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The Mohawk
by Laura Solomon and Kerryn Young

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At first I was distraught that my eighties perm had been replaced by a sharp, jagged mohawk, but I soon learned to embrace my new do. I went with the flow. The first person to pass comment was of course Beryl. I was cleaning in behind the dryers when she came in to work.

“Now hang on a minute”, she said when she saw me. “There’s something different about you. Have you lost weight? Got makeup on for a change? No? Oh, I no, oh golly it’s the hair.

Her hands flew up to her face.

“Where did you get that done?”

“It was done to me. At a picnic table. On a common. Somewhere on the outskirts of London. Not sure where.”

“Well I’m sorry love, but we can’t have you coming into work looking like that. What’ll the customers think? I’m going to have to let you go.”

“But I only just started here.”

I tossed her the keys to the shop.

“I know love, but I didn’t realise you were going to fix your hair all funny like that or I wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. You can’t go changing your appearance so drastically and hope to keep your job.”

“Fine then,” I said. “You can stick your crappy job. I’m sick of the dead mice anyway.”

“No need to be like that dear. If you can get your old hair back we can see what we can do.”

“I can’t get my old hair back, can I, you old trout. It’s been chopped off.”

I grabbed my jacket and handbag and stormed from the laundromat in a huff.

I was marching furiously down the high street, not watching where I was going when I bumped bang smack into Philip. His camera was slung on a strap around his neck – he looked to be in his early forties.

“Love the hairdo”, he said. “Bold, confident. It says ‘I am me, deal with it world.’”

I looked up, gazed into his baby blues and echoed quietly ‘I am me, deal with it world.”

I was flattered by the attention of an older man.

“Say, can I take your photo?” he asked. “Against that wall over there. All you have to do is pout a bit and put your hands back against the wall, fingers splayed.”

“Sure”, I said, flattered.

This was the first time a complete stranger had asked for my photograph.

I did as instructed. Moved back against the wall and gave my best pout and splayed my fingers and Philip clicked away and seemed happy. He invited me out for a drink and I didn’t say no. We sat together in the Dog and Duck, me sipping Chardonnay and him drinking beer with a nice frothy head.

“So what do you do for a living?” he asked me.

“Long story. I used to be a hairdresser, but I had a little….incident with the peroxide. Some idiots took exception to what I was doing and put me out of business. So I took a job at the laundromat. Got the sack this morning because of my new hairdo. So I guess I am officially unemployed though I haven’t signed on yet. I intend to look for other work.”

I clenched my fists.

“I won’t be defeated that easily. There’s life in the old girl yet.”

Philip put his arm around my shoulders.

“That’s my girl. How about another Chardonnay to drown your sorrows? Sounds like you’ve had a rough time of it lately. You’re very special. You’re unique.”

I nodded my head. Downed the new drink in a couple of gulps. It was only 10:30am and I’d skipped breakfast so I was feeling a little tipsy. I put my hand on Philip’s knee and began stroking. Then I moved my hand a little higher up his thigh. I was pleased to note that Philip was happy to make my acquaintance. I snuggled in closer and put my head upon his chest. I could hear his heart thumping. Philips skulled the rest of his beer and said “how about we go back to my place” in a deep manly voice.

How could a girl resist? I don’t want anybody thinking I am a tart. I don’t do this kind of thing often. Enough. Philip drove a red sports car with a sun roof. He put on a pair of wraparound sunglasses and put the top down and we drove through the Peckham streets feeling like King and Queen of the universe. I waved out the windows and called out ‘yoo-hoo’ to several passersby.

We arrived in Brixton at Philip’s pad. We went in through the front door and into the living room. Philip bought me another glass of white wine and took a Budweiser for himself, then brought out a bag of white powder and put it down upon the table.

“What this?” I asked. “Icing sugar?”

I put my finger in and licked it. My gums tingled and then went numb.

“Funny tasting icing sugar”, I said. “Bet your Mum didn’t give you that.”

I winked at him. One thing led to another and we were in flagrante delicito, doing it doggy style facing the TV. We had been going for about ten minutes and we must not have heard the front door open or shut. The next thing I knew one of Philip’s flatmates was standing in the doorway, mouth open.

“O Philip”, he said. “I’ve just finished a hard shift at the club. I don’t want to come home and see this. You could at least have gone to the bedroom.”

Philip rolled away and grabbed for the TV remote.

“We were just watching Hymns of Praise on TV”, he said, cranking up the volume.

“Yeah right. Come on. Take it to the bedroom. I need to use the dining area, I have to cook some brunch and I don’t want to see you two bunny rabbits going at it.”

The mood was ruined. Philip said we should go watch the kites at Brockwell Park. I giggled and said okay. We trotted down the road to the park and sat on the side of the common watching the multi-coloured shapes swing and sway in the breeze – we were as high as kites ourselves. After a couple of hours the booze and coke started to wear off and I asked Philip to take me home.

“I’ll cherish these lovely memories we’ve made”, I said, kicking one heel up behind me.

Philip took me back to the car. I figured he was safe to drive by now. We roared through the London streets back to my place. I thought about asking him in but I didn’t want him to think I was too easy. I gave him a peck on the cheek and went to say goodnight but then realized it was only mid-afternoon.

“Good afternoon”, I said with a giggle and skipped merrily up the stairs.

What a day. If only stuffy old Beryl knew what I had been up to!

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