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William's Bargain by Manny

William loved rummage sales -- especially large, community sponsored ones that were raising money for a good cause. And what better cause than helping local graduate students deliver medical supplies to impoverished children in the tropics?!

As he perused the area dedicated to small appliances, William saw something that ostensibly was not for sale, but that delighted him nonetheless -- a lush mane of thick, brown hair that tumbled down over much of one of the volunteer's faces, obstructing his eyes but not his square, manly jaw. The shining, silken strands gleamed as the volunteer saddled up to William and asked if he was looking for anything in particular.

"I was wondering if you had any electric hair clippers for sale?" William asked innocently.

The volunteer flicked his moptop back casually. "Yes, I think so. In fact, I thought I saw a whole barber's kit in a bag somewhere. Clippers, cape, combs, shears....the works. It was in a white sort of....oh, here it is! And it's priced very cheap -- all this for only $8."

William eagerly opened the bag and pulled out a huge set of Wahl clippers. This was his lucky day ! Everything was conveniently present for his favorite thrill -- including an unsuspecting candidate for an impromptu, amateur mow-down! -- right in front of him. As he rummaged through the rest of the kit, William asked the volunteer, "So, tell me a bit more about the fund raiser...where you're going and how much you need to raise."

The young man blabbed on and on, eagerly telling all about what promised to be his first adventure outside the U.S. "And to think, we'll have to actually get to our final destination by boat -- right up through the jungle and pirana infested waters!" he exclaimed.

"You'll be one filtyh, sweaty mess by the time you get there, no doubt," replied William. "But you won't be going anywhere unless you raise the money....and judging by what you're charging for stuff like this, you'll need to sell an awful lot!"

William flashed the clippers in front of the volunteer's face. "I'm interested in buying these -- if they work. Can I fire 'em up anywhere?" he asked.

"There are no outlets out here, but there's one inside. If you want, I can let you into the school so you can plug them in to see. My guess is that they work," he suggested. As the two men walked into the school, the volunteer introduced himself as Jason.

Once they were inside, William plugged in the clippers and snapped them on. The machine purred in his hand and the two men watched the metal teeth chatter quickly.

"So, do we have a sale?" Jason asked hopefully.

"Well, the machine works, but is anything wrong with them....like perhaps the teeth aren't alligned or cutting well? I want to make sure the person who donated the kit was getting rid of it because there was a problem, you know. It's terrible when the barber uses a set of clippers that's a bit out of line or dull and strands of hair get yanked out as he clips away." Then William stared purposedly at the mane of gleaming brown hair. "But, I guess you haven't been to a barbershop -- in years or perhaps ever!"

Jason squirmed and shuffled around a bit. "No, sir," he replied softly. He nervously mopped back his thick forelock with his hand to push the hair out of his eyes. "Never had much need for a buzzcut...."

"But, when you're in that hot jungle, all that hair will be more than a bit of a bother, I'd say," William pressed. "Having to wash it in muddy river water, no doubt."

The thick forelock flopped down in Jason's face. He mopped it back quickly. "Not sure I'll be getting in the river if there are piranas around. I wouldn't mind losing some hair, but losing a leg?! Can you imagine....? If $8 is too much, make an offer. We're accepting any reasonable offer. Since the sale will be wrapping up in a few minutes, I'm sure we could make your day! How about $5?"

William pulled out his wallet and pulled out a large bill, "How about $50?! For a worthy cause......"

Jason smiled nervously....either the guy was generous or there was a catch.

William continued, "If I just had a volunteer so that I could be sure this machine worked.....able to clip the densest of manes down to a nice tight butch. Maybe one of the college students with long hair falling in his face that needs a nice practical buzzcut for the trip up the river would let me try out these tools on him."

Jason shuffled, speechless...unable to say yes or no.

William pulled over a chair and took out the cape. "Come on. I'll toss in an extra $50 for the rest of the kit. Just sit here and let me see if this cape fits nicely.

Jason ran his fingers through his hair, struggling with the proposition before him. "You're serious? A hundred dollars?!"

"Yep, plus a free buzzcut!" William said. Then he pulled out a second $50 and tucked both into Jason's shirt pocket. "Come on, Sport! It's about time you lost the mop anyways....when you start going for job interviews, employers will want to look you in the eye!"

Jason hung his head a bit sheepishly. Then he quietly slunk down into the chair. Almost inaudibly, he whispered, "I suppose you're right.... I'm game!" He ran his fingers through his long, silken locks one more time. "Gee is this ever long! Let's see if those clippers can do a number of this!"

Quick as a flash, William had the cape snuggly fastened into place. He surveyed the plush locks and smoothed them down. "Speaking of numbers -- choose one....between zero and four," William instructed.

"Well, since I'm volunteering for just one haircut, I'll choose #1."

William dug around a kit in the cape and pulled out a small plastic guard that he slipped over the metal teeth of the clippers. "A #1 butch will suit you perfectly -- especially when you're broiling in the tropical heat!" Then he grasped the thick forelock that hung down over Jason's face and lift it. "Ready?" he asked with the clippers poised.

"It's not going to be too short, is it?" Jason asked nervously.

"Naw....it'll be just perfect for you, son!" he chirped before plowing the machine into the dense thatch of shimmering brown hair.

"OMG!" squealed Jason as he felt the clippers chewing through his pampered tresses as the vibrating machine slowly traveled down the length of his entire head from hairline to cowlick.

The first sheaf of glimmering hair fell to the cape as Jason stared down in shocked disbelief. Instinctively, he tried to dodge the second swipe of the clippers, but William could not be detered. "Sit still, son!" he commanded.

The clippers inflicted a severely short cropping, and a second massive shank of hair fell to the cape. All poor Jason could mutter was "OMG!" as he watch his silken hair fall away.

"These clippers are doing an excellent job! Nothing at all wrong with them, I'm happy to report," the amatuer barber chirped. "You'll be left with a nice even pelt of stubble, Jason."

"Stubble!" the lad gasped as another heavy clump of hair fell before his stunned look.

"You'll need to get a bit of a tan before your big trip," William suggested as he drove the clippers tightly up the back. "Your neck is almost solid white -- must not have seen the light of day for ages with all that girly hair you had dangling about back here!"

Jason sat still and submissively as William finished tidying up the tight butch cut. As he deftly moved the machine about the entire shorn scalp one last time, William felt very satisfied with the dramatic makeover he had just administered. When it was all over he rubbed his hand lightly over the top of the lad's stubbled pate. Jason looked up sheepishly, "Has it all been cut off?" he asked.

"Every bit. Down to stubble!" remarked William knowing full well that the descriptive word "stubble" would be sure to elicit a shiver of dread from Jason. He glanced down at the caped and cowed volunteer who now looked like a sweet, compliant tot. Then he unfastened the cape. "A very practical haircut for your trip!" he said as he shook the cape sending the mounds of shorn hair to the floor of the room.

Finally Jason was able to feel his shorn pate. "Oh, it's like....."

"Stubble!" exclaimed William. "A tidy, practical look!"

Just then, the door to the classroom swung up. "Jason?!" remarked one of his longhaired classmates whose copious collection of jet black curls virtually doubled the size of his head. "OMG! Is that you? What in the....?

"Just getting him ready for the big trip," remarked William. The amateur barber took the opportunity to rub the stubble he'd created one last time before declaring, "A big improvement, Jason. I suspect the butch will be a keeper. And what about you, friend?" he said turning his attention to the mop of curls, "The clippers are still primed and ready to go. Looks like it's been a while since you've visited the barber!"

The curly headed lad looked taken aback, "Jason, have you seen yourself yet?! There's a mirror over there...you have got to see yourself!" The fellow literally dragged the shorn, subdued Jason over to the mirror, guffawing all the way and rubbing the stubbled pate.

"OMG!" Jason shrieked, seeing himself for the first time without his security blanket flopping down past his eyes.

"That's how I looked in first grade!" his friend chortled. "No fuss getting ready for school in the morning. No money spent on hair care as dad would zip me a baldy in the garage once a month."

William butted into the conversation, "And look at you now with that snarled jungle of hair sprouting in all directions!"

Jason picked up on his comments, "Yeah, Tony, I can just imagine what sort of tropical bugs and bats will be crawling into that mess and setting up a new home once we're camping out in those primitive conditions!"

Tony's face fell and clouded over with a bit of worry, "You think?"

"And all day with the heat and humidity -- sweat matting the curls and dripping down your face," continued Jason.

"And you'll have this sweety, dorky baldy look! Carefree and cute with your tidy butch cut," Tony mused with his eyes sparkling as he again rubbed Jason's shorn pate.

Jason pulled out one of the $50 bills he'd received from William. "Here's a proposition for you. Take a seat there and let William put an end to the curls....and this will be yours to apply towards your fundraising goal!"

Tony stood, semi-frozen. Thoughts drifted back to his Saturday baldy cuts in the garage....agonizing moments that he hated because all his friends sported thick wedge-like bowlcuts and made fun of his baldy. But Jason did look so sweet and innocent.....and his eyes were almost begging Tony to get a matching baldy cut so that he wouldn't have to endure the ridicule alone.

"Will it make you feel better if I get a baldy too -- just like yours? But, not for the money. Not for the practicality of short hair on the trip. But just for you....so that you won't stand out looking like such a dork all alone with the rest of the guys laughing and ridiculing you."

A tear slipped out of the corner of Jason's eye and ran over a stray snippet of hair that clung to his cheek. In a barely audible voice he whispered, "Yes."

Tony strode over to the hair with his curls flailing and boinging about for the last time. He sat down bravely, without hesitation. With firmness of purpose. Even with a bit of eagerness to surrunder his curls to the clippers. "Cape me up, Mr. Barber! And unleash your clippers. I want a baldy cut just like Jason's!"

William snapped the cape open and cast it about the medical student's neck. "With pleasure!" Then he snapped on the machine. "One more baldy coming up!"

"Wait!" shouted Jason. "Just a minute." He ran over to the window. "Hey, everyone, we've got an impromptu fund-raiser going on in here! Tony's curls will be history if enough people contribute to bring my $50 dollar pledge up to $500. Then Jason grabbed Tony by the hand and led him outside to the rummage sale, caped so that everyone knew his curls were obviously on the chopping block.

All the grad students in the med program went nuts -- first seeing Jason shorn and then imagining Big Man on Campus Tony with his signature curls on the endangered species list. In a flash, a hat was passed while students and bargain hunters alike pitched in cash -- one, five, ten and twenty bills.

After all the contributions came in, Tony publicly counted the money.....dollar by dollar up to $523! The crowd errupted in a cheer. Then Jason led his caped and cooperative Tony back to the makeshift barbershop.

As they approached the building, Jason addressed the mob. "OK. All the fellows going on the trip, inside! Along with our matching tee-shirts on the plane, we'll all be identifiable by our matching baldy cuts. Spontaneously the crowd cheered. Some fellows moved in eagerly to wait their turn for William's huge set of Wahl clippers to strip them clean. Others had to be encouraged and coaxed to join along. And one poor soul, with a thick red braid that hung down to rest squarely in the crack of his ass had to be literally dragged in by none other than Tony himself.

"Who will give me $100 for this braid?!" he shouted out as he held up the flaming red hair that was carefully woven into a handsome cord of human hair.

"I will!" shouted the boy's roommate.

"Sold to the long suffering roommate who's endured months of lengthy showers, clogged drains and droning blow dryers!!" Tony announced.

William handed him a set a shears. Tony struggled a bit, sawing through the massive collection of hair at the nape, but eventually severed the thick braid and held it aloft. The crowd errupted into cheers again as tears welled up in the redhead's eyes. Absentmindedly he reached back toward his nape, but the braid was gone! Tony laughed in the face of the poor, humilialted carrot top. The bossy BMOC looked like a superman with his billowing cape still fastened about his neck, as he flung the braid into the crowd. The eager roommate caught it and whirled it around like a lasso or whip.

Then the show was all William's. He moved the barber chair to the window so that the crowd could watch Tony's huge mass of proud curls get stripped away...... Click, buzzzzzzzzzz.

Tony squirmed, "Oh, just like when I was eight, back in my father's garage......" he murmured under his breath.

"Sit still, son!" William snapped. A shower of shorn curls errupted like a 4th of July fireworks display as the crowd cheered.

Tony looked tenderly at Jason and mouthed, "This is all for you, friend...."

"You're an angel," he mouthed back. Then, Jason turned his attention to William, "Wow, you've turned this $5 barber kit into a bonanza $630+ for our project!"

William smiled and accepted the praise as he continued clipping off Tony's curls. The huge 'fro was being pared down to stubble with lightening speed. "You're going to end up with quite a little knob head!" he commented with obvious enjoyment in his voice.

Eying William's well-coiffed businesscut with the thick waves of hair carefully combed back into an elaborate pomp, Jason announced to the group, "And to show our thanks to you, William, the fund-raiser's grand finale will have you in the chair staring down at the fussy pomp of your's on the cape!"

A shiver went down William's spine. He'd given a good number of butch cuts to a variety of reluctant recruits, but he himself had never suffered the humiliation of an imposed crop. He stammered, "Oh, ah, that's thoughtful of you, but I'm a believer in that old saying, 'it's more blessed to give then to receive.'"

Tony, who had been reduced to stubble by this point, looked up at the amateur barber and smiled, "What a coincidence, so am I!" He yanked off his cape and sent the vast collection of shorn black curls flying in all directions. "And now I'm going to put what I preach into practice. You're next! Sit, William!"

The distinguished looking gentleman began to shuffle about nervously. "Oh, I'm a professional and need to maintain...."

"I said sit!" Tony bellowed.

The fellow whose red braid had been hacked off yelled out, "Come on guys, let's help Tony clip down the organizer of this fund raiser!"

Tony snatched the clippers from William's hand. "Do you need help finding your seat, sir? There are at least a dozen guys here who will be happy to assist.

William knew he was defeated and meekly took a seat.

"Cape him up, Jason!" he barked.

Jason was more than happy to fasten the cape around William's nervous neck. Once the man was securely immobilized by the cape, Jason fondled the silken waves of hair that graced his head. "Think how much time you'll save each morning with the baldy cut, William. Stubble will be so much more practical than this fussy hair style.

Behind William's back, Tony was busy taking the plastic guard off and adjusting the teeth to the very shortest possible setting. "Here, Jason, you were the one who enlisted William to our cause. Now you do the honors of putting an end to that pretty boy hairstyle of his!"

As Jason pushed the clippers through the thick waves of flaxen hair his mouth dropped open.....the shorn swath was down to the skin! Baldy had taken on a new meaning! William was receiving far more than he bargained for when he bought the $5 barber's kit!!

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