Wednesday 19 October 2022

A Kind of Revenge by Jane Spirit, a bottle of whiskey

Dee had always thought of herself as a down to earth sort of person, but as she walked up the hill from the town centre towards Edgington’s only so-called luxury hotel she felt a twinge of excitement at the prospect of a change of routine for a few days. The ‘Hill View Hotel’ had been requisitioned for exclusive use during the filming of a second series of ‘Green Fingers’: an eco- epic set in the future and starring their very own local boy turned famous actor as the hero who possessed superhuman abilities. Not only could he empathise with landscapes, but somehow was able to meld into them, animating them to avert some ridiculously plotted natural disaster. The staff of the friendly little back street salon where Dee worked had been recruited to do all the hairdressing for the cast.

The series was over-hyped rubbish, thought Dee, but even so she was curious about the whole business of turning the hotel grounds into a supposedly futuristic woodland setting. She wondered whether the series star had suggested the place to the producers and if so, why? Sam had not so much moved on as rocketed out of the place as soon as he could into a stratosphere of fame that made him inevitably the pride of the town. He had been several years ahead of her at Edgington High school. Even in those days he had stood out for his charisma. He was always the lead in the annual drama production, handsome with his uneven, but oddly appealing features framed by startlingly blond-white hair. She would be prepping that hair for him ready for his appearance on set that afternoon.

Dee signed in at the front desk of the hotel and followed the receptionist’s directions towards the best rooms in the place on the first-floor front. Their grandeur was denoted by the name plaques rather than numbers on the doors. As instructed, she knocked on the door of the ‘Sunshine Suite’ and was admitted by a pale young minion to a yellow toned sitting area where a middle-aged Sam was already waiting in a highbacked chair, a coffee in his hand.

She hadn’t seen Sam in thirty years, but she would have known him straightaway even if she hadn’t seen his image relentlessly reproduced over the years. His slightly uneven features still had their boyish appeal and the fine lines around his eyes added a touch of world-weary charm. What struck her most forcefully seeing him again was the still lustrous quality of his trademark shoulder length hair which was apparently a timelessly platinum blonde. Dee placed her own trademark workbag on the deep pile carpet and quickly got to work on him, trimming, gelling, buffing, tonging to perfection.

He showed not a flicker of recognition. He seemed to look through her rather than at her and all the time he was issuing his demands to a throng of assistants who came and went, instructing them about his costume, make up, and the required strength of his next expresso. He did not recognise her, but oh yes, she knew him. She could never forget how he had treated Angela that summer term before he left for drama college. Angela had lived next door to Dee, or Deirdre as she had been named, and had been like a younger sister to her. Sam had hung around their younger crowd at school in his last term there and had quickly homed in on Angela, transfixing her with his exaggerated smile, his goofy expression, and the swish of his long locks. Angela had been bewildered by all that attention, easily impressed by him, and he had taken advantage of her and then abandoned her just as easily. After he left Edgington, she had become more and more withdrawn, even with Dee. As the trajectory of Sam’s fame ascended unerringly, Dee watched as Angela plummeted into unhappiness, a bright star eventually extinguished in the abyss of addiction. Now as she worked on Sam’s beautiful hair, she listened to him prattling on to his entourage, manipulating them with his faux friendliness or whinging and niggling in his determination to get his own way. She realised that she hated him as much as ever for what he had done to Angela.

As requested, Dee arrived at the hotel very early the next day. No-one asked her to sign in before she proceeded to the Sunshine suite with her bag of equipment and gels. The sleepy night receptionist had passed her a spare room key so that she wouldn’t disturb other guests by knocking. She let herself into the suite quietly. No-one apart from Sam was there in the sitting area, and she stood for a few moments looking down at him sleeping, lying on his side on the couch, an empty whiskey bottle on the coffee table next to him, an empty glass on the carpet near him. He had never made it to bed then. She placed her bag gently on the high-backed chair in which he had sat for his trim yesterday. Quietly opening the catch, she took out a much larger pair of scissors than she would require to re- feather his hair which had been loosely gathered into a ponytail to keep it off his face. She stood over him thinking again about that summer when she had tried to comfort Angela as she wept, ashamed. They had talked it over so many times and Dee had wanted to confront Sam about the way he had forced himself on her and then wanted no more to do with her. He had humiliated her by telling her how no-one would ever believe her if she were to tell them he had gone anywhere near her. Angela had made Dee promise not to tell anyone else about it and by September Sam had moved on to begin his quest for celebrity.

Dee weighed the scissors in her hand for a few moments more. She knew now how she would wield them to strike him where it would really hurt. Without hesitating she stooped to lift the precious ponytail away from the nape of his neck.  He slept on as she brought the scissor blades together to sever his hair as if decapitating him, snippety snip. Then she left her trophy on the coffee table, at the last minute taking the little picture she carried of the young Angela from her bag and leaving it there too. Sam hadn’t stirred as she left the room and closed the door lightly behind her, heading back to reception to return the key. He would wake of course and scream in outrage, but she doubted he would ever pursue the matter. He would not want Angela’s story to come out. Dee felt a new-found resilience at the thought of his horror over the thought of any negative publicity.

As she reached the lobby, the receptionist called across to her, asking her belatedly to sign in and out. Dee suddenly remembered the time early on that summer when Sam had been befriending Angela. He had deigned to join in with their little group of friends as they giggled over embarrassing secrets. His had been that he had in fact been christened Samson by his adoring if eccentric parents who had wanted to find a distinctive name for him. Smiling at that memory, Dee reached for the chained pen on the hotel counter. She wrote in the visitor’s book only the middle name that her mother, a huge Tom Jones fan, had pleaded with her father to give her and which she much preferred to use on this occasion: Delilah.


About the author

Jane Spirit lives in Suffolk U.K. She has written academic articles and books from time to time and is now enjoying writing fiction. < p> Did you enjoy the story? Would you like to shout us a coffee? Half of what you pay goes to the writers and half towards supporting the project (web site maintenance, preparing the next Best of book etc.)

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