A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES
By: Lindsay R Golden
“Cut it all off!” Layla pulled the rubber band from her ponytail and shook her mahogany hair loose. It fell messily to her waist as she pointed to her chin, smiling at the wide-eyed barber.
“Now Miss Layla, I don’t do more than a trim on a lady’s hair, and you know it. I specialize in men.” Sam had been trimming the ends of Layla’s hair since she was a toddler and wasn’t about to risk messing up such a beautiful girl now. She was known around town as the girl with silky long locks, a stunningly gorgeous face, and a sweet disposition. “Go to one of those fancy salons downtown.”
“No Sam. I’m not a fancy kind of girl. You’ve cut my hair for fifteen years and have no right to deny me service now!” Though she was sitting below him, she suddenly seemed to have amazing authority. If he didn’t know any better he would think she was six feet tall. A few regulars at the shop pretended not to listen, but couldn’t help but sit on the edge of their seats, wondering who would win the battle of wills.
Sam didn’t take well to being pushed around in his own shop and shook his head. “No ma’am. I won’t cut your hair off, so go on home and stop these foolish games.”
Layla watched as he walked over and poured a cup of black coffee, darker than the strand of hair she pushed out of her eyes. She was getting madder by the second and had a good mind to start chopping on it herself. Strong-willed and determined, she decided right then and there that she would win. Poor Sam was in for a fight.
Sam looked up as a customer walked in. “Hank! Right this way…” There were two chairs in the shop and he led the elderly man to the only one left, ignoring Layla. If he had learned anything over the years, it was to give women time and space. “Trim and a shave?”
“As usual.” Hank settled into the red leather chair, not realizing that he had parked himself in the middle of a war zone. Old Man Anderson wasn’t even pretending to read his newspaper anymore and leaned in to hear Layla.
“Sam Taylor! How dare you leave me sitting here, ignored!” Her cheeks flushed and eyes widened in disbelief.
“You can sit as long as you want. I’ve got regulars all day.” Sam didn’t even look in her direction. “Make yourself at home.”
“I’ll do just that!” She folded her arms across her chest and shook her head. “You’ll see.”
Layla didn’t budge for the rest of the day. She counted twelve haircuts, seven old-fashioned shaves, one first haircut for a one-year-old (video camera and all), a growing crowd of interested old men with nothing better to do, and not a single word from Sam. Every now and then he would have to explain to a customer why the tension was so high, but other than that he barely even acknowledged her presence. It had been a long day, and after awhile Layla almost couldn’t remember why she had picked this fight to begin with. Her ears were ringing with the sound of snipping scissors and buzz cuts, and her nose was raw from the smell of aftershave.
She could easily head downtown for a stylish new bob, with no arguments. She didn’t have to be loyal to a man like Sam. After all, he was just a common barber, but for some reason she couldn’t let it go. She was single-minded enough to not mind her feet falling asleep and unyielding enough to see it through.
“Goodnight Sam, ‘night Layla.” The sun was sinking and the last of the onlookers had finally given up. It had been nearly eight hours since Layla had demanded a new do from the obstinate barber.
Sam sat down in the chair beside her, tired from standing all day, and looked at himself in the mirror. He had never met any female with as much resolve as Layla Mabry. “Layla,” he began, “I’m an old man with tired feet who wants to go home now.”
“I told you, I’m not going anywhere without my haircut.” The sound of his voice after all that time relit her fire and renewed her purpose.
“I’ll trim the ends.”
“I want something new. It’s almost summer and I’m hot.” She demanded willfully.
Sam had always considered himself a patient man, but even forty-five years of marriage hadn’t prepared him for this. “Aren’t you hungry, hon? Don’t you need a trip to the ladies’ room by now?” Apparently ignoring her hadn’t worked.
“Not until I get a haircut.” It was still free around her shoulders and Sam wondered why she wanted to let such striking tresses go. He could see how tired she was, but could also see that she wasn’t giving up. He had no choice but to give her what she wanted, and warned her one last time that he specializes in men’s haircuts, hoping that would make her think twice.
A smile crept across her face as victory drew near, “A man’s haircut it is then.”
And after one last haircut for the day, Sam swept up the biggest pile of hair he had ever created and said, “It’s on the house.”
Layla had won. She threw her hair elastic in the trash and ran her hands through her inch long hair. “Thanks Sam.” She gave him a peck on the cheek, looking even more beautiful than she had with feminine flowing strands. “Goodnight.”
Sam turned off the lights, flipped the sign to “closed”, locked the door behind him, and passed the red, white, and blue posts on his way out. Layla had already vanished into the night, and he couldn’t help but smile. “Women!” He shook his head and crossed the street to the diner. He didn’t feel like cooking tonight.