THE DEAL – Clip Er2
At first, Maria wasn’t sure. In the dim light of the bar, through the smoke she thought he looked familiar. Then, when he strolled by the table she was sharing with herself, he did a double take. And smiled. Yes, it was Tim. She hadn’t seen him since her college years. But she’d heard he was back in town.
As he passed her table she called out and he turned, taking a minute to recognize her before he sat down to share a beer. It had been more than five years, but they quickly renewed their friendship warmly. After a few drinks, their smiles grew wider and more frequent, their teasing more overt. They’d never been lovers, but special friends. And Maria wondered if Tim knew the turn she’d taken during the years he’d been away.
Tim was more muscular than the boy she knew in high school, more assured. And his hair, always cut neat, was a little longer, curling over the tops of his ears and collar. Maria found it striking and more than a little sensual.
“I always thought you’d look great with long hair,” she blurted out suddenly, reaching over to run her fingers through his brown waves. “Down to your shoulders.”
Tim laughed. Nervously, she thought. “Well, this is my winter pelt,” he said. “I usually go over to George’s Barber Shop on Market Street about April for the spring shearing.
He paused, wondering whether to hold back his thought. Then he freed it. “Funny,” he said, “I always liked you with short hair.”
Another chuckle. Then a confiding tone. “Man, I thought you were hot when you got that off-the-ears crop senior year.”
“And here we are, hoping…” his voice trailed away and they eyed each other.
Maria’s hair was long again, her dirty blonde framing her face and falling down her back in a soft U-cut. It was Tim’s turn to stroke her hair gently. Then he pulled his hand back and swigged his beer.
“Tell you what,” he said. “I’ll grow mine. Long. Down my back. So I can have a ponytail.”
“Really?” Maria said, her eyes sparkling at the thought.
“And then I’ll trade my ponytail for a crewcut. On you. Deal?” He smiled broadly.
An adrenaline rush hit Maria. Fear. But the beer helped it pass quickly.
“Deal!” she said offering her hand without further consideration. It was a barroom dare. Made tonight. Forgotten tomorrow. They shook. And went on to ordering another round, reminiscing about high school some more.
Over the ensuing months, their friendship re-established as if it had never faltered. A phone call one week. Beers after work a couple of weeks later. Once, at lunch, Tim mentioned their deal. “It’s growing Maria, been two months since my last haircut,” he cracked.
“Yeah, we’ll see,” she shot back. “You’ve got a ways to go. It’s not near long enough.”
“Nervous?” Tim teased.
“Not at all,” Maria said. “We have a deal.” Still, she was secretly scared. He’ll never stick it out, she thought to herself. Don’t worry.
Months went by, their Midwestern town thawed and came awake as spring beckoned and Tim never mentioned the deal again. Though Maria couldn’t help but notice he obviously had not been to the barber. And each time she saw him she wondered.
Had he forgotten? Was he going to let her off the hook? Could he possibly go through with it?
April came and went without Tim’s spring shearing and Maria’s anxiety rose. Now, every time she saw him she was distracted by his hair. It curled down past the bottom of his ears and well over his collar. No, she thought, he won’t force me. He’s too nice.
She even found herself avoiding the bar where they often ran into each other. It was almost as if she’d rather not know how long Tim’s hair was. And how short her time might be. Still, he saw no sign of remembering their deal. Perhaps just another barroom dare without a payoff.
When the warm days of late May turned to June and still there was no mention – although Tim’s hair still was chaste of the shears – Maria allowed herself to relax. He just likes it long, she thought. And he’s forgotten. To Maria’s smoldering eyes, Tim looked great with longer hair and she was pleased with herself for suggesting it. But she dared not compliment him. No use tempting fate by triggering his memory. At lunch in mid-June, Tim mentioned that he’d be out of town on business for about three weeks. “I’ll call you when I get back,” he promised. “Sometime before the 4th.”
“Great,” Maria said, thinking perhaps they might do something for the holiday. She had left her lover in March and though she’d dated a little since, she hadn’t settled in to a new relationship or found anyone who excited her. Not that it was easy for a gal with her tastes in this town. The first of July, a Friday, came and Maria realized, sitting at work, that Tim hadn’t called. On cue, the phone rang. “Hey M,” said the friendly voice, “think I’d forgotten?”
Tim. He was back from business. “Let’s have lunch tomorrow over on that new place on Market Street,” he said. “What’s it called? Fresco. Maybe we’ll even indulge ourselves. Share some wine.”
Maria was tickled. And old friend and a new restaurant. A long lunch sounded like the perfect tonic to start the three-day weekend. She agreed quickly. Tim suggested 11:30 and though she thought it a little early, she agreed. Maria got the restaurant early and took a seat in a booth facing the door. When Tim came bouncing through the door, she gasped. His wavy hair was pulled back into a soft ponytail. Not some wimpy little tail either, but a long elegant one. Her hand involuntarily snapped up to her head, stroking her shoulder-length hair. She quickly regained her composure, reminding herself not to compliment the look lest it uncover a memory she preferred buried.
They exchanged pleasantries then Tim suggested a crisp white wine before they ate. Maria quickly agreed and soon they were sipping and talking about Tim’s trip. Maria found herself finishing the first glass quickly, partly out of nervousness and partly because the conversation was flowing so easily. Tim promptly filled her glass.
Suddenly, 25 minutes into their meeting and without food ever being ordered, the waiter arrived with the check. Tim paid. “What?” Maria asked. “Come on,” Tim said grinning, “we’ve got an appointment.”
He took her hand, leading her out on the street and turned right. “Where are we going?” Maria challenged. “Come on, Tim”
“Ah, just come along,” he said. “Trust me.”
Looking down the block, a rush of fear coursed to the pit of Maria’s stomach. She saw it. The red, white and blue pole of George’s Barber Shop where she’d been just once. At 12 when her father marched her younger brothers in for their summer haircuts. It was 15 years later, but George Schmidt still ran the shop. “Yup, ” Tim said, “we’re headed to George’s.”
Maria almost turned and ran. He DID remember. “No, Tim, I don’t think…”
He cut her off. “Thought you might enjoy this,” Tim said. “I put off my spring shearing just for you, but all this hair’s too hot. So it’ll be a summer shearing.”
Maria practically lifted off the ground with relief. HIS shearing. Not hers. Then she realized how much she’d come to enjoy his beautiful locks.
“Oh,” she sighed, “I really like it like this.”
Too late. Still hand in hand they passed the huge floor to ceiling picture window where Mr. Schmidt was scissoring a middle-aged man and Tim led her into the shop. Schmidt looked up, smiled and nodded.
They said nothing while the barber finished that cut and called out “Next!” to a young boy. A few more men entered the shop and sat down, the typical Saturday lunch rush. Schmidt finished giving the boy a modestly short cut and then turned their way. “You’re next Tim,” he said. “It’s been a while.” Tim turned to Maria as he stood up. “Hey, I’ll save you some,” he cracked.
“Don’t…,” she whispered.
Tim pulled the rubber band out of his hair and sat, quickly shrouded in the white striped cape. “What’ll it be?”
“Take it off, George. All of it. Close on the sides, leave a little on top,” Tim said calmly. Maria’s heart sank. Without hesitation, Schmidt turned the chair to face the large mirror, showing Tim’s profile to those passing on the sidewalk outside. He reached up and pulled a large pair of black clippers from a hook near the chair and flipped a switch. The sharp click of the switch gave way to a low, ominous, rumbling sound that startled Maria, staring, elbows on knees, chin in her hands.
She gasped as the clippers dug into the hair beside Tim’s right ear, sending long hanks rolling down the sheet and leaving a startling white swath in return. Shock soon gave way to fascination. And then a gentle arousal. The shearing was turning her on. It was sensual. Like watching someone undress, unveiling new areas to explore. And the clippers. Oh the clippers! Their sound reminded Maria of one of her toys and she smiled. I bet they vibrate wonderfully, she thought, unable to contain her fantasies.
Then Schmidt was swish, swish, swishing Tim’s exposed nape and shoulders with a soft brush and sweeping the cape away with a flourish.
“Perfect,” Tim pronounced and paid the barber walking over to Maria offering a six-inch long strand of brown. “For you,” he said, “a trophy and a reminder of the night our friendship returned in the bar.”
Behind him, Schmidt motioned to the thirty-something man in the waiting chair, “Alan I think you’re next.”
“Just a minute,” Tim said, wheeling around. “It’s her turn.”
He turned smiling to Maria. “You DO remember our deal, don’t you?” he asked, cocky now.
“But, but but,” Maria stuttered, a gigantic shiver of fear racing through her body. “I never thought…”
“We had a deal. I fulfilled my end of the bargain. Now it’s your turn. You owe me.”
He gently took Maria’s hand and she found herself standing shakily in slow motion. “Uh, yeah,” she muttered. Leading Maria to the chair, he helped her up.
“Get her ready George,” Tim said, “but don’t start yet.” With that he walked briskly out the door. George wrapped a white tissue tightly around Maria’s neck, then wrapped the cape, still bristling with Tim’s hairs, over her shoulders and around her neck. Then three pumps of the old barber chair, enveloping Maria with its white arms and soft black leather seat. She propped her feet against the elaborate metal footrest, her legs rigid with fear and anxiety.
She was too startled to say a thing. She just stared in the mirror as George combed her straight hair making it shine and glow in the early afternoon sunlight filtering through the window.
The men waiting put down their papers and magazines. She could feel their eyes burning the back of her head. The door popped open and in walked Tim followed by a host of Maria’s girlfriends. Sally, MaryAnn, Suzy, Linda, Monica and Delilah. They took seats in waiting chairs but said nothing. Maria could see others standing on the sidewalk and peering in through the picture window. Every one of them had a knowing grin from ear to ear.
Then the door opened again and in strode Cathy. Maria was shocked. Until their breakup Cathy had been her lover, but she thought only the other girls knew. How could Tim possibly know? What WAS going on?
Cathy smiled, lifted a hand to touch Maria’s chin and took a seat in the unused barber chair just feet away.
“Heard you’re going to get a new look and I couldn’t resist being here for the ceremony, ” Cathy said teasingly. “It’s your coming-out crop.”
Since Maria had seen her last, Cathy’s chin-length bob had been transformed into one of those trendy waif crops. It suited her attitude perfectly. And Maria suddenly found her sexier than ever. “Let’s get going Tim,” Cathy said firmly. Collusion! But how, Maria thought.
Maria turned and saw Tim, smiling, his arms crossed, standing behind and slightly to the side of the chair.
“One real old-fashioned crewcut for the lady, George,” Tim pronounced. “Don’t spare the clippers!”
There were a few giggles from the girls. As well as a couple of enthusiastic yelps of “do it!” and “’bout time.”
Schmidt, looking bemused now, pulled down the clippers. Maria started to protest, but she just couldn’t get her mouth to obey her brain.
Instead she sat.
Staring. Fixated on the clippers.
They were in the barber’s hand. They were humming. They were at her right ear. They were moving.
Hair was falling. Everywhere. Maria felt the vibration from the clippers travel down through her nape, awakening her nipples and warming her jeans. She actually moaned, then stifled it.
Cathy reached over, laying her hand heavily on Maria’s thigh as she plucked a long strand of hair. “Oh yes, Maria, go for it,” Cathy cooed.
George worked fast and soon a bright white swath of stubbly untanned skin ringed her head from eyebrow to eyebrow. Whitewalls, she would remember later. That was what her father called it when her brothers got buzzed like that years ago. But now she was too shocked, too mesmerized by the siren song of the clippers and too darn hot and wet to think anything except push back into the relentless teeth of the shearing machine.
From the women came the occasional catcall. “More.”
“Take it all off.”
“That’s it, give her a high and tight. The real women’s crewcut!”
George finished the back and sides leaving Maria with just hair flopping from her crown. But not for long. Taking a large flat comb he held the hair up as Maria, now shaking, stared up those moist eyes trying to see, the black clippers at her forehead obscuring her view. Then she felt the lightness and saw the hair fall in front of her eyes and down over her breasts, settling between the thighs of her jeans.
Her sacrifice. Her coming out. A thrill beyond her most erotic fantasies.
George ran the clippers back again and again from her forehead. And when he stepped aside she had just a half inch flattop of tawny brown atop gleaming shaved sides. Her brown eyes seemed larger, begging for attention. Her ears stood out, beckoning a finger tip caress And her long gracious nape begged for a soothing, teasing tongue. She knew just the person.
“Oooh Maria,” cooed Cathy getting down from her chair to run her hand over the velcro soft pelt. She leaned close, her breath hot on Maria’s cool, bare, exposed neck. “I can’t wait.”
Tim, still smiling, stepped forward. “Deal consummated Maria,” he said. “I love it. You look sooo sexy, but then I guess I won’t be the beneficiary will I?”
“No,” Cathy cracked. “But I don’t think we’re quite done. I want to make her mine.”
With that she plucked the clippers from the hook, removed the guide and popped the switch. She placed them hard against the skin of Maria’s forehead. No comb. No mercy. And within seconds no hair for Maria.
“The last,” she said, “is mine. All mine.”
“Yesssss,” Maria whispered, heaving beneath the white cape. “Yours. ” Shrieks and yelps drowned out the hum of the clippers.
Maria closed her eyes and leaned obligingly into the nibbling teeth, pleasured beyond her wildest fantasies.
———— THE END—————–