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The boss knows what I do. But what the fuck? Who else will work the hours I work for the shit he pays? So he knows what I do. He also knows what I don’t do. No playing with dead pussy. I don’t fuck around with the stiffs. Plenty of weirdos in this business who do. Lots don’t care – young, old, messed up, good-looking. It don’t matter to them. All that matters is they get to stick their cocks in something cold that don’t say “no”. It goes with the funeral parlor – oh, excuse me, the mortuary – business.

Not me. I stay way clear of that shit. But what I will do is, when there’s a good-looking stiff, if there’s gonna be a closed box or right before they seal up, I’ll harvest the hair. Sometimes I sell it. Sometimes I keep it as a souvenir. If I sell it, I can make a couple hundred bucks depending on quality. Once, for this blonde babe – and a real blonde she was, if you know what I mean – I got $500. But she had tremendous hair. It was so thick and so long, it took me almost 15 minutes to shave her down. Usually, I’m done in five minutes, tops. Unless it’s a souvenir. Then I take my time and enjoy myself.

Sometimes, I give the souvenirs different styles. There was this Asian stiff once. Nice hair but not long enough to try to sell. I propped her up and used the comb and the clippers. Gave her a nice little boy’s haircut first. Pretty nice fade if I do say so myself. Then I clippered the top off to a long crewcut. I liked the way that straight Chink hair just peels right off and drops away from the blades, and the way the short hair left behind sticks up real wild. Funny but she didn’t look good in the long crew. But when I buzzed her down to a nice military-looking flattop, she looked much better. I didn’t bother shaving her down to the scalp. I’m sure if the coffin ever had to be opened, the family would be wondering why mom joined the army after she was dead. Ha.

Of course, there are always disappointments. Like the time they brought in this blonde bimbo. Kelli something. Big tits. No waist. She was like a real-life Barbie doll. Some boyfriend or other had been beating on her and went a little too far. You could see the ligature marks on her throat and wrists. She’d been trussed up like a Christmas turkey. But a great head of blonde hair. $350 easy. Until I grab my clippers and go to take it off her. It’s a fucking wig. The boyfriend had already shaved her clean. And none too gentle either. You could still see the nicks on her scalp. People these fucking days.

So what I do isn’t so bad, and my boss can’t complain. It’s just one of those perks that go with a job. It’s not like I don’t do enough for him. Including hauling his toxic shit down to the pond ditch and dumping it for him. Save him a couple hundred bucks a week, since he can’t flush the embalming chemicals and body fluids into the sewerage system, and the cheap bastard won’t pay to get rid of them legal. And who’s the wiser. And believe me, there are plenty of fluids. They say the human body is 98% water. I believe it. You wouldn’t believe the shit that pours out of bodies. Gallons of it. Blood, piss, lymphatic crap. You could drown in it. So, believe me, there’s always plenty to dump. But I don’t mind. I’m not into all that environmental crap.

I remember we had this funny Brit clean-up lady once. I was buzzing this older Italian woman – the type with the hair up in a bun all her life. But that was a head of hair. Salt-and-pepper (but not much salt) and down to her ass. The clean-up woman would just shake her head and do her mopping. “Hey, Mary,” I’d say. “You want a haircut too?” And I’d wave the clippers at her. She never said much of anything. Except about the dumping. Any time she saw me going down to the pond with the containers, she’d shake her head and mutter shit about “not bothering the Good Folk” in the water. “Mary,” I’d say, “There ain’t nothing alive in that water anymore. Least not after I’m done dumping.” She was a superstitious old bat. She’d keep at me too. Once, she got me so nervous with that “water sprite” shit, I actually thought I heard something moving in the water, swimming closer and closer to where I was dumping. I got out of there fast. But once I was back in the truck, I was kicking myself for being such an asshole. She even had this little – I don’t know – like a shrine or something in the woods. It was just a bunch of twigs and shit. It would “keep off the kelpies,” she said. I kicked it to pieces the night I scared myself.

Mary never showed up for work after that. The agency said she refused to work in a funeral parlor. I think she was just nuts.

But that was nothing. You won’t believe what’s in the bathroom taking a hot shower right now. Listen to this. I’m down dumping some shit into the pond, see? I guess it’s getting pretty bad down there, since I was stepping over lots of dead frogs right at the waterline. It was a rush job for some bullshit reason, so I had to drop what I was doing and haul a load for dumping pronto. This time, I really do hear someone swimming. It’s dark and the truck’s headlights are angling down to where I’m dumping, so I can’t see nothin’. But I hear someone swimming. Fast and right at me. I’m about ready to drop the canister I’m emptying and head for the truck, when, right in front of me, this gorgeous babe stands up in the headlights. She’s 6 foot tall if she’s an inch and built like a brick shithouse. Which you could tell easy cause she was also buck naked, though her long blonde hair covered her tits completely.

“Hi,” I said, conversation being a strong point with me.

“Hi,” she said. “Have you seen my clothes around here?” She didn’t seem embarrassed or anything. She just wanted her clothes.

“No,” I said. “But I have a blanket in the truck if you need it.”

“Thanks,” she said. She didn’t seem to be shivering or anything. That seemed strange, cause it wasn’t a real warm night. I didn’t know what she was doing swimming at the end of September anyway. I had a flannel shirt on, and I was a little cold.

“Do you need a ride?” I asked, hoping desperately that she did.

“OK.”

We got in the truck, and she wrapped the blanket around herself. Not like a modest “cover up my tits and parts” wrap. Just a “get a little warmer” wrap. Her long legs spilled out from under the green blanket.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Wherever.”

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence. Then I asked, “Would you like to go out for a drink or something? After you’re dressed again, that is.”

“OK,” she said.

“I just have to go back to work first. If you don’t mind. Maybe I can find you some clothes there.”

“No. That’s fine,” she said.

Unreal. I parked the truck in the parlor lot and ran in the basement door. I just had to hurry and clean up what I had left the shop in the middle of. I also knew there were plenty of clothes around for the chick. I wouldn’t have to look far. Then I remembered I had left a stiff I was buzzing for souvenirs. She was on the table with a severe jarhead crewcut, short reddish hair all over the place. (She was a drug overdose, right from the morgue.) My clippers were still hanging from the metal hook by the side of the table. I turn around, and the girl is right behind me, eyes glued to the stiff.

“Ummm. Sometimes we have to get rid of the deceased’s hair and use a wig for viewing,” I lied.

“Oh.”

She kept looking at the stiff. After a couple of seconds, she walked over and started petting the crewcut, running her hand back and forth over the close-cropped crown.

“You like this, huh?” she asked.

“No, no, it’s just part of the… no it’s something…” I stammered.

“You like this.” She wasn’t asking a question.

“Yeah,” I admitted. “I do.”

She sidled over to the clippers. Her hair was dry already (don’t ask me how), and she was running her fingers through it and looking at the clippers. She looked at me with cold, sea-green eyes. “I like it too,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming. Long hair can be a pain. I’ve always wanted to try short
hair.”

My heart started pounding. This might be my big chance. Shave a live one. I’d never done that. And this chick was a looker. I might even turn a profit, since her hair was blonde and thick. Very saleable.

“What do you think?” The girl lifted up her hair in her hands and piled it on her head. She had a long fine neck and small ears. Real small. Her underarms were stubbly with thick reddish hair. I was hoping the blanket would fall off her, but it held.

“Sure. You’d look great.” I almost couldn’t talk, my mouth was so dry.

Then she pulls a chair over close to where the clippers are hanging. “Let’s go,” she says. “Cut it like hers.” And she points to the buzzed stiff.

My hands are trembling like I got a palsy. I tie a small cloth around her neck and fluff her hair out. I can feel the weight of it in my hands. This is great, cause she’s not lying down, and I don’t have to prop her head up. I’m not used to that.

I grab the 3/8 inch guard and clap it on. Then I snap on the clippers. I jump at the sound. The girl doesn’t. I start at her left temple, cruising the clippers through the thick mass of hair. A huge curtain of blonde tumbles cool and clean over my hand, sliding down my wrist to the floor. The next row of hair follows, exposing her small left ear. The short hair on her temple sticks out hard and thick. I keep buzzing around the back, lifting her heavy hair with one hand and moving the buzzer slowly upwards with the other. Long, long hair is piling up at my feet. I press her head down and work the nape, buzz repeat buzz repeat. The hair is so thick the clippers are laboring, and they’re the heavy-duty professional quality goods. You can see the shape of her head emerging now, round and perfectly shaped. I move to the right side now and mow away the hair around that ear. It’s like she’s got a kind of wild mohawk, the long hair on her crown spilling down over the crewcut sides and back. Then it’s over the top. I tilt her head back slightly so the hair falls back (where I can get it later). It’s like a lamb to the shearing, the shiny blonde tresses flowing like a waterfall off her head to the floor.

Finally, the first stage is done. She had a great medium crewcut, all uniform and stiff and straight. As I’m changing down to the no. 1, she’s running her hand all over her head, up the sides, up the back. I snap the buzzer to life again and shave the nape first, up over the top of her head. The path I leave is super-short, but her scalp is still well covered. The chrome blades glint in the fluorescent lights. A second pass and up over the top again, short hairs flying in every direction. Every so often, the hair collects on the blades, and I flick it away with a twitch of the wrist. But I keep shaving. Then I toss the guard altogether and shave in a taper down to the skin, up the back and sides. I’m careful bending those small ears away (I almost don’t have to bother), buzzing up the sides. The nape is cleared away clean, tapering slightly high up on her head and blending into the no.1-cut fur. Then, I grab the comb and buzz a landing strip into the crown and flatten out the front. The comb rests right against the scalp. I even freehand a pass or two to clip it close and even. The hairs that fly off are microscopic. In the end, she looks vaguely military, but because her hair is so thick and full, she doesn’t really look shaved enough to be military.

Actually, a friend of mine once had a sealskin wallet, with the fur still attached. It was dense, thick, heavy fur that barely budged when you ran your fingers through it. Her hair was kinda like that.

Finally, I pulled the cloth away from her shoulders and flicked the buzzed hairs away. She stood up and went over to a mirror. “I love it,” she said. Then she turned to me and thanked me and said, “Is there some place I can shower these short hairs off me? After that, I want to thank you with a big, wet kiss.”

Hot damn! That was just what I wanted to hear. I told her I’d find her some clothes while she was showering, and then she could thank me real nice. I didn’t bother cleaning up any of the hair for now. I just left it piled around the chair. I’d take care of it later.

Is this my lucky day or what? She’s been in the shower quite a while now, but there was lots of shorn hair to rinse away. But once she comes out… well, maybe I’ll be a little stiff too. If you know what I mean.

*  *  *  *  *

“Well?”

“Well what?” The two detectives looked at each other.

“Are we agreed he didn’t die somewhere else and get dragged here?”

“Yeah. Agreed. So?”

The cops circled the body on the funeral parlor floor. It was soaking wet, water still pouring out of its mouth and nose and ears.

“Are we agreed on the cause of death?”

“Barring any surprises from the medical examiner, he drowned.”

“OK. Agreed. So where the fuck did he drown down here?”

“Plenty of sinks. Someone sticks his head in a bowl.”

“Fine. That’s fine. But that would mean a struggle. Or he was drugged. No signs of either. He wasn’t tied up. No bruises. No nothing. And c’mere.” The cop turned on the tap water in a huge chrome sink.

“See that?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s tap water. Nice and clear and clean.”

The cops walked past a chair that’s near a pair of hair clippers and surrounded only by a puddle of brownish water and back toward the corpse in its puddle of brownish water.

“See that. Know what that is? That’s all pond water, the ME says. Like from down the road. So how did it get here?”

The two cops stood silently for a moment.

“This isn’t gonna be an easy one is it?” Almost in unison, they sighed.

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