Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 8

  Sharon struggled out of the car, already showing attitude. “I really don’t care for gravel parking lots. It’s unseemly and dusty.” She slammed the car door, a signature move which pleased her in some way. Loud metal against metal spoke of power and strong choices.

  Hexom, also exiting the car, albeit from the other side and thus having to deal with a battered Jetta that had been parked in a stupid, too-close manner, primped a bit and then offered his insight on the matter. “Perhaps, Sharon dear, you should consider moving to Seattle. It rains a lot there, you know. Nothing is ever dusty. Just wet. And there’s coffee.”

  Sharon pulled out one of her many tubes of lip gloss and began to apply. “I sense,” she muttered, lips protruding, “that your attitude could prove fatal if the Titanic was going down and I had to make life-altering decisions.” She clicked the gloss tube closed. “Now, let’s go find this April person who requires vodka.” She signaled for Alejandro to retrieve such from the trunk.

  The shirtless driver stepped out of the car, and then pawed at his crotch as he sauntered to the rear of the vehicle. The rich people might have their games, but he had his as well, and tormenting Hexom with tantalizing body movements seemed to please him in some orientation-vague way. He fiddled about in the trunk, stretching seductively while Hexom gasped, then handed two bottles to Sharon. “Dinner is served.”

  Sharon smiled, then turned to Hexom. “Lead the way. I’m just a lost lamb needing guidance.”

  Hexom, also smiling: “You haven’t been a lamb since you rode that horse at Bible camp. A bit of bouncing on Trigger and you wanted to hump the world. Or at least show the stable boy what it really means to shoe a horse.”

  Hexom led the way as the two of them walked along a quaint brick path leading to one of the three buildings on the property. Sharon, glancing about, inquired “Why are we going to the smallest building? It doesn’t seem regal enough.”

  “I would assume,” said Hexom, “that April has been relegated to a less visible location in order to maintain some type of control over lawsuits. You’ll see what I mean.”

  They turned a corner and entered a small garden area, with comfy patio furniture placed about and a ginormous Hindu statue dominating the scene, one of those things with many arms and a tranquil facial expression that involved a beaded headdress. “Well, then,” said Sharon. “Should I feel bad about the cows I’ve eaten?”

  Hexom sighed. “Sharon, honey, you really need to work on that tolerance thing. Money or not.”

  Sharon, gazing about at the Zen pool with bored goldfish and the image of Mahatma Gandhi etched into the robust trunk of some wild bamboo, had no apologies. “I am not defaming anyone. I am simply making an observation. If I can’t eat meat, I don’t know that I should be here.”

  Hexom sighed again, and then gently shoved Sharon toward a rickety staircase leading to the upper level of the smallest building. “None of this will matter in two minutes. March forth.”

  They climbed the stairs, with Sharon pausing at the halfway-mark and pretending to lose her footing and nearly plummet to her death. Hexom was not amused. “Bitch, if you don’t keep moving, I will cut you.”

  Sharon sighed. “Alright, fine. I’ll play nice.”

  They reached the top of the stairs and entered a flamboyant red door. They traveled along a very short hallway and then found themselves on the main presentation floor of April Wild’s House of Mayhem. There were three salon stations available, but two of them were completely barren, and it soon became clear why that was the case.

  The lone stylist at the one working station was using buzzing clippers on what appeared to be a complacent individual living on the edge. He sat there in a catatonic state while April simultaneously tamed his ear hairs, danced a jig to the song on the radio, ordered Chinese takeout, arranged bail money for a distant cousin, spoke with a counselor at the private school she hoped her daughter could attend, and arranged for a peace march in downtown Dallas.

  She finally slammed her phone shut and turned to her latest arrivals. “Hey, girls, what up?”

  Sharon paused only briefly, and then inquired: “Why is your left breast hanging out of your shirt?”

  April laughed with gusto, only causing minimal bleeding on her current customer as the buzzing clippers ripped his skull flesh. “Oh, THAT. I was just showing Rupert here the mosquito bite I got during the Foam Party at Club 4000.” She tucked the bouncing appendage back into her flimsy t-shirt. “Take a seat. Be with you in just a sec.”

  Sharon turned to Hexom. “It’s okay if you get killed after all. I’m no longer interested in what might happen to you.”

  Hexom laughed. “Oh, please. You should be happy that she has any clothes on at all. Sit your ass down and wait your turn.”

  Sharon demurely approached one of the available waiting chairs, and primly lowered her behind into the worn piece of furniture. “I’m really hating you right now,” she muttered. “I don’t like random breast sightings. You could have said something.”

  Hexom took the chair next to her. “Would it have really mattered?”

  So they sat idly for a bit, waiting for April to finish whatever she might be doing to the sloth queen as he lightly snored in his comfortably numb condition. They briefly considered looking at one of the many magazines littering a coffee table before them, then realized that they could easily afford anything being advertised and what was the point of reviewing fashion magazines if you couldn’t dream about one day owning the featured products?

  April suddenly prodded the sloth back to life. “Did I tell you what me and Teddy did last Saturday night?”

  Sharon leaned toward Hexom. “If she starts to give us a physical recreation of her exact slutty positions that tantalized this Teddy, I’m leaving. I can’t take another breast.”

  Luckily, departure was not necessary. Naughty bits remained covered, and instead April shared a lively account of a play they had attended on the night in question, a pageant of some kind about the history of hemp among the indigenous cultures of a small island chain. Hand movements were involved, but no baring of any kind.

  The story and the haircut procedure came to a close at exactly the same time, and the sloth roused himself long enough to gaze appreciatively into the mirror, transfer funding resources to April, remind her about yet another foam party, and then noisily air-kiss one another before heading to the door. Once he was outside, there came a creaky tumbling noise indicative of the sloth reaching the lower landing in an expedient and painful manner. But his appointment time was up, and April did not run to check on his condition.

  Instead she turned to Sharon, motioning for her to come hither as she pulled out a fresh drop cloth garment. “Now, let’s see what we can do with you.”

  Sharon gingerly approached the station, and then tried to get comfortable in the large chair which seemed to swing about unsteadily with the slightest breeze. Making matters even more disorienting, April suddenly grabbed a broom and shoved the pole betwixt Sharon’s legs, whacking the bristles at a small clump of hair on the floor that had escaped earlier notice. Retrieving said clump, April then whisked it away and ran to do something with it in a curious alcove at the back of the room.

  Returning, April poked a bit at Sharon’s tresses, then met her eye in the large mirror that Sharon was facing. “Are we doing the usual?”

  Sharon was flummoxed. “I’ve never been here before. I would have recognized that breast.”

  April laughed. “Honey, I can tell you’ve had this same style for twenty years. Your hair can practically cut itself.” Then she paused, her expression changing in the mirror. “Oh wait.” She turned and looked at Hexom. “Is this going to be…”

  Hexom nodded. “Yes, one of those.”

  April returned the nod. “Got it.” Her eyes went back to the mirror as she leaned down and muttered conspiratorially into Sharon’s right ear. “Just trust me. You’ll be fine.” Then she whirled the chair away from the mirror so that Sharon could not view the proceedings, then began fiddling with her cutting implements as she prepared for her operation.

  Sharon, now gazing upon the bemused Hexom as he lounged, had a query. “What is she doing?”

  Hexom smiled. “Relax. Nothing to worry about.”

  Sharon’s face paled a bit. “Why is everyone trying to calm me down? That’s only making me more nervous.” Outside, there was another round of groaning wood noises, and then the sloth queen presumably staggered away as footsteps slowly faded. A distant yelp then signaled that he had either fallen again or had misplaced his car keys.

  From somewhere behind Sharon came April’s voice. “Hexie, dear, the music.”

  Hexom leaned over to a small boom box, took a CD from a dusty stack, blew on it a bit, inserted the disc, adjusted a few controls, and then pressed “play”. The room was immediately filled with some Enya-esque business, with chanting and airy strings and such. Sharon was surprised to find it instantly soothing, especially since she normally didn’t care for that kind of mess. The haunting melody spoke to her in a drowsy, sensuous way, and for some reason she began to think of the fleshy fruit of a persimmon…

  “Okay, all done!” said a voice.

  Sharon opened her eyes to find April gazing at her with a wry smile. Standing next to April, Hexom wore the same odd expression. Sharon blinked a few times. “What just happened?”

  April finished wiping hair gel off her hands with a small burgundy towel, which she then tossed aside. “I cut your hair. Wanna see?”

  Nodding vacantly, Sharon was twirled back to the mirror. Her eyes widened. “Oh my God!” she uttered, then looked up at the reflected images of April and Hexom towering over her. “What is going on?”

  April frowned. “You don’t like it?”

  Sharon fumbled for words. “No.. I mean, it’s fine, it’s kinda cute… but… it’s just that…”

  “Yes?” asked Hexom, with that single raised eyebrow of his.

  Sharon swallowed. “I look just like Theresa Thomas. This girl I went to school with.”

  Hexom’s eyebrow remained arched. “School? As in high school? As in…”

  “Yes,” breathed Sharon. “High school. Sunset High. Twenty-five years ago.”

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