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The Treasure in Jerry's Wallet by Manny

When I went back to my changing room with a larger size shirt and pulled the curtain back, I was startled by what I saw. Standing in the small space, dressed in nothing but a pair of white briefs, was a young fellow who seemed as flustered as myself. From the perfectly chiseled physique, there was no doubt he spent a lot of time at the gym. Nice abs -- well-toned muscles everywhere, actually. My eyes quickly darted up from the traditional Fruit of the Loom underpants to his mane of flowing blond hair that cascaded down past his shoulders. He looked like a Norse god!

"Oh, I'm sorry," I stammered. "Those are my things." I pointed to a few shopping bags in the corner, as well as my own shirt hanging from a hook.

"Did I take your changing booth? I didn't realize it was occupied," he replied, a bit shaken by the sudden intrusion. He tried to cover himself and retrieve my things simultaneously, having difficulty with both tasks. My visibly giving him the once over probably did not help matters!

As he leaned forward to hand me my bags and shirt, his thick locks dangled freely and were in full display beneath the harsh neon lighting that reminded me of my barber shop. He was exactly the type of lad I loved to cape up in my chair..... Click, buzzzzzz, clumps of soft, shiny hair cascading to the cape. My kind of client!

As I took the jumble of stuff he handed me, I again apologized.

"No, I'm to blame," he insisted. "I should've seen your things."

That was the last I thought of the incident till I got home and realized that one of the bags he'd handed me was not mine. It was his! And, inside it was his wallet. Poor guy....if he had found anything to buy at the store, he certainly didn't have money or a credit card.

Then, I spotted his driver license inside. Hope the cops didn't stop Jerome David Partridge on the way home!

What stood out about the driver license was the photo -- a younger version of Jerome David Partridge sporting a flattop! And he looked super hot in it. A very deep pile top with slightly beveled edges. I wondered what happened to his barber. Perhaps a new girlfriend demanding he grow his hair long?

I did a quick search online and found a few phone numbers associated with the name. I called the first two and they'd been disconnected. But the third number went into voice mail. From my brief exchange with him outside the dressing room, it definitely could be him. I left a message with the news that I had something of his....if he could call and identify it.

Half hour later the call from "Jerry" came. "I got a message from you about something of mine."

"Oh yeah, did you lose something important today?" I asked.

"You're the fellow whose dressing room I was in at TJMaxx!" he exclaimed. "You have a bag from Kohl's with a package of underwear...and my wallet, I hope!"

"Brand of underwear?" I asked, toying with him a bit.

"Calvin Klein," he replied quickly.

"Last question. Describe how you look on your driver license photo," I asked.

"Handsome!" he exclaimed without missing a beat.

"But the photo wasn't exactly what I saw in the dressing room today. And, I'm not talking about those tight briefs you were sporting!" I remarked.

"You're talking about my flattop. Not how my hair is now. But, that's the way I wore it for a few years. That is, until haircuts got knocked out of my budget when money got tight," he replied.

"Well, you had an excellent barber. That was quite a perfect flattop you sported when the license was issued. And I should know, since I'm a barber myself. But the price of the constant maintenance a flattop requires, well, yes, that can be an issue. Keeping a flattop perfectly groomed can require continuous visits. Even a two-week break from the routine can leave the flattop looking messy."

"When can I pick up my wallet?" he asked, getting back to the issue. "I felt nervous driving home without a license."

"Are you still at the address on the license?" I asked.

"Yep, do you live nearby?" he replied.

"My shop isn't too far from there. Are you familiar with the plaza where the Safeway is on Grand Haven?" I asked.

"I'm so sorry about the inconvenience. First, taking over your changing room and now having you go out of your way to deliver my wallet to me. I can come to your place," Jerry offered.

"No, let's meet at my barber shop. I was thinking you might be game for a free haircut. I bet I can cut as good a flattop as your previous barber," I commented with a hopeful tone in my voice.

There was a bit of a silent pause on the phone. "Oh, um, I...uh, well, actually, I feel like I'm a huge pain in the ass. I don't want to be any more of a bother to you."

"It's no bother at all. In fact, I really enjoy cutting flattops -- especially first-time flats, or first time in a long time. Meet you there in half hour?" I suggested. "It's at the end of the plaza. Grand Haven Barber Shop."

"Oh, um, I was just going out, and, uh, not sure I could make it there by then," he stammered.

I paused. "Hey, if you don't want a flattop, or any haircut at all, that's totally fine. I was just trying to be nice. Like I was when I took time to locate you and now go out of my way to get your stuff back to you."

Jerry felt duly chastened. "Sorry. It's just that...."

"No problem, I'm usually at the shop from 10 a.m. to 6 pm, except Sunday and Monday. Stop by when it fits into your schedule," I said and then quickly hung up.

Tuesday morning, I spotted him getting out of the car near the shop. His gorgeous hair glistened in the sun. He ran his fingers through to push the hair back from his face. I could tell he had a bit of a nervous look on his face as he approached the shop. He opened the door cautiously, hesitating about coming in. It was clear to me he would not take up my offer of a free flattop!

"Oh, hey, Jerry," I called out. "I have the wallet in back. Let me get it."

When I returned from the back room he was standing just inside the door, as if afraid to get near the big chairs or clippers. He took the wallet quickly from me and reach for the door to exit. "Oh, thank you so much," he said with a look of relief on his face. His hair looked so ripe for the shearing, hanging down past his shoulders in back.

He hadn't taken three steps away from the shop, when he paused. I could tell he was rooting through his wallet. He turned around with an unpleasant look on his face. He came back to the store in a bit of a snit, and flung the door open.

"What happened to the $50 bill that was in here?" he demanded.

I was taken aback. "Are you accusing me of stealing?" I fumed.

"Well, it was in the wallet when you took it on Saturday, and now it's not here. What am I to conclude?" he snapped back.

"Jerk!" I exclaimed. "If I wanted to steal your money, would I have called you and arranged this rendez-vouz? You're a real idiot, you know. And, an ungrateful one. If I were up to no good, I would have charged each one of those credit cards up to the max, in addition to taking your money and also selling your personal info to some drug cartel. But, no....I went out of my way to find you and return the whole wallet to you -- just as it was when YOU accidentally handed it to ME! You act like I stole it from you.... And for all this, you accuse me of being a thief. Get out of here!" I shouted.

And he did just that.

I didn't think anything more about him until two weeks later, when I saw him again in the parking lot.

At first, I wasn't sure it was him. But, when I saw him run his fingers through his long hair, just like before, I was near certain. And, when he started heading straight to my shop, it cleared up any lingering doubt. The shop was empty and I was sitting in one of the big chair reading a paper.

As he neared the door, he hesitated. Finally, he reached for the handle, opened it slowly and poked his head in. He had a very contrite, sheepish look on his face.

"Uh, excuse me, but I owe you an apology," he said. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," I answered, nonchalant, but curious. "The sign on the door says 'open'."

He fished something out of his pocket, unfolded it and showed me the $50 bill. "When I went to do laundry yesterday, I found this in my jeans as I was checking the pockets."

"So, I'm not a thief after all?" I grinned.

"No, you're an honest, nice, hardworking barber," he said, glancing nervously at the mirror.

"And, I'm here for a haircut," he added softly. He pawed at his long hair, and added, "This has gotten way too long."

I smiled broadly and rose from the chair. "A free flattop?" I asked.

He approached the mirror and gazed momentarily at his long hair. "Yep, I'm here for a flattop. But, I'm prepared to pay, thanks to an honest man who returned my wallet. It'll be a big change, for sure. Actually, there are several things I need to change, so I figured a fresh flattop might remind me of that each morning."

I dusted off the barber chair and invited him to sit. Having me take the clippers to his lush locks would be a sort of penance, I surmised.

"You certainly have a lot of hair," I noted as I fastened the cape around him, drawing out the copious locks. I fashioned his hair into a sort of tail while as I struggled with the big metal clip. "Very thick hair. Perfect for a flattop. But, it's also ideal for the longhaired look you've got going." I let his hair fall naturally and admired the sheen as it flowed down past his shoulders.

"Today, it's back to a flattop for me," he affirmed, resolute in his decision. The nervousness morphed into excitement.

I took the brush to his copious locks -- a good twelve inches would be coming off in his transformation. "You're sure?" I asked, almost taunting him. "A nice plush one like you sported in your driver license, or something shorter?" In my mind I was thinking I would very much like to shoe him....no pretty boy flattop for Jerry!

"I'm going to leave that up to you," he said. "We'll see how your work stacks up with that of my previous barber. You were quite confident about your skill with flattops when we last spoke of the matter."

I picked up a set of shears and primed them a bit. First step would be to clear away the overgrowth. I swiveled the chair away from the mirror. Jerry would be treated to the "big reveal". He shifted in his seat as the chair swung around to face the empty waiting area.

I grasped a shank of his mane and took the shears to it. The first snip of the scissors sent a mass of beautiful hair to my feet. Cutting off the length made me surge with delight. Crunch, crunch! More of the length fell from his nape. I loved watching it fall to my feet. A long, white neck peaked through the strands of glimmering gold. His transformation could not be reversed at this point.

Out of the silence, Jerry spoke, as if he were in a confessional. "You weren't the only one I falsely accused in that wallet incident," he began with a thin, shaky voice. "When I couldn't find it in the changing room that day, I laid into the attendant and told her she had probably slipped in when I went to retrieve a smaller size and took it. She denied that vehemently, and I started making a scene. I demanded to speak with the manager. There was such a fuss. Everyone looking on. The attendant was weeping, and I said that was proof she was guilty. Finally, they called a store guard, and I was ushered away from the commotion I'd caused. The manager slipped me a $100 gift card for my 'inconvenience' and said he would ensure the attendant was fired."

I glanced down at the floor. Already a nice carpet of his golden hair had begun to form at my feet. I pushed his head forward so that it bowed low to the chest. It was time for the clippers.

"So you're a cocky little brat who needs to have his wings clipped....."

I continued shearing off huge shanks of his golden hair. He was very cooperative as his penance was imposed on him.

Have you already spent it?" I asked, as I clicked on the machine.

"No, I'm going to return it after I leave here," he replied in a chastened tone.

I pushed the naked teeth of the clippers forcefully up the back of Jerry's head. Hair fell away in torrents! My grip kept the lad immobilized in the chair. He was going to get a very short flattop.

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked. I watched the clippers strip away the bulky locks. More of Jerry's hair piled up at my feet.

"I feel ashamed. I feel remorse. I don't want to be like that...." he murmured.

"Is having your plush mane shaved off a type of penance?" I asked.

"It's just that I tended to be a nicer, kinder person when I was cleancut," he explained. "Long hair made me more surly and aggressive. How did you put it, cocky? Yep, cocky! Full of myself. But, yes, I suppose putting an end to these locks that everyone praises is a sort of...." He reached from under the cape and grasped a handful of cut hair.

"In that case, let's make this haircut extra memorable and your penance most complete," I said. Without another word, I pushed the clippers up, up, up the back and then straight down the top of the head towards the fringe. Mounds of hair fell everywhere. "You're getting a SHOE!" I announced.

"A shoe?!" he stammered, voice quavering.

"Yep, no prissy little pretty boy flattop for you today!" I clarified. "You're getting shoed! You're going to walk out of here on the very straight and narrow path."

Jerry gripped the arms of the chair to steady himself as I executed my decision. "I did say -- 'I'm going to leave that up to you' -- when you asked me about the length. I've always admired the shoe, but never had the guts to request one."

"95% of this noggin of yours, lather shaved! It will be a wonderful sight to behold," I stated.

"Just the smallest bit of length around the crown," he murmured.

"More like a tiara! You pranced in here looking like a princess and will leave looking like a handsome prince, one with a military inclination!" I laughed.

I was all over his head with the clippers, stripping virtually all length away. Jerome David Partridge was getting his first shoe! The floor looked fantastic as I wrapped up the clipper action.

Then came the lather. But first, I draped moist, warm towels around his head to condition his scalp for the straight edged razor.

"Oh, that feels fantastic," he murmured.

"I'll be a true sculptor as I carve your shoe. I want this to be absolutely perfect," I said.

I took my time massaging in the cream. He groaned with pleasure as I covered his whole scalp. Then, as I scraped the razor across his bare skin, he shivered with delight. "The shoe is worth it just for this pleasurable finale," Jerry noted.

"I hope you like the look, just as much I think you will," I replied as I prepared him for the big reveal.

The chair was swiveled slowly around, and Jerry got glimpse of the new him.

"OMG!" he stammered. "I love it!"

I held up the mirror so that he could see the clean back. It shone with intensity under the neon light of the barber shop.

"All gone! Fantastic!" he exclaimed. He took his hand out from under the cape and felt the smooth scalp. "This looks and feels amazing."

"So, it's settled, no more long hair for you!" I laughed.

"And you're my new 'go to' barber!" Jerry replied with a huge smile.

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