The salon had only been open for 18 days and Melissa, the senior stylist and owner of her first ever business hadn’t yet got to know all the people on the estate.  It was a thriving little town and she hoped to do well, taking customers from her competitors, even though there were 36 of them.  She planned to do it differently; make a special effort by staying open late and even on Sundays.  

It was 8.20 am on a Thursday morning.  The place was spotless and she sat at the reception desk with her first cup of tea of the day. Staring down at her column and the 12 bookings that were in, it was going to be a busy day by the looks of things. Good. There was  a big bank loan to pay off before she started reaping the benefits of being an entrepreneur.  Her first client was at 9.15.  A Mrs. Butler.  A new name she hadn’t seen before.  

The door bell rang as Joanne, the other stylist she’d employed,  walked in. 

 “Laddered my tights on some old biddy’s shopping trolley as I got off the bus.”  Jo stuck her calf out to show the pulled, open nylon.  Is there any fake tan in the back?  Can’t get my legs out otherwise.” She moaned but still with a smile on her face.

  Melissa had worked with Jo at her previous employment and when she had decided to go it alone, Jo had asked for a job. It wasn’t really viable to take her on but Jo had a good stream of regulars that would follow her so she’d taken the risk.  Plus they got on very well which was an added bonus. 

“  I think there’s some St. Tropez, on the third shelf, above the tints.”  Melissa offered.  “If not my old tea bag is in the sink, try that!” 

Joanne disappeared into the back stock room and staff area in a flurry of energy.  Melissa could hear her talking and laughing with Simone, the junior.  Sweet 16 and straight out of school on a 5 day a week placement at the salon in conjunction with beauty school.  Melissa wasn’t sure the girl had it in her.  She was quite shy and didn’t seem to have that creative pizazz.  However, Simone was only young and it was early days. 

The door pinged opened and a gigantic woman walked over the threshold.  The song “Big John.” sprang immediately to mind. 

Melissa moved her cup out of sight and and stood up from the reception chair.  “Mrs. Butler?”

“Call me Mavis.”  Mrs Butler replied, in a deep and husky voice.

The woman stood about 6’2” high and not far off that wide.  

“Hi Mavis, I’m Melissa and I’m doing your hair today. I have you down for a blow dry?”  

Melissa gazed at the woman’s hair, or the severe lack of it.  Fine strands of mousy threads stood on end like fraying cotton on a garment.  There was way more scalp than there were strands.  What was the point?

Simone came out from the back having heard the door ping and offered to take Mavis’s coat.  Melissa watched as the young junior struggled to reach and noted the obvious,
horrified look on her face at the sheer size of the woman.  Unfortunately you couldn’t slap your apprentices in front of clients.  That sort of thing was illegal.   Thankfully, Mavis didn’t seem to notice. 

“Now then young ‘un.  Gerrus a cuppa, duck, I’m parched.”  Mavis demanded to Simone, who scuttled off into the back kitchen. 

Melissa went to fetch a gown to put round her client prior to shampooing. 

“I don’t want that gubbins on!  Now then..” Mavis pointed at her scalp/hair, I need you to gi’ it some volume!”  

“Right.”  Melissa smiled, thinking there wasn’t a chance in hell, despite how talented she was, that volume was going to be had.  Volume required depth and mass and the only place that Mavis had that, was around her skeleton. 

Simone came out with a cup and saucer of tea followed closely by Joanne, who had obviously been told to come outside and have a gander.  Jo wandered casually over to the desk, pretending to check her bookings and then sauntered back to the staff room, not taking her eyes off Mavis, except for the WTF? face she pulled at Melissa before disappearing. 

“Can you get Mrs Butler shampooed please.” Melissa nodded towards Simone to take action.

“‘’Ave ya gor’ any colour you can pur’on?” Mavis chirped in.

“Yes of course.  We can use one of our coloured mousse’s”  Anything for a bit of help, Melissa thought. “Simone if you can put some of the chestnut brown mousse on Mrs. Butlers hair once she’s seated at my station.”  

Melissa went into the back room and Joanne burst out laughing.

“Holy shit! “ She exclaimed.  “That woman is massive!  Did she fit in the chair? LOL.  She hasn’t got any frikkin’ hair!”

“Shut up.  I should have booked her in with you.”  Melissa sat down and put her face in her hands.   “What the hell am I going to do?”

“Leave.  Out the back door?  I’ll tell her you got suddenly sick.”  She laughed.

“Shhh.  I am suddenly sick!”

“Why hasn’t she bought a wig?”  Jo said sarcastically as she ran her palm up her shins.  “Does this tan look patchy to you?”

“Yes” Melissa lied. 

Five minutes later Simone came into the back.  She looked very sheepish, almost on the verge of tears.  

“What’s up?”  Melissa asked.  

“Well I put that mousse on, like you said but.. It’s not just tinted her hair..”  She faltered.

“Go on..”  Melissa urged.

“ Her whole scalp has gone dark brown..”

“Oh fuck.  Oh God, no, no, no.  You’re supposed to put it on her hair not her head!” 

“She ‘ant got any hair though.. So it’s dyed her whole head.”

Melissa thought she was going throw up. It took at least 6 shampoos before the product faded.  The woman would be bleeding if they had to set about doing that in one go. 

“Well what did she say when she saw it?”  Melissa asked nervously.

“Nothin’ she just kept staring in the mirror and then I came to fetch you.

Joanne burst out laughing uncontrollably. Again. 

Melissa stood up wondering if her she dare go back out to the salon.  “Come on,” she said to Simone, “let’s go.”  

As she walked out the back room door and saw Mavis, sitting staring at herself, she nearly puked.  Her head looked like a malteser that’d been dropped on a carpet.

Melissa faced Mavis in the mirror, trying to think of something to say.

“That looks grand!”  Mavis stated.  “Looks like I’ve got more ‘air already!”  

Was she serious?  She couldn’t possibly think that looked good. Melissa didn’t want people knowing she’d done that or not another customer would walk through the door.  She had to think of a remedy. 

The door chime pinged and in walked another huge woman, like Mavis only even bigger!  Melissa and Simone did a double take. Were they being invaded by giants? 

“Oh, It’s our Candy, my daughter.” Said Mavis. That explained a lot. 

Candy trudged over to her Mother. “Nice colour Mam.” Were these people blind? 

“Just come to let ya know that I’m off to Asda.  How long are ya gonna be?”

Mavis looked at Melissa.  “Oh, she’ll be about 40 minutes.” Melissa lied, knowing it would take her all of 3 minutes to blow dry this woefully sparse head of hair.  She’s have to eek it out.  Maybe keep the dryer on cold and turned in the opposite direction.  

“I’m Candy. “  Said the daughter to Melissa.  I run the local slimming world.”  Candy looked at her watch and Melissa noted she had to part her wrist to read the time. How the hell did she get to run slimming world?  Shouldn’t the teacher lead by example?

“You ought to get your sen down there.  To my class”  Candy broke her train of thought.


“But...I’m only 9 stone.”  Melissa replied trying very hard to keep the indignant tone from her voice.

Candy looked her up and down and said, “Yeah, but you could be 8.” 

The cheeky cow.

“Anyway, I’ll be back in half an hour, Mam.”  And the giant daughter left the shop.

“ Now, Mrs. But... Mavis, the mousse has stained a little on your scalp..”  Melissa put forward tentatively, “We could give it another shampoo to fade that..”

“No duck!  It’s great, now like I said, GI’ IT SOME VOLUME.”

Melissa knew then, just 18 days in, that she’d sold out to her creativity and become a slave to the giants of the small town folk. 

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