“You want the usual, Johnnie?”
The plump redhead stared into the mirror in front of her. “No, Melba. This time I want it big. Stack it so high you could drive a Volkswagen under it.”
Melba raised a painted-on brow. “Special occasion?”
“It’s for the concert tomorrow night.”
“The Royce Middleton concert.” There was an uncomfortable pause. “You know, at the junior high auditorium. Surely you heard about it.”
“No, and I thought I heard everything here at the shop. I knew Royce might be coming home and giving a concert, but I hadn’t heard anything for sure. Sue-Sue was supposed to let me know since she works at the newspaper and knows everything.”
Melba pulled a brush through Johnnie’s hair, a little too firmly. “Ow. Don’t take it out on me.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard about this. It’s the biggest thing to happen in Blue Tick since Zeke McBride’s cow had that two-headed calf. I think the concert was only finalized a week or so ago, though. Royce finished a demo CD to take to Nashville. He decided to come home for a few days before going up there.”
“Looks like Sue-Sue could have told me. I thought she was my friend. She’s probably jealous because Beau Thompson took me out last weekend. Sue-Sue’s been sweet on him for a long time. Didn’t look to me like he was ever going to ask her out, though. I didn’t see the point in saying no to supper at The Pork Palace. Besides, I talked to Sue-Sue yesterday and she told me she didn’t have any special plans for the weekend. That little heifer just didn’t tell me out of spite.”
Johnnie looked at Melba’s reflection is the mirror. “Well, you going to the concert?”
“Royce was so handsome in high school. Remember his Elvis eyes? I wonder if he’s changed.”
Melba shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’d like to see him again. I never told you, but he took me to the Weiner Wagon once. He wasn’t a cheap skate either. Bought me a chili dog basket and super-sized the fries.”
“Get out of town!”
“Yep. He could sing even then. I remember him turning the radio up and singing along with Alan Jackson.”
“I’ve got an extra ticket, but just so you know, Sue-Sue’s seat is between mine and the extra one.”
“After the way she did me, I’m not crazy about sitting by Sue-Sue, but I’ll take the ticket. I’ll swap you for the haircut.”
They continued to talk about the concert until the shop door swung open. A petite blonde breezed in. “Melba, you’ve got to work me in.”
Melba eyed her suspiciously. “What’s the emergency, Sue-Sue?”
“Can’t you see?” She picked up a strand of hair. “It’s a mess. You know how you feel when your hair is icky.”
“You need it fixed for the concert, don’t you?” Melba feigned interest in combing Johnnie’s bangs.
“Now Melba, I was going to tell you about it. I just forgot.” She stuck out her bottom lip.
“Will you please fix my hair?”
Melba sighed. “Oh, all right. What are friends for?”
Johnnie rose and motioned to Sue-Sue. “All yours. See you tomorrow night.” She left the shop, waving at the ladies.
Melba clipped an apron around Sue-Sue. For an instant, she thought about cutting a chunk of hair from the back of her scalp. “So, are you ticked at me for going out with Beau?”
“Well, I wasn’t happy about it. You know I like him.”
“He doesn’t like you, dear. “
Sue-Sue turned red. “If you’d stay out of it, he would’ve asked me out by now. I don’t know why he’s interested in you, anyway. I’m certainly prettier. Well, I mean…”
“I know what you mean, and I don’t have time to do your hair after all.” She yanked the apron from Sue-Sue’s shoulders, catching it in her earring.
“Hey. You did that on purpose.”
“Of course I didn’t. It’s not my fault you wear those cheap chandeliers.”
Melba snatched up her concert ticket and fed it into the paper shredder.
Sue-Sue’s mouth flew open. “What are you doin’?”
“I would rather eat possum entrails than sit by you. I’ll buy my own ticket, and hopefully my seat won’t be anywhere near yours.”
“But Melba, you shouldn’t have done that.” Sue-Sue shook her head. “The concert is sold out.”
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