The Inspection

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There was something familiar about the woman who’d just come in.

I’d let the others go and was just finishing off a few bits and pieces when she appeared. I kicked myself for having forgotten to lock the door when I’d let Janine out.

‘Sorry, we’re closed’ I said, walking towards reception.

The woman was reaching into her bag in a way that would telegraph trouble if this were a film.

‘It’s okay. My name is Elizabeth Rollins, from the Council’s Retail Enforcement Team she said, producing a photo-ID card from her bag. I felt relief that I didn’t have to get into a discussion about whether I could just give her a quick cut since she was here, but felt a twitch at the word ‘Enforcement’.

‘Are you the owner?’ she asked.

‘Yes.’

‘So you’re Gail Edwards?’

‘Yes. How can I help you?’ I asked, trying not to let me concern show.

‘We’re carrying out random inspections on businesses to ensure that they’re operating within social distancing guidelines’ she explained. ‘I visited your salon this morning and observed numerous breaches of those guidelines.’

‘I don’t understand’ I said nervously.

‘Is there somewhere that we can sit down and I’ll go through my report with you?’

‘Of course. Just let me lock the door’ I said. It was a bit late; the horse had already bolted in.

I locked the door and led my visitor through the salon to the little staff room at the back.

‘Would you like tea?’ I asked, thankful when she declined. I wasn’t sure that I could hold a cup steady at that point. We both sat down.

The woman took out a notebook. I realised that she’d been in the salon before lunch. Emily had trimmed her. She was looking serious. It didn’t suit her. She was quite attractive, early forties. Mahogany hair down to her shoulders.

‘As you know, personal care businesses were permitted to re-open, provided that certain guidelines were followed. During my inspection this morning, I noted seventeen separate breaches of those guidelines. My visit this evening is to serve Notice of Closure in view of those breaches. Your business is no longer permitted to operate.’

She went on to list each of the seventeen breaches, one by one, seeming to take significant pleasure in her powers of observation. They all came down to people being too close to each other. My stomach was churning. What was I going to do? I’d exhausted all the money I’d put aside, both for the business and my personal money. I needed to be open. The three girls needed to earn too, it wasn’t just me. I stared at her.

‘Can I appeal? Talk to someone, please?’

‘The appeal process is set out in the Notice that I’ll give you in a moment. All I would say is that with this number of breaches, they won’t change the decision.’

I looked at her.

‘How long is it for?’ I asked.

She looked puzzled. ‘It’s permanent’ she replied, as if I should’ve known.

‘Permanent? Please? You can’t…’

‘I just have. This is your copy of the Notice’ she said, peeling a page from a multi-part form. She put it firmly down on the table. I gave in to the inevitable and felt a tear make its way down my cheek.

She started to get up.

‘Please. I can put it right’ I said, rather pitifully.

‘It’s a bit late for that. You signed up to the conditions before you opened up again. It was quite clear’ she said. ‘There’ll be checks to make sure that you are in fact closed’ she said, gathering her documents. ‘I can see myself out’ she said.

I heard her walk through the salon, pausing at the door to unlock it. I turned my head towards the sound, but couldn’t see through the tears. I put my head in my hands and sobbed.

I must’ve sat there for an hour, distraught. Eventually, I picked up my phone and tapped out a message to the three girls, telling them not to come in in the morning. Replies pinged back, but I just couldn’t deal with them.

I was in a daze for the rest of the day. I’m not even sure how I got to bed that evening. I lay there for ages after it had got light, wallowing in self-pity until I had to make a decision. Lie there or get back up and try to rescue the situation.

I was actually back in the salon for my normal time, running through the appointment book, texting clients who were due in, letting them know that we’d had a minor setback, but that they would be able to get in and their treatment would be on the house.

My next call was to the council. I rang the number on the form that the woman had given me yesterday. I stared into my cup of coffee, thinking that its blackness represented my mood, my future. I explained what had happened. The man on the other end of the phone was apparently the Head of the Enforcement Team. He listened. I shouted. I cried. He took it all.

‘I tell you what, Mrs Edwards, how about I come round there and we’ll get this sorted out’ he said.

‘Really?’

‘Really. I’ve got a couple of things to do, but then I’ll come round.’

We ended the call and I stared across the salon. Maybe all was not lost.

About half an hour later, a figure appeared at the door. I went to open it.

‘Mrs Edwards?’ the man asked.

‘You must be Mr Porter’ I replied.

‘Indeed.’

He was a man in his early forties, better dressed that I’d expected. He was wearing a suit, which hung well. No discernible belly. All in all, quite a presentable man considering he held my fate in his hands.

I led him through the salon, just as I had with his colleague, made him coffee, forced myself to make small-talk and then we took our respective positions. Let battle commence.

There was an awkward silence.

‘What do I need to do? Pay a fine? What?’ I asked, unable to contain myself.

‘Well, I see you’ve made a start. The spacing of the chairs is much better. Within guidelines now.’

‘So, can I open again?’

‘It’s not as simple as that.’

I looked at him, waiting for more.

‘Tell me, what do I need to do? Promise that it won’t happen again?’

‘It’s going to be very difficult to overturn the decision. The council has laid down that there are no second chances. The rules were quite clear.’

‘So why are you here?’ I asked sharply.

‘There’s ways and means.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘Maybe you do something for me and I do something for you’ he said hesitantly.

I stared at him.

‘What are we talking about here?’ I asked seriously.

‘We’ll come to some arrangement.’

I was getting annoyed. ‘A blow job, is that what you’re after?’ I said bluntly.

‘Mrs Edwards!’ he exclaimed, shocked.

‘It’s “Ms” actually’ I corrected. ‘Well?’

He took a deep breath.

‘It’s very good of you to offer, but I think we should keep this professional.’

‘I’m sorry if I’ve picked you up wrong, but I’m a little confused. I don’t know what you want me to do’ I replied with more than a little embarrassment.

He looked pensive for a moment, as if he were considering his next move.

‘Have you always worn your hair like that?’ he asked.

‘I thought we were keeping this professional. What’s that got to do with getting the salon re-opened?’

He paused again. ‘Everything’ he replied. He reached forward and picked up his cup. He drained its contents, set it down and then looked at me.

He could see my confusion.

‘I think that we can deal with this a little more leniently than closing the salon down, taking your livelihood away. Don’t get me wrong, these are serious issues, but I think the penalty should be a little more measured, whilst still serving as a reminder that there are consequences’ he explained.

That didn’t do much to resolve my confusion.

‘I’m still not with you’ I confessed.

‘What I’m trying to say is that closure is too harsh. Some other penalty is more appropriate. The council doesn’t have a mechanism to levy a financial penalty in this scenario, so I was trying to come up with some other way to hand down a forfeit that you’ll regard as something in recognition of the transgression, that doesn’t need to be acknowledged by the council.’

‘You’ve lost me, Mr Porter. I need a translation from “official speak”‘ I commented.

‘Sorry, maybe I was being too formal. I don’t want to close you down, I can’t fine you, take money from you that is, so I thought you’d agree that cutting your hair would be an appropriate punishment. I take it that you like your hair in that style, so if you had to change it, it wouldn’t be something that you’d do willingly. That would satisfy the need to punish you for the various breaches.’

I looked at him again.

‘You want me to cut my hair as a punishment? Does that have official approval?’ I retorted angrily.

‘I’m trying to help you here. The council’s official position is that your salon has breached the guidelines for re-opening and the penalty for that is immediate and permanent closure of your business’ he explained, his face starting to redden.

‘But you’re prepared to overlook those breaches and forget all about it if I cut my hair?’

‘Correct.’

‘Would there be a record of this?’

‘No’ he replied.

‘Have you done this for other businesses?’

‘You’re the first.’

‘Why me then?’

‘I can’t comment on that.’

‘Can’t or won’t?’

‘I can’t tell you’ he replied. ‘I do need an answer though. I have other commitments to attend to.’

‘I need to think about it.’

‘I’d need an answer before I go’ he said, reaching for his briefcase.

‘Now?’

‘I’d have thought that it’s a small price to pay to save your business, but that’s for you to decide.’

I reached up to rub the back of my neck, a habit that I’d tried to get out of, but found myself doing whenever I was under pressure. My hair brushed the back of my hand.

‘How short?’ I asked.

‘It’s a serious breach’ he said.

‘How short?’ I repeated, starting to accept that something may have to happen to the hair that had been my focus for so long. It was always the way with hairdressers, clients frequently turned the conversation to their stylist’s hair, wondering how they kept it looking so good, what tricks of the trade they employed etc. I often had clients ask about the colour I used, how I got it to such a rich chestnut colour, which of the girls cut my bob, that sort of thing. I hadn’t minded a bit of experimentation in my younger days, but now that I considered myself the poster-girl (poster-woman) for the salon, I’d decided to stick with a certain look and only to make minor changes to it. Sometimes I got Julie to take it just off my collar, but more often than not, it was just shy of my shoulders. My “crowning glory” my ex had called it, usually just before he applied his own “conditioner” to it, if you know what I mean. It’s all very flattering that you have that effect on a man, but it is a bit of a pain to have to go and wash it out rather than sinking into the bed for a cuddle.

‘How short?’ I repeated.

‘If I’m going to wipe the slate clean, I think you need to be thinking along the same lines.’

‘Can’t you people just speak English’ I said, exasperated.

‘No recorded breach has got to mean no hair’ he said. ‘Fresh start on both sides.’

‘You’re kidding!’ I said.

‘I’m going’ he replied, picking his briefcase up.

‘I’ll report you’ I threatened.

He fixed me with a stare, his face breaking into a smile.

‘For what? I came here to listen to your concerns, your explanation for the breaches wasn’t acceptable. I confirmed the closure, that’s all that’s happened this morning.’

‘I’ll tell them you tried to blackmail me’ I protested.

‘I’m sure there’ll be a full investigation of any evidence that you provide’ he said calmly, standing up.

‘Bastard!’

‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to hear your views, Mrs Edwards’ he said.

‘It’s “Ms”, not “Mrs”‘ I said, feeling the need to get that one in. He headed for the door.

‘Wait!’ I called out, seeing that he was just reaching for the handle. I hurried towards him. He turned expectantly. ‘Can we talk about it some more?’ I asked

‘It’s a simple enough proposition’ he replied, turning the key to unlock the door.

‘There’s no-one here to do it. Can I call you to tell you that I’ve done it?’ I stammered, clutching at invisible straws.

‘I’m sure we could work out between us how to do it’ he said a little sarcastically. His hand moved from the key to the handle. ‘The offer expires when this door opens’ he said.

I could see his arm tense in readiness to pull the door.

‘Okay’ I forced out, just as I could see the door moving out of the frame. He looked at me. He smiled. He turned the key. My stomach turned.

‘Let’s go back and sit down shall we?’ he said, trying not to betray his triumph.

I led the way, wondering how I could rescue the situation. Was it worth bringing the blowjob back to the table? Going the whole hog? The prospect wasn’t unappealing. I was sure I’d had worse on the odd girls’ night out in Spain. He was attractive enough to give the impression that he wasn’t that desperate for sex. He could probably get it without too much trouble. What he was angling for here was altogether shorter in supply. Was this his thing? Getting women to shave their heads? I’ve heard of a few hair-related kinks over the years, but this was a new one on me. I sat down and crossed my arms. I waited for him to speak.

‘Don’t look so angry’ he started.

‘I’m not angry’ I replied. ‘Well, I am, but I don’t understand what this is all about. I take it you’re freelancing here’ I added.

‘Let’s just say that I’m going out of my way to help someone out of a bit of a bind’ he replied with a smile. I watched him take his phone out of his pocket. I looked at him quizzically. ‘I need to call Mrs Rollins. She needs to be here as a witness’ he explained.

In a strange way, that made me feel a bit better, because it wasn’t going to be just me and some pervert in the salon. I listened to the brief call. The woman was just finishing up with another call and would be with us in a few minutes. I picked the cups up and went to wash them so that I didn’t have to sit and look at him while we waited. I stood at the sink and wondered what I would say to people. No doubt there would be some sort of formal agreement that would stop me telling people the truth, so what would I say? Moment of madness? Charity thing? Would I just put on a wig and try to bluff it out? That wouldn’t last two minutes before the girls started pressing me for answers. What would I look like? I’d only recently put my mind to dating again, or at least being up for a date if someone asked. That would all fall by the wayside until I had a respectable amount of hair again. I was so wrapped up in all of this that I didn’t notice that he’d got up. It was only when I heard voices that I realised that the woman had arrived.

‘Hello again Mrs Edwards’ she said. I couldn’t bring myself to correct her.

‘Hi’ I said with undisguised resignation.

‘I’m so pleased that you’ve been able to work things out with Mr Porter’ she said. I attempted a smile. I saw her look round, back down the salon. ‘Just checking that we can’t be seen from the door. Wouldn’t want people to think that you’re breaching the Closure Notice.’

‘The styling areas are shielded. Most clients prefer that’ I replied.

‘Good.’

‘I thought it would be easiest if Mrs Rollins does the actual cut for you, how does that sound?’ he asked.

‘Just perfect’ I replied, my words oozing sarcasm.

‘Over to you, Lizzie’ he said, moving aside.

I looked at her. Serious, business-like, but with an air about her that suggested something else. I was reminded of a rather comical porn-film that a previous boyfriend had made me sit through, something with a dominatrix who forced women to undress so that she could spank them. It had turned my boyfriend on. It made me laugh. I seem to remember that his performance was better than usual afterwards, so it wasn’t all bad.

‘Do you mind if I call you Gail?’ she asked, one of our gowns in her hand. I shrugged a response.

She held the gown out for me to slip my arms into.

‘Is there nothing else I can do?’ I asked, vainly seeking a last-minute reprieve.

‘I think this is the best way, the only way to get you open again’ Mr Porter replied with an attempt at an understanding smile. He couldn’t understand what I was feeling just then. Even if we traded places it wouldn’t be the same. He’d just be a bald guy, whereas he was turning me into a bald woman, a bald hairdresser. They just didn’t compare.
I felt sick.

The woman fastened the gown at the back of my neck.

‘Ouch, that’s a bit tight’ I observed.

‘It’s fine’ she replied. It was clear that I wasn’t a paying customer to be pandered to.

She picked up a brush from the equipment rack and started to brush my hair. I was at the point where I just wanted her to get on with it, but she was giving me the impression that she was going to take her time. I couldn’t quite see the guy in my peripheral vision, but I was all too aware that he was there, savouring his victory.

‘You’ve got lovely hair’ she said. What?

‘That’s why I want to know if there’s another way to sort this out. It’s part of me, it’s a business asset and you want to take that away’ I objected. She carried on brushing, slowly, provocatively almost.

‘It’s not a business asset if there’s no business’ she replied dryly. She gave my hair a little pull to emphasise the point. I saw her in the mirror look across at her boss.

She put the brush down and picked up a pair of scissors. My stomach lurched. She teased out a strand from the top of my head and paused to consider it. My focus was on the hand with the scissors. I was still hoping that she would say that I’d learned my lesson and that I could consider myself lucky that she wasn’t actually going to go through with it. I was hoping for some feminine empathy. After all, her own hair was long and glossy. It was the hair of someone who treasured it, someone who knew its power. She let the tress fall back into place, unharmed.

‘What do you think about me doing this, David?’ she asked, without appearing to do anything. Then she raised the scissors, holding them horizontally for a moment before sliding the blades into my hair at the right-hand side of my head, about mid-ear level. The blades closed. I watched helpless as a sizeable chunk of hair tumbled from the side of my head, my bob ruined with that one action.

‘To be honest, I couldn’t really see’ the guy whose name I can’t bring myself to write anymore said.

‘This better?’ she asked, following up the first cut with one that went all the way to the front. I was torn between watching the tress tumble and assessing my sudden transportation to the 1920s with the beginnings of a “flapper” bob. It wasn’t a look that I’d ever considered for myself, but right at that moment, it was very appealing.

‘Better already’ he agreed, just as she’d moved further back for another hack. It was too late to be stressed about it now really, it was just a case of trying not to give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry.

It was strange seeing myself with two such different levels at the front. I tried to look at it from a professional perspective, thinking back to some of the wacky things that I’d seen at hair shows over the years. This had to take the biscuit though. The scissors continued their unseen progress at the back of my head, but then she stopped.

‘I don’t know how you do this all day, it’s making my hand hurt’ she complained. I didn’t respond, but watched as she put the scissors down. There was only one thing that could happen now. She unhooked the clippers from the side of the counter and inspected them.

‘I don’t think we’ll be needing that’ she said dismissively as she took the guard off and tossed it to the counter. The number of times I’d told the girls to take the guards off and to clean the blades when they’d finished!

The clippers made that satisfying ‘popping’ sound that they make and my head was pushed forward with a little more force that was necessary. The mistake of a novice or the act of someone who knew exactly what they were doing, I wasn’t sure. The only thing that mattered was “first contact”. It was a concept that was alien to me, something that I’d never dreamt of experiencing, but the clippers were now climbing the back of my head, ascending to the summit effortlessly. I closed my eyes for a second, a thousand regrets flowing through me.

‘You might want to see this close up’ she said to her co-conspirator.

I could sense his presence. I could feel the clippers move across the top of my head. I opened my eyes to see the reflection of myself with a hairless furrow across the top of my head, being watched by a guy with his cock in his hand. I closed my eyes again, not wishing to see either part of this particular tableau.

If I hadn’t wanted the piece of paper confirming that I could re-open the salon, I would’ve thrown them both out, but not before slapping his face. And hers too, for good measure. As it was, I just wished that she’d hurry up. She’d moved to the side that hadn’t felt the scissors, so there was a full complement of hair to tackle. I ventured to half-open one eye, pleased that the guy was no longer in my field of view. Out of sight, out of mind. I opened both eyes to watch half of my bob shorn away without hesitation, allowing me to see myself with only the lightest covering of hair on my head for the first time. It was becoming harder not to cry, but I just had to keep telling myself that the goal was in sight. She started to move the clippers across my scalp in directions that she hadn’t travelled the first time. I was getting the impression that she had done this before.

‘There’ she said, silencing the clippers and rubbing the flat of her other hand across my scalp. I took a deep breath. ‘That wasn’t so bad was it?’ she asked.

‘Now can you give me whatever piece of paper I need to open tomorrow’ I said, no time for a “please” or a “thank you”.

‘We’re not done yet’ she said, putting the clippers down.

‘There’s not much else you can do’ I replied, breaking my silence.

‘Can you see the foam, Dave?’ she asked. He must’ve made some obscene gesture. ‘The proper foam, not your hand-cranked stuff’ she chided.

‘Surely this is enough’ I pleaded.

‘I’m sure you wouldn’t like half-a-job done in your salon?’ she replied. This was the one occasion that I would’ve been delighted for someone to be less than thorough.

‘It’s in the cupboard behind you. Razors too’ I said, acknowledging the inevitable.

There was brief pause while she found what she needed and then she was in full flight again. Squirting, smearing.

‘I bet that’s really doing it for you, isn’t it Dave?’ she asked, turning her head towards her colleague, who was thankfully still out of view. I’d have to steam-clean the floor when they’d gone. There was no reply. He was obviously focussing on the task in hand. She carried on sliding her fingers across my scalp, creating and destroying little meringue peaks as she went. If circumstances had been different, I could’ve quite enjoyed the sensation, but sitting there surrounded by my severed hair, the threat against my salon not yet lifted, I struggled to raise too much enthusiasm. That didn’t stop her. She slowed her movements to an almost imperceptible level. I heard her sigh. She touched her right boob with her clean hand, squeezing it briefly. Oh! Come on! I’d found myself in some 1970s porno. Her hand appeared on my shoulder. Surely not? It ventured south fleetingly, made its presence felt and then left. It was almost as if I’d imagined it, it was that quick. She reached for the razor.

Respectability returned, within my field of vision anyway. I didn’t dare think what was going on where I couldn’t see. The razor strokes were reassuringly confident. I was now sure that this wasn’t her first rodeo. The shaving cream was receding at a decent rate, confirming my baldness, but bringing me closer to their exit from my salon and my life. The whole thing was just surreal, sitting in my own salon being shaved against my will, without actively fighting it. I was just relieved that I didn’t look hideous without hair. Very definitely different, but I could still bear to look at myself. With the right wig, I’d be okay. She moved around me silently, leaving baldness in her wake.

She stopped, looked, stroked. She smiled. Her work was done.

‘Nearly there, just need David’s confirmation and then we’re done’ she said.

I looked at her in the mirror, not noticing the guy approach from the side. Then I felt it.

‘You dirty fucker!’ I shouted at the first sensation on the back of my neck. I reached up to wipe it away, disgusted at what he’d just done, but my hand was caught by the woman.

‘Let me’ she said, her tone different from what it had been. It was much softer, sensuous. She clearly didn’t share my shock. She’d definitely done this before. She touched her fingers to my skin. It was almost the same as when she’d spread the shaving foam, apart from the fact I was very aware that it wasn’t shaving foam. We were at the point where I joined in with their whatever it was that they were doing.

‘No, stop!’ I said, moving my head away from her.

The look of surprise told me that she’d expected me to go along with it.

‘You’ve imposed your punishment. Please just give me the authorisation to re-open and then leave’ I asked, reaching up with the edge of the gown to wipe away his stuff. She undid the fastening on the gown and took a step back. She looked over my head to the guy, who I knew was to my side, but who I couldn’t bear to look at.

‘I think we’re done here, don’t you David?’ she said. I heard a zipper, signalling that he too was done.

I got out of the chair and faced her, ignoring for the moment the pile of hair on the floor that so recently had been a very important part of me.

‘I’ll get our cases’ she said, walking back towards the break-out area.

‘I do hope you appreciate the seriousness of what you did and the extent of our leniency’ the guy ventured.

‘Just give me the paper’ I said, still not looking at him.

‘There is no paper. That would mean that there’s a record of your transgression and we couldn’t have that. The notice just won’t be filed.’

‘Can I have that then?’

‘I’m afraid not. We’ll destroy it and that’ll be the end of the matter.’

‘For you maybe. I’ve got to deal with this’ I replied, pointing to my head.

‘It looks superb’ he replied.

‘To you maybe.’

‘That’s everything’ the woman said, holding each of their cases.

‘Can I see you destroy that form?’

‘Rest assured, it’ll be securely shredded’ she replied.

I stood there and watched them leave. I felt deflated. Defeated, even though I’d got my salon back. My first job was to wash my face and head and then to go to the cleaning cupboard to get a broom and a mop. I wanted to disinfect everywhere that he’d been. It took me an hour until I was satisfied that I’d removed all possible traces of him, from me and from my salon. I’ve never been a fan of men cumming on my face, but it’s positively repulsive when you’re not a willing participant in what’s got him to that point. My final act was to change into a spare dress that I kept in the salon for emergencies. That would tide me over until I got home and could shower.

I went to my little office area to get the form that the woman had given me yesterday. I wanted to read it again. It was gone. She’d taken it.

I locked the salon and walked to the car-park, praying that no-one would see me. I drove home, sad at the loss of my hair, but relieved at getting the salon back. Once through the door, I was straight upstairs, clothes barely off before I stepped into the shower cubicle.

I stood under the jet, letting the hot water take away any remnants of the day. I reluctantly put my hands to my head, not wanting the confirmation that I had no hair anymore. I touched tentatively, that hesitation being just enough to translate the lightest touch of my fingertips into something that was actually quite pleasant. I’d expected it to be repulsive, but I found that I could live with it. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it felt ok and did have the obvious advantage of only needing seconds rather than the lengthy sessions that I spent on my hair with a view to avoiding any adverse comments from either staff or clientele.

I dried myself off and forced myself to look in the mirror. I’d get used to it, but it was strange seeing myself like that. My attention was drawn to my pussy-patch, my manicured landing-strip that was now the longest hair that I sported. It would have to go, but not just yet. I’d lost more than enough hair for one day. I put my robe on and went downstairs to the kitchen.

It wasn’t even lunchtime, but I sat at the breakfast bar with a rather large glass of white wine and looked out of the window. My phone pinged. It was Janine, just checking that I was okay. Where would I start? It wasn’t something that I could do by text, so I called her, told her everything and cried. I felt better for it and by the time we said our goodbyes, I’d actually accepted that I was bald and would just get on with it.

I’d agreed with Janine that she’d do the necessary to open the salon the day after tomorrow. I needed a day to sort myself out and certainly needed more time to polish off the bottle. I was in mid-pour when the phone went again. It was Janine.

‘All sorted’ she said. I’ve rung the girls, rung the clients for Thursday, just in case any of them had seen the salon shut. I thanked her.

‘There’s just one thing’ she said. ‘I hope you don’t mind…I rang the council. I wanted to give that guy a piece of my mind for what he did to you.’

‘Janine!’ I said. She was always one to take the moral high-ground in discussions at the salon.

‘I know, I know. It’s just…it’s just…they say that they haven’t got a Mr Porter there. Or a Mrs Rollins. I wondered if I’d got the names wrong.’

‘No, Porter and Rollins. You’re right’ I confirmed.

‘They don’t work there’ Janine repeated. I didn’t reply. ‘They said that they’re not doing inspections at the moment’ she added.

I took a deep breath.

‘So what does that mean?’ I asked, knowing full-well what it meant. The whole thing had been a scam and I’d fallen for it. What on Earth did someone get out of what they’d done to me?

‘I think you should go to the police’ Janine said.

‘And say what? That I got taken in by a couple of weirdos?’ I’ve got no proof. They took the paperwork with them.’

‘What are you going to do?’

‘What can I do? Get used to being bald, I suppose.’

I thanked her for what she’d tried to do for me and sat there with my wine to reflect on what had happened. I actually smiled. They’d put a lot of effort into it, I had to say that for them, but if I ever saw them again…

 

 

 

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