• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 07

The Haircut

David walked into the kitchen, put down his schoolbag with a thud and waited. When his father looked up, his head jerked back. An instant later he was on his feet and in front of David. They were almost the same height now, but not quite. The slap sent David reeling back against the bench. The cupboard handle left a bruise that lingered for weeks, transforming from purple to blue to green to yellow.

David bowed his face towards his chest to protect it, but he didn’t run or cry. His father grabbed at the tufts of hair sticking out in a tidy line down David’s scalp. The mohawk was just long enough to grasp tight despite the stickiness of the gel. He yanked David’s head back and spat in his face.

They both panted. Their eyes clinched coldly, David defiant, his father despising.

His father let go and walked over to a drawer. He took out the poultry shears. Roasts were special treats, and his father would carefully chop up the body. Drumsticks, breast, thigh, wings. If David got the wishbone he would suck it clean and slip it into his pocket when his father wasn’t looking. He kept the wishbones in his bedside cabinet, saving them up. One day his father had found them and thrown them out. “You’re disgusting!” he had yelled. As he chopped, the edges of the blades pinched at David’s hair. It fell in clumps onto the floor. Just a few clumps and then it was done. “Clean it up,” he commanded. Then he returned to the kitchen table and his paper.

David didn’t shave the jagged line down to be even with the stubble covering the rest of his head. He wore it proudly, as though it were even more punk than Sid Vicious. And when his hair had grown a little, he used his father’s electric razor to mow the sides, cultivating his mohawk like a delicate garden.


The Haircut

That first time he shaved it back his father had yelled at him. “Punk is dead, it’s a fucking cadaver in rigor mortis, what the hell are you trying to be such a loser for?” And then he’d taken him in a headlock and shaved his entire head. “Now you look like a fucking concentration camp survivor, happy?”

“I’m not a survivor yet,” David had said, and his father had punched him so hard that the thud of his skull on the floor had made the glasses in the cabinet rattle.

The second time his father had just spat at him. “If you use my razor one more time you replace it. It’s for shaving, not for turning yourself into some kind of pathetic throwback.” The third time he went to a barber. The contrast to the shaved sides now enough to give the mohawk form. His father had been in a good mood that day, so he just shook his head and called him a loser before looking away.