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Body Packaging #1: Shears & Secrets

May 19, 2011

West Hollywood  2011

Dede Storm cracked a Gioconda smile on her delicately featured face which faded just as rapidly as it had erupted.  Her deep-set sapphire eyes lit up like the headlights of a brand new Ferrari as she wielded her favorite pair of shiny gold scissors on her male client’s full head of hair with a carefully orchestrated fury.   She motioned to a framed movie poster of Sweeney Todd which hung on the wall by the side of her door.  Dede’s self-assured, whiskey voice transported its listener to another world.  “Just a reminder to my clients of what might come their way if they forget to pay my bill.”

The strikingly handsome man in her stylist’s chair could have easily been one of the numerous A-list celebrities for whom she created iconic looks.  His larger-than-life lion’s eyes analyzed her every movement as he spoke. “I hear you’re the best.”

Dede had sensed from the moment that she had met her newest client that he was seeking far more than a winning haircut.  “It depends on what you’re talking about.”  She glanced down at the intricately carved gold ring on his right hand.  Dede was very jaded by her former career as a high ranking guard at the Louvre, but this masculine piece of wearable artwork truly impressed her.  “Nice bauble you got there.”

He brushed her shapely leg with his right hand while his eyes traced the outline of Dede’s heart-shaped face. “It was my great grandfather’s.  It’s one of a kind.”     If it had been any other time or place, he would have pursued this woman heavily for a very different set of needs.  “They say that people spill just as many secrets to their hairstylists as they do to their shrinks.”

Was he looking for her to do a job for him?  Or was he just another hack hoping to suck up some dirt for a media outlet? Dede’s notoriously short fuse was already torched and burning bright.  She placed her shears within an inch of his long muscular neck.  “They say a lot of things.  So, why don’t you tell me what you’re really doing here.”

He reached over to swipe the scissors out of her hands, but Dede had already shot herself out of his reach.  He had underestimated her.  Still, Dede knew that he was a cut above the rest.  “I need your help.  But I’m not gonna be able to talk much with you slitting my throat.”

“No worries.  I have some cover-up stick in my cabinet.”  She sounded as if she wasn’t kidding.   “Look, honey, if you know anything at all about me, you know never to ask me for other clients’ secrets.”

“I don’t fucking want theirs.  I’ve got more than enough of my own.”  Despite the fact that she was holding a blade to his neck, he grinned defiantly as his brilliant kelly green eyes twinkled.  She would never hurt him if she valued her own life.

Dede returned her scissors back into their sheath on her side table.  “Okay.  I’m listening.”  She put on a pair of her signature black cat-eye glasses as she focused intently on the man seated in her stylist’s chair.

“‘bout fucking time— Delilah.” This one had really done his digging.  Virtually no one still alive knew her by that name.  “So, here’s the gig.  Something’s going down in the community that could easily rival the biggest studio blockbuster.”

Community.  He was obviously talking about Hollywood’s inner circle.  He must have used an assumed name for his appointment.  He certainly wasn’t an A-list actor or a player with any of the major studios.  Dede had broken into Hollywood by working on hair and makeup for several top films.  No, this guy wasn’t even working with any of the porn studios.  She knew all of them as well through her assorted jobs doing hair, makeup, wigs, and hairpieces.  Who the hell was he?

“I work for Sidney Martel.  At least I did before he was murdered last night.”  He watched Dede’s face drop as he let her in on the shocking news.

“Sidney’s dead?”  Dede’s body went completely numb as she saw Sidney’s face in her mind’s eye.  He had been one of her first hair clients.  They started working together years ago in another capacity when Sidney was a D-list writer barely eking out a living.  He had clawed his way up to become one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood.  But how could she not know that Sidney was dead?  “How come it isn’t on the news?”

“I guess you’re not the only one who’s good at keeping secrets.  Eh, Dee?”  His facial expression revealed no emotion.

What was this goon really there for?  She knew too much. That was it.  He wasn’t working for Sidney.  He was probably the guy who killed him. She thought about her escape route as she watched her client reach inside his suit pocket.  He was reaching for a gun.

“Sidney told me if anything ever happened to him to give you this.”  She knew everyone in Sidney’s group from his three ex-wives to the guy who shined his shoes just off of Santa Monica Boulevard.  Why hadn’t she met this guy if he was legit?

Dede instinctively spun him around in her swiveling chrome and black leather stylist’s chair like he was a top.  She hadn’t made it this far to be taken out by this hood.  “Not so fast, big man.”

“He said you could be a little bit nuts.”  The man bolted up from the chair and pressed a powder blue envelope into Dede’s hand.  She recognized Sidney’s handwriting.  She wanted to apologize, but Dede couldn’t talk.  What had her dear friend gotten himself caught up in?

Dede turned to face the man in her chair when suddenly she heard a gun go off.  She knew that he was there to kill her. Dede looked down at her black smock. It was covered with blood.  She ran as fast as she could with the knowledge that the next bullet was coming straight for her.

© Jennifer Strauss 2011.  All Rights Reserved.