So this is a very short piece. I was just messing around really and it kind of came out, as such it’s not the most polished piece, but here it is anyway.
The women in the shop call Caleb a hairdresser behind his back. It’s mostly because they want to fuck him and derision helps take the edge off of desire. He walks in at noon and sets up his station, he’s warm and polite, but doesn’t gossip with the other stylists. He only takes male clients and though he’ll help out his co-workers when they’re busy, he’s firm with this preference.
Everyone says that Caleb doesn’t look like a hairdresser. They’re referring to his full sleeve of colorful tattoos depicting pop-art characters and comic book stylized scenes. They mean to say that he’s too fit and his walk is too laid back. His style is too simple, a collared shirt with rolled up sleeves and a denim vest, shorts most days. He tells them that he doesn’t look like a hairdresser because he’s a barber.
No one has asked him yet if he fucks women. Roy, the salon’s owner, says that he doesn’t care either way, that it’s completely unimportant, but he sneaks glances at Caleb’s crotch regularly. Caleb notices, but he doesn’t mind.
On a Wednesday a guy comes in and the receptionist sneers at him. He has a bull ring through his nose and a ruffled mane of wild hair. His eyes are strikingly blue, but the receptionist doesn’t like his neck tattoo. She doesn’t do punks. He asks for Caleb by name.
“He’s booked most of the morning,” she says.
“I’ll wait,” the punk says.
And he does. He waits for two hours until Caleb is finished with his appointments and then the receptionist brings him over to Caleb’s chair. He sits down, but first he glances at Caleb’s crotch. The barber doesn’t mind.
“Hi there,” Caleb says, when the punk sits down. “So what are we looking for?”
“Control,” says the punk. He pushes his hand through his hair quickly, parting it in various places and showing the lengths that he wants on each. He wants soft layers in some places and blunt cuts in others. The hair style that he describes is difficult and intricate. Caleb isn’t sure it will look good even if he does it exactly to specifications. He says as much to his client.
“It’ll be fine. Just do what you do.”
So Caleb spreads an apron over the punk and grabs his scissors. He starts working on the punk’s split ends, just cleaning things up. He chats as he goes.
“So, what’s your name?”
“Wes,” answers the punk.
“A pleasure to meet you, Wes. You asked for me by name. Did someone refer you?”
“Not exactly. I’ve seen you around, I’ve seen a couple of your wilder cuts. I know you do good work.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that.”
“And you’re hot,” Wes adds. “Very hot.”
Caleb laughs. “Thanks for that, too.”
Caleb runs a hand through Wes’s hair to part it before taking a razor blade to the edges. Wes groans softly. It’s barely audible, but it’s there. Caleb continues cutting and running his hands over Wes’s head. He notices the punk’s hand moving under the apron and he grins.
“Let me know if I’m hurting you at all,” Caleb says.
“No. It feels good. You’re a talented barber.”
Caleb uses scissors to cut the hairs on the back of Wes’s neck and Wes shudders. His hand moves a bit faster under the apron. Caleb leans forward and blows the excess hair off of his client’s neck and Wes makes another noise.
In order to cut the front of Wes’s hair, Caleb goes around in front of him instead of turning his chair in the other direction, toward the rest of the shop. They make eye contact and Wes’s hand pauses under the apron as they look at each other. Caleb smiles and continues. Wes slowly starts again.
Caleb leans in so close that Wes can smell his cologne. His hand, beneath the apron, moves faster. Wes’s breathing is becoming shallow and Caleb notices, but does nothing different. When it happens, Wes makes a strangled noise and closes his eyes. Caleb just cuts his hair.
In the end, the haircut is magnificent. It’s strange and angular, but it fits Wes’s face and accentuates his look. Caleb is proud of his work and says so. Wes agrees. It was exactly what he was looking for. Caleb grabs a towel to clean up Wes’s neck and to brush away excess hair, but he also hands Wes an extra towel.
“Thanks. Appreciate it,” Wes says, a little bashful now.
The two of them clean up and afterward Wes tries to pay Caleb, but the barber explains that he should pay the receptionist. Wes thanks him again and leaves. Caleb watches him go, shakes his head and laughs.
At the end of his shift, Caleb goes to pick up the tips he’s earned for the day and the receptionist hands him an envelope separate from everything else. It has Wes’s name on it. In it are two crisp hundred-dollar bills and a strip of paper with a phone number. Caleb pockets the money and holds the paper between his fingers for a moment, then he pockets that too.