Dart Bored by HeadBoy
The room was large, almost too large. Frank poured himself a drink and turned to the women in the room. They sat curious. They’d all answered the same ad, they were all here as part of Frank’s vain attempt to fight boredom.
Inheriting $5 million had killed his initiative and eliminated the need for a job. It has also spoiled Frank and dulled his sense of reality. He ended up spending hours a day on the internet, ordering videos of women shaving their, or someone else’s, heads. He spent hours drinking expensive, single malt scotch and swearing at the television while his friends went off to work. Friends that drifted away one by one as Frank morphed from easy-going pal to self-absorbed dullard.
So bored, in fact, he took out an ad in the back of The Free Press, one of those free weekly newspapers beach communities and enclaves of bong-toting faux-hippies have in abundance. The ad requested women, age 20-30, willing to cut their hair for money.
Frank had ten women there that evening, and he told them the rules as they quaffed fine wine and ate delightful strawberries.
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“So,” Frank said, with a moneyed voice assured of itself, “here’s how it breaks down ladies. You throw a dart at the board, whatever you hit is the style you get. The shorter the haircut, the more money I pay you. The stylist is highly trained, and if you opt to go shorter, I’ll double the money.” Behind him, a dartboard hung. Around it, instead of numbers were pictures of women’s hairstyles, all of them short, most of them fairly traditional, some avant garde.
“This being the game it is,” he added, “you’re free to leave at anytime. But if at the end of the month, you still have the hairstyle you leave here with, I’ll give you an additional $500, and Jay will give you free trims for the rest of the year.
Gia looked at the board and thought of her waist-length hair, and how tired she’d grown of it. The money was too good to pass up. Her senior year of college was going to be packed. She’d have no time for hair care, or for a job. The money would help, so would the free trims.
“So, if you would like to go, please feel free. You are under no pressure here, and I’ll need you to sign a release if you plan on staying,” Frank said. Gia elbowed her way up front, and asked to go first.
Frank’s beady eyes grew large, and he handed her the dart and a pen. “By all means, go first,” he said, making sure the other ladies were getting their fill of Manhattans and Cosmopolitans.
Gia stepped up to the line after signing her release, reared back and threw. The dart sailed along in sloppy fashion, barely reaching the target. It hit well down the board, near the bottom, next to what would be 5:30 if it were a clock instead of a dart board. Right at the edge of an off-the-collar-just-to-the-bottom-of-the-ears bob.
The number alongside the photo said $500 but Gia wanted more money than that. She was suddenly very scared at the thought of losing her hair, but thrilled by the fact that she could make easy money.
“How much extra do you pay for going shorter?” she asked Frank.
He eyed her long hair, and clearly relished the idea of seeing it fall to the floor. “An extra $500 for every additional inch you cut off,” he said, showing the progression on the board that lead to a pixie being worth $2000, a flat top being $2500, a buzz fetching $3,000 and $5,000 (a bonus) for shaving your head completely. “And I did say I’d double it,” Frank added, “So, if you go an inch shorter, it’s $1,000 doubled. Which is, of course, $2,000.”
Gia pointed to the pixie, wondering if it would wreck her good looks, but not really caring. “So, that’d get me $4,000?”
“Yup. Wanna see the money?” he asked, figuring he had a willing participant.
“Yeah,” she replied, calculating how far in the semester the money would take her.
Eight $500 bills lay on the table in front of Gia, her hands trembled as she took them. She looked in the mirror, then at the money. The mirror, the money. She touched the end of her hair, and looked at Frank. “Where do I sit?” she asked.
The other nine ladies in the room were stunned in silence. They watched as Gia sat up straight and felt the cape tighten around her neck. The brush ran through her hair. The tangles fell away easily as Jay, an obvious pro, coaxed the brush and then the comb painlessly through Gia’s thick Mediterranean head of hair.
She stuffed the money into her jeans pocket, swallowed hard and looked up at Jay.
“Ready, sweetie?” he asked, in a voice that could calm a charging rhino.
Gulping followed the question. Gia summoned her courage and said good-bye to twenty years of hair with a nod and a semi-firm “yeah.”
Gasps filled the air as Jay became surgical in his removal of Gia’s hair. It fell to the ground in stages. The back hit the ground and lay there, Gia didn’t flinch as Jay worked his way around the left side of her head. “Oh my god, look what he’s doing” was one mumbled response from a woman with hair to her elbows who could not leave the room fast enough. Frank made no attempt to stop her as he was transfixed on Gia.
Gia sat up. “Head straight please,” Jay requested.
“It feels so much heavier on the one side,” she replied.
“It won’t soon enough,” he responded.
Long cuts withered Gia’s mane down to nubs in a hurry. The remaining women had vastly different looks on their faces. Some looked terrified that they’d be next in some sort of boot camp-esque ritual. Gia’s ears began to stand out, and they caught the sound from the clicking of Jay’s flying scissors. Away fell the hair in tufts as Jay continued his circling of Gia’s head. She kept her eye closed tight, afraid to look into the mirror as Jay stood back to survey the perfect pixie cut he’d just given Gia. What had taken a lifetime to grow took only minutes to snip, away. The pop of the clippers opened Gia’s eyes. She gasped as she saw her reflection for the first time. Jay carefully buzzed away the uneven hairline, leaving a symmetrical, sharp line that tapered in its wake.
Her bangs had been cut away, bangs Gia had long grown used to hiding behind, playing coy with and nibbling on them when she had nothing else to do. They were history. Left in their wake was a sleek pair of eyebrows framing a crystal set of bulbs, bright and lovely.
Jay spun her chair around, the other women looked just as stunned as before, a second got up and headed for the door – apparently not wanting to trade her hair for cash. “Gorgeous,” one said, asking if she could go next. Gia thanked Jay, Frank paid her, she had a moment of looking at herself in the mirror and then she sat to watch the rest of the night’s trimmings while touching her new ‘do.
Carla grabbed the darts. “How many throws do I get?” she asked, knowing the answer, but trying to stall for a few moments.
Carla needed money worst of everybody in this evening’s game, she was a single mom, working ten-hour days just to keep afloat. She never complained, but the life of “quiet desperation” was not for her. She was always fond of short hair, but she never had the time, or money to keep up with the trims necessary to keep it looking as neat as she’d like. Instead, after a few years of trimming away the split ends herself, and doing everything she could to keep it from looking like a rat’s nest, she came upon Frank’s ad.
Carla threw, the dart sailed straight at the bullseye. It hit just above and to the right, landing on a picture of a flip, with the Mary Tyler Moore-looking ends curving and pointing skyward just above the shoulders. “That’ll never do,” she thought, and tried to calculate how much more she’d make if she let Jay cut her soft, though unkempt, hair shorter. “$2,000, or is it $2,500?” she wondered. Past the point of caring, she looked over to Frank, cleared her throat. “How about $5,000 if I let handsome Jay give me a flat top?” Carla’s voice had a droll honeyed quality to it, a quality that Frank found irresistible. No matter how rich he became, he could not buy his way out of his own weaknesses.
“Deal,” Frank said, “but you have to agree to let me watch you get it trimmed every two weeks for six months.” There was no two ways about it, Frank was odd. Harmless and sexually frustrated, true, but odd nonetheless. Carla nodded, Jay put down the scissors and fit the clippers with a number 5 guard.
No ceremony, no delays, no pomp and circumstance, just a loud pop, and Jay’s hand led them straight down the middle of Carla’s head of hair. You could hear her giggle as the hair tumbled down past her eyes and onto the cape and her lap. She was giggling uncontrollably, enjoying the tickling feeling of the clippers, enjoying the future of low maintenance, and relishing the idea of being able to buy herself a new pair of shoes, get her son clothes for school that weren’t second-hand, and pay the cable and phone bill. “A fair trade for hair,” she thought as the clippers plowed through the left side of her hair, reducing it all to one length, short.
The clippers stopped long enough for Jay to change guards, he popped them back to life with the number 3 guard, running them over the back and sides of her head multiple times. She could hear the tiny motor roar and hush as it ran over her head closer to her ears, then further away. The sides were much darker than the top, much shorter too. Jay switched guards once again to run over the back and at the bottom near Carla’s hairline. Rather quickly, and incredibly neatly, Jay subdued Carla’s frayed, split-end-infested head of hair. He’d cut away the unruly nubs near her ears that would not co-operate. Scissors flew, snipping and cutting away the uneven bits at lightening speed.
The top stood straight up after Jay ran pomade through it, 1/2 an inch tall, and immaculately flat. The sides blended flawlessly, graduating down to a razor sharp hairline that Carla touched and giggled over. She’d forgotten how much fun she’d had with her hair this short. With it came a devil-may-care attitude, a youthful exuberance that oozed from Carla’s pores like pheromones. It was what got her in trouble.
She’d been out dancing with her girlfriends one night, met some Lothario who was incapable of using a condom and just short of nine months later, Carla had the cutest, sweetest bundle of problems she’d ever seen. He came into the world screaming, and hadn’t cried since, but he demanded constant attention. Her days of dancing were pretty much over, but Carla didn’t care. She had her hair back, and a pocket full of dough. She sat next to Gia, and the two strangers exchanged compliments and touched their respective new haircuts and felt alive with possibilities and tactile rewards.
“Next,” Jay said. Two women – one a Rubenesque beauty with a soft, angular beauty and the other a tall, leggy brunette – looked at one another in a dumbfounded gaze. Frank’s wallet still had plenty of bills in it, and the room smelled of haircare products, and clipper oil. The hour was getting later and the music was lower, more sensual. The wine flowed like some back room speakeasy where Capone held court. The mood was palpable. The remaining women were growing number by the moment, and the aim was bound to get worse as the wine got better. “Who is next?” asked Frank, eyeing a red-haired girl, no more than 19 and seriously in need of encouragement.
“Will it be you?” he asked her. She tentatively got up from her seat, swaying to the effects of wine she’d never been much of a drinker of before.
“I’m Brittney, and I just caught my boyfriend in bed with my sister and I wanted to teach him a lesson” she said, confusing the evening with an episode of Jerry Springer, or an A.A. meeting.
She threw the dart feebly, the personification of the sexist term “throws like a girl”. It barely caught the board, in some random sense of luck, it hit the same picture Carla’s did. “Michael will hate my hair like that,” she said, obviously fond of the idea.
She sat as Jay caped her, draping her elbow-length ruddy hair down her back, combing it to its usual luster. The scissors raised up to just above her shoulders. Brittney gulped hard. Jay knew she was tense, the room grew quiet. Time stood still. The mirror caught the look of terror on Brittney’s face. Frank rubbed his hands together in anticipation. The scissors made their first snip. A gasp came from everyone in the room collectively. “Screw him,” Brittney said, looking in the mirror and forcing a smile.
“This,” Frank said, beginning to drool, “is going to be fun to watch.”
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