The line at the barber was thirty deep. The guards deposited Bill and went out for a smoke. They told the guards guarding the line to call them if they weren’t back in time.
There was no talking allowed. There was no anything allowed. Like all the other inmates, Bill stood quiet, trying not to make serious eye contact with anyone, especially the guards. With other inmates, eye contact could mean a stare down which could mean a conflict. If a stare down happened and you punked out, that could mean getting picked on.
No response to eye contact led to no predictable results. Each case was a crap shoot. With the guards, however, it was a sure problem unless they were addressing you directly. So like the other inmates, Bill stared at his feet, stared at the walls, looked up to the ceiling and around at the jail. He noted the walls and the floors were painted institutional grey. He noted the absence of windows. He noted the constant order maintained. He noted that the guards never traveled among the prisoners alone. They always walked in pairs, always carrying night sticks, never wearing sidearms. He noticed there were guard stations. Inside these stations, guards wore sidearms and carried shotguns. They looked down upon everything, watched everything everywhere.
Bill hadn’t cut his hair since he was fourteen. Until then his father made him wear a crew cut and took him to the barber once a month. At fourteen he’d rebelled and fought his father for what he’d wanted.
His was thick black hair, curly and long, falling more than halfway down his back. It had taken a long while to grow it so. At football camp just before his senior year in high school, when he was seventeen, he’d met a girl named Beth. They’d had a summer fling. Every night they went off into the woods and did what they did. Beth loved stroking his hair. She loved brushing it and braiding it. She brought her own brushes and did his hair. Then they made out and everything more. Beth was crazy about Bill. Bill liked her well enough.
At the University he was just one among many with hair down his back. His hair had become a trademark for him, even his tradition. To say he loved his hair was a bit strong, but as the line cut down to about fifteen, he started to feel separation anxiety. Up till now the idea of losing his hair had been an abstraction. He knew it was there on his head and he knew it was getting cut off. But he didn’t feel the reality of its going. Its getting cut off did not yet exist among the realm of that which actually happened.
Bill had had that same experience–really it was a sensation–about going to jail too. Way back even before the summer trimester had begun the deal had been cut and he’d known he was going to jail. He’d known exactly what he was getting: twenty-one days in the workhouse, a two hundred-fifty dollar fine and a year’s probation. In return, they kept the case out of court until after the summer session so Bill could graduate.
He did graduate. The court date had come, moved from the conceptual to the actual. Now he was first in line and the reality of losing his hair was upon him. Bill still couldn’t believe it.
Bill’s tormentor led him to the chair. “Not short,” he said. “Take it all.”
Bill noticed that the barber shop had windows. He closed his eyes to the light. He felt the first stroke with the clippers, then the next, then the next and the next and the next.
A Note About the Fiction Outtakes:
The Fiction Outtakes are based upon my fiction. Very often they utilize characters which appear in different pieces of fiction written over the years. However, the events and incidents do not generally appear in the fiction. For the most part they are outtakes, pieces written and not included in the actual works or pieces written for fun. All of The Ghost Writer outtakes are not actual events depicted in the upcoming novel (tentatively to be released in February 2017) but the characters are actual characters from the novel. Similarly, Bill Wynn is a character from The Kitchen Stories (written over many years and also to be released in 2017). However, the actual experiences depicted in the outtakes do not necessarily appear in The Kitchen Stories.