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The rehearsal went well. It was only a small town in the mid-West but the acoustics in the high-school hall were far better than might have been expected for a space which doubled as a gymnasium and the orchestra was looking forward to a successful concert that evening.

With more than three hours to kill before our call to get ready for the performance, I followed my usual routine and went in search of a beauty salon to get my hair done.

I play a cello in the middle of the strings section, so I’m not exactly in the audience’s eye. Nevertheless, I like to look as well groomed as I can, particularly when a concert is being televised, as on this occasion. You never know where a close-up camera might be pointing and anyway, I think that it helps me to play more confidently if I know my appearance has had a professional touch.

Diane’s was a bright, modern establishment with the usual array of product displays and model photographs. Diane herself was friendly and chatted as she took out the clips which habitually hold up my hair and combed it through to its mid-back length.

"What are we doing today?"

"Oh," I said, "I really just want it washed, dried and then put back up. I had a trim a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t think I need a cut."

"Just like you came in? Straight back from the face and a simple bun at the back of the neck?"

"That’s right."

I saw that Diane had a poster in her window advertising the concert that night and I mentioned that I was with the orchestra. Diane nodded.

"I guess playing classical music you have to keep a pretty conventional style, huh?"

I looked at her reflection in the mirror.

"Conventional?"

"Yeah. You know, straightforward. Nothing too … funky."

"You mean boring?" Diane looked flustered, suspecting she might have offended me.

"No, no. Just … professional I guess. I’m sorry. I’ll just get on with the job."

She finished her brushing and then took me to a wash basin and shampooed and conditioned my hair. Back in the seat before the mirror I looked at myself. Wet, my hair hung lank and flat, a nondescript brown. Often in the morning after I showered I wouldn’t even dry it. Just comb it out wet like this then screw it up into a bun and dash off to rehearsal. Except on performance days like this I almost didn’t think about my hair. Most of the female players were the same. Our hair needed to be neat and tidy but most of all just out of the way. Un-fussy. Certainly un-funky.

Diane was towelling the last of the excess moisture out of the ends of my hair.

"If I was to go for something … funky, what would you suggest?"

Diane looked up.

"You serious?"

"Maybe."

She put down the towel and lifted my hair in various ways.

"You have good hair," she said. "Strong and quite thick. I’d suggest maybe putting some curl in it but it’s bone-straight. You’d need a perm or something to make that work."

She peered at my image in the mirror more closely.

"A little more height on the top would suit the shape of your face better."

"More height? How would you get that?"

"Well, if we’re putting your hair up, I could tease it a bit on top to bulk it out."

"This is sounding complicated. I need something I can do myself in a second."

"Well, the only alternative is a cut. Get some layers into it. But even then, you’d need to blow-dry some wave into it to get height on the top."

"Isn’t there a way to cut it so that it supports itself without fussing with it?"

"Only if we spike it up, but that’s a bit drastic." A knot began to form in my stomach. A bit like the tension before performance but with a deliciously pleasurable edge to it.

"Spike it up?"

Diane smiled.

"I was just thinking aloud. She stroked the length of my hair. It’s obviously taken years to grow it to this length. You’re hardly going to want me to crop it off."

The knot in my stomach tightened. I realised I was reacting strongly to Diane’s use of words like ‘spike’ and ‘crop’. My breath was shortening and I had to clear my throat before speaking again.

"Er … how short would it have to be to spike it up?"

Diane’s eyes widened.

"Well, real short, I guess. A couple of inches maximum on the top and even shorter on the sides and the back. That’s if it’s going to stay in shape for a reasonable time."

"Short back and sides? You mean like a man’s haircut?"

"Kinda. We can soften it a bit around the edges. Leave a few longer strands but, yeah. Short. Dramatic, though."

"I never thought of myself as dramatic."

"Maybe you should start. So, are we going for this, then?"

"Maybe. Yes, I guess we are."

Almost immediately my nerve failed me as Diane took a pair of scissors and began to hack off my hair to shoulder length. She didn’t seem to be taking any care at all, just shearing off clumps in a ragged line. She must have caught the expression on my face and grinned.

"Don’t worry. I’m just getting rid of the bulk. It’ll be great. Have you thought about colour?"

Thirty minutes later my hair was a rich scarlet colour. Not auburn, not even titian. Scarlet. I looked at myself almost in disbelief. What on earth was going on? But the knot in my stomach was still there and my eyes were shining.

Then the real cut began. Diane started on the top and lifted meshes of hair to scissor them off. She hadn’t exaggerated. The remaining length on the top of my head was barely two inches and as she moved over towards the temples, I saw that the scissors were cutting much closer to my scalp. As Diane came to the sides just above my ears, I saw that the scissors were basically snipping off everything which protrudes between her fingers and they were pressed close to my head. I calculated that the hair at the sides of my head could not be more than half an inch at most.

Eventually Diane had moved around the whole of my head and combed through the remains of my hair. Even though it was still damp, I could see that the hair on top of my head was standing up by itself. Round the sides and, I presumed, down the back of my head, the hair lay flat to the scalp in a smooth, shiny pelt. I also noticed that Diane had left a wispy veil of longer hair all around my hairline, with the exception of the front. These strands of hair still hung down almost to shoulder length.

Diane pulled out the strand in front of my left ear and shaped it into a long sideburn in a sharp vee shape. She quickly scissored the other side to match. Then she began to chop into the fringe of hair which remained along the hairline behind my ears and around the nape of my neck, reducing these to a few fine wispy strands.

Blow-drying my hair was a matter of seconds, then I was finished. I could hardly believe what I had let Diane do. Basically the hair on top of my head stood rigidly to attention in a soft brush while the hair around the sides and back lay sleek and glossily flat. The whole effect was softened as Diane had promised by the sideburns jutting on to my cheek and the feminine wisps softly escaping from behind my ears and around the neckline. Now that it was dry and daylight shone through it, the rich red of my hair seemed almost luminescent.

I was delighted with it. Diane, however, furrowed her brow.

"Don’t you think the top is a bit … round?" she asked.

"You said I needed height," I replied.

&a
mp;quot;Yes, but I think we can get a better shape."

She took her scissors again and, holding them horizontally, she began to snip at the hair on the very top of my head, a bit like clipping a hedge. Gradually, the shape of the hair standing up on top was reduced from a round dome to more of a flat surface. I realised that it hinted at the sort of boxy style I had seen on some men.

"Is that a flat-top?" I asked.

"I guess," said Diane. "But I think it’s more sharp than flat."

Before the performance I didn’t have much time to gauge the reaction of my colleagues in the orchestra to my radical new look but afterwards in the green room, they crowded round. I enjoyed being the centre of attention for once and particularly enjoyed the replaying of the video which had been shot of our concert. The cameraman had certainly spotted me and I seemed to be included in a lot of the close-ups.

As Diane had promised, the style was easy for me to keep and the quick twist-it-up-into-a-bun was replaced with a quick-blast-with-the-hairdryer each morning. As our Summer tour wore on, I also enjoyed the freedom and coolness of not having that heavy bun at my neck all the time. It saved me money, too, because I felt perfectly confident doing my own hair before a performance without having to go to a professional hairdresser all the time.

After two or three weeks, though, I saw that my brown hair was beginning to show through the red at the roots, so I sought out a hairdresser in the town where we were playing.

Marcie was a little older than Diane, but still seemed a bright enthusiastic person.

I explained that I really just wanted the colour re-done but she asked me if I wanted my flat-top trimmed up, too. I hadn’t thought it was so recognisable as a flat-top and the little knot of excitement tightened in my stomach again. I nodded to Marcie.

"Yes please."

After she had restored my hair to the strong, vibrant scarlet, Marcie immediately began to blast my hair with the blow-dryer.

"I thought you were going to give me a trim," I asked, disappointed.

"Sure, honey," she replied, but it’s better to do these sharp cuts dry."

When my hair was dry, she lifted one of the wispy strands at my neckline.

"You want to keep these or shall I take them off."

"I … sort of thought they gave me a softer look."

"Don’t think you need ’em, honey. I always think a good sharp haircut looks better if it’s plain and simple."

"Okay. Whatever you think."

The knot tightened again. It tightened even further when Marcie went away and came back to plug in an electric hair clipper.

"The last hairdresser just cut my hair with scissors," I said, trying to conceal my near-panic. "I can do that, but it takes longer and I don’t think it looks so good."

"I really don’t want a short-back-and-sides," I said.

"And you won’t get one. Trust me."

And I did.

She started with the clippers in the middle of the nape of my neck and I felt them buzzing and nibbling at my hair, which turned out to be an amazingly pleasurable sensation. Then I felt Marcie begin to push the clippers up the back of my head. I had thought she would use them just to get rid of the wispy strands but now she was shearing the whole of my neck! I almost asked her to stop but realised that I couldn’t remain with a single shaved strip up the back of my head. I gritted my teeth and imagined what I was going to look bald.

I felt Marcie clipper swathe after swathe off the back of my head but then she moved round to the side and I could see that the black plastic guard on the clipper was leaving about as much hair on the sides as Diane had left with her scissors.

My relief quickly gave way to a wave of vague disappointment. It was just going to be the same as before. I began to ask myself why that was a disappointment. Was I becoming addicted to radical make-overs?

Except that it wasn’t going to be quite the same. The wispy strands were gone and, as Marcie peeled off most of the long spiky sideburns, I realised that the shape of my cut was going to be quite different this time.

Although Marcie was leaving about the same length of hair on the sides of my head, she was clippering far higher than Diane had gone with scissors. In fact, I could see that Marcie was producing a shape in which the sides of my head were geometrically vertical walls. I also noticed that she was right in that the clippers were giving a far more precise cut.

After completing both sides and the back, Marcie took a comb and began to shape the top of my head. She did this be inserting the comb horizontally into my hair at the forehead and running the clipper from one side to the other. She still left the hair with a fair length, although I could see that it was shorter than the two inches left by Diane. Marcie’s comb-and clipper technique, however, was producing a far more perfectly flat surface that Diane had.

Eventually, after many passes with the comb and the clipper, Marcie was finished.

"One flat-top." She beamed.

And it was, too. No doubt this time. The back and sides were lying in a disciplined glossy lawn and the top was perfectly boxy. As I moved my head from side to side, I could see the planes of the haircut moving like solid geometry. I passed a hand over my clippered nape and noticed that it, too was shorter than Diane had gone. My hair felt velvety but I could feel the pelt of bristles snapping back into place as my hand passed over them.

"You have good hair for this," said Marcie. Then she narrowed her eyes. "I have an idea. You want to try a design?"

"What’s a design?" I asked, intrigued.

"It’s what I call ’em," said Marcie. "I do it for my short-haired ladies sometimes, like for a party or something."

A ‘design’ turned out to be a pattern of lines cut into the short hair by using the point of the clippers, so that the white scalp showed through. Ordinarily, I think I would have stopped short at what Marcie had already given me, which was a big step beyond my original step on to the wild side with Diane. But the idea of her "designs" was so new and unusual to me that I let her talk further about it. When she heard that I was a musician she clapped her hands.

"I know what to do."

She turned the chair away from the mirror so that I wouldn’t be able to see anything but the finished effect. She started at my left temple and I could feel the clippers biting into my hair gently, again and again. Marcie seemed to be making a series of continuous lines encircling the lower part of my head. Then there was more intensive work with the clippers nuzzling here and there. I found this extremely relaxing and almost drifted into a doze. Then Marcie took a soft brush and dusted off my head and shoulders, then swung me back to face the mirror. She held up a hand-mirror to show me the view of the back of my head.

She had carved a line of music into my hair! The five lines of the stave undulated in a wavy pattern from one temple round to the other and Marcie had incised notes on to the stave, as well as vertical bar-lines.

It was very expertly done and I was delighted. As Marcie whisked away the gown which covered my clothes, though I was conscious how sensitive my scalp was to air currents and, feeling with my fingers, I realised just how much hair had been removed to achieve the design. I now had a significant amount of bare skin around my scalp.

I paid Marcie and included a substantial tip.

"I got another idea," she said. Opening a drawer, she took out a little card. I saw that they were ear decorations in th
e shape of musical notes. There were three pairs on the card, in diminishing sizes.

"Take ’em, honey, with my compliments. I’ve enjoyed what we’ve done today."

I examined them more closely.

"I’m sorry," I said, "but these are for pierced ears and I haven’t had mine done."

Ten minutes later I finally escaped from Marcie’s attentions with three tender holes in each ear, in which the little musical notes sparkled prettily.

At the post-performance party this time I attracted even more attention and towards the end of the evening one of the bass players pressed a scrap of paper into my hand. Unfolding it, I read, ‘Room 278, foxy locksie’. I tore the paper in half, dumping the room number in a waste basket but keeping the "foxy locksie" bit.

My "designed" haircut was the talking-point of the orchestra for a few days, but within a week my natural hair had started to grow back and fill in the places where the white scalp had shown through the red. I loved the shorter version of the flat-top, though and developed a habit of stroking the velvety hair at the back of my head or running my hand over the brush on the top.

I was beginning to discover, though that the shorter the haircut, the shorter its life-span. I found that within a couple of weeks my style was beginning to lose its sharpness and look uncared-for.

In yet another town I visited the only ladies’ hairdresser, where a much older lady told me, "I’m sorry dear, but I don’t do those extreme styles. There’s no call for it among the ladies here. I’m sure a barber might help you out, though."

I had simply never considered the idea of going to a men’s barbershop. In desperation, though, I looked through the window of the two establishments in this town. One looked very traditional with older barbers cutting the hair of older customers, but the other looked slightly more stylish.

I went in, to be greeted by Ed, a man in early middle age.

"Sure, I cut women’s hair, if they want. I don’t do all the fancy stuff like permanents and such but I can do a cut with the best of them."

"What about colouring?" I asked. I was hoping to get that touched up."

"Sorry, Ma’am. I leave that to the beauty parlours." He looked at my style. "But if you’re lookin’ to stay with the flat-top then maybe the colour won’t matter so much."

"What do you mean?"

Ed sat me down in the big leather and chrome chair in front of his mirror, and began to run his comb through my hair.

"See, I don’t know exactly how close your flat-top was cut originally. It sure has grown out a lot." He examined the areas where Marcie’s ‘design’ had grown in. "Seems like somebody has been getting artistic, too," he grinned.

I explained that I really just wanted the whole thing back in a sharp, clean shape.

"Sure," said Ed, "that’s the whole idea of a flat-top, but if I’m gonna even up the different lengths round here …" He indicated round the sides and back of my head. "… I’m gonna have to take it kinda short."

He grinned at me in the mirror.

"Like I say, it won’t matter if you’re going for an according-to-Hoyle flat-top. It’s only if you want some sort of imitation feminine version that we’re going to have trouble. What’s it to be?"

I grinned back.

"According to Hoyle, I guess."

He snapped a cape round my shoulders and reached for his electric clipper.

I was familiar with the routine of starting in the middle of my neckline and relaxed at the buzzing machine touched my skin. As it moved steadily up the back I remembered how nervous I had been with Marcie when I hadn’t understood about the guards on clippers. I allowed myself to enjoy the familiar, pleasant sensations, as Ed made pass after pass up my head. He seemed to be going even higher than Marcie, but I had understood that this was going to be shorter than the feminine version, anyway. I wondered what an "according to Hoyle" flat top would feel like.

And then Ed moved round from the back of my head to start on the areas behind my ears and I caught sight of the clipper. It had no guard on it at all. Ed paused to apply a little oil to the blade of the clipper and I pulled my hand out from under the cape and felt the back of my head. It was just stubble. Like sandpaper. There was no length there at all.

For a moment, I was speechless. Then, as Ed returned to his work, the little knot tightened in my stomach again. Was this so different to Marcie shaving off half the hair to make her design? This was just the next logical step. I gave myself over to Ed’s ministrations and savoured the thought that this was going to be the most radical step of all.

Ed quickly finished his work with the clipper and I saw that round the sides and back of my head, up to a line about halfway between the top of my ear and the top of my head, the hair had been clippered away almost completely. I could see my scalp gleaming white under the stubble.

Then Ed reached into a drawer and took out what looked like a black ping-pong bat, only it was squared off at the end. When he inserted it in my hair, I realised it was actually like an afro-comb, only with very long and very close-together teeth. Ed used this to lift up sections of my hair to create the vertical walls round the sides of my head. The big comb created a very high-precision result but I could also see that it was cutting my hair much closer that ever before. I had some hair spiking out towards the top of my head, but below that I had virtually nothing but bare scalp.

As Ed inserted the big comb horizontally into the hair on top of my head, my nerve finally broke.

"You are going to leave some length on top, aren’t you?"

He shrugged.

"Up to you, Ma’am. Need to keep a proper shape, though."

"Just not too close."

Ed lifted the comb a good bit further away from my scalp and ran the clipper over it to make the flat surface of the cut. He did a good job and took a lot of care but when he was finished, I saw that the haircut was all out of proportion. For the closely-shorn sides, the top was now too long and it gave my whole head a long, thin shape.

"I guess maybe you need to take a bit more off," I admitted.

"I guess," said Ed. "How much do you want left?"

"Whatever you think best," I resigned my fate to him.

"If we’re going according to Hoyle, it could be quite a bit," said Ed, "but it’ll look real sharp, I guarantee."

"I’ll leave it to you."

Ed continued to hesitate.

"See, you have kinda a high-domed head, so if we keep a good shape, there might be a bit of a landing strip."

I was no longer really listening to him.

"Go for it, Ed," I said, and closed my eyes.

Ed gently straightened my head up with his hands and then I felt the comb being slid into my hair again. It felt as if the comb was resting flat on the top of my scalp. I felt the clippers passing over the surface of the comb and felt small hairs falling over my ears and on to my neck. Eventually Ed removed the comb.

"Don’t move, now," he said.

I heard the clippers snap on again but this time I didn’t feel the comb being put in place. Instead, I felt the teeth of the clippers gently stroking the top of my flat-top. Ed’s free-hand work continued in passes over and over. I felt the blades tickling the longer hairs at my forehead and flicking over the shorter hairs further back. It reminded me very much of the feeling when Marcie etched her design into my hair. Only
then I could feel the blades of the clipper actually pressing through to my scalp, of course … which was exactly what I was feeling now! Ed’s clippers were definitely contacting my scalp on the very top of my head. Without a guard on the clippers.

He finished at last and I opened my eyes. The flat-top was absolutely classic. Virtually nothing at the sides and the most perfect precision flat shape on the top. I tilted my head forward and, as I had expected, my scalp shone through a bald strip where the hair on the top had to reduce to nothing to preserve the flat surface. So this was what a landing strip looked like.

I barely even noticed when Ed smeared shaving foam round the edges of my neckline and razored away all the stray hairs. I paid him and was out of the door before my shock wore off.

I walked back along the street, trying to catch my reflection in the shop windows. I stopped in front of one and stared at myself. When the initial shock wore off, I realised what a professional job Ed had done. The cut was perfect. Every hair was absolutely in place. I touched my hair and realised that this was a no-maintenance-at-all style. No matter how I pushed the hair above my forehead it sprang back into place. The rest of it was just to short to bend out of place anyway.

I turned my head to one side, then the other. Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.

"That’s a great haircut, dear."

For a moment I didn’t realise who had spoken. Then I saw that the window I had been using as a mirror was the beauty parlour I had visited what seemed like hours ago.

"You don’t think it’s too … masculine?" I asked.

"It’s sure different," she said, "but I wouldn’t say masculine. However, if you’re worried about that …"

She took my hand and led me into her salon.

"Like I said, I don’t do those haircuts, dear, but there’s a whole lot of other things I can do."

Half an hour later I was back on the street with my make-up totally re-designed. The lady had completely re-shaped my eyebrows so that they were thin pencilled arches. She had used a very pale foundation with a lot of eye shadow and liner, plus a dark red lipstick. As I walked along the street looking again in the windows, I realised that there was nothing soft about my look now. It was quite uncompromising and thoroughly dramatic.

At the after-performance party I got another note pressed surreptitiously into my hand, only it wasn’t from the bass player. This one was from a lady clarinetist whom I had always admired across the concert platform as one of the most stunningly attractive women I had ever seen. For a moment after reading her note I felt that little knot tighten in my stomach but then I screwed up the paper. I knew that she saw me do it, so I caught her eye and made a little apologetic face. She accepted it with a gracious smile and then gestured toward my hair with an appreciative expression. I smiled and nodded my thanks.

For the next week I couldn’t stop myself touching my hair. I absolutely loved the feel of the shaved sides and back and I took particular pleasure in feeling the close stubble of the bare landing strip on top of my head. I suppose it was entirely irrational to take satisfaction in what was essentially a bald spot, but the sheer extremeness of what I had done became a huge turn-on. I suddenly felt that I was capable of anything – and it turned out that I was.

The orchestra had a short break from performing while we worked on some additions to our repertoire, including a new work which had been commissioned for us from a young composer. The lead cello had secured a few days’ work with a chamber quartet so she asked me to meet the young man to go over the cello parts with him.

As we worked on the score together, I couldn’t help noticing how often he glanced at my hair. When we stopped to enjoy a break and a coffee together, he suddenly leaned forward and stroked the top of my head. He was instantly full of apologies, but I stopped him.

"It’s all right. It’s nice to feel. I don’t mind. I touch it myself all the time."

He stepped closer towards me and stroked my head again, much more slowly. Then we kissed and that night he took me to his apartment and made the sweetest love to me I can remember.

In the morning I awoke to find Anders lying beside me in bed, staring at me.

"Will you cut it again?" he asked.

"I don’t know," I said, "I’ve only had it a week or so. I might grow it out."

"Please don’t. It’s great. I like these too."

He fingered my ears where I had replaced Marcie’s musical note ear studs with gold rings of graduated sizes. His hand moved to my breast and caressed a nipple which stiffened under his touch.

"Maybe here, too?"

By that evening both of us sported matching pairs of gold rings through each of our nipples. We made love very carefully that night.

A further week passed and Anders’ commissioned piece was ready. The orchestra was fully rehearsed and we had a last day together in his flat before we had to go back on the road. I had agreed to cook lunch while Anders had a brief meeting with the orchestra manager, so I went out to shop. I wanted to make something which Anders would enjoy especially well and I was walking towards a delicatessen when I passed a barbershop with a display of photographs in the window. They were all of different kinds of flat-tops. I went in.

The Barber’s name was Don. He was a big man with an even bigger smile, which he beamed at me as he caped me in his chair.

"You like the flat-top, huh?" he sparkled at me?

"Absolutely," I agreed.

"Like touching it?" he winked. "Especially the landing strip?"

I nodded.

"So we’ll keep the landing strip, right?"

"You could even make it a bit bigger if you like."

Don looked at me.

"Know what I think?"

"No, what?"

"I think you’re ready for the ultimate."

"The ultimate?"

"The high-and-tight horseshoe. That’s mostly landing strip."

There was that old knot in my stomach.

"Don, I’m entirely in your hands."

The first thing Don did was take his clipper and put a guard on it. I was a bit disappointed because it seemed a step backwards from Ed’s clipper-work with no guard, but then Don began to run the clipper all over my head from the forehead back to the crown and from the nape up to the top. In a matter of seconds he reduced my hair to an even velvet lawn a little more than a quarter inch long.

Then he picked up a much smaller clipper with finer teeth and began to shave off all the hair from the side of my head. This didn’t leave stubble with my scalp shining through, it just exposed the scalp completely. And it wasn’t just clipping up to a fade line mid-way above my ears, everything was coming off right to the top. When Don moved round to the back I could feel the clipper whining its way from my nape right up over the crown of my head towards the front, only stopping short a fraction of an inch from the hairline on my forehead.

When he switched off the clipper, I was basically bald all over my head except for a tufted fringe across my forehead, which extended into two hedge-like strips extending back from my temples towards my ears.

Again my nerve failed.

"Don, this isn’t a flat-top. I look like Bozo the clown."

Don chuckled.

"Relax. You put yourself in my hands, remember."

Don brought a can of shaving foam. This didn’t faze me because I had had my neckline shaved before. But then Don spread foam all over the clippered parts of my scalp. All of it.

"Don ..
. ?"

"I told you, relax."

If clippering is a heavenly feeling, shaving with a blade razor is exquisite. He went over my scalp again and again, feeling every inch with his fingertips to ensure absolute smoothness. The foam had some menthol in it or something because my scalp felt cool and tingling even after he wiped the last of it away with a towel.

I really liked the gleaming surface of my totally bald scalp and wished that Don would just get rid of the ugly and shapeless tufts at the front. Then Don picked up his little clipper again and stood in front of me blocking out the mirror. Again I felt those delicate stroking movements which come with the very precise shaping of hair standing erect. I could feel that Don was working very close to the scalp, but he was not denuding my hairline completely because I could feel tiny clippings raining on to my ultra-sensitive scalp. I could also feel Don’s clippers contacting with my bare scalp further back towards the top of my head at frequent intervals.

Then Don snapped off his clipper and whisked away the last of the stray clippings from my scalp with a towel. At long last, he moved away from the mirror.

The cut was stunning. I was ninety percent completely bald, but it didn’t look like that. At the front of my hairline a small cliff of hair stood erect about a quarter inch. It then tapered away perfectly to blend in with the bare scalp further back. Running back from my temples were two sharply-defined wings of hair which also faded perfectly into the shaved scalp above my ears.

Anders loved it and massaged perfumed oil into my scalp after we had exhausted ourselves with lovemaking. He was concerned that I had gone for "the ultimate" just to please him but I reassured him that it delighted me just as much.

"Even all the bare scalp?" he asked.

"Even the bare scalp, except for one thing." I told him about Marcie’s "design" and said I regretted mildly that with out any hair at all I could no longer have music clippered into my hair.

We never did get round to lunch. I fell asleep and woke late in the afternoon to find someone apparently tickling my scalp. I realised it was Anders and he was squatting beside me on the bed with a bottle of black ink and a small artist’s paint brush. I jerked up from the bed but Anders restrained me.

"Careful, you’ll smudge it. Not completely dry yet."

Looking in the bedroom mirror I saw that he had drawn on my bare scalp several lines of music in black ink, in the same undulating pattern that I had described Marcie using, only there were several more lines than the crude representation Marcie had been able to achieve with the clippers.

"Is it real music?" I asked

"Of course."

Anders took me through to the room with his piano, sat me down with my back to him and played, reading the music off my scalp. He stumbled over the notes twice. The first time because he remembered imperfectly what he’d written and the second time because we were both in hysterics with laughter.

"Write it down for me," I said, when we’d recovered a little of our composure.

"Why?"

"Because it will smudge off when I sleep or shower. I want to keep it. It’s beautiful. You could use it as the whole theme for a symphony or something."

He shook his head.

"No writing. That music will only ever exist on your head. When is gone, is gone."

Later that evening, while Anders was packing, an idea occurred to me and I left the apartment one more time. There had to be a late-night tattoo parlour somewhere in this town.

END

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