Jude was a man that everyone loved, and he loved everyone back; Clean shaven, clean minded, clean slate. Not to mention that he was about as edgy as a stick of butter.
The folks at the office loved him; he worked in an insurance company, and he was the generous and empathetic type of man his bosses would normally have sacked in 10 minutes flat.
But they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it with Jude; he cost the insurance company a bomb – but he redeemed it with the feel-good aura he brought with him.
Not to mention the constant gifts that arrived at the office for him from people whose lives he had bettered over the years; flowers, chocolates, muffin baskets, even a little heart made out of Lego from a local orphanage with a message saying “don’t tread on me”.
Tonight was the big staff party for their co-worker Jeffrey who was going away. Jude’s office mate, Cal, was a nervous individual who had a longstanding and badly hidden lust for Deborah behind the front desk. Jude was always one to help out and boost a guy’s confidence.
“Jude I really want someone in the office,” said Cal, thinking it wasn’t glaringly obvious who it was.
“Calmundo, anybody would be lucky to have you, now stand up straight, be yourself, and you can have any girl you like,” replied Jude in a kind but somewhat general way so that Cal wouldn’t do anything rash. But of course he would.
“Thanks,” replied Cal. “I’m definitely going to make a move tonight then so.”
Jude frowned, but hoped that Cal would get what he wanted.
The next morning, Jude arose, not hungover, wearing quite the 9 o’clock shadow.
“Hmm,” he thought, glancing at himself in the mirror, “maybe this could work.”
“Of course it can, Jude,” the 9 o’clock shadow whispered back with a childlike voice.
And it did. Jude had a week off and when he came back to the office the beard had grown out significantly.
He showed up and turned heads. Whispers of, “ooh what an edgy new look”, “what a way to start the day”, and several wolf whistles accompanied his stride.
He pointed in a gun like manner at the admirers and threw his coat at them in a faux-aggressive way. But it made him feel…good.
He got through his morning’s insurance claimants somewhat more hastily than before he’d had his beard; something made him realise he didn’t really care for these people so he didn’t give them any time. It gave him an odd sense of self-assurance.
He looked in the fridge at lunch and spied a Kit Kat bar belonging to someone else in the office. He considered stealing it before he stopped himself.
“I’m not that hungry,” he thought.
“Don’t just leave it,” whispered the beard, voice now past adolescence. Jude reached for it again, threw it to the ground, and stepped on it for no reason other than to peeve the owner. He put it back into the fridge with a sinister grin on his face.
He fondled his Lego heart and broke it apart into random pieces and scattered individual pieces across the office; several of his co-workers enjoyed walking around in their socks to “do the Japanese thing”, and they gave yelps of pain throughout the day as they found the Lego pieces.
Cal was particularly quiet today, and Jude went over to chat to him.
“Cal, you look like shit,” began Jude. “Hungover or something?”
Cal sighed wearily. “She rejected me, at the party” he said. Jude laughed in his face.
“Of course she did,” Jude chuckled. “She’s way out of your league. Or maybe she’s a lesbian, hold on…”
He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled shrilly. “DEBORAH,” he yelled.
She arrived at once, avoiding eye contact with Cal. Jude bent her over and stuck his tongue down her throat as Cal watched on in horror.
“Sorry brother,” continued Jude, winking at Cal and smacking (a now beaming) Deborah on the ass. Cal left the office in tears and Jude spent the rest of the day laughing obnoxiously to himself and stroking his beard.
At the weekend he dawdled along to the dog pound he volunteered at every weekend, but he brought a hoover this time. And a dog whistle. The dogs looked at him so hopefully and lovingly as their favourite carer came in… but you can imagine what happened next.
All of the dogs barked save for the filthy old deaf dog in the corner, but that simply would not do. Jude insisted on picking the dirty mongrel up and holding the hoover to his ears until he realised it was futile. So he kicked him instead.
Jude went home feeling wonderfully evil and he stroked his ever growing collection of whiskers.
Karma struck fast though – when he woke up the next morning, he began to itch…and scratch…and itch again…he caught lice from the mangy old dog that resisted his punishment.
No shampoo would cure his ills even after a week of constant application, so he went to the hairdresser in a foul mood – he wanted to share his punishment with the rest of the world. Lice for all!
There was a kid so loud and arrogant in the waiting area that Jude was ready to explode. Lately, he hated kids, especially ones who had attitudes.
“I want a Mohawk,” the kid screamed.
“Get up and give the little shit a Mohawk,” whispered the beard sharply to him. Jude gritted his teeth and exhaled slowly as he tried to fixate on something else.
He noticed the hairdresser picking up hair carefully…and placing it in a bag…do they always do that? Then he noticed the dirty look the hairdresser gave him when he saw him looking.
“Nobody likes me since I’ve grown this,” he thought to himself. “I wonder why.”
“Don’t listen to them,” the beard told him desperately, “I’m great, ask anyone”.
Jude considered the fact that he was taking instructions from a beard for a moment before deciding his next move.
He got the hairdresser to shave off the beard to go with the shaven head he demanded; he felt like a new man.