A Drop-In By Rachel – Frank Rizzo
LATE AUGUST, 1986
Tom McNamara had just finished his last appointment. The hot weather had (gladly) brought increased business.
He was preparing to begin the final clean-up at 4:00PM when the shop’s phone rang.
“Clip Joint,” he answered. Hearing her voice brought an immediate smile to his face.
“Hi, Cori,” Tom said. “I was just getting ready to close. What’s up?”
Tom and Corinne had become something of an item since her haircut over a month ago. He had gone to her 10-year High School reunion and had enjoyed himself immensely. He was only somewhat jealous of the attention paid to her, and he came to realize that she was quite a social butterfly, and that had not changed since High School. She wore a very flattering black dress, and her hair, freshly touched up by Tom 3 hours before the affair, was exquisite. She wore her small, oval, wire-rim glasses which gave her an air of sophistication and intelligence, aside from her remarkable beauty.
“Well,” she replied. “You know how I’m always threatening to send my boss over there to you?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Tom said, feigning frustration. “Promises, promises.”
“Now don’t be that way,” she retorted. “Her regular stylist is out of town and she’s one of these compulsives who just has to get her hair cut every six weeks, even though she always looks great anyway. She’s driving me crazy. Can you fit her in today before you close?”
“Well, shucks, Cori, what kind of person would I be if I said no to a plea like that?” he chuckled, she along with him.
“Will 15 minutes be ok? I can send her over right now”
“Sure,” Tom said. “Tell her I’ll expect her.”
“Thanks,” she cooed. “You’re a sweetheart.”
“OK. I’m closing up, but I’ll wait on her. Personal service and stuff like-that-there.”
“You’re a devil, you know that, don’t you?” she teased.
“You wouldn’t want me any other way,” he chortled and hung up the phone.
He busied himself with a final clean-up, sweep, and wipe-down, placing a few combs into the Barbi-cide bottle and a clipper blade assembly into alcohol.
Within 10 minutes, the door opened, the 3 small bells tinkling as they were jarred during the movement. There was a rush of hot air from outside, and Tom turned to face the door.
For the first time in his life, Tom was speechless. Where once he thought Corinne Fontenot was a vision, he was utterly enchanted by the woman standing in the entryway.
She stood 5-5, perhaps 120 pounds, with the most perfect figure, complexion, manicure, and make-up he had ever seen. She was perhaps 34, wearing a lightweight apricot blouse over immaculately cut and pleated rose colored trousers, and 2″ beige pumps. She had a scarf across her left side, which was beautifully knotted and squarely in place.
Her hair was short, perhaps 5″ in length, but extremely thick and wavy. Her light brown eyes were clear and unflinching, under perfectly sculpted eyebrows.
This woman presented a strikingly beautiful picture; not a raging beauty like Corinne, but a plain-Jane type who exploited her natural virtues, and came off looking better than a Sophia Loren/Raquel Welch type beauty. The kind who had always attracted Tom. There was no doubt that she was an “eighties executive” and Tom longed to be able to touch her.
She walked forward to him, extending her French manicured hand, and, in a firm, soft-skinned handshake, introduced herself:
“Hi, Tom, I’m Rachel Bannister. Corinne has just raved about you. I really appreciate your being able to fit me in.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Tom said, and the words had NEVER been spoken with greater truth.
“Do you have a smock I can wear?” she asked.
Tom went to a drawer, got out an oversized “Scrub-type” top (the same worn by Doctors and Nurses in the Hospital, only a pale orange in color and with both the front and back cut into a “V” neck.) He handed her the top, noticing for the first time that there was no sweat on her face, and that her hands were dry as well.
He directed her to the bathroom to change and immediately wished he had some fast working saltpeter.
She emerged only moments later and Tom directed her to the bowl for a wash.
He began washing her hair in cool water, using the special shampoo and conditioners he’d just purchased (they had a wonderful organic smell, like a rain forest, without being overpowering) and massaging her scalp thoroughly. She neither moaned nor pushed into his hands as most clients did, but instead smiled very professionally, and looked him straight in the eye the entire time of the shampoo (less the final rinse).
Tom realized this woman was forceful and direct without being overbearing. The attitude was extremely attractive to him.
Tom towel dried her hair until it was damp. He then directed her to the Barber Chair.
The grace with which she, too, sat into this chair did not go unnoticed. She crossed her legs at the ankles very demurely, and placed her hands on the arms of the Chair.
She spoke for the first time since she sat at the bowl saying: “This is really comfortable. I’ve never sat in a Barber Chair before. Did you get it like this or restore it?”
“I restored it. My Aunt used to own this shop. It was hers. She bought it when she was first licensed in 1954.” Tom was impressed beyond words. This woman knew how to direct a conversation.
Tom placed a sanek strip around her neck, and then draped her with a fresh cape. He began combing out her thick, beautiful, brown hair with a wide toothed comb.
“Can we talk about this for a minute, please?” she asked.
Tom stopped combing, and looked her in the eyes through the mirror.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“I usually get the same haircut every six weeks. It’s worked well for me for about 5 years and I’m pretty happy with it. I like the top no shorter than 2 inches. Anything less sticks up and anything more begins to weigh it down.”
“OK,” Tom said, running his ginger through the front portion of the top. “Looks like about four and a half inches or so right now. How about the back and sides?”
“Well,” Rachel continued, “I like the back tight, from the neckline up to about here (She then pointed to the area even with the top of the ears) and the sides evenly tapered and short. I have terrible cheeks, not cheekbones. Tapering it close in through the temple helps to thin my face some, I think. On second thought, it’s awfully hot. If you think I should go shorter, go ahead and take it down.” Tom thought about her assessment with amusement. Her face was stunning, even without cheek definition. Her make-up more than accentuated her features and made up for her (erroneous) assessment.
Tom smiled and ran his hands though the thickness once more.
“You’ve had your hair clipper-cut before, haven’t you?” he asked.
“Yes I have, every six weeks for the last 3 years. My regular stylist is out of town. Corinne said you specialize in clipper-cuts. I’m all yours.” Tom became more and more impressed with her directness, her firmness, her “take-charge” demeanor, but it was matter-of-fact in its delivery that it belied even a possibility of being “bitchy.”
“Coming up,” he said.
Tom placed a #2 guide over a 0000 blade on the big Oster model 111 and turned the clippers on. The big machine whirred in the air as he adjusted the guide and his grip, and began moving toward her from behind and on her right.
She immediately dropped her head in preparation.
Tom began by plowing through the gorgeous hair in the back, from the base of her neck to around behind the right ear. Hair, in huge clumps, fell gently onto the cape with a slight “pop” and began to accumulate in her lap. Stroke after stroke, evenly, gently, quickly, her hair began to take shape as the mound of hair grew in her lap. Tom repeated his strokes over and over, first in the back, then around the right side, then the left.
He removed the #2 guide and used the clipper over comb to blend and taper, until the taper was perfect. He left her facing the mirror, something he seldom did, and was surprised to see her looking up, following his every move, the way he flicked his wrist to eject the shorn hair, the way he concentrated on the cut.
“Do you like to talk while you cut?” she asked.
“Sure,” Tom replied. “What would you like to talk about?”
“I like the way you cut. It’s very precise but very natural. Is this an “escape” for you?”
“As a matter of fact,” Tom started, “it is. It’s one of the only jobs I can think of where it’s OK to touch a woman and not get into any trouble…”
“I don’t know about that,” she smiled. Her facial expression and her inflection were unmistakably flirtatious. Beginning to cut the sides in with the top, Tom spun the chair slightly to get a better-lit angle on her left side. She allowed her left hand to brush against his crotch area. He could not move back quickly enough to avoid her touching him. And once she touched him, the cat was out of the bag. There would be no fooling this one, Tom thought. She’ll KNOW. He didn’t know if she was married. At this point, he didn’t care. He saw no ring. Would Corinne find out, though…?
They continued making small talk, Tom attempting to recover from the touch. As a distracter, he turned on the radio. He selected a 60’s oldies station on the FM dial, and after catching the last 20 seconds of a commercial for Pepsi, “Downtown” by Petula Clark began playing.
“I love this song,” Rachel said as Petula started singing.
Tom had a special place in his heart for this song, for as a young boy, he had first become to realize his love of women’s haircutting with this song in the background. His Aunt used to listen to this same type of music, and one day, when he was no more than 11, working for her during the summer, he was treated to a beautiful 16-year-old Blonde Girl getting her hair cut into a “Pixie”. He had associated the pleasure of watching that cut with this song ever since.
“I have to tell you in all honesty,” Tom lied. “I had a terrible crush on Petula Clark when I was a kid because of this song. I’m pretty partial to it, too.”
She smiled, as if knowing his statement were a lie.
After about 12 minutes, the back and sides were completely shorn down to 3/8 of an inch. Nearly to the skin, yet so thick that it still appeared to have been cut days ago. Not until she dropped her head and allowed the light to hit the taper from underneath could you tell that her hair was very close.
Using scissors and comb, and slide cutting the top, he brought the top and crown into form perfectly, blending it with the beautiful taper.
Tom sprayed some mousse into her hair, massaged it in, and blow-dried her hair perfectly into a gorgeous spiky style, extremely short but not quite shaved.
Tom brought out the small Oster finisher, and asked her:
“You’re not ticklish are you?”
“No, not there,” she replied, again bending her head down in preparation for the tiny 00000 blades to nibble at her neckline.
He began shaving her hairline, first on the right side, then across to the left. The slight grinding sound always aroused him as it denuded the tiny hairs at the base of the neck and around the ears. He shaved her around the ears and the sideburns, removing a small amount of the soft down on her cheeks.
She sat sitting forward, looking in the mirror, with the same confident appealing smile on her face. Within half an hour, he was finished.
Tom removed the cape and used a soft brush to wipe the stray hairs away. He placed a small amount of baby powder on the brush which added a pleasant scent to the brushing.
When she finished changing back to her blouse, he noticed the scarf was not being worn, and her Bra was not on.
She went to Tom and opened her purse.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked.
“How much do you usually get charged?” he answered.
“$35.00,” she said.
“How about $15.00?” Tom asked.
“Are you sure? I really like it. It’s as good, if not better than my regular stylist, Diane. I’m not so sure she’d agree, though…”
“I’m sure. $15.00 is more than enough.”
She produced a $20.00 bill and told him, “Keep the change.”
“I can’t do that,” he said. “I’m the owner. It’s not right to tip the owner. I’ll break it for you.”
With that, Tom went to the back room where the office was. He was startled to “feel” something behind him. He looked behind him and saw Rachel standing in the door, her blouse unbuttoned.
“Tom,” she breathed, “I think you missed a spot. It doesn’t feel right on the right side. Feel it for yourself.”
She took his hands and placed them, fingertips in, against the freshly shaved neckline on both sides. As he faced her squarely in the confined space, it amounted to just short of an embrace. There was a slight sheen of perspiration on her cleavage. She forced his fingertips up and down slowly, over the sides of her neck.
“Can you feel it, Tom?” she asked.
“Yes. Yes, I feel it…”
He began moving his mouth to meet hers, as she placed her hands around the back of his neck. He was several inches taller than she, and she had to look up into his face. He began gently kissing her on the lips, his mouth slightly parted. He ran his hands up the back of her newly clipped scalp, and became even more aroused. She sensed his arousal, and pushed herself into him fully.
To avoid breaking the embrace, she used her right foot to swing the opening into a closed position.
And the door to their past closed behind them……….