truly best friends. I tell him things I don’t think God knows about me, and he returns the favor.

Within a year of Stephen and I coming to an understanding with one another, we experienced the saddest day we’d ever faced. Dad passed away. As he lay dying, all I could think was, "I’m so glad he got to see me and Stephen become not only physical brothers, but brothers of the heart."

Stephen and I did the eulogy at Dad’s funeral. Stephen was my rock during that time, and I’d like to think I was his strength.

We stood together at Dad’s casket and I put my favorite pipe in Dad’s hand before they close the casket. It was the one he bought me the day I got my first flattop. It had always been my favorite. As weird as it may sound, knowing that Dad will always have my favorite pipe in his hand comforts me in some strange way. Stephen slipped a cigar into Dad’s pocket.

RIP Alfred James Richardson. Know your sons honor your memory, and hope to someday be as good a man as you were.




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