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Heaven on Earth by Manny
"I'm not a church-on-Sunday kind of person," Brian replied to his host's invitation, fully aware that the lame excuse probably would not change things.
"No suit and tie required. We have a young, dynamic pastor who is trying to shake things up a bit," Jake said. "He's attracting a hip congregation. You'll fit right in with that dreamy long hair and beard stubble."
Brian pawed a bit at his thick, mahogany-colored mane. The forelock swept over his left eye. His ears and collar were totally covered.
"That's high praise, coming from the fellow who just yesterday was suggesting I needed a bit of a trim," Brian guffawed.
"Well, you do need a haircut. And, my objective was the same. Our pastor is also a barber. The congregation is struggling financially; Pastor Andy pays his bills by cutting hair during the week. He's great with pastoral counseling and witnessing about Christ while he's got men under his cape. I thought he'd make a good impression on you if you'd agreed to a trim yesterday. You must meet him!"
The last thing Brian wanted was some preacher quoting Bible verses as he chopped off his long hair!! It would be better to meet the charming Pastor Andy in the sanctuary instead of the barbershop.
The promise of Sunday dinner at Cracker Barrel following the service made Brian cave in. He reluctantly followed Jake to the car.
Church wasn't as bad as he'd expected. Contemporary music with a pretty good band. Lots of young people. And Pastor Andy was quite funny, actually. Brian had never listened through a whole sermon before. But, there he was, hanging onto almost every word the folksy, playful, insightful, dreamy-looking Pastor Andy delivered in his homily. "Are you hip or hell-bound?" was the sermon theme. (Both, Brian thought to himself, trying to stifle lustful thoughts as his eyes locked on the handsome preacher....)
"We should greet the pastor on the way out," Brian suggested.
"You seemed to like the service. But, if we're not first at Cracker Barrel, the wait is going to be awful," Jake argued, his stomach already churning with hunger. "Tell you what, I'll drive over to CB and get our name on the list. Be back here in ten minutes. You be out in front, by the main entrance.
Brian felt quite nervous, quite excited, as he sought out the pastor in the foyer. He studied him from a distance. Those huge dark puppy-like eyes with long lashes. The dimples and crooked grin. He was so trim, yet muscular. The cadence of his charming Southern accent carried above all the noise and commotion in the foyer. Brian could listen to him all day. Perhaps even in his barber chair!
When it was Brian's turn to shake Pastor Andy's hand, he had the minister's undivided attention. The pastor's gaze was intense, and he did not release Brian's hand for a long time after a normal shake would have concluded. His other hand was also part of the action. On the shoulder, a gentle caress of the arm.... The body space between the two was at a minimum, and the aroma of the pastor's cologne added to the sensory overload.
"I'm staying with Jake Brentwood for the summer," Brian explained, trying to stay focused. "He speaks very highly of you, and after being in church today, I understand why."
"I'd like to get to know you better, Brian. Perhaps, I can stop by Jake's next week and do some visitation," Pastor Andy suggested.
"That would be great!" Brian gushed. "I'll be visiting the barber shop this week, and we can talk then, as well. I don't want to hog too much of your time now. All these people, waiting to chat with you..."
"Shucks, visitors shouldn't feel rushed! I'll be looking forward to having you in my chair at the Plaza Barber Shop. You'll get a first-timer's discount! Looks like it's been a while for you...under the cape, that is," Pastor Andy said, eyeing Brian's shaggy locks.
As Brian pulled away, Pastor Andy called out, "The shop is closed Monday and Tuesday. Come Wednesday! I'll be waiting for you, Brian. And, I've got a suggestion or two for a new look you can sport...."
It seemed like the next few days took forever. Brian was focused on one thing. Seeing Pastor Andy again. Contributing some tension to his feelings was the "suggestion or two for a new look".
Long hair was Brian's norm. It was a bit of a security blanket to him. It was very nice hair, in fact. Thick, silken and shiny. The thought of letting a barber take off more than his usual "tidy up the tips" instruction was not easy to contemplate.
Maybe have him do just the beard on his first visit? Brian imagined the pastor/barber reclining the chair way back and hovering all over him with lather and a razor.
Wednesday morning, Brian fussed longer than normal with his hair. Pastor Andy would recognize how nice it looked long and be happy to just shape it up a bit.
But, then, Brian brushed it all back, away from his face. Ah, his crystal blue eyes glowed like two gems, deep in color and intensity. No more hair to hide or distract. So many other features came into plain site without the mane in the picture. Square, manly jaw with a sexy cleft in the chin. Nice ears! Heavy brow that gave him such character. And, a strong Roman nose. If Pastor Andy were to chop off the mop...these features would be showcased all the time. He shivered at the thought, but felt slightly open to it.
"I'm leaving, Jake," Brian announced as he headed to the door.
"Getting the big chop today?" Jake asked.
"Should I?" Brian asked. "Can't remember when was the last time I had really short hair. High school, I think."
"Why not let Pastor Andy determine the length?" Jake replied. "He's a great barber. I'd trust him to make the right choice."
"A leap of faith?" Brian stammered.
"Yep, blind faith! When he asks the inevitable question after the cape is snuggly in place, say 'whatever you decide' or something similar," Jake encouraged.
Brian ran his fingers through his hair nervously. It was so soft, so dense....so much would come off in the wake of a powerful set of fast-feed electric hair clippers!
As he pulled into the plaza, Brian's hands felt sweaty. He gripped the steering wheel as he spotted the barber shop sign in the long row of shops. Beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. He felt hot and sweaty all over. There was no relief when he opened the car door and a blast of humid Georgia heat hit him.
Brian glanced around -- he was in a fairly average strip mall, in a small southern town. His destination was tucked away down a short breezeway.
Brian's legs felt like jelly as he ambled towards the Plaza Barber Shop. He saw Andy inside, clad in a pair of chinos with a green polo shirt buttoned all the way to the top (not exactly a hip outfit!).
Even before Brian's hand reached for the door, Andy was waving and grinning.
"You came, Brian!" he exclaimed.
Brian couldn't help but smile at the enthusiasm, "Been looking forward to it since Sunday. I've been counting the minutes until your shop opened."
The single chair shop was about as bare bones as it got, with the lone old chair facing away from the mirror. Never once had the chair been turned to the large mirror, not even after the haircut ended. A row of ten or so mismatched chairs lined up facing the barber chair…an audience of sorts. Behind the barber chair was a counter with only the most basic of shearing instruments. An Oster Model 10’ and a few blades, another set of Oster's. A smaller set of Wahl's with coordinating guards… a small pair of T Line edgers. Several scissors, thinning shears, and a straight edge razor. Very little adorned the walls -- a large American flag, some old license plates…and nailed on the wall near the window, a joke: Free Haircuts Tomorrow. The cape, draped over the chair, was plain white and a bit frayed. Brian thought it must have been fastened around thousands of necks. Cinderblock walls, and linoleum floors… this shop was the epitome of "blue collar barbershop". The kind of shop men went to because their needed to be cut short, not because they were after any special or specific style.
Brian imagined that the shop attracted a wide range of men, townspeople and parishioners who Andy could talk to and preach at while cutting hair. This was his domain, and he was happiest with a congregation of nodding heads in the waiting area -- no doubters and precious few inclined to contradict or question his sermonettes.
"Let me give you a bulldog hug!" Andy said with an animated voice, rapping his arm tight about Brian's shoulder and pulling him close.
Then he tussled the thick mane of mahogany. "What are we going to do with all this up here?" he asked playfully.
Andy was a very friendly, extremely talkative young man, just shy of 40. He believed men's hair should be cut short, plain and simple. He had no inclination or patience for long styles. He preferred hair on the floor, not the head.
"Cut it!" Brian replied. "And, I'm going to leave the length up to you...."
Andy grinned from ear to ear. "You're kidding me. You're playing around with me! There's nothing I'd enjoy more...."
"Nope, that's what Jake suggested. Whatever you think best," Brian insisted, struggling to smooth his hair back into place after Andy had messed with it.
Andy led him to the chair, hand moving up and down his back, still tussling his hair. The affection was warmly welcomed by Brian. He settled comfortably into the chair.
Andy continued to stroke the thick, dark hair with his fingers. "Just trying to get a feel for what you've got here. Very thick, lots of body. Long, too! But not for long!"
Then he tucked Brian's hair behind his ear. "Nice! Nothing protruding -- no need to leave these covered up like you do. Clippers okay?"
Brian squirmed in the chair. Oh, it was going to be short!
"Yep, clippers are fine," he replied. "My hair's been long for ages, but...."
"....it won't be when you walk out of here!" Andy exclaimed. "You'll look like you emerged from a traditional barber shop, not some ladies' salon."
Then Andy shook open the cape and cast it, enveloping Brian in white cloth. He fumbled a bit with the metal clip as the long hair in back needed to be held out of the way.
"Next time I cape you up, I'm not going to be struggling with all the growth at your nape, like today," the barber affirmed with certainty.
Andy enjoyed brushing Brian's long hair, still pawing at it more than necessary. The brushing session went on quite long. Both men seemed to be enjoying their time together, alone in the shop.
"So, what did you think of the Sunday sermon?" Andy asked, suddenly shifting the dynamic.
"Oh, uh, it was, uh, fine," Brian stammered.
"I meant the content!" Andy exclaimed. "You are so funny! I feel like I've known you forever, Brian."
"Well, uh, the basic question. Hip or hell-bound? Can one be both? And is there such a place as hell anyways? I thought people stopped believing in hell a long time ago," Brian said, just to needle the sincere, devout minister.
Andy combed Brian's long fringe straight down over his face. There was a bit of tension in the silence of the barber shop as he pumped a set of shears open and shut a few times.
"Such a place as hell?" Andy said, repeating the question, as if he were deep in thought, mulling the possibility that hell might not really exist, for the first time.
Then, he took the shears to the top of Brian's forehead, slipping the silver blade under the voluminous forelock that had Brian in the dark.
Andy was very determined and forceful with the shears.
SNIP, SNIP, SNIP, SNIP!
A huge veil of hair fell to the white cape. Brian blinked in stunned silence. His forelock had just been almost completely removed. It lay, lifeless, on his lap! He wished he could see himself in the mirror. Regardless, he felt like was in barbershop HELL!
Andy grinned a bit. "Pretty short, I know. But such nice eyes shouldn't be hidden by an overgrown fringe."
Then, he reached for the large set of clippers that dominated the counter.
Andy held the powerful machine for a few moments, quite near Brian's long hair and again repeated the question, "Is there such a place as hell?"
Then, he forced Brian's head into a penitent bow. His chin almost touched his chest. It was like a bootcamp scene from the movies. A click, followed by a low purring sound alerted Brian to the fact that the clippers were live! His heart beat wildly.
Why had he ever asked the question, "Is there really such a place as hell?" Andy seemed agitated by it.
The next thing Brian knew, the clippers were coming up through the nape, tight to the scalp. The vibration was intense. Dear, sweet, sensitive, caring Pastor Andy was a demon with the clippers! Up, up, up they went, all they way through the crown.
"There!" Andy exclaimed as the first swath of hair from Brian's head had fallen to the linoleum floor of the barbershop.
"I've clipped it very short up the back. Almost to the wood," Andy said. "I think that you're getting the idea that most of the hair you walked in here sporting is staying with me, here in the barbershop."
"Can I see the back?" Brian suddenly asked.
Andy was happy to hold the hand mirror up. It was like the parting of the Red Sea! Brian gasped at the severity of the clippers. The exposed scalp was a creamy white that contrasted starkly with the two billowing, brown velveteen drapes on either side.
"That's a 0000 length up the back. But, I did ease up a bit near the top. You are going to look fantastic with the boxy flattop and beveled edges I'm going to give you," Andy said, smiling broadly.
"Oh, Andy! A flattop!" Brian stammered, suddenly feeling his cock leap to attention. He was hard as a baseball bat.
"Do you think you're going to like it?" Andy asked.
"I think I would like anything you gave me, Andy," Brian blinked and blushed like a teen consumed by puppy love.
"Aren't you sweet?" Andy said with a wink. "And handsome too, or at least you will be once I've worked my miracle with all this hair."
Then he pushed Brian's head back down.
Brian could hear Andy swallowing a bit, like he was going to say something.
"I'm a family man, Brian, and happily so. Got the sweetest pair of three-year old twins, a boy and a girl. Jeanie and Jason. The little tyke sports a swell mushroom cut. I thought of giving you one, but I wanted us to be friends," Andy said as he unleashed the clippers for a second time.
Brian sat there stunned as the clippers stripped away another swath of overgrowth. Andy had felt the chemistry, and he had nipped it in the bud! He had more important priorities. Brian gripped the arms of the chair under the cape and clung on, trying to process his disappointment.
The rest of the haircut ensued in almost total silence. Andy was determined with the clippers, methodically clearing away the long locks. The cape almost felt weighed down with the copious amount of cut hair that had collected in Brian's lap.
Once the sides and back were stripped, Andy had Brian sit up straight in the chair. Lift and chop, lift and chop. He quickly hacked off the remaining length. Then, Andy got very close and personal, like in the foyer of the church. He hovered as he began flattening the top and carefully examining his progress. Once again, his hands seemed to be all over Brian. And his touch was gentle, soft and caring as he guided his client's head where he wanted it to go. Brian felt like putty in his hands. He could've sat there all day, being the sole focus of Andy's attention. Andy was working with his hair, taking away snippets and bits....little by little, a true Michelangelo crafting a masterpiece.
Finally, Brian broke the silence, "Is anything left up there?"
"Not much. But, I feel like 'less is more' when it comes to men's hair. And, just for the record, you're more handsome than ever, Brian," the barber confessed, staring at him and smiling broadly with his crooked grin.
Brian glowed inside -- the compliment meant everything to him. He admired Andy and respected him.
"Can I see what it looks like?" Brian asked.
"My chair always stays faced away from the mirror," Andy explained. "You'll see it when you get out of the chair and stand up."
"But, why?" Brian insisted. "Is there some law or commandment against the chair facing the mirror?"
Andy grinned, "According to II Hezekiah 3:16,'Thou shalt not face the barber's chair toward the mirror or thou shalt surely go to hell.'"
Both men laughed.
Then, Andy remarked, "What the hell?! I'll do it just for you!"
He slowly swiveled the chair around, for the first time ever in his shop, just for his new friend, Brian.
Brian gasped when he saw himself in the mirror. The boxy flattop had a very thick pile on top and looked amazing with the contrasted to the skinned sides. The beveling was perfect. His hair, though extremely short, still showed off its sheen and density.
"I love it!" Brian exclaimed.
"You may doubt the existence of hell..." Pastor Andy remarked.
"...but, I'm so sure there's a HEAVEN!" Brian quipped, finishing off the thought. "And it's called The Plaza Barber Shop!"