Circa: Now by HeadBoy
I woke up in a cold sweat, the clock on my dresser said 2:47. It was dark outside. Dark, and the wind was howling like some old song by The Cure.
I looked over at my wife, she lay there, sleeping peacefully with one arm wrapped around our four-year-old daughter who had wandered in earlier in the evening. I was shaken awake by the strangest dream I’ve ever had. A dream where I sat up in bed and all the women I had written about in my fiction had come to visit me, en masse.
Heather sat at the foot of my bed, her bald head glistening in the glow of the night light.
“Hey,” she said, “I just wanted to thank you for creating me. I get to play rock ‘n’ roll every night, and thousands of guys come and idolize me. When you wrote me, you made me tough but lovable, and you also made me the best guitarist in the world. It sure as hell beats what my life was like before I shaved my head, at least in the reality I know.”
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Heather leaned over, exposing her sleek, naked dome. “Go ahead, you know you want to kiss it. I could sense that when you were typing away at my character traits. You knew that it was a two-way street, right?”
“Huh?” I said, perplexed, and in a dream-haze of surrealism and the uneasy feeling of having a woman I created out of my imagination sitting on my bed, at the feet of my wife.
“Yeah, you create me, and I know what you’re thinking… kinda spooky, ain’t it?”
“Well, um, yeah.”
“And stop looking at me like that, HeadBoy, you know you’d never be unfaithful to your wife. Love what you do with her hair, by the way.”
“Um, thanks. And she likes it that way.”
“Yeah. I know. Part of my personality is her. Or did you not know that?”
“Of course I knew that. What am I, an idiot?”
“Well…” she replied, and I couldn’t help noticing how much she looked like Joan Jett, and my beloved wife. Heather’s grin had that mischievous quality that drew me to my wife all those years ago. She also had a gleam in her eyes that said she was a combination jungle cat and guitar-slinger.
She took my hand and had me rub her head. It was smooth as I’d imagined it would be. And she was as rock ‘n’ roll as any human being could be. All torn jeans and black leather jacket. I kissed her head, and she said she had to go.
On her way out, she winked. “See you in your dreams.” And the last sight of her was her ass, which could only be described as proof of God.
I laid back down, to see if I could fall back asleep. Nope. It was a night of me as Ebenezer Scrooge, only in a less evil-hearted sort of way. I was being visited by the ghosts of bald women past.
“Hey, HeadBoy… get your lazy dago ass outta bed,” said a voice I knew all too well.
“Em? Em, what the hell? You died. How the heck did you get here?”
“It’s a dream, pinhead,” she said, being the only person who ever existed that could make that term sound like a compliment.
“Shit,” I said, rather ineloquently, “I cried for a year.”
“Yeah, I know. I did too. There are no lesbians in Heaven.”
“I wouldn’t think so, but you never talked about God too much.”
“Well, he’s real. And, thankfully, he’s merciful.”
I was crying. My closest friend, ever, had come back and looked, surprisingly, as good as ever.
“Hey,” she said, rubbing her feet, “I read what you wrote about me. Real nice. What was with the bit about Gillian Anderson?”
“I was thinking the world wouldn’t understand if I said Christy MacNichol. I loved you, hell I still love you. I just didn’t want your memory saddled with people associating you with a crush on the girl from ‘Family’.”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t let the world know about your lust for Dorothy Hammill.”
“Ouch. Hey, everything I wrote about you was true. I updated a couple of references. Call it fact-based fiction.”
“Hell, the Scrub Woman was honored. But did you have to put in the part about the night we shaved our heads?”
“Well, it is a fetish of mine.”
“I notice yours hasn’t grown in.”
“Genius, I’m dead! Did it not occur to you that things sort of stop progressing when you’ve passed over to the other side?”
“I guess not.”
“So, this is her?” she said, looking at my sleeping daughter, with that look on her face that always melted me. “Wow, she’s gorgeous. I see her play with her Barbies when she’s supposed to be asleep. She thinks you don’t know.”
“I know, it makes me glad to know you’re looking down on us from time to time.”
“Time to time, hell! I spend my days watching you. When you’re dead you don’t get tired. Didn’t you see ‘Ghost’?”
“I saw it with you.”
“Come along HeadBoy, it’s been years since you’ve done your job,” she said and took me up the hall toward my bathroom.
When we got there, it had changed, it was no longer the suburban bathroom with the Hello Kitty washcloth and my wife’s make-up case, it was my old one, the one Em and I shared. The one with the horribly flickering light and the hideous green floor tiles.
“Who said you can’t go home again?” she said, handing me the bar of Irish Spring.
“I have shaving cream.”
“Not here you don’t.”
“Oh, that’s right.”
And we were back to the scene I knew all too well. Emilia had a full head of hair as she sat down, I had a freshly-buzzed melon, and the air had the vague smell of Noxema.
I was, once again, a total novice at this, so I took my time. Working in short, slow, strokes upward, I took away 8″ of hair from Em’s head. Short, continuous, strokes. Slowly, a different woman showed through all the hair that was falling to the ground.
Em was a natural beauty in life. A pretty 22-year-old. A pretty 22-year-old that needed hair to balance her oblong face and small, petite features. Well, almost everything was petite. Her nose still looked too large with no hair to frame her face. About 2/3 of her hair was reduced to stubble when we stopped to look at the work in progress.
“Scrub Woman hoped she would be less startled this time around, Headboy,” she said. She was just as shocked with the end result.
I hurried to finish up the damage, trying in vain to make it look better. It wouldn’t. The cut was fine, it was just on the wrong head. “Damn,” she said, “I’m gonna get kicked out of the Dyke Union for this.”
We laughed at how bad it looked. I felt horrible.
“You feel that bad?” she asked, grabbing a razor. “Well I don’t. Life sucks if you’re not bold. Or is that bald? To hell with it, finish the job. We’ve been through this before. It’s kind of like a drug trip gone awry, isn’t it?”
“Don’t know, I’ve never touched a drug in my life, you know that.”
“Yeah, Mr. Clean… just finish the damn job so I can go back to the clouds and ether. Either you finish the job, or I will.”
“I can’t let you do that,” I said. “It could look worse.”
“Look Headboy, that’s still your job around here.” Her voice was content. Em was never one to linger, or regret. “Your solemn duty is to service this head of mine.”
“Fine,” I said, reaching in the medicine chest for the shaving cream, “but when do I get promoted to Headman?”
“When Scrub Woman gets promoted. Now finish me, boy.” Em’s hand waved, in some Empress of Rome kind of way.
Being out of shaving cream, we were forced to use a bar of Irish Spring.
“Oh great,” she said, “I’m getting my head shaved by leprechauns.”
The blade rode across her head without the ease of shaving my beard. But with each pass, it got easier. Her freshly shaved dome had a nice roundness to it, an almost too bright sheen. The hot towel followed, with more shaving and, thankfully, no nicks.
“Well, Headboy,” she said, rubbing the smooth surface that would stay bald for eternity, “you never know until you try.”
She stood up to kiss me. “At least it’s low maintenance.” Her eyes began to water. “You know I have to go now, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, mine filling with tears too. “You know I miss you every fucking day? After all this time and I still miss you. Why did that have to happen?”
“You’re the religious one, HeadBoy, you tell me.”
I wiped my tears away, and kissed her cheek. When I pulled away from her face, we were back in my bedroom.
“Take a look,” she said, pointing to my wife and daughter. “God’s been good to you. He’s been good to me too. You were the only good thing in my life, now everything is good. I wasn’t cut out for the world, you found where you fit in it.” Her face had that same brightness it always had when she was alive.
Em began to fade away. “You need me, I’m here. You take care of that family, and I’ll keep watching you.”
“Love you Emilia,” I said as she drifted out of sight.
“Love you too…” she said, the last word trailing away into a whisper.
I swallowed and looked around the room. She was gone. Into the ether. I felt cold. Cold and alone. From what I knew of dreams, you weren’t supposed to feel cold. It was eerie how real it all felt. How in my face all these raw emotions were as they sat there, in a lazy swirl through my head.
“Kinda rough how that happened, isn’t it?” A voice said from behind, not one I’d ever heard. But I recognized the attitude.
“Marci?” I asked, as I sat, face to face with a creation of mine. Someone I’d written about, or co-written.
“Fuckin’ great body you gave me, thanks,” she said, wearing a pair of bike shorts and an oversized T-shirt.
“Um, you’re welcome.”
“Why’d you make me a lesbian?” she asked, smiling.
“No reason, I just…”
She interrupted before I could finish. “It was her, right? Emilia.”
“Well, yeah, I suppose it was.”
“I’m good with that. She’s every bit as cool as you make her sound.” Her naked scalp was a cream-colored dome of pure delight. It was a polished, tan head, no stubble anywhere.
“Glad you think so.”
“Yeah. Very cool. And thanks for making me a keyboard player, those things are a bitch to carry upstairs every night.”
“Wow, you’re as eloquent as I thought you’d be.”
“How can I help you?”
“Well, you kinda left me hanging with my family. It was very cool that I got to piss them off, and I love being world famous now, but could you, maybe, help me smooth things out with my mom and dad?”
“Sure, consider it done. Can I, um, touch your head?”
“Yeah,” she said, smiling at me, giggling like a schoolgirl and leaning toward me.
“Wow, this is like a heaping spoonful o’ orgasm.”
“Hey, you can be eloquent when you want to be,” she said, winking in my direction. “Oh, one last thing…” she said, getting up and walking toward the door, “the girl from ‘Thrown’, she’d like to have her bruises healed. And she probably wouldn’t mind the razor burn going away.”
“I had no idea.”
“You wouldn’t, you’re just the guy that wrote us.”
“Sort of makes me a bit of a god, doesn’t it?”
“Not even close, HeadBoy. Just a half-way decent writer with an active imagination and a hair fetish.”
“Not ouch. It’s a good thing. Now go lay down so you can wake up. Your wife is waiting for you in the real world.”
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