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Cameron's New Boss by Manny
Cameron gripped the arms of the barber chair as he nervously waited beneath the huge white cape for his haircut to begin. His head was bowed low and held firmly in place by the barber. His breathing was uneasy.
"Ready for the big change?" the barber asked with a tone of amusement. "Once I start with the clippers, there's no going back! No more Mr. Business Executive."
"Ready," Cameron eked out.
A loud, mechanical click was followed by the purr of the powerful Oster progienic clippers. The sound of the machine sent a jolt through Cameron. It was on the verge of happening.
Cameron tensed with anxiety. He had made his decision, and he would go thru with it. Knowing that he was in the chair on his own terms, of his own volition, gave him a bit of comfort. In a way, he was very eager for the divestiture to begin. He had ordered the brutal change and anticipated walking out of the barbershop a very different man, at least a different-looking sort of one. Gone would be the nice full business cut with its fussy side part.
Instantly, the vibration at his nape announced the transformation was beginning. The shriek of the metal teeth striking the soft padding of hair at the nape made Cameron's stomach churn. It was a moment he had long fantasized about, yearned for, and dreaded.
He recalled his instruction to the surprised barber, "Big change today. A zero on the sides and back and a number two on top."
The clippers were pressed closely to this scalp and he could feel them climbing slowly, purposefully all the way up the back of his head. The dense mane was no match for the barber's Oster clippers! The higher up the back of his head the clippers were thrust, the woozier Cameron felt.
"There!" the barber announced as he brought the clippers up through the cowlick. "Right to zero all the way up back. People are not going to recognize you, Cameron, with your new look."
"I suppose, I might not recognize myself," Cameron stammered nervously. "At least not at first."
"You have a very white scalp! Want to see what that first drive of the clippers exposed?" the barber asked.
"Uh, okay, um, sure. It's only going to happen to me once, I suppose," Cameron said, actually anticipating the sneak peek.
Cameron clung to the arm rests of the chair as the barber held up the hand mirror. The lush chestnut-colored locks with their beautiful auburn highlights totally devastated by a white strip of white scalp up the back! "Oh my," Cameron murmured. "That is going to be a huge change!"
The barber pushed Cameron's head back down and fired up the clippers again. "So, what's inspired this? I mean, a zero on the sides and back with a number two on top is a VERY short haircut! Have you ever sported just a small patch of stubble on top before? Maybe during your military service?"
"Nope, never served. And, frankly, I've always worn my hair on the longish side. I mean, in college, I looked like one of the Beatles!" Cameron thought back momentarily to those carefree days when the future seemed like unending possibilities. The reality was quite different. A promising start gave way to a sputtering mid-career that sent him scrambling for part-time consulting work.
"You still have a very thick head of nice hair for a man your age," the barber commented with a hint of wistfulness in his voice.
Cameron gulped; he knew it was true.
"It's just something I've wanted to do for a while - shave it all off. And, I'm changing jobs. Won't be in an office environment much anymore. Working mainly from home. No suits and ties. No big fancy desks with clients to impress." Cameron was already nostalgic for his old life.
"And, now with this haircut, no hair care in the morning," the barber added. He continued with the Osters, stripping the whole back clean before targeting the sides. "You'll roll out of bed and you'll be ready to go."
The barber snapped off the machine he'd been using and reached for another one. "A number two on top...are you sure? That'll be just a bit longer then a rough grade of sandpaper. I don't want you blaming me if you hate the new look."
"Just go for it. I know it'll be ultra-short. I asked one of my neighbors what instructions he gave his barber....so I know just how long, or how short, this will be," Cameron remarked, conjuring up some enthusiasm.
"I imagine you'll want to watch the end of the old you," the barber said, swiveling the chair towards the mirror.
The thick, slightly wavy chestnut hair still graced the top of Cameron's head like a thick padding. The heavy forelock slipped down, covering half his tall forehead.
The barber snagged the copious forelock with a comb and lifted it up so that the clippers could access the scalp at the hairline.
Without a word, the barber plunged the machine beneath the copious forelock and drove the teeth straight back over the scalp. A mass of chestnut-covered padding with fiery auburn highlights as lifted off in the wake of the clippers and fell with an almost audible thud to the cape.
Cameron stifled a gasp. "Owwww. Ohhhh." The stubble was shockingly short!
"What do you think? Like where this is going, recruit?" the barber chirped gleefully.
Cameron stared at the locks of hair that were covering the white cape almost completely. "So much hair," he murmured.
"Not anymore!" the barber laughed. "Up here, it's just stubble now! A few more swipes and there will be nothing more than an eighth of an inch on top!" He briefly brushed the stubble remains to prove his point.
Two more swipes of the clippers completely put an end to all length. Now it was just scalp on the sides and a dense stubble on top. Cameron felt dizzy and totally at the mercy of his strange new look. His head seemed puny! His ears stood out mercilessly! It took a bit of effort, coming to terms with the new Cameron.
The barber held up a mirror to display the full bare head. "Can't get it much shorter than this," he deadpanned. "Unless you're thinking about lather and a razor."
"No!" snapped Cameron. "It's just the way I wanted it, like my neighbor's. He's my new employer. I thought I'd copy his haircut."
The barber began to withdraw the hair-laden cape. "So, no more commuting, no more endless meetings, no more scurrying after bonuses. You must be thrilled!"
Cameron reached out from under the huge cape and felt his stubble for the first time. He liked the feeling and cracked a shy smile. "Oh, this is nice! Feels better than it looks, I must admit."
The barber unfastened the big metal clip, carefully withdrew the hair-laden cape and gave it a big shake. Hair covered the floor. "You don't think this short length suits you? Give it a few weeks of growth - you'll adapt. Want to take those clippings with you? Have a wig made?" the barber laughed.
"If only," Cameron sighed, though he thought a wig was exactly what he needed. His own hair looked so, shiny and beautiful, strewn behind the huge barber chair on the checked linoleum floor.
Cameron could not stop feeling his head or looking in the mirror. The conclusion was unmistakable; it felt better than it looked. Much better! His ears were unsightly!
As Cameron climbed into his car he told himself that the radically short haircut had been the right move. He'd lost his executive position, and, subsequently, his executive hairstyle. If he'd only hustled a bit more or sucked up to his old boss more! If only he'd taken him up on one or two of those invitations to play golf.
The terrifying new baldy look with his puny awkward head was a proper discipline for the pathetic new job he'd rustled up in the aftermath of being let go from the marketing firm. Cameron glanced in the rear view mirror. Next time, a #1 on top. The idea thrilled him. Yes, even shorter! The punishment for failure would be very severe.
As he pulled into the neighborhood, Cameron decided to stop by Russell's house and drop off his signed contract for consulting work. He shuffled nervously at the front door. It creaked open.
"Yes?" Russell asked. And then, following recognizing the man on the front stoop, he gasped, "OMG! Cameron, is that you?! Your hair!! It's gone. When you asked me the other day about my length, I had NO idea!"
Cameron stood, looking and feeling sheepish. "Well, what do you think? I've just come from the barber shop. I thought, since I was going through a professional change, I might as well."
"You might as well what? Start looking like a pin head?!" Russell laughed. "Oh my! It's so short! I never would have imagined you like this. And you're not wearing a business suit either."
Cameron stammered, "Uh, no shorter than yours."
Suddenly, Russell reached up and ran his fingers over the stubble. Cameron stood helplessly and submissively.
"I like you like this. Less cocky, less sure of yourself," cooed Russell. "I want to see you hustle with this gig I'm giving you. Understand? Got the contract?"
Cameron felt incredibly vulnerable as he handed over the paper work.
"Oh, just one change since I prepared it," Russell stated. "No upfront retainer of $5,000. The signing bonus. Might not get that much out of you and your puny pinhead." He looked up and surveyed Cameron's clipped head and smirked.
"But, we agreed!" Cameron protested. "The retainer fee is what sold me on the position. I have some immediate bills to pay."
"Hey, Cam! It's take it or leave it. No retainer!" Russell drew a big line through the clause with a flourish and initialed it. "Your initials there."
Cameron felt humiliated, but took the pen and reluctantly initialed the document. He got a taste of what his new relationship with Russell was going to be like. He was definitely going to be in the submissive, dependent position.
"Come on in and let's have a beer to celebrate our new relationship - employer to employee! To a nice loyal employee who will do exactly as I instruct," Russell said with a smirk on his face.
Russell looked so masculine and commanding. Cameron felt small and insignificant. Yet, he was grateful for the invitation for a beer. He hoped there might be another sort of bonus to make up for the sudden change and disappointment. And, yes, he was prepared to go to ANY length to please his new boss.
"What do you say I lather this pea-head up and scrape it clean?" Russell asked rhetorically as he stroked Cameron's stubble.
"If that would make you happy, Russell." Cameron's voice trailed as the door closed behind them. He was prepared to go to any length (or lack thereof) to satisfy the whims of his new boss.