“If you care about your looks at all, don't let this criminal get near you!” In the toilet-glass I see the girl is addressing me. When Mark hears her voice, he drops his scissors as if they are plugged into the electricity grid.
“What do you think you are doing?” he hisses. His ever friendly voice suddenly sounds so tensed that I don't dare to move. His cheeks flush as he turns towards the doorway. The girl who had just entered the salon ignores him and points at the pale green flax fibres that hang down her face.
“Look what he did to me!” she says. Her voice sounds as coarse as her coiffure looks. In a few steps she's next to my chair and invites me to touch it.
“Will you cut it out,” Mark says. Then he turns back to me. “I'm so sorry, miss Hancock. My ex-girlfriend has gone psychotic and keeps stalking me. Her parents and I are trying to work things out, but she refuses to take medicines. I do apologise for the inconvenience.”
In the reflection I see that the girl throws her head backwards and shrieks with laughter. “That is so typically you! Oh Mark, you'll lie your way out of anything! But not this time, mister! Because I've got proof! Here, miss, this is my receipt, you see? I went to this hairdresser last week. He ruined my hair and even charged me for it!”
My hands dither under the nylon cloak. Should I accept the piece of paper she holds out me?
Nothing had changed since the last time I visited the hairdresser at Oak Lane. A week had gone by and the even the autumn bouquet on the counter hadn't been replaced. Could they be fake flowers? They might well be, I though, these people knew nothing about style.
“If you care about your looks at all,” I warned the only costumer, “don't let this criminal get near you!” Of course the hairdresser recognised me immediately. My appearance startled him, he turned on his heels and dropped his scissors in doing so. Fortunately, I thought, he's disarmed. For now, the old tart in his chair is safe.
“What do you think you are doing?” As if he needed to ask! Because I was too embarrassed by my horrid haircut I had to call in sick all week long. I didn't dare to leave the house before. But did he really think he could get away with what he had done?
“Look what he did to me!” I said, and took a strand of hair between two fingers as if it were rotting seaweed. Come to think of it, it did look that way. Because this amateur had used the wrong dye after bleaching, my golden locks had turned a dirty shade of green. I walked towards the lady so that she could have a closer look.
“Will you cut it out,” the hairdresser intervened. “I'm so sorry, miss Hancock. My ex-girlfriend has gone psychotic and keeps stalking me. Her parents and I are trying to work things out, but she refuses to take medicines. I do apologise for the inconvenience.”
I laughed heartily, because it almost sounded as if he meant it. But honestly, I had no idea what he was rambling about. Before he distorted my hairdo, I had never met the man in my life!
“That is so typically you!” I said while wiping the tears of my cheeks. “Oh Mark, you'll lie your way out of anything! But not this time, mister! Because I've got proof!” I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a note. “Here, miss, this is my receipt, you see? I went to this hairdresser last week. He ruined my hair and even charged me for it!”
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Mark whispered. Who was it again, that wrote that? Wasn't it Shakespeare? Alone in the shop with these two females Mark felt great sympathy for him. Shakespeare must have been a wise man, for he knew all about women a gay man had to know.
When his sister entered the shop, he immediately knew this time he would not be able to prevent an escalation.
“If you care about your looks at all, don't let this criminal get near you!” Thank God, Mark thought, she isn't swearing. At least that meant she hadn't been drinking.
“What do you think you are doing?” he asked, as kind as he could. He did not exactly expect a reply, but it was an honest question nevertheless. He never knew why she did what she did. Perhaps it was revenge, perhaps she was still jealous because she thought their parents had loved him more? She always kept saying that they had given him much more attention because he was a troubled gay boy, while she was only an average diligent girl. She ignored him, as she always did when she had one of her fits in public.
“Look at what he did to me!” Only now he noticed how terrible she looked. Her beautiful golden locks had been cut oblique and dyed in the most gruesome shade of green he had ever seen. He understood clearly now why she had come to him. Quickly he tried to make an estimate of the damage. He could probably fix the colour, if she would agree to chestnut. But first he had to get miss Hancock out of his chair. She was the queen of gossip, and he did not care for onlookers in family matters! As he searched for a good way to get her out of his salon, Mark pulled nervously at the Catch-O-Hair cloak around her neck. He truly felt for his poor sister, the bashfulness must be unbearable!