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Sarge's Barbershop Part 4 by bucke
Disclaimer: This is totally not realistic in any way and is not intended to be. This is a world in which transformations can happen, seemingly by magic. If you only like realistic stories, this is not for you. Thanks, everyone for the suggestions and feedback. Hope you enjoy this last installment.
Part 4: The Final Part
As unimpressed as Sarge was with this "John Daniels", he decided to hear his side of the story. But first, Sarge had to get the man nice and relaxed.
In his most soothing voice Sarge said, "Relax. Let go of all your worries and fears. Let go of the stress of your life. All you want now in life is to listen and obey."
Immediately all the tension left John’s body and he seemed to deflate. The natural arrogance of his body language vanished and he seemed just like a regular person. "I will listen and obey." The man responded dreamily.
Now John was about 35 years old, 6’2" and was well muscled if with a bit more fat than he would like over the muscle. He had ice-blue eyes that seemed to pierce right into your soul and judge you lacking. Lastly, his light blonde hair was immaculately coifed and expertly tapered. It wasn’t overly long, but was very well maintained. He was clearly proud of his hair and it showed. Lasty he worse a bespoke double-breasted suit with gleaming handmade black dress shoes.
"Tell me about your employee, David. What do you think of him?"
For a second John seemed to resist and gushed out, "he’s an excellent employee. He is by far the most efficient of everyone who works under me."
"So then why do you always yell at him and put him down?" Sarge asked, beginning to anger.
"Because I can’t stand anyone being more successful than me. I need to keep him from getting promoted over me, which he would if I didn’t intervene."
"Why would you want to stop him from getting promoted?"
"Because I can’t have someone who worked for me every become my boss. I just won’t allow it."
Sarge was amazed by the ego of the man. He definitely needed Sarge to get involved in his life. He needed to be reformed.
Having decided, Sarge grabbed his heavy-duty Oster clippers and took off the guard. Flicking the on switch, a high-pitched hum filled the shop. Just like any recruit at bootcamp, Sarge would take this rough gem and mold him into a diamond. And just like in bootcamp, first the hair had to go. He drove the guard-less clippers right down the center on Johns’ head. Even under the strong compulsion Sarge had put on the man, so vain was the man that he was briefly startled to alertness as his hair was sheared away before Sarge pushed him back into the chair. As he began to strip his thick, perfectly coifed dark brown hair from his head, he began to regress in age. The frown lines smoothed out, his jawline became slightly less pronounced and his facial hair receded until he was clean shaven. Then his body began to lose any extra body fat and added muscle. He soon was very toned and lean, like a well-muscled cross-country runner. By the time Sarge was done with his clipper shave the man who was previously in his mid 30s now looked to be no older than 18 or 19. Now he only had a stubble for hair. Sarge considered if he should fully shave the man, but decided against it. He was a traditionalist, and the first cut of bootcamp was always a clippers shave with an 00000 Oster blade, never a razor shave. He could always clean shave the man another time. He was going to be taking a very direct role in this man’s life until he had been "rectified."
Sarge removed the barber’s cape from the man’s shoulders, and then yelled, "Atten-hut"
The man jump right to attention instinctively, shoulders back, hands to his side, chest high, Sarge smiled slightly, like a cat whose prey was firmly in their grasp. As he did this, he walked to the door, turned his "OPEN" sign to "CLOSED", and closed the shades over the front windows.
He then mate a sharp about turn and channeled his past as a marine DI when he endlessly yelled at recruits, "Drop and give me one-hundred you maggot!"
John immediately jumped to the floor and began to do push-ups. This was quite a sight because he was still wearing his formal business suit, but now had the body of an eighteen-year-old and a recruit induction cut. Furthermore, he dropped down onto the floor which was covered in the hair Sarge had just sheared from his head. Adding to the oddness of the image, Sarge had him counting each push-up out loud, "One, Sir. Two, Sir. Three, Sir….". However the count sounded very forced and reluctant. Like someone being made to do something but who didn’t have their heart in it.
While the push-ups were happening, Sarge began his mantra which he forced to be accepted by John, "After you complete each push-up, your identify as a civilian banker will fade. You will forget finance, except for the most basic information you need to live, like how to open a bank account. You will forget the life of luxury you lived before."
After the 20th pushup the pace slowed, after the 50th you could hear the effort it took him to maintain the count, "Fifty-one, Sir." More than just tired, he sounded dazed, in a trance.
He was at his peak of suggestibility, so Sarge continued:
"And now that your previous life has faded away, your new life will come to you. One of discipline and obedience. You will never worry about the troubles of bossing around employees, you will be the one told what to do during every moment of every day. You will become the ultimate Cadet. You will do what is asked of you without hesitation and with proper military decorum. Gone is John Daniels, all that remains is Cadet Daniels."
As the count of push-up continued, Sarge could see a change of demeaner. Even though the man got more and more tired his push-up position improved to one that would have passed military inspection, and even as he got sweatier and sweatier his count off, "Ninety, Sir. Ninety-one, Sir" got more and more clipped in nature.
By the time he got to the final count, "One-hundred, Sir." He bounded up back to the position of attention almost with vigor even though he was covered in sweat.
"Sir, permission to ask a question, Sir?" Cadet Daniels asked.
"Permission granted, cadet."
"Where am I a cadet at? There are no military schools in the area. Or will I be going to a military boarding school?"
"Very astute, Cadet Daniels," Sarge complimented, genuinely surprised he even knew there wasn’t a military school in this town, "no you will be not going to a military boarding school, you will be staying with me and I will put you through a program much more rigorous than anything you could get at one of the military colleges. You will be my very own cadet."
"Thank you, Sir!" Cadet Daniels responded immediately, "This cadet is honored to receive Sarge’s personal attention."
Sarge smiled to himself, well this was certainly a massive change from earlier. But he knew it was mostly due to his powers of suggestion and not because a genuine change had occurred. Overtime he would change for the better, but right now he was just beginning his journey.
"Cadet Daniels, you will follow me," Sarge ordered and then led him to a door at the back of the barbershop which took him to a hidden set of stairs up to Sarge’s apartment that was right above the Barbershop. Many who knew Sarge would be surprised to see the inside of his apartment. While certainly spartan, it was tastefully furnished with mahogany wood and black leather chairs and couches. Many who knew Sarge would jokingly insist that all Sarge needed to live was a military cot and a coffee pot, but besides how profoundly tidy everything was, not much gave away the owner as being military. That is except for Sarge’s bedroom which contained a closet full of his older uniforms and boots.
Sarge then opened a second door and opened to a moderate sized room with a queen sized bed, a wooden desk with a padded chair, and a hand carved wood closet. It was Sarge’s guest bedroom, but he hadn’t had visitors in years , so he decided to put it to better use.
"Cadet Daniels, this will be where you will stay from now on" Sarge started, "but first for some modifications."
First the bed changed from a nice comfortable queen sized bed with a memory foam mattress to an olive green military cot which was shoved against the side of the room. There was no mattress, only some thin olive green blankets to cover him while asleep. Next the nice mahogany desk morphed to a very basic metal desk. The set or drawers embedded in the previous desk vanished so that all was left was the bare metal frame. The only thing on the desk after the transformation was a thick paperback book titled "Cadet Handbook" which had to have been at least 500 pages long. The comfortable padded chair then morphed to a plain steel backed metal folding chair that had no padding at all. The hand carved wardrobe then changed to a simple metal wardrobe that was currently open and empty. All that was in the wardrobe currently was some empty metal hangers. They would be filled shortly. Lastly a footlocker appeared at the base of the cot. There would be no lock on the box as Cadet’s did not receive privacy, but it would contain some personal effects and uniform items.
The floors than changed from a simple, but elegant mahogany to a dull grey linoleum, just like the floors at Marine Bootcamp, and the walls then bleached themselves to a bright white, like a hospital.
Lastly the room began to get smaller, much smaller in fact. Cadet Daniels wouldn’t be needing the space. The room decreased so that it was able to fit the current furniture but not much else. Extra space was a luxury that was earned, but wasn’t freely given.
"Now, no more will you get to put people down and bully and abuse your power. You are Cadet Daniels, you are the lowest of the low. You will refer to all males as "Sir" and all females as "Ma’am" even if they are children. They are all deserving of your respect, but you will have to earn theirs. Though you will address everyone with the proper respect, you only have to follow orders from two people: me and David, who was your former employee and will be your new boss. If you work diligently and give him respect, he will treat you like an equal. And every time he treats you well, you will feel that nagging itch of remorse that you did not give him the same courtesy. And in time, perhaps you will feel genuine regret."
Most wouldn’t be able to tell that anything had changed with Cadet Daniels, but Sarge was very experienced with unruly people, and he could just by the slight change in body posture that Cadet Daniels did not like this one bit.
"Your former employee now is the proud owner of an Independent bookstore, and now as penance for what you have done, you will be one of his employees. You will have to accept what you have always tried to fight, that one of your employees will be your boss, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Since you are a Cadet, you will always be in uniform which I will provide you with momentarily. Even though there is no military school in the area, no one will find this odd. They will just take this as normal."
"Now, let's get you looking right," Sarge says. Cadet Daniels now wrinkled and sweaty dress shirt morphed to again become immaculately pressed and buttoned to fit his body perfectly. His dark blue silk tie then deepened to a black color and then morphed to cotton. The tie was perfectly tied, as it would always be, all the way knotted to the neck with the top button always done up properly.
His smooth textured suit jacket first changed to a military gunmetal blue with brass buttons. The texture changed to a more course wool and thickened up to give it more rigidity. A metal name tag affixed itself to his left breast pocket bearing his last name, "Daniels."
His suit pants morph from silk to wool as they take on the same gunmetal blue as the blazer. Two black stripes run down the length of the pants and the tops of the pants around the quads bloomed out like jodhpurs, similar to the type of pants the Senior Cadets at Texas A&M wear.
His handmade Italian dress shoes began to change into heavy, black leather boots. The boots encroached up Cadet Daniels’ ankles and tightly laced themselves against his black dress socks. They were highly inflexible, very heavy, and very uncomfortable. The military jodhpurs then tucked themselves into the heavy boots. Lastly a hard military hat of the same gunmetal blue color appeared at his side affixed to the black leather belt that is bound around his navel, over top of his blazer.
"Cadet Daniels, this will be your new "Daily-wear" uniform. You will have other uniforms such for PT, but this will be the one you wear for drill and for work. As needs arise, you may receive other uniforms in addition to those I listed. But your days of wearing civilian clothing have passed. Even if you receive days off, you will still be in full uniform at all times."
"Now, let’s get into you schedule. You will wake up every morning at 0400 where you will perform PT for one hour in your PT uniform," suddenly some clothing started to fill in his empty wardrobe. It was a marine regulation MARPAT uniform, but instead of "USMC" on the breast it said "Cadet". The other breast was monogrammed with "Daniels" like the uniform normally would. He received 5 sets in total including 5 camo green T shirts that were magically neatly folded into the footlocker while the pants and the jackets were pristinely hung up. Additionally at the base of his footlocker two pairs of tan USMC issue combat boots appeared
"At 0500 you will cook then shower, shave, and dress in your uniform of the day, normally what you are wearing now. 0530 you will cook breakfast. From 0600 to 0800 you will perform morning drill under my supervision. At 0830 through 1630 you will work at the bookstore. 1700 through 1900 you will have evening drill. 1900 you will prepare dinner, eat, and then clean up. 2000 you will clean the room and prep your uniforms for the next day. 2200 is lights out. On Sundays. After morning drill and until dinner you will have free time for leisure which includes time for reading a book of your choice. Eventually after enough time, you can earn leave to go into town as well during Sundays, but you will still be required to be in uniform. "
"Next, on your desk is the "Cadet Handbook". Familiarize yourself with it, it includes all the rules you must follow and includes helpful guides such as "uniform maintenance", "boot polishing", "proper drill" in addition to leadership training and more. Learn it well, it will help you immensely over the coming months."
Cadet Daniels was overwhelmed by what was happening, it was such a rigid schedule. He was used to the one being in charge, but this man was dictating to him his life in excruciating detail, down to what he would wear and what his hair would be. He would not allow it…. Except he could not do anything but obey.
"Sir, permission to speak, Sir!?" Cadet Daniels barked.
"Permission Granted, Cadet"
"Sir, how long will I be like this, Sir?" He responded sharply while generally pointing at his uniform.
"That is up to you, Cadet."
And for a half-second Cadet Daniels was hopefully until Sarge continued, "After 2 years of being a cadet, and every year after, I will do a formal evaluation. If during that evaluation I think that you have committed yourself to being the best Cadet you can be, that you have worked towards being the best employee you can be, and that you have learned to treat all people with respect, then we can move to the next phase. When I deem you ready, you can move on to the next phase. The next phase lasts for 4 years and that will be your officer training preparation. You will continue to be a Cadet, but this time a "Senior Cadet", you will be put in a position of authority over more and more people to test your metal as a leader. At the end of this training you will have two choices: to commission directly as a USMC officer or to go to a military college for 4 years as a Cadet there. But once you graduate, you will have the option of going to the civilian workforce. As you can see, the road ahead will be difficult, but at the end I will teach you how to be a better person, whether you like it or not."
"Cadet Daniels, it is getting late," and to his shock he looked out the small window of the room and saw that it was dark outside. When had that happened, "you should cook yourself dinner and then head strait to bed."
"Sir, yes, Sir" Cadet Daniels found himself saying automatically.
Cadet Daniels then went on autopilot and marched out of the room to the kitchen where he instinctively began to prepare dinner- a simple spaghetti with tomato sauce. He then plated the food for Sarge and placed it in front of him. He then took the position of attention, arms behind his back, back straight, eyes forward and stook there unmoving while Sarge ate. Only after Sarge finished, did Sarge then critique the food saying that it was "too salty" and "too bland", and that he would have to learn how to improve his cooking as well. Which would be taught all in good time. Cadet Daniels had never been a good cook, so he thought it was unfair to be treated this way, not like he could say anything. But as punishment for the food quality, Sarge barked, "Drop and give me Fifty!" And Cadet Daniels found himself dropping to the ground in full uniform to do push-ups, counting out loudly "Sir, One, Sir. Sir, Two, Sir…." Once he finished all fifty, he jumped up, smarty adjusted his uniform unconsciously and returned to the position of attention.
Then, he grabbed Sarge’s dirty dish and utensils and went to clean up everything, being careful not to get anything on his uniform. Only after all this occurred was Cadet Daniels then allowed to eat food, which he had to plate himself. Instead of eating normally, he was forced to eat in a very military fashion where his arm would only move at right angles to deliver the food into his mouth. It looked ridiculous, but it was the way many freshman Cadets had to eat. Cadet Daniels then began to clean up after himself. Once the kitchen was immaculately cleaned, which took about an hour to pass Sarge’s inspection, and that at first required 100 push-ups when it did not meet Sarge’s standards. He went to his small room to prepare his uniform and boots for tomorrow. Instead of being able to take off his boots, Sarge had provided him with a 2nd pair just so that he wouldn’t have a reason to take off the boots except for right before bed, which was torture as they were very rigid and uncomfortable. He sat for the next 2 hours polishing his 2nd pair of boots to a mirror shine, a skill he instinctually had thanks to Sarge, and made sure his uniform for tomorrow was immaculate.
At the very end of the day, after his uniform was prepped and boots polished, he went to brush his teeth in the small bathroom in the hallway. While staring at his shaven head in the mirror and with the discomfort coming that came from the cadet uniform, he couldn’t help by both thinking he looked really impressive while also feeling like a toy. While he could certainly act autonomously, he could not disobey Sarge’s will. At 2200 on the dot, Cadet Daniels stripped out of his uniform and boots and crawled into his spartan military cot and fell asleep rapidly and dreamed dreams of military drills.
In what felt like seconds, but what was six hours, Cadet Daniels woke up at 0400 on the dot without the need for an alarm or anything. He then found himself automatically changing into his PT uniform. For the next hour he did push-ups, sit-ups, burpee, chin-ups and even went on a run. Normally Cadet Daniels liked to run, but when he did he normally was wearing shorts and running shoes and not military fatigues and boots, which took a lot of the fun out of it as the boots were significantly heavier, and the uniform got hot. When he was done at 0500 on the dot, he then quickly showered, with cold water, shaved his face and got into uniform making sure everything was ready for inspection. Sarge did a thorough inspection of the room, pointing out each issue and explaining how to rectify it for next time. He was assigned 2 demerits as punishment in addition to another 50 push-ups. Each demerit counted as 30 minutes of extra drill done in full uniform on Sunday, since Sunday was normally the day off. The maximum length of drill time on a Sunday is 8 hours, so after 16 demerits they roll over to the next week. If too many demerits were earned, more than 30, then more severe punishments would be utilized such a loss of free time, modification of the daily uniform to make more uncomfortable, and having longer days. With Sarge’s help, a human could survive on just 2 hours of sleep and in extreme cases Sarge could have Cadet Daniels in full military mode from 0400 to 0200 the next day.
The day continued in this military like fever dream. He cooked breakfast, received 1 demerit for inadequate food and another demerit for not cleaning up properly (because there was on spec of food on the underside of the counter that Cadet Daniels had missed) and then was off to military drill for 2 hours under Sarge’s close eye. Instead of receiving demerits for improper drill conduct, Sarge simply made him run with a military high step in full uniform with a rife for 30 minutes at the end of drill. It looked ridiculous and he was sweating profusely under his uniform. Somehow, the uniform itself was not wet in the slightest though. That did not prevent it from being hot and uncomfortable.
While he was walking down the street to the bookstore to work in full Cadet uniform, he felt embarrassed, but over time he began to feel more at ease when people didn’t even take a 2nd look at him in his uniform. It was like they were expecting it so it couldn’t be out of the ordinary. Sarge didn’t lie when he said no one would think it was odd.
To his surprise, he actually quite enjoyed working at the bookstore. He found that he loved making sure everything was in the right place. And while he found the uniform, particularly the knee high boots uncomfortable, at least the bookstore was kept cold. His boss was extremely patient with him too, every time he made an error the boss would catch it and would kindly show him what he did wrong. He was never rude or mean to him even once, even when he dropped one of the books and ruined the cover. For some reason he couldn’t quite place, the nicer his boss was, the more remorseful he felt. It was like he had been mean to this guy in a past life and was sensing it. How bizarre. At 1630, Cadet Daniels then bid his boss farewell for the day and marched back to Sarge’s apartment for 2 more hours of evening drill. The day continued and by the time 2200 hit, Cadet Daniels signed in relief as he stripped his uniform and boots off and crawled into his cot. Though it was still as sparse, he was so tired form the day it felt like a Temper-Pedic.
SIX MONTHS LATER
Sarge was just finishing up on his last customer of the day when the bell at the entrance chimed. He turned around to see Cadet Daniels marching in, head held high resplendent in full uniform. It was Saturday, so he was clearly in a good mood knowing that tomorrow would be a relatively restful day. In his six months with Sarge he had transformed as a person. His despair about his situation and his reluctance to perform all actions with military precision had vanished over time and he had really blossomed. Overtime, Sarge had eased up on the amount of control he had over the lad because the youth didn’t need to be forced to do it anymore. He had taken on to military drill, which he did for a total of 4 hours every day in full uniform, like a natural. If he was in the marines, he would have easily been selected for the Silent Drill Platoon. And not only was a natural, but he was beginning to take pride in the military bearing he has developed with all this training.
He was also earning far fewer demerits. His first week he had ended up with 47 demerits, which led to Sarge extending his day to go from 0400 to 0000, a total of 20 hours for a full month. The extra two hours was filled with remedial punishments like scrubbing the bathroom floor with a toothbrush or cleaning the kitchen with a tiny sponge. By the time that month was over he was down to getting 15 demerits per week and now that number had dropped to fewer than 5 in a week for a 3 week period.
He was doing better than Sarge had imagined, and had even memorized and taken to heart every aspect of the "Cadet Handbook" and he would rival even the most enthusiastic marines for military attitude. In fact, he was doing so well as a Cadet, that Sarge was having to move up what his initial timeline was for his Cadetship. He had said it would be 2 years before he would be evaluated to take on a leadership role as a Senior Cadet, but at this rate Sarge couldn’t justify waiting that long. He was preparing the evaluation to take place in another 6 months, and after that he would need to find some new candidates to be "Cadets". To demonstrate his leadership ability Cadet Daniels would need to lead, so ideally Sarge would find 3 more candidates who would be Cadets under Cadet Daniels when he was promoted to "Senior Cadet".
Most people misunderstood Sarge’s reasoning for doing what he did to people. They thought he just loved to make everyone into a perfect soldier, obedient and disciplined, but that was not it at all. It was not about the military discipline itself, it was about the character building and growth as a human being that he cared about. And when people fulfilled their potential, Sarge couldn’t help be feel proud.
And for Cadet Daniels, he was full of pride.