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In the Dark by A Recruit


I awoke shortly after 2:00. The night was dark, with the light rain falling. I went down the hall to the bathroom and unplugged the night light and pulled the curtains closed. I opened the cupboard and felt for the box with the clippers. My hand found the smaller box with the attachment combs-I wouldn't be needing them-and then the clippers. I lifted them out and unwound the cord and felt for the wall socket to plug it in.

I was breathing a little fast. Half of me was shouting "Go back to bed!!" but the other half-the half with the clippers-was in control. I pushed the length adjustment lever all the way up to the shortest and snapped on the switch. The buzzing hum made me jump as it seemed to echo throughout the house. I wanted it to be quiet, even though there was no one else to hear.

My hand shook a bit as I put the vibrating teeth against my neck. The conflict between calling the whole thing off and doing what I had set out to do reached its climax. The clippers buzzed against my neck for an age; then I felt them slide up the back of my head, higher and higher up to the crown. As they went the buzz acquired a sort of hissing-the sound of the hairs being snipped. It was happening. Again and again I slid them up the back in carefully overlapping passes. I could feel the short hair dropping from the clippers and brushing against my hand as it fell. When I judged that the back was done I worked around to the side, clipping behind the ear and above it and in front of it, each pass overlapping the one before and climbing high up the side of my head. I switched the clippers to my left hand and did the same on the other side.

I was breathing hard now. I could still stop and repair the damage and be left with a plausible haircut even though the back and sides would be awfully short, The clippers sat for a long minute above my right temple. Then I pushed them back along the side of my head, higher than I had gone before. Reason had lost to passion. The next pass was almost violent, straight up the center of my scalp, all the way to the back. Again, pass after pass, from front to back and side to side. My head would be stubble now, though I could not see it and had not touched it, except with the clippers. Reluctantly, I switched them off and stood there in the silence.

The debate was shorter this time. I felt for the electric shaver, switched it on and started to shave away the stubble, starting right in the front. I could tell from the sound when it was time to move to a different area. The shaver worked more quickly than I had expected and in a few minutes I was finishing up, rubbing the shaver across my scalp with sweeping strokes.

I shed my T-shirt, which I knew must be covered with hair, and dropped it in the corner. The sink and counter must be littered with hair too; I would clean up in the morning. I wet my washcloth and wiped my head and neck to get the loose hairs off. The washcloth slid easily over my head so I could imagine the smoothness of my scalp. I would look and touch when I awoke in the morning. I wondered what I would think when I saw and felt my bald head. I went back down the hall, feeling the unaccustomed coolness on my scalp and slipped into bed.



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