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I used to remember so much about the place of my birth. I can never return there, of course. Yet the memories had never faded, and those bright remembrances used to strike with such force and vividness that it was as though I were back there in truth and that nothing had ever changed. But everything here in this dark, lower world changes – even memories. And perhaps even me.

Since I left the place where I was born – and I emphasize “left”: neither I nor any of the others was thrown out, contrary to so many stories – I have had to make my way in this lower world with those talents I was created with. At times, making my way proved difficult, because it is my preference to live quietly apart from you mortals and merely observe. I do not wish to participate directly in the life of this world. For that reason, one talent of mine in particular has proven to be useful, as I can see clients in private and keep it a small (but lucrative) cash business, and there is little need for me to get too involved in human events. Now, I think that situation has changed. I have let myself get too concerned in a matter, and I may never again be able to spend my time here as a purely objective observer. Why? Let me tell you a story.

I remember the first time I had my hair cut as a woman. She was tall and blond, her hair cut in an impeccably precise bob. She asked – as every first-time client of mine does – if I would experience any of her memories during the procedure. As always, I lied and said no. So she sat in the comfortable chair I keep for my clients, and I sat next to her and took hold of her hand. “Please concentrate on the memory you wish to re-experience,” I told her. “The rest will happen rather quickly.” That is usually true, though some people (and some memories) take longer than others.

This time, with her, it was quite quick. Within seconds, I was dressed in a white, summery dress, long blonde-highlighted hair covering my shoulders. I was in a chic, upscale hair salon, all bright lights, black leather and chrome. “I’m here for my appointment,” I said to the girl at the reception desk. “Of course, Mrs. Anderson. Please go back for your wash.” “Anderson” the girl had said. The woman had told me her name was Michaels.

But my clients always give me false names. Well, almost always. Like they were going to a prostitute or were somehow ashamed of seeing me. But there is nothing to be ashamed about. Who would not want to relive a favorite memory? A hundred dollars for half an hour isn’t too much to pay to do that. (I should raise my rates, come to think of it.) Sure, for most people it’s some sexual experience that they wish to relive. Old men come to me, and they can make love like young men again with loved ones long dead. Sometimes it’s a thrilling sporting event (hitting that game-winning home run or chipping that golf ball in for an eagle), sometimes it’s family (reunions, weddings, homey, human crap like that). Once, one woman wanted to relive the birth of her son. (That – just by the way – was NO fun for me at all, and I wished with all my heart that it really was true that I didn’t participate in the client’s memory instead of living through it moment by moment along with my client. It would be different if I were just looking out of somebody’s eyeballs like a passenger on a bus or something. But it’s not like that. I see, I hear, I feel everything my clients do as they relive their most personal and private memories.)

I stopped concentrating on Mrs. Anderson (or Michaels) a little. This haircut thing was pretty boring. Why relive a haircut? What’s the big deal? You humans can be very puzzling. By the time I started paying attention again, I was sitting in a chair in a little cubicle, open at the back. There was a good-looking guy with a pair of scissors talking to me. He had some kind of accent. “What are we doing today?” he asked. Except “today” sounded like “to die”. I handed him a picture. His eyes got real wide. So he started combing out my long wet hair. I thought he’d section it out like I’d seen in some salons. Instead, he picked up a thick wet handful of hair at the back of my head and cut it off unceremoniously. Tug, tug, crunch, crunch. It felt pretty crude and unskillful at that point. Then I felt him cutting at the back and sides. I couldn’t see what was going on because Mrs. Anderson (or whatever her name was) had closed her eyes. But I could hear long shanks of wet hair slapping onto the floor and onto my shoulders.

Then I felt my own hand creeping into my lap. It slowly and carefully began hiking up my dress under the haircutting cape. Then I felt my hand sliding down my thigh and into my crotch. There were no panties there. The hand kept going till I expected to feel nesty curls of pubic hair. It was a shock to feel just ultra-short stubble over soft skin. My fingers opened me and probed gently around, settling on a point that generating what felt like a weak electric current going through me.

The haircutter said something I didn’t hear. Mrs. What’s-her-name said something about the “clippers”. Then I felt my head pushed downward and a vibrating sensation at the back of my neck. It seemed lots more familiar than the sensation in my lap. (It always came as a surprise to me how different a woman’s hands felt on herself from how it feels for a man to stroke off.) It was a barber’s clippers shaving up the nape of my neck. At least this sensation was something I knew about, having gone to the barber’s myself countless times – including the days long, long before electric clippers. Then something happened. The sensations coming through to me did something – they became – I don’t know – slanted or something. Angles changed slightly. The cubicle seemed less real. I put both hands in my lap, feeling the sandpapery stubble and rubbing first with one hand and then with the other, putting off the coming climax. I felt the clippers at my hairline in front and saw my (her) blond hair tumbling before my eyes. The machine worked hard to mow through the thick hair on my crown. I could hear the chewing noises change the pitch of the blades. “Make it a nice short crewcut please. Just keep cutting.”

She (I) opened my eyes and looked in the mirror, watching my boyish crop disappear into a short-short crewcut, row by row. Hair-feathers fluttered down my cheeks. She put her hand to her head, and I felt the soft shorn fur at the crown and rubbed back to the shaven nape. I liked the stiff feel of the bristles and the touch of my own hand on my shaven neck. A spray of hair nubs flew into the air as I rubbed the top of the buzzed scalp. I also could see me playing with myself in the mirror, my legs drawn up into the chair, my toes gripping the sides for traction. I felt the clippers running up the back of my head again, hungry for more hair to shear off. The blades kissed my neck gently at the sides and hummed a low, sweet song around my ears. My hair was gone (except what still clung stubbornly to my shoulders), but the haircutter kept moving the machine back and forth over my head, vibrating, vibrating, vibrating and my hand moved faster and faster inside myself until that little electric current grew and grew until it exploded inside me and dimmed to a purr and then exploded again and then again. When I opened my eyes, I was looking at Mrs. Anderson sitting in my chair. She looked at me. I kept my face flat and non-responsive despite my/our orgasm.

“How was it?” I asked. “Did it work?”

“Yes,” she said. “Very well.” She managed to keep her voice from quavering, despite what we had both just felt. Then she paid me $200 in fresh $20 bills and left.

As I walked her out the door, I just knew – absolutely and for certain – that this woman had never had a crewcut in her life. And for sure, she had never beaten off in public like that. So what was it I had just been through? Daydreams and fantasies don’t work with me. There has to have been an actual experience to relive. Well, the point of my story is this – one, people can be real weird about hair. That was
by no means the first or only haircut memory I have been through. Second, that was the first time that I realized that people could or would relive their own dreams. This woman – whatever her name was – had had a hot, wet dream about getting buzzed and beating off in front of her hairdresser and had come to me to relive it. That was why things got all slanty and fragile at the end. And why she was doing things she would never do in real life. So I learned something important that day. Something that I had to bear in mind when John Brown walked into my apartment.

“Hello, John,” I said as he introduced himself. I politely did not add, “Stupid fake name though.” You mortals are so moronic.

We shook hands, and I explained the procedure and the costs. He agreed – though when I shook hands with him, it was clear that he was a manual laborer in some capacity. He was a fairly good-looking man (as mortals go) and well-spoken in the careful way of the self-educated. And so I rested my hand on top of his, and we began.

I found myself in an apartment, at a refrigerator grabbing two beers out. The place was fairly shabby, but there had been some effort to make it cosmetically more appealing. There was a girl on the couch. She was pretty and dark-haired and seemed already to have been drinking. I opened both beers and reached into my pocket. I pulled out some kind of pill and dropped it into her bottle of beer and then handed her the bottle. We made small talk and listened to the radio. The girl seemed to get more and more sleepy, until she finally tipped over. I expected “Mr. Brown” to strip her and rape her. But my opinion of Mr. Brown was far too high.

In fact, he did hurriedly pull down the girls panties and skirt. And he virtually ripped off her blouse and bra. But instead of simple rape, he carried her over to a metal chair and began duct-taping her down, legs spread and arms behind her. Her mouth was also firmly taped. Then he sat down.

Hours later, the girl began to stir. Brown got up and watched her intently. Slowly, the girl opened her eyes and looked down at her own naked body. She saw Brown and tried to scream, but the tape muffled it completely. Brown went over to a dresser and opened a drawer. He carefully pulled out a barber kit. The girl saw the scissors and clippers and tried to scream again. Brown put the kit down on a table and began to comb the girl’s hair. She struggled a bit, but he slapped her around. “Sit still for your haircut,” he said, “and you’ll be home safe and sound tonight.” I could hear the lie in my own voice. I think the girl did too. Once Brown was through combing, he picked up one long lock and snipped it off. Then he sniffed the cut-off hair and played with it against his/our face, brushing it against his cheek. He hadn’t touched the girl herself or even seemed to want to, but he got a boner over the snipped-off tress. It was so hard it was painful. Then he lifted another lock and sheared it away. The girl was crying hard by now. For Brown, it was like she wasn’t even there.

He used the scissors to crop her hair to about an inch. It was a very crude cut. He would lift with his thick fingers and cut off chunks of hair of varying lengths, to be added to the pile of hair on the floor. Finally, he reached for the clippers. As soon as the girl heard them snap to life, she started to struggle again. Brown slapped her until she stopped. Then he pressed her head down, pushing her chin into her chest and began to buzz up her neck and the back of her head. The machine was set to cut a close crewcut – not a total clipper shave. Inch-long waves of hair poured down the girl’s back over the purring blades, leaving only about an eighth of an inch of dark hair behind. Shocked as I was at watching my hands clipper-shave this girl, I liked the look of the shorn hair that grew so springy and dense on her neck. I liked the pattern of the growth and how the short hair clung to her neckline and the sides of her head. I tried to focus on the beauty of the crewcut itself, because – I am surprised to admit it – I pitied the bound girl.

Brown worked at the haircut methodically but without much enthusiasm. He seemed to have spent his energy during the scissoring and was machine-clipping the girl for no good reason. Brown moved to the sides of the girl’s head, shaving up and tossing the shorn hair away with a flick of the wrist, exposing first one ear and then the other. He worked both sides of her head until there was only tufts of hair left on top. Then he grabbed the girl’s face in one hand and roughly passed the machine over her head from front to back. Once then again and then again and again. Piles of short hair collected on the girl’s shoulders, only to slide to the floor as her sobs shook her. Her white scalp was revealed, strip by strip, under the tireless blades. Finally, her crewcut was done. The girl looked like a shorn lamb, all big eyes and ears.

Brown moved behind her and took himself out of his pants. With one hand, he stroked the girl’s head, and with the other, he stroked himself. I tried to shut off my own consciousness, but I liked the feel of the fur-like hair under my hand. For all the effort, the orgasm Brown had was weak and ill-timed. I felt the anger rise in him, and he hit the girl hard with the back of his hand. It made my hand hurt. I wanted the session to be over now. I wanted the memory to stop. I had never been through a memory like this before – so vile and violent. But Brown wasn’t through. He picked up an old-fashioned straight-razor and began stropping it, letting the girl watch. She was cried-out by now, and just hung her head. Brown moved to her side and began dry-shaving her scalp.

I remember the scritch-scritch sound of the blade against the girl’s head and how the hair seemed to jump off her scalp as the ultra-sharp razor touched it. After the razor passed over in quick, back-and-forth movements, there was only smooth skin. This shaving took a while. I wanted Brown to finish and let the girl go. But once the girl’s head was completely hairless, Brown stepped in front of her and lifted her face up to his. He ran his hand over the smooth cue-ball scalp and then, with the razor, did the thing that I had feared he would do from the beginning. Again, I tried to shut off my mind to block out the memory, but I couldn’t. It was horrible, and I’ll say no more about it. I don’t even remember how Brown got rid of the body.

Once it was over, Brown paid me and left. I don’t eat human food, but if I did, I would have been physically ill. All I could do was tell myself that it was a memory – what happened in that apartment was already long over by the time Brown came to me. There was nothing I could have done. And maybe – just maybe – it was only a dream-memory to begin with, like the woman in the beauty salon. It seemed a little unreal at times. Maybe it had only been a dream. I consoled myself with those thoughts for two weeks. Until the newspapers published a picture of a missing girl. Of course, I recognized her in a second. Then I felt ill again.

Brown came back a few months later. I had gotten over my revulsion by then. It was only humans anyway. You all have to die sometime. It wasn’t up to me to worry about when or how. I was no guardian angel, after all.

Brown started his session quickly. This time it was a blonde girl – again young and beautiful. Again, Brown slipped a mickie into her beer and waited for her to nod off. When she did, he went for his haircutting tools. As he put them on the counter, the girl woke up. I felt Brown’s heart beat fast as a wave of adrenaline pierced him. But the girl was very drunk and semi-drugged. “Ooooooh,” she said. “Haircutting games. I like those. Let’s play.” Then she giggled. She picked up her thick blonde hair and held it over her head. Brown’s eyes focused on the girl’s underarms and the dark stubble there. She wasn’t a natural blonde, apparently. “I think I need a li’l trim, don’t you? Or maybe a nice neat crewcut. And a shave.” The girl had lifted her skirt and pulled her panties to one side.
Thick, dark pubic hair spilled out. Definitely not a natural blonde. Then she caressed the short, black underarm hair with the back of a hand. The girl tried to stand up, her hair still piled on her head. “Gimme nice short short haircut please. I look really cute with short hair. Especially short around the ears and up the back. And I need that shave. Alllll the way up.” The girl collapsed back into the chair, her legs spread open and her head lolling to the side.

This time, Brown taped her hurriedly and pushed her head back against the chair. He didn’t even bother to wait for the girl to wake up again. He just plugged in the clippers and began shearing the sagging head like a sheep, from front to back. An avalanche of blonde hair tumbled behind the girl as the machine worked over her head. This time there was no guard on the blades at all, and only a slight stubble was left behind. The shearing made the girl look very naked and exposed, even though Brown never bothered to strip her clothes off. The clipping was rushed and shoddy. Long tendrils of hair were left around the edges of the shorn areas. Brown had to go back several times to clean up. I felt my hands shaking with upset and anticipation. When he finished with the clippers, Brown reached for the straight razor again. For the first time ever, I tried to stop my/his hand from moving – from grasping the razor and doing what had already been done. It was futile of course. The shaking hands kept moving, despite my efforts. Brown again did his unspeakable deeds. And again, I said nothing when the session was over. I let him leave my apartment and go about his business.

There is no earthly reason for me to be interested in your human affairs. But something inside me – some instinctive voice kept telling me that I had some kind of duty to you. To myself. That I DID have to play guardian angel. In truth, I fought that voice for a time. Until I saw a picture of the blonde girl on the news. Until I heard that her disappearance was being linked not just to the dark-haired girl who had been in Brown’s last memory, but with two other missing girls besides. And I sensed (from having plunged so deeply into that sick mind) what Brown might do – the kind of blow-out finale in which he could indulge his darkest, most bestial fantasies. At that point, I knew what I had to do.

I knew where Brown worked. I went there the next afternoon. In fact, I saw him in the parking lot, taking something out of the trunk of his car, covered in a blanket. He took it with him and went into the grammar school where he worked. He was a janitor, and it looked like he was carrying just some short brooms or cleaning supplies. No one stopped or questioned him. He entered the school fifty yards ahead of me. I went in the same door but didn’t see where he had gone. Children passed me as I scanned the hallways.

Finally, I turned a corner, and I saw him walking right toward me. He was pushing one of those big grey garbage cans on wheels, squeaking along at a pretty good clip. Brooms and stuff stuck out the top. Looked normal enough. I began to have second thoughts. Why should I involve myself in mortal affairs? Who had appointed me guardian? What if I was wrong? I stepped back around a corner, out of his sight. I was going to leave. Then, a little girl with long red curls ran past me and disappeared into a classroom. I could hear the kids in another classroom repeating something after the teacher and the laughter of other children down the hall. And again, I was filled with certain foreknowledge of what Brown had in the garbage can besides brooms and what he planned to do. And who he planned to do it to. So I stepped back around the corner.

Brown wheeled his garbage can up and stopped right by the classroom door and started to reach under the blanket. “John,” I said. “You work here? Good to see you.” And I stuck out my hand for him to shake. Real natural. He was rattled to see me, I could tell. But he just ruffled the stuff in the can, wiped his hand on his overalls real quick and reached over to shake my hand. Then he reached for something in the can again. Too quick to be natural. There was no one else around. Just he and I in the empty, echoing hallway.

I didn’t have a plan in mind. I just knew I had to stop him. So I let my coat fall open, and I showed him what I looked like on the other side. He jolted backward at the blast of light, slammed against the wall four feet behind him and slid to the floor. His eyes were open and staring, and he was limp. He was alive, but his mind was burned away. People must have seen the flash of light (I quickly closed my coat up again) and were rushing up to him. I heard someone say “heart attack”, and I filtered out through the small crowd of teachers and students that was gathering around the human monster on the floor.

I saw in the paper the next day that his real name was Chester something. They found a rifle and a sawed-off shotgun in his garbage can and a couple hundred shells. Plus a big knife, a scalpel and his usual haircutting tools. Chester had planned to go out with a bang – on teachers and on students. A combination hair orgy and bloodbath. They found all kinds of porno stuff and other bad things in his apartment, including hair that was being DNA tested. Some of it might belong to the four missing girls, the article said. I already knew that it did.

That’s my story. I’m still in the memory business. It pays the bills and leaves me my freedom. And I sometimes have to make an effort not to get too involved in the present lives of my clients. Because now, I confess that I feel changed. I feel some attachment to you humans – as though I have some responsibility towards you. That I do have to be a “guardian angel” at times.

My growing connection to this world has somehow dimmed my own memories of a better, clearer world and made my bright past vague to me. I have lost some of my most precious memories, and I can never recover them, and I spend most of my time living through the memories of others. And just humans to boot.

I should be much less content than I am.

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