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Bill by Seamus
Many years ago, I worked in a mall and was made a store manager. At one point I were doing well and had prospects, but the figures could not go up forever and when recession hit, I was laid off. It hurt and was worse for my inability to find a new job. I wandered around in my confused state. I happened into one of the small strip malls that surrounded the large one I had worked in. There in the large walkway were a couple, 60 or so, selling a variety of goods from handicrafts to antiques. They seemed in charge and to be making a brisk business. I stopped to look and chatted with the woman explaining my current situation. She seemed interested and called her husband over to me. After clueing him in, she walked away to customers and he said he was having a couple of candidates over to their house the next evenjng to discuss expanding the business. I was welcome too if I liked. I said ok, I was free and thanks. While We talked, I looked at his haircut. He had no grey and seemed to be natural. It was black and shiney with a product from the wet look era. It was thick and looked good but the style was dated. The sides were slicked straight back and the back combed into a V but in a blocked short setting that minimized the effect. The top was an old fashioned flattop. An inch and a half of straight up shiney black velvet that caught my eye. I think your hair is great, sir. I said without thinking. Thanks, I saw you looking at it right away. Nice that a young man from your generation appreciates such things. My own hair was over the collar and covered half of my ears. My stach was long and my sideburns slightly flared at the bottom of my ear. I actually was conservative and well groomed for the time and place. In my tie, I thought I was appropriate for manager in any store. As I left. I promised I would see them tomorrow night.
Next evening I dressed informally and headed out the door to meet Bill and Fran. Their house was old but in a quiet prosperous neighborhod. I rang and Fran led me through to a den where Bill was talking with two other young guys about my age. We talked and Bill explained his plans for flea market in the malls. Of course we looked at each other saying can the costs be overcome by the sales. Bill had the idea of tents and stalls in the field behind the mall. It seemed a stretch but as the two guys left politely, I stayed and said I was willing to give it a chance. Bill smiled and told Fran to get us some drinks. I said I didn't drink, but Bill insisted to seal the deal. I drank and he refilled it and said I could stay in the apt above the garage if I felt to drunk to drive. I had no where to go and relaxed into their kindness. After a few more drinks, Bill said it would be a nice idea if he could call me his son to add to the homey nature of his plan. I said ok, no problem, he would fix me up to look the part. I went to get up but could not. Bill said not to worry. I did not really understand. Fran came in and the two pulled me up out of the chair and carefully guided me into the kitchen and a chair. I was, greatful to stop moving. She then wrapped a sheet around me and clipped it tight around my neck. I asked in a slur, what she was doing, but Bill said to relax and she was just tidying me up with a trim and shave for the opening weekend which was tomorrow. I was in no condition to argue as she started cutting long strands of hair from the side of my head, she said she'd have me looking just like my daddy in no time. I was not fully aware of what was happenung as she cut the back and other side. When she turned on the electric clippers and aimed a large fork-like object at me I realized something was terribly wrong. I felt nothing but saw large clumps of hair falling on the sheet in front of me. I tried to yell but nothing happened. She said,"Bill, your turn". With that, he poured some goop in his hands. Swerling it on my head and into my hair, it became black and shiny like his.He combed the sides back and the top up and they examined me. "He looks like Ricky Nelson too much, tame the top down". With that she went back to work with small snippets of hair sticking to my face. Better? she asked. Yup, better trim the sides more to match, Bill commanded. She continued. In the end they were happy and she came and took a picture of my face. I heard Bill say "He looks real good, like MY son would". Then I slept.
In the morning I woke in bed. I heard Bill yelling, "Junior get up. There's work to be done." Finally he came into the room and threw bib overalls at me and said get dressed. My clothes were gone, so I put the overalls on. I looked around and found work boots and socks and a long sleeve whiite T. I then looked for a toilet and had a lengthy commune with nature. On rising I caught myself in the sink mirror. Was it me? I was odd looking. My hair was no longer brown but shiny black. Slicked back on the sides but no sideburns and shaved up to the tempels. The top was a tight burr or crewcut .It was not the socially acceptable flattop like Bill's with neat sideburns and slick side waves combed neatly back over the ears. I had no stiff front bumper or level flat fir, only stubbly see-through fuzz back to and over the crown.Then two narrow short length wings that abruptly ended two and a half inches above my ears. Shaved arches reached up to the slick hair to curve far behind my ears and slide down the back of my head in a mohawk width of stubble ending blocked at the bottom of my ear. From the back my ears looked enormus and stuck out like wings. All that could be combed was the side waves which came together at the back of my crown to for a perfect 3 inch ducktail (if you looked carefully) from below the crown to mid-ear. My dear stache was gone, but there was dark stubble on my chin while the rest of my face was shaved. My tounge was pained by a thin strut through it that gave me a lisp. After staring for a while,I realized my eyebrows were gone! At that point Bill came in and grabbed me by the ear and pulled me out the back door aiming me at a stack of tables to be set up. As I walked dazed to the tables, Bill said to a man at the door." Have to keep a tight lead on Bill Junior there, he thinks he can have hair longer than mine". I grabbed for my keys in the overalls but they were gone. My wallets was there anmd I yanked it out. There was my drivers license, Bill Harris Jr 17!. But I was 25! The man came over to me with Bill. This is Bob. You'll be at his service twice a week on friday and saturday. What do you say to the nice man? I was silent. Bill grabbed me by both ears and pulled hard and long as I yelled. Junior just got a fancy boys haircut, Bob. Now I can go for these loving cups when he's stubbron. I tried to speak but with my toung pierced on both sides now, I just seemed a slurring drunk.
How had this happened? I was confounded and fearful. I could not speak to contact anyone and I looked like a different person. I was their slave "son'. Yet, I liked them and wanted to please them! I could not understand why I did not hate them. I wanted to be with them.
Then as I began to service Bob, I realized that perhaps it was Bill and not Fran that I had feelings for. I thought of him when with Bob. Bob was handsome and younger than Bill, But I would fantasize about Bill when I was with Bob. Bob even asked if I would rather stay with him, but I said no. Good old Bill was somehow a comfort. Yes, harsh and nasty but while calling me his son. Talk about mixed signals. Or was I reading into his simple feeling of ownership of me? Did I want him to own me? I was a bit taken back by my trend of thought.
One very busy day Bill was gone and came back late after closing with a different looking haircut. It had a shaved landingstrip! I was so shocked that his level deck had been defiled that I went up to him and asked what happened. He said he went to a real barbershop instead of Fran cutting it, and the guy suggested it would look good, so he said yes. He asked me my thoughts. It was the first time since living with him that he seemed to care about my opinion. I said it was so different but I sort of liked it as a difiant statement. He smiled. I smiled back and he gave my sholder a hug. Wow, my feelings went on high. Did I actually care for him?
Frans reaction was the opposite. She yelled and said he was cheating on her and some woman was taking her place. She stormed out taking the car and I did not see her again. This left him alone with me. We carried on as if nothing happened. Then on friday as I was getting ready to go to Bob's, Bill said I did not have to go and that I could keep all the money I earned from the mall and Bob. Room and board were not a charge for his son. I was relieved and thanked him. I preferred to stay in with him tonight anyway. He smiled and we sat all evening watching tv and chatting. Our relationship was changed, I now felt more like a "son". As the evening ended. I was getting up to leave and Bill said "time for bed, Joe, are you coming?" It was the first time he called me by my real name and I stood still. I was flying in my mind but simply replied "I'll be right there I just want to wash this glass". From that night we slept together. I would fall asleep looking at him. We did not touch each other. I was happy.
One morning while working on the stands, Bill came out and looked at me. I still had the "junior" version of his haircut. My eyebrows were back, but I had a a long shock of chin hair and crewed top with shortened, truncated slicked sides and back, just long enough to comb. He said, I think its time you were grown up and I would like us to look more alike. I knew what he meant, but did not realize what came next." We both could use a trim. Lets go to my barbershop." I stood still not knowing what to say. He grabbed my arm and pulled me, saying "no time like the present". In the car he grabbed my hand and said he was sorry if he had gone overboard with me and would I forgive him his brutality on the toung piecing, but Fran said it was necessary. I was touched and said of course we had a special relationship. I grabbed back his hand.
On reaching the shop. Bill lead the way. He pulled me through. greeting the barber saying "Me and my son want matching flattops". Startled,I had to hold back a tear. Bill had come a long way. First he sat me in the chair and stood by me as the barber covered me in a pin striped cape and tightered it round my neck. Bill hovered like a concerned parent, by saying , "his hair is shorter, so it will be more style and less cutting". My smile broadened. The barber lightly cut the sides and did not touch the back. He the rubbed a thick liquid over my head and combed my new style. He pulled the sides straight back meeting in the middle of the back of my head to form a perfect DA. It formed all the way down to the collar and he then cut straight across to make a straight line sitting just above the collar. Then brushing back my top hair, he brought out the large flattop fork and pushed it into my hair. He slowly cut tiny bits over and over, shortening and leveling. I was begining to look like a colleague of Bills. Finally, the barber asked how it looked, I said perfect. Bill interject, "not quite". You need to clear out a landingstrip, same as mine." Right", answered the barber. The shaving cream was hot anf after the strip appeared, Bill demanded it be shaved again against the grain and yet again at an angle. Done, Bill felt it and I was instantly aroused. I now knew it was all about him. "Make it shine, sir" he commanded. And so it did. As I stepped out of the chair I could see the strip gleam in the light. Bill got into the chair saying now make me his twin. His hair was longer and there was more cutting but in the end he had a clone haircut to mine. He got up to pay and I wispered in his ear. He hopped back in the chair saying Joe thinks we need to loose the burns. He was stripped of his neat sideburs from lobe to eartop and an arch placed above each ear. Then my turn and we again looked like brother greasers. As I started to rise Bill pushed me back down. "One last thing, barber" The seat was reclined and my nub chin hair was removed. I was totally face shaved to match Bill. We stared at each other inspecting and grinning like two little kids. Those haircuts are high maintenance. The barber yelled as we left. Get back here every other week.
We road home in silence. As we went inside Bill closed the door and enbraced me hugging me so hard, I could not breathe. I kissed him and he returned it gently caressing the slicked hair on the side of my head. I rubbed my hand back over his flat and fingered the landingstrip. We were home.