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Having him back, Part III by Vegard


A long overdue follow-up of this story. I hope you take the time to go in the archive and search for parts one and two before reading this.


As Jack parked next to the trailer after taking Charlie home, he rubbed the stubble on his head. It had lost that bristly feel and he felt it was getting too long. He needed to cut it before heading to work tomorrow.
A couple of days ago he'd bought a new set of Wahl clippers, and he now looked forward to using them.
Long past were the days of clippers having to stay plugged in to the AC power supply like the ones his Grandpa had borrowed in his time.

Not wanting to get those tiny hairs all over the cramped little bathroom in the trailer, he took the Wahl with him outside, and attached the number one guard.
The setting had similarities, but wasn’t a repeat of the old days, when his Grandpa had sheared him in front of an audience.
He took off his shirt behind the trailer, covered from the road. And the fence and some trees and bushes hid him from the neighbors should they be out.
But people weren’t out so much any more. More shows on TV, and more screens were responsible he supposed. As people, even in this part of town, now pretty much had at least one screen with entertainment each. That and air-conditioning in all homes had led to people being inside a lot more. He sort of missed seeing people about, but was also quite relieved he didn't have to have too much to do with the neighbors. He didn't have to answer inquisitive questions about where he'd been or talk about his Ma or Grandpa. And that was perfectly ok with him.

Jack's habit was to start in the back, moving the clippers fairly slow, so they could chew through everything without leaving strays standing up. Then he did the sides, and finally the top of his head, before using extra time around the ears and on his neck, moving the clippers against the growth to be able to cut even those unruly neck hairs back there. He’d sometimes use a bit of tape across the nape of the neck to use as a guide for cleaning up below his buzz cut. But not today. He didn’t have tape, but would probably buy some before cutting his hair next time.

The new clippers were good, and there was no sign of the battery running low as he finished in the semi-darkness, Running his hands over his skull he brushed off the little loose hairs that were still there, and wiped his neck with his t-shirt. Satisfied it felt nice and even he went inside and showered, before packing the last of his stuff for his early departure next morning. The Wahl went in with his toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and shaving kit in a side pocket of his bag.

What a day it had been. His thoughts kept drifting to Allison and their kiss this morning. There were obviously still feelings there from the both of them towards the other, and he felt bitterness well up inside him over what he had lost.
Still, he was getting his son back it seemed. He thought about Charlie for a while, and their new-found connection. His son had been three when he was sent to prison, and Charlie had confessed he had no memories from back then at all.
It had been good times though. Thinking back Jack reckoned he hadn't been too bad of a Dad back then, and he really liked getting in to the role as a father for a teen-age son now. He just hoped he didn't screw things up again. Thinking about the talk he'd had with Ally, and how she'd been worried he would be a bad influence on Charlie, he would have to do his best to try and be an influence for good.

Looking vacantly at the complete darkness outside the window over the couch in the trailer he sighed. His thoughts filled with images of Ally. With her gorgeous eyes, and soft lips. And the feel of her skin on his callused hands.
He went back outside, got his dick hard and jerked off in the cool evening air. It felt good, as always, but his bitterness didn't fade. And going to bed that night he kept thinking about, and longing for, his ex.

Work on the land rig "The Emerald", thus named because the drilling rig was green, went well, although he hadn’t worked on a rig for twelve years, and the mechanical tongs and some procedures were new to him. But he observed the others on "The Emerald", and followed their lead.
The whole crew lived close by. Some in a motel at the nearest junction, and Jack and a few others in trailers in a trailer park a few hundred yards down the road. It didn’t really matter to Jack where he lived, as long as it was close after their 12-hour shifts. All he wanted was some grub, a couple of drinks, and a bed.

The third day in he went with his crew to the bar by the motel, and they ended up drinking heavily.
In the bar that night was one of the crews from another rig, and there was a complete dick on that crew who seemed dead set on starting a fight. At first he was only mouthing off about what a bunch of losers the Emerald's crew were. Most of the guys took it in stride, but Jack was getting broody. Glaring hatefully at the jerk trying to get them all wired up. And the guy noticed.
A satisfied smirk appeared on his face as he eyed Jack.

He turned away to talk to his buddies, while occasionally glancing over at Jack. And as Jack got up a bit unsteadily to get another round of drinks the jerk stuck his foot out and tripped him. Stumbling forward, Jack fell against another guy from the other crew, and the guy shoved him off of him. Breathing heavily Jack straightened up and approached the jerk, who stood up. His smirk faltered a little as he realised Jack was at least six inches taller than him, but he soon had it back in place. Being sober, or at least less drunk, he felt he still had the advantage.

Some guys will argue, and mouth off, before actually fighting. And many start a fight by stepping back with their guard up, while assessing the situation. But not Jack.
He lunged forward immediately, and gave a punch aimed at the other guys head. But, he was too drunk, and too slow, and his fist just graced the other guys head as he elegantly stepped a bit to the side. He seemed to have been taken a bit by surprise though, and had maybe counted on delivering some more insults before actually fighting.

Jack regained his balance, and stayed back a bit now. He was furious, and stood, fists clenched, ready to attack again, when someone suddenly bellowed straight in to his ear, "Jack! Get your ass out of here, right now!"
Mike, the tool pusher, stepped right in front of him, and repeated, "Get out Jack! Now!"
Mike was shorter than both of the men facing each other, but he had a voice and an appearance that commanded respect. Being in his mid fifties, with a strong build, course features, intense, dark eyes, and a slightly shaggy crew-cut he looked as tough as he was.
Still breathing heavily Jack immediately stepped back. The jerk had his smirk back in full, and said "Saved by the bell sunshine!", but Jack didn't care about him any more. He'd seen Mike in this type of mood enough times to know it meant trouble for someone. And that someone now appeared to be himself.
Obediently he went outside, with Mike following him through the crowd.
They stopped in the parking lot, and Mike looked like he was about to say something, but changed his mind.
Looking at the tall, drunk, roughneck in front of him, he sighed and said, "Get in my truck, I'll take you back to the trailer."
Again Jack obeyed and they sat in silence as Mike drove him "home", and stumbling in Jack went straight to bed, and fell asleep.

The next day saw them all back at work. And although some confessed to having severe hangovers, everyone headed towards their posts as usual.
"Hey Jack!" Mike yelled over from the office trailer as Jack headed towards the drill floor, "Get in here, now!"
Knowing he would get a scolding Jack didn't smile as he entered Mike's office. With a serious nod at his boss he waited to be told to sit down.
Another sigh from Mike, and he indicated for him to take a seat.

"My bosses have been on my back about hiring you."
"Oh," Jack felt a sinking sensation in his stomach.
"Yeah, because of your prison time, and what you were in for."
"That was an accident!" Jack said, defensively. Damn it, but Mike had been there, and even testified on his behalf at the trial.
"I know," Mike nodded, "But, it's different times now Jack. And you're a liability"
"I’m a what?"
"It means you’re a risk. At least I'm pretty sure that's what it means. And you were this close to gettin’ in a fight last night!" Mike held his thumb and index finger close, but not touching, to indicate how close it had been, and Jack shifted uncomfortably, knowing Mike was right.
"There is one way you can keep your job though, and hopefully stay out of trouble," Mike said.
Jack didn't say anything, but looked hopefully at his boss.
"I want you to quit the booze!" Mike stated bluntly.
"Huh?"
"You heard me!" Mike leaned over his desk, almost glaring at Jack, "It’s when you drink you can’t stay out of fights. So, if you can’t lay off the booze, you don't need to come back next hitch. Do you understand?"
With a dark scowl now, staring at the wall behind Mike, Jack nodded.
"You're a good worker Jack, but put one toe out of line, and you're out! And I might have to go as well, since I've vouched for you. And I really don't need that!"

It was Jack's turn to sigh. He put away the frown, and nodded again. He couldn't think of much to say, and getting up he just mumbled "Ok."
Walking out he felt dejected, and let down. He'd felt really optimistic about his future when he'd been to see Mike a bit over a week ago. When Mike seemed so glad to see him, and had let him borrow his trailer and some money to get started. But it all seemed too good to be true now, and he thought to himself what an idiot he'd been for thinking he could just pick up his life from where it had ended 12 years ago when he'd gone to prison for manslaughter. And go on as if nothing had happened.

The rest of the week he kept his head down, stayed out of trouble, and went right to the trailer he shared with a couple of other guys after his shift ended. His relationship with Mike was cooler, and Jack avoided him as best he could.
He felt humiliated. It was as simple as that. Humiliated, let down and angry.

Returning home at the end of the week he was still cranky from having his freedom to enjoy a glass of whiskey taken from him, and for being there on such strict terms. Who did Mike think he was?
After dumping his bag on the bed, he opened his kitchen cabinet and pulled out an almost full bottle of bourbon, holding it in his hand as he studied it.
Slowly he uncapped it, while looking intently at the label. And just as slowly he tilted the bottle, watching the amber liquid go down the drain. He then headed to the fridge and grabbed a can of beer, which he drank in front of the TV. Brooding on life's injustices.

Next day he was still in a really rotten mood as he sat waiting to pick his son up at school.
As Charlie came out with Pete he saw his Dad waiting and waved happily at him. Jack just nodded in return, and as Charlie and Pete came closer Charlie thought Jack looked moody.

"Hey!" Charlie grinned.
Jack smiled back, his mood becoming lighter now that his son was there.
"Hey!" he smiled at the boys.
"How was work?"
"It was ok," Jack mumbled, "How've you been?"
"Good! Can you teach me to fight now that you're back?" Charlie asked.
Jack looked serious again, and studied the two boys. Pete looked like he would have liked to ask for the same, but didn't. After all they didn't actually know each other.
Thinking about how he had to avoid fights himself Jack pondered it, and said, "Yeah, I suppose." And added, "I guess I said I would didn't I?"
Charlie nodded eagerly, and lifting his bike on to the bed of the truck, he turned to Pete and said, "See ya!"
"Yeah," Pete looked disappointed, and it was pretty clear he would have liked to be invited to tag along. But Charlie and Jack both felt they still had a lot of catching up to do themselves, before involving anyone else.
"See ya," Pete muttered, and rode off on his bike.

Back at the trailer they went behind it, to what had been the back yard when the house had stood there. It was overgrown with withered and dried up weeds, and Jack stomped on the ground a few times after they'd agreed it would do as a fighting arena.
Seeing the questioning look on his son's face he said, "To scare off snakes, if there are any."
"Oh. Does that work?"
"Yup, they feel the vibrations in the ground, and a hard stomp scares them. My Grandpa taught me that. It's better to scare them off than to have to face them."
Jack added, "That often works in fights as well."
"Stomping?" Charlie grinned.
Jack laughed, "Nah. But make the other guy know you ain't scared, and act big and tough, and some people won't want to fight you. They slither off."

"Ok. So how do we do this?" Charlie asked.
"What do you mean? How do we fight?"
"Yeah, do we box, or wrestle or what?"
"How about starting out with some sparring, and we'll see where it takes us?"
They both lifted their guard, and began circling in the weeds. Charlie with his hands close to his head, and quite tense. And Jack with his guard a bit lower, and shoulders loose and easy.
Jack let Charlie try a few punches, but stepped away easy enough. As Charlie tried a straight punch towards his Dad's shoulder, Jack sent a quick jab towards Charlie's face, and hit him right on the side of his mouth.
"Ouch! What the hell Jack, why'd you hit me that hard?"
"Why the hell didn't you duck?"

Despite the pain in his lip, and the blood he could feel seeping from where his teeth had cut in to the inside of his lower lip, Charlie began laughing.
"I didn't see it!" he said, flicking his head to get his floppy hair out of his eyes.
"It's that curtain you've got in front of your face," Jack looked at the at least 6 inch long hair falling in his son’s eyes, and quietly wondered why anyone would want their hair like that.
"Yeah," Charlie lifted it away from his face, but he would have to fasten it with something to get it out of his eyes. Or…
"Can you buzz my head, like yours?" he asked.
Jack was on the verge of saying "Sure!", but remembering what Allison had said about her not wanting Charlie to turn out like him, he hesitated.
"Uh, I think your Ma would have a go at me if I did."
"Why?"
"Something about me being a bad influence on you, and her wanting better for you. And she ain’t wrong you know. You don’t need to be copying me."
Charlie was disappointed, but didn’t say it. In stead they sparred a bit longer, and Jack was more careful with his punches. And avoided hitting Charlie in the face.

In the trailer afterwards Jack got a beer, and brought Charlie a can of Coke. He was in a better mood than he'd been since Mike had had his talk with him. He hadn't been in a real fight with Charlie off course, but even this play-fighting helped cheer him up.
"How's your lip?" he asked, as Charlie was feeling his upper lip with his tongue, and checking his teeth to see if they were loose.
"Lip's ok, and teeth are still there," he grinned at his Dad.
"Believe me," Jack said, "If your teeth are knocked loose, you feel it!"
"Have you had teeth knocked loose?"
Jack nodded, "Not so loose that they fell out. But loose enough to hurt like hell."
They sipped their drinks, and Jack chuckled, "I fought a guy once who asked me to wait for him to put his teeth aside before we started.
So, as I was standing there waiting, he removed his front teeth, and handed them to his buddy before facing me again with a wide, toothless grin."
Charlie laughed. "Did you win against him?"
"I think so. But I mostly remember that bit about his teeth."

Charlie was back home in time for supper, and they had tacos, Laura’s favourite, in front of the TV in the living room. It wasn’t much they could all watch together, and they usually ended up with a cartoon. Excusing himself when he’d finished, Charlie left the others to watch the rest of Kung Fu Panda, and went upstairs.
First he went in to his Mom and Gary’s bathroom, and got the clippers out of the drawer. It had an adjustable guard, and a powerful whirr as he clicked it on to check it was charged.
He then stopped by his sisters room, and borrowed a scrunchie. Feeling quite awkward at this he chose the "manliest" he could find. A simple black one, he was sure his sister had never used.
He then locked himself in the bathroom he shared with her, and took his shirt and pants off. Leaving only his briefs.
Studying himself in the mirror he had to admit the long flop looked kind of stupid. He gathered it in his hand, and lifted it up. There, his face was visible. His lip had swelled a little from where Jack had hit him, but the wound was on the inside, so there wasn’t much that showed he’d been hurt. He wished it showed better.
Grabbing his brush he brushed his hair up and fastened the scrunchie. That looked really stupid, and he stifled a laugh. Happy that he was alone with his "man bun", which reminded him of a sort of low palm tree on the top of his head.

The hair on the sides and back was maybe a third of an inch in length, and looked really untidy.
"Ok, Charlie! Let’s do this!" he said to his mirror image, and grabbed the clippers.
He adjusted the guard to a number one, and fired them up. His hair was nice and thick, and the clippers plowed in to it easily at the hairline, even though it was slicked back and tied in the scrunchie.
Charlie pulled slightly at the top as he used the clippers, loosening the bun gradually. This was kind of fun. Seeing the long tresses being separated from his head, while still hanging on by less and less hair. Finally it was only stuck in the back, and with a sideways swipe with the clippers it came off, now dangling in his hand. It looked lifeless, and limp, and he placed it on the side of the sink. The scrunchie was to keep it all together, so there wouldn’t be loose hairs all over the sink, and that had worked.
Now to look at the result. A laugh escaped him as he studied himself in the mirror. It almost looked like a serious case of male pattern baldness, as the whole area he’d just shaved was so much shorter than the hair around it. There was clear stubble though, since his hair was quite dark at the roots. It was several shades darker than the longer hair had been.
Starting up the clippers again, he buzzed the sides of his head, and bending over the sink, he took care of the back.
As a finale he ran the clippers over the top of his head again, in case it was uneven. Which it probably was.
He really liked the way the clippers felt running over his head.

Putting it down, he studied himself in the mirror again. Cool! This looked awesome on him. He grinned, slightly crooked, and was struck by how much he looked like his Dad now that his whole face was visible. He ran both hands over his head, and enjoyed the feel of the soft, yet bristly, uniform stubble.
He used his fingers to get rid of the little hairs from the clippers, blew away some stragglers and went back in to Gary and his mom's bathroom where he set the clippers to charge.

Should he go downstairs and show the others? He stood looking at himself in their bathroom mirror, and before he'd made up his mind about showing the others or not he heard his mom coming up the stairs. He stepped out of their bedroom at the same time she was walking towards it, and she met him with an audible gasp.
"Ja.., Charlie! You shaved your head?"
Feeling this was pretty obvious Charlie didn't answer, but just grinned at his mom.
Almost expecting a telling off, he was surprised to hear her say, "It looks good on you Charlie!"

She smiled almost tenderly at him, but became more serious as she came closer and stroked his cheek and the side of his head. "Be careful though, ok?"
"About what?"
"About being around Jack."
Charlie didn't know what to say, but felt annoyed at this.
Allison sighed, "I'm just worried, that's all."
Frowning he still didn't have a comeback.
She smiled again, "But, I mean it. It looks good!", and thoughtfully she added, "I'm not sure your grandparents will like it though. You might look a bit too much like Jack for their liking."
"Didn't they ever like him?" he asked.
She gave a short laugh, "I don't think so. Or, actually, I think my Dad liked him a lot, until I started dating him."
Charlie chuckled, and his Mom continued, "I guess that's kind of a father-daughter thing, you know?"
"Yeah. How about Grandma though? Did she like him?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe at some time, and mostly I guess after we had you."
Charlie liked hearing about this, after having been denied knowledge of his Dad and family relations around him for so long.
"You were their first grandchild, and I guess both they, and Jack, made more of an effort to get along after we had you."
She sighed, "But then he killed a man, and went to prison."



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