Part 3 of Bettina’s hair journey. Here’s part two if you’d like to catch up:
Zuri’s fledgling network of AI Cabs was extensive but still prone to teething troubles. The city-state’s charming little corruption problem yielded a fleet of otherwise efficient vehicles hampered by a chronologically optimistic booking system. As a result, Bettina’s’s sleek little pod pulled up outside ‘Das Zirkus’ somewhat later than she had intended.
Das Zirkus was in the basement of an old brewery and its Jazz/Burlesque nights were proving to be very popular among the city’s hipster cognoscenti – she was probably going to have to squeeze her way in. The club was in the middle of the Ledermarkt, a part of town she rarely visited. The Ledermarkt was being developed very rapidly and was fast becoming home to a vibrant arts scene and its ensuing night life. Bettina didn’t think it held much for her until now. In fact, despite being a resident of Zuri for over 5 years she was pretty unfamiliar with whole swathes of the city.
Until she had been bought out of her own company three months before, Bettina managed her precious free time very carefully, sticking to reliably satisfying haunts for her leisure. But that tyrannical schedule was now gone and she spent the first few weeks after the buyout feeling lost, bereft of her company’s demands.
She rarely left her house in those summer months and chose to isolate herself from the few close friends she had outside of work, adopting a somewhat ascetic lifestyle. In an effort to quell her darker feelings she lost herself in a grueling three-month fitness program but it was only by the time the nights grew shorter and the leaves turned that Bettina began to see that she lost herself long, long before that.
Then, a couple of days before her visit to Vesper, she abruptly snapped back into herself, emerging dazed from the trance that led her numbly through the summer. She found herself ready not only to be equal to the woman she had been, but greater. In what way, she was still figuring out, but meeting Sophie at Vesper was a better start than she could have hoped for.
Bettina swithered over what to wear after Sophie left. She didn’t want to draw too much attention – it was Sophie’s night after all – but nor could she ignore the euphoria she felt at allowing herself back into the world.
She decided to stick with the center parting as she styled her hair – it drew attention to the silver ring in her pierced septum. The ends of the sleek bob curved inwards slightly with little coaxing and her new haircut swung and bounced with each motion of her head. She even freshened up her shaved nape in the little shower mirror – her bare neck gleamed under the heavy ledge of her dark hair.
After some deliberation she settled on a tight latex catsuit with cut-outs on the front and back. At the front it displayed a wide diamond of skin and cleavage below a tight collar. The other side was more daring. A deep V shape bared her back, continuing down past a cinching buckle to reveal just a hint of… well, some other cleavage. A shiny pair of classic high Doc Martens completed the look.
‘So much for not drawing attention’ Bett thought slightly guiltily as she, frankly, approved of herself in the mirror.
Any worries about her being over dressed were soon rendered ridiculous as she descended the steps and squeezed through the heavy basement door of Das Zirkus. ‘This is meant to be a jazz night?’ she thought skeptically.
A stunning 6ft blonde with a rafter skimming mohawk stamped the back of her hand and took her coat. Harnesses, heels, leather and fetish apparel of all stripes adorned the patrons as they moved in tight currents around the club. The theme was definitely something like ‘1920s sex club’.
“Bettina!” Over the hubbub she heard Sophie call her name from the corner of the long bar running down the left hand side of the room. She mugged and waved over the coiffs of the punters, gesturing urgently to a spot next to her at the bar. Bettina slunk through the throng and managed to slide herself onto a stool beside the resplendent Sophie.
Miss Sophie Lee was a joy to behold in a shiny red body-con dress with voluminous ruffs trimming the wide neckline and hem. Her deep brown locks were teased into a fantastically high, sleek pompadour and she sported dark make up including some immaculate winged eyeliner. She had indeed oiled the freshly shaved sides of her head and the thick pomp came to a carefully wrought point, suspended over her nape. They kissed deeply and ran their hands over each-other as if to make sure their luck was real.
“Remember that thing you said about me getting wet just looking at you…?” whispered Bettina into Sophie’s ear. Sophie’s body rippled with gratification and pressed firmly into Bettina, kissing her hard with unabashed hunger.
“That’s exactly what I was hoping for Betti-baby,” sing-songed Sophie as she sashayed away to take her place on the stage.
The suited, bow tied band trooped on and played an instrumental number to open. Jazz Manouche was evidently the order of the evening. The two guitars, upright bass, and violin breezed through the tight swing like the Hot Club de la Nouvelle Paris themselves.
Rapturous applause welcomed Sophie to the stage after an introduction by the violinist. She had an expressive alto voice with a wide range and was a natural performer. A quick scan of the room yielded more questions than answers. In among the dizzying outfits and styles Bettina couldn’t help but notice the sharp haircuts of many of the clientele. They danced deftly to the music, applauded each instrumental solo and beheld Sophie adoringly as she sang. There was no shortage of clients for the Barberette, clearly.
As the performance went on she started to worry she was just another face in the crowd to the compact diva in red. Bettina was very aware that they hadn’t known each other much more than twenty-four hours and Sophie had quite the fan club. As she was attempting to rise above this pang of insecurity a large man leant over from behind the bar and offered his hand to Bettina.
“Hi! Bettina, I presume,” he boomed. “I’m Uli. Really pleased to meet you – Sophie’s been telling me all about you.” She took Uli’s huge hand. Bettina felt somewhat reassured by Sophie talking her up in the face of all the current adulation.
Uli looked a bit like a recently hibernating bear that had been given an apron, a tie, and a “Good morning – You’re a bartender.” He had a kind, crinkly face, and Bettina warmed to him right away.
“Happy to meet you too, Uli! I’m glad Sophie told you about me – I was starting to feel a bit strange actually.”
“I know exactly what you mean. I’m Gina’s husband – it all takes a bit of getting used to, but truth be told, I love it now. Whenever I get a little uneasy about things, I remind myself that we all must do what we love to truly be happy. I couldn’t imagine Gina any other way. Also – she could have her pick of anyone, any night in here, but she always picks me,” he beamed hairily, spreading his hands. “Incidentally, I don’t know how serious you two are but you’ve nothing to worry about with Sophie. She’s a very genuine person and she wouldn’t shut up about you until you got here! Welcome to the VIP box, such as it is. What can I get you?”
Thank goodness for you, bar bear, thought Bettina.
“You pick – Surprise me,” she tapped him amiably on the shoulder. He produced a foot-long bottle and whipped the cap off in a smooth motion.
“Dunkelweissbier!” he boomed proudly, pouring forth the frothing drink into a tall, bulbous glass.
“It’s from here. This used to be family’s brewery before we upgraded, you see. My Grandfather always claimed it was an aphrodisiac – to which my Granny would piss herself laughing, so that might be bollocks – it does give you quite a buzz though!”
Bettina took a pull and smiled.
“I think we’re going to be good friends, Uli!”
Bettina was really enjoying people-watching at the interval. Sophie was backstage and Uli had his hands full behind the bar. It was a world away from what her life had been barely a quarter of a year before. This was a new side of Zuri for her and it was invigorating to see new outfits, haircuts, even how people behaved with one another. They gave her quite a few ideas for her own style when she fancied a change. One couple in particular caught her eye.
A girl of similar build to Bettina was leaning on the opposing wall directly across from her. She wore an outfit with more than a nod to the 1980’s – a white silk blouse tucked in to a wide belt and a tight pencil skirt to just above the knee. One of her shiny red stilettos rested on the exposed brick in an effortless editorial pose. Her loose collar gaped down her back a little to reveal dark, blocky tattoos tracing her spine. She was light to Bettina’s dark but they could have been sisters. The beauty’s honey blond hair was expertly cut in a classic barbershop style where the back and sides were faded to the skin in a low, tight contour and the heavy, long top slicked straight back with plenty of pomade. The juxtaposition of her athletic, feminine figure with such a classic masculine haircut was mesmerizing.
Her girlfriend was no less captivating: Dark and petite, dressed impeccably in a blue pinstripe suit and tie, she wore heavy but expertly applied make-up and a thin chain connected small rings in her nose and ear. Like the blonde, this diminutive beauty’s hair was on point. It was cut in a heavy and precise bowl, skimming her eyebrows and the tops of her ears. The hair under that glossy cap was completely shaved.
Bettina was sure now that many of the people in the club were not just fans of Sophie’s singing, but also her hairdressing prowess. Bettina could hardly blame them – the girl’s bowlcut was particularly beautiful. She imagined a similar cut on herself but started out of her reverie when Sophie introduced Gina to the stage.
She was a vision in leather and lace. Bett glanced at Uli, watching his wife. The big barman’s eyes danced with pride and admiration. True love, thought Bettina. Gina tottered theatrically onto stage in platform heels and a highly elaborate hairdo, adding a good few inches to her scant 5 feet. Despite this lack of height, she had an arresting stage presence and her eyes were wide in mock bewilderment as the band struck up around her.
Her long, dark ruby hair was caught up in an architectural bouffant. Wrapped tightly up from her nape and sides of her head, it made an impressive beehive over her severe Betty Page-style bangs. The crowd watched her every move and from that moment on Gina held them in the palm of her leather gloved hand.
Apart from being a gifted dancer, Gina had a disarming way of being offhandedly impressive in a wide variety of tricks, all the while revealing more and more of her autumnal skin. After demonstrating some highly unconventional juggling she was eventually down to just a leather collar, a corset, pasties and a g-string. She gave a signal to the band and the music stopped dead.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to welcome two very special guests on stage now: You know her well – please welcome back Miss Sophie Lee!” Sophie skipped onto stage and planted a big kiss on Gina’s cheek to everyone’s approval.
“And for her Zirkus debut, one of my favorite performers and humans of all – the gorgeous and talented Miss Sruti Pavani!”
The petite girl with the bowl cut that Bettina had been admiring strutted up onto stage from the audience. She beamed at the audience and winked at her blonde partner against the wall. Sruti unfurled a wide roll of velvet and started removing some wickedly sharp throwing knives.
“I’m going to ask these lovely ladies to give me a little trim, folks. What do you think?”
The crowd roared their approval. Bettina felt a pang of excited curiosity. The beauty of the three women on stage together was almost too much as it was – now they were adding hair cutting into the mix!
“Ok, ok, Ha-haa! We’re going to take another break to prepare and be back with you very shortly. Get yourselves a drink but don’t go anywhere!” Heavy black curtains swept in from the wings and obscured the stage.
Bettina turned and raised an eyebrow at Uli who was efficiently fielding a barrage of drink orders from thirsty patrons. He saw Bettina’s expression and winked at her before vigorously shaking two cocktails, one in each huge hand. She thought she’d use the 2nd break to mingle and introduce herself to Sruti’s girlfriend. Besides, she didn’t fancy getting jostled while she sat at the bar. She strode to the other side of the room.
“Hi! I’m Bettina, I’m here with Sophie,” she cocked her head in the direction of the stage. “I couldn’t help admiring your hair!” The athletic blonde’s red lips parted in a wide smile.
“Thanks Bettina! We’ve heard all about you. I’m Jo.” She smoothed her left hand back over her head and leant in to and plant a kiss on Bettina’s cheek. She could see the comb-tooth marks still striating the blonde sweep of Jo’s hair and her sweet warm scent made Bettina feel giddy.
“I have to confess that Sruti and I were admiring you too.” Jo gestured to Bettina’s hair. Bettina felt herself blush as her hand instinctively went up to cup the back of her head, patting her dark, shiny bob.
“Oh yeah? Thanks – actually it’s really new for me but I love it. Sophie cut it yesterday.”
“Ours too! We were just in Vesper yesterday morning. We like to make a bit of an occasion of it”
“I know exactly what you mean!” said Bettina smiling. “I’m going to have a tough time choosing between the two of you as inspiration for my next cut.”
“We have a similar problem,” laughed Jo, running her hand up her nape this time, “we love both of these haircuts so much we swap back and forth. It’s my turn for the slickback for the next little while.”
The thought of this intrigued Bettina – maybe she and Sophie could try something similar. She imagined herself with Sophie’s hair and gave a little grunt of excitement before catching herself and turning it into a light cough.
The curtains on the stage parted and Bettina and Jo smiled excitedly at her each other and clinked glasses before turning to watch part three.
Gina was still in her corset and g-string but the pasties had gone from her nipples. That was far from the biggest change to proceedings, however.
Her arms and legs were splayed out from her body, and fastened to a rack being wheeled out from backstage by her lovely assistants. It was a fairly basic construction of an iron frame all centered around a wide mahogany plank. Gina’s wrists and ankles were bound with leather cuffs trailing silver chains and her leather collar was affixed tightly against the mahogany board. Her trademark theatrical gasp accompanied the audience’s and she made a show of struggling against the collar, moving her head left to right. Bettina looked over at Uli for some reassurance and she saw him chuckling and rubbing the bridge of his nose.
Sruti stalked in front of Gina with a very mischievous if not a downright evil grin on her delicate face. She really was stunning and the bowlcut highlighted her delicately defined features. She took up a wide stance at the front of the stage with her back to the audience as she hefted the knife collection in her left hand.
A hush fell over the crowd and Gina’s voice carried through the room as clear as a bell.
“I was thinking just a little off the top, Sruti my love.”
Sruti nodded solemnly and slowly raised a small knife in her right hand. The knife’s flight through the air was so quick as to have been imperceptible. It juddered lightly in the wood of the rack about two inches from Gina’s scalp, skewering the thick beehive dead in the centre. There was a collective intake of breath from the spectators as people’s brains caught up to what they just saw.
Gina was the consummate performer. “Great – now would you mind evening it up a bit?”
Sruti threw three knives in quick succession, each thunking into the coiff at a two inch distance from her head. That girl is a surgeon with those knives, thought Bettina.
“Thanks so much, Sruti! But I think I might need a second consultation. Oh Sophie!”
Gina hammed looking around for Sophie as much as she could and beamed when the striking barberette emerged from the wings, clippers already buzzing. The band struck up as Sophie wasted no time in buzzing Gina’s beehive to the gleaming skin beneath, carefully leaving only the deep triangular section of her bangs. Gina squirmed with evident pleasure that didn’t seem part of the act. Sophie deftly inverted the clippers and started to trim Gina’s already short bangs another half inch, high on her forehead. This was clearly a little surprise of Sophie’s own devising, going by Gina’s expression. When Sophie made sure the pale skin of Gina’s scalp was cleanly buzzed, her bangs were short and neat, and she was all brushed off, both she and Sruti untied Ms Generous to rapturous applause.
Gina was blessed with an elegant head shape and she smoothed her hands over the barest stubble in an effortlessly sensual motion as she let her body sway to the music. She bit her full lip and closed her eyes, evidently enjoying the sensation and glorying in the attention. After the band wound up, she patted her glossy little bangs into place, Gina abruptly leapt from the front of the stage and strode directly towards her husband behind the bar. Uli froze, caught in the headlights and his Adam’s Apple bobbed slowly while his freshly shorn, half-naked, ridiculously sexy wife latched herself to him. Uli and Gina kissed passionately and there came a playful ‘Ooooh’ from the crowd .
The clientele of Das Zirkus soon fell to excited chatting and Bettina turned back to Jo. Both women were wide-eyed and flushed. Jo opened her mouth to speak, but before she could get a word out they heard a purring voice behind them say, “Oh good – you two have met!”. Sophie and Sruti stalked over slowly, arm in arm and in step.
With a now familiar combination of excitement and terror, Bettina noted that Sruti and Sophie bore the same predatory grin.
“We’ve had an idea”, said Sophie.
To be continued…