Marcus led Jamie down the cracked pavement of Main Street, directing his boyfriend from their car toward the barbershop. Clear Creek wasn’t a ghost town in the strictest sense, but whatever community existed was conspicuously absent from Main Street this Sunday afternoon. An autumn gust whipped through the thoroughfare, swirling old newspapers and fallen maple leaves into a mini cyclone. Jamie pulled his dark green bomber jacket tighter around his slender frame as they passed under an American flag, which flapped noisily from its mast above the awning of an abandoned storefront.  

Contrary to Jamie’s efforts to shield himself from the wind, Marcus cut a carefree, imposing figure as they walked to the barbershop. With his back straight and shoulders square, Marcus walked with a confident stride that seemed to make even the swirling leaves calm down in his presence. His sharply tailored jacket clung tightly to his broad upper body, the black leather creaking with every smooth, undulating motion.  

“You okay?” Marcus’ deep voice broke the silence between them, his blue eyes glancing down at Jamie with a mix of concern and command.  

Jamie nodded, his hazel eyes flickering with nervousness and trust. “Yeah, just… it’s a big change, you know?” Apprehension clipped his words, making his words sound impatient instead of reluctant.  

Marcus stopped, and Jamie reflexively stopped, too. Marcus turned toward his boyfriend, his expression softening. He placed a firm hand on Jamie’s shoulder, reassuringly squeezing it. “I know it’s out of your comfort zone, babe. But trust Me, you’re going to look great. Hank is an expert—old school, but one of the best.”  

Jamie managed a small smile, comforted yet still uneasy. “I know You think it’s best,” he murmured, his eyes tracing the contours of Marcus’ strong jaw. Everyone in his life—his family, friends, and even casual work acquaintances—had told him how lucky he was to have found such a catch as Marcus. If only they knew the extent to which Marcus owned him. Jamie had never considered himself a submissive before his relationship with Marcus, but after six months together, Jamie found there was little he was willing to do, say, or wear without his domineering boyfriend’s approval.  

Marcus’ smile was encouraging as he nudged Jamie gently forward. “Let’s see, then. After all, it’s just hair. It grows back. But I have a feeling you’ll want to keep it once you see the new you.”  

As they resumed walking, Jamie felt the familiar mix of admiration and trepidation stir within him. He orbited Marcus like a satellite, and as they grew closer, Jamie found his uncertainties fading into the ether. He looked down at Marcus’ black leather boots, which Jamie had polished to a shine that morning, and willed the doubting voices in his mind into silence. Marcus’ confidence made him an easy leader to follow, and today, it was leading Jamie to an old-fashioned barber shop and, perhaps, to a new part of himself he was yet to meet.  

The bell above the door jingled sharply as Marcus pushed it open, ushering Jamie into the dimly lit barber shop. The scent of aftershave and the musk of old leather filled the air, providing a bracing, stimulating change from the crisp autumn breeze they had just left behind. A row of old barber chairs lined the mirrored wall, their once-red leather upholstery faded to a dusky maroon. At the far end, Hank, the barber, paused mid clip to acknowledge the new arrivals.  

Jamie gulped. Hank was a robust man in his mid sixties, with a broad chest, thick arms, and a military bearing. His snow-white hair was cut in a precise high and tight, and his stern expression suggested he had zero patience for foolishness or drama. Marcus’ hand was firm on Jamie’s lower back, guiding him forward with an unspoken command. Hank set his tools down with a clatter, his gaze flickering between the two men.  

“Both of you?” he asked.  

“Just him,” Marcus said, pushing Jamie toward the nearest empty chair. Marcus’ fingers tightened momentarily, a subtle reminder of an earlier conversation that had ended with Jamie reluctantly agreeing to this change.   

Jamie felt the lump in his throat swell as he settled into the chair, the leather cool and smooth beneath him. Marcus pulled a stool up to the side and sat with his legs crossed, his boots reflecting the light. Jamie was more than Marcus’ boyfriend; he was his project, and Marcus was eager to witness the transformation he had orchestrated.  

Jamie and Marcus waited patiently as Hank finished with his other customer and bid him farewell. Then Hank wordlessly draped a cape over Jamie’s shoulders, snapping it tight around his neck. Hank picked up a pair of clippers, the buzz filling the room with an ominous drone. “Just a trim or something special?” he asked, turning to Marcus for the answer.  

“A flat top,” Marcus commanded. Jamie saw the barber’s eyebrows raise in a brief moment of surprise before his professional mask slid back into place.  

As the clippers edged closer, Jamie closed his eyes, not wanting to watch as lock after lock fell like the autumn leaves outside. He imagined Marcus’ satisfied smirk, how his eyes would light up seeing Jamie transformed. The thought should have comforted him, but a cold dread gnawed at the pit of his stomach. Each buzz and snip echoed around him and within him, the sound an overwhelming reminder of how far he was willing to go to please his boyfriend.  

“Head down,” the barber instructed firmly. He didn’t wait for Jamie to comply, instead pressing a firm hand against the back of his head. Jamie didn’t resist the command, bowing his head and feeling the exposed skin of his nape tingle in anticipation of the cold metal. The hum of the clippers became whispers, telling him secrets he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear—dismissing his questions about identity, desire, and the fine line between control and coercion.  

Hank worked quickly but precisely. The minutes stretched on, marked only by Hank’s methodical shearing and occasional grunts of concentration. Marcus’ presence was a palpable force beside Jamie, and just knowing his boyfriend was beside him, pulling his puppet strings, allowed Jamie to relax and enjoy the experience. Jamie zoned out, his quiet breaths a metronome to Hank’s steady-handed work. When the clippers finally went silent and the barber spun the chair to face the mirror, Jamie’s breath caught in his chest.  

Staring back at him was a stranger. The unruly mop of light brown hair that had once framed his face, offering a semblance of gentleness to his features, was gone. In its place was a harsh, geometric precision that felt like a mask he hadn’t agreed to wear. His eyes, usually bright and lively, now seemed overshadowed by the severity of his new haircut. 

“Well, what do you think?” Hank asked, his voice pulling Jamie back from his reverie.  

Jamie met Marcus’ gaze in the mirror, searching for approval. Marcus’ smirk was arousing and foreboding, his eyes alight, just as Jamie had imagined. However, the warmth Jamie usually felt from Marcus’ approval was absent, replaced by the hollow, emotionless feeling of completing a perfunctory task. There was no pleasure or arousal in obeying an order from one’s superior. He was simply doing his duty. 

“It’s perfect,” Marcus said, standing and clapping Hank on the shoulder. “Exactly what he needed.” Marcus looked at Jamie in the mirror again. “You like it, Jamie?”  

“Sir, yes, Sir.” Jamie’s reply was automatic. He forced a smile, his eyes drifting back to his reflection. The man in the mirror offered him a weak smile in return as the reality of his transformation settled around him like the cape he still wore. As Marcus paid the barber, chatting amiably as if they were old friends, Jamie felt the distance between himself and his boyfriend expand. Their relationship was no longer a matter of romance, but of rank.  

They stepped back into the chill of Main Street, the setting sun casting long shadows on the deserted avenue. The bell jingled as the door closed, a finality in its tone. As they walked, Marcus’ hand returned to Jamie’s lower back, more possessive and insistent than before. Jamie walked ramrod straight with eyes forward, his gait measured and his expression impassive. He curtly adjusted the collar of his jacket, the crisp air soothing his bare neck, and wondered, for the first time, what it would take to feel that his reflection was truly his own again. 

Want more works like this? Buy Me a cup of coffee as a way to help support this and other writing endeavors.