In a Flash!: 500 words….
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My Letter from Cape Town today is a Short Story based on the haircut I had this morning. The worm in my head never lets up – all places and people have mysteries and when I throw some words at these, I end up with a story.

This one is just under 500 words so I will enter it into the competition!

Tata

By her fourth day Belinda had started to gain confidence. The delightful Dorothy, her trainer, had complimented her that morning. “You, darling, are a natural” she had said loudly enough even for Darlene, the other apprentice in the salon, to hear. So when the Tata (“Father” in Xhosa) came in for the Models afternoon, she had no qualms when Dorothy said, “Belinda, would you look after this customer for me?”

As she had been taught, Belinda approached the man with her brilliant shy smile. “Good afternoon sir” she said, “my name is Belinda and I’ll be doing your hair today. Please follow me?”

She ushered him to the chair, asked his preferences “Number two,”he said, “and natural at the back.” As she draped him with the protective cloth her hands were steady, sure. She knew what she was doing.

This should be simple! She took out the clippers and began. Across the salon Dorothy occasionally looked up from her client to check on her. Darlene sat in a corner, annoyed that the first client of Model Afternoon had been given to Belinda.

This will be a good profession, she thought. One day I will have my own salon. I am going to be so good at this, and what a great place to learn the trade too, at this prestigious salon! Long after Darlene is history I’ll be running my very own beautiful place…

It was at the word Johannesburg that she tried gently readjusting the Tata’s  head and realised that he was dead.

There could be no doubt. His head had been cocked to the left and with her attempt to move it had dropped to the right with a floppy finality that could only mean one thing.

She started back in shock and just managed not to scream. The salon had filled up quickly. Dorothy was deep in conversation with her client, a fat man whose thinning locks were each being given loving care. “My daughter,” the man was saying, “gives me so much pleasure even though she’s a minx!”

Every employee was busy! No-one could be interrupted without causing alarm.

Her hands began to shake. Keep in control Belinda, she told herself.

Dorothy and her client were deep in their ritual one-sided conversation. “So I said to him I don’t care if you are never an accountant as long as you get in the cricket team….”

“Good boy sir”, Dorothy said.

At this point Belinda became aware that from across the salon Darlene kept glancing up in her direction as if beginning to notice something was wrong.

Darn and buggerit! She thought. That girl is not going to get one over on me! And she turned to look at the Tata.

The old man was sitting there apparently perfectly at ease, head cocked to one side, a picture of the contented client. A dead client. But then, she thought, Darlene wouldn’t know that.

Right! She thought, turning on the clippers. “Now for the left side!”

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