by Salome Wilde (salome-at-salomewilde.net)
Of the countless times Klaus had to endure listening to that degenerate declare his love in spaces both overly private and hideously public, this had to be the most cringe-making, the most humiliating, the most deeply and thoroughly infuriating, the WORST. When he'd arrived back at Schloss Eberbach after receiving the summons from his butler and been served a stiff drink and lit a cigarette (which he eagerly ignited with the butt of its predecessor), he took a deep breath and told the man to bring the dreaded evidence forth. His unflappable (at least on the surface) manservant bravely held it out to the Major as material evidence, knowing his young employer simply would not believe it before seeing it for himself. Yes, he had accepted the phone call as valid. He had no reason to doubt his butler, and ample reason to be grateful that he had intercepted the call and proffered the excuse that the Major was on assignment and could not be reached for several days. But, if the worst were true, it would be a lot more than several days before his father had cooled down enough to encourage Klaus to be anywhere near a phone.
The servant's hand shook as he offered the item in question on the small sterling salver, and Klaus snatched it away, as if retrieving the single leaf of pale pink stationery (with its gaudy broken ruby-red seal emblazoned with the crest of the Glorias) would magically render it inert, a private and erasable matter, would somehow make it not already have been scrutinized by his eagle-eyed, rigidly judgmental, hideously demanding father. No, Klaus thought, glancing sidelong and as fleetingly as he could at the florid cursive on the rose-decorated page; the damage had been done.
Hastening over the ornate formal greeting and grossly inappropriate self-description as someone "near and dear" to "our good Major," Klaus forced himself to read, with masochistic clarity and slowness, the fatal sentence, the one that left him queasy and so world weary that he felt he could take to bed and actually sleep until morning without waking.
Every father longs to know his son is fulfilled both professionally and personally, and, despite evidence to the contrary, I want you to know from my own hand that your precious boy Klaus is, indeed, fulfilled, for I love him as life itself and always shall.
Klaus screamed a string of expletives in every language he knew and some he did not, then tore the missive into the tiniest shreds of which his dexterous fingers were capable. His butler had wisely slipped away the moment the letter was in Klaus' hands, and would not return unless actively summoned, though he heard every shouted curse and invective his employer uttered with stark and rather disturbing precision from the far end of the castle.
What now? thought Klaus. He would demand of NATO that he never ever be forced into any form of interaction or encounter with the dratted degenerate for the rest of their lives... but he had done that more times than he could remember. He would declare absolute war on the wanker, following and thwarting his every move and attempt at thievery or chicanery... but that, too, he had already tried, and all it did was bring them into closer contact. No, he would have to try something different. Something so devastating that the Earl would cease to pursue him, cease to goad him, cease, in fact, to "love" him. This would take some thought. He poured himself another stiff one, and put his brain to work.
"Are you certain about this?" asked Agent A, standing in front of the Major's desk. He had been put in charge of hiring just the right individual for the job. B stood behind him, quivering.
"Entirely," replied Klaus, confidently, exhaling smoke through his nose. "Now get out until he comes."
G poked his head gingerly through the doorway. There were tears in his long-lashed eyes. He looked plaintively at the Major, as if silently begging him to reconsider.
"All of you, out!" bellowed the Major, and returned to his paperwork.
The men scuttled away and closed the door softly behind them. He heard their worried murmurings as they dispersed, but he was unmoved. The decision was entirely logical and would no doubt be effective. He would rid himself of the absurd hedonist once and for all, and this would be but a small - and, after all, temporary - price to pay. He went back to work.
About twenty minutes later, there was a timid knock and the door. "Come in," barked the Major. Agent A held the door open and welcomed in a young man in a vivid paisley shirt and velveteen pants, far too tight at the crotch and far too wide at the bottom. He carried a small bag on his arm that, one assumed, carried the tools of his trade. His hair was a deep brown, as long and curly and unruly as Dorian's. Klaus curled his lip and glared at A. Was this the best you could do? the look clearly said. A shrugged and looked away. G came fluttering in with a long flowered sheet and then handed it to A to tie around the Major's neck. He was shaking his head and waving his hand before him, evidently unable to do his part. A sighed and took care of the task as G dissolved into tears and disappeared from the room. B was nowhere to be seen. Klaus groaned and beckoned the loudly dressed young man to approach. He turned his chair so his back faced the man.
"A little trim to accentuate the jawline?" the young man enthused, touching the Major's silken locks.
"Military," the Major replied, stubbing out his cigarette.
The young man gaped.
The man found his voice. "But... but... Major..."
Klaus wheeled around in his chair. "Is there a problem?" he ground out between gritted teeth.
The look was obviously menacing enough for the young man to say no more but instead to grab his clippers from his bag, plug them in, and get to work. A quietly escaped the scene and headed for an early liquid lunch. He had a grim sense of foreboding about this.
Less than half an hour later, Klaus dismissed the barber and was removing the ghastly sheet from around his neck while calling for G to come and clean up the "remains." On the sheet and all around it on the floor were long strands of beautiful German hair. G's eyes were still wet, and grew to enormous saucers when he looked upon the newly shorn Major. A long and shrill "ohhhhhhh" burst forth from his painted lips before he ran back out of the room (despite threats of banishment to Alaska) and B had to be summoned to clean up the mess since A was not yet returned.
Klaus was determined to be stoic about this, so he opted neither to look at nor touch his head for the rest of the afternoon. He felt a bit of a chill above his collar, so accustomed was he to the comforting feel of his hair on his neck, but no matter. There were no bangs on his forehead to need shaking from his eyes when hunched over his paperwork, and one had to admit that was a productive change. Any lingering doubts were simply the kind of decadent nostalgia he could not afford. In fact, he wondered why he had not rid himself of the feminizing tresses long ago. He had merely been stubborn in leaving it so outgrown all these years. Rebellion against his father's perfectionistic standards? Perhaps. Vanity? He grudgingly acknowledged the possibility.
It was not until he used the bathroom on his way out of the office that he finally got a glance at himself with his new cut. He stared for a moment, then passed out cold, crumpling onto the tile floor like a sack of potatoes and banging his head hard on the sink on his way down.
When he came to, Klaus was in his own bed, tucked away like a sick schoolboy. He threw off the covers and sat up in the dim twilight. He turned on his bedside lamp, blinked, and tried to think. It took him a few moments to recollect what had happened. He had somehow fainted in the bathroom, though he could not fathom why. He reached up a hand to scratch his scalp, and it came back to him in an instant. His hair. He rubbed his fingertips along the spiked bristle. Gott in Himmel, what had he done? He leapt from the bed and headed for his bathroom, determined this time to get a good look at himself and remain conscious. Be a man, he told himself. It's just a haircut.
Facing the mirror he faced the damage he'd done. It was a nightmare. A narrow face with jutting ears and a ridiculously high forehead stared out at him. Even his neck looked too long for his body. He shuddered. True, the Earl would no longer fancy him, but he knew with crystal clarity at that moment that the Earl would never see him like this. No one would. He grabbed the phonebook and dialed a wigmaker. Until a wig could be designed to replicate his own hair perfectly, he would not step foot from his room. And when he did return to the office? Just let one of the Alphabets say one single word about the haircut. He'd find himself in Alaska before he could say "flattop."
© Salome Wilde, 2008