The young man stood in front of the Salon Demure and stared inside, just like he’d done day after day for the past week and a half. He would stand there, and stare, eyes transfixed, watching all the activity inside, smiling a contented smile to himself. But no one ever noticed. He was good at hiding his actions behind sunglasses, or to read the paper, or to pretend to search for an address, or in the case of today, eat an ice cream. No one ever knew what he was doing, or so he thought.
He was about to call it a day and return to his apartment, when the door to the salon opened and a stunningly beautiful woman walked out. She looked at the young man, smiled and said, “Is there something we can do for you?”
Feeling he had been caught doing something wrong, he began to stammer. “Ummm…… No”. The man replied. “I’m good”.
He started to leave when she put her arm into his and began to pull him gently inside the salon.
“Please, at least come in and at least have some tea.” She insisted. :”You’ve been standing out there for so long, the least you could do would be to come in.”
His brain told him to resist, to leave, to never return, but something in her demeanor made him relax. He followed the woman inside.
“I’m Rachel Demming.” She told him, offering her hand. “And this is my shop.” “Are you sure there isn’t something we can do for you here?” She offered again as she led him over to a chair. “We do pride ourselves on being a full-service salon.”
“Something, for me?” He blushed. “No, no…. Nothing.” He lied. “I’m not a customer.” “Actually I was checking out this property.” “You know, for possible investment opportunities.” “You see, I’m an investment counselor” “My name’s Calvin.” He yammered. “Calvin Connors, at your service.”
Rachel smiled at the phrase, ‘at your service’. “Soon, sweetie….” She thought. “Very soon”.
A pretty blonde girl carrying a tray offered Calvin some tea in a small china cup. Calvin accepted and took a small sip of the tea. “Mmmmm…..” He said and took another sip. “This is good.”
“So tell me more about this investment opportunity.” Rachel continued. “What possible business ventures could be had in a little strip mall like this one?” She asked.
“You’d be surprised”. Calvin said, now feeling a little more relaxed. “There are opportunities everywhere.” “All a person has to do is see those opportunities and be willing to take advantage of them.”
“Those are my sentiments exactly, Calvin”. Rachel smiled as the poured offered him another cup of tea.
Calvin blabbed on for a few more minutes before he began to feel light-headed. His light-headedness eventually turned into fatigue and then in a rambled conversation concerning overseas real estate markets, Calvin finally passed out. Rachel’s ‘tea’ had done him in.
Rachel exhaled. “Finally….” Then she called out, “OK, ladies…” “The tea has done it job, now it’s time to do ours.”
With that, four giggling employees of Salon Demure hustled out from the back of the salon. They scooped up an unconscious Calvin Connors. They quickly removed his clothes then took him into the back.
Calvin woke up suddenly, with an ache in his head, and neck, and let’s face it, an ache everywhere. “Damn”. He thought. “Where am I?” He tried to move, but found he couldn’t. As his vision cleared, he noticed his ankles were tied to a salon chair. His wrists were tied up and lying on his lap. He tried to look around and get his bearings, but something kept him from turning his head. He felt warm air blowing on his neck. The warmth seemed to settle Calvin a little.
On closer inspection, Calvin noticed that his hands aside from being tied together were sporting a new set of nail extensions that were lacquered a dark seductive color. He didn’t like where this was going. His upper body had been covered with a pink vinyl apron while his legs were uncovered and hairless. He started to panic and tried to call out. No words could form because besides being tied, he was also gagged.
Rachel appeared behind and asked. “Are you alright, dear?” “You seem in a bit of distress”
“Whfff dud yo do…” Calvin tried to speak.
Rachel removed the ball gag to allow her captive to speak. “What did you say, dear?” “I’m afraid I didn’t get all that.” She chuckled.
“What have you done?” He spat out. “Let me out of here now, before I…”
Rachel cut him off. “Before you what?” “Before you jump up and run out?” She asked. “My girls did a fine job of trussing you up, so I doubt you’re going anywhere.” “The way I see it, you’re stuck here.” “You might as well just sit back your makeover.” “After all, it’s what you wanted, right?”
“What I wanted?” Calvin sputtered. “I didn’t want this.” “I came in here to assess this salon as a possible investment property.” “You drugged me and are holding me captive.” Calvin’s voice broke with panic.
“Please let me go….” Calvin pleaded. “My wife is waiting for me”. “She’ll be worried if I don’t come home.” “Please don’t do this”
“I’m not buying any of your lies, Calvin.” Rachel told him. “I know more about you than you think.”
Calvin remained silent while Rachel continued. “Aside for your name, everything else you’ve told me has been a lie.” “You’re single and you live alone after your girlfriend dumped you.” Rachel continued. “You lost your job at Sterns and Hamilton Real Estate for what they said was an ‘inability to close’.”
“Since you lost that job, you haven’t paid your rent in two months.” “Your landlord wants to toss you out and the gas company is threatening to shut off your heat.” She told him. “You’re in a bad way, Calvin.”
“You’re unemployed, broke and about to become homeless.” “The only solace that you seemed to have found in your life was to hang around here. “ “You’ve been sitting out in front of my shop for weeks just staring inside.”
Cal wanted to argue but couldn’t. Rachel was right. He was on a downhill spiral.
“You need a change, young man.” Rachel lectured. “And this salon can provide that change.”
“I don’t need a change.” Calvin pleaded. “I don’t need a makeover.” “I just want to go home.” “Please??”
“It’s a little too late for begging, Calvin.” “In fact, your makeover is all but done.” Rachel held a small mirror up to Calvin’s face. Calvin’s heart sank as he beheld his reflection.
His shoulder length hair had been dyed burgundy and rolled up using Velcro rollers.” A hairnet held the curlers in place while he sat under one of the dryers. Calvin’s eyebrows had even been plucked. He’d never felt so embarrassed or looked so silly.
“Now then, let’s get those rollers out and see those pretty curls.” “Then we’ll do your makeup.” Rachel told him. “And I believe the girls have found some suitable clothes for you, so you don’t have to sit around in your boxers while you learn the ropes”
“Learn the ropes?” Calvin asked.
“Yes, silly.” She smiled. “You’ve got a lot to learn before you can work on the floor.” “You’ll start as our receptionist while we teach you the rest.”
“But why??’ He asked as tears welled up in his eyes. “Why did you do all this to me?”
“You just looked so sad out there.” Rachel frowned as she said. “You looked so despondent, I was afraid you mind end it all.”
“So I decided to give you something that very few people get.” Rachel patted his newly manicured hands. “I gave you a chance at a new life.”
Epilogue: Six months later
‘Connie’ leaned in and began to wash the young man’s hair. Her firm hands worked the shampoo into a lather. Her feet hurt from the 4 inch heels she was required to wear, but she loved how they made her legs look. She hated the black stretch pants that she had to wear, but felt that she looked cute in them. At least that’s what those construction workers told her every morning as she walked to work.
Connie’s hair had been dyed pink (for Easter, of course) and full of bouncy curls. She had grown tired of always having to put her hair up at night, so Connie talked one of the girls into giving her a perm. She was the epitome of a Salon Demure employee, now. She was happy, gainfully employed and for the first time in a long time she felt at home in the salon.
Rachel was right. ‘Calvin’ had hit rock bottom and he had indeed considered taking his own life. His daily trips to Salon Demure had reminded him of his childhood. Since his parents had divorced when he was 8 and he was too young to be left alone. Calvin was at the whim of his mother. She would drag little Cal everywhere, to the market, to the post office, even to the beauty salon.
There at the salon, little impressionable Cal would sit and read his comic books, or so it would appear. He would secretly watch his mother as the employees of the salon waited on his mother hand and foot. She was pampered, she was fawned over. She was treated like royalty. The most important thing was that he looked so happy. She looked at peace. This made Calvin very happy. Even when she was at her wits end, she always could find solace at the salon. Cal recognized this, and somehow had hoped in those difficult days to find that solace as well. Cal never found it… But ‘Connie’ had.
Sorry, friends. It’s been a while since I written a story. I had a slight case of writers block. Thanks so much to SFC78767 for giving me a little inspiration (and a kick in the pants) in the form of the picture which for some reason I can't add to the story. Thanks to this inspiration, other stories are in the works including another Martina story.