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Chief's Kid, Part V by Vegard

We sat in quiet as we drove from the house. I wanted to ask Mike more about where he'd gotten the money he wanted to spend on a car, and what he was looking for, but he didn't seem very talkative. He seemed almost apprehensive of me, as we drove away from the house. After last night, with us having pizzas and movie-night together this seemed a bit odd to me.
Things seemed good this morning as well when he'd come to me, and told me he had some savings he had planned to use on a used car, and that his Mom had said he could spend.
So much for me maybe trying to use a car-arrangement to make him cut off a bit of his long hair though.
I'd agreed to take him to the dealers after I'd taken Toby for his haircut, and I actually looked forward to it. Looking at cars with my oldest. It was the sort of thing I felt I could do without it getting difficult, or weird.

"Did you make him get that cut?" he suddenly asked me.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Did you make Toby get the shaved back and sides?" He looked at me accusingly, "Is this some lame s**t you pulled on him, or arranged with your barbers or something?"
Wondering if I should correct him for the language, or his misconception first I scowled at him. Not for long though, since I was driving.
"Listen, you little,...!" I growled at him, wanting to call him a little s**t, but biting my tongue, I forced myself to use kinder words.
"If I'd been in charge of his cut, he'd have come out of Pete and Josh's with ears, neck and forehead showing, not with a mop hanging down all around his head like that!" I gave Mike another dark look, and added, "And watch your language!"
"Yes sir," he mumbled, continuing on the same subject, "So Toby wanted it like that?"
"So it would seem," I shook my head, "He was in there without me, so I assume so."
"Wow!" Mike said, and with a wide grin, "Wonder what Mom will say?"
"Ah, f***!" I said, forgetting what I'd said about language, "She'll probably think it was me as well, won't she?"
Mike laughed, "Yeah, probably."
We both had a laugh at this, and our conversation went easier afterwards.
It turned out he'd worked part time, beside school, and during holidays looking after handicaped kids. I was impressed. It sounded like he was doing a good job to, and it made me feel proud. And, for the first time in a long time, grateful to their Mom. She must have done something right with these kids.

At the dealers I tried, sort of jokingly, to make him pick a nice, strong pick-up truck, but off course that's not what Mike had in mind.
He had his eyes out for a sports car. Preferably a two-seater, he informed Nick, the sales guy.
"Don't listen to him!" I grumbled, "He needs room for his brother and sister as well!"
Nick grinned, and Mike looked like he wanted to say something, but I interrupted him.
"Listen Mike. Your Mom might be ok with you getting a car, and so am I. But I am dead sure, she also wants you to be able to drive Jane and Toby!" He didn't answer, and I added, "You do this, and be a good big brother to them, helping them, and me, in driving them places, and I'll chip in a few hundred on the car. How about it?"
He was silent for a few seconds, then, "How much is "a few"?" he asked.
Smiling at him, I said, "Don't push it kid! Lets see what Nick here has in SAFE five-seaters first. Then we'll talk about how much I chip in."

Mike ended up with a desent Chevy Impala we got a fairly good deal on, and he was thrilled to be allowed to drive it off the lot the moment the paper-work was done.
I guessed I wouldn't get to see him again for a few hours, and headed home.

I was in a great mood, thinking that this parenting stuff wasn't as bad as it could have been.
As I came home I went to the kitchen, grabbed a beer, and parked my ass on the couch, with a feeling that I had now earned some free time in front of the TV. Without kids.

I was soon interrupted, as Toby came downstairs. The Broncos were on the offence, and my eyes were glued to the set, so I didn't look at him properly as he came down.
"Hi Dad," he almost mumbled, making me look away from the TV. I was lifting my can of beer at the same time, but it stopped in mid-air.
My jaw dropped. Toby's head was chock full of curls! Like a girl, except his ears were showing. And they were bright red. My initial thought was, "What the hell?", but I didn't say anything.

The kid looked miserable, and I kind of wanted to cheer him up, but I had absolutely no idea what to say. I just kept staring.
He was looking at the floor, and managed to say, "Could you drive me back to Pete&Josh's please?"
With a feeling almost of relief I asked, "You want them to cut those curls off?"
I'd wanted to say "Sissy curls", but at the sight of his face I was glad I hadn't.
"No," he said in a choked voice, "I just want them to finish the cut."
"Oh," I managed, and said, "Ok."
I put the beer back in the fridge, grabbed my coat and we both headed out and got in the cruiser. Toby was ducking his head the whole time, looking at the ground.

In the car he was looking out the window, and wanting to cheer him up, I said, "Listen Toby, I was surprised, ok?"
He still looked miserable, and I added, "And, you know what, I don't hate it. It just takes a bit of getting used to."
Still the mope.
We drove on, and he was quiet the whole time. I was beginning to loose my patience with him.
"You know what Tobes? You keep your hair like you want, that's your choice. But get a fu**ing grip, ok?"
He looked at me, still with that miserable look on his face. A face topped by tight curls. Like a poodle.
"Toughen up!"
Nothing. No answer. Just that weak look.

We were at Pete&Josh's now, and I let him out. Angry from his lack of reaction and lack of guts to stand up for himself, I sped off. I had some stuff I could check out at the station while he was there, and he'd call me when he was ready.


I stood in front of the shop, still feeling kind of miserable. What had I expected? I don't know. Not for Dad to like it, that would be asking for too much. But his acting dissapointed in me like that hurt more than I expected.
The door to the barber-shop opened, and Pete stood there grinning at me. I smiled back. Shoving my feelings about Dad aside for the time being.
"Was that Chief Gallagher? Are you his kid?" he asked, looking down the street at where Dad had sped away.
I nodded.
Pete didn't say anything more about it, but in stead began looking at my hair.
"Hey! Look at you Toby! Outstanding perm!"
I felt elated. The exitement about my new do came back to me, and I studied myself closely again in the mirrors as I was led in to the shop, where Josh was waiting. He to was very enthusiastic about my curls.
"Wow! Look at you man!" he said, happily.
I willingly let them point me to one of the chairs, and Pete caped me up and pumped the chair a few times, to get me to the desired hight.
"I guess you want it a bit more even between the fade and the curls, yeah?" Pete asked, and I nodded enthusiastically.
I felt quite relaxed now, and happy. These guys were awesome, and as Pete snipped away at my curls we chatted about this and that. My home perm, my sister, and off course, the conversation turned to my Dad.
"Are you the ones he went to pick up the other day, when he got his "usual"?" Josh asked.
I nodded, "Yeah. We came here to stay with him, while my Mom is being treated in the hospital."
It felt so easy to talk to them, and after asking the normal polite questions about my Mom, Josh joked about how Dad would look great with a hair-do like mine.
That cracked both me and Pete up. He would look so incredibly lame with permed hair. As would Mike. Mike has had long hair for at least three years now, but he's still very masculine. He actually looks tough with it, and his girlfriend Sadie fawns over it. She's always stroking it when they're together.

Pete did very little on top of my head, but ended up reducing the bulk on my back and sides quite a bit.
Perfection, was the word that came to mind when I looked at the end result, as Pete used the mirror to show me what I looked like from all sides. The bald fade looked fabulous, now that the transition from smooth to dence curls was more gradual. I loved it.

I ended up staying with the two barbers longer than planned, and I didn't actually feel like breaking up the conversation or the company. But Dad sent a text, asking if I was done, and I wrote that I was. He'd be there in five.
When I asked what I owed they were super sweet about it, and said "Nothing! we just finished the cut you already paid for!"

My heart sank again as I stood by the door waiting for Dad. Pete must have noticed, and just as the cruiser pulled up right outside he said, "And don't let your Dad give you any s**t, ok?"
I looked at him gratefully, and smiled as he put his hand under his own chin, lifting it up. Showing me I should hold my head proud.

Getting in the car with Dad wasn't that bad after that. I was still happy about how my new look had become, and he could just take it. It was what I wanted.
After nodding a brief thanks to Pete and Josh for seeing me after hours we drove home.
He didn't seem angry any more. And as I was more confident, and happy, the athmosphere in the car was way better.
As we pulled away from the barber-shop Dad asked if I had any suggestions for supper.
"I could cook us some Chinese?" I suggested.
Dad looked at me, surprised. "You can do that?"
"Sure! I'll need some stuff though. Can we stop at the super market?"

We stopped at Publix, and I made sure I held my head high as we walked the isles looking for nudles, vegetables and the other stuff I needed to cook.
It seemed like everyone knew my Dad, even though he was out of uniform. And they seemed to really like him, all referring to him as "Chief".
It was no surprise that people were curious as to whom I was, but I was surprised at how my Dad seemed proud as he answered, "This is Tobias, one of my youngest!"

Back in the car again I looked at Dad with what I guess was a bit of surprise.
He looked back at me, and grinned. "Get used to it Tobes. Your "Chief's kid" while your here." Loosing the grin, he quickly added, "I hope you're ok with that?"
I grinned back and nodded.
"And, by the way," Dad said as he started the car, "I like your hair now that it's a bit smaller."
Laughing at this rather strange statement I said, "Thanks Dad!" feeling this had been an absolutely awesome day.

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