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He Knew What to Do by Armando94

Nico had a secret, one that he’d been harboring for easily over a decade. He didn’t fully comprehend what it was back in Kindergarten. But as the years passed, he understood his tempting "desire". Anytime a male classmate or a man at church had clearly had their haircut, Nico couldn’t help his gaze. His eyes were like a magnet to the nape line, or the severely shorter top, given the summertime. When he was younger, he hadn’t realized what he was doing. But as he got older, he knew how awkward it would seem. So, Nico discreetly took glimpses and glances when he could, because the urge never went away. Now as a sixteen-year old, he was afraid it might have grown worse.

Nico was of Italian and Greek mix heritage, and thus came from a big family. Many siblings and therefore many cousins too. He would not be the one in his immediate family inheriting either the diner business or the pizzeria business (thanks to the two oldest brothers, the twins Dion and Enzo), and his other siblings had shown promise elsewhere too. So, as his large family would tease him, he was one of the few relatives that had the opportunity to find his own path. Of course, they all prayed on it, and Nico wondered if he should have been praying too…because he still hadn’t figured it out. Other than riding around on his bike with friends, playing video games with them…and his secret obsession. Fearful one day his mother or father might find out, Nico still couldn’t give it up.

Nico’s haircut obsession involved finding himself on online forums, in small chat rooms with other men, and of course, the countless hours he’d spent on YouTube watching old and more recent haircut videos. Nico was curious if his obsession with these transformation videos was because he himself was slightly embarrassed of his own look. Thanks to his genes, he was very fortunate to have hair, and would likely have it for a while. But there was a lot of hair to take in for a young boy. Besides his thick, dark hair on his noggin (that was difficult enough to brush through, let alone cut with scissors), he’d started to notice his body hair growth ever since middle school began. It was first on the arms and legs, and then by the beginning of freshman year, his chest was starting to grow at rapid speed. Nico had even watched videos of how to "manscape", but had never done the actual act. He knew this was part of his genetics, all his older brothers and cousins had gone through it.

Another thing Nico liked to do, on his little bike ride jaunts, was stroll past any and all barber shops. He’d staked out many times before, even found inconspicuous hiding spots that would give him a great view of who was coming and going in the shops, or even through the glass itself. He loved treating it like he was gambling somewhere like Las Vegas or Atlantic City: a man could walk in, what was he going to come out looking like? Just a trim? Something new? Of course, he’d also done this more than a hundred times that Nico would catch some regulars going in for their usual touch-ups. But even them, they could come out with something a little bit different, and that gave Nico an absolute thrill.

The spring had been really hot, more hot than usual, and they were even predicting a heat wave. Nico felt the sweat, and his hair, sticking to him. His dark hair was more than overgrown, his bangs just about to cover his vision, hair covering his ears and touching his collar. His school was an old one, so not every single hall had A/C. The classes that weren’t fortunate, old school fans slowly fanned everyone off, but even that was dismal. Some teachers even kept the lights off in the room, just to appease the students who claimed it made them feel better. Nico also didn’t like when it got this hot, because then it meant he had to break out the t-shirt and shorts. That was one thing during gym class, but when Nico was sitting in class, it gave his audience a great show of how hairy the beast had grown over winter.

The school day had finally ended, and everyone was bursting out the doors, heading for their hot buses, or for someone like Nico stuck biking in the heat. He knew a few different routes to get back home, especially routes that took him on a few stops before he was home. Before Nico could have his fun, he stopped at a 7-Eleven to pick up one of the biggest water bottles he could find. Catching a glimpse of himself in one of those circular ceiling windows upon entrance, he saw what a mess he looked like. Embarrassed, he kept his head down, picked up his water and a snack, and barely looked at the cashier as he checked him out. Nick inhaled his snack, and then washed it down with some water before pedaling away from the back of the store, onto one of his favorite haunts.

Nico usually just got his hair cut at one of those clip joints that doesn’t charge much and he didn’t have to worry about them cutting too much off. His father and brothers would prefer if he went to a barber shop, any of the ones that they went to. Of course, Nico wished he’d taken them up on the offer, what a thrill it would be! To finally be free of this mop, to not only look like one of the men he watched on YouTube but to experience it at last. The shock and sheer surprise of being sheered down by some no-nonsense barber, who had no time for a boy like him, with his floppy mane and unkempt ways. Who’d put an end, no, commit a massacre upon the mange he called hair. Nico only wished for something like this. Perhaps one of his uncles should have gotten a hold of him years ago too, some of them sported good looks. Ones with curly hairs kept in a longer yet clean cut style, or others with their waves shortly cropped and the sides showing skin. Oh, Nico desired for the feel of the clippers. No amount of videos online could do it justice. Sound was one thing, but sensation was another.

Finally, Nico was in one of his stakeouts, taking in the sight before him. He saw a man step out of the shop in view. He really wish he’d kept notes on this habit, so he could look back and see what he’d seen over the years. The man exiting this shop had a simple taper in the back, and his sides cleaned up. Possibly a bit trimmed off the top, but Nico had the impression it was someone who came in and said "the usual". Nico slugged down some more water, yikes it was hot out there. He still felt like he might be sweating. But then he stopped wondering this as he saw a cop car pull up nearby. Petrified, Nico duck for a second, afraid that this officer might have something to do with him. Instead, the officer in what was likely his early forties parked the car, and stepped out, heading for the barber shop. Now Nico was intrigued. The cop already seemed to have short hair. What on earth more could he have cut? From Nico’s estimations, perhaps it had been two weeks max that this cop had his hair last cut. The sides were still short, but the kind that Nico could tell had been faded down, possibly even a bald fade. The thought of that sent a chill up his spine.

But then another thought crossed Nico’s mind, what he’d been harboring all this time. With the heat in full effect, and him already so near to his final destination, would today be the day he finally took the plunge? Before he knew what he was doing, he felt himself moving from out of his hiding spot, and finding a bike rack to lock up his ride.

As he slowly marched to his execution, he felt in his pocket for his wallet. He had a couple twenties and some other loose bills. That would certainly be enough, right? No, no he wasn’t going to get his haircut. He could still turn around. Oh, but he was in need of it, think of how hot it was in school and just out here! And he knew his parents weren’t looking to crank the A/C since it was still spring. But what would his family say? What would his friends and classmates say? He could just ask for a trim, Nico supposed. No, no, no, if this is a barber shop, he better come out of there looking barbered. The thought of that word alone sent goosebumps to all of Nico’s body hair, standing on edge, and that wasn’t the only thing of Nico’s at attention.

He gently pushed open the door and was welcomed by a cool breeze from within. For a brief second, he was grateful for coming in here, at least to escape from the heat.

"Still hot out there, son?" one of the barbers called to him.

Nico turned to this man’s attention and nodded his head with a "Yeah". He noticed the cop from outside was just about to sit in that barber’s chair. Nico found himself a seat in the waiting area. Only one other barber was working in the shop at that moment, and he was taking care of a younger boy, and likely would take care of the father who was sitting in one of the fold up chairs too like Nico. As Nico sat back in the chair, he heard himself gulp, just as surprised as probably everyone in here that he was there.

"How you doin, Jon?" the barber asked the cop, and the two of them went back and forth for a bit as he was caped up.

"You know what to do," Jon the cop said to the barber, whose name was Giorgio. With that, the barber fired up a pair of clippers as Nico took in the live action version of his YouTube fantasies. First, the barber cleared off the right side of the cop’s head as the two of them casually carried on their conversation. Not acting like the barber wasn’t currently scalping the cop! Nico sat there in awe, but had to keep his cool, and not act like he was here specifically to watch something like this. He tried his best to glance down at his phone on and off, but it reached a point where he couldn’t help himself.

When Giorgio moved around to Jon’s back, Nico got a front row seat of that clearing and sheering. The small brown hairs from the cop floated down to the floors as Giorgio took Jon down to nothing but the wood and would continue to on his left side. As the haircut started to come together, Nico assumed that Jon must get a flattop, and he was right. Before Giorgio would even out between top and sides, he attacked the top. Very deftly using the clipper over comb to erect a perfect and plush top, but not a long one. Not much hair came off, which definitely led Nico to believe that Jon came here regularly enough. Eventually, the barber evened out the sides to the top. Jon had the perfect head for it from what Nico could tell! Perfectly square in the best way possible. When Giorgio even styled up Jon’s hair, that was quick and easy, a bit of product with a brush and the blow dryer, and very soon after, Jon was released from the chair. Standing tall like a new man.

Nico was in a daze after this, not paying attention to Jon and Giorgio still distractedly talking to each other before Jon tipped the barber and headed out. He didn’t wake up till he heard the barber say, "Okay son, now your turn," as he walked back to his station. It was at that moment, Nico finally realized what he had gotten himself into. While it might have been a secret fantasy of his, this was also an actual nightmare, and an embarrassing one.

Slowly getting up from his seat, sauntering over to the barber chair, and gently sitting his butt down, as Giorgio caped him up. He’d cooled off since being in the shop, but now he felt his body begin to heat up again. Especially as Giorgio secured the cape with that tissue neck wrap that Nico always found irritating. Now, he felt like it might have been his noose in this whole endeavor.

"Still hot out there you said," Giorgio tried making conversation, being friendly.

"Y-yeah," Nico eaked out. "It was real bad in school, since we don’t have A/C in every class."

"Son, try growing up with no A/C, how about that?" The barber laughed at himself. "I’m Giorgio by the way," he stuck his hand out.

Nico stuck his out from under the cape and shook it, "Nico."

"Ah, Nico, have I ever cut your hair before? I don’t think so, but you could fool me, looks like its been years since you’ve had it cut."

"I’ve had it cut, well, you know, I guess my definition of cut."

"My apologies son, I meant a proper haircut," the barber smirked back.

"Yeah…not one of those I guess," Nico sighed.

The barber laughed back, gently patting Nico’s shoulders to reassure him. "Don’t sweat it son, well, besides whatever much else you’ve already sweat today."

Nico felt a little bit better in Giorgio’s chair, even though he still was kicking himself for having actually walked in here. What was he thinking? This couldn’t end well, even if the barber was nice, he basically called Nico out for his bad hair habits.

"So," Giorgio broached the conversation, eyeing Nico up through the mirror. "What’s it gonna be?"

Nico took a deep breath in. Tens of different haircuts ran through his mind, all the different looks he could walk out of here with. Sure, a trim would be one, or a slightly shorter businessman’s look like his father. Or perhaps shorter, a nice and tight Ivy, or even shorter, a High and Tight. Oh, all the different marine and military looks he could have. Or even if he looked like the cop that had just walked out of the shop, the reason he came in here at all. The possibilities were endless!

But Nico stalled, and fumbled for words. The only thing that came to his mind was what he heard Jon the cop say, so he parroted: "You know what to do…"

"I do?" Giorgio asked, still eyeing Nico up. Nico gave him a hesitant look, starting to melt into the chair, before Giorgio smiled, saying, "Yeah, I do son. I’ll take good care of you, just try to relax and don’t worry, alright?" the barber’s hands dug deeper into Nico’s shoulders, trying to release every last bit of tension, as well as maybe all of Nico’s insides as well, as he sunk further and further into the chair.

Giorgio began to brush Nico’s thick hair, but he seemed to have no issue with it. It was as if it were not match for him, he could handle anything, which Nico figured since he was an older barber. But most people struggled with Nico’s thick hair. Once everything from the top of his head had been combed down, Giorgio grabbed a different comb and a spray bottle, soaking Nico’s head down, which felt extremely relieving. Now Nico felt at ease, especially as the barber then sectioned parts of the top away from the sides and back with the help of some clips. Starting to feel okay with his decision to come in here, Nico had his hundredth doubt when next Giorgio flicked on the clippers to life from behind him.

"Head down now, son, please," Giorgio softly commanded, as his opposite hand already was grasping from Nico’s left side, making him to bow slightly down. Within seconds, the fast-feeding clippers were at Nico’s nape. He could feel them gently purring there, before racing all the way up the back of his head. The sound they made was comparable to a NASCAR race car. He gulped and shifted in is seat, as he started to feel a bit tense in more ways than one. But Giorgio paid no mind to him, as he continued this same motion down and up the back of Nico’s head. Nico couldn’t see it, but he could certainly feel the long locks of his falling to the ground in defeat. As the barber went over sections, he could sense that there was hardly anything left. It might be like the stubble he was starting to grow these days on his cheeks, and voraciously shaving every other day before it started to show itself. Nico bit down on his tongue as the barber proceeded with the swift motions of the clippers.

Giorgio gently lifted Nico’s head up so he could face himself in the mirror. Not much looked that different, until the barber began to cut from the right side of Nico’s head. Then, sheaves of hair dropped like hail pellets against the stark white cape. Now Nico’s eyes were bugging out of their sockets, as the continued sheering showed just how short the sides were. He could tell the clippers also didn’t have any of the different colored attachments he was used to from the clip joints he’d frequented. This had nothing, just the steel silver, so he knew what that had to mean. Nico did his best to hide his look of defeat, because on the inside, a part of him was glad to see the barber sheering him down to nothing but stubble on his sides and back. As nervous and foolish he felt about being sat here in the chair, he knew deep down, he was more than thrilled.

After Giorgio cleared off the left side, Nico got a real sense of how much hair he’d already lost, and still had to go he was sure. Just when he thought Giorgio was finished with the sides and the back, he was mistaken. But then, he was delighted. Giorgio picked up a pair of clippers, or he wasn’t sure if that was the word for them. He’d seen them hundreds of times on YouTube. They made an even louder sound, like a beehive, and really took the skin down to the wood for a tight side. Giorgio began to rotate these around the lower half of Nico’s back, left and right that had already been cleared off. They felt sharp but at the same time like Heaven. Nico tried his best to bite down on his lip, but he couldn’t help himself but leave his mouth slightly a jar. The sensation was beyond his wildest dreams. Loud and buzzing near his ear, and like sandpaper but even sharper. Now he was starting to feel into the haircut. He’d be walking out with sides comparable to the cop before him!

Once that was done, as had evening out some of the rest of the clipper work, Giorgio released the clips from the top of Nico’s head. He gently combed it all back, slicked really nice. Nico thought he could get used to that, it was a very different look but very proper and professional. He remembered when older cousins had this look about a decade before because of some mobster show or movie. But if the barber had any power to hear Nico’s thoughts, he didn’t show it. The next thing he knew, Giorgio took this wide and thick looking comb, and stuck it right through the front of his hairline all the way to the back. A lot of the slicked back hair peaked out through it, but not for long. Giorgio fired up the pair of clippers and began to go over the guide of the comb, sheering off all the hairs that stuck out. It didn’t take him very long at all, and when he removed the comb, it all started to come together for Nico.

He was getting a flattop. And the barber certainly wasn’t done yet. Even with Nico’s top having been reduced down to an inch in height, Giorgio saw to chopping that in half. He couldn’t believe the boy who sat before him in this mirror. This was not Nico at all. His hair that had covered him for so long, now sat a boy with much shorter hair and very bushy eyebrows that he hadn’t paid attention to all these years, having been covered by bangs. Giorgio rolled on, free-handing the rest of the top of Nico’s head. Little flicks of hair falling this way and that, sticking onto Nico’s forehead and face as he stared at the stranger before him. But the more and more Giorgio finetuned the look, Nico felt…good. Stronger, even. Sitting up in the chair, at attention, alert, unlike ever before. Braving face, taking it like a man, as the barber carved out his new look. Yes, this would be his new look, the eyebrows actually weren’t so bad once you got used to them. And against the contrasting short sides and short yet dense top, it was a whole new look. A bold look in fact.

Suddenly, as Giorgio deftly went over his work on top, the door swung open, and Jon the cop was back in the shop, exclaiming, "Can’t believe I left my hat, Giorgio, not that I like wearing it after you’ve done your—" and his attention was to Nico sitting in the chair, totally transformed. "Hey, what do we have here now…" he sauntered over to look at Nico through the mirror, Nico growing tense at the sight of the official man.

"He knew what to do," Giorgio answered, finishing up with the clippers at last.

"He sure did," Jon nodded his head, and gave a wink to Nico when Giorgio was busy at his station. "Until next time Gio," the copy nodded and waived off the shop.

Giorgio finished up with applying a heavy amount of product to the short top of Nico’s head, and then blow drying it out so it all stood even more erect than Nico thought possible at this point. Then with a bit of tonic and witch hazel around Nico’s sides, brushing him down with a bit of powder as well, Giorgio looked at Nico through the mirror, holding up a handheld one as well, so he could see his back. WOAH! That really was a bald fade, and seeing the sheering done on his crown to achieve this plush flattop, it was a masterpiece from font to back, top to bottom, the whole dang head.

"What do you think, son?" the barber asked.

With this newfound confidence and pride in his look, Nico responded, "You were right, Giorgio. I think you knew exactly what to do."

"What did I tell you, huh?" Giorgio laughed to himself before putting down the mirror and then releasing the cape from Nico. Then Nico paid and tipped him, the barber offering him some product to take home for styling, no charge this time. Seen as a gift, in the hopes Nico would keep it up. And the funny thing was, Nico was more than happy to keep it up. He went as far to ask the barber when he should come back in for a tidy up. Giorgio suggested two weeks, maybe three at most, knowing that the boy was young. Nico said he’d do his best, but he’d definitely be back, one way or another.

His family was beyond stunned at his look that night. His brothers all teased him at first, but complimented him ultimately, saying how it looked really good. All his sisters, and his mother, were horrified by his shorn look. But quickly got over it when they admitted it was better than the dog mop look he’d been sporting for way too long. His father was extremely proud, stunned for sure, but proud Nico did it for himself. When they saw all the extended family that following weekend, the ratings and reviews spread the gambit once more. But ultimately, everyone agreed the look suited Nico, and saw the change in his attitude as well.

The school year was finally wrapping up a few weeks later, and Nico was very excited for it. The burst of confidence from his new look had done wonders to him. He’d just been back in Giorgio’s chair that weekend, and this time carried on a full conversation with who he could call his new barber. That Sunday at church, it wasn’t him gazing at the nape of someone with a fresh cut, it was everyone in the parish turning to look at him, many still adjusting to this new Nico. He swore he saw a few glances from some girls as well, ones who for years wouldn’t even acknowledge his presence. Now their gazes were more severe than the puppy-dog eye look. But Nico thought cheekily to himself, "Not as severe as my sides," as he cooly grazed a hand against the back of his head, the occipital bone protruding like his Adam’s apple.

His hair still felt fresh even Monday morning and throughout the day. It was hard to keep any students’ attention, for any of the grades. For the sophomores, they had an almost mini-career fair activity that afternoon, which Nico hadn’t really put much thought into. It wasn’t as official as the ones they’d possibly have senior year. Just a bunch of tables and booths in the gym for Nico and his classmates to peruse around. Everyone else rushed to it, glad to be out of class, but Nico took his time, telling his friends he’d catch up with them later. When he did make it to the gym, he looked up and down some of the vendors, and nothing was pulling his attention. That was, until, he heard a loud voice call to him…

"Hey, I know you kid."

Nico shook his head and turned around, looking at the opposite side of the gym. There standing at one table, was Jon the cop, and clearly a few of his squad. Nico realized he must have recognized him from the back of his head. Nico didn’t want to be rude so he stood up tall and walked over, and greeted Jon with a "Hello sir."

"What’s your name, kid?" Jon asked.

"Nico, sir."

"Nico, I’m Jon, but you may already know that," Jon nodded his head, checking Nico out. "Seems like you paid a visit to our barber again. Becoming a regular?"

"You could say that?" Nico rubbed his hand at the back of his hand, he still could eek out that sandpaper sound two days later.

Then Jon passed Nico some flyers and brochures over. "No pressure, but think about this. I don’t know you at all, but the fact you went back to Giorgio, and how your behaving now, you seem to show promise."

"Okay," Nico looked down, nodding his head, before snapping it back up and saying, "Thank you, sir."

"Don’t mention it, let me know if you have any questions." And indeed Nico did. He stood there and read through the things, and asked Jon many questions, as well as his colleagues. Nico never made it to any of the booths that afternoon, and was even lingering when everyone had rushed out at the end, since he was only going to be riding his bike back home, which Jon seemed to like.

When he did get home later that night (after going back to the station with Jon and co., to learn some more), he seemed to have found his calling and told his parents. They never would have imagined it, but they were proud. He said he was going to join the EMS squad in the summer, start from there, and then work his way into the academy post high school. Maybe community college to start, or a bit of service and then entering the force after. He wasn’t all that sure. But one thing was for certain, he knew what he was going to do. All thanks to one haircut.

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