This story is dedicated to Redcrop. As a thank you for her wonderful true life tales, her excellent and unique sites, and the unwitting inspiration for…
The Crop Circle – Sean O’Hare
TIME BY THE POOL
It has been a long day but I’m starting to feel a little more relaxed as I laze on the sun lounger by the pool anticipating the week ahead. I guess I’m feeling excited, but also a little nervous to have taken this rather unusual step.
I have always wanted to visit the Greek Islands for several reasons. I’ve already had one of the hotel cats sitting on my lap as I fed it the leftovers from my lunch, and as I arrived at the white-walled village I saw several others milling around the harbour. I love cats – the soothing sensation as you smooth their fur, their independence, and their sheer beauty.
That has always been one of the reasons for visiting. However the advertisement intrigued me as I was scanning the web looking for a way to spend my week’s leave. Surely I had misread, I thought, but I rang the phone number provided and sure enough the planned itinerary was as stated.
So earlier today – very early – I had hopped on a plane in a damp and cool England and found myself, a few hours later, under the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.
I had travelled alone and didn’t know any of the others who would be in my group. I tried to guess who they might be, based on our common interest, but it could have been anyone or everyone. They seemed reasonably normal – perhaps like me – and out for a good time. Like me!
At the airport a tall, rather striking woman was holding up a card displaying the BHI logo and I moved towards her and introduced myself.
“Hi, I’m Ellie Harrington.”
“Ah, that is good.” She placed a tick on the paper on her clipboard. “You are welcome. You are the first of my group. My name is Claudia. You shall wait over there please.” No mistaking her German accent. And no mistaking her striking short hairstyle. As I stood “over there” I studied her haircut. Short, textured layers through the crown, shot through with expertly applied blonde highlights. The back and sides were extremely short and remained dark in contrast. The look complemented perfectly her warm, Mediterranean tan and lithe figure… and the way she held herself, she knew it.
More of the group arrived and Claudia ushered them in my direction and we smiled at each other, perhaps a little self-consciously as we realised we had booked with BHI for the same reason. We didn’t speak much, other than to comment on the flight and the weather. A fairly even split of guys to women, mostly alone, but there were two couples.
“Twelve. That is good. You are all here.” She ticked the final name off with a flourish. “Come with me please.” We did so, and got on a small coach that ferried us to the village.
I found myself sitting next to another woman of my own age. Ruth has lovely dark hair, curly and cut to lay on her shoulders and was already dressed in shorts and a skimpy top to enjoy the warmth of the day. Again we talked of flights and the weather.
“What do you think of Claudia’s hair,” Ruth almost blurted out in a rather high-pitched voice, contrasting with her more relaxed tone of a few minutes earlier.
We both looked to the front of the bus and stared at Claudia’s short style as her head bobbed up and down as she chatted animatedly to the driver.
“Er, it’s nice… isn’t it…,” I ventured.
“Yes, I think so too. I sometimes wonder if perhaps….” She ran her fingers through her abundant curls, grabbing a handful at the nape and making a scissoring action with her other hand. And gave a little smile. A knowing smile?
I began to experience the familiar feeling once more… deep down inside. I felt my throat go dry and tighten a little. “Really? What, cut your hair? Short?” Ruth nodded, still smiling and still holding her hair.
The bus stopped. “Welcome to your hotel, ladies and gentlemen.” The moment was lost as Ruth smoothed her hair and we all stepped off the bus.
I didn’t waste time unpacking, but changed quickly in to my cossie and bagged a sun lounger before any of Claudia’s compatriots could drape their towels over those that remained. I ordered lunch and had a couple of glasses of chilled, white wine and now I really begin to feel I’m on holiday. But I know it won’t be like this all week.
I must have drifted off – the effect of the sun and the wine I guess – as I am awoken by the sounds of loud English voices walking along the edge of the pool. Ruth is there, along with another couple of women from our group – one with layered, blonde hair stretching past her shoulders and the other with dark hair cut in a stylish, short crop with an exceedingly short fringe. Ruth’s laughing but seems to be holding back a little. Her new found friends are also laughing but seem to be urging her onwards.
They make for one of the small shops that adjoin the pool. The sliding doors are open wide to the Mediterranean air. And I am surprised to see that it is a hairdressing salon… surprised because I hadn’t seen it before!
They walk inside and stand beside a chair and are approached by a tall, rather handsome guy with a Latin-esque air about him. Certainly his tight leather jeans only adds to that impression. He takes in the three women with a captivating smile. The two girls accompanying Ruth return his smile and begin to talk although it is a little too far away for me to make out the words. Ruth seems a little subdued now, as her blonde-haired friend lifts her hair and – phew – begins to make imaginary cutting motions. First at her chin… and then a little higher. The stylist, still smiling, nods and says a few words.
Ruth utters a few words and is immediately ushered into the chair by the stylist, who seems to conjure up a cape from nowhere and with a flourish – like a matador – flicks it open and envelops Ruth. I can clearly see her face in the mirror before her. The smile has gone and her eyes widen as she views her cropped friend lift her curls while the stylist tightens the cape around her neck.
I continue to lay back on the lounger, and have a perfect view of what is unfolding before me. I haven’t moved since the scene began to unroll before me. I’m still holding my book before me and wearing my shades, so it appears that I’m either reading or asleep. But neither are true – my eyes are locked firmly on the stage before me.
Ruth’s friends stand back a little as the stylist brushes Ruth’s hair. I knew it was in great condition from sitting next to her earlier and now a shaft of sunlight – like a spotlight – enters the salon and makes it shine even more.
Without a word the stylist spins the chair around and lowers the back so that Ruth’s head is resting on the edge of a basin. The salon is arranged more like barbershops I have seen rather than the backwashes I am used to. I could see Ruth’s expression was puzzled, perhaps surprised by the sheer speed at which things seem to be happening. I know I am.
I hear the water turn on and the stylist ensures Ruth’s hair is soaked through as he leans over her, smiling, while Ruth begins to look quite worried. The water stops and the shampoo is slowly eased into Ruth’s scalp. Her eyes close and a small smile appears, as his fingers massage the lather with long, deep movements. I smile to myself also, acknowledging my own feelings when I too am in this position. The stylist is thorough and the shampoo seems to go on much longer than really necessary. Ruth’s smile doesn’t leave her face.
Her hair is rinsed and a creamy conditioner is applied. Ruth seems very relaxed as the conditioner appears to be almost forced into her roots as the stylist expertly massages the lotion into her hair.
The effect is as hypnotic on me as it appears to be on Ruth. She appears to be asleep. But as the conditioner is rinsed away I see her eyes begin to slowly open, still with that smile around the corner of her mouth.
A towel is used to pad away the excess moisture, the seat is turned around and the backrest adjusted. Her stylist combs her hair for a couple of minutes and then picks up a large pair of scissors which, almost wickedly, reflect the sunlight into my eyes as he taps the point against his chin as if thinking carefully about the style he was about to execute. There is silence coming through the salon now.
Then with swift fluid movement I watch as the stylist places his comb at chin level on the left side and see the scissors pass underneath like a hot knife through butter. I swear there is a pause – like in a cartoon – before nine inches of bouncy curls fall onto the cape and slide into Ruth’s lap. Her eyes, already wide, seem to widen further… and do I see a little tear at the corner of her eye or merely a drop of water? Whatever, a hand comes out from the cape and wipes it away. It fingers the severed curls for a few seconds, until the stylist lifts her hand and smoothes the cape over it once more.
Her friends had remained silent for a couple of minutes, but Blondie comes forward and appears to be making some encouraging noises to Ruth. She looks a little worried – perhaps it was she who pressured Ruth into coming along. The dark-haired friend merely stands to one side, arms crossed, with a tight smile on her face clearly anticipating with relish what is to come. And, it has to be said, so am I!
And we didn’t have to wait long. The stylist brushes Blondie away and without a word proceeds to chop the rest of Ruth’s hair to the same length – swiftly and expertly. The halo of curls that surrounded Ruth’s face is soon gone and she is left with an attractive, but perhaps rather bushy, chin length bob. But not for long.
The hair is sprayed again and the stylist deftly clips up half her hair on the crown. Then he lifts the hair at her nape with his comb and slices it off at a length which was the thickness of the comb from her scalp. The look in Ruth’s eyes shows she doesn’t know what is happening to her hair. Her friends do, and they seem fascinated.
The stylist now moves to the sides and repeats the operation of lifting and cutting to a line just above her ears. What was once curls, is now a fine pelt – like cat fur – and behaves in the same way as the comb continues to lift, and the scissors then slice… and I can clearly hear the chattering of the scissors as they hit the comb on each pass.
The crown hair is now taken down and now covers much of the shorn area. But not for long. The stylist trims the back, higher and higher until at least two inches of the dark pelt is now showing. As he moves to the right side I see he is leaving it longer as he works forward. The remaining waves lay lightly half way down Ruth’s cheek, and cover the top of her ears.
He moves to the other sides and shocks us all. The scissors are placed high above the ear and firmly closed. Six inches of curls bounce on the cape and tumble to the floor.
Even the cool, dark-haired friend appears surprised by this – her eyes widening and the arms falling to her sides. Both Ruth and Blondie share similar expressions of surprise as her lips form a perfect “O”.
But the stylist continues with barely a pause. Employing the scissor-over-comb technique once more he swiftly reduces all the hair high over the ear – to a parting at least 3 inches above Ruth’s ear – to the same fine pelt that now adorns her nape. As he approaches the parting he is clearly graduating it – leaving it a little longer, perhaps nearly an inch at the top. He is taking great care to blend both sides of the style while still leaving a few tufts to stand to attention.
He turns the chair to one side and slowly combs the longer hair at the front forward over her forehead and, with the same slicing motion that I have now been accustomed to, he reduces her fringe to minuscule proportions.
He puts down the scissors and there is silence… for a few seconds. A buzzing – like a hoard of bees – starts up and I watch transfixed as the stylist moves a set of men’s hairclippers to Ruth’s nape. He eases her head forward and gently, almost teasingly, caresses her hairline with the chattering blades. He moves to the left and performs a similar operation to remove the fine down at the hairline. He works around the ear, taking the hairline very close, perhaps almost shaved.
Silence returns as the clippers are switched off. He takes some finishing gel and runs it through her remaining curls which bounce to attention. He runs his fingers over the smooth pelt of her left side and the nape – again and again – Ruth’s eyes are closed and a smile begins to form at the corner of her mouth. There is no doubt she is greatly enjoying this sensation.
I can’t believe what I have just witnessed. The execution of a precisely cut asymmetrical style, almost in the middle of nowhere. And it looks sensational on Ruth, who looks extremely pleased – perhaps wondrous would be a better expression – as the stylist holds up a mirror so she can examine the rear… aided by the investigative fingers of her two friends. All there are smiling once more.
I sip my wine and I close my eyes, replaying the scene that has unfolded before me… each cut, each click of the scissors against the comb, the gentle actions of the clippers. And tried to re-experience the warmth of feeling that was welling up inside me as I had watched… and wishing perhaps I had a newspaper to rest on my stomach rather than a small paperback. Later…
A shadow passes over me. I look up and there stands Ruth silhouetted against the sun.
“Hi Ellie. Sorry, did I wake you?” I shake my head, although a little upset to be drawn from my thoughts but pleased to see the style close up. “Look, I’ve cut my hair. Do you remember me saying I might. What do you think?” I sit up on the longer and remove my sunglasses.
I felt it better not to let on I had been watching. “Wow Ruth, it looks sensational.” It does – more so close up. “Are you pleased with it?”
“Over the moon. I was a bit nervous at first – well, very nervous – but after a couple of glasses of wine and the encouragement of a couple of the group – I decided to go for it.”
She sat down on the longer next to me. I lift up a tentative hand. “May I?”
“Sure, please do. It feels so cool.” And it does. I began to feel my body reacting to the stimulation on my fingertips, mixed with the thought that Ruth’s nape was recently covered by so much hair. “Cool. eh?” I nod.
I notice Ruth is looking closely at my hair. I had my straight, waist-length hair cut nearly six years ago when I first started work. It was cut into a shoulder-length bob, with a full fringe covering my eyebrows, and it has remained in the same style ever since. I have it trimmed regularly to keep it looking precise. I’m lucky – the condition of my hair is perfect that it looks as though it has been carved from marble rather than simply cut. The ends curl under and appear as sharp as the scissors that cut them. Immaculate is an expression that has often been used to describe me… and my hair.
“Do you know Ellie, I think you sh….”
I know exactly what she was going to say – and my heart rate is quickening in response. “Saved” by the bell I guess.
“The members of the BHI group are reminded that there will be a briefing in the Paradise Bar at 6pm this evening. We look forward to welcoming you.” No mistaking the efficient German tones of Claudia.
“Well I guess I better get ready. That’s only an hour’s time and I haven’t even unpacked yet. See you in the bar at 6, Ruth.”
“Er, yes Ellie, see you in an hour.”
I pick up my things and walk towards my room – excited by the way the week had started, and looking forward to what was to come.
THE PARADISE BAR
“Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the first of what we hope will be many tours arranged by BHI to meet your interests.” There were a few giggles at the word ‘interest’, and several downcast eyes as if in embarrassment.
“As I think you all know, my name is Claudia and this is my friend Toni.”
The stylist from earlier, still in his leather trousers, stands up at a table off to one side, lifting a glass of wine in greeting. “Welcome everyone,” he says, accompanied by that captivating smile.
A few glasses are raised in reply, including my own. Ruth, I notice, can’t take her eyes from him and he returns her gaze with a cheeky wink. As Ruth blushes, Toni sits down.
“I will now give you a few administrative hints and tips about the resort” – a few groans emerged from the group – “and that will be followed by the details of the itinerary for the week.” At this, everyone perked up. This is what we have been waiting for, as the information received before booking had been sketchy to say the least.
As she drones on about the facilities of the hotel, I could tell the others – like me – were getting a little fidgety.
“And now some of the things we hope you will be looking forward to during the coming week.” This is it. This is what we were waiting to hear.
As the itinerary unfolded I don’t think any of us can quite believe this can be true. Is this really how we will spend the week? I’m dumbstruck.
And the suddenly Claudia says. “OK. Now we will start with a taster for the week ahead. Please follow me. And please do bring your drinks.”
I topped up my glass and, with the rest of the group, followed Claudia towards the beach.
As we saunter down to the beach the sun is beginning to fall in the sky towards the horizon. It is still warm but the coolish breeze from the sea sends a little shiver down my spine. Or is that the anticipation of what was to come?
We ascend a small rise and then look down on a rather unexpected sight. A round wooden platform has been set on the sand, around which are arranged a number of chairs. On the centre of the platform is a chair – a rotating chair, not unlike that from a barbershop – and also a small trolley on which I can see brushes, combs and scissors… and more.
A small campfire is already smouldering on the sand between the platform and the sea.
We proceed down the slope, all with a bemused expression on our face… although there is no hiding our anticipation.
We sit down in the chairs and Claudia addresses us. “So we start the first event of the week. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Toni!” Claudia calls out.
From over the rise Toni appears accompanied by a plump, rather typical Mediterranean looking character. A farmer perhaps? And behind him were two women. One perhaps in her early 20s, and the other probably around 40. They could be a mother and daughter – perhaps the farmer’s wife and daughter? They certainly looked alike, with glossy olive skin and long black hair. That of the older woman is curly – a riot of curls – that stream down her back. The younger woman has hair is smooth and glossy and finishes in a blunt line below her bottom.
Both are dressed similarly with a skimpy, tight-fitting white, lace top attempting to cover their ample breasts… and mostly failing. The older of the pair wears an ankle-length skirt in a sheer material, which is slit high up one side. In contrast, the young woman wears a very short denim skirt which leaves little to the imagination.
Neither woman appears to be too happy about being here, as the group’s eyes turn towards them.
We watch as Toni leads the small party to a couple of chairs set up to one side. He takes a wad of bank notes from his shirt and presses them into the man’s hand who appears delighted as he flicks through it while counting, and then tucks it inside his cap. He sits down with a broad grin on his face, crossing his arms. Both women are staring at him – a mixture of fear and, perhaps loathing. It was clearly his decision that they are now here.
The two women look around, nervous and confused. There is only one chair left. Toni, ever the Latin gentleman, takes the hand of the young woman and lightly rests the other on the shoulder of the other indicating that she should sit. He leads her to the platform. They both step up and Toni guides her to the chair. He begins to brush her hair, sliding the brush from her crown to her the ends without any resistance.
“Good evening everyone. This is Christina.” She looks up at the mention of her name and Toni smiles down at her. She tentatively returns his smile. He turns the chair so she faces the sea. The sun is still above the horizon, but starting turn orange. The waning sun and the light from the camp fire causes Christina’s face to glow. “As you can see she has lovely hair.” Toni picks up a rubber band, gathers her hair high up the back of her head, and fastens it into a ponytail. Using both hands, he forces it tight so that it plumes out from the crown. He gently smoothes the hair back from her forehead. And then picks up a pair of scissors.
My pulse is racing. I’m beginning to feel a warmth down below anticipating, but hardly daring to believe, what may happen next.
Christina’s eyes widen as the scissors reflect the light from the fire. “And now she is to have it cut.” He lifts up her ponytail so we can admire its length and condition.
Phew, I wriggle self-consciously in my chair. I look briefly around the group and sense the group excitement of what is about to happen.
“But I am not going to cut off her lovely ponytail….” He pauses, taking in the group with a broad smile. And then stares at me. “… you are!”
Toni holds out the scissors towards me. I look at the rest of the group, seeing looks of excitement and, it would appear, envy.
Without thinking I stand up, trying to take in what he was saying. It seemed bizarre – it would have been back in the UK – but here it seems natural. I take the scissors.
I take Christina’s ponytail from Toni, marvelling at its length and thickness. She turns her head towards the farmer sitting to one side whose smile lessens. He looks to the woman at his right who conveys a similar expression of near loathing and he hangs his head a little. All eyes from the group are now on me. I look at the young woman who returns my weak smile with a stony expression. With both hands I turn her head to face the ocean. And I place the scissors at the base of her ponytail and pull the hair taut with my other hand. A fantasy come true for me.
I begin to close the scissors and hear a slight whimpering coming from Christina.
And I continue to close the scissors. Slowly a few strands are severed. Then a few more. I’m not in a hurry, wanting to fully savour this unique opportunity.
I open and close the scissors again, sawing through the massive bulk of her hair. I feel Christina shaking. I am too. In excitement. I’m controlling my emotions as I stand on this stage with the eyes of the group upon me. But only just. I have to consciously stop my thighs moving together as I continue to cut. I’m concentrating hard, but I know I wear a broad smile on my face
I would never have believed it would be so difficult to cut through hair.
More and more of the hair falls away, and hangs from my grip until with one final chop it all comes away in my hand. It seems so heavy.
The action is greeted by a round of applause from the group. I continue and, without thinking, hold the hair aloft like a trophy.
Toni comes forward, nodding. “You have a done a great job, Ellie. Very neat. It will take little to style this.” He pulled out the securing band and the remaining hair fell in short layers about her face. Except at the back of course where it was cut almost to the scalp.
“Did you enjoy that?”
My throat is dry. I don’t trust myself to speak and therefore just nod vigorously. “That’s good. Well perhaps you’ll get a chance to follow through on one of your other fantasies later in the week.” I think back to what I had written against numbers 2 and 3 on my booking form for the holiday… and quite literally gasp at the thought of enacting such scenes.
I sat down. I had to sit down as my emotions were going haywire at having completed what I had just done. I saw Ruth looking at me, smiling broadly, and then all eyes turned back to the stage.
While talking, Toni had retrieved his scissors and, using a comb and the technique I had witnessed earlier he reduced the back to a delicious fine pelt very quickly. And then he scissored the sides at a steep angle to leave a dramatic, and sexy looking, inverted bob.
He put down the scissors and brushed the clippings form Christina’s shoulders with his hands. He indicates she should go and sit down and beckons the older woman to join him on the stage.
She gets up slowly and appears to shiver as she passes the younger woman. As she sits down Claudia comes forward. “And now we have Maria who will receive a haircut from Ruth.” Ruth’s eyes widen. “Her hair is long and curly enough isn’t it?” Ruth gets up nodding and, I could swear, licking her lips.
Claudia picks up a tray from the table on which are arranged a number of items. Ruth takes the large set of clippers – rechargeable presumably, out here on the beach – but powerful looking nonetheless. She selects a guard – not the smallest, but by no means the largest. A number 3 perhaps. She fixes the guard and switches the clippers on and off a couple of times. She leans forward and looks in Maria’s face and simply says, “Are you ready?” She is met by a look of incomprehension. Is it that Maria can’t understand English, or doesn’t believe what is about to happen.
The buzz of the clippers starts up once more. Ruth pulls a lock of hair from the side of her head and holds it out horizontally. And the swiftly passes the clippers up the side of Maria’s head and severs it, tossing it into her lap. She repeats the process several more times, and with each pass Maria lets out a long, deep moan. Maria’s hair is thick, progress is slow. The sun may be setting but none of us are in a hurry.
Ruth now gathers all Maria’s hair into a topknot, holding it there with one hand while the other moves the clippers to her nape and drives them into the mass of curls that gather there. The clippers almost stop at meeting such resistance. Ruth pulls them back, allowing the momentum to build up again, before forcing them in more slowly.
Repeating this action over and over starts to make an impact. Curls fall and the nape becomes exposed. It looks hard work, but Ruth’s expression shows that she doesn’t mind in the least.
The thought that this woman’s abundant curls would soon be reduced to a very short crewcut was driving me crazy inside. Such thoughts or scenes would normally appear behind closed doors to me. While alone. And I know precisely how I would be acting. In a group – all fellow enthusiasts of course, it was difficult to know how to react. Modestly I decided. And although my hands were exploring the warmth between my thighs, my eyes were firmly locked on the scene being played out in front of me.
Ruth was now driving the clippers back from the forehead. This technique seems to be working well and hair is falling everywhere. Masses of it. Before long, all the length has been removed but Ruth continues to pass the clippers over Maria’s head until all the hair is of the same length and sits up smartly to attention. She takes another guard, a much smaller one and buzzes the nape and the sides until the hairline blends with the skin of the nape. Then the clippers are silenced.
Another round of applause is heard as Ruth brushes away the severed locks that cover Maria. She gets up, angrily pushing away Ruth’s attempts to help and storms off over the sand dunes. The young woman jumps up and follows, while the farmer hauls himself out of the chair, taps the hat holding his payment with a smile on his face, and saunters off towards the village.
The sun was now reaching towards the horizon and the sky turning pink, orange and red by degrees. It will be a beautiful sunset. I guess there won’t be any more haircuts this evening.
Claudia takes the stage again. “Well, I hope Ruth and Ellie enjoyed enacting their fantasies this evening. Don’t worry you will all get a chance later. There will be no more models this evening….” There is collective disappointment that you can almost feel, and members of the group began to get up. “… although there may be one other haircut to look forward to.” Everyone sits down again, but look perplexed.
Toni jumps up on the stage and grabs his scissors. “We’re going to play a game.” He places the scissors on the chair, blades together and pointing outwards. “You don’t have to play and, if you don’t, then you should retire to the Paradise Bar now. No one moves.
“Very well. I will spin this chair and whoever the scissors point towards will be the recipient of a new hairstyle from me.” There were a few gasps at that. “You can still back out.” Again, no one moves.
With a swift, fluid motion he spins the chair. It is well balanced, and seems to spin forever. Finally it slows and appears to stop at the girl next to me… but then moves a little further and I see the glint of the scissors pointing directly at me.
“Ellie, please step forward.” I do so. I feel faint, perhaps a little scared… but also excited.
Toni picks up the scissors and I sit straight down in the chair. He turns it for me to face the ocean with sun starting to dip below the horizon. A great fireball in the sky. The camp fire provides a comforting warmth.
I hear the clippers start behind me. I can feel the comforting weight of my immaculate hair on my bare shoulders and back. But then I feel the clippers slide under my hair, along my neck and feel them slicing through my hair.
Again and again the clippers glide along my neck. I know it’s short – very short – the guard wasn’t changed from Ruth’s crop.
I nuzzle back into the clippers, accepting this as my destiny… and enjoying it so very much.
The cool sea breeze caresses the bare neck that has never seen the light of day before. I dreamily look towards the beautiful sunset as Toni says “Welcome to the Crop Circle, Ellie.”
I hope you have enjoyed reading this story. If you have any comments the please contact me at [email protected]