StreetLegalPlay by Kyle Thomas Smith

A SORCERER ON MONTMARTRE – (CHAPTER SEVEN)

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on June 16, 2014

soho

A Sorcerer on Montmartre

By Kyle Thomas Smith

© 2013

Sixth chapter from the novel I’m writing

(Click the following for Chapters 1234, 5678910 (p. i)10 (p.2)10 (p.3)111213)

CHAPTER SEVEN:

LOOSENING-UP

Simon did get a new sweater the next day, more than one (ones that fit), along with a top-to-bottom makeover, starting with his hair. Robert O’s styling credentials in San Francisco, as well as all the hair shows he’d either won or placed in both cross-country and in Europe, had opened doors for him in Manhattan by the time he’d decided to relocate there three years before. He’d had his pick of the litter when it came to finding a spot in a high-end salon, so he took a booth at Copenhagen Essentials, a premium Fifth Avenue salon where head stylists often give $600 haircuts to the kind of A-List clients who can afford them. This is where Robert O took Simon and he quoted the $600 price to Simon again and again, from the time his assistant first brought him to the shampoo sink, reminding Simon just as often that he would be performing his services free-of-charge. Much like the night before, Robert O said precious little else to Simon, who knew too little about the world to know there’s no such thing as free-of-charge when Robert O is behind the chair.

When Simon came back from the sink, his chin-length wet mop of dark brown hair left Robert O with no less than a wheat field of split ends to thresh down. Robert O didn’t ask Simon what style he wanted. He’d already appraised Simon’s face and had a Layer Cut in mind, the kind he had given to male models on catwalks from L.A. to Hamburg for the past few years. Every now and then, from across the room, Belinda would look up from her book—a raggedy paperback copy of The Loved One, which she’d picked up for a few bucks down the street at The Strand—to hear clippers roaring and see whole Gryphon wings of hair flying off the back of Simon’s head. Belinda smiled, wishing she could see his Simon’s face too but Robert O was jumping around like a monkey on a stovetop full of hot skillets, attacking Simon’s erstwhile hairdo on all fronts and monopolizing all his station’s mirrors in the process. In next to no time, Simon’s hair was cut medium short and Robert O was already going in to texturize the top with a razor. Once that process was completed, Robert O’s assistant shampooed Simon a second time before helping Robert O apply tiny foils to a new array of blond and red highlights. After all the color had processed and Simon’s hair was washed and blow-dried one last time, Robert O shagged out the new style with his fingertips before applying Pierre Cardin’s American Crew Pomade and dabbing Simon’s neck with Armani aftershave. Lastly, he dusted off his neck with Taylor of London talcum powder.

Simon had never asked to be Cinderella on her big night out, but this new cut was proof positive that he had been spirited away from Wizard’s Stone every bit as much as the redheaded stepchild had been spirited away in her pumpkin carriage. He kept looking in the mirror, running his fingers through his hair and over his forehead as if to see whether his face had managed to make it out of the makeover in tact. He even pawed at the air where his weighty locks used to be, still taking in how much more than just his hair had vanished these past several days.

“I think you mean to say thank-you,” Robert O snarled, putting his clippers and shears away.

While this transformation was still too new for Simon to be altogether sure he was altogether pleased, he erred on the southern side of telling a polite lie, “I can’t thank you enough.”

“That’s right you, you can’t,” said Robert O, not even looking at him.

Belinda sashayed over, “Thought up some threads to stuff him in?”

“Hmmm…Do we want him warding off angels like you do, Mortitia?”

“Nah-uh, sugar,” Belinda said, spreading out her hands in self-presentation, “Mine is a signature style. Simon is way too nice for it.”

“Fine. We’ll go get him something off the rack.”

Robert O left his assistant to clean up the tonnage of hair on the floor and, since Simon was his only client on what otherwise would have been his day off, he grabbed his coat and Simon’s hand and herded him and Belinda out the door. First, Robert O and Belinda took Simon down to Soho, where they fitted him with form-fitting sweaters from DKNY, black leather zipper boots and a black leather jacket from Kenneth Cole, along with back-in-vogue plain white Nikes and a few pairs of Levis in varying shades of blue. From there, they took him up to Macy’s on 34th Street, where Simon left the various retailers with bagsful of Merino wool sweaters and scarves, silk button-down long sleeve shirts, and even a pair of black silk pajamas, so he no longer would have to sleep in a 1940s nightgown or in the nude, like he had done with Belinda the night before (and he could have sworn she’d gotten handsy when she’d gotten back from the clubs, though he was half-asleep, so he couldn’t say for sure). Then there were pairs of Calvin Klein underwear, dress socks and even a good stock of athletic socks, odds-and-ends that added up to a high-end bill. It was all paid for too, on Robert O’s platinum AmEx card and from over one grand of Belinda’s get-out-and-stay-out stash, which Simon had told her she shouldn’t spend on trifles but she’d told him to shut the fuck up so he did.

The outlay of this new haul put Simon into a greater state of shock than anything that had transpired up to now, although he did manage to say thank-you a plethora of times but his thank-yous were not met with you’re-welcomes but rather with stony silence and a lot of cursory up-and-down looks. Simon had become a clotheshorse and he didn’t know why, but rather than questioning it, he just decided to go with it and, in the meantime, admired his sudden style reflected back to him in store windows as he walked to the subway home with Belinda and Robert O.

Simon said, “I don’t know how they’ll like this at work tomorrow.”

Robert O said, “With any luck, they won’t.”

“Why would that be lucky?” asked Simon.

“Wise up, Simon,” said Belinda, “You think you can get by here just picking up dishes and washing them?”

“I’m gonna have to.”

Robert O blew a stream of smoke from the Dunhill he’d just lit, “A little loosening up’ll set him straight.”

That line hung around in Simon’s mind a lot longer than Robert O’s cigarette smoke did on 7th Avenue. The “set him straight” part, Simon could understand. He was the first to admit how much he didn’t know and, looking in any direction of this newfound Babylon, he knew he was getting only the faintest intimation of how much was around to school him in the things he ought to know. But “loosening up”? Simon thought all that was over and done with now that they were actually paying for the stuff they were walking out of shops with, yet it seemed Robert O and Belinda had other practices in mind too. But Simon said nothing, nothing at all the whole rest of the night, which wasn’t hard since Robert O and Belinda just went on talking to each other, about old times—which mainly consisted of times they’d gotten wasted together and what they’d gotten wasted on—as though Simon weren’t even in the room.

Meanwhile, he just sat saying silent prayers—though he wasn’t sure whom he was saying them to anymore now that he was doing his level best to be a nonbeliever, Sartre-Beauvoir-style. Nonetheless, he prayed that he could toe the line at Chelsea Night & Day Diner so he could wean himself off Robert O and Belinda’s meal ticket, especially now that his keepers had made it known that what they had in mind for him was a lot of loosening-up, whatever that meant to them. And whatever it meant, somewhere in between the after-dinner bong Belinda and Robert O smoked and the lines of coke they did, Simon had decided he wasn’t going to join in any of their kind of loosening-up, lest he become the prodigal son, booted back home to a shotgun-toting daddy who’d do to him what the daddy in scripture did to the fatted calf.

When Simon walked into his first day of work the following afternoon, Paula greeted him at the hostess stand with a few menus in hand, “Hi, sweetie, how many of you will there be?” Simon said, “Paula, it’s me…Simon.” Paula said nothing but peered closer. Simon said, “I came Saturday. I’m here to start work.” She looked at his ensemble. It wasn’t anything like what he was wearing Saturday and it wasn’t anything a busboy would wear.

Kyle Thomas Smith is the author of the novel 85A (Bascom Hill, 2010)He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his husband and two cats.

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