Here is my follow-up to the original story. Have a look at the original first part before reading the continuation. Hank, I hope I have complimented your original concept. Theobald
Mary Clark was on her way home on the completion of her morning job, things had changed drastically in her life since Melanie’s head had been shaved on recommendation from her school principal as punishment for making fun of a fellow student who was undergoing Chemo treatment. Not that her retrenchment from her full-time job was in any way associated with these events, but circumstances had forced her to take two jobs to make ends meet, and it was the bookkeeping job that she was returning from now. One bright light on the horizon was that it was Monday and the restaurant, where she waited tables at night, was closed on Mondays.
She unlocked her front door and saw Melanie’s school bag flung over the back of the couch and her jacket next to it on the floor. Not good! She went up the stairs and softly opened Melanie’s door. Melanie’s smooth bald head was lying on her pillow, her knees were pulled up to her chest, her eyes were swollen, tears running down her cheeks, leaving a wet patch on the bed covers.
“Bad day Honey?” Mary asked.
“You could say that, a little worse than Friday, or the day before that or the week before that, or the past four months, actually ever since you had my head shaved and it became permanent.” Answered Melanie, more than just a little bitterness in her voice. “That picture that Matt took of me naked in his room has eventually found its way onto the Internet and some of the kids were laughing over it when I walked into class this morning.”
“Oh no, not that picture again, I thought the principal had sorted that out and threatened Matt with legal action if it ever surfaced again.”
“I could be anybody now, it could have made its way around the world on the net and only now appeared on one of the softcore porn sites, it is not worth pursuing, but the remarks still hurt, a lot!” cried Melanie.
“I understand Honey, I know how you feel and what you are going through.” Said Mary in an attempt at consolation.
Mary Clark took out a cigarette and lit it. “Life has been pure hell these past four months, I have no friends, from one of the most popular girls in school to an outcast, you know that I have even started smoking so that I could at least have some companionship during breaks, at least the smoker girls are not as fussy and vindictive as the other kids.” Mary looked at her cigarette, paused and handed it to Melanie, who took the smoke, inhaled and let out a combined nose mouth exhale. Mary lit another cigarette.
“How long?” she asked.
“I started about three months ago, it’s not the greatest thing on earth, but it gives me an in to at least one group of kids.” Said Mel, now sitting up, her arms still clasped around her legs. Even at 16, the bald head made Melanie look much younger and very vulnerable and the taunting at school had made her withdraw considerably.
The two, mother and daughter smoked in silence, Melanie dropping her butt out of the window and Mrs Clark following suit a few minutes later.
“You know, every time I think of what I have subjected you to, and the catastrophic consequences.., I wish I could turn back the clock, if only there was something I could do to make it up to you, I would do anything if it would take away some of your pain.” Mary said, placing her hand on Melanie’s arm.
“Firstly mom, you don’t know what I am going through, you don’t have the slightest notion of the barbs and taunts I put up with. The teachers try to ignore my baldness and the principal’s over sweet to me, but you cannot imagine the cruelty that the kids can dish out. You want to do something to take away my pain, to feel what I go through every day, Ok, I’ll tell you what, let me shave your head, stay bald for three months and then you may get some idea of my life, of what I go through. Deal?” Said Melanie with a slightly malicious tone in her voice.
“You can’t be serious. Are you, what is this, payback time?”
“No, you said you would do anything, now I have told you what you can do, not that it is really a true reflection of what I go through, grown-ups are a lot more understanding than kids and less likely to say hurtful things. Come on Mom, your turn, you said anything, don’t back out now.”
“What about my jobs, the morning job is not too serious, I work in a closed office, but how can I wait tables in a smart restaurant with a bald head, Frankie would fire me.” Countered Mary defensively.
“You can borrow my wig, I don’t ever wear it, you cant talk yourself out of your commitment so easily.” retorted Melanie.
“I did not make any commitment; it was just a metaphorical statement.” Said Mary.
“Oh, so now its just lip service you are paying me, you don’t really care what I am going through and you wouldn’t actually do anything to try make me feel better.” Snapped Melanie. Things were starting to get heated up and Mary realized that she had backed herself into a corner. She lit another cigarette and passed the pack to Melanie who shook her head. Turning to look in Melanie’s mirror, she passed her hand through her hair. She had never been over conscious if her hair or style, not like Melanie had been with her thick long blond mane. She was just Mrs Clark, going on 40, wavy brown hair, widowed and raising a teenage daughter no mean task, to say the least.
“If I agree, how do you plan to go about this shearing?”
“I suppose I would have to use those sharp little sewing scissors of yours, cut your hair as short as I can get it and then shave your head with the lather and razor we use for our legs and armpits.” Melanie must have been giving the shaving of her mother a bit of thought during the past few minutes.
“I’ll go along with your demand, three months and I get to wear the wig to work, that’s my deal, Ok?”
“Right Mom, but you have to appear bald at other times, right? Let’s go to the bathroom.” Melanie said as she took her mother’s hand and led her out of the bedroom. She pulled out the stool and indicated for Mary to sit down and hung a large bath towel over her shoulders. Melanie went for the scissors while Mary prepared herself for something that she never expected would happen to her, Melanie was back. She kicked the wastebasket nearer and said “Ready?”
“No, but you had better get it over with before I change my mind, and don’t cut me!” Mary’s voice had a quiver to it and her jaw was clenched, possibly to avoid Melanie seeing how close to breaking down she was. Melanie picked out a lock of hair at Mary’s forehead and unceremoniously snipped it off at the scalp. It was dumped in the wastebasket, followed by a stream of hair as Melanie furiously attacked her mother’s four-inch long locks. It took about a quarter of an hour for Melanie to reduce her mother’s hair to uneven ridges of stubble varying from almost nothing to about one-eighth of an inch long. Melanie’s memories of hot towels, lather and the razor flooded back, and she followed the same procedure on her mother. Shaving was not as easy as she expected and she very carefully repeated the method she used on her own legs, with occasional comments from her mother that she was going too fast or that more lather was required, and that she must draw the razor straight against the natural growth of the hair, never letting it slip sideways or it would cause nicks and cuts. Melanie got the knack of it eventually and after sharing a cigarette, was able to give Mary a second smooth and painless shave to ensure a smooth silky finish like her head. After removing the last of the shaving creme from Mary’s head she rubbed moisturizer into the freshly shaven skin and announced: “Finished!” Mary got up and went to the bathroom mirror. She stood awhile and slowly shook her head in disbelief. She turned to Melanie with a look that said ‘Satisfied?’
Melanie reached up and gently rubbed her mother’s smooth scalp. “I can’t believe I just shaved my mothers head. Twins. How does it feel Mom?”
Mary felt her denuded scalp but said nothing. She turned to Melanie with a look of defeat and resignation on her face. The enormity of what she had just done slowly dawned on the girl and she put her hand over her mouth in incredibility.
“Mom, Mom, I, shit, Mom, I’m sorry, this has not turned out the way I envisaged, I’m sorry. Tears were streaming down her face,” Mary took her daughter in her arms and the two were locked in a clinch, Mary fighting back her own tears and trying to rise above her feeling of humiliation.
“I agreed to let you shave my head, three months you said, that’s what it will be, now let me go see what kind of a mess I am in.” as she released herself from her daughters grasp. Clear up here while I make a phone call or two.
Melanie heard her mother saying, “Hi, Frankie, its Mary, something has happened, I need to see you please?”
“No, Melanie’s alright, it’s me.”
“I would rather speak to face to face.”
“No, I am not leaving, please can we talk?”
“You’re at Franco’s now and you say in about an hour?”
“Thanks Frankie, I will be there, bye.”
“Mel, where is that wig, let’s see what I look like as a blonde.” Melanie fetched the wig and Mary put it on. “This is going to take some getting used to, the look and the feel. Right, let me change and fix my make-up, I have to meet Frankie in an hour. This is probably not going to be pleasant. Can you fix supper while I am away?”
Mary returned just before six, clutching the wig in her hand. “Did you drive home like that?” Melanie asked.
“Yes, I thought that if this is my lot for the next three months at least, I might as well get used to it.” answered Mary.
“How did it go with Frankie?” a now concerned Melanie asked.
“Long story, let’s eat and I will tell you.” Mary said, stopping at the hall mirror to look at herself again, before sitting down for their meal. “Frankie thought at first that it was all about going blonde – until I removed the wig. He was speechless for a while and came around to feel my head for himself. I then explained what had happened, he just shook his head. First he said that he saw no problem with a waitress with a blonde wig, if anybody even noticed that it was a wig, then he went silent.”
“He wasn’t upset, was he?” Mel asked.
“No, not that I could see, but he was deep in thought. Eventually he said that he had been throwing the idea around of upgrading the restaurant and that the redecorating that he had just completed was just not enough to give the image he was looking for. He was looking for something classy and stunning, something that people would notice and talk about. He told me to stand and turn around, all the time muttering stunning, absolutely magnificent, this is it. I asked him what was going on and he indicated for me to sit again. He asked me if I realised just how stunning I looked, I must have looked completely stupid at his remark and I ask how a bald woman could look stunning, I said that freakish was nearer the mark.” said Mary with a chuckle.
“You know mom, occasionally when I feel a bit defiant, put on make-up and go to the Mall or whatever, I get what looks like some very appreciative stares and remarks, both from men and women. One older guy even walked into a lamppost staring at me. I thought they just thought I was a freak, but now that you mention it?” Melanie said thoughtfully.
“Anyway, Frankie asked what I thought of introducing a seating hostess at Franco’s, doing reception, seating customers, walking around and asking if people are satisfied. He asked how I would feel doing that job, dressed in either a long black sleeveless dress or a trouser suit, and of course bald.”
“That sounds like putting on a freak show.” Melanie interrupted.
“I thought so too at the time, but then Frankie took me to the ladies powder room and told me to look at myself in the mirror for a while. He then suggested I touch up my make-up to go with a bald look, which I did. Then he said to picture myself with large gold hoop earrings, a black trouser suit with a frilly blouse or perhaps a long black sheath dress with a halter neck, and funny enough, with a bit of imagination I could see a proud confident woman emerge from that image. He asked me to give the matter some thought and he would come around tomorrow afternoon to discuss details. What do you think?” countered Mary.
“If it will not embarrass you being seen bald in a whole restaurant full of people, some of whom may be complementary, but some who might just as well be downright rude and catty, and if the price is right, why not try it. Just a comment, you actually do look quite astounding, you have got the make-up just about perfect, and as Frankie said, you are stunning.” was Mel’s response.
Frankie came the next afternoon as arranged to finalise matters. It was agreed that Francos would try the idea for three months. Mary would have a small dais type desk with her reservation book on it. She would welcome guests and take them to their table or show them to the bar if there were no tables vacant at the time. She would introduce them to their waiters and casually stroll amongst the guests when she had the opportunity. Both dresses and trouser suits with blouses would be organized and Mary was scheduled to start the following Tuesday which gave her time to sort herself out and also offered a few weekdays to get herself comfortable to face the weekend crowd. Frankie asked about Mary keeping her head smooth.
“I shaved Mom yesterday, but I don’t feel comfortable having to do it on a regular basis, I am scared I will cut her or something. I could step in if needed though.” Interjected Mel, who had joined the discussion when she came home from school.
“No problem, I can shave you at the restaurant if you come in a little earlier if you like.” Offered Frankie.
Ok, but how often would I need it. It still looks good now but I can feel a little roughness. Definitely not as smooth as right after being shaved. Added Mary, lighting two cigarettes and giving Melanie one. This made Frankie take even more notice than the odd stare he had been stealing at the two bald women when he thought he was not being observed.
“I think we can get away with every second day.” Said Frankie, after he had felt Mary’s head, and Melanie’s just for a comparison. Then came the discussion over her salary. He offered Mary about double what she got as a waitress, with a bonus to compensate her for loss of tips, although there might still be the occasional gratuity in the offing.
“That seems to be settled then, Mary, Ok if I pick you up tomorrow afternoon and we can try to find suitable outfits for you to wear, you can come too Melanie?” Frankie suggested, rising to take his leave.
“Mom, how did it go at work this morning?” Asked Melanie.
“Very well really, I told everyone what had happened, actually I twisted the story a bit and said that I suggested that you shave me bald so that you would feel less strange. I worked most of the morning without the wig, most people were complementary and said the I carried the look off very well. One or two remarked that I could work on my eyebrows to accentuate my features or wear darker lipstick and nail varnish to match.
“Fabulous, I like the eyebrow thing, we can work on that together and dark nail varnish is great if you want to highlight a white scalp, which is actually why I have never coloured my nails since I lost my hair.” Said Melanie.
Before leaving the house the next afternoon Mary felt that she needed a shave as two days had passed and stubble was beginning to show. Frankie undertook the task, showing Melanie how best to achieve a smooth finish without razor burn, nicks or cuts for when she might have to play barber again. Mary, Melanie and Frankie then spent the afternoon looking for the outfits he had in mind, and after a few hours, found almost exactly what he wanted, and in the correct sizes. They had coffee in the Mall, amused at the stares of passersby while trying to gauge if the stares were positive on not.
Before Melanie went up to do her homework she said “Mom, do you know anything about hair fetishes?”
Mary looked puzzled, “I can guess what it might be, but enlighten me.”
“A hair fetishist is a person who gets aroused by a specific hairstyle, long hair, bob cuts, punk styles or especially bald heads, more so bald women.” Melanie explained.
“You got me on that one, why did you mention it?” Mary replied.
“I think we have a hair fetishist in our midst, Frankie!” Mel told her mother.
“Oh my gosh, should we break off this agreement, is he dangerous, like a rapist a psychopath or something?” asked Mary in alarm.
“Good grief no, hair fetishists are probably the least harmful of all deviants, if you can even call them that. They usually put the object of their attention on an imaginary pedestal and surreptitiously worship them. They are usually very secretive about their interest and most of their best friends would not even know about their fetish. I am pretty sure that Frankie is thanking his lucky stars right at this moment for landing him in a world of magical bliss, just think what this could do for us.” explained the daughter.
“Melanie, you are wicked, how do you know this anyway?” queried an astounded Mary.
“Being bald, I started looking up related sites on the Internet, it is amazing what there is on the subject. If I were older and had not been so humiliated at school, I may have taken advantage of my situation. There is even money to be made, but I am a bit young for that.”
Mary’s eyes widened at this information. “Don’t even give it a thought; one picture of you out there is quite enough, now go do your homework!”
Mary’s first day as seating hostess went without a hitch. Melanie, wearing her wig, went with to observe and to lend moral support. As expected, people were generally positive although there were the odd quiet snickers and softly spoken snide remarks. Nobody was actually rude, and as Mary gained confidence, she perfected her make-up to fully exploit her attractiveness; her bald head became part of her unique beauty enhanced by either two different sized hoops in each piercing or drop earrings that formed part of her ensemble. Business at Franco’s increased noticeably, although it was not absolutely proven if it was as a result of the redecoration, having a dedicated seating hostess, more attention to the meals or the presence of a stunning bald woman constantly moving among the guests.
The three months passed and Mary became an institution at Franco’s. She left her morning job and did lunchtimes at Franco’s as well, wearing an off white suit over a white blouse that sported black-edged frills. She was still being shaved regularly, preferring the slight shadow of her hairline rather than opting for a chemical depilation, Frankie of course insisting on doing the shaving. Melanie seventeenth birthday came and went without fanfare except for some jubilation when Melanie announced that she had had a gut full of smoking and was quitting right there and then – cold turkey. She was able to shake off much of her insecurity under the influence of her self assured mother, slowly gaining acceptance amongst some of her classmates, and strangely enough with Phoebe, the girl over whom all the fuss was made and which resulted in Melanie having her head shaved bald, but there were a few diehards who still took delight in intimidating her.
One afternoon while Melanie was alone at home, the phone rang. Melanie was told that it was the receptionist from the specialist that she had originally visited when her alopecia was diagnosed. They wanted permission to pass her name onto a clinical institute as a candidate for an alopecia medication trial. Melanie suggested they speak to her mother and gave them the restaurant number. When Mary came home that night she told Melanie that she had been phoned both by the specialist’s office and the trial clinic and that she had given her consent for Melanie to become part of the trial. An appointment had been made for next Monday afternoon.
They arrived just before the appointed time, Mary wearing the wig so as not to raise too many questions, and Melanie wearing a baseball cap. They were ushered into a room not unlike a doctors consulting room. A woman doctor conducted the interview, carefully studying Melanie’s scalp through a powerful magnifying glass, all the while making copious notes. Weight and height were measured. Then came the questions, age, diet, routines, exposure to sunlight and many more. When she heard how Melanie’s alopecia came about she gave Mary a scornful look, she also had some negative remarks to make when she was told that Melanie had smoked but was complementary when told that Melanie had quit. The doctor told them that the trial consists of is a four-month course of strictly controlled medication. Melanie would be given cards of tablets, consecutively marked and would have to be taken one every day at exactly the same time each day. He said that here are 30 tablets per card and the tablets gradually increase in medicinal strength, hence the need to follow the sequence, they may be the genuine tablet or they could be placebo tablets, tablets that are fakes with no medicinal value at all, this is to try to prevent false results from participants. He had no idea which she would receive, only the laboratory knows which is which. She will also receive small tubes of ointment, 30 of them and she will need to apply the entire contents of each tube to the area within her natural hairline. Unfortunately the laboratory had not included other areas of hair loss on this trial.
“How important is the time at which I have to take the medication?” asked Melanie.
“Try setting a specific time that will not vary and take the medication within 30 minutes of that time every day, this is very important.” replied the doctor.
“If I miss a day?”
“It is imperative that the medication is taken every day, missing a day could affect the findings of this trial. Use whatever method you can contrive to avoid missing a single dose of either product you will be given.”
Mary asked, “You will be giving us 30 days of medication, when do we see you again?”
“You are scheduled to see me again in 28 days at this time slot, use the next tablet should you lose one for some reason but bring the unused medication with you and I will have a series of questions such as reactions and results from taking the medication, anything else.”
“One more thing,” said Mary, “what will this cost us?”
The doctor smiled, “Actually, nothing, and the good news is that we pay you for participating in this trial, it is only $25 per visit, but it is something. See you in four weeks.”
Melanie took the tablets and went around with a greasy scalp for an hour or so every morning. She showed no ill effects from the medication although she had been warned that nausea and dizziness were a possibility. There was also no sign of hair growth. Otherwise life continued routinely, Mary really enjoyed her work, sometimes coming home considerably later than normal. Melanie got one of those ‘do not ask’ looks on these occasions. She was doing better at school and mother and daughter made a pact to get Mary to quit smoking, but this had dubious results and the occasional cigarette still found its way into her life.
It was on a Sunday night towards the end of a month when the restaurant was quiet, that Melanie was surreptitiously lured to Francos. When the establishment was nearly empty Mary took her to a table and Frankie joined them. They ordered their meal and a bottle of champagne. Frankie turned to Melanie between courses and said “Melanie, I want to do this properly, I guess you might have guessed that something was going on, so let me clear it up for you. Melanie, I have asked your mother to marry me and she has accepted, and yes, I do have a hair fetish, your mother told me about your suspicions about me, your talk and her concerns and we had a good laugh about it. It was more than her being bald that attracted me to her, in fact I would have asked her to be my wife even if you had never shaved her head. What I am asking for is your blessing on our marriage and your acceptance of me as part of your family.”
“Mom, this is really fabulous, congratulations!” screamed Melanie as she jumped up and hugged her mother from behind, planting a kiss on the top of her head and leaving a pale red smudge from her lipstick there. Frankie had stood up and Melanie turned to give him a hug and a kiss. Somehow his hand came to rest on the back of her head. As they separated she said to him, “Frankie, make the best of it while you can, soon that could be considered incest.” They all cracked up laughing, wiping her eyes Mary said,” I warned you that she could be wicked.” And Frankie sent for another bottle of champagne.
“Have you set a wedding date yet?” queried Melanie.
“We thought of somewhere around two weeks before you go back to school for your senior year and we were hoping that you could stand-in for your mom while we take a weeks honeymoon.” ventured Frankie.
“I would show you all that has to be done and then watch you for about a week before the wedding while you get the feel of the job,” added Mary.
They talked until the champagne was finished, and the next morning Melanie found out what a hangover is.
Melanie went for her routine clinic visit alone that Monday, Mary starting wedding preparations. Once again there were no signs of reactions or effect from the trial treatment, but the doctor did say that Melanie was now going onto the full strength tablets, and if there was to be any result, it could start appearing now.
The pace of life around the Clark household stepped up somewhat, Melanie started her week of training and the following week as a very nervous bald young seating hostess, perfect make-up, dark red nails and lipstick for a change, dressed in her mother’s trouser suite welcoming the patrons at Franco’s. After the first few stutterings and slip-ups, Melanie got into the swing of the job, enjoying the several complements and inwardly chuckling at those people who tried to hide their mild embarrassment. There were many requests concerning her mother and she answered the queries with the news of the forthcoming nuptials. It was also at this time that Melanie started experiencing a slight itch on her scalp towards the late evenings. Occasionally she would surreptitiously rub her scalp to alleviate the itch, Melanie phoned the clinic and was told to come in as soon as possible, which she did.
She was stripped to her underclothes and given an examination for signs of an allergic reaction, nothing. Then the doctor examined her scalp using her magnifying glass.
“Melanie, this could be good news, it appears that there may be pores opening in your skin again and it could be the forerunner of follicles trying to push out. This is the second such occurrence I have noticed on this trial and the laboratory has announced similar reactions. I am very optimistic for you, can you come to see me again soon, will Monday do?” asked the doctor. Melanie was thrilled and agreed on Monday, she also decided she would not say anything to her mother until at least after the wedding.
The wedding went off perfectly smoothly, Melanie was Maid of Honour and mother and daughter wore similar dresses, Melanie’s shorter and slightly darker. They wore beaded head dressings which all but hid their hairlessness. Bride and groom departed on their Honeymoon the next morning, having booked a trip through the Panama Canal on a cruise liner. Melanie did the Sunday night duty at Franco’s and was at home on Monday night when the phone rang. It was Mary checking how Melanie and her Aunt, who was staying for 10 days to keep an eye on her niece, were doing.
Melanie assured her mother that all was well but added, “I suggest that you don’t extend your honeymoon. If you do Franco’s reputation for having a bald seating hostess will change to having a peach fuzzed seating hostess.”
“Mel! What are you telling me, has that medical trial started to work?” asked Mary, in a voice that must have been heard by half the ship.
“Yes mom, there is just the slightest sign of fine hairs appearing through my scalp, too slight to be felt or seen with the naked eye, but the doctor is thrilled with the result, I am too of course.” Enthused Melanie. They chatted a while longer and Mary rang off.
Frankie and Mary arrived home as planned, to congratulate and fuss over Melanie’s hair growth, and by the time school started Melanie had a noticeable fuzz distributed evenly over her scalp. As the end of the school year approached Melanie had managed to produce a respectable pixie hairstyle, very pale and thin, but nevertheless, she had a covering of hair. She apologized to Frankie that he no longer had two baldies for the price of one. He chuckled and said, “No great problem, I have a GBW, that’s all I need.”
“GBW?” queried Mary and Melanie simultaneously.
“Yes, gorgeous bald wife,” answered Frankie as he hugged Mary and made a great show of caressing her now tanned scalp.
Melanie was not asked to her Prom, not that she would have attended if she had been, the wounds were old but too deep to disregard. When the finals results came out Phoebe, now in remission, was valedictorian, despite all her absenteeism, and Melanie was third in her class. Phoebe delivered her customary graduation speech, including the required patriotism prep talk and farewell and good wishes to her classmates. Then she branched off, “I know that this is not the Oscars and I am not supposed to make a thank you speech, but I am going to anyway. I want to thank all of you who so loyally and kindly supported me throughout my recent struggle, I cannot tell you how many fluffy animals I have received, there were times when we had to send flowers to the hospital because there was no space at home for them, however, I somehow feel that Mother is still a bit peeved, she cannot seem to shed the 15 pounds she put on from eating all the chocolates that I could not eat because I was too nauseous most of the time.” Phoebe paused and looked into the seated crowd. “There is one person I need to especially thank, don’t get me wrong, your cards and messages made me feel great, if not a little sorry for myself. Melanie Clark called me a freak because I had lost my hair due to chemo. I was hurt, almost devastated, but then I started thinking. Actually, she was right, I was a freak, I had something foreign growing inside me, and normal people do not have foreign things growing inside them. I realized that no amount of self-pity or denial was going to get me over this hurdle. All the medicine in the world would not heal me, if I was going to get this canoe upstream I would have to do a lot of the paddling as well, and that was when I decided I was going to fight, to be positive and overcome my setbacks. Now here I am, in remission and I feel I owe a large part of my recovery to the unintentional shove that Melanie Clark gave me into reality. Melanie, come up here I want to heap a bit of my gratitude onto you!” called out Phoebe.
The crowd started with a slow clap which increased in rhythm and volume and all-around people stood. Melanie sat, riveted in shock, then Frankie, taking her hand, propelled her towards the podium. She mounted the dais and walked to where Phoebe was waiting for her. As Melanie reached her, Phoebe put her arms around the stunned girl and they hugged tightly. No words were exchanged; Phoebe released Melanie and still holding one hand turned to the audience and raised her and Melanie’s arms. The roar was deafening, people had tears streaming down their faces, including Frankie and Mary, hers just visible below the rim of the sun hat she was wearing.
“Hi Melanie, how have you been?” She turned around and looked Matt up and down, it was the first time he had spoken to her since the cell phone camera incident.
“Fine, I guess.” She answered without much feeling.
“How about dinner some time?” he said.
“Um. Ok.” Melanie said, after a long pause.
“Any place you can recommend?” he asked.
“Um. How about Francos, know it?”
“No, but I will find in on the net,” answered Matt.
“I am sure you can.” She stated without expressing any feeling.
“I’ll give you a ring, do I still have your number?”
“Dunno.” She said and gave it to him before turning away.
Three days later Matt phoned and told Melanie that he had a reservation for eight on Wednesday night, “Pick you up at about quarter to?”
“No don’t worry, I’ll meet you there,” she said.
“Thanks, see you.”
“I guess.” And she hung up.
Matt arrived a few minutes before eight. Mary had made sure she was not seen and Matt found Melanie already seated at their table. A waiter brought them menus and recited the evening’s specials and Matt and Melanie placed their orders.
“Melanie, I am not sure how to say this…..” faltered Matt. Melanie felt that the start of an apology was brewing, which she did not want to hear.
“Please leave it Matt, it happened a long time ago and I have been making a great effort to put it behind me,” she said with just a touch of venom in her voice.
“But it was childish and vicious of me………” blurted Matt.
Melanie’s eyes closed to slits, “I said to leave it Matt, it is done!”
Their meal was a strained affair, even the desert was skipped, Matt having downed most of the bottle of wine he had ordered.
Upon finishing the meal Melanie said that the evening had been a mistake as she got up and left the table.
The next morning Melanie picked up the paper as she came down for breakfast. The headlines read ‘NFL Hopeful Arrested’. She skimmed through the article:- Matt Matthews, our High School football hero and possible NFL appointee was arrested last night……. outside a local pub……. for driving under the influence. …….police are not prepared to comment on an ongoing investigation. ……Matthews lawyer went on record stating it was a first offence and were still waiting for the blood test results …… her client would be released and the case would be dismissed.
Melanie picked up her phone and punched out a number. “Hi, Sandra, not too early for you after last night? She asked.
“No, I am up, how are you,” Sandra replied.
“Fine, grateful and feeling like I have at last got some retribution, thanks to you,” the relief plain in her voice.
“Hey, what are cousins in the cops for? It went off like a dream, he virtually played into our hands. After he left you he went to that pub and was ready for the picking after he came out. He failed the roadside sobriety test and was taken into custody. His dad’s lawyer soon had him out though.
“I cannot thank you enough, I have waited for this moment for so long, you are a star!” Melanie’s said, her voice filled with emotion.
“Hey, no sweat Mels, even if nothing comes of the case and he still gets chosen for the NFL, it is going to cost him a packet for that fancy lawyer. All in all, a good night’s work,” added Sandra.
“Well thanks again, and you keep well – love you – bye.”