I'm sitting in the middle of our back-yard on an old wood stool my Dad put out special for his "famous buzz-cut" A talent he says he picked up while over in Vietnam. If he shaved one the guys in his platoon they wouldn't get shot that day. Word got out, but he wasn't around the barracks much because he flew missions day and night shooting up the enemy as a helicopter gunner. When he would return there was a line already forming for his buzz-cut. So, I should be lucky. I guess. To have this edge. But, it was unlikely id be shot. I'm 7 years old.
We were in the backyard so as not to get "Hair all over the damn trailer" Clippers to my head and shaved down to the skull. He tore it across until it was flat and smooth, I feel the heat of the sun on pale exposed skin. There are woods behind us. miles and miles of woods. Crickets, birds, mosquitoes, saw-grass, and the everlasting Florida heat. Electric cord stretched through the yard like a fluorescent orange snake. The clippers alive with power, hair falling in clumps. over and over with razor touching skin. nicking it here and there as he barked for me to stay still. It was just me shaking, me hating this. like the time he threw me in the pool to teach me to swim. the deep end and the sinking down to the bottom. Sink or swim, Sink or swim. All those lessons not taught but forced. Everything black and white. Yes sir !. No sir ! Sink or swim.
I didn't want to look like a soldier. Boys in my school wore long hair and had big fat combs hanging out of their back pockets. They wore dessert boots. Girls wore feathers in their hair. I had no hair. It was 1976. There was no war and the only army I wanted to join was the KISS ARMY.
My head wasn't shaved because I had lice like everyone at school accused and laughed at me for. It was because I had no choice. I had rules to follow. Rules that only seemed to apply to me. Dad took a swig of his beer and placed it in the shade propped against the trunk of a tree. His cigarette dangling out of his mouth as he spoke in deep gruff tones of how I look like a man now. How not to move , " Do want me to cut you?" His shaky hands and shell shock. His screaming and walking around the house late at night. I’m locked inside my head. Inside my little world. I’m sinking. I laugh to myself when I see his beer tip over by the tree. Maybe there is a god and if by some chance there is, maybe he'll save me.