The room was practically empty except for a wooden desk and two chairs. The desk occupied most of the space in the room. Above it, hung a single lightbulb. Although it generated enough light to cause blindness, it still managed to leave the rest of the room in total darkness. The desk was cold to the touch and my chair was very uncomfortable. I didn’t understand what I was doing here. I had just gone through my weekly trauma of hair breakage and knew I should be sitting on my couch, drowning myslef in a sea of chocolate. Instead, here I was, in a small dark room. The man seated across from me almost blended into the darkness with his dark suit and dark fedora. His face stayed hidden until he leaned across the desk and into the light.
‘So Ma’am,’ He said. He had a deep South-American accent that was hard to miss and his moustache that shifted a little to the side everytime he spoke was very hard to ignore. ‘Let’s go over your story one more time. What did you say happened on this night in the bathroom?’
‘Well, like I told you detective, It was Wednesday and I was in the bathroom doing my hair as usual and…and the next thing I know, I’m seeing all those little darlings scattered across the floor… So horrible! And it’s the same thing every wash day. It always ends with them on the floor. I-I I don’t understand how it happens, I just-‘
‘You expect me to believe that Ma’am?’ He interrupted. ‘I mean, why do you do it?’
‘I’m sorry? Why do I do what?’
‘Try to kill your hair.’
‘What?! I would never-‘
‘You call us every week to report the same incident taking place in your bathroom and in every case we find it was only you in the bathroom.’
Couldn’t he see that I wanted more than anyone to find who was doing this? I would never do anything like this. The detective was wrong. Dead wrong.
‘Yes- no-, I don’t know. It’s all a blur…’
‘All a blur?’ He chuckled. ‘I must say I’m impressed Ma’am. You’re a pretty good liar.’ He had a special way of insulting and complimenting at the same time that made you resist the urge to slap him across the face like you would have done if it was someone else.
‘No, no detective! I’m not lying!’ I cried. ‘You have to believe me. I don’t remember how they got there. I must have blacked out. That’s it! Somebody must have come in, hit me over the head and I blacked out!
‘Blacked out? Every week? No offence Ma’am, but I really doubt that. And how do you explain that the only footprints we found at the scene belong to you?’
‘There must be some mistake. Or maybe the person you’re looking for has the same size feet as me?’
‘Stop it!’ He hit the table hard and startled me. ‘You think this is funny Ma’am?’
‘Look,’ He took off his hat and revealed a shiny head. ‘Let me make this easy for you. You confess right now and I’ll cut you a deal. Keep up with your lies and you can kiss all that hair goodbye.’
‘No! No detective, please-!’
‘All the evidence points to you. The footprints, the timing… Everything! Face it! Its been you all along lady, its been you. Just admit it!’
‘Me? Why would I?’ I thought. ‘Why was the detective being so hard on me? Couldn’t he see that I wanted more than anyone to find who was doing this? I would never do anything like this. The detective was wrong. Dead wrong. And how would he even understand, look at him! He has no hair on his head!’
‘Excuse me detective,’ I said, suddenly growing impatient, ‘but I am not guilty of anything here. I should not even be considered a suspect in this case. If anything, I am the one looking after my hair. I am the one trying to protect it, not putting any harsh chemicals in it, sleeping on a satin pillow and handling it with care. You see, I love my hair so why in the world would I want to hurt it? What possible motive do I have?’
‘That’s what I’m tryna find out Ma’am.’
‘What do you mean?’ I was offended and confused at the same time. I wasnt having anymore of this. But as I got up to leave, there was a knock on the door. Another officer walked in the room holding a tape. He too was wearing a dark suit and a matching fedora. He whispered something in the detective’s ear, handed him the tape and walked back out.
The detective stared at me, eyes intent like an owl’s. I couldn’t escape his gaze. ‘I think you’re gna wanna sit back down Ma’am.’ I did as he said and he put the tape in a small television with a cassette insert that was in the corner of the room.‘You need to watch this.’
He kept his eyes on me the whole time I was watching the tape. The screen lit up and there I was in the bathroom, doing my hair. What a relief! My story checks out- not that I didnt know this before. And I was sure my theory that someone knocked me out would check out too like I told the detective. Any minute now. Aaany minute…! But the video ended with nobody coming up behind me and me picking dead hairs off the floor. I was convinced the tape had been edited.
The detective walked over to me and sat on the table, leaning on his thigh. ‘Ma’am,’ he said, ‘I mean no disrespect when I say this but you say you love your hair and you’re tryna protect it. Well has it ever occurred to you that you could be the one hurting your hair?’
His words cut like a knife. How could he! He was wrong. I knew he was wrong. But the video…? There was nobody else there. It was just me. I coudnt believe it. Oh God! Maybe it was true. Maybe I was a monster and I was destroying my hair with my bare hands and I didnt even know it. I thought I was gentle enough, kind enough. Now it made sense. The silent treatment. Maybe it wasn’t even silent treatment. Maybe it was silence caused by fear. The fear of constantly being ripped to pieces! I felt guilty. But how could I be guilty of a crime I didn’t even know I was committing? It was hard for me to accept that I was a lover and a monster at the same time.
‘Look, if you want to arrest me, you might as well go ahead and do that now.’ I said and waited for him. All the while, saying my prayers. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending a single night in hair-jail. But he did nothing, said nothing. Just smiled. ‘In that case, have a good night detective.’
‘Good night Ma’am.’ He said as I walked out. ‘I’ll be seeing you soon.’
I was glad to be finally leaving that cold dark room. But no matter how far I went, I couldn’t help thinking about the detective. His shiny head. His ridiculous moustache. Those owl-like eyes and those heavy words. So heavy they clung to me like second-hand smoke…‘Its been you all along Lady. Its been you.’
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