Getting Your Hair Done is More than Just a Shampoo
“Are you looking at that picnic table again?” Nancy asked over her shoulder.
I blinked, and turned around. “Course not.”
The woman, Jen, sitting in front of me looked at me in the mirror. “What’s up with the picnic table?”
I ran my comb through her wet, thick, red hair. “Nothing.”
“You haven’t heard the story?” Nancy asked.
“What story?” Nancy’s client asked.
Nancy put a hand on her slender waist and laughed. “About the mystery man.”
“Mystery man?” Jen asked me again in the mirror.
I shrugged. “Are we just trimming up these ends?”
“Yes, and I want a sexy style. I have a date tonight.”
“What kind of a date?” I asked. “Should I prepare for outdoor activities, or do you plan to spend most of the evening indoors?”
Jen’s eyes went wide with pretend shock. “Why Chelsea Tylor, what are you insinuating?”
“That you might go to the movies,” I said with an innocent look on my face.
The other ladies giggled, and I breathed a sigh of relief. That is until Nancy began to tease her client’s hair. “Chelsea, honey, why don’t you tell us about the man you saw out there.”
“Man?” Jen demanded.
I felt a blush coming to my cheeks. “I told you, Nancy, I thought it was a man, but I’m pretty sure it was just one of the local Officers.”
Jen nodded. “There are a couple of big ones. I’ve mistaken one for a man before.”
Nancy made a pffft sound. “You ain’t never seen a man before.”
“I’ve seen pictures,” Jen said.
“We’ve all seen pictures, but who knows if they’re the real deal,” Nancy’s client said. She narrowed her eyes at herself in the mirror. “The Officers and the Governor could have had those pictures doctored. Men could be twice as tall as us, or they could have three arms.”
“They don’t have three arms,” I muttered.
“Because you saw one?” Jen asked.
I sighed and pulled my scissors off of the little shelf in front of Jen. “Look, it was late. I’d had a little bit to drink and I thought I saw something outside.”
“Something big. Bigger than any of us, but not big enough to be a monster or anything like that.” I began to trim, the swish and click of the scissors a comfort to my ears.
“Probably an officer,” Nancy’s client said.
“Tell them the rest,” Nancy said.
I dropped the ends of Jen’s red hair onto the floor. “I told you, I’d been drinking.”
“Oh come on.” Nancy retrieved her hairspray. “It’s a spooky story.”
“I love spooky stories!” Jen said.
“Tell us!” Nancy’s client said through her hands as she covered her face from the assault of aerosol hairspray.
I took a breath, inhaling the tangy spray, and let it out. “Fine.” I kept trimming as I talked, slowly working my way around Jen. “Last Friday night, after a date gone awry, I came here because I was too drunk to drive home.”
“Wait, date?” Jen asked.
I held up a hand. “You get the date story or the man story. Which one do you want?”
Jen’s green eyes narrowed, and she considered for a moment.
“Man story,” Nancy mouthed in a whisper.
“Fine. Man story.”
“Okay.” I continued to comb and trim. “It was raining. I stumbled through the door and decide I didn’t want to drip all over the floor, so I stripped down.” I lowered my voice. “I got here just in time, because a crash of thunder made me jump, then a flash of lightning threw my shadow onto the floor in front of me.” I pointed, and my hand trembled just a little. The memory of that night was still fresh, as if I’d just lived it a few minutes before. “Only my shadow wasn’t alone.”
Jen and Nancy’s client let out a gasp.
“A larger, thicker shadow stretched from there to there.” I pointed. “Taller and broader than mine, but right next to it.”
“What did you do?” Jen asked.
“I screamed. I don’t know why I turned around, but I did.”
“And there he was,” Nancy said.
I scowled. “Yes, that’s when I saw what I thought was a man.”
“What did he look like?” Jen asked.
“Big. Burly. His head and face was covered with hair. He wore a long coat, but his eyes…” I swallowed. “Another flash of lightening lit the world, and I saw his eyes.” A shudder ran through me.
“Wh—what did they look like?” Jen asked.
“They were blue,” I said.
Jen gasped again.
Nancy shook her head.
“What did he do?” Jen asked in a small voice.
“He stared at me,” I said. “I was standing here naked and he just looked.”
“He didn’t attack you?”
“No. A huge crack of thunder sounded—so loud that I covered my ears and shut my eyes, and when I opened them again, he was gone.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“Then he left her a present,” Nancy said.
I heart sped up. “I found a paper on the picnic table the next morning. It was smeared and soggy, but I could make out two words.”
“What were they?” Jen asked.
I paused for dramatic effect. “Help us.”
Silence filled the salon. Jen stared at me with wide eyes.
Nancy spoiled it. She started laughing.
“What?” Jen asked.
“They totally believed you!” Nancy said.
I chuckled. “Yes, they did.”
Jen scowled. “You lied?”
“Just a tall tale,” I said. But my I looked out the door one more time, and I could still see him standing there. Staring at me. I shivered. “Just a tall tale.”