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Thompson's Toyland Truce by Armando94


Thompson’s Toyland Truce

This is a story for those who like something a little different, not just a one-stop haircut moment. This is very different from any of my other stories on this site, I will be going back to my normal straight forward haircuts here on out--- enjoy and let me know your thoughts…

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There was an indoor flea market right off of one of the major highways, ran all-year long no matter what the weather permitted. Many people spent their whole life living in this part of the state and constantly passed by, never taking a pitstop to see what was inside. It looked like a massive warehouse when you got a quick glance in the rearview mirror. Sort of a weird place to have it, good attention from the constant traffic, but besides the building and its parking lot, the place seemed to be surrounded by a woods. You may have even heard from people that the place was creepy, just from the looks, that maybe it was even haunted. There was no factual proof of this. People from all over the state and beyond would come here at any given moment. But the flea market was rarely ever crowded, especially in the off seasons like winter or summer when people were out doing something better or staying in. But still, this place seemed to test the times and remain in place, never a for sale sign, never going out of business. Heck, never even a help wanted sign appeared…hadn’t anyone ever noticed that? In what ten, twenty, perhaps even fifty or so years, never once a help wanted sign in that parking lot?

This was a flea market unlike any other.

Yes, it did have a lot of your usual shops. There were quite a few clothing vendors, one woman who ran a pop-up florist shop, another man who had a collection of records and radios, another with old time cameras and film, then a kind of antiquarian library that also had maps and more, little concession stands of course if you wanted something greasy and salty, an old timey toy shop with memorabilia dating back to the last century still in perfect condition, many smaller stands and kiosks of men and women selling their wares no matter how bizarre, why there was even a barber shop in one of the corners run by two middle aged men who looked like they were from the last century. The flea market had a dated look and feel to it, but most comer’s and go-er’s didn’t pay much mind to this. Isn’t that the sort of thing you expected with a place like this? A bunch of junk or crap that someone didn’t want? Perhaps that was why so many stayed away. And yet still, so many still came week after week, year after year, and didn’t notice a thing. Not even that the owners of the stands and shops never once changed.

One day, everything was about to change. And yet no on in this story had any idea it would. It starts with these two young men in their mid-twenties named Kevin and Alex. Two guys who had nothing better to do, a bunch of low-life’s if you asked anyone. Upbringings that gave up on them especially by the time they turned eighteen and could be out of the house. They bounced from odd job to odd job now in their life, and that wasn’t including any of the mischief they got up to in their spare time in the evenings and weekends. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, stealing, or simply just causing trouble for others. They always got away by the skin of their teeth, or at least thought they always could. That was all about to change.

They pulled into the flea market lot with Alex’s stolen pick-up. "Here it is," he declared.

"Been passing this dump for years, never stepped foot in it before," Kevin joked as he whipped his overgrown bangs out of his face and rubbed a free hand across his stubble jaw. Alex had shoulder length hair that hadn’t been trimmed in ages, and he could do with a shave to the face as well.

"Doesn’t look like it gets much action anyways," Alex laughed a bit. "They haven’t met us yet."

"What’s the plan, bro?"

"We scoop it out, see what they’ve got, I’m sure there’s a few good finds at least, gotta be."

"In a place this big and this weird, gotta be man," Kevin chimed in. The two men stepped out of the car, not realizing it would be the last time they did. They sauntered over to the entrance on the side of the building, looking like they were on a heist in their dark clothes.

The first stop on their left inside was a man with all these old film cameras. Now anyone actually interested in this form of art would be beyond fascinated, asking the owner questions. But Kevin and Alex picked things up, put them down, even dropped a few down, looking at the ancient cameras as how they viewed them. Not even willing to comprehend the purpose of one. Then leaving the man to rearrange is set-up. There was a flower shop from a distance they saw, Alex made a comment that they probably came from that weird woods behind this place, which made them both laugh out loud. The clothes were another story. There were quite a few pieces that really caught their eye, but the owners and managers had all their focus on these two knuckle heads, so they wouldn’t be able to get away with sneaking something.

"Forget this, I don’t want to dress like I’m from the sixties anyways," Kevin joked loud enough for everyone to hear, and him and Alex hopped off on to another victim.

Their eyes were caught by all the concessions available. They had the attention of these shop keepers too, who kept encouraging them to buy something, or even try something. But then when they saw the free samples, it even turned their stomachs off. It looked too greasy or sugary to them, that they eventually walked this off too. They had to suppress laughs as they walked by oddball stands of people selling virtually garbage. The boys weren’t so good at holding back, even stopping and picking a few things up, taunting the owners why they would sell this kind of crap, it wasn’t even worth a dollar.

There was a book stand that was outside what seemed to be an old book store within this market. They had no desire for reading, never had, but Alex poked one of the rows that it set off the rest of the books in a domino effect with a majority of them eventually falling to the ground. This made Kevin and Alex run off. As they sprinted away, still laughing at themselves, they caught sight of another shop amidst all this.

"A barber shop??" they both said at the same time, poking their heads through a faux window in the wall to look in. Either it was a fake image or was the real deal, the barbers and their two man shop looked totally outdated.

"Come on let’s get out of here," Alex slapped Kevin on the back and they kept moving.

Finally, they came upon one last stand, similar to the library, it was set-up like a store with walls outside it, within this whole complex. It had the sign "Thomposon’s Toyland" and so they both grinned at each other and went inside. There was an old man behind the counter, who to them looked like a wizard with his Merlin’s beard and Santa Clause glasses.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen!" The old man cheerily offered up. "Welcome!"

Both boys snickered in the old man’s direction and said nothing in response, they kept lurking around the store, picking things up, putting them down in the wrong place, maybe even dropping them. Kevin picked up a vintage Hess truck, which the old man came around from his chair and said, "That is a collector’s item, from the early eighties son."

"You don’t say," Kevin dropped it back down, a loud crash, and kept moving around.

The old man tried to shake it off, he noticed Alex had some Lincoln logs, "Oh, and those are from the seventies edition. Very rare to find anymore."

"I wonder why, everyone probably threw their own away," he chucked the memorabilia in his hand as well. They boys continued to pick things up and put them back in the wrong place, or leave them on the ground, old trains and trucks, wood block toys, vintage board games and dolls, while the old man stood there and said nothing until finally he couldn’t take it anymore.

"If you could please put that back where you found it, young man."

"Me? I don’t work here," Kevin laughed and Alex chimed in.

"I’d appreciate if you just put them back where they belong."

"Says who?" Alex got in the old man’s face. "Come on man, who needs this junk anyways," and on their way out, dragging their feet and kicking everything that came near their sneakers.

The old man was brought to tears at the sight before him. Not in all these years had anyone or any two people ever been so careless and so intentionally hurtful towards him. He just couldn’t bare it. This wasn’t right, he wasn’t feeling right all of a sudden. Maybe he needed to take a seat. He had been at this for a very long time, longer than everyone else here. Frozen in time for nearly a hundred years now at an old age, once a traveling toys salesman many moons ago until over fifty years ago when he set this up with some other traveling members of the band of misfits. But my oh my, he had never been treated this badly before.

He took a seat, found himself having a fit of coughs, and then they continued, and his heart started to heart. Oh no, was he having a heart attack? What was happening?! Was it his time?! After all these many years?! Was this how he was to go???

And then, he felt himself stop and then slowly fall to sleep on top of his counter…

-----

Kevin and Alex were giggling their whole way out of the flea market, the other shop owners catching sight of them, glaring back at them with such ruefulness and anger. They were hardly paying attention at this point, they were simply looking to get out of the place.

"Well, we are never coming back here again," Kevin laughed.

"You won’t catch me dead stepping foot in this place for however long I live," Alex said. He reached for the door, and it was stuck. No, jammed? Why wasn’t it going?

"Move over moron," Kevin slammed into it with his body. Nothing for him either.

Suddenly, the flea market’s lights started to spazz out, it was like there was a power outage. What was going on, both boys grabbed for each other out of fear. It was dark one moment, and then suddenly the lights came back on, a bit dimmed though. They spotted that the man with the camera stand was no longer behind his belongings. They poked their heads around the corner, why did they have the feeling they were the only people left in this whole place? How could that be though? They knew they were there around closing time…but still!

There wasn’t anyone at any of the other stands, as they began to retrace the perimeter of the flea market. "Dude, this is f---in freaky," Kevin shivered.

"Man I don’t see a soul, where did everyone go? I don’t see another exit, do you?"

"No dude! But we gotta get out of here."

They continued passing each stand, no one in sight, even going passed that random barber shop in the middle of all this. That window must not have been a picture, because the old timey shop look was there but it was missing its two employees. "Where is everyone?" Alex asked out loud.

Then they heard some commotion, it was coming from the toy shop they had just wrecked. Neither of the boys wanted to go in there, but they felt they had no choice at this point. As they stepped inside of the wreckage they had left, all the employees of the flea market were gathered here in whispers and tears as they looked upon the old man who was flopped over his countertop.

"Is he…?" Kevin stupidly asked out loud.

"It was you," the camera owner said, "The two of you."

"We didn’t murder him! How could we?" Alex defended.

"No," the flower woman answered. "You broke his heart. That was how."

Kevin and Alex did not want to get near the body but they could feel a cold and blue presence just standing six feet away. Had they really caused this man to have a heart attack and die? He was pretty old looking after all, but seriously? Just how?!

"Look, we are just trying to get out of here and go home—" Kevin tried to say.

"There is no going home, not for you two anymore," someone said.

"What the f--- does that mean?" Alex swore.

"SILENCE" a spirit suddenly appeared and the room got darker. Then before them all was the toy shop owner in ghost form and an illuminating light. His body had vanished but now he was present in a new form. The other flea employees looked on in awe while the two trouble-makers looked on in fear. "You two, Kevin and Alex, have caused trouble."

"How do you know our names?!"

"We are all knowing, we have been around this earth for many, many years," the spirit spoke. "Not only have you been bad to all of us today, but incredibly horrible to your community, family and so-called friends. You have never received a justifiable punishment. No fine or overnight in prison ever taught you a lesson. Nothing will ever get through your head’s willingly, only by force it seems.

"And that is why, after today’s performance, after you broke my heart and rummaged through my store leaving it in disarray, you leave me with no choice. You leave ALL of us with no choice. As I have passed on into another life, one must take up shop in my absence. Since there is nothing better either of you have going on in your life, and no one out there to miss either of you, I sentence the two of you to be frozen in time from this day forward, and to serve, own and operate this toy shop, and living your lives with the rest of this community."

"WHAT?! No!!" both boys shouted.

"I said SILENCEEEE," the spirit stirred and you could have swore there was a crack of thunder and shock of lightning felt in the air of the room. "You must pay back, and the only way you can do that, is by finally learning your lesson. You give us no choice though, you will be unyielding, so we must force and pressure this upon you in any way we can."

The boys suddenly felt sharp pains in their bodies at the mention of that, and doubled over to the floor, screaming out for pain. One employee eventually came over and produced them each with a glass of water which they both quickly took. "You’ll never keep us here forever," Kevin said before he sipped.

"Yeah, we’ll call the cops on you all, freaks," Alex muttered before sipping as well.

"Oh," the spirit said, "I have a feeling you won’t be going anywhere my boys. You’ll see," he softly chuckled. As soon as the water hit the boys’ lips, they felt they needed more and found that they had gulped it all down in one hit. Little did they realize, it was further part of the trap. The magic was not only keeping them in, but now was slowly being run into their system with this one drink. A haze was felt over their bodies, their eyes even feeling a bit teary, heads bobbing from side to side uncontrollably.

"My fellow flea family," the spirit declared, "you know what must be done, we have much work to do. Get on with the preparations as best you can," and a majority of these people began to evacuate out of the little room, leaving the spirit alone with Kevin and Alex and the two barbers. The boys felt a bit like they were hallucinating right now and couldn’t comprehend everyone’s mass exodus and who was totally left or not. "Mike and Dave, I leave you to the first task. I trust you understand how important this is. I know you will turn these young men into sharp looking gentlemen, honorable-looking proprietors of my beloved establishment. They say we are all old and outdated. Well, now its time they become part of our world."

Before either boy could utter the word "What?" they found themselves on their feet being dragged away, "So long, Ken and Allan, I know I will see you again very soon…"

-----

Was this all actually happening? Both Kevin and Alex knew they were in a funk and were being forced through the flea, but had that crazy ghost man called them by different names? That wasn’t them? What on earth was going on? This couldn’t be real.

The two barbers, who were named Mike and Dave according to their shirts, brought them in to the neon lit room and dropped them on the linoleum floors. Kevin and Alex didn’t even know if this was like how they felt when they were high, or even drunk. It was unexplainable how their bodies and minds felt right now. What was going on with them? Was something put in that water?

"On your feet gentlemen," Mike stated. Both boys found themselves immediately responding at attention. Well that was awfully strange, since when did they listen that quick? "My colleague Dave will provide you with clean clothes," Dave then handed each of them a clean white tank-top, white tube socks for grandpa’s, and a pair of underwear, truly tight-y-white-y’s!

"This isn’t an outfit, what is this?" Kevin asked sternly.

"Clean clothes," Mike reiterated, "I didn’t say what, I did say clean and clothes though. You young gentlemen can’t always get what you want, save that for your flirting at the dances with girls," this barber was talking like he was from a different generation. "Now strip and put those on."

Again, the two boys immediately followed orders even if a part of them inside didn’t want them to. But before they knew it, they were both standing there with their new clean garments on. The pile of their old clothes stood before them until it suddenly vanished like magic. "Hey! What ya do that for mister?" Alex heard himself say, and then threw his hands up to his mouth. Why was he talking like this now too??

"You won’t be needing those anymore, gentlemen," Mike smiled. Then he went and grabbed for Kevin, and Dave for Alex, saying, "And now its time we take care of you. Seems you haven’t paid your barber a visit recently, you know you should be doing that every ten days young man, keep yourself looking sharp." Mike fussed with Kevin’s over-grown hair. It definitely looked dirty and unkept, that was for sure. Grown out over his ears, flopped over his face, nearly touching his collar. And his supposed beard was hardly one, extremely patchy was more like it. Alex had even longer hair that did touch his shoulders, and his beard was a lot more full but it looked gross and unkept, never trimmed or seen balm or beard oil.

"Ten days?! Who has time for that?!"

"Ah, men who care about their appearance. But don’t worry, we’ll have you two looking smart and spiffy before you know it, and keep you on a good schedule of routine haircuts every week from now on," the barbers leaded each of their new clients to their chairs.

Even as Kevin and Alex sat down, they couldn’t bring themselves to get up. Seriously, what was going on? One part of them resisting, the other part falling into this trap. No matter how much they jerked their bodies around, their seats wouldn’t budge. "Gosh darnit," Kevin shook his head.

"I will not have you talking like that in my chair, young man," Mike stated. What was so wrong with gosh darnit? In fact Kevin could hardly believe he said that instead of something else.

"How about we give these fine young men a good washing first, Mike?"

"That’s a terrific idea, Dave." And with that, both barbers flashed the starch-white cape that matched their uniforms, and draped it around their clients, fastening it very tight. If the magic that was keeping both boys’ butts in the barber chair wasn’t already working, well these barber capes were like a weighted blanket neither of them could afford before today. They felt themselves sinking further and further into the trap as the cape covered their bodies, and was tied securely around their neck.

"What do you boys say to a nice hair wash?" Dave asked them.

"Sounds swell!" Kevin and Alex said simultaneously. Holy crap, swell?!?! They hadn’t even hesitated to think of a response, it just sort of came out of them both! But the more they tried to pressure themselves to think about what was going on, the less strength the resistance within them had. And then, their barbers leaned both their chairs back, and heads into the wash basins. Running the warm water into it and on their heads, the barbers beginning to work their fingers through both boys’ heads. It was mind numbing, in a good way by the touch and feel. In Kevin’s case he felt Mike’s harsh fingers crushing on his scalp like he was breaking knots of his mind, a massage to the brain. For Alex it was like Dave was carefully sifting through each section of scalp and hair and massaging it to sleep. In both cases, the boys were starting to be put slightly at ease as the barbers worked their magic, both literal and figurative. The water was streaming through the boys’ overgrown hair and also sprinkling off the tap onto their face with little droplets.

Once their hair had already become sopping wet, both barbers pumped out a palm full of shampoo. Mike and Dave looked at each other and gave a wink neither of their clients could spot. Then they continued to massage through the scalps except this time with the product. Both boys could smell the strong scent it was giving off. They even let out sighs of ecstasy which made the barbers grin, knowing that the magic was working.

"That smells so good, sir," Kevin heard himself say.

"There is plenty more where that came from, kid," Mike said as he continued to work the shampoo through each lock of hair and then wash out simultaneously. Of course, after a shampooing there needs to be a conditioning, and the barbers took palm full’s of that as well. Now vigorously working it into their clients’ heads, faster and harsher than before. Mike spotted Kevin close his eyes at this sensation, and Dave noticed Alex’s mouth was left a little a jar as he did this part of the process. Finally, the final rinse was upon them both, and being toweled up and sat back upright. But the barbers decided that they would keep their client’s vision away from the mirror, just like how the old times were. Towel-dried the hair a bit more, but not wanting to use the blow-dryer just yet, as damp hair would help them with these cuts. Also, it would allow the magic to continue working its way through their scalps. Slowly but surely, the barbers knew the boys would be falling further into this trance the truce needed for the boys to stay here forever. The longer they stayed under those capes and the more product and stuff they could do to the boys, the better.

"Alright gentlemen," Mike started to say, as his and Dave were behind, brandishing their clippers and scissors, priming them with something that looked like glitter but then slowly dissolved away once it touched the stainless steel. "How about those haircuts now?"

"Please sir!" Alex piped up. Kevin was still in a trance.

"That’s more like it," Dave chuckled. Then he said to Mike, "Say, you know what you have in mind for them?"

"I have a couple ideas," Mike began to say, until he was interrupted.

"Gentlemen," the spirit reappeared before them, Kevin and Alex not hearing. "Might I offer you some advice, of what I have in mind for your two new clients?"

"Of course, master, anything for you," Mike and Dave became all ears.

-----

It was an interesting request, but Mike and Dave understood it was all a part of the wise toymaker’s overall plan of how the two boys, Kevin and Alex, would be trapped. Or should they start referring them by the names that they were told to by their master? No, apparently it would all come to them, click and connect, and then at that time everyone will know that the magic had worked and they were secure to this place and community. No return after that.

Both barbers tied the tissue neck wrap around their clients, alerting for the big show. "I think we are going to give you boys the full treatment today, what do you say, Dave?"

"Absolutely, I think they’ve earned it. What do you say, boys?"

"What’s the full treatment, sir?" Kevin asked.

"Well, young man, it’s a surprise! We don’t want to spoil that, do we know gentlemen?"

"No sir!" both clients exclaimed.

"That’s right," Mike nodded and winked at Dave. And then it commenced. Dave had been instructed to give Alex a regular haircut, enough hair on top so it can be styled with a nice swoop in the front. Whereas Mike had been ordered to give Kevin a classic crewcut, making both these boy’s look like they were something out of the sixties. Picture perfect to this environment.

Dave went in with a pair of scissors and began to lop off the brown locks of his client. Careful not to do too much to the hair at the front, but simply removing the bulk from the sides and back, and my was there a lot of hair to get rid of! How long had it even been since this young man had had his hair attended to? That was going to change over time now. All you needed to do was really style and clean it up well, and this boy would be looking spiffy in no time. For Mike, he brought the clippers up to his client’s right sideburn (or lack of an official one) and began to shear up. Slowly taking his time, one hand on the clipper doing the work, the other hand on the other side of the client’s head, forcing him into place as the barber got to work. The dirty blonde hair swiftly floated onto the cape and floor like daisies in the sky in spring. In the clippers wake it showed that the boy could have very fair hair. Then again, Mike was not holding back from taking the sides and back down very short. This was going to be a clean cut anyways.

One the clients’ end, Kevin was feeling the vibrations of the clipper up against him, any sense of resistance were little tiny shouts in the back of his head that were being pushed down. Each and every swipe of the barber was further surrender for the client into submission of this haircut. Kevin didn’t even ask what the barber was doing, he just let him work his magic, trusting the older man would do a terrific job. And Alex was not even afraid or stunned by the long locks lopped off his head. If anything, he was starting to feel ashamed that he had done nothing about it for so long. He found himself saying to Dave, "I’m sorry sir, I haven’t paid a trip to my barber in ages."

"That’s alright, young man, we’re here to change that, aren’t we, Mike?"

"Yes indeed," he sheared off a patch of hair on the back of Kevin’s skull, clearing up through the occipital bone, Kevin’s eyes bugging out in anguish and lust all at once. The more Mike kept taking his client’s hair down, the fairer the hair got, and it was like sawdust coming off the wood block. All the while, no questions asked, both boys sitting in the chairs having their haircuts like it was something normal, not tuned-in with the reality of what was going on.

Once the sides had been cleared down to what had to be either a #1 or #2 on Kevin, Mike began to brush his client’s hair back on the top, getting it in position for a classic crewcut look, as he then whirled the clippers back to life and went from the back to the front, careful not to remove too much from the fringe as to make sure there was enough left up there so there was a bit of style. The hair on top that once just lay in place was not standing erect and at attention like the bristles of a brush, perfectly still and all uniform length of less than an inch on top. Mike detailing the cut out on top and around the sides so that it balanced well and would grow to shape. Not that that would matter all that much, for he’d be cutting his hair in a week or so’s time before they knew it. As for Dave, he had already taken the sides down considerable but with enough hair still left on the sides and back, unlike his client’s dear buddy that had been sheared down. However, Dave made sure to taper off the back at least of his client so it had a clean look, and edged around the sideburns. Then it was focusing on the top of his hair, combing it into place so it had enough business but also casual enough of a look like a college boy. He knew some of the gel product he had would be perfect for this, even more of the magic on the boy. And the more he used this product and styled his hair this way, the more trained the roots and scalp would be come, just like the boy’s head and heart!

The gel also had a strong smell too, everything smelling like an old time barbershop. Both boys were engulfed by the sense of it all, their presence further formulating the more they stayed in these chairs and had the works. Dave had worked more than enough gel into his client’s hair and was taking a comb and forming it to perfection. Whereas Mike had taken some rubbing oil product and rubbed it through his client’s head, the boy in the chair smiling a bit at the sensation of the feel and smell. Then meticulously checking over the hair, not that it could have been truly damaged after all the clipper work that had been done. Nothing was going to knock a stitch of hair out of place on that kid’s head now (and forevermore).

Both barbers started to clean off new pairs of clippers, oiling them before bringing them before the clients, Mike saying, "I think you boys have deserved a nice hot towel shave. But first, we need to take off this mess on your face. What do you call that?" Mike brought the clippers down

"Looks like someone hasn’t spent their mornings shaving the last few weeks after working out," Dave said, and brought his pair of clippers on the boy in his chair. Neither of the clients’ said a thing this time, they were completely enchanted in all this, and the oiling of these clippers, and being brought around their faces, only sent them further into hallucination. In a matter of minutes, both barbers had taken off the bits of facial hair from their clients. Mike and Dave went for the hot towels kept stowed away, and wrapped their clients’ face in them, hearing moans from both of them. But not moans of resistance, this was moans of surrender. Both barbers knew that the magic was working its way as planned.

After the first towel, it was time to lather them up. They put generous helpings of it all across their faces and slowly but carefully began to scrape away at the surface, leaving nothing in its wake. "We’re definitely doing a double on their faces, right boss?" Dave asked.

"No doubt about that," Mike said as he swiped some more away. First round with the grain, then another set of hot towels to open the pores some more, then a second swipe of the blades against the grain. At this point, with how much tonic and sweet smells floating in the air and before the boys, they had fallen into a deep sleep, as planned by the barbers. Then one more hot towel, so gentle it didn’t stir the boys. Mike pulled out a little bottle from his cabinet saying, "You can have the honors first, Dave."

Dave squirted out what looked like a clear liquid gel, just enough in his hand, and then began to run it all across his client’s cheeks, under his nose, his chin, up towards the sideburns, around his neck and under the chin. He passed the bottle back to Mike saying, "That’ll keep them young forever. Is there enough for the rest of the treatment?"

"Please, this is just for the facial hair. I’ve got the Vaseline-like stuff for the bodies for later," Mike squirted and then applied to his client, the last time the boy would have ever hint of scruff was today. Massaging it all through the temples and jawline, sending him further into a deep sleep. After this, both of the barbers took a pair of scissors and comb and began to even out their clients’ eyebrows so that they were kept neat and clean as well. They even began to treat their nails with care, cleaning them up, all the disgusting crap underneath, then filing and trimming them down, applying a clear coat of something that looked and smelled like varnish but would keep their finger nails and cuticles healthier forever. And then the same for the toes, and my oh my were they even worse looking! Good thing they thought to do this.

Then there was just one last thing, or things, to do. Both barbers nodded at each other, pulling out yet another different pair of clippers from their cabinets, brushing them off, oiling and greasing them up before going back to their clients, lifting up the capes. "Remember Dave, its just like with the face shave for this, just with the other stuff at the end."

"You got it boss. Forever young, here they come"

-----

"Alright gentlemen, you can wake up now, I think you may have enjoyed yourselves a little too much," both barbers laughed at that.

Both boys shook their heads, where were they? It looked vaguely familiar, yes, it was that barber shop they had been dragged into. Had they been dragged into? Part of their mind was telling them it was weekend routine. They were facing the wall, that was familiar enough, but they couldn’t remember the full haircut, drifting in and out during it while the barbers took charge. Did they have any conversation even? How much time had passed? Seems like the capes were still around them, so maybe not that much time at all. Wait, hadn’t the barbers said something about a face shave? Did that happen? Neither boys had the full strength to put hands to cheeks, feeling like they just woke up from tranquilizers.

Then, the barbers turned them around in their chairs to look at the mirror. On the inside, they could hear screaming, or like steam coming out of their ears like a cartoon character. The blonde had a closely cropped crewcut and the brunette had a very boy-ish look to him now, like they were both half a century plus ago though! Was this really them? Yes! Part of the brain was saying this was normal, but another part was fighting it off. But what was that negative part of the brain? Who was it even? The one barber, named Mike according to his shirt, asked, "So gentlemen, what do you say?"

"Gee!" the blonde rushed his hand up to the sides of his shorn head. "That’s a neat cut!"

"Swell look!" the brunette found himself saying, turning head side to side as his hair shined in the light where it was perfectly yet strangely coiffed. He turned to the blonde, "You look great, bud."

The blonde blushed and said, "So do you, buddy."

"As good as new, boys," the other barber, named Dave, exclaimed. And then the barbers took a breath in, and let it out, before releasing the capes from their clients, realizing what damage this could do. "On the house boys," and then both clients stood up and looked closer in the mirror.

Now the negative part of their brain was telling them something was up, something wasn’t right at all. Jeez, what happened to them? And their face was perfectly shaven, yikes had it ever even had scruff? And look at those hands, they were perfectly manicured like never before. What happened? One thing both boys did recognize was that they were still in all that white garment clothes. But then they also noticed how hairless their arms were, their legs were, no chest hair poking out from this tank top, and then they peak in the underpants and….well thank god THAT was still there, even if it was bare! Looking at their legs and arms again, had they grown? And not even just in height, but perhaps even muscular too? Ooh, the stomach was nice, not ripped six pack but nice defined abs, that was new. They actually seemed to like that…no! They couldn’t, no no no, this wasn’t them, it couldn’t be. Although they did like the idea of being more physically fit. No! Don’t fall for the trap, this isn’t who they were.

But…then again…who were they anymore…why, both boys looked at each other, recognizing they were in this together, but names were failing them. They knew they knew each other…but…how? Ideas and thoughts were flooding to their head, trying to piece it all together but before they knew it, the barber shop was interrupted with some guests, who came to their side and began to take down measurements, with tape measures and rules, foot sizes, wraps around their waists, feeling here and there around the boys’ bodies, but then those employees rush out of there as soon as they had arrived, and it is just the two boys and the two barbers again.

The blonde boy says, "Excuse me, sir, sir’s, what’s happening?"

"Why, you’ve just had your haircut, that’s all son," Mike said.

"But," the brunette started, "I don’t understand, how did we, how are we…"

"What? It’s a Saturday after closing, son," Dave responded. "You two always get your haircuts ahead of then, but you have been very busy with the toy shop recently, a lot of new inventory coming in after the official purchase went through with the previous owner."

"We…" the blonde uttered, "we have?"

"Of course!" Mike applauded. "You two are toy collectors, and damn good ones too."

"I don’t understand, I don’t remember," the brunette shook his head.

"Course you do, Allan," Dave wrapped an arm around the brunette’s shoulder. Allan? Was that his name? "You two haven’t been here very long, you’re still adjusting, that’s all."

"Oh," the brunette sighed, "why are we still wearing these, sir?"

"Your clothes haven’t been finished being tailored and cleaned, that’s all," Mike answered.

"And," the blonde said, "what’s with…" he started waving his bare arms and legs.

"I thought you liked it that way, Ken," Mike answered. Another name that sounded unfamiliar, but it also didn’t, why was that? Where had the blonde hear it before? Was it only recently or his whole life? "Said it keeps you looking young…well, hopefully you end up liking it, there’s no going back."

"What?!" both boys exasperated.

"Come on, gentlemen, relax, you both look spiffy," Dave and Mike turned them around, back to the mirrors to see the reflections of the new them, or old them…whatever it was. Both boys couldn’t wrap their heads around any of this, didn’t know whether to fight it off or not, whatever this was, whether they could even. "Come on," Mike guided them, "time you boys had some dinner."

"There must be a misunderstanding," the brunette said, "I don’t think we belong here."

The barbers knew the magic was still working enough of its wonders, but the side effects would take some time to totally soak in. "Nonsense, you live here, with the rest of us, don’t you remember, sillies?"

"We do?" they echoed together.

"Yes," Dave said, "well not in the flea market, but we are all out back in the woods, in the trailer parks. You two have your own little abode, quite nice might I add."

"Oh," the blonde perked up, quickly visualizing something he didn’t fully remember. What was going on? This all didn’t make sense.

"Now then, gentlemen," Mike continued guiding them, "I think you need something to eat and drink, make you feel better." And so the barbers guided them to the concession stand, even in their tight-y-white-y’s. Where they sat at one of the picnic tables and had that disgusting looking food brought before them. Something clicked in both their minds, it seemed familiar, a memory was triggering. "Eat up boys," Mike said loud, and then waved his hand in front of all the sugary and salty delights. Suddenly, that familiar smell from the barbershop came back to them. Oh yes, this sense triggered, a good sense though, both boys smiled at that and quickly grabbed food and drink and began to chow-down until they had gorged so much that their stomachs hurt and they felt like they were going to be sick until finally they both toppled over on the tables; the barbers and a few of the other men grabbed them by the arms and legs and brought them away

-----

The next thing the two boys knew, they were waking up in total darkness.

"Hello? Anybody there?" the blonde called out softly.

"Hey, is that you?" the brunette’s voice became alert.

"Hey," the blonde started to feel around in the dark until his hands landed on top of the other boy and they fell on top of each other, fumbling. "Hey, sorry bud…or, dude…uh, what’s your name?"

"Honestly, I can’t remember. Can you remember yours?"

"No, me neither," the blonde shook his head. "This is weird, what’s going on?"

"I don’t know, but there is something about this place I don’t like, especially right now."

"Yeah, I can’t see a thing. And before that… all I remember, well, I’m starting to remember some things that I don’t know if I should remember…"

"Like you have the memory for someone else and not yourself?" the brunette asked.

"Yeah! Spot on spock!" the blonde said and was stunned with his tone. "I mean, yeah, man. That’s exactly it. You too?"

"Yeah, there are memories I’m feeling or when I was waking up and falling asleep, like they feel familiar but I don’t believe them almost. Except you, you seem to be in all these memories."

"Really?" the blonde asked intrigued. "You know, I kind have the same thing too, you’re in most my memories. At least we’re in this together, right?"

"Whatever this together is, bud," the brunette sighed.

Suddenly, a door opened, light peaking in. A couple bodies moved forward towards the boys and picked them up by the necks, dragging them out of the dark where they were greeted by a line-up of people. The first two they did recognize, the barbers Mike and Dave, who immediately hoped on each of their respective clients and fussed with their hair. Then in the line-up were other people who looked familiar, all holding piles of clothes, handing them to the two boys.

The barber, Mike, spoke, "Your clothes are all clean and ready, gents." And these certainly were some clothes, no wonder it took some time to have them prepared…did they go out and find them in the mess of this store or were they from scratch and stitches? These clothes looked like they belonged six decades ago even! All of the clothes! And they literally had a huge pile!

Dave the barber added, "The rest of your clothes are in your trailer, not to worry. Just figured you fellas might want to change into something respectable. Especially when we all have dinner tonight."

"What time is it, sir?" the blonde asked.

"Well, we are all done here for the weekend, you boys really slept through the whole day!" Mike the barber laughed. "But no need to worry, no one was anticipating you here anyways. But you will need to get yourselves ready for your first weekend here as proprietors."

"Proprietors," the brunette sounded confused as he said it. "I’m sorry, what’s happening?"

"My goodness, you fellas really had yourself quite the nap," the barber continued. "You’re taking over Thompson’s Toyland, remember? You bought it out from the previous owner?"

The thought of this flicked over both boys’ minds. It made sense then why they were here then. But the mention of the previous owner…another vision came to mind for them both, but then quickly slipped away. Very strange…again these memories playing with them. Some of them coming through the mind and they couldn’t tell if they were their memories or not. On the other hand, a semblance of some other strange memories that felt very distant now kept trying to come into vision but then vanished immediately. As if like they touched a wall and then it some how magicked them away, none of it making sense.

The rest of the flea family started to scatter away, saying since it was Sunday they were going to have their usual barbeque outside. Both boys decided to finally change from just wearing garments into some of the clothes they were offered. The pattern of these short-sleeve button down’s were really something else, and could the shorts have been any shorter?? Then again, hmm, didn’t look so bad. They both had quite slender legs, pretty defined and smooth…right, they were virtually hairless now except for the hair they had on their heads. Oh right, those haircuts they got…they really did look like straight out of a movie from the 60s or possibly earlier.

Outside a few grills were smoking as well as some firepits. The boys were each given a red solo cup, seemed pretty nice. And it did actually taste of beer. This was the first time they felt like they were eating something normal. A couple more cups downed by these champs and their senses were starting to relax as they got to talking with everyone else. Everyone was going up to them saying how happy they were to have them as part of the "family" which sounded weird still. But then there was so much food to be had and shared, so the boys fell into this comfortable pattern with everyone else. They even had some music which everyone danced to after eating. For some strange reason, both boys felt a sense of happiness, they felt like they hadn’t had this feeling before. But had they, or not? It was still weird, the different memories passing through their minds.

When it came time for everyone to retire, both boys were guided to the trailer that was apparently their’s. What looked like a dump on the outside was the complete opposite on the inside. So beautifully curated, a lot of vintage furniture but also infused with bright pops of color on the walls. Sure enough there were the rest of their clothes filled in the closet, drawers, and suitcases on the bedroom floor. Why there were even photos in frames hanging all over the trailer walls. Photos of the two of them together, my, it looked like they had really done some traveling in their life…their very young life it seemed. They looked like the spitting image to how they were now, just in different clothes and different locations.

"We should probably move these," the brunette suggested, pointing at the suitcases. When they both went to empty them out, zip them up and put them away, the strangest thing happened. Inside each of their suitcases, they found passports, the exact ones correlating to them. And even on their suitcases they then noticed tags with their names and info on it. The blonde’s identification being "Ken" and the brunette being "Allan". Both clutched their passports and looked together at the mirror of the vanity, back and forth at their passport pictures and their actual reflections, until they finally turned to each other.

"Allan?" the blonde asked.

"Ken?" the brunette also asked with hesitation. And then just like it was nothing, something sparked across both young boys. The wild memories that had been racing through their head’s finally began to make sense. Yes! They were old time buds, Ken and Allan, they had traveled the country and in fact the world trading and buying vintage and modern toys for their collection. And it wasn’t until recently that they bought out the previous owner did they settle here.

"Gee, golly," Ken said, "what lovely people they all are here!"

"You’ve got that right, pal," Allan agreed, "I think we’re gonna like it here."

"It’ll be nice to not be on the road so much, get to settle down for once."

"Yes, and think of all the people who will come through to our stop!"

"Oh, Allan, we need to get our rest then, we have plenty of work to do ahead of this weekend. We’ll need to check in on the inventory and see what else can be done for the coming months."

"I’m right there with you, bud," Allan stated. Both boys then went to strip into their pajama pants and shirts, and then into the bathroom to wash up and brush their teeth.

"I’m planning on going for a rising sun jog in the morning, and then I’ll work out a bit," Ken said. "Care to join me?"

"You bet buddy," Allan said with toothpaste in his mouth, then spitting. "This trailer isn’t so big but its good enough for the two of us."

"Yeah, will be a bit tough when coordinating shower time and such."

"I know you have to keep your hair in check," Allan patted his friend’s head top.

"Well it’s a great thing they have the barbers right here too! What luck!"

"Will be better looking than ever before," Allan said as the two of them walked back into the bedroom and got under the covers and immediately fell asleep.

All the while, the spirit of the old man was hidden in the background from both boys’ sight. Happy to see that the magic was finally working to its fullest. That the two boys would start their Mondays how they would all Mondays to come. And that they were eager to be a part of this group and serve out their duty as part of the truce, even if the original them had not signed up for it. The spirit floated their and smiled, as he held onto the two iconic Barbie dolls in either hand, happy to see that his real-life Ken and Allan had finally come to fruition.




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