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Chapter III

The walk back to her cabin was long for Sally, her mind would flash images of the boys and girls, and men and women with their heads buzzed or shaved. Every few images she would see herself buzzed or shaven. As she neared the lake a group of teenagers dashed before her, each with shaven heads.

It was hard for her to imagine herself with a buzzed hair cut, even harder with a shaven head. But, her deepest thoughts saw her as such. She tried to block the images out of her mind, only to have them come back stronger and more plentiful. Each time they would be clearer than the ones before. She could see her face, her eyes.

Walking the trail was rough enough, with its winding into the trees and along the lake, but it was even harder when she came upon men and women with buzzed hair cuts or shaven heads. Her mind would wander off the trail trying to think of some of the pleasures this country offered.

When she approached the last turn to the lake, she heard the sounds of two people, engaged in what could only be sexual intercourse, behind a large fallen tree. She tried to walk past them, but her inter-thoughts gave in. Slowly and carefully she approached the fallen tree the sounds were coming from, her head crawling over it to view Sara and another woman. The woman was clean-shaven, like Sara, but Sally had not met her. She could not believe what she was seeing, though she had known of such.

Women cutting all their hair off, shaving their heads bald.

Now, for the first time in her life, she was also seeing two women making love. This scared her. It was hard for her to adjust to the haircutting, now she would have to do the same for this.

She crawled back from the tree and ran to her cabin.

Out of breath she sat on the porch looking out over the lake. It was clear, no one boating, no one fishing, no one swimming; just the cool breeze and setting sun. She sat thinking, thinking about what her friends would say about this place. What they would say about her for staying. Her mind became a bundle of images, thoughts.

Was Candi right?

Was she doomed to join the buzzing and shaving?

Sally tired to think of other things, to bring her mind to focus on her career.

She laid her head back, looking up at the blue-gray sky as it faded into darkness. The sun slowly disappeared in the west, as the moonlight came into view. Her breath began to come under her control, slowing its quickened pace. Her hands rose to her head, her fingers combing through her red hair. How peaceful it felt.

It was dinnertime, so she fixed herself some of the fish she had caught. "Life food" a friend of hers had called fish. "Eat a lot of fish and you will live longer," she had told her.

As she started frying the fish her mind began flashing to Sara and her daughter, Sandy. The day she sat viewing Sara getting her head shaved and Sandy coming in with the string of fish. How strange it was seeing a woman getting her head shaved, then telling the barber it was O.K. to shave her daughter’s head. No parent would approve of such, or give such instructions.

The image of the next morning, when Penny came to visit her with her head shaved. Telling her of how it was done, even becoming excited about it. All this was beyond anything Sally was able to imagine.

The day Mike offered to buzz her head, being told by two teenage girls that she should shave her head. How open minded could these people be.

After dinner Sally walked to the lake. To wade in the cool shallow water, to feel the sand between her toes and the soft waves rush against her legs.

"What’s up?" came a man’s voice.

Sally turned looking for it, becoming a little scared when she did not make contact with it right away.

"Over here," the voice beckoned her.

Again she looked around, this time her eyes saw the image of a man sitting on a large rock by the lake. As she walked closer to him she could make out the image, it was Ron, Jean’s husband.

"Hey," Sally replied when she recognized him. "Where is Jean?"

"She’s swimming," he said, pointing to the lake. "See by the canoes?"

Sally looked closer and saw a woman swimming in the nude. The moonlight reflecting off the water made a soft gray canvas of her body on the lake, with the top of her shaven head showing as if it was a glass.

"How come you’re not with her?" Sally asked him.

He looked at her. "Word is you will be getting your head shaved by Friday."

"WHAT?" Sally tossed back. "Who told you such a thing?"

He looked at her. His eyes glowed in the light of the moon, as if he were a werewolf looking for a prey. He smiled, pointing to his wife in the lake. "Jean says you will have it done before dinner time tomorrow. The others are with Thursday or Friday. Friday seems to carry the most votes. But Sara and Candi are with tomorrow."

Sally stood, shocked, as she tried to make a decent conversation. She tried to change the subject. "How’s the baseball team doing. I haven’t heard much about them."

Ron looked at her. "Feels strange talking about cutting your hair?" he coolly said. "We thought the same thing years ago. But Mike showed us it was not that unusual."

"Noooo, I can talk about my hair," Sally commented. "But I have a career to look out for."

"Career?" Ron said as he looked back at her. "A career has nothing to do with one’s hair, nor how you cut it."

"Why?" Sally asked. "Why are you so interested in me and my hair?"

"Hey," came the voice of Jean, as she walked up from the lake. "See you two met."

"Just talking about Sally getting her head shaved tomorrow or the next day," Ron told Jean.

"You’re going to love it," Jean commented. "It’s like having sex for the first time. You want to do it, but when you do it feels wrong. But the next time around it’s as if you have been doing it all your life."

"Who the hell are you people?" Sally demanded. "Who do you think you are, to… to… want to see me shave my head? Is it some kind of game with you people?"

Jean and Ron looked at each other and smiled.

Sally stood staring at them. "How could they?" she thought to herself.

"See you tomorrow," Jean said, as she and Ron walked off into the trees.

Sally stood dumbfounded. She watched them blend into the trees.

"How could they?" she spoke out loud. "I should pack tonight and get the hell out of here before I end up in the nut farm."

"This is worse than the big city," she said out loud as she walked up to her cabin.

The more she thought about it, the more her mind brought out the images. It was becoming a headache for her. This was worse than a bad script. She was never treated like this back home. No one questioned her about her hair, or told her how she should cut it. They only commented about her changes, like this China Doll cut.

She was pleased that others liked it like she did. She thought she looked great with it. So, why would she consider cutting her hair off? Why would anyone want to shave his or her head?

The breeze from the lake did not help her tonight; it only made those images come out more. They were somehow beginning to take over her every thought. She was unable to think of anything, without seeing women with buzzed or shaven heads.

Was she going crazy?

She lay on the couch with her eyes open, hoping the images and thoughts would stop and give her a rest. Her body began to toss around on the couch as she tried to hide from the images and thoughts. From the buzzed and shaven heads, to forget what she had seen the last few days.

"Why?" she wondered. "Why would any woman want to shave her head? It does nothing for them. Or, does it?"

Her need for sleep became stronger than the images, slowly her eyes closed letting her fall to sleep. The breeze rushed throughout the cabin like a gentle children’s song, slowly singing her to a deep sleep. A song a mother would sing to her child.

A soft breeze blew through the open windows of the cabin, brushing across Sally’s warm cheek. She turned her head to the open window as the sun’s rays flickered through the trees. She heard the gentle sound of the birds, singing to awaken her to a new day. Her mind was clear, no thoughts or images of women with buzzed or shaven heads bouncing around in it.

"Coffee," she said. "Coffee. A nice cup of coffee will wake me."

As she got up she looked for anyone coming up the trail to her cabin: to see if there were any reflections off a scalp or two and to listen for the sounds of someone, anyone, playing down at the lake. There were none, just the birds with their pleasing songs.

She poured her cup and walked onto the porch. The sun was becoming bright as it rose above the mountain. She could smell the lake as the breeze blew from it. Still there was no sound of anyone playing down by it.

She went about her planned morning of cleaning the cabin with a late morning swim in the now warm water of the lake. No one was there but her and the fish. The waves bounced off the rowboats, canoes, and the sandy shore. They were small ones caused by the gentle breeze blowing across the lake.

The wind and sun dried her hair out fast as she swam. Each time she would duck under the waves, wetting her hair, she could feel it stick to her face when she came up.

The sun was at its highest now. "It must be noon," she thought.

Gathering her towel she dried herself for the walk back to her cabin. She picked up the sunning lotion and looked around. Her ears caught the sound of a boat being pushed into the lake. It was four females, mothers she thought, each with shaven heads.

They rowed the boat to the middle and dove in for a swim. The bright sunlight reflected into her eyes, so she could not tell who they were.

After changing into she shorts and a tank top she walked to the little city. She needed some bread and a few cans of soft drink, and to catch up on the news and listen to some music.

As she approached the shops she noticed there were not many people walking around, like they had been for the past few days. There was no sound of children playing, nor music from the general store. It was if the city were a ghost town in the old west.

It was a strange feeling she had come over her. As if she were dreaming.

"Over here," came a soft male’s voice.

"Sally, everyone is over here," the voice calmly yelled to her again. "We’re over here at the barbershop."

Sally tuned around and saw a man waving her over. Hesitantly she looked around for others, to catch three shaven-headed women walking toward the barbershop. As she started walking toward the shop she felt a tug at her blouse.

"Better hurry up," the voice said.

"Why?" Sally questioned. "What’s happening?"

The female turned around, and began walking backwards. She told Sally, "Mary is getting her head shaved for the first time." She turned around just as she reached the barbershop.

Sally quickened her steps, rushing to see Mary get her head shaved. As she reached the front door of the barbershop her eyes looked in the door. It was full of people, sitting, standing, watching.

Her head peeked in the door to see Mike standing behind the chair. But there was no one in it. She let her eyes view those in the shop; all had a buzzed or shaven head. There were only adults there; no children or teenagers were visible.

"Sally!" Someone called out her name.

"Sally, come sit here!" Her name was called out again with a command.

She looked down the row of wire-rimmed chairs. There she saw Penny waving for her to come sit by her. Sally walked slowly past the others as they looked up at her.

"Sit here," Penny recommended, patting her hand on the chair next to her. "This is my pain in the ass, Ken. Ken, this is Sally."

Sally looked over at Ken and said "Hi" and he returned the welcome.

"I know this is going to sound stupid," Sally whispered to Penny. "But what is going on and who is Mary?"

"That’s right, we never told you about Mary," Penny whispered back. "She has been living here for the last four years, and when it is buzzing time she leaves," Penny continued. "She always returns a few days before the weather starts turning cold, and she never had her hair cut. But this year she is staying home and is going to get her head shaved by Mike."

"By the way," Ken spoke. "I hope you will wait until after Friday to get your head shaved. I have a thousand on it."

Sally looked at Ken with disbelief. Now they were placing bets on her!

"Where is Mary?" Sally asked of Penny.

"Said she would be here about 3pm," Penny replied. "But Mike has a few others to do before her."

Sally looked around. She saw no one with hair but herself. Then she heard Mike’s voice. "O.K., where are my two new customers?"

Everyone began looking around, Sally hoped Mike was not talking about her and they were not looking at her. Then the back door opened.

In stepped two ladies. Both had hair to their shoulders, one dark black and the other a rusty red color. They walked past everyone who looked them over.

"The dark-haired one is Pam and the other one, the redhead, is Babs. They are bisexual and moved up here last winter," Penny whispered to Sally.

Sally looked at Penny shaking her head as if she understood.

Babs sat in the wire-rimmed chair by the door, and Pam climbed into the barber’s chair.

With the skill Sally had seen before, Mike tossed the cape across her and pulled it up and fastened it behind her. Pam turned her head to Babs and gave her a wink.

"CLICK, hummmmmmm," came the sound Sally had heard many times since her arrival.

Mike placed his left hand on top of Pam’s head and pushed it gently downward. His right hand brought the singing clippers up her nape, higher to the arch of her head. A pile of hair was pushed until the clippers stopped and the hair was tossed to the side with a flick of Mike’s wrist. The clippers returned to her nape and upward they rose to toss another pile of hair to the floor. He worked faster then before. Each upward stroke ended with hair being tossed to the floor or falling into the cape. Pam’s eyes were looking at Babs sitting as she watched.

They smiled at each other.

Mike tilted Pam’s head to the left, running the clippers up the right side of her head. Her cape-covered lap was beginning to fill up with the hair being clipped from her head. Slowly the dark black hair began to cover the cape, looking like a black hole in outer space. Babs watched, taking a deep breath with each upward movement of the clippers.

Mike brushed his hand over the clippered side and back of Pam’s head, as if to brush sticking hairs away. With the clippers still singing their song, Mike walked around to the left side of the chair and pushed her head to the right. Working from the back, over her ears, he finished the left side and began pushing the clippers over the top of her head.

Moving from the back to the front the clippers pushed a pile of dark hair. When it stopped the pile fell down into the cape, passing Pam’s wide-opened eyes. Another pass was made, then he walked around to the right side and made quick work of the clippers.

"CLICK!" and the clippers stopped singing. Mike hung them on the hook under the shelf. A large white towel was tossed into the sink of running water, as Mike filled the shaving dispenser. He tucked another towel in the collar of her blouse then wrapped her head with the first one. He turned to the dispenser as he looked at the clock above the mirror. It was a quarter to two.

He filled his hand with the warm shaving cream, turned and removed the towel from Pam’s head. It was tossed into a basket under the shelf with others. Sally looked at Pam sitting there, her head being jerked around as Mike lathered it. First, to cover the clippings, then being rubbed to work the lather between each little standing hair of fuzz.

A second coating was applied covering the first. "A cap of white" Sally remembered someone calling it.

Mike picked up the safety razor and began shaving Pam’s head in front. Each stroke was short, revealing untanned skin. Each stroked showed the paleness of Pam’s scalp, how her dark black hair had covered it, protecting it from the sun.

The crowd looked on as if they were watching a theater act. Every eye had watched as the clippers had made its way across Pam’s head, leaving behind a buzzed cut. As Mike lathered her head, and now as he was razoring away what small pieces of hair were left. Soon she would be bald like most of the women.

Sally could not help but watch the presentation Mike was putting on. One with three acts, each with the main character ending up clipped and shaved bald. The citizens watching as an attentive audience would. Watching every detail of each act, not missing one movement.

Babs watched, seeing her fate unfold before her in the form of her friend. Her act to follow, would it be the same?

Mike began shaving the right side of Pam’s head, searching for unwanted hairs after each stroke. Stretching the skin as he shaved away from its hold. A five o’clock shadow was beginning to show, as if she was not being shaved. But the days in the sun would do away with it in the days to follow.

The last stroke was taken and the razor put to rest, for now. He removed the cape, dusted her shaven head, and she stepped out with arms outstretched.

Babs, her lover, rose with reaching hands to feel what her fate would be. But Pam’s outstretched arms stopped her short. "When you are bald," she told her.

Babs’ eyes lit up with unreasonable pleasure. A smile told of her willingness to follow her lover’s wish.

Babs climbed into the chair as Mike tossed the cape across her. The cape was brought up and around her neck and pinned in the back.

"CLICK, Hmmmmmmmmmm," came the song of the clippers. Their song singing again, for they must go to work.

Babs’ head was pushed downward as the clippers began their upward movement on her neck and head. A pile of red was pushed upward, with little tumbles to the side. It was tossed up and away from her head, floating to the floor into a dark black sea of her lover’s hair. Her hair, thicker and fuller, began to cover the dark sea as more joined the first pile.

Her head was rolled to the left as the clippers came over the top of her right ear. The pile of hair fell into her lap as it was pulled from her eyesight. She felt the warm clippers being pushed back over her head, as Mike’s fingers pushed her right ear down out of their way. Her eyes caught sight of them come up and over her head.

Backwards over the top of her head Mike pushed the clippers. A pile of hair tumbled down her back to the floor. The clippers came back forward and were pushed backwards over her head for a second time. She began to feel the cool breeze flowing through the window as Mike walked around to her left side.

The clippers began to clip her hair away as they came over the top of her left ear. One stroke, a second stroke, a third and a fourth stroke was taken leaving behind a buzzed scalp. Her red mane began to mingle with that of her lover’s dark black strands.

"CLICK!" The sound of the clippers stopped. Again they were hung under the shelf.

The sound of running water filled the shop, telling all the final part of the act was to begin. The whining of the dispenser as it filled Mike’s hand with warm shaving cream. The towel removed, he began lathering Babs’ head. Slowly he worked the cream into her buzzed cut.

A second layer of white was added to cover the first, to weaken the short strands for removal by a hungry razor. Each stroke was short, his fingers testing for unshaven hair and smoothness. First to become smooth was the back of her head. The razor shaved her nape first, then higher to the back of the head. The left side was the next to become a skin of smoothness. Her head was tilted to the left as Mike began shaving the right side of her head.

She looked at herself in the mirror, she looked strange with the little white cap. Before she could think of something funny to tell herself, Mike was razoring the top of her head smooth. Stroke after stroke revealed her soft pale skin. It was not dark like Pam’s, but whiter because of her red hair. Her fair skin would be hard to darken, taking longer than others.

As he began shaving the remaining lather from her head, he looked at the clock. "2:55 p.m.," it showed. Mike began looking around, as did some of the others.

Would Mary be on time, or had she left town as she had done for years?

The last stroke was made. The razor was tossed onto the shelf.

Mike undid the cape and let it fall to Babs’ lap. He dusted her head with sweet powder.

As he removed the cape from across her, her arms came up reaching out for her lover. Pam was standing in front of the chair as she stood up. Their hands rose to each other’s head and they began to softly rub. They gave each other a quick kiss and turned to show everyone.

"We have joined you," Pam announced.

Just then, everyone’s eyes turned to the door as Mary walked in. Her hair hung freely down her back. To her waist and beyond, as if it were reaching for the floor. Dark brown, with a hint of natural sunlight blonding.

She walked to the chair.

Mike took a clean cape from the cabinet and tossed it across her as she sat.

"I want it in a braid," she told him.

The cape pinned together in back, he began braiding her hair into a single long thick braid. It reached halfway to the floor when he had finished. With the braid finished he turned and took hold of the hungry clippers.

"CLICK, Hmmmmmm," they were singing their song.

Mike took hold of the braid holding it high over her head for everyone to see. He started in the back clipping the hair loose from her nape. One upward pass, a second, a third, six passes the clippers made to clear the hair from their victim’s head. Slowly the clippers moved up the back of her head under the base of the long thick braid.

Next to fall to their song was the right side of her head. Slowly cutting strands in a row, hair was parted from her head. In front of the ear, over the ear, behind the ear the clipper’s song sang loud and clear.

Mike moved around to the left side of his victim, clippers still humming for all to hear. Like the right side they made their way up her head. The strands fell limp, dangling in mid-air looking for their anchor. No longer to grow to long lengths, no longer to be washed by her gentle fingers. To be brushed to a shining glow that shined in the sunlight. The paleness of her scalp was now showing, twitching its eye as the sun came upon it.

Then, coming from the front he moved the clippers back over her head to break the final ties of the braid. Stroke after stroke hair came loose. The last push of the clippers sent her head bobbing as if to say "YES, yes ….., finally free!"

The braid was lifted free of her head. With the clippers still singing their song, Mike held it high for all to see, like a trophy scalp an Indian would have taken. Then, he laid it in Mary’s outstretched hand. Her trophy now, to remind her of the years of her life it took.

The cape was removed – it had not really been needed this time – as her head was wrapped in a warm towel. The whining sound told of the final act to her head. As he had the others, her head was lathered. The first layer to be worked into the buzzed cut, the second layer covering the buzzing. A safety razor was again used.

As he began shaving her head Sally noticed Mike looked as if he was enjoying this shaving, and she let Penny know this. "Yes," Penny said, she was noticing the same thing. It was as if he were now accomplishing something for the first time.

He was slow to shave her head, as if it was planned this way. Her head was not tilted as were the others. Each stroke was longer, with a second stroke being taken over the first.

It was now 3:45pm and he was now just finishing the right side of her head. Her head tilted a little forward as he shaved her nape, up the back of her head to the arch.

Slowly the razor came over the top of her left ear.

4pm, the clock showed as he began shaving the last of her buzzed cut on top.

Everyone was beginning to wonder if it was all a show that was being put on for them. They were becoming unsettled.

Then, with theatrical movements he tossed the razor onto the shelf. A warm towel wiped her scalp clean of any remaining lather. He patted her scalp dry with another towel and applied the powder.

Without saying a word or doing anything special, not as the others had, she stepped out the chair and walked out the shop.

Everyone looked at each other. They stood and started to walk out as you would a theater.

Sally sat looking at the hair which had fallen to the floor. Her mind began showing her the images of herself. Her mind began to speak to her. Through the crowd walking out she could see Mike standing by the right side of the chair, the white cape in his hands ready for the next customer. Slowly her breathing began to quicken.

Her body began to weaken.

She stood and started walking out.

As if the crowd was guiding her, her body stopped by the chair. Her eyes looked at Mike, the cape in his hand, at the chair. Her mind showed her sitting in the chair, as her hair came falling off her head.

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