By Geraldine McCarthy
Hairdos were half-price for students and OAPs on Mondays. The perfect excuse to swerve a double history lecture and get those pink and purple tones I’d been Googling for weeks. When I made the appointment, the girl on the phone said it would take a few hours, but I was in no hurry back to college.
The salon was on a side street, not far from the city centre, and I walked there from my student house, stopping first for a coffee in a nearby café. I hated the stuff they served at the hairdresser’s – always felt like checking for floating hairs on top, or for sour milk.
Debbie took my jacket and ushered me into the inner room. I liked her. She never asked if I was going anywhere nice on my holidays, or if I was watching Love Island. As she applied the colour and fiddled with the tinfoil-y bits, we listened to a radio phone-in about men who ‘strayed’.
“I’ll leave you to cook now. Back in a while.”
I picked up a copy of Hello, and flicked through the pages. Who cared about the British Royal family? I regretted not bringing my Kindle.
A new customer arrived. Debbie greeted her in the outer room. “How are you Mrs McGrath? Will you take a seat for me at the sink?”
“Hello, dear. Yes, of course. I’m a bit slow.”
“Take your time.”
It was our neighbour from home. Old Betty wouldn’t give you the steam off her piss. She must have trekked all the way to the city with her free bus pass to avail of the Monday discount.
The phone-in continued. A caller had spotted her friend’s husband with another woman.
“Terrible business, affairs,” Mrs McGrath’s voice croaked. “You know, I half suspect the man next door.”
The magazine slipped from my grasp.
“Really?” said Debbie.
“Oh, yes. Works from home, he does, but the wife’s a nurse. Does twelve-hour shifts down at the local hospital. But when she’s out…”
“No way,” Debbie interjected.
“Has a lady caller. Always dressed like she’d be going to a wedding. She calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” “Maybe she’s a work colleague?”
“She parks at the end of the road, not outside his house.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“No, but I saw them hugging at the front door last week. They must’ve forgotten themselves.”
What the hell?
“Maybe she’s his sister?”
The noise of a hairdryer starting up blocked out the rest. I’d heard enough. Bile rose in my throat. I thought I might puke. I’d have to do some detective work, find out if it was true about Dad. All of a sudden, the idea of getting pink and purple tones seemed ridiculous. But there was no going back now.
Half-price Monday? Could be the most costly hairdo I ever got.
Geraldine McCarthy lives in West Cork, Ireland. She writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in various journals, both on-line and in print.