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Grace could not believe why her parents had done this to her.

"MILITARY" school of all the things.

For what!

One joke and off to MILITARY SCHOOL ….. How could they.

Yet, here she stood in line with boys ….. BOYS ….. she screamed to herself.

She was only twelve years old. Girls who go to military school do it when they are eighteen and want to go …. like those who enter West Point or the Naval Academy. Not a soon to be teenage girls like her.

It wasn’t as if her last joke, which she enjoyed pulling on her cousin Ed, was anything crazy and different from the others she played. All she did was put hot sauce in his soup. He always put hot sauce on everything he eat, why not in his soup. But, when he took that sip and went wild, she could not help but to laugh like she did. And, admit to it too, that was what she did wrong. She should not have admitted to it.

But, here she stood in the hall of this big building, bigger that the school she had been going to for the last six years, dressing in a military uniform like the boys. It was a green color like the Marines wore in the winter, only the collar was high like their dress uniform and was tight around her neck.

No one was saying a word as they stood there. Just a man who was old enough to be their grandfather, passing up and down loudly telling them things they were go to be doing that day. Like this ….. standing in a hallway while some man yelled at them over and over.

Each time someone moved he would rush over to them and call them names and things. Telling them ‘how they would never make it in the world with out discipline’. Then, he would grab them by the shoulders with his hands and pull them up, yelling "Stand at attention. Chin in ….. Chest out, Belly in ….. This isn’t you home ….. This Maryville’s Military Academy …. the best damn military school in the U.S.".

Now they stood in silence. The old man, Chief Master Sergeant Harold Coleman – USMC retired, had walked down the hall and into the room at the end of it. They could not hear anything, they dare not move for he might since it and come rushing and yelling at them.

It must have been half an hour when the door opened, out came Sgt. Coleman and a woman. She was dressed in a uniform just like his only she had a skirt on.

"This is Gunny Sgt. Dawn Williams ….. she will be guiding you around the rest of the day", he commanded loudly. "Any of you babies give her any problems and you will be dealt with by me tomorrow morning after morning chow. Gunny ….. there all yours"

They snapped to attention facing each other. He handed her a folder, which she quickly tucked under the left arm. He turned around, in a military matter and walked out the hall.

Sgt. Williams turned and looked from one end to the other end and back a few time. First she was smiling which turned to something else.

She turned and walked toward the end of the line …..

"RIGHT FACE", she yelled out. Everyone turned quickly to the right in a military manner, clicking their heels together as they completed the turn.

"First on the things to do", she yelled out, "is the visit to the barber shop and hair cuts".

"HAIR CUT", Grace thought to herself. "What hair cut? They said nothing about hair cut when they talked with my parents. I know that for a fact, I was sitting there in the Commandant’s Office as they were talking. My parents never told me anything about a hair cut either".

Then, a sigh of relief came over her as Sgt. Williams stopped by her and raised her head by the chin and smiled and winked ….. "She’s talking about the boys, not me", Grace thought to her self.

"FORWARD MARCH", she barked out and they started marching out of the building. We marched across the field – the Court Yard as it was called – down a brick walk way, to a small building. On the window was the words "BARBER SHOP", it had a barber’s pole.

"PATTON HALT", she commanded and we stopped ten feel from the door. "Form four ranks", she yelled as she motioned how we were to gather in front of the building. I ended being the last one in the fourth rank.

One by one she commanded the boys to march into the barber shop, but they never came out. Slowly each rank grew smaller until the next one started. Finally, the rank I was in was motioned to begin marching in the barber shop. Slowly the boys before me marched into the barber shop, until I was the only one left.

She held her hand out when I came up.

"Hold it right there", she told Grace softly. Another sic of relief came over her. "There’s only one barber now …. I don’t want to rush her, she has to finish the four in there now".

She turned and looked at me.

"Sorry sweetheart", she begin, "but regs are regs ….. and they say hair can’t be passed the collar".

"Can’t be passed the collar", Grace spoke out loud. Then, she quickly grabbed her mouth with her hands. She should not have spoken out like that. Sgt. Williams looked down at her, "YES, CAN’T PASS YOUR COLLAR …. You have a problem with that"?

Grace froze not knowing what to say, but "Ma’am, Sorry Ma’am ….. Ma’am NO Ma’am".

"Don’t let it happen again", the Sergeant barked at her.

Sgt. Williams walked to the barber shop, look into through the large window. She stood there with her hand on the side of her eyes, then she motioned Grace forward with her right hand. Grace froze again as her eyes begin to tear.

"WELL", Sgt. Williams called to her as she looked back at Grace standing there. "Do you need an invitation to move your little ass …. sweetheart".

Grace slowly started walking towards the door of the barber shop. "Not pass the collar", Grace thought to her self. "That’s not too short ….. not as short as the boys were getting their hair cut. Maybe it would be better because I can’t leave here …. I have to do what they tell me to get out or even dad and mom comes gets me".

She reached the door, slowly she reached the door knob and turned it opening the door.

"DON’T STAND THERE", a woman’s voice called out to her. "YOU’LL LET ALL THIS GOOD AIR CONDITIONED AIR OUT MY BARBER SHOP. STEP LIVELY NOW".

Grace stepped in the barber shop, her eyes looked around. There on the floor all round the four barber chairs was nothing but hair ….. hair that had been cut from all the boys head. Short lengths, long lengths, even a few so short you could hardly see them.

Slowly she walked passed the first two chairs, the barber capes laid over the arms, with some hair in the seats. She remember seeing chairs like this when she was smaller. She would go to the barber shop back home with her dad when he got his hair cut. She ever was allowed to sit in one of the one’s not being used as she watched him get his hair cut. There was even a smaller chair which the little boys sat in when the were too small for the big chairs.

Slowly she started to pass the third chair, when Sgt. Williams yelled out …..

"STOP", she commanded. "WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING"?

Grace stopped, turned and looked at her, then pointed to the back door.

"GET YOUR SELF IN THAT CHAIR", she told her point to the chair the female barber was standing by.

Grace tried to swallow but her throat was too dry. She begin to feel all alone, and not because she was the only one under eight-teen there either. She felt helpless, no control. She turned and walked to the chair.

The barber shook the cape out sending some clipped hairs into the air. She stood there looking at the big chair, it was bigger than the styling chair she was use to sitting in at the beauty salon.

Then, she felt Sgt. Williams’ hand on her’s …..

"LIKE THIS", she commanded as she pulled Graces’ left hand across the chair to the left arm. "Now you step up here and sit your ass down in the seat".

Grace followed her direction, stepping on the metal piece as she rose up, then she sat in the chair.

The barber shook the cape out again, then tossed it across Grace shaking body.

"Regulation", the female barber asked Sgt. Williams.

Sgt. Williams stepped in front of the chair looking at Grace with her blank stare, "REGULATION all the way".

With that said Sgt. Williams stepped back to some waiting chairs and took a seat.

"Take your time Connie", she told the barber as she sat down. "The boys are taking a shower and she can’t until they are finished".

Grace noticed herself in the large mirror across the wall behind the chairs where Sgt. Williams was seated. She remembered there was a mirror like this at the barber shop her dad went to, you could see your self in it and watch the barber cut your hair.

Connie reached around her, undid the high neck collar and folded it downward then pulling the cape up and around her neck clipping it in place. She reached to the right side of the chair and moved the handle, causing the chair to bump upward until it was high enough.

"Toni", Connie spoke. "you sure about this ….."?

Grace looked at Sgt. Williams looked up from the magazine, she was reading. She looked at Grace looking back at her.

"REGULATION all the way", Stg. Williams told her, again.

Grace looked in the mirror as Connie turned and stepped back to the shelf behind the chairs. She reached under it grabbing hold of something, then brought it up and did something to it. Then, she looked back at Sgt. Williams who was back reading the magazine, when …..

"CLICK HUmmmmmmmm ……

The shop filled with this sound, Grace’s eyes searched for it only to hear it coming close to her from behind.

Connie raised her left hand to the top of Grace’s head, putting a little pressure so she could not move her head, nor move upward to get out the chair. She slowly brought the clippers up to the back of Grace’s neck, her hair had fallen forward when her head was tilted downward. What hair had not fallen out of the way, Connie used her right hand, with the clippers in it, to brush the hairs to the side to hang down over her shoulders.

Grace froze as she heard the humming sound slowly move up behind her. Then, she felt cold metal touch her skin below the hair line. No sooner had her body stopped a quick shiver from it, then the cold metal, humming away, move slowly up the center her neck. Going high up the back of her head.

Her eyes begin to tear as they caught site of her long brown hair sliding loose into her lap.

"Don’t start any wining", she heard Sgt. Williams call out. She tried to look up at her, but Connie still had a tight hold on the top of her head.

She felt the clippers slowly move up the back of her head again and again, going high up her head then being pulled away. Again another pile of hair slowly slid down into her lap. She tried not to cry, but the tearing she could not stop.

Connie worked the clippers up the back of her head on both side of the first clipping. Grace felt the coolness of the air condition on her clipped neck. She wanted to jump out the chair and run …. run back home. But, she couldn’t. Her body was froze in the chair, her hair being cut from her head.

Connie let her grip loosen as she walked to the left side of the chair. She pushed Grace’s head up a little. Her waterly eyes looked at herself in the large mirror, then at Sgt. Williams who was still reading that magazine. How Grace wanted to take that magazine and jam it down her throat.

The hair hanging down the left side was pushed forward by Connie’s left hand, which was followed by her right hand moving the clippers over the top of her head pushing a growing pile of her brown hair forward until the clippers were pulled away letting the pile of hair fall pass her now glazed eyes. Into her lap with a "PLOP" the pile fell. She looked up from it just as another pile of her hair was being pushed forward, it to fell passed her eyes ….. PLOP into her lap.

She looked in the large mirror and saw how shot her hair was being cut, it was short ….. really short. So short her hair wasn’t going to touch her collar for months. Her eyes begin to swell up again, she wanted to cry out ….. then, another pile of hair fell passed her watery eyes into her lap …. PLOP.

Connie placed the clippers behind her left ear and moved it up and over her ear, then she pushed the clippers upward in front of the left ear sending the last little pile down into her lap.

She walked around the back of the chair, brushing her left hand over what was left of Grace’s hair in the back. She changed the clippers to her left hand, pushing all the hanging hair on the right side forward with her right hand. Slowly, as she did on the left side, she moved the clippers over Grace’s head pushing another pile of brown hair forward to fall pass her now drying eyes, for she could not cry any more ….. PLOP in came to rest in her lap of her own hair.

Just a few more passes and Connie was brushing her right hand all over Grace’s clippered head. She smiled as she walked around the back of the chair doing this, checking to make sure she hadn’t missed any hairs.

Grace watched in the mirror as Connie took hold of the metal part of the clippers, removing the quarter inch attachment ….. then twisting her self around she tossed it on the shelf.

"REGULATIONS …..", Grace heard Connie speak.

She looked at Sgt. Williams looking up from the magazine, "ALL THE WAY".

With that Grace watched as Connie walked to the right side of the chair. She placed her left hand on the top of her head tilting it to the left. "CLICK" the clippers came to life, this time there was on attachment on it. Connie quickly pushed the clippers up high in front of her right ear, sending small already clipped hairs into her lap. She then pushed the clippers back over her right ear, then bending it and pushing the clippers upward to where the first pass stopped, high up the side of her head.

Grace strained her still damp vision into the large mirror, seeing she could hardly see any hair on the side of her head where Connie had just moved the clippers. She felt Connie’s right hand move back over her head, tilting her head downward as the clippers moved slowly up the back of her head.

Connie worked the clippers slowly upward and across Grace’s head, brushing her left hand down and up after every two passed to make sure she had buzz all the hair before moving over move. Then, she was standing on the left side of the chair, the clippers moving upward behind her left ear.

Finally, Connie made the last upward movement with the clippers in front of her left ear.

As she slowly walked around to the back of the chair she brushed her left hand all over Grace’s buzzed sides and back, then over the top of her head.

"Could give her a nice Horse Shoe if you want", Connie said to Sgt. Williams, who had put the magazine down and was watching Connie checking Grace’s head for missed hairs.

She stood up and walked to the barber chair. She took hold of Grace’s chin and turned her head to the left then the right. She walked to the left side of the chair then the right. As Grace looked forward, she brushed the back of her right hand up the right side of her buzzed head. She leaned back and brushed her left hand up the back of Grace’s head.

Grace watched as she smiled at Connie, "Haven’t lost your touch".

Connie looked back at her, "Never will".

Sgt. Williams turned and started walking back to the chair. She sat there looking a Grace then smiled, "DO IT. Then, the boys won’t tease her for not getting a REGULATION HAIR CUT ….. instead it will be one better".

Grace felt her heart climb up into her throat. Her now crazed mind asked, "What’s a Horse Shoe"?

Then, she heard the loud CLICK HUmmmmmm …..

Connie was standing behind her, the clippers in her right hand. Her left hand touched the back of Grace’s head as she brought the humming clippers pass her right ear, then she raised it to the top of her head and slowly moved it back over her head. What short but longer hair that was there was now being reduced to the same length as the back and sides of her head. Connie made pass after pass after pass over her head until Grace’s hair was completely buzzing to nearly nothing.

Then, Connie took the hair duster and dusted all over her head, then brushed her left hand all over it like she did the hair duster. Her head move side to side, back to front, with each hand brushing.

She felt Connie undo the clip holding the cape around her neck, them the cape was moved off her shoulders sliding down across her arms. She felt relief, her crazy hair cut was over. She looked worst than the day her dad had the barber cut all her older brother’s hair off. At least his hair was as long as the top of her head was until Connie pushed the clippers over her head.

She started to lean forward to get out the chair, but Connie’s left hand grabbed her left shoulder and pushed back down ….. "Not finished", Connie told her as she begin tucking a large white towel in her collar.

She spread the towel over her shoulders. Connie walked back to the counter, as Grace just realized she was hearing running water. Connie reached for a wash cloth and worked it under the warm running water. With the cloth as wet as she wanted it she turned and begin rubbing it over Grace’s head. Softly then a little roughly. When she finished Grace could feel her head was wet.

Then, she heard a loud winding sound she had never head before. Connie was standing in front of it her arm inward, then the sound stopped. Grace looked at Stg. Williams who was not reading a magazine but watching what was happening to her.

She begin to swell with fear, she wanted to jump out the chair and screen something, anything to get attention. Then, she felt something warm being spread over the right side of her head. Her eyes jumped to the large mirror, Connie was standing there spreading something white.

"WHITE" ….. Grace eyes got large almost popping out her head. She realized what the "WHITE" stuff was.

"NO …… NO", Grace yelled out. "DON’T SHAVE MY HEAD ….. PLEASE ….. DON’T SHAVE MY HEAD".

Sgt. Williams rose from her chair quickly and rushed to the chair pushing Grace back into it. She applied a little pressure causing Grace to give in fear, as their eyes met. Connie continued spreading the shaving cream around her head, across the back to the left side.

Sgt. Williams let go of Grace, who sat froze in fear. As she sat down she looked at Grace, "She’s not going to shave your head".

Grace felt at ease and begin to relax, thinking she was only going to wash her head with the lather to remove any hair clipping. Then, fear came back quickly …..

"I’m only going to shave the back and sides of your head", Connie said as she was standing on the right side of the chair with an open straight razor in her right hand, reaching for the leather strap that hung from the right arm of the chair. "It’s called a HORSE SHOE. The Marines like it so much that it is somewhat the official hair cut for them. Now just sit there and relax. It will be over before you know it".

She grabbed the leather strap and begin stropping the straight razor over it until she was sure it was sharp enough.

Grace caught the site of the straight razor coming to her head, she closed her eyes as Connie placed it where she wanted. Then, Grace stiffen up as she begin the first shaving stroke down the right side of her head. Connie stopped half way down, "Please take a deep breath and relax. You are causing your body to shake ….. that might cause me to nick you. You don’t want that to happen ….. do you’?

Grace did as she was told. She took a deep breath ….. her body stopped shaking, then Connie continued the shaving stroke. Grace’s eyes caught the razor coming up again, she closed her eyes again …. took a deep breath as Connie shave another section. She begin to relax more as she felt the coolness of the cold air condition touch her smooth skin. She had not felt any thing like this, it was cool, soft, gentle, and relaxing that she almost forgot what was happening.

She felt her head being tilted downward as the straight razor begin shaving the back of her head. Grace could not believe how her feeling had changed about this hair cut. It was as if the shaving was causing her body ….. her mind ….. to give into any thing the straight razor wanted to do.

Connie stepped to the left of the chair and begin shaving from the back forward. Grace watched in the large mirror as she awaited the view of the razor shaving her head to a cool smoothness.

"I think she likes the HORSE SHOE", Sgt. Williams told Connie. Connie looked at Grace in the mirror and they smiled at each other.

"When you see a customer so pleased with getting a Horse Shoe, you wanted to just go ahead and shave her head completely", Connie said as her eyes met Grace’s in the mirror. Grace smiled ….. but she could not understand why she was doing it. It just popped across her face.

Sgt. Williams watched both of them looking at each other. Waiting for one of them to say something.

"Think I’ll go check and see if the boys are finished their showers", she said as she rose and walked out the back of the shop.

Connie raised the straight razor to finish shaving the left side of Grace’s head. Slowly she shaved the last of the warm lather. Grace turned her head to Connie, why she didn’t know.

They looked at each other. She had not looked at her mother like this any time. She did know why she was doing it with Connie ….. the woman who had just cut off all her hair, then shave the back and sides of her head. Why she thought to her self! What was she telling Connie!

She smiled at Connie and turned her head forward again. She watched in the large mirror as Connie stood there looking in it at her. Both of them were breathing a little deep. Both had a strange look in their eyes ….. Grace begin hearing a voice in her mind, but could not make out what it was telling her.

She heard the winding sound again and looked in the mirror. Connie was standing at the counter with her back to her. Grace watched as she turned, in her hand more shaving cream. Grace turned her body around looking at Connie slowly stepping behind the chair. She took a deep breath and turned to face forward.

Her body rose as she watched Connie begin lathering the top of her head from the back. Slowly Connie worked the lather over the top of her head until what hair was left was covered with it.

She turned and pickup the straight razor, flicked it open with a flick of her wrist. Grace tilted her head backward and down presenting the top of her head to Connie and the straight razor.

Why, Grace thought to her self, WHY was she doing this. She didn’t even want her hair cut in the first place. Now she was setting in this large barber chair, the back and the sides of her head shave to a smoothness ….. Now she was presenting the top of her head to be shaved smooth, too.

Her body came limp when she felt the sharp edge of the straight razor touch her forehead.

Slowly Connie started shaving back over her head. Her breathing was starting to get loud, she had never done this before, not even to a man or one of the boys. It was the first time for her and she felt pleased about it. WHY …..

She was beginning the second pass with the razor when the back door opened. It was Sgt. Williams. She took a few steps in and stopped, then looked at what was going on.

"I think you have earned your first strip ….. young lady", she said as she sat down. "Please Connie continue her hair cut".

Grace closed her eyes as Connie finished shaving her head. It must have taken at least fifteen minutes because Grace was feeling sore in her neck.

She felt Connie push on her smooth head, motioning her to straighten it up. When she did she saw her self ….. her head shaved ….. SHAVED to the skin. And, she didn’t want her hair cut at all. She would have done anything to not have her hair cut, not even a few inches.

But, here she sat in a barber chair, in a barber shop, at a Military School. Her head shaved, completely shaved. None of the boys got their head shaved. But, for some reason she felt good about having her head shaved.

Connie applied a lotion to her scalp, spreading it over her shaved head with gentleness. Grace like how it felt.

Sgt. Williams got up and walked to the chair. She brushed her right hand over Grace’s smooth head, "Didn’t even want it cut to REGULATION LENGTH ….. did we"! Grace shook her head "no", then smiled.

Connie turned back to the counter, her heart in her throat – her breathing slowing. "What was I thinking", she asked her self. "This is a twelve year old girl. She away from home for the first time in her life and I go and shave her head. What was I thinking"!

She wanted to crawl under something to get out of there, but couldn’t find anything.

"OK, young Marine", Sgt. Williams spoke up, "time to hit the showers, then a physical. I am sure the boys are wondering what happen to you. And, will they feel stupid about their hair cut".

Grace stepped out the chair with the grace of having done it before. She turned to Connie, who had a sad look on her face. "Thanks for the REGULATION hair cut ….. Miss Connie", Grace spoke with ease. "When can I come back for another one"?

Connie froze …. she looked at Grace with "WHAT" in her eyes. She looked at Sgt. Willaims.

"When you have the time to do so", Sgt. Williams said. "Which would be around sixteen hundred hours each day. That is if Miss Connie can take you".

"YES ….., yes", Connie said as she relaxed. "Sixteen hundred hours each day would be OK".

"FORWARD MARCH", Sgt. Williams barked out to Grace. "You don’t want to miss chow".

Continued ?????

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