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Erik Gets to Know and Look Like the Loc by Manny
A continuing story. Previous chapters include:
Chapter 1 - Jack Opts for Change
Chapter 2 - Mr. B or Mr. Baldy
Chapter 3 - Rev. Battersea: Barber, Buddy or Both
Chapter 4 - Jeremy's Raven Locks Raise Funds
Chapter 5 - Coach’s MPB Fringe Falls Amid the Fun
At dinner one night, Erik asked for advice, "I’ve been here a whole month and don’t seem to have any friends besides Mr. B. After church, there’s some polite chitchat, but then the folks hurry away. What’s your secret, Rev. Battersea? I mean you’ve been here just over a year and are already woven into the fabric of the community."
"Here’s what I’d advise. Simplify your sermons and do a lot of listening. People might be put off by those overly theological words like ‘hermeneutics’ and ‘exegeses'. I remember the first time I mentioned exegeses, this woman looked at me and asked where in the Bible it said Jesus had a girlfriend. I was at a loss to understand her question. ‘Well, you were talking about the ex-of-Jesus,’ she remarked with all sincerity!"
Erik got a huge laugh out of that.
"But the most important thing is to meet them where they are — in their houses and in their businesses. The church is your home court and they feel a little intimidated," Rev. Battersea explained.
"I can’t just invite myself over for a meal," Erik argued.
"But you can go into their businesses. For example, when you had problems with your car brakes shortly after arriving, why did you go back to Raleigh to have them repaired? You should have used a local mechanic," Rev. Battersea opined. "And, last night I heard you making an appointment to get your hair cut at the salon in Raleigh tomorrow. Get it cut here. At Al’s Barber Shop! He’s a member of the congregation. Gab with the geezers that hang out there before the haircut and stay around a bit afterwards too. Above all, give Al a big tip when you get out of the chair with a fresh haircut!"
"Get my hair cut at an old timey barber shop?" Erik asked skeptically. "I’ll come out of there with a standard short back ‘n sides, looking like a nerd!" He nervously ran his fingers through his plush blond locks that were fashioned into a longish modern style.
"Would that be so awful? What you want is community connection. And, Al is a very good barber," Rev. Battersea affirmed. "Everyone I know goes to him."
"Fine, I suppose I could do that," Erik said, without sounding too thrilled about the prospect.
"You’ll save a bundle, as well, I imagine," Rev. Battersea remarked.
The next morning, Erik set out right after breakfast for Al’s Barber Shop. He felt a bit timid pushing open the glass door. He’d never been in a traditional shop before. The clatter of electric hair clippers, the harsh neon and the smell of witch hazel assaulted his senses. This was definitely NOT a pricey salon!
There were some polite nods and greetings.
"Do I need to sign in somewhere?" Erik asked awkwardly.
"No, sir, Mr. Minister-in-Training!" Al remarked. "This chair will be yours once I finish up with Otis here."
"But all these other men? I don’t want to cut in line. I’m not in any hurry," Erik said.
"Well, Jim there doesn’t have any hair to cut — for many, this is just a place to hang out and get a free cup of coffee. Help yourself there, Erik. It’s good quality — Maxwell House," Al explained.
"So, what’s on your minds, gentlemen?" Erik asked, taking a page out of Rev. Battersea’s instructional manual, as he got himself some of the wretched coffee swill.
A torrent of topics were covered in the following fifteen minutes, from Covid to inflation to Donald Trump’s possible return to politics.
Erik was actually enjoying himself when Al called him to the chair.
Once the cape was in place, Al asked if he had any plans for the weekend.
"Actually, I’m going on my first date," Erik said while Al combed through his thick blond shag that lapped to the base of his collar and over his ears.
"Who’s the lucky girl?" Al asked indiscreetly.
"Kathy Cox," Erik replied, a bit flustered.
"Oh, Col. Cox’s daughter! The finest this town has to offer. The Colonel is a war hero — wounded in Afghanistan and still such a proud Marine! I see why you’re here to get your hair cut! You need to impress the Colonel, and to do so, we’ll need the help of these," Al said, picking up a huge set of Oster clippers.
Erik was very flustered. Didn’t he have a say in the matter?! He felt Al beginning to apply pressure to his head, pushing it straight down. His token resistance was overruled by Barber Al. The machine roared to life. The haircut was about to begin, but nothing had been said about length!!
Then the most unimaginable thing happened. Al brought the clippers tightly up the back of Erik’s head. The shriek of the metal teeth hitting the dense locks was something fierce. Erik felt faint. The clippers were on a mission — to strip off as much of Erik’s plush mane as possible.
Erik tried to reason with himself that they were probably not cutting his hair nearly as short as he imagined, that what was happening in back was a bit of a trim. Possibly a big #8 plastic guard was on the machine.
But then Al came up around the ear and a first massive wad of blond hair fell into plain view of the cape. There was no plastic guard. Erik was in the process of getting scalped, clipped down to the scalp!
"You can’t go wrong with a regulation cut when it comes to Col. Cox," Al said matter-of-fact. Torrents of blond hair were coming off. Erik felt almost nauseous. "He gets his tightened up every other week."
"I hope something’s left on top when you finish," Erik said meekly.
"A bit of a patch on top, but the sides and back are getting skinned. I hope that’s all right," Al said as an afterthought. "You’re getting your money’s worth today, friend. Sweet Kathy will fall head-over-heels when she takes one look at the new you. Short and crisp instead of this long, floppy what do they call it….metrosexual look?" Al's voice dripped with disdain as he prolonged the word 'metrosexual'.
By then, a massive amount of cut hair had piled up on Erik’s lap. Al took the clippers straight down the top of his head. Over and over he went with a #3.5 blade on top.
"The Colonel will give his full approval when you show up with this High ‘n Tight on Friday night, Erik," Al said proudly as he spun the chair around to reveal the new military length.
Erik gasped and finally managed to eke out, "That looks, uh, um, unbelievable, Al."
Al beamed broadly. "Almost as amazing as the Rev. Battersea’s chromedome. Has he told you about all the money that he and the boy scouts raise selling raffle tickets to shave them down? His hair just now has grown out to its former length. There were months in that very awkward phase going from bald to that overgrown executive cut. I wish he’d let me have a go at this hair. Thinning shears, for one, need to be taken to his thick helmet hair! I can spot a salon style a mile off."
"You mean you don’t cut Rev. Battersea’s hair?" Erik stammered, confused and slightly indignant.
"One day, I hope I will. Perhaps when he sees what a good job I’ve done on you, he’ll come into the shop," Al said.
Erik was absolutely livid when he stormed into the parsonage. The first thing he did (after slamming the front door closed) was rush up to the bathroom to survey the damage. It was far worse than anything he imagined. He looked like he was in the marines! A total jarhead.
Then he found Rev. Battersea in his study and began to rant, "So this was your idea of fitting in here?!"
Rev. Battersea was caught totally off guard. His face was etched with a mixture of shock and disbelief. "Erik, your hair!!"
"What hair?! It’s almost all on the floor of Al’s Barber Shop, thanks to your recommendation. This is all that’s left of it!" Erik shrieked as he rubbed the small patch on top. "Al is a maniac. Just went to town stripping it all off. Oh, and the big surprise came at the end. You have never, ever been in his chair, Bill! How could you do that to me? Where is your integrity, your honesty?! Acting like Al cuts your hair when you’ve never even entered his shop! And, by the way, he’s eager to take the clippers to your ‘helmet hair’!"
"I never said…" Rev. Battersea stammered awkwardly. "I mean, I know it sounded like…but, hey, I’m not the one who can’t fit in and was asking for advice! Crickey, you got a marine cut! How did that happen?"
"He asked if I had any special plans and I mentioned a date with Kathy Cox….and the next thing I knew, he was cutting my hair to a length that would impress her father, the Marine colonel," Erik explained.
"I am so, so sorry, Erik," Rev. Battersea said with a genuine, heartfelt, contrite spirit. "I never imagined…"
After he vented, Erik calmed down somewhat.
"You meant well, Bill. It’ll grow back, eventually," Erik said with a dash of irritation in his voice. "And, who knows, passing muster with the Colonel might not be a bad thing in the long run. I really think Kathy might make the perfect minister’s wife."
Erik left the study feeling the small patch on top and the shaved back. In a way, it was a pleasing sensation.....
Rev. Battersea felt extremely guilty about what had happened. He ran his fingers through his hair. It was just to the point where it was getting very heavy and weighted, especially the forelock which now fell below his eyebrows. Plus, the waves were on the verge of becoming a unruly and difficult to manage. Rev. Battersea got up and looked in the mirror. Such nice hair! So glossy and thick! Mr. B had recently complimented him on it recently, now that it was grown back after the charity head shave.
Rev. Battersea found Erik in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee. He stared a bit at the intern’s shorn head. Poor fellow! The blond hair had been brutally mowed off. It would take the whole internship to grow out to a reasonable length. The minister's guilty feelings intensified and locked him into his plan.
"Uh, Erik, I need to run into town, take care of a bit of business. I shouldn’t be away more than an hour. Probably not even that much. The deacons may arrive for our monthly meeting. Could you serve some coffee and say I’ll be back shortly if I run a bit late?" Rev. Battersea asked.
He knew going to Al’s for a haircut was the right thing to do, the very minimum to make amends to Erik. But the thought of subjecting himself to the exact same haircut Erik received caused his stomach to churn.
At first, Rev. Battersea thought it was anxiety and nervousness due to the possibility of emerging with his first High ‘n Tight ever. The easiest thing would be for him to plop in the chair like Erik had done and let Al’s ‘barber choice’ determine the length.
That was definitely a possibility.
But, as he drove further, Rev. Battersea realized that the nervousness was mixed with excitement. He wanted the clippers stripping off his sexy hair again! He wanted to look into the mirror and see himself brutally shorn, radically changed. And, for the first time, the thought of getting scalped was tinged with some sexual arousal! The stirring of his pecker was unmistakable. The more he thought of a High ‘n Tight, the larger his pecker grew.
And the feeling intensified when he pushed the door of Al’s Barber Shop and strode on in. One glance in the mirror with his nice, shiny hair on display confirmed it. Then he saw a huge mound of blond locks swept up into a pile in back. Erik’s hair. Yes, he owed it to Erik. He would emerge with his hair shorn every bit as short as the intern’s.
"Good morning, Minister! This is a privilege. Chair is waiting for you," Al chirped, dusting away some snippets of hair and seizing the cape from off the back of the barber throne.
"When I saw that fine haircut you gave Erik this morning, I had to come straight in. I want my hair cut to the same length," Rev. Battersea instructed as the cape was fastened into place with a huge metal clip.
Al seemed taken aback at first. He combed through the reverend’s thick, silken locks. "To be honest, I was thinking you needed a haircut when I saw you on Sunday, but I had no idea you would want almost all of it taken off."
Rev. Battersea smiled and said that he has not thought of getting a High 'n Tight until a few minutes before. Erik seemed so pleased with his new look that he wanted the exact same cut.
"Oh, I hope you two are not vying for the heart of Kathy Cox and the approval of her father. That would not be good for peace in the parsonage," Al noted.
Rev. Battersea laughed. "Not at all! Kathy is perfect for Erik. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have the same haircut as he got. Strip it off, Al! Down tight, to the wood," Rev. Battersea instructed. Then he grasped his forelock and held it up. "I’m anxious for this to be off my face!"
"Then let’s get rid of that right away," Al stated, combing the minister’s bangs straight down.
Al was quick with the large scissors. A few pumps to rev up his shearing juices, and then, in a flash….SNIP, SNIP, SNIP! The curtain of hair fell in its entirety — from the top of the forehead to the cape!
Rev. Battersea watched in horrified delight! The deed had been done. The sexy locks had started to fall. They look magnificent resting so lifeless on the cape in his lap. In contrast, his sexy mane now looked goofy without the copious forelock.
"I feel better already, Al," Rev. Battersea declared.
Then, Al fired up the clippers.
Without even being instructed, Rev. Battersea bowed his head and waited for the shriek of vibrating teeth to tear through the plush nape. The feel of the Osters being pushed up the back of his head, followed by a blast of cool air conditioning on the exposed scalp, further excited him. Rev. Battersea shifted anxiously in his seat.
Al did not hesitate to further his assault on the minister’s plush helmet hair. He pushed the clippers through the silken locks down the top of Rev. Battersea’s head. A surge of excitement pulsed through the minister’s caped body as he watched the abundant sheaves tumble to his shoulders.
"So, you thought I was looking shaggy on Sunday. In the future, Al, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m still getting used to life in the town here. I need someone to drag me into the barber shop and take the clippers to me," the minister urged. "No questions asked. Just start mowing off the overgrowth!"
Al smiled broadly, "I’ll be sure to keep you nice and trim. Then he took the clipper straight down the top of Reverend Battersea‘s head one last time, clearing away all length. Mounds of his gorgeous brown hair covered the cape. Five-inch locks littered this lap. Rev. Battersea smiled as he watched the brutal divestiture of his hair. He was glad the cape concealed his private excitement!
"Short hair is so much more practical, isn’t it?" Rev. Battersea asked.
"It sure is. One day I’d like to give you my signature haircut," said Al. "A flattop. I think it would go very nicely on you. You’ve got the right kind of hair and head shape for it. And I think the flattop commands a lot of respect, at least it does in this town."
Rev. Battersea asked whether the flattop he had in mind was a deep pile one or a very short one with a wide landing strip.
"Well, I will start with a plush top for you, and then take it down shorter and shorter with each visit, until you say ‘stop’!" laughed the barber.
At the end of his haircut, Rev. Battersea asked that the sides and back of his head be lather shaved to give him a very clean look.
Al was more than delighted to massage in the warm foam and scrape the reverend’s head down to mere skin. Nothing felt better than a straight razor scraping away the stubble.
Following his own advice, Rev. Battersea left a generous tip for his barber. He emerged from the shop feeling renewed and invigorated. The look was jarring, but the feel was unbelievable.
When Rev. Battersea entered the parsonage, a few of the deacons were already assembled. Erik was in the kitchen preparing the coffee.
"My goodness!" exclaimed Mr. Courtwright. "I didn’t recognize you at first, Reverend! Your hair!"
"Just came from Al’s. Erik and I both opted for High ‘n Tights today. Can’t go wrong with a military length," said Rev. Battersea.
Then, the doorbell rang. It was Col. Cox. "Come in Colonel," Rev. Battersea said.
"Well, I’ll be! Your haircut is fantastic, Reverend!" Col. Cox exclaimed. "An authentic High ‘n Tight! Not something for sissies, only for real men!"
"Wait till you see Erik’s!" Rev. Battersea replied. "We both got H ‘n Ts. He is pulling out all the stops to make a good impression on you."
Just then, Erik walked in with the coffee. At first, he didn’t notice Rev. Battersea. "Oh, Col. Cox, welcome! Care for some coffee?"
"That is a fantastic haircut, Erik!" the Colonel exclaimed. "Have you ever considered being a military chaplain. Kathy has always wanted to be a chaplain’s wife. And, I still have my connections to the Corps."
"We have yet to go out on our first date, Colonel!" Erik stammered.
"A man who sports a High 'n Tight is a man after mine own heart, especially if he walks the straight and narrow path laid out in God's holy word," Col. Cox said. "If she asks for my opinion, you can count on a good word from me!"
"And, from me too!" said Rev. Battersea.
It was then that Erik saw his colleague brutally shorn down to the wood for the first time. "Bill!" he stammered. "You’ve been to Al’s!"
"And, I stand by that endorsement I gave you last night — this time based on personal experience, Erik," the Rev. Battersea said.
Then he whispered in Erik’s ear, "Please forgive me for misleading you. It was not my intention. I hope this makes up for it."
The reverend gave his patch of stubble on top a quick rub. Erik followed suit and let out a soft giggle. The reverend was almost unrecognizable without his hair.
"Your advice was the best possible!" Erik laughed. "But, I’m not sure the jarhead look is for you, Bill!"
The little dig struck at Rev. Battersea's usual confidence. He excused himself and rushed to the bathroom. The mirror confirmed Erik's assessment. He looked like a recruit and felt insecure....a vulnerability he strangely appreciated. Growing out the High 'n Tight would take time, for sure.....