by Tairish
Tony Ramirez couldn’t remember a 48 hours with more highs and lows.  High: seeing his wife in her outrageous costume Saturday night, with a huge bouffant hairdo that for some reason aroused him greatly despite being truly gaudy.  Huge High:  The incredible sex he and his wife experienced shortly thereafter.  High: a fun costume party at the neighbors, ending by everyone being thrown in the pool.  Low: waking up the next morning to find his wife’s hair in a state of ruin.  Low: believing after hours of assistance from Mandy Harper that it was of no avail, and that his wife would have to cut her treasured knee length mane.  High:  watching Mandy spend countless more hours until she eventually fully restored Jolene’s tresses.  High: seeing the absolute relief in his wife’s’ face as they went to bed.  Low: discovering the tremendous amount of damage the next morning, the bed covered with broken hairs, most breaking at about neck level or above.  Big low: having Mandy come over and sort through the damage, sadly informing them that, despite her best efforts, the dunk in the pool had done vast amounts of irreparable harm.  Just touching Jolene’s hair caused more to break off, and running a brush through it ripped it out by the handful.  There was sadly but clearly only one thing left to do: cut off the damage.  The trouble was, the damage was extensive and basically ran clear to the root.  Truly huge low: sitting here in this beauty salon watching what had become of his wife’s once flowing tresses.  It was obvious to all that basically all of her length would have to go.  Still, when her stylist Renee made a brutal initial chop at midback length just to make it more manageable to wash Tony was horrified.  Once there, the sink nearly clogged from all the hair that broke off when rinsed, and by the time it was combed out looked ragged and thin instead of the thick, voluptuous curtain he had always adored.  So another severe cut was made, this time resulting in a shoulder length ‘Bob’ that made him basically nauseous to witness.  The problem was it still wasn’t short enough to rid all the damage, as it was still breaking off every time even a wide tooth comb was run through it.  It was only months ago that his wife almost willingly cut her hair to a very short pixie type style with the sides and back taken incredibly short with an electric clipper.  It was the type of cut you would almost expect from a barber.  He had even seen a computer simulation of what his wife would look like in just such a cut.  But that never happened back then, because Matt and Mandy Harper had saved the day.  Unfortunately it was happening now, albeit not willingly.  He was beyond distraught as he watched a pair of electric clippers come to life and make short work of almost all the hair on the back and sides of his wife’s head.  He couldn’t imagine what must be going through Jolene’s mind.  What remained was so short he could even see scalp starting to show through.  The top was spared the clipper, but the scissors took it down so short it basically didn’t make a difference.  His own hair, which was a short conservative style most men wore, was now longer than his wife’s hair!  As the stylist started gelling the top of Jolene’s head into little spikes he could control it no more.  He ran out of the shop and vomited in the gutter.  Then he started coughing hysterically.

“Wake up!  Tony!  Wake up! You’re having a nightmare!”

Tony Ramirez opened his eyes, sweat pouring down his face, still coughing a bit.  He was in his bedroom; it was dark except for the bedside reading light his wife just turned on.  He looked over to her.  Her wonderful long dark mane fell over her shoulder, down the pink comforter, and over the bed towards the floor.  It was all still there.  He breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Oh thank God it was just a bad dream!”
“Do you want to tell me about it?”
“No, I just want to hold you.”

She turned to him and he took her into his arms.  His hand went around her back and he pulled her in tight.  He treasured the feel of her hair between her back and his hand.  It felt like silk.  He grabbed a handful, not wanting to let go.  They just lay there for what must have been minutes until finally Jolene started to turn away.  Tony swore he heard a slight tearing sound.  He opened his eyes just in time to see Jolene return to her side of the bed, but the handful of hair remain in his hand.  It had totally broken off from her head quite near the root.  Jolene felt it too, and a hand shot back to the back of her head, only to feel a whole patch of short stubble where her long locks should have been.  She turned to see the handful of hair in her husbands’ still clenched hand.  Then she started to scream.  Tony started screaming too.

Tony Ramirez woke death gripping a pillow.  He was sweating hard and his pulse was racing.    He never remembered having such horrible nightmares.  He looked around his bedroom, instinctively reaching for his wife. She wasn’t in the room, and her bathrobe was not on the chair next to the bed as it should have been.  He looked at the clock.  Three a.m.  He got up and went out to the living room.  She was sitting there, sobbing, with some soft music on low and some candles lit.  Her head was still wrapped in the towel, pinned in place like an Egyptian turban.

“Are you all right?”
She didn’t look at him, but was just staring at the candles.
“I don’t want to sleep.  I was having the most awful dreams.  It seems so stupid but they were all about me having to cut my hair.”
“That doesn’t sound so stupid to me.”
“But think about it!  It is!  It’s not like one of us has cancer or something like that.  I’m stressing because I might have to get a haircut?  How dumb does that sound!?”
“If it makes you feel any better, I was having nightmares too, about the same thing.”
This time she looked at him.  “Really?”
“Yeah, really.”
The both sat for a while, alone in their own thoughts.  Eventually Jolene broke the silence.
“I really love having long hair.  More than you can know.  More than I ever realized.”
“If it has to be cut, you can just grow it out again.”
“I know, but who knows how long that will take?  Plus hair changes with age.  It may not be able to grow this long again.”

Tony hugged his wife.  She put her head on his shoulder and sobbed ever so softly.

The two stayed on the couch, never falling asleep, for the rest of the evening.  Comforting each other, talking, snuggling, trying to make jokes but failing, but mostly just wishing for time to pass to get them through the night.  They felt like two prisoners, with the coming dawn being Judgment Day.

Mandy knocked on the door the next morning, still in need of more rest despite her deep sleep the night before.  Her hands still ached, as did her back.  She didn’t bother to shower that morning.  She couldn’t wait to see if Jolene’s hair was going to make it intact.

Both Tony and Jolene gave Mandy a hug, Jolene’s hair still wrapped in the towel.  It wasn’t until then that they took notice to the head full of barrel curls still holding true to form trailing down Mandy’s back.  While sagging a good 6 inches or so from their original tight form, after more than 36 hours they still held their shape remarkably well.  The previous day they had been so focused on Jolene’s problem they hadn’t even taken notice of the style.  Now they wondered how they could have missed them.  Both Tony and Jolene took time fondling them as Mandy tried to describe how she had arranged her hair for her date with Matt.  Jolene wondered to herself if Mandy could possibly curl her hair someday, doubting it would work at all but ever hopeful.  But then she snapped back to the reality of her own hair predicament, recognizing how close she came to a true hair disaster, and quickly put such thoughts of trying new hairstyles furthest from her mind. Besides, if this day went badly she wouldn’t have long hair left to curl.

Mandy unwrapped Jolene’s bountiful mane from the towel.  The intense leave-in conditioner was basically dry, leaving a wonderful sheen to the hair.  She ever so carefully and cautiously started combing through the length with a wide toothed comb, inspecting for damage every step of the way.  Neither of the Ramirez’s said a word, just waiting for the doctor’s analysis.

Mandy knew there was going to be at least some damage.  There was no way around it.  The question was how much and how severe would the steps need to be to rectify it?  A small amount of broken strands were on the floor by the time she was easily combing through the complete length.  Not nearly as bad as it could have been.  She also noted a few areas that showed some splitting and quickly snipped off the areas beyond salvage.  Some of these strands were quite long but, since Jolene had such thick hair, their absence was totally unnoticeable.  Still, Jolene fretted at the sight of the scissors and held her breath each time she saw them bite into her hair.

Ninety minutes later Mandy was done, declaring Jolene’s hair ready to go and free of damage.  Jolene did her own thorough inspection, trying to uncover the areas that Mandy had attacked with the scissors to no avail.  Her tresses had made it through this awful adventure thanks to Mandy’s persistence and skills.  She was more than a true friend.  She was amazing.

Mandy went home and took a long, hot bubble bath, then washed her hair.  Even she was kind of impressed that the barrel curls were still holding for this long.  They had never lasted this long on any previous occasions.  She wondered what she might have done differently this time to end up with such a long lasting hold.  She probably did use more setting gel than usual, but didn’t think that alone could make such a radical difference.  And then she recalled how the dry air of the southwest was much more forgiving than the humidity of the east.  Whatever the case, her efforts had produced exactly the results, and reactions, that she was striving for.

Once out of the tub she went right back to bed, totally relieved and spent from all the time and effort restoring Jolene’s long locks.  Since all in the house were at work, it was totally quiet.  She didn’t even stir until later that evening, the aroma of home cooking emanating from the kitchen.  As she enjoyed a wonderful gourmet quality meal she regaled all the Johnson’s with the story of Jolene’s Beehive misadventures.  She was quite surprised that all seemed truly interested and concerned.

That evening she had problems falling asleep again, probably from all the sleep she had that day, and eventually gave up trying.  At 2 a.m. she was in the living room clicking through the television channels.  Eventually she started popping in some video tapes, coming across a series of Matt/Jolene practice sessions.  First she watched the one she had seen before, this time noticing the date of the practice marked on the tape.  All of the tapes were dated, and she started going back, watching ones from up to two weeks earlier.  Though she was certainly no expert, she knew what she was seeing.  Matt had been absolutely right in his assessment of the couple.  Past practices, while technically very skilled, had lacked the chemistry.   Only when Matt really stressed it, or when Tony was present, did the couple click into the right energy.  Jolene was many things: smart, beautiful, sexy, a great dancer, and wealthy to name just a few, but she was not a threat.  She absolutely was not a threat.

Mandy leaned back into the sofa, never more confident about her relationship with Matt Johnson.  She smiled, and when she fell asleep minutes later the smile was still there, as it would be when Matt gently woke her with a soft peck on the cheek in the morning.

Gil Pearlman could hardly contain his anger.  He strode purposefully across the loading docks, not caring at all if he interfered with the efforts of his fellow employees.  By next month they would no longer be ‘fellow employees’, because Gil had just received his notice of termination.  This would be his last few weeks with Elegan Enterprises, known worldwide as a leader in hair care products.  Far too expensive products, but he had to admit they were the best.  His wife swore by them too.

For eight years Gil had slaved for this company, only to be let go now due to ‘corporate downsizing.’  It was a fancy term for slashing the work force to keep up with their competitors which were all produced abroad for far less money.

The company had warned all employees that this might happen, so it wasn’t a complete shock.  And his boss had been genuinely sorry to let him go.  Yet there was nothing he could do about it, and Gil knew that.  If only he could have two more years this wouldn’t be so bad.  Because after ten years with the company he was entitled to benefits lasting the rest of his life.  But being let go now left him with nothing.  And so Gil was angry.  And Gil was spiteful.  The company would pay for this treatment, for making promises and then cutting him so they wouldn’t have to make good on those promises.  The timing was all too ‘convenient’.  They knew he, and others like him, would soon be costing them big money for years to come, so they got rid of him as delicately and politically correctly as they could.  He had no legal recourse either.  He had already asked several lawyers about that.

What the company didn’t know was that Gil was prepared.  If he was going to go down, then he was going to take the company down with him.  Maybe not take it totally down, but at least hurt it.  He walked to his locker, opened up his knapsack, and removed a small packet filled with 5 vials with accompanying syringes.  Then he disappeared into one of the larger rooms, where bottles of product were packaged up to be sent all over the nation.  It was quiet now as everyone was on lunch break.  Gil also knew it was devoid of security cameras.  There was no way for anyone to connect him to what he was about to do.  He took out a syringe and gently slid it in to some bottles of ‘leave in’ conditioner, then squeezed a small portion from the vial into the bottle.  He repeated this numerous times on random bottles until all 5 syringes were empty.  He had ‘contaminated’ 27 bottles with a little ‘surprise’.  Whoever eventually used this ‘conditioner’ was in for a very rude awakening.  The accompanying uproar, lawsuits, and negative publicity would certainly hurt this company right where he wanted: on the bottom line.

Later that afternoon Gil casually checked the records to see where those particular bottles were headed.  They were earmarked as package #765.  He was hoping some place like New York or Los Angeles, where the press would pounce like the starving wolves they were.  Then the story would go National or Worldwide (on the stock markets) over night!  He couldn’t hide his dismay when he found out their destination.
“New Mexico!” he said out loud to no one.  “Who the fuck lives in New Mexico?!  Of all the fucking luck!  It could go anywhere and it’s going to the middle of the fucking desert!”

Gil left the building totally frustrated.  There was no way he could get a hold of any more ‘surprise’ vials either.  It had been way too much work, and too much money as it was.  He looked in his wallet, happy to find a $20 bill, and decided to head to his favorite bar to drown his sorrows.  He was sure he would never get his revenge now.

Over the next few days Matt and Mandy spent a lot of time together.  Jolene and Tony took an unexpected trip out of town to a Bed & Breakfast in Carmel, California.  They had both been such nervous wrecks over the whole potential hair catastrophe that they needed time to escape and relax.  During the entire time Jolene did nothing but wear her hair down, shying away from even a simple braid or ponytail.

Mandy was concerned that her relationships with Jolene was now on shaky ground.  Despite the fact that she had saved Jolene from willingly cutting her hair so many months ago, and sharing the secrets of some of her trademark styles, the whole Beehive fiasco probably killed all trust in her when it came to style suggestions.   That was unfortunate too, because Mandy had spent a good deal of time, at the request of both Jolene and Matt, trying to come up with the perfect style for their dance competition.  They were hoping for something similar to the ‘Faux Short Hair’ style which Jolene considered about the right look.  The simulated length of that style was perfect, plus it didn’t fall across her face, but it lacked as much movement as she would like.

This was a challenge to Mandy, like a mystery that only she could solve, and her mind often wandered thinking up new possibilities.  However she kept returning to the style, or a variation of the style, she wore on her trip out to New Mexico; the ‘flip’ that truly fooled Matt and his parents, as well as countless others in the airport and on the plane.  The problem was that it required teasing, albeit very minimal compared to many styles she often wore, and she doubted Jolene would ever want to subject her hair to that treatment again.   She spent many hours playing with her own hair, trying to do the style without the backcombing but to no avail.  She even called Gail so the two could put their heads together on the project.  Gail could see no other way either.  If Jolene wanted the benefits of that particular style, she’d have to trust Mandy that the backcombing would do no harm.  Mandy shared this information with Matt the next morning during breakfast, wondering if he thought Jolene would ever take her at her word again.

Matt started laughing, which hurt Mandy that he could be taking this all so lightly, and she let him know.
He explained his behavior.  “Jolene called me last night from California.  She and Tony are coming back tomorrow, and she was all worried that her leaving so suddenly without talking to you would make you think she hated you.  She wanted you to know that was far from the truth, and hoped to schedule some time to play with hairstyles for our upcoming competition.”

Matt felt so good to see the familiar grin of confidence and joy return to Mandy’s lovely face.
Mandy spent the majority of the day playing with the possibilities of the hairstyle she now called ‘The Headband Illusion’, seeing how short she could make it appear, especially when it was going to be constantly shaken and twirled. The shoulder length flip was easy for her to reproduce now.  It was only slightly tougher to bring the flip up to just above the shoulders, and quite simple to curl the ends under rather than ‘flip’ them. The resulting ‘Bob’ looked genuine.  Though it took some solid effort she was even able to bring the ‘Bob’ up shorter, so it was all just about chin length.  Even she was startled at how believable it looked.
 However Mandy didn’t stop there.  She started playing with the back even more, trying to make it look like it was layered.  It took quite a bit of finagling, but she found what she totally believed was the right look for Jolene.  The longest length in back fell a few inches below her shoulders, but the rest appeared to have numerous layers, the shortest at the crown only about 4 inches long.  The very ends she flipped ever so gently (she figured even Jolene’s stick straight hair could be coaxed into the subtle bend) resulting in a very sassy look, with lots of movement, yet that never flew in front of her face.  It was also quite comfortable.  The coils, being slightly thicker, required the very front to be teased a bit higher to make a smooth transition, but it all worked just perfectly.  It even looked quite impressive without the headband.  It made an observer wonder what was real and what was fake.  Of course none of it was fake, but she doubted anyone would guess the truth length of her hair, and certainly not the true length of Jolene’s.

Mandy gave the style a thick layer of spray to lock in the small ‘flips’, then slid the headband in place.  She again studied her look from every angle with a mirror.  It was perfect. Then she headed out to see what Matt thought.

Matt was in the dining room, going over the books with his mom and dad.  The business was holding steady and even showing a bit more of a profit than they had hoped for at this point.   All three were very focused on the pages and pages of facts and figures, or at least they were.  That was until Mandy stepped into the room.

“Oh my God you cut your hair,” exclaimed Elaine.  “Whatever made you do something like that?!”
 Richard just sat dumbstruck, and maybe even a little hurt.
 Matt wasn’t going to be fooled again, especially when he saw the headband and noticed the bit of teased up height in front.  He had to admit the short layers in back really looked convincing.
 “Wow, that’s amazing!”
 Elaine slapped him on the arm.  “What do you mean amazing!?  She went and cut off all that beautiful hair of hers!”
 Mandy cracked a smile, and then giggled.  “I didn’t cut it.”  She pulled off the headband, revealing all the many coils.  “It’s all still there.”
 Elaine got up and immediately started inspecting the handiwork.  Richard wiped his forehead seemingly in relief.  Matt just beamed at his girlfriends’ creativity.
 “I was thinking this might work for Jolene for your dance contest.  It moves well, is sturdy, and doesn’t fall across her face yet looks pretty trendy.  What do you think?”
 “I think it might just be perfect.  Will the headband fly off?”
 “It shouldn’t, but I’ve been thinking that it might add more mystery for her not to wear the headband.  That would also be one less thing that could potentially go wrong.”
 Matt got out his digital camera and photographed the style.  “I’ll show it to Jolene at tomorrow night’s practice.  I got to believe she’ll go for it.”
 “I’ve got a better idea.  I’ll leave it in tonight and show it to her myself.  That is if you don’t mind me watching the two of you practice.”
 “Not at all.  That would be great.  In fact, we’re much better with an audience anyway.”

Mandy smiled, happily knowing how true that statement was.

Elaine was still touching and inspecting.  Inside she was secretly wishing her own hair was long enough to try out some of Mandy’s fabulous styles.  At that very moment she decided she was going to start letting her hair grow out.  It had been in the same short layered style for years, too short for even the tiniest pony tail.  She didn’t know how she would resist the urge to cut it when it started getting ragged looking.  Not that she planned for a second to grow it long like Mandy’s hair, but perhaps at least to her shoulders.  Then maybe Mandy could teach her some fun original styles to do with it.

Kyle Roberts sat low in his chair, trying not to show his frustration and boredom.  This gathering of the ‘top’ local leaders in fashion was a yearly chore, learning all the latest trends from both coasts and abroad.  After three full days of lectures, runway shows and demonstrations he was exhausted, but still needed to share and trade thoughts with others from his salon, especially the owner, about what they should take away from this.
One of the newest employees, Zoe, who this month was a redhead, was first to speak up, to no one else’s surprise.
“Obviously we need to focus on color and short, layered Bobs.  That is the big thing.”
All the others in the room nodded agreement.  All that is, except Kyle Roberts.
“Layered Bobs are soooooooo BORING!!!!  Why can’t we be different!?  Why can’t we be leaders?!  Santa Fe is known as The City Different.  There is such a thing as Santa Fe Style.  Why can’t we say ‘the hell with you all, we’re going to take the lead?!’”
The others in the room collectively groaned.  This was not the first time Kyle had climbed on his soapbox.
“So what do you suggest?” asked Zoe with complete sarcasm.
“We can still go for the color, but let’s go for long hair!”
“The blunt cut Bob is SO yesterday!” said Bill, who had all the imagination of a crouton.  Fortunately he was absolutely terrific with hair color.
“I’m not talking about shoulder length,” said Kyle, now on his feet with his arms flailing in passion.  “I’m talking LONG hair, like down to the waist, or longer.”
That brought the entire group out in force, all yelling out objections, or laughing at the very notion, or just muttering saying he had gone mad.  Bernie, his boss, finally calmed everyone down and looked at Kyle.
“You know damn well there is no money in long hair.  Getting a trim twice a year won’t pay our bills, if they even come in and do that instead of having their roommate or best friend trim it for them.  Shorter styles that require regular maintenance are perfect for us.  The shorter layered Bobs will require monthly visits to stay looking good.  Sorry Kyle, but much as I love long hair (And he truly did.  Even his wife had hair to her waist totally at his request) I have to agree with where the industry is going.”
“No money in it!?  Do you realize how much money there is in extensions!?  If tomorrow very long hair became the fad everyone would be paying fortunes to fit in.  Plus longer hair is more expensive and time consuming to color, so that ups the money too.  Plus it requires a lot more shampoo and conditioner.  That would increase our sales too.
“Great, we get all this money at first by everyone getting extensions, and then we are stuck with nothing.,” said Bill.
“Not necessarily.  If we get good at styling it…”
“But you just said we’re encouraging long hair, and now you’re talking about cutting it!  That’s a contradiction.  You can’t have it both ways,” said Barbara, who was the textbook ‘blonde’ even though she wasn’t born that way.
“I’m not talking about styling as in ‘cutting’.  I’m talking about styling as in ‘arranging’, (everyone was staring at him completely vacuous) like you would for weddings and formals.”
“So women are going to come in with their long hair and get it ‘arranged’ in formal styles every month just to keep us in business!?” said Barbara with condemnation in her voice.  “I don’t think so.”
“It sounds like you’re expecting life to take a step backwards 50 years, when women visited the salon every week and had their hair set and then…arranged.  I hate to tell you this but those days are dead and gone,” said Zoe.
“No, I’m not expecting that.  We make the money constantly teaching new things that bring the customers back. New ways to work with their long hair.  I’m talking about different ways of braiding, of putting it up quickly, of curling it.  Things like that.”
“But we’ve nothing new to offer,” said Bernie.
“But what if we did!?  What if there were numerous, fabulous styles that none of us ever thought possible that we could unveil on the world.  Styles that would only be possible with long hair.  Styles that were….magic!”
“And who exactly is this magician who is going to teach us all these fantastic styles?  You!?” asked Zoe.
“No, not me.  But I think I know a woman who can, and she lives in Santa Fe.”
“Well, who is she?  Is she here?”
“No, she’s not a professional.”
“Do you have her phone number? E-mail? Address?,” asked Bernie.
Kyle just shook his head.
“My God, man, do you even know her name?”
He enthusiastically nodded his head this time.
“Mandy Harper.”

Jolene and Matt were hard at work, as the number of their remaining practices was rapidly dwindling before the big contest.  The sudden trip to California had thrown their timing off a little bit and the first hour had been filled with silly errors.  They were back on track now though.

Both were drenched in sweat despite wearing only a skimpy amount of clothing.  Jolene was glad she had her hair up in the ‘Faux Short Hair’ style that she could now reproduce almost as quickly as Mandy could.  It was during a short break to towel off that Mandy walked in.  Her hair was still in the style she had shown to the Johnson’s the day before.

For a split second the illusion was so real that Jolene wondered if she had truly cut her hair.  She went over to her friend, gave her a cautious hug so not to cover her with sweat, and then gazed at it from all sides.
“I love your hair!”
“Thanks,” said Mandy.  “I was rather hoping so, because I was thinking this would be perfect for you for the dance competition.  It holds real well and it moves.”  She shook her head vigorously, then bent at the waste and shook it again.  When she stood upright it fell perfectly back in place.
“How did you do it?” asked Jolene, touching the back wondering where all the length had been hidden.
Mandy removed the headband showing the inner workings of the style.  Jolene studied it like a scientist peering in a microscope, totally entranced.  She noted the very front rose up a bit, and she pointed to it.
“Is their more hidden under there?”
Mandy shook her head.
“So how did you get that all poofy?  You didn’t…?”  Jolene’s face showed great concern over what she knew she was about to hear.
“Yeah, it requires a little teasing.”  Mandy knew she’d have a hard sell ahead of her over this.
“Can it be done without it?” she asked.
Another shake of her head.  “I really tried, but it just doesn’t work without it.”
Jolene nodded in understanding, then stared at the style trying to imagine it on herself, and trying to find a way not to like it.  Except for what was required to produce it, she could find nothing wrong.  She knew it was exactly right for the contest.  In fact should could imagine nothing else coming close.
The couple practiced for another hour with Mandy as their audience.  They finally started hitting all their marks and Mandy was thoroughly entertained.  She often applauded and whistled for the couple.  Occasionally others from the studio snuck a peak into the private back room also and were equally enthralled.  All agreed, this first time couple was going to make quite an impact at the competition.
After the session, as the two were stretching and cooling down, Jolene once more really studied Mandy’s hair.  It was absolutely phenomenal what she had achieved.
“Tomorrow we’re having our first dress rehearsal.  Would you have time to do my hair for me?”
“Sure.  What did you have in mind?”
Jolene smiled.  “Like yours is now, silly!”

Mandy was beaming inside, first because she knew Jolene would look so good in the hairstyle, but most of all because this showed she hadn’t lost Jolene’s trust.
“How long will it take to do?”
“Only about 30 minutes, though give me 45 this time.  You have more hair than I which might take a little longer to get right at first.”

The next afternoon found Mandy again in Jolene’s dressing area, brushing through her amazing long dark hair.  It was so thick it was hard for Mandy to believe it was only a foot longer than her own.  It seemed like so much more. Jolene seemed even more nervous on this occasion than the Beehive session.  When the time came to have the front teased her eyes opened wide in horror.
“Wait a minute!!  Last time almost destroyed my hair because of getting it wet!  Won’t all the sweat from dancing do the same thing?!”

It was a logical thought. Obviously she was still very afraid of any teasing from the one bad experience which was understandable.

“I know last time was bad, but you need to trust me.  I do at least this amount of teasing of my own hair quite often.  It really will be all right.”

The two were silent for what seemed an eternity.  Jolene finally sighed and gave the green light.  “Go ahead and do it.”  At the same time she shut her eyes tight and grimaced as she prepared to feel Mandy start in with a teasing comb.

And Mandy did, though very gently.  Still, it had to be done enough to create enough lift to match the mass of coils.  One time Jolene snuck a peak, immediately shutting her eyes even tighter.  “I hate you for this,” she said to Mandy, eventually forcing a grin to show it was just a joke.
Jolene did indeed hate the teasing, but she adored the final style even more on her than on Mandy.  It came out perfect, including the hint of curl at the end of each layer.
“Oh God I love it!  You are amazing!”  She shook it around; treasuring how it fell perfectly back in place yet had so much movement.  It was also totally comfortable.  At first she left the headband on, but eventually decided it looked even better without the headband.  It didn’t draw too much attention to itself, but did add an aura of mystery that could work to their advantage.  She found herself constantly touching it, especially enjoying the hint of curl.

“I can’t believe my hair is holding a curl.  It never holds a curl.”
“I really can’t believe that.  I’ve never met a head of hair that I couldn’t curl.”
“You’ve never tried mine.”
“You’ve never asked.”
“If I did would you say yes?”
“Then how about this Tuesday?”
Mandy was a bit surprised how total Jolene’s trust had returned.
“Why so soon?”
“I’m having my picture taken for my husband’s birthday.  It’s something I do every year at his request.  It’s a bit of an erotic type picture just for his eyes.”
Mandy grinned.  Sounds like fun.  She remembered now that the dance contest was the same day as Tony’s birthday.  That had been the only hang-up about the contest, until Tony had insisted she enter and ‘win it for him.’
“Have you curled it in past years?”
“No, but I’ve always wanted to.  I just never thought it possible.  The stylist at the photo studio says it would be a waste of time to even try to curl more than the very ends.”
“How curly were you hoping for?”
“I don’t know what’s possible.”
 “Why don’t I come over Sunday and we’ll try out some things and see what works?  There are, after all, many different types and sizes of curls.”
Jolene readily agreed, and then again noted her new reflection in her dance contest hairstyle.  She felt so good.
“Let’s go have dress rehearsal.”

Matt and Tony (who came to watch dress rehearsal too) were totally enraptured by the sight of Jolene in her classy yet extremely sexy, and tight fitting, competition outfit.  It certainly showed off her amazing figure.  The hairstyle was the perfect choice, as was the heavy makeup.  She was a vision.  An hour later, the couple was sweaty but ecstatic.  The dress rehearsal went famously, and the costumes, her hair, everything worked out just right.  They were ready for the competition, even though it was still 2 ½ weeks away.  The foursome celebrated late into the evening with Chinese take-out and several bottles of fine wine.  This had been a good day.

This had been a hard day, as it was another late evening working for U.P.S., and Supervisor Marcus White was anxious for this last plane to be finished, with all its materials transferred to the fleet of waiting delivery trucks.  Then he could finally leave the airport and be home with his family for tomorrow’s Independence Day celebration.  His daughter would be old enough now to really appreciate the fireworks, though he doubted his two year old son would do much more than cry from all the noise.  Still, he couldn’t wait to be home with them.  A few hours later the last of the trucks were roaring down the road, fully loaded.  One of them was headed to their Santa Fe distribution center.  Amongst its variety of boxes was Elegan Enterprises #765.

The Fourth of July brought a small traveling carnival to town, and Matt, Mandy, Tony and Jolene got together for an evening stroll amongst the rides, shows, and games of chance.  Mandy figured the torque of the rides was a great opportunity to test her Headband Illusion style to see how it would hold up on both Jolene and her own hair.  Jolene agreed, as she was still a bit concerned (though not too much)if the style would truly hold up through the rigors of the dance competition.  Mandy did her own hair first, experimenting leaving the back in a wider variety of longish layers, the longest falling just shy of midback, but most much shorter, which she then gently curled with a curling iron.  The result was the impression of a long, layered shag.  It made her look totally different and, when the coils were covered by the headband, totally real.  For Jolene she gave her the illusion of a long inverted bob, with the front falling just below her shoulders, and the back right about collar level.  At first Jolene was reluctant to try anything shorter than her dance competition version, but after being shown a picture of an inverted bob (a style she immediately recognized) was all in favor of the adventure, though a bit pessimistic about Mandy’s ability to truly pull it off with all of her hair.  Although nervous, this time Jolene watched the front part getting teased, still having flashbacks over the Beehive incident.  She thought it looked a bit too ambitious but held her tongue.  However, once the headband was in place this too looked absolutely believable.  It was perfectly clear the amount of teasing was only what was necessary.  Jolene kept touching it all night, so unused to feeling the ends of her hair against her neck and shoulders, to say nothing of her reflection when she passed a mirror.  She especially liked how it looked from the back.  Tony might have been more enamored with it than Jolene, constantly looking at her, trying to touch it, and giving little kisses to the back of her neck.
“Maybe you want me to cut my hair after all,” she said with a straight poker face.  He just stared at her until she finally cracked, busting out in a huge grin.  She knew he never wanted to see her cut her marvelous long locks, and was liking this style mostly because it could be achieved without the use of scissors.
The group bought their ride tickets and quickly tested out the ladies hair styles, and their stomachs, on some face paced rides filled with inversions and centrifugal forces.  The hairstyles came through without a hitch, which was more than could be said for the collective stomachs of the group.  All had to eventually take a seat and let some uneasiness settle down, as the fireworks show would start in about an hour.  They found a vacant bench across the path of a Fortune Teller’s tent.  The banner outside advertised the awesome powers of ‘Mystic Myrna’.  If the banner was right she could correctly predict your future for only $20.
“Who’s going to get their fortune told?” asked Matt, who’s stomach was the least queasy.
Jolene, who was the queasiest, just waved her hand at him indicating she would pass.  She just wanted to sit and recover for a while.  Mandy laughed at the notion.  “Don’t waste your money Matt.”  Tony, his arm around his wife, pulled a twenty dollar bill from his pocket and gave it to Matt.  “She right Matt, don’t waste your money.  Waste mine instead.”

Matt and Mandy had been with the Ramirez’s enough to know not to turn down offers of money.  It would hurt their feelings.  They weren’t flaunting it, or making fun of other’s financial struggles.  They simply had more than enough for their own needs and enjoyed the benefits that money could bring.  So Matt happily accepted the offer without hesitation, but with a hearty thanks, and strode into the tent.
Mystic Myrna was an elderly woman, quite thin, wrapped in layers of colorful cloth including a scarf around her head.  The gray, frazzled ends of her hair peeked out as they fell just below her shoulders.  She wore entirely too much makeup and looked very much like the gypsy fortune teller in the old black and white horror movies.

“Sit down, my boy, and let me tell you of what will be.”

Matt grinned, handed her the money, and had a seat across from her and her crystal ball.  The tent was dark, smelling of incense, with music playing in the background that sounded like someone strangling a banjo.

For the next several minutes the gypsy feigned a trance, and the crystal ball ‘magically’ lit up (though Matt couldn’t figure out the light source).  Then she proceeded to talk about him in such generalities, like a newspaper horoscope, that he fought hard to hold back laughter.
However then Myrna started getting more in depth, actually referring to his upcoming competitions and his financial struggles, though still in an indirect way.  He wondered if sometime that evening someone in their group hadn’t talked to Myrna ahead of time, but that would be ridiculous.

“Before I am done, you may ask one question,” said Myrna, doing a great acting job of being totally under some kind of spell.

Matt thought a bit before deciding on a question.  Supposedly this woman could predict the future, though he didn’t believe it for a second, despite some of the revelations of the past few minutes  He might as well give her a question pertaining to the future.  “Come next year at this time, what will the woman I love look like?”

She stared into her crystal ball again, which this time changed from a bright blue to a reddish orange in color.  He still hadn’t figured out the light source, and commented to himself that it was a neat trick.  That ‘crystal ball’ would be a fun prop for a Halloween Costume.  Mystic Myrna really had her act down well, as she looked totally focused.
“I see a very beautiful girl.”
Matt nodded his head in agreement.
“She has very beautiful hair.”
Matt smiled, picturing Mandy.
“She has very long hair.  Very, very long hair.”
‘Damn, this lady was real good!’ thought Matt to himself.
“Very long, very dark hair.”
Matt snapped out of his daydream.  “You mean blonde hair don’t you?!”
Myrna looked at him a bit irritated.  “The Crystal never lies!  And this woman has very dark hair.  Next year she will be the love of your life.”

Matt was shaken, trying to discard these disturbing words as just the ranting of an entertainer, with no rhyme or reason behind them.  He did his best to regain his composure, and then walked outside to rejoin his friends.  He saw Mandy first, looking as if she had finally recovered from the last ride.   Her long blonde hair still holding true in its magical shortened illusion.  Then he looked over at Tony and Jolene. Tony still had his arm around her, and his other hand was playing with her equally magical hairstyle. It looked so short when in reality it was so long.  ‘Very long, very dark hair!’


So how did I do?  Please send me any comments, criticisms, ideas for the plot of part 10 or any other story ideas you might have.  Thank you to all who have written in the past.  Send any ideas for this or any other story to:

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