Teaser 291: One More Meeting in Bernard’s Boutique


I had one more “meeting” scheduled for the afternoon, though only one person knew. I gave Heinz the address, he plugged it into the GPS and the four of us poked along amid the growing and slowing traffic barrier to arrive at Bernard's boutique.

I'm not going in there,” Serena stated as Heinz put the car in a space along the curb. “He's doing a reality TV show now, Al. You know that, don't you?”

“Don't I ever! He had to reschedule someone with a promise to do it for free and I had to sign a stupid waiver from the network.”

“We're starting the movie tomorrow. What have you got planned, Al?”

“Let's see. Bernard does hair. Hmmm. I'm probably going to have him cut my hair.”

“No!” came from the ladies' lips in unison.

“Yes! Everyone's been telling me, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, agnostic, atheist, even children, 'Don't you think it's time to cut your hair...some?' Except for Ranjit. He has never said a word about it, probably because he's a Sikh.” I got out of the car and turned to Heinz. “If some man comes up to the car for entry and you don't recognize him, Heinz, put the window down a little, and if it's me, I'll say, 'It's me, Heinz.' That will be your clue.”

I'll unlock the door, Heinz,” Serena commanded. “I'll decide.”

I walked into Bernard's boutique expecting some difficulty in re-entering the rental I paid for. Bernard was waiting at the door and welcomed me inside with a huge hug, which I returned as enthusiastically. There was the crew over in the corner, the camera recording it all. “Welcome to Bernard's boutique,” I announced, “where one's hair will be styled in a most gorgeous fashion and all of it recorded for posterity, or, perhaps, some profit motive.” I turned to the crew. “You guys actually make money shooting in this salon? Who would watch it?”

Bernard laughed gregariously. “Come, Al-Barrak,” Bernard gestured to his chair. “Based on your appearance, I have an enormous job ahead of me.”

“You know I come here with great trepidation, Bernard,” I remarked, moving toward the chair to sit down. “I am having a reality TV star cutting years of hair growth and shaving my entire beard, and I wonder how real is this? How can they call it reality TV? It's completely contrived and this is how you can tell, Bernard. Ignore the TV crew over in the corner of your salon. Merely pretend they're not actually here, so it will seem like it's all real, and if you cut my face while shaving, I'll merely pretend it didn't happen. That will add drama!”

“I haven't seen you in so long, Al, I miss your humor. Now shut up so I can do my work!”

“And that's what I've missed, Bernard's commanding presence. Good thing you always performed magic with my hair. You do remember how flimsy my hair is, don't you?”

“How could I forget?!”

Nearly an hour later Bernard pulled away the apron from my chest and lap and provided some of his recommendations for keeping my hair reasonably tamed. “You can't get away from these guys at all while I'm shooting?” I asked, almost pleading.

“I'm booked solid for the next two months, Al,” Bernard replied. “Marna is an excellent replacement, as we already discussed.”

“She's not going to shove her crotch up against me, is she?”

“Do you require it?”

“I'd prefer she wouldn't.”

“I'll pass it on.”

I waved to the TV crew. “It was nice meeting all of you, though we were never introduced, so we'll pretend like we're old friends. Hope I end up on the cutting room floor, by the way.”

“Don't count on it,” remarked the producer.

“Yeah, I figured.”

The rear passenger window slipped down a crack and Serena advised, “I'm sorry, but I was awaiting my husband. Would you take a seat next to Rebekka, please?”

“Oh, that won't be dangerous opening that door on Rodeo drive with all the maniacs loose on the streets desperately holding on to their fading driving privileges.” I had to go around the back of the car and dodge the maniacs to get back into my rental on the driver's side to sit next to Rebekka. I smiled with great amusement while Rebekka stared at me in amazement. “Got any plans this weekend? Wanna get hitched? One of my wives is going to sit out of the rotation for the foreseeable future, so I've got room for you.”

Serena held back her temper. “You love living right on the edge, little boy, and you're only one short movement from being pushed all the way.”

“Maybe the weekend following, right before you leave for Germany.”

“Keep me out of this, Al-Barrak!” Rebekka warned.

“It's hard enough sharing you, Al. Don't push me.”

“I appreciate teasing as much as anyone else, Serena, but I would never make you enter a car from the street side.”

It was quiet for a few moments. Serena stared out the window. “I'm sorry, Al, but I was only teasing.” She turned back to fix her gaze upon mine. “Let's put it behind us and go home and get some rest. You start a whole new career tomorrow.”

“To Serena's, please, Heinz.”


- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-SixUnquenchable Desire” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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