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A New Start by Deke Cutter

Bill was worried. He loved his three sons, but Chris, the eldest was going off the rails. At 16, Chris was testing all the limits. He was hanging out with the in-crowd at school and was starting to emulate some of their bad behaviors, their style of dress, etc. Chris also no longer had time for his younger brothers who at 8 and 12 looked up to him. Bill was due for a sabbatical from his job and decided that he would take the first three months to take the boys on a trip through America, mixing visiting and sight-seeing with volunteer projects. He and his wife told the boys. His wife would use the time to complete work on her thesis. The youngest, Tommy was excited to be going on a "boys only" trip. Middle son Jim, liked to go along to get along and shared his younger brothers excitement. Chris was not happy. Flicking his long brown hair out of his eyes, he "couldn't believe his summer was being ruined." In the next two weeks, Chris got surlier as Bill and his wife, Lori, made their plans. The day before their trip, Bill told the boys to get ready to begin their adventure. He called Chris aside and told him that they were all going for haircuts and that if Chris ever intended to get a driver's license, he would not cause a scene at the barbers.

They arrived at the shop early on Monday morning. Three barbers were lounging and rose as the 4 entered the shop. Bill directed the younger boys into the two back chairs while Tony, the owner, settled Chris into his chair in front of the big window. Tony got Chris caped up and said to Bill, "matching flats, as we discussed?" Bill replied with a smile and a nod and sat down in the waiting chair directly in from of Chris. As Bill anticipated Tommy loved the idea having begged his mother for short hair and to be rid of his bowl cut. Jim, true to form, accepted his haircut, without concern. He was a natural athlete and often asked for short haircuts. The barbers started cleaning up their sides.

Chris was beside himself. His long wavy hair was the envy of the guys in his crowd and Cindy rally liked it. Cindy was his girlfriend and made him promise to never cut his hair. His father's warning stuck with him and he sat in the chair taking one last look at his hair before Tony turned him to face his father. Like his brothers' barbers Tony made quick progress skinning the sides of his head. Tony then stopped and changed the guard on his clippers and Chris's proud sideburns were gone. A one inch strip of skin appeared on each side. Tony, as master with clippers then proceeded to give Chris a very high very, very tight taper in the back. Chris saw his father running his hand up and down the back of his own thick way hair, which was very much like Chris's, but worn combed straight back in a long style that suited him as a senior researcher.

Meanwhile Chris's brothers flat tops were taking shape. Had he peaked in their direction, he would have seen his brother's straighter hair, inherited from their mother, being trimmed back on top and clippered into shape after having some stiff product worked into their hair. Tony put down his clippers and picked up his shears and lifted Chris's wavy forelock, cutting off all but about two inches. He continued this way to the back of Chris's head. Chris could see the hair fall onto the cape and feel the breeze from the overhead fans. He was miserable and barely holding it together when a commotion outside caught the corner of his eye. Three of the coolest guys from school were outside pointing at him, laughing and poking fun. "Nice ears', "you look scalped" were heard and Chris's face turned red with shame. Next, Tony applied some thick waxy stuff to his hair and used a blow drier to get the waves out. Tony then began the slow (and for Chris, torturous) process of flattening the top and giving him a slight landing strip. When tony finished the clipper work, he "went to town" on Chris with the hot lather and straight razor, even removing the scraggly beginning of a mustache on his upper lip. His younger brothers scampered out of their chairs, Tommy chattering excitedly that they would all look the same. Chris's stomach tightened as the barber turned the chair around. Gone was the cool looking sophomore. He looked like a homely geek, ears sticking out, short bristles standing at waxed attention. Bill could already see a change in his eldest son, the cockiness was gone. Bill told the boys to go get themselves ice cream while he got his hair trimmed. He said he would meet them in the park. Chris, looked miserable about parading himself down the street.

30 minutes later, Bill found his boys, rosy cheeked and rolling around rough housing, all three of his boys! Tommy was the first to see him. "Daddy, WOW, you got a flat top too. Jim smiled and rubbed his hand up and down Bill's neck. Chris could not believe his eyes. When they got home, Bill took Chris aside again and explained to him that he felt that he must have failed Chris as much as Chris disappointed Bill and Lori. Bill promised his son that he would try to bring them all back together in the coming months. Chris's tears flowed as he told his father how sorry he was and how hurt he was by his "friends" treatment of him. He also had been dumped by text shortly after they finished their ice creams. Bill hugged his son and told him it would be alright.

Three months later, four freshly flattened fellows returned home to Lori. She was amazed at the change in her oldest son, Bill's plan seemed to have worked. She couldn't wait to hear about their adventures...tbc?

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