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Flattening the Curve by Gilbert Milton Snodgrass
Chet hadn’t wanted to rent the room but he didn’t really have much of a choice. His lease at his old place was up and his coffeeshop was closed due to the quarantine. If he didn’t find a place soon, he would be out on the street just as everything went into long term shut down. So when he saw the ad for the single bedroom with food included, he jumped at the chance.
Of course, this was not an ideal situation for him. Mr. Gunderson, the man renting the room, was definitely kind of a fuddy duddy. He wore a tie every day and kept his hair in a rigid flat top haircut, the kind of haircut worn by NASA engineers in the 1950s. Dotted around the house were pictures of Mr. Gunderson’s son Gilbert who looked like a miniature version of Mr. Gunderson. Mr. Gunderson, a barber whose shop was now closed due to the quarantine, seemed to keep his son’s hair to the same precise specs as his own and the two had flat tops precise enough to set their watches too.
Gilbert was now away at MIT studying engineering, stranded in Massachusetts as the state had shut down, so Mr. Gunderson had cleared the remainder of his stuff out of his old bedroom and rented it out. Now it was Chet’s. There was always a look of chagrin on Mr. Gunderson’s face when he caught Chet’s decor through the cracked door. Album covers on the wall, some weird creepy art, the perpetually unmade bed. But the thing that bugged Mr. Gunderson the most was Chet’s grooming.
His hair fell in long cascading curves of a super hip undercut. It had been dyed slime green though now the roots were well grown out. Chet kept a scraggly beard and wore ripped jeans and band t-shirts. Mr. Gunderson shuddered whenever he heard him practicing his guitar through the door, imagining him bopping along and tossing those green curls around casually.
The two mostly stuck to themselves outside of Chet occasionally sitting in silence at the dinner table before hurrying back to his room to play guitar. The two couldn’t be more different.
As the quarantine stretched into week four, Chet found himself struggling. Even for his usually disheveled self, he was looking a mess. The hair on the side of his head had grown way out and it looked bad with his dyed hair on top. Mr. Gunderson caught him checking it out in the reflection of the toaster at breakfast one day.
"You know, if you need a haircut, I’m a barber by trade," he said. "I’ve been cutting my own hair this whole time." Chet snorted and looked at the man. His flat top looked as fresh as it did the day Chet had moved in. He clearly had skill. But he couldn’t trust his head of hair to a man who thought that haircut looked good. It was too old fashioned, too severe!
"Thanks but I don’t think I need a flat top," Chet rebutted.
"Well every boy needs a good flat top," Mr. Gunderson laughed. "But I can cut other styles too."
Chet considered it. It would be nice to still look fresh even though he was in lockdown.
"Ok, but just touch up the fade. I definitely like the frazzled, dyed curve on top."
Mr. Gunderson shuddered. There was nothing he appreciated less than this rebellious hair on an otherwise handsome young man. Chet could look so nice if he just shaved, committed to a nice conservative haircut, and did something about all those ratty old clothes he wore. He was the same size as his son Gilbert and Mr. Gunderson couldn’t stop thinking how nice Chet could look in a nice bowtie and plaid shirt like Gilbert liked to wear.
"Sure," said Mr. Gunderson with a wicked grin and his fingers crossed. "I’ll just give you a little touch up." He grabbed his barber’s cape and draped it over Chet before going to grab his clippers out of the garage. Chet rolled his eyes and waited as the boring tones of Mr. Gunderson’s old Bert Kaempfert record played from the living room. Was he really about to get a haircut from a man this old fashioned? Before he could change his mind, Mr. Gunderson was back and the clippers were whirring.
Chet sipped from a beer as he felt the clippers cut across the back of his neck. It felt great as the curly neck hairs dropped away and Chet could feel the wind of the ceiling fan brush across his neck. He had missed that feeling. He glanced down at the cape and saw more and more locks of hair drop and slide down the shiny black fabric as Mr. Gunderson did his work. Maybe he really did have what it takes for a modern fade.
Chet sipped on his beer and relaxed when suddenly he felt the clippers graze across the top of his head and saw a shock of green hair fall down the cape. He started to protest but Mr. Gunderson gave him a stern look and Chet fell silent. He couldn’t quite explain it but there was something in Mr. Gunderson’s gaze that just shut him right up. He wanted to fight back, but part of him wanted to comply. Chet felt his rebellious attitude squirm back down into the pit of his stomach as he sat there compliant.
He shook in fear as more and more green hair tumbled down the cape. He should stop him. He should stop Mr. Gunderson right now! But part of him enjoyed the thrill. He hadn’t expected that. Some part of him was honestly relieved that Mr. Gunderson was taking charge. Chet felt a tightness in his skinny jeans as his penis grew to attention. He was enjoying it! A moan of ecstasy escaped his lips as Chet felt a wet spot in his underpants. He was dripping with precum with every swipe Mr. Gunderson was taking.
Finally Chet felt the clippers run down the top of his head so tightly that he could feel them graze the top of his scalp. He was jelly, shaking in the seat. He wanted to say something but he just heard a tiny squeak come out of his mouth as Mr. Gunderson gripped his shoulder and said "No talking, son."
"Yes Sir," Chet said, at first shocked by his compliance, and then humiliated, and then pleased. It felt good to submit to this man. Chet felt the older man’s strong hands as they began to work a thick paste into his hair. He could feel just how short each bristle of hair had been taken on the sides but the shocker was how short it was on top. Chet couldn’t have more than an inch there now. Mr. Gunderson pulled out the blow dryer and began running the brush over Chet’s shorn locks.
"I may have taken a little more off than you were expecting," Mr. Gunderson said with a grin as he handed Chet the mirror. Chet gasped when he saw himself in the mirror. The rebellious green curve of hair he had was completely shorn away. Mr. Gunderson had given him a flat top just like the one he gave himself and his son Gilbert. All that was left was a narrow ring of jet black hair standing at a perfect ninety degree angle to the rest of his head. Chet tilted his head downward and stared at the bald spot Mr. Gunderson had shaved into the top.
"What the f*** is this!?" he groaned. With a crack, Mr. Gunderson slapped him across the face.
"I won’t have that kind of language in my home, do you understand me?" he barked at Chet.
"Yes," said Chet, a little shocked. Mr. Gunderson slapped him across the face once more.
"Yes, S-s-s-sir!" Chet stammered, taken aback by how forceful Mr. Gunderson had become, but also shocked at how his body was reacting. He could feel himself shrinking from the older man, but also his erection was raging beneath the cape. He liked being treated this way! It was so humiliating, but also felt so right.
"A boy like you should have been giving a cut like this a long time ago. We’re going to make this a weekly habit of yours. Do you understand?"
"Yes," said Chet, before quickly adding "SIR!"
"Now lay back, it’s time we did something about that terrible beard of yours."
"But..." began Chet before feeling Mr. Gunderson’s sharp gaze on him. "I mean, thank you Sir." Chet felt humiliated. All this time he had spent playing in a rock band, rebelling against norms, being a total queer freak... and here he was erotically thrilled to be dominated by this forceful man who was making him into a clean-cut little conformist.
Mr. Gunderson began slathering the hot lather on Chet’s face. Chet whimpered as Mr. Gunderson dragged the straight razor across his neck and cheeks, wincing as he saw the sheer amount of beard coming off in each swoop. After a few minutes, Mr. Gunderson wiped off the remaining shaving cream and splashed Chet’s face with an excessive amount of Old Spice. The sting shocked Chet and he gasped before the overwhelming stench of the aftershave overtook his senses. It was so powerful and reminded Chet of all the old-fashioned men he had known growing up. This was not the way that queer hipsters smelled! But the odor made him feel warm and contented, and extremely horny.
"You’ll be using this every day," Mr. Gunderson said as he handed Chet a large bottle of the stuff. "This is the same thing I use and the only thing my son Gilbert has ever used." He pulled the cape off Chet and sent the remaining scatters of slime green hair falling to the floor. He handed Chet a broom and dustpan. "I expect this floor to be spotless." Chet just uttered a meek "Yes Sir" and immediately got to sweeping as Mr. Gunderson retired to the living room to flip his record.
Chet finished sweeping and retired to his room. He ran his hands over the humiliatingly short and conservative haircut and felt himself rise to attention again. The landing strip on top was particularly humiliating but Chet couldn’t stop thinking about how powerless he had been in Mr. Gunderson’s chair and how much he enjoyed that. He would have done whatever the old man had asked of him. He started at himself in the mirror, at the clean cut boy he had become, and beat off furiously as he rubbed the sharp sides of his flat top and the smooth landing strip. He had never cum that hard in his life and he sprayed all over his fresh cut hair. The humiliation overtook Chet again and he realized he was powerless to stop it. He belonged to Mr. Gunderson now.
A week later when Mr. Gunderson demanded Chet sit down for his next haircut, there was something warmer about the man. He praised Chet for how well he was maintaining his clean cut face and how he could definitely smell the Old Spice he was using.
"There’s just one problem, son," he said.
"What’s that, Sir?" Chet stammered out.
"I won’t have someone in my home that dresses like they pulled their clothes out of the dumpster. My son Gilbert left a few of his outfits behind. After we’re done here, you’re going to bring me all of your clothes and we will throw them out and replace them with respectable clothing."
"No w--" Chet stammered before hesitating. He saw the mean look in Mr. Gunderson’s eyes and immediately become aroused. Mr. Gunderson was going to completely tailor Chet’s appearance and he knew there was no way to fight it. What would he do? Leave? He couldn’t! And besides, he was already leaking precum just thinking about how embarrassed he would feel in Gilbert’s conservative clothing.
Chet went back up to his room, freshly flattened and his hair standing to perfection and brought all his clothes down in a trash bag so Mr. Gunderson could throw them out. Soon after, Mr. Gunderson came down from the attic with some old boxes of Gilbert’s and began showing Chet his new wardrobe: plaid shirts, high rise pants, bow ties, suspenders, even a few old pocket protectors. Mr. Gunderson patiently taught Chet how to tie a bow tie and by the end of the evening, he was dressed exactly the way that Gilbert was in all the family photos.
Chet gulped when he saw himself in the mirror. All rebellion and individuality had been removed from his appearance. He looked like a nice clean cut nerd from the 1960s and he could barely recognize himself. The bow tie was tied nice and chokingly-tight as the starched collar of the plaid shirt scratched his neck. His pants were held above his belly button with a pair of vintage suspenders. A pair of white slouchy socks peeked out from below the hem as Mr. Gunderson slipped a pair of Gilbert’s brown suede Hush Puppies on to Chet’s feet. With the exception of the glasses, Chet looked just like a dark haired version of Gilbert. But luckily he had his contacts so he didn’t need glasses.
"Take them out," Mr. Gunderson said almost reading his mind.
"Sorry Sir?" asked Chet hesistantly.
"Take out your contacts," he demanded. Chet gulped and ran to the bathroom where he pulled the contacts out of his eyes and put them in the case. He hurried back to Mr. Gunderson, stumbling a few times as he bumped into an end table in the hallway. Mr. Gunderson snatched the contacts out of his hand and threw them in the garbage.
"Here, try these on." He handed Chet a clunky pair of frames. The prescription wasn’t quite the same but he could see well enough. Now from head to toe, he looked like a retro cleancut nerd. Chet had always been embarrassed of his bad vision but now being embarrassed was a perk. The thick lenses made his eyes look tiny and the retro frames made him look so old fashioned. They were black plastic with a clear bridge, the kinds of glasses people didn’t wear anymore. They were retro nerd glasses.
"You look perfect, Chester," Mr. Gunderson said.
"My name is Chet," Chet said.
"I’ve seen the lease you signed," Mr. Gunderson said. "You and I both know that Chet is sort for Chester, your real name. It’s disrespectful to not use the real name your father gave you, isn’t it, Chester?"
Chet was overwhelmed with humiliation. He hadn’t been called Chester since he was a child. But he knew he couldn’t say no to Mr. Gunderson.
"Yes Sir," Chester said. "My name is Chester."
Mr. Gunderson smiled. "That’s right, Chester. Now it’s almost 9pm. Don’t you think you should be getting ready for bed?"
Chester just gulped. Going to bed at 9pm was humiliating but what else could he do?
"Yes Sir," he said as he headed up and got ready.
The next morning, Mr. Gunderson was up nice and early and he made Chester hand over all his decor. He redecorated the room with Gilbert’s old furniture. Chester’s queen sized bed was replaced with a modest twin bed and all the weird art and albums on the walls were replaced with science posters and signed Star Trek pictures. Chester felt a twinge of humiliation as he saw Mr. Gunderson take his possessions out to the curb but the need to submit to the man was more powerful. He barely even put up a fight as Mr. Gunderson took his guitar away.
"A good boy like you shouldn’t be playing a guitar anyways," Mr. Gunderson said as he snapped the neck of the instrument. He unlatched a large box that he had brought down from the attic and revealed a shiny red enameled accordion. "You’re going to learn how to play a more respectable instrument. This is one of Gilbert’s spare accordions. Since he has so much time off right now, he’s even agreed to teach you how to play over Zoom so I’ve arranged for him to give you lessons every morning from 8am until 10am." Chester’s boner raged from the humiliation and it took all his energy to muster out a meek "Thank you Sir."
Chester was humiliated during his first lesson as he was tutored by the equally nerdy and meek Gilbert. Just hearing someone as nerdy as Gilbert correct him and call him Chester was overwhelming. Every time Gilbert would tell him "Gee whiz, Chester, you’re sounding better and better," Chester would respond with a geeky "Thanks friendarino" as his erection dripped with precum. He couldn’t get enough of it! Soon, the lessons had taken on a more familiar tone as it was clear Gilbert had a crush on Chester. Chester could barely handle it. Just a few months back he had been making out with all kinds of hot skeezy punks at the bar. Now he was getting hit on by a four eyed nerd in a bow tie. And when Gilbert asked him if they could be internet boyfriends, Chester couldn’t help but say yes. Now he was a huge nerd dating another huge nerd over the internet.
Eventually Chester became an expert accordionist and the pandemic became a thing of the past. Gilbert finished his engineering degree and moved back home. Mr. Gunderson wouldn’t let the two share a room so they did the only logical thing and made things official. Mr. Gunderson called a local Episcopalian priest and he swung by to marry the two nerdy boys. Chester couldn’t believe it. Gilbert and Chester Gunderson were two married nerds! They wore their bowties and pocket protectors and matching glasses every day and even though they were married, Mr. Gunderson made them sleep in separate twin beds in the same room. Each one would play the accordion during their weekly appointments where Mr. Gunderson, whom they both now called "Dad" gave them identical flat tops before sending them back to their shared room for more practice and a fun night of chess. There was nothing cool or hip or modern anymore about Chester. His every moment was one of abject humiliation, and he couldn’t be happier.