Autumnally Unforgettable (part 2 of Summer Plans the short story)

Miranda had bravely managed to recount much of what had to be a very traumatic experience for anyone, let alone a teenager. After my typical thirty minutes were up, I decided it was probably best to take a break from the topic. I suggested that we could meet again tomorrow to get Miranda’s final thoughts for the magazine, if she wanted to divulge more of her story of course. Miranda expressed that this would be ‘fine’ but Miranda’s Uncle interjected he seemed very annoyed by the thought of another day where ‘Miranda wouldn’t be working’. I reminded him that the magazine would issue the fast payment as agreed when Miranda felt she had shared all that she felt comfortable discussing surrounding her unexpected meeting with the infamous serial killer, Lerrah Snider. I also reiterated that we could pass on the hotel’s details with a copy of Miranda’s story to their local tour company. He responded with an outstretched hand, a pleasant flash of teeth and finally introduced himself as ‘Billy’. I thanked him for his cooperation and informed them that we (myself and the team) would return the following morning at 9am.

Miranda was sat in one of the sun chairs when I approached her the following morning, the team assembled to complete the photoshoot first but Miranda suddenly seemed quite deflated in comparison to yesterday. When I asked her if she was okay she shared that she didn’t feel safe enough to have her identity online or in print, I queried further but she shrugged and told me that she didn’t know why exactly but sh felt that Lerrah would be after her because she had cooperated with the officer that finally caught Lerrah. Prior to Lerrah’s arrest she had been on the run and seemingly off the radar for sixteen years and reported in the media as a local folk tale or a calculated mythical presence to be feared. Miranda admitted to being spooked by the ordeal and asked for the interview to be relocated away from the Hoedown Hotel, we obliged with her idea of using a local spot of her choice. It was a quaint little establishment outside of Morrisse Village and for obvious reasons I can’t disclose its exact name or location.

Once we settled with what I must say was delicious candy flavoured teas, Miranda explained that the teas were typical of the many villages near Morrisse Village but originated in Morrisse Village. Miranda also disclosed that she still worried about Lerrah Snider wanting revenge. Local news updates indicated that she could breathe a sigh of relief with Lerrah safely in police custody and awaiting sentencing with no bail. The voices on the screen were of little comfort to the anxious teen, as she watched the Lerrah story updates on the shops wall mounted television. As I made some phone calls to cancel the photographer and stylist Miranda resumed with her internal battle her eyes were vacant and it was only when I called her name for the third time that she temporarily returned to the present. I gave her the business card to her local counselling office, I had researched therapy in Miranda’s area yesterday but I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss this with Miranda. Her Uncle had brushed the entire ordeal off as a minor service glitch with potential to generate more attention for the hotel.

I made a final call to cancel the appointment with the hairdresser when Miranda interjected ‘Umm actually I would still like to get my hair done if it’s okay, my roots need doing.’ Typically if clients refused the magazine feature and opted to go anonymous they lost the right to all related perks but considering the seriousness of what Miranda had experienced, I felt that getting Miranda a hair appointment was the least that the magazine could do. ‘Yes of course you can’. The idea of some pampering appeared to lift the teenager’s morale as she became quite talkative and relaxed. Miranda smiled weakly and eventually lifted her mug of no longer steaming tea to her lips, the quick expression on her face acknowledged that the liquid had long missed it’s comforting qualities but she refused another drink on us and gulped it down with a distracted and forced smile. Miranda mimicked a goldfish as she hesitated with what might have been the beginning of her speech but decided to peruse the menu instead.

My assistant had done a wonderful job at finding a luxurious hair salon for Miranda; it was so pristine that it would have felt clinical had it not been for the contrast of abstract art on the walls against the stark white of the interior and the throng of welcoming staff and regular clients. The quality of the complimentary beverages and finger food also indicated that this was a successful business place. Miranda took a few pictures with the hairdresser and once the ‘hairstylist’ as she preferred to be called had left to schmooze Miranda informed me that the woman usually worked with actors and musicians so ‘this is unbelievable’ she shrilled with revere. I felt quite pleased for Miranda, it was about time that the universe granted her a break and on the hairdresser’s return they began to discuss celebrity gossip as I flitted in and out of sleep.

The hairdresser’s assistant brought me some orange juice and I couldn’t quite help but notice how different she was to the rest of her employees she was strikingly curvaceous with her face completely made up, where the rest were mostly slender and closer to the stature of a stereotypical fashion model. Seemingly barefaced excluding their eyebrows. I wondered if Miranda’s anxiety had suddenly become contagious and manifested in my new watchfulness of the salon’s employees. I just couldn’t put my finger on it but something just didn’t sit well with me maybe it wasn’t the actual employee maybe it was just my unfamiliarity of the environment.

I took a sip of the orange juice and left it. Miranda was in fits of giggles from her juicy conversation that I had missed. The hairdresser told her assistant to; ‘mix the dye, apply the treatment, wash Miranda’s hair then return Miranda to the chair for styling.’ The assistant merely nodded seemingly anxious and partially distracted by Miranda’s hair, I shrugged it off as a sign of possible employee politics since her name was not uttered even once by the hairdresser. As the hairdresser’s assistant made eye contact with me, I offered a sympathetic smile to the cowering shadow of a woman. The slender lady tucked one side of her blonde bob cut behind her left ear before disappearing out of sight, she soon returned with the bowl of mixed dye and an application brush and made little work of dyeing Miranda’s hair. The assistant had refrained from speaking even when she guided Miranda to a new position for her session under a hooded dryer, a move that I found to be quite peculiar for such an establishment but maybe she was new.

The celebrity hairdresser reemerged from her wander and pulled the hood of the dryer up to look at Miranda’s hair. Her face soon contorted as she scanned the room in search of her assistant. The words heating her lips were inaudible due to the pitch of her rapidly escaping frustration of the poor dye job and as she quickly rushed Miranda to a sink, that’s when I saw the damage. Miranda’s once blonde locks were now jet black tendrils. The hairdresser apologised and offered money off of Miranda’s next appointment that would lift the colour, Miranda muttered ‘It’s okay’ but her wide-eyed expression betrayed her verbal dialogue. ‘Miranda are you okay?’ I asked the concerned looking teen. She nodded but sat in silence as the hairdresser insulted the assistant who had yet to make an appearance. I didn’t blame her for hiding, the hairdresser had taken a beastly form and spat fire cinders of vengeance for the potential threat to her reputation.

The room became silent as the assistant armed with her navy trench coat and grey satchel appeared in the doorway. She quickly walked towards the hairdresser but kept her gaze fixed on Miranda and then me. As the hairdresser hurled abuse and detailed the consequences of messing up in her town the assistant quietly headed towards the entrance, she abruptly stopped at the product display before swinging her satchel at it and causing the entire contents of the shelves to create sweet smelling traffic on the floor. The assistant looked back one last time to mock the hairdresser and other infuriated staff with a grin, as she began to roar with laughter at the mess she had made. A group of salon staff ran out after the assistant. They soon returned with the former assistant’s abandoned coat and satchel. Inside the satchel lay a dirty mirror shard, a sliver pair of scissors and black hair extensions, the other employees labelled the assistant ‘a thief’ and proceeded to gossip some more.

Miranda sat in the same position she had not moved an inch from the chair and clasped her hands to hide the shakes that had developed. The poor teen’s nerves were devastated by the ordeal. I called to Miranda four times and she only returned to the present on the fourth call. She swallowed loud enough for me to notice and asked if I would take her home. I agreed to leave in ten minutes to give Miranda time to speak to her parents and calm down. As she ended the call she sighed heavily. The tears held in her eyes told me this day has taken its toll on the teenager. Miranda paused with the beginning of her speech ‘I…well…..something’s wrong’. I looked at Miranda extremely confused as to what she could be referring to and eagerly awaited more information from her. ‘What do you mean?’ I queried. It was all I could think of to encourage Miranda to divulge, whilst maintaining an air of nonchalance that was fitting for her generation. ‘I don’t know but about a month ago…’ Miranda started, as she highlighted the root of her anxiety. She had been receiving free clip in extensions from a company that she couldn’t find online but each week she would receive two boxes of black hair. Miranda described the boxes as ‘creepy’ she had made a connection between the black wig that Lerrah had worn on the day of their encounter and the black ‘human’ hair extensions. I asked Miranda why she hadn’t told anyone before now and she shrugged. Not wanting to alarm her I gave my best impression of unfazed but made a mental note to stop by the police station once Miranda was dropped off. I wasn’t sure whether Lerrah had escaped or hired someone to terrorize Miranda but I highly doubted that this would be the last encounter.

Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2016

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