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[Total: 4    Average: 2.3/5]

OK, it was cruel. I’ll admit that. But they had, shall we say, a debt to me. They knew it. And I offered them a way out. They chose to take it.

I had prepared the room. It was, for now, dimly lit, and mostly empty. A single, straight-backed chair was in the middle of the room. The only light emanated from an un-shaded lamp behind a Japanese-style screen in the corner, casting odd shadows.

They arrived, and I ushered them into the room. They had been warned not to speak during the time they were in my presence. "Go behind the screen, and undress. Remove all your jewelry. Wrap yourselves in a towel." I stood, watching. Through the screen, I saw their outlines as they removed all their clothing, and wrapped the white terrycloth towels around their midsections. The towels were large enough to cover from their breasts down to their crotch, but just barely. They came out from behind the screen, and stood looking at me. They were waiting for instructions, but I simply smiled at them, enjoying their uncomfortable silence. After a few moments, I switched on the overhead light, and stepped behind the screen to turn off the small lamp. I saw the 2 piles of clothes, and tried to imagine how exposed they must feel.

I stepped out from behind the screen, and looked at my uncomfortable guests. Who should be first? I invited Janet to sit down in the chair. The towel wasn’t quite long enough for her to sit on, as her bare bottom settled on the hard wooden seat. I ran my fingers through her thick, dark hair. It fell nearly to her breasts. For now. I handed Amy a hairbrush, and motioned at Janet. She stepped behind the chair, and began slowly, gently brushing her friend’s long hair. I watched for several minutes. Janet’s eyes were closed, and she seemed to enjoy Amy’s attention. Finally, I took the brush from Amy’s hand. I held the scissors up for her to see. She sighed and reached for them, but I pulled them out of reach. I spoke very quietly. "Why don’t you two switch places."

Amy took the seat. I handed Janet the hairbrush. She sighed and began brushing through Amy’s shoulder length layers. Amy sat stiffly at first, but then slowly relaxed with each stroke of the brush. Again I watched. After several moments, I took the brush from Janet, and told Amy to stand up. I took each woman gently by the shoulders, and moved them so they faced each other. I put my hand under each chin, and raised their faces until they looked each other in the eyes. I stepped back slightly, and held my hand up, with the handle of the barber’s shears sticking up within reach of both of them. And I waited.

It was Janet who gave in, slowly reaching for the scissors. I motioned for Amy to sit back down, and again I waited. I had intentionally not given her instructions, and I wondered how short she would cut her friend’s hair. She started at her left ear. She gathered the hair in her hand, and slowly sliced the scissors through the thick lock.. She was careful to drop the hair on the floor behind Amy, out of her friend’s sight. She began cutting a bit more quickly, following the outline of Amy’s ear. Once the ear was exposed, she cut a few tentative layers in the hair above, before moving to the back. The pile on the floor grew, as she first snipped the length off at the hairline, then began cutting layers here too. It was obvious that she had done some haircutting before, a fact I had not known. The cropped style that was emerging looked cute on Amy. It was satisfying to watch the hair fall, though I’d not expected the results to look this good, given the circumstances. Still, my cruelty had its limits- I didn’t want to see either of them made unattractive, I simply wanted to watch the hair fall.

Janet finished on the right, and began cutting the top to about two inches in length. Finally she stopped and stepped back slightly to inspect her work. She combed through the cropped hair with her fingers, and made a few last snips where it seemed uneven. Finally she turned and looked at me. I smiled broadly: "I didn’t know you had such talent for this." Amy bit her lip, and tentatively ran her fingers through her new, short style. She winced a bit, then stood up.

It wasn’t until she turned and saw the pile of cut hair on the floor, which her friend had kept hidden from her, that the tears formed. She quickly regained her composure, and Janet handed her the scissors. Janet sat down, and pushed her long hair behind her shoulders, resigned to what was coming. Amy brought the scissors up to Janet’s neck. The first cut sent nine inches of thick dark hair falling to the floor. Amy cut straight across, then paused, unsure of what to do next. She looked at me quizzically. I smiled slightly at her before responding. "Shorter." She began cutting at random, clearly unsure of what she was doing. There was no style emerging, just random lengths of hair being cut. I let her continue for a while, until it was clear that nothing more could really be done. On average, she had left Janet’s hair about three inches in length all over, although some parts were shorter, and a few bits were longer. There was only one thing left to do. I had Janet go over to the wall, and kneel down.

I left the room for a moment, and returned with the clippers. I had attached a three-eighth inch guard, and handed them to Amy. She cringed at the sight, and tentatively reached for the clippers. As she extended the cord, and reached over to plug it in, I looked at Janet, kneeling near the outlet. A small smile had come to her face, as though she had been expecting this. Amy switched the clippers on, and jumped a bit as they began vibrating in her hand. She placed them on Janet’s forehead, and pushed them back through the hair, clearing a small swath. She made several passes over the top of Janet’s head, then started working on the side. It only took a few minutes, and the buzz cut was very suited to Janet’s features. Amy switched off the clippers and Janet ran her fingers through her hair. A broad smile gave away her feelings, which seemed to surprise Amy, although I had almost expected the reaction. I debated running the clippers through Amy’s cropped cut myself, but decided that her face just wouldn’t support that look. I took the clippers from her, and left the room. I returned a moment later with a broom and dustpan, and watched the two women sweep up the large piles of hair.

"Your debt is forgiven." I announced. "You may get dressed now. If you wish to leave you may, or you may join me in the living room for a drink if you’d like."

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