“I’ve told you, yes. Calm down. Someone will be along soon.” A faint, disinfectant smell drifted across the salon as Sal wiped a shelf next to one of the large mirrors.
Beep-beep! The door opened and a young woman walked in, flat shoes slapping on the tiled floor. Bob’s green-gold eyes lit up.
“Hello! How can I help you?”
She pushed dark hair out of her eyes with nail-bitten fingers, stared at Bob and shot a glance back at the door. “Um. I just need a trim. Just my fringe, really.”
Bob tweaked his bow-tie, tugged on his waistcoat and adjusted the position of his comb and scissors as the girl settled herself into one of the high-backed, black chairs. He fixed his eyes on her reflection in the glass.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Nice to meet you Audrey! Right, the fringe? And an inch off the ends, too?” He let the fine strands slide through his long fingers. “Shall I wash it?”
“Er, no, thanks. Just… a dry cut.” Wide, blue eyes stared back at him. “Are those heavy?”
Bob touched his thick, blonde dreadlocks, his smile displaying slightly too many teeth. “These? I barely notice them! Don’t worry, your hair won’t end up looking like mine!”
Audrey gave a tiny laugh.
He picked up his scissors. The metal flashed and danced, the blades snicking around her head.
Right hand busy cutting, left hand picking up something else…
Transfixed by the motion of the scissors, she didn’t notice as Bob wiped her left ear with a square of fabric and made a tiny cut. A drop of ruby blood welled up and he sucked it into the plastic barrel of a small, cylindrical device. A tendril of his hair whipped it away and twisted in on itself, hiding it from sight.
He stood back.
“There, what do you think?”
“Wow! It looks amazing! How did you do that? It’s so much thicker!”
Bob blew across the top of his scissors. “Years of experience! Ah, let me just…”
“Sorry! That loose hair wasn’t quite as loose as I thought!” he said, squirreling away the long strand with its intact root.
“Did you get everything?” asked Sal, watching through the window as Audrey walked away.
“Good. I was worried we wouldn’t get the last sample.”
“You weren’t sure? You were the one telling me someone would be along.”
“I’m a pilot, I’m not telepathic. Never mind, we’re done and,” she looked at a grey band on her wrist, “just in time.”
Audrey stood staring at a patch of uneven red brick, spotted with fragments of old posters.
“It was here three weeks ago, I swear!”
“It’s a wall,” said her friend, Seymour.
“But there was a hairdresser. He did an amazing job of my hair.” Audrey looked around, forehead creasing.
“You must have the wrong place. Come on, time for food!” said Seymour.
This was written for a flash fiction competition, in which ‘showing not telling‘ (the bugbear of any fiction writer) was the key theme. There was meant to be absolutely no telling whatsoever. I almost succeeded, but in the original submission I wrote: “Three weeks later, Audrey….”
This is, of course, blatant telling. And right at the end, too. Curses!
I still got runner up though, so it wasn’t all bad.
The trouble with a story without any telling is that it can be difficult to work out what’s going on. Which is, I fear, the case here. But, regardless, I’m rather fond of this little tale, so I’ve left it alone.
Barring, of course, moving the “three weeks” slip into a piece of dialogue. I’m fairly confident that there really is no telling now. If you disagree, do let me know…