Fear Remembered – Part III
Fear Remembered – Part III By Jim B.
I looked at the picture. The woman had black hair but you could still see how short her hair was cut. It was as short as my brother’s hair was cut for the summer months.
I jumped when I heard that sound. It was the only clicking sound that made me jump like that. No other clicking sound caused me to jump. I knew it well, as well as the humming sound that followed.
I looked into the mirror with that same fear, as Cathy played with it. She looked up to see me, in the mirror. She saw the fear in my eyes. “Sorry,” she told me, “just got them today. Need to oil the blades and run it a little for the oil to keep them nice and loose.”
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The feeling in my throat began to go away, as she turned it off and hung it under the shelf. My attention went back to the picture. The woman did look good with her hair cut like that. Her eyes were more outgoing, her smile much brighter. She had multi pierced ears, like I was planning on getting.
There was a large loop earring in the bottom piercing, with stone setting earrings in the others in different sizes. Large ones above the loop earrings, going up to a small one at the top.
I held the picture out to imagine her standing before me. The more I looked at the picture, I began see my face.
“Nice haircut for a woman,” Cathy said as she began brushing my hair back off my face, in another style. “Women are beginning to see the comfort of short hair like that.”
I could hear my mind agree with her. I had never thought of cutting my hair this short, not even back when I was eight.
The fear began calling to me. It wanted me to look like the lady in the picture. My mind began seeing my dad running after me, telling me “like your brothers.” My body shivered, I felt goosebumps on my arms. My throat became dry, my lower lip was bitten by my teeth.
I closed my eyes and handed the picture back to her. “What do you think?” I asked her.
Cathy, began brushing my hair more. She moved around my head brushing my hair back, causing the stiffness to go away.
“Is it up to me? she inquired.
My eyes still closed, I nodded my head.
I felt her right hand grab my chin, as she turned my head side to side. She let go as I heard her walk around the chair.
My body tensed up causing my back to rise up in the chair. My head rose a little.
I felt Cathy push my hair in a part in the back of my head. Then she placed the humming sound, the clippers, just below my hairline. I felt my body take a deep breath and let it out quickly as she pushed the clippers up into my hair. Slowly she pushed the clippers up the back of my nape, not stopping until she had reached the arc of my head.
I felt my body go limp as she pulled the clippers away. I knew from years ago hair was falling in a soft sheet to the floor. The clippers started another upward pass, sending another soft sheet of hair to the floor. As she began the third upward movement, I did not feel the cool breeze my brothers always said they felt.
My head was tilted to the right as the clippers began an upward pass behind my left ear.
Still I felt no coolness.
I was looking in the mirror, trying to see if what I was feeling was true, when I heard a voice, a man’s voice, crack the quietness.
“Hi Cathy,” he said.
My eyes turned to the door.
There walking in was a man about my age. He was tall, wearing a nice summer suit. His hair was a dark brown, like mine, and was cut kind of short like my brothers. He said nothing to her reply, just picked up a magazine and sat in a chair. The chair was right in front of the barber’s chair, and me. I watched him, he didn’t look up.
I glanced back to the mirror just as she pushed the clippers over my left ear, sending a soft sheet of hair sliding down to my cape-covered lap. When the clippers appeared before my eyes, she brought them back behind my ear and began another pass over my ear. Another sheet of soft hair slid past my eyes and into my lap.
As she walked around the back of the chair her left hand gently began moving my head to the left. I watched the hair on top of my head fall to the left, touching my shoulder. But none hung to my shoulder from the left side of my head, just the top.
I felt her start the clippers up behind my right ear, pulling it away when she reached the arch of my head. Then, she pushed the clippers over my right ear, sending a soft sheet of hair into my lap. Again, when the clippers came past my eyes I looked in the mirror as she brought them behind my ear again.
As she began this pass I looked down to see the man looking up from his magazine. He had a smile on his face. I felt strange sitting there. How could this be happening?
Just as I was about to close my eyes I felt Cathy’s left hand push the top hair back off my face. My eyes turned to her as she brought the clippers up to my forehead. She was smiling as the clippers began their first pass over my head.
“Hey, sis,” the man said, as she was beginning the second pass over my head, “did you get all the pictures I sent you?”
“Yes,” she replied. “Think I’ll put a few around the big mirror behind you, and some along this one. The rest in a folder.”
I sat there, stunned over what I just heard.
“Sis”? Is he her brother?
I looked at him closely, then at Cathy in the mirror as she began third pass over my head. I could see they had some features in their face. Then they smiled at each other.
They were brother and sister.
“Is he your brother?” I asked her, as she walked behind the chair to the left side.
“Ooooo,” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry. Becky, this is my brother Randy. Randy, this is Becky. She was a customer of grandmother’s, when she had the shop.”
“Glad to meet you,” he said as he went back to reading the magazine.
She made three quick passes over my head, sending the last of my long hair to the cape. I looked at the pile there and thought of what was now lying on the floor around the sides and back of the chair.
I took a deep breath and looked closely in the walled mirror. I could not see the woman who sat in the chair minutes ago. The woman I knew for years. The woman who had a fear of the sound of clippers being turned on, and the humming sound that followed.
This woman I was looking at, did not have fear. Her hair was almost gone. It was short, standing up about an inch from her head.
“Well, Randy,” I heard Cathy ask him, “what’s it going to be this time?”
My head was pushed downward just then. My eyes strained to see, to act like ears, to hear what his answer would be.
“Was thinking of having you shave my head,” he replied. “Think you can handle shaving my head, like you did for Lana’s the other day?”
My eyes widened as I heard what he told her, but I could not believe it.
Then, I started feeling that coolness my brothers said they felt, each time they got their crew cut for the summer months. It began to widen across the back of my head and neck, all the way up to the arch. It felt strange, like my brothers said. But, in a stranger way.
Cathy began clipping up the right side of my head, sending a small pile of hair into my lap as she pushed the clippers over my right ear. She did not answer his question.
As she walked around the back of the chair I could see them looking at each other. Staring as if they were trying to see who would look away first. My head was pushed to the right, the clippers began buzzing away at the short hair on the left side of my head.
“Big brother,” she told him, as she began another pass, “it will be a pleasure to do to you what I did to our younger sister!”
He smiled at her, as she turned the clippers off.
I looked at him sitting there, thinking of what she had said to him. I felt my head being brushed with a stiff hairbrush. My head rocked backwards, then sidewards. Clippings of hair floated in the air around my head.
“How’s that?” she asked me. I looked at myself in the mirror. I moved my right hand from under the cape and brushed it over my head. My head felt like my brothers’ heads, each time I felt theirs after their summer haircuts.
She handed me a hand mirror. “How’s this?”
I shook my head and smiled. My body shivered when I saw my face, my hair, up close. I wanted to cry. To crawl out the chair and run out the door.
But my fear held me there. I just turned my head from side to side. I could not believe I had sat there, letting her do this to me.
“Think this should be a little shorter,” I heard Cathy tell me, as her left hand brushed over my head. “What do you think, Randy?”
I could feel him looking at me. The fear told me to more the mirror, to hear his answer.
He was staring at me when I moved the mirror to the left. His eyes had a glow, a sparkle, to them. I had never seen that before – it bothered me.
He said nothing and went back to reading the magazine.
Sitting there waiting for him to answer, to say something, I did not see Cathy walk back to the shelf and pick up the clippers again. I jumped when she turned the clippers back on. She was standing to my right. Her left hand reached and took the mirror from me. She hung it behind the chair, where she had gotten it from.
Then, she brushed her left hand over the top of my head, again. It was followed by the clippers, as they began clipping my hair to the same length as the sides and back. I was stunned. How could she do this? I did not tell her anything.
But for some reason I really don’t understand, I wanted her to do it. I wanted my hair cut shorter, there. My eyes focused on the clippers as she pushed them over my head, again and again, until my hair was again the same length all over.
The fear I had of that clicking sound was gone. I looked in the mirror to see Cathy brushing the head of the clippers off, again she oiled it. She clicked them on and off a few times, letting them hum for a few seconds. Turning back to the chair she shook the clippers a little, some oil drops fell from the head.
She brushed her left hand up the back of my head a few times. It came to rest on the top, as it had before, and my head was bushed downward. “CLICK,” hum…
I felt her place the clippers where she had before. Like before she slowly pushed them up the back of my head. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, with a smile.
This time she did push them up as high as she did before. As she worked her way across my neck, she only went up a little. Then she started on the right side, only going up a little.
I watched with interest as she worked the clippers over my right ear. She worked it to a nice even line just a little higher above the hairline. She tossed the cord of the clippers across me and walked behind the chair. Slowly she began clipping the left side of my head, like she did the right side. Just clipping a little upward, not to the arch as she had just before.
As she dusted little clipped hairs from my head and face, I stared at the woman in the mirror. Her face was almost round. Her eyes were sparkling. Her hair was short like my brothers when they got their summer haircuts. I liked how she looked.
Cathy undid the cape and let it slid down across my arms, and the arms of the chair. She tucked a large white towel in my collar, spreading it out over my shoulders.
My ears heard another familiar sound, this time it was a winding sound. I saw her standing in front of it. Her arms bent like her grandmother years ago. Just like when her grandmother turned around, she too had a pile of soft white stuff on her left fingers.
Slowly she spread the soft, warm, white stuff along my hairline, just like her grandmother did back then. After wiping her left hand she picked up the closed straight razor from the shelf. With a flick of the blade it opened, as her left hand grabbed the fading leather strap. With the same skill of her grandmother, she moved the blade over the strap.
I sat still, a little of that fear came back, as she skillfully shaved alone my hairline. Like her grandmother did, years ago, to my brothers, my father, and my mother’s nape, she edged along my hairline, shaving just a little line.
When she was finished she wiped what shaving cream was left. Then she dusted around my head, across the top of my head, and across my face. As she pushed the sliver handle forward, the chair lowered, she reached across me and pulled the cape off.
I watched the woman get out the chair. I saw the smile on the man’s face. I felt Cathy dust the back of my dress, then across the front.
Picking up my purse the man stood up. His hand touched my hand, as I was removing my wallet.
“No,” he softly told me, with a gentle smile, “this is on me.”
I smiled back and thanked him.
I looked closely at the woman in the mirror. “I need to get my ears pierced a few more times,” my mind said.
“Alright, Sis,” the man’s voice commanded. “Let’s see if you’re as good with the razor as Bonnie said you were!”
I turned to watch him sit in the chair. Cathy tossed the cape across him.
She looked at me. “See you in two weeks?”
I smiled back at her. “Yes,” I said and walked out thinking about my brothers, my dad.
If only they were here. I heard my dad’s voice. “Just like your brothers… Just like your brothers.”