The hairpiece sat ominously on the white styrofoam head. Larry dreaded picking it up. The more he stared at it, the more he shuddered.
“Don’t do it, Larry. I’m all the hair you’ve got.”
Larry rubbed his bald scalp.
“No, I have to do it. There’s no room in my life for a traitor. You’ve embarrassed me too many times.”
He couldn’t forgive the rug for betraying his loyalty. “That time when you blew off from the wind at the carnival just as I was about to ask that girl on a date. Or during that softball game, as I slid into third, you covered my eyes and I couldn’t see the base. Time and time again, you refused to stay stationary, slipping off my pate, making a mockery of my already questionable appearance.”
Larry’s chest tightened. He struggled across the kitchen for a glass of water to swallow one of his anxiety pills.
“Please don’t do anything drastic,” the hairpiece said. “You know I have a drug problem. Just send me to rehab.”
“Hm, so that’s where all the adhesive glue went. You’ve been sniffing it.”
“Please, forgive me. I’ll stop. I’ll sober up, I swear.”
“You’re not getting over on me this time,” Larry said with conviction.
“It was the tape’s fault, I tell ya. I just couldn’t hold on any longer. I had to do something to keep it together.”
“I don’t want to hear it anymore. No more excuses. You embarrassed me at work and in public. Now everyone knows that I wear a hairpiece. For Chrissakes, I let you stay on my bare scalp for all those years, free of charge!”
Should I toss the hairpiece into the garbage? I’ll suffocate it in a plastic bag. It would be a nice easy kill. No one would ever know.
Larry thought better. He hated his hairpiece but he didn’t want to see it squished between two rotten pieces of fruit and half-eaten Moo Goo Gai Pan.
Larry grabbed the hairpiece, put it into a hatbox, and drove as fast as he could to the coast. He parked his car in front of the big dunes, walked along a string of wooden boards that led to the beach, and a few more steps to the water’s edge. The burning sun stung his eyes as he trod the choppy surf. The humid air stuck to the skin. He rolled up both pant legs and slowly trudged further.
I wonder what people will say when I walk into work tomorrow without hair? Will they crack bald jokes, ask me where my pet squirrel is hiding? Or will they be compassionate and tell me that I look better without the fake hair?
Larry pushed harder through the cresting waves, trudging over the pointed rocks on the ocean floor. He listened to the seagulls screeching overhead, and the bellowing sounds of a tugboat in the distance.
He slowly opened the lid of the box. He felt dizziness overcome him and almost fainted. The ocean’s current made him sick to the stomach. He ground his toes into the ocean floor to regain equilibrium. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and tossed the hairpiece high into the swirling ocean air. He let out a long sigh and imagined the hairpiece floating off into the horizon.
“There, you sonofabitch. I’m finally free of you!”
The hairpiece caught a strong breeze and froze in midair for a moment as if to smile back at Larry.
The damn thing circled back like a boomerang. It flew onto Larry’s head and clamped tightly to his scalp. While in waist-deep water, he attempted to yank the hairpiece from his briny head. He screamed at the top of his lungs. Help! Someone!
His voice echoed unheard.
Larry stopped struggling with the fake hair. He fell face-first into the water and allowed the waves to wash over him, hoping that some crustacean mistakes his hairpiece for plankton and eats the damn thing.
Mark Tulin is a former therapist and joke writer who lives in California with his wife, Alice. He has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories available at Madville Publishing. He’s been featured in Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others. Mark’s website is Crow On The Wire.