The Lesser Of Two Evils By Shornlocks
Tricia and Lauren got goosebumps when they saw the imposing facade of the Willow Brook School for Girls looming in the distance. The girls were both handcuffed in the back of a Sheriff’s van, having just come from juvenile court where they had been sentenced to six to nine months each for their part in a shoplifting spree at a nearby mall. It wasn’t the shoplifting, per se, that the judge was upset about, but rather the three car accident that the girls had caused when they cut into traffic trying to flee the mall parking lot. The judge yelled at both of them until he was blue in the face, saying that the girls could have killed someone by their reckless actions. Stunned by their sentences, Tricia and Lauren were led from the courtroom in tears, the agonizing shrieks of their well-to-do parents echoing in the background.
The girls tried to be brave as they went through all the intake procedures at Willow Brook. There were tons of paperwork that had to be filled out on each girl, followed by a quick visit to the nurse’s office, and finally a brief meeting with the woman who would be their therapist. All that remained now was a face to face meeting with Ms. Dauber, the warden at Willow Brook, who would decide which wing of the facility the girls would be placed in.
When it came time, Tricia and Lauren were led into Ms. Dauber’s office, wearing their newly acquired juvenile prison gear. With her back to them as she stared out the window, Ms. Dauber barked out a command for the two girls to sit down. Slowly turning her eyes away from the window, the warden focused her vision on the two cowering teenage girls now seated before her.
“Well, well,” Ms. Dauber began sarcastically, “if it isn’t the two little shoplifters that Judge Patton called me about earlier today. Welcome to Willow Brook, girls. Rest assured that I will do everything within my power to see that you leave here quite a bit different from when you came in.” Tricia and Lauren sank nervously in their chairs as Ms. Dauber recited all the rules and expectations of the facility. It took all their strength to keep from crying as they heard about the strict daily regimen they would need to adhere to if they were to be eligible to leave Willow Brook in six months.
As Ms. Dauber was about to finish her tirade, she stared at the two girls’ long, silky hair and stated, matter-of-factly, “And I’m sure you girls will want to do something about that hair of yours… for your personal safety, I mean.” Tricia and Lauren exchanged questioning glances. Ms. Dauber, picking up on their confusion, began to explain. “When you’re in a place full of young girls like this, there develops…. well…. let’s just say that some of the girls, when they’re away from their boyfriends like this for long periods of time, develop a rather uncharacteristic attraction to members of the same sex. The attraction is usually directed toward those with more attractive physical attributes, so many of the girls here elect to change their appearance in a way that…. well…. puts them at less risk of attack.”
The blank look in Tricia and Lauren’s eyes indicated that they still didn’t grasp what Ms. Dauber was telling them, so she continued. “Let me put it bluntly to you girls. There are a lot of young women in here who would like you to be their temporary boyfriends, and believe me, you’ll have to defend yourself a lot less if you get rid of anything that might attract them.” The girls could see clearly now that Ms. Dauber was staring at their long hair, and that she meant that it would have to go. “Now, the law says I can’t cut your hair against your will, but I’ll tell you this, once you pass through those locked doors over there, there won’t be a hair stylist coming here for another month, and there are no scissors or other sharp objects permitted beyond this point. If you girls want to take your chances during the first month, that’s up to you. But,” Ms. Dauber continued, as she reached into her bottom desk drawer and pulled out a small box of haircutting tools, “if you’d like me to help you get off to a good, safe start here, just say the word.”
Tricia and Lauren stared wide-eyed at the box on her desk. They could see sticking out of the box a pair of long, sharp scissors, the cord to a pair of electric hair clippers, a comb, and a white cotton cape. What seemed like an eternity passed before Ms. Dauber spoke again. “Come on girls, I haven’t got all day. This is your last chance. Going once…..” (lifting up the box)….. “Going twice…..” (starting to put the box back into the drawer)…. “G…”
“STOP!” said Tricia suddenly, almost startling herself. “You… you can cut my hair. I… I don’t want any of those…. those things to happen to me.”
“Fair enough,” said Ms. Dauber. “Just have a seat over there in my private bathroom, and I’ll be in a minute.” As Tricia got up and walked nervously over to the small bathroom located off the warden’s office, Ms. Dauber turned her attention to Lauren. “You have until the time I finish with your friend here to decide whether you want me to do you the favor of cutting your hair. Remember, I take no responsibility for what happens to you if you go onto “D Wing” looking as you do now.” With that, Ms. Dauber made sure the door to her office was bolted so that Lauren could not escape, then walked with her little box of haircutting equipment into the little bathroom where Tricia was.
Tricia was standing over the toilet, looking at Ms. Dauber questioningly. “Yes, have a seat right there,” said Ms. Dauber, “this won’t take but a couple minutes.” Tricia sat down on the toilet seat cover and planted her feet on the floor about 15 inches apart. She watched nervously as Ms. Dauber placed a small vanity waste basket on the floor between the girl’s feet. “That’s where all my hair is going to end up,” Tricia thought to herself, shuddering at the notion of her dark brown tresses being tossed into the waste basket, yet shuddering even more at the thought of what would await her on “D Wing” if she did not go through with this.
Tricia allowed the white cotton cape to be draped around her shoulders and tied with a safety pin around the back of her neck. She jumped a little when she saw Ms. Dauber lift the scissors out the box. They were far longer than she had thought, and she winced at the thought of their stainless steel blades being wrapped around her long, lovely tresses.
“H… H… How short are you going to cut it?” Tricia asked sheepishly.
“Don’t you worry about that,” Ms. Dauber said rather curtly. “I’ve been the warden here at Willow Brook for twenty years, and I know what it’ll take to avoid what you want to avoid in there.”
Depression set over Tricia as she resigned herself to her fate. She noticed that Ms. Dauber had positioned a small mirror on the sink across from the toilet. It was angled perfectly for Tricia to see her entire head in it, as though Ms. Dauber had done this to other girls. Tricia said a silent goodbye to her long hair, then waited in agony for the first cut to come.
She didn’t have to wait very long. She could feel Ms. Dauber’s free hand on her left shoulder, trying to gather up as much of Tricia’s super-thick hair as possible. Tricia’s dark brown hair was generally straight, but ended in large, tumbling curls that gathered heavily around her shoulders and cascaded five inches down her back.
Tricia could hear Ms. Dauber get exasperated as she tried to gather into one hand all the hair on the left side of Tricia’s head. The warden was now grabbing and pulling at it so roughly that Tricia thought the woman was going to PULL most of it out. Finally, after grasping a sufficient amount of hair in her hand, Ms. Dauber held the thick rope of hair outward from the girl’s head, and brought the scissors upward toward it.
SCRUNCH! SHNIIK! SHNIIK! Tricia whimpered as Ms. Dauber began chopping her way through the soft, thick mass of hair. She stared dumbfounded into the mirror as the sections of hair being cut fell limply away from her head, still clutched in the warden’s meaty fist. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of tiny hair snippets began to darken the white cape covering Tricia’s left shoulder.
Four full snips of the scissors had cut away almost half the hair on the left side of Tricia’s head. Despite the tears welling up in her eyes, Tricia looked on in the mirror as Ms. Dauber continued working. She sensed that the warden’s cutting hand was getting tired already, for she saw Ms. Dauber begin to attack her hair from various angles. Sometimes she’d cut horizontally, snipping the hair less than an inch from her scalp. Other times she’d point the long scissors upward, twisting and feeding the long hair into the scissor blades to get the most power out of them. Ms. Dauber’s non-cutting hand was now completely invisible under the huge mass of cut hair sticking out from between her clenched fingers.
Tricia’s head jerked sharply to the right as Ms. Dauber succeeded in severing the last of the mane. Tricia winced as her barber stepped forward, extended her hand over the little waste basket, and slowly spread her fingers so that the long sprawling masses of curls dropped one by one into the basket.
Moments later Tricia felt Ms. Dauber grab at the long hair on the back of her head. She groaned as Ms. Dauber pulled upward on her long mane, letting the curly ends dangle precariously above Tricia’s crown. Forced downward as they were, Tricia’s eyes stared in silent fascination at the little waste basket that was already nearly filled to the top with her soft, dark hair.
Tricia’s gaze darted upward toward the mirror when she heard the snicking of the scissors resume. Ms. Dauber was slicing off 8-inch sections of the hair that dangled over the poor girl’s head. The cut hair dropped onto the cape covering Tricia’s chest, slithering downward until it too emptied into the little basket placed so neatly below the center of the cape. Long tresses continued to rain down before her eyes, creating a dark little stream down the middle of the white cotton cape. Big locks of hair would sometimes get caught on creases in the cape, forming little “logjams” until more hair eventually dislodged them, sending them down into the waiting basket below.
After cutting the back, Ms. Dauber continued around the rest of Tricia’s head, snipping off everything from behind the girl’s right ear to her temple. Clutching another huge mop of hair, Ms. Dauber bent down to place it on top of the now overflowing basket, then used her foot to press down heavily on the contents of the basket. Tricia couldn’t help but sniffle as she saw how Ms. Dauber’s weight had compacted the once bouncy pile of hair in the basket. She had scrunched it down to where it now filled only about a quarter of the basket. “That’s to make room for more,” Tricia thought sadly.
“BZZZZZZ.” Tricia’s attention was drawn away from the waste basket just in time to see Ms. Dauber coming after the remnants of her hair with a pair of electric clippers. Before Tricia could even speak, Ms. Dauber plunged a huge comb into the thick pile of hair still on top of the girl’s head. With the comb completely submerged in hair (placed flat just a fraction above Tricia’s scalp), Ms. Dauber brought the clippers up and over the girl’s forehead and ran them slowly along the top of the comb. Thick chunks of hair, five inches long, began to roll off Tricia’s forehead as the clipper cord slapped against her cheeks.
Tiny snippets of hair pasted themselves to the sweat and tears covering Tricia’s face, making her nose itch terribly. Reflexively, Tricia pulled one arm out from under the cape to scratch her nose. As Tricia’s hand approached her face, a huge pile of freshly shorn hair rolled off her head and landed between her fingers. Completely dejected, Tricia closed her fingers around the soft, fragrant locks and used them as a kind of tissue with which to scratch her nose. As awful as it was to stare into the mirror as now even more hair was pasted to her face, Tricia couldn’t help but bask in the wonderful smell and softness of her hair for the last time.
After “flattopping” her crown, all that remained was for Ms. Dauber to whitewall the back and sides of Tricia’s head. This she did rather quickly and methodically, depositing a blanket of short hair in a semi-circle around the girl’s head. Tricia closed her eyes during much of this time, unable to bear the sight of her hair being reduced to stubble.
Tricia opened her eyes when she heard the buzzing of the clippers come to an abrupt stop. She saw Ms. Dauber place the clippers on the bathroom sink, then pick up a small brush with which to clear off Tricia’s face and nape. The warden was careful to brush all the little hair snippets forward to the front of the cape, to minimize the amount that she would later have to sweep up off the floor. The front of the white cape was now dark with piles of little snippets. Tricia stared downward as Ms. Dauber corralled all the hair down the center of the cape, pushing it steadily toward the point where it would drop into the basket.
When all was done, Tricia rose somewhat unsteadily to her feet. As mush as she tried not to, she found herself running her hands along her new bristly scalp, mourning the loss of the soft pillow of hair that used to be there. As she headed for the exit, her friend suddenly appeared in the doorway. Lauren gasped as she saw the extent of the damage that had been done to Tricia’s dark mane. Her hands instinctively rose to protect her own blond locks, but soon dropped to her side. “Ms. Dauber,” Lauren said haltingly, “I… I… I’ve decided to have you cut my hair too.”
Lauren took her seat on the toilet. She was alone in the bathroom now with Ms. Dauber, Tricia having already been escorted to her room on D Wing by one of the Willow Brook guards. Lauren watched suspiciously as Ms. Dauber quickly swept up the few snippets of Tricia’s hair that had fallen to the floor, and prepared for the next cut.
“You like doing this, don’t you?” Lauren asked sharply.
“What did you say?” countered Ms. Dauber.
“You like doing this, don’t you? You probably get off cutting girls’ hair… running your fingers over their heads like that, it’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to what you’d really like to do to them.”
“Shut UP you impudent little bitch!” shouted Ms. Dauber, “we’ll see how brave you are when those goldie locks of yours start hitting the floor!”
“I don’t think so,” spat Lauren. “I’ve changed my mind. There’s no way I’m gonna have your grubby little fingers running through my hair. You probably made up this whole lesbian thing! The danger isn’t from the other girls on D Wing… it’s right here in this room, with an old pervert like you!”
Lauren stood up and headed for the door. Quicker than she could have imagined, the short, stout Ms. Dauber was on top of her, easily forcing Lauren’s arms behind her, and deftly dragging the kicking, screaming girl back toward the toilet seat. Once there, Ms. Dauber handcuffed the girl to one of the two hard plastic posts that bound the seat to the porcelain commode. Lauren was in shock at how easily she was overpowered. Gasping mightily from the short but intense struggle, she threw her head back repeatedly, trying to push back the long lengths of blond hair that now hung in tangles before her eyes.
“You needn’t worry about that,” smirked Ms. Dauber as she picked up the pair of scissors, “when I get done with you, it’ll be a year before your hair is long enough to fall in your eyes! Enjoy it while you can, dearie.”
Hurt and embarrassed, Lauren’s tone changed from one of confrontation to one of helpless pleading. “You… you said you couldn’t cut our hair unless we agreed to it… you said the law doesn’t allow it.”
Ms. Dauber laughed heartily, as if Lauren’s last remark were the funniest thing she had heard all week. “Get real, missie. There’s only one law here, and that’s ME! Did you really think I was going to let you leave here with all those goldie locks still on your head? No siree, dearie,” Ms. Dauber said sarcastically as she picked up the waste basket in which Tricia’ luxurious curls still lay. “Your hair has been sentenced to some hard time here alongside your friend’s formerly curly locks!”
With this, Ms. Dauber grabbed a thick fistful of Tricia’s hair from the basket and pushed it into Lauren’s face. Lauren moaned as the pile of soft, fragrant curls caressed her nose and lips. Her mind recalled instantly those times, many years ago, when she and her best friend Tricia would spend hours in their rooms playing hairdressing games with each other; combing, styling, and pretending to cut each other’s hair with a scissoring motion of their index and middle fingers. Something deep within Lauren had always mourned the passing of those games. She always wished, despite their ages, that she and Tricia could once again engage in their childhood play, for she secretly loved the feel and smell of Tricia’s wonderful, wavy locks. As a child, she often fantasized about using real scissors on Tricia’s thick mane, secretly snagging a section that she could take home with her and play with in the privacy of a locked bathroom.
However nervous and scared she was, the irony of the moment was not lost on Lauren. Many years after their childhood games, here she was, locked in a bathroom, with a fistful of Tricia’s severed locks pressed against her face. Only, now she was not alone. The deep, sensual pleasure she got from basking in the velvety softness of Tricia’s hair was short-lived, for in a moment Ms. Dauber pulled the pile of hair away from Lauren’s face and returned it to the waste basket. “Your friend’s hair only filled up about half the basket,” said Ms. Dauber teasingly. “What do you say we try packing the rest of it with yours!”
Ms. Dauber placed the basket on the floor between Lauren’s legs, and proceeded to tie the white cotton cape around the girl’s trembling shoulders. It was all she could do to hold back the tears as Ms. Dauber began brushing all her long hair forward so that the bulk of it came to rest on Lauren’s chest. Not being able to see through the thick wall of hair covering her eyes, Lauren sensed rather than saw the moment when Ms. Dauber put down the brush, and picked up the long, sharp scissors that would become her hair’s executioner.
“My, my,” chuckled Ms. Dauber. “Quite a wall I’ve built up around you there. Permit me to make you a little window so you can see out.” Hardly able to contain her excitement, Ms. Dauber grabbed a huge fistful of the hair hanging over Lauren’s forehead and, tugging at it roughly, began to hack away at it with the scissors.
SCRUNCH! SHNIIK! SHNIIK! Lauren began whimpering at the sound of the long steel blades chewing through her hair. The whimpering turned to tears as the scissors “snicked” shut two, three, then four times, signaling to Lauren that this wonderful mane of hers was going fast.
For her part, Ms. Dauber could have stood there for hours cutting this young girl’s hair. In her nearly twenty years as warden of Willow Brook, Ms. Dauber couldn’t recall a silkier, more luxuriant head of blond hair. She loved the soft, tingling sensation she got as the long cut hair fell backward onto her wrist and forearm, splaying itself in final grandeur before she flung it in heaps toward the basket. She was taking particular pleasure in shearing Lauren, this uppity little wench who had the balls to question her intentions.
All these thoughts were running through Ms. Dauber’s head as the scissors finally snicked their way through the last of the hair covering Lauren’s eyes. The girl looked up just as Ms. Dauber was displaying her trophy, a thick fistful of golden blond hair 20 inches long. With Lauren nearly in shock, the warden picked up the waste basket with her scissor hand, suspended it directly below Lauren’s chin, and slowly unclenched the fingers of her other hand to let the long glossy locks waft down into the basket just inches from Lauren’s tear stained cheeks. “My, my…,” teased Ms. Dauber, “you sure do know how to fill a waste basket. We may need to get a bigger one before we’re through!”
Lauren’s anger boiled over at the warden’s sarcasm. All her emotions — hurt, fear, embarrassment, anger — coalesced into a kind of seething rage. Lauren gritted her teeth and lashed out with the only extremity not tied down. As Ms. Dauber was replacing the basket on the floor, Lauren kicked it clear across the room, slamming it hard into the mirror above the sinktop, and causing mounds and mounds of Tricia’s dark, lifeless locks to spill out over the sink and floor. While Ms. Dauber was taken aback by the sudden violence, Lauren was taken aback by the sheer amount of Tricia’s hair that lay in heaps around the sink. Released from the confines of the little basket, Tricia’s hair appeared ten times more voluminous than Lauren expected. It brought home to her just how much her friend must have suffered at the hands of this old bitch Dauber, as well as a realization of how much more she herself would have to endure.
Regaining her composure, Ms. Dauber gazed coldly at Lauren. “You really shouldn’t have done that. Now I’ll have to clean all this up, you see. Around here, a girl has to suffer the consequences of her actions. I’m sure you noticed that when your friend Tricia left here, I had done her the favor of leaving a little hair on her head… not much of course, but in here a girl tends to take comfort in the little pleasures of life, such as having even a small patch of hair atop her head to care for. You, however, will be granted no such favor. Do you see these clippers? I am going to shear you down to the scalp you little bitch! Then hopefully you will learn that it is not okay to take acts of human kindness for granted.”
As fearful as Lauren had been of Ms. Dauber, she was now completely terrified. The old warden had a crazed look of detachment in her eyes as she approached Lauren with the buzzing clippers. Lauren’s muscles stiffened, but were no match for Ms. Dauber as she stood behind Lauren and pushed her head down onto her chest.
Placing the already warm clippers on the nape of Lauren’s neck, Ms. Dauber pushed them slowly and steadily upward, leaving in their wake nothing but pale white scalp. Ms. Dauber was careful to catch with her free hand all the long hair being severed from Lauren’s head. This she tossed over Lauren’s head and onto the cape covering her chest. After plowing two neat rows up the back of the girl’s head, Ms. Dauber ran the clippers from behind Lauren’s right ear upward toward the crown, then repeated the same procedure to the left side of the girl’s head. So much blond hair was now sliding down Lauren’s face, both in tangled mounds and in long wispy strands, that it looked like the poor girl was caught in one of those giant cobwebs you used to see on shows like The Munsters. Lauren felt her head being pushed and pulled like a rag doll. She could hear the whirring of the clippers become heavier, more strained as they plowed their way through thick patches of her hair. When the whir became higher pitched, it was a sure signal that the clippers had won out yet again, and that another huge tangle of blond hair would be slithering down her face.
Lauren was in too much shock to remember the details of what happened after that. She vaguely remembered being led from the bathroom in handcuffs by the guards, steeling one backward, final glance at the impossibly huge pile of blond hair now dumped in a heap before the toilet. She remembered being allowed to shower, and then being given a private meal before going to bed in her room.
The next morning, when the wake-up bell rang, Lauren and Tricia filed out of their adjoining rooms and for the first time came face to face with the other girls of D Wing. They were met with peals of laughter and catcalls, as the twenty other girls of D Wing, their hair gathered in everything from curlers to scrunchies, crowded around the two newbies. “You girls suuuuure did fall for Ms. Dauber’s lesbian speech, didn’t you!” laughed one of the girls. “Don’t worry, we ALL did when we came here,” said another. “Come on… let’s go to breakfast.”