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Janice stood out even in a city like L.A. that was full of beautiful young women and she knew it. Her skin was soft and smooth. Her body was tanned and toned. She had green eyes and a killer smile but her very best feature was her hair. It was auburn, very thick and soft. It was shot through with red and gold highlights and hung in long, loose curls almost to her waist. She learned a long time ago how to use it to get her way with both men and women but for every person captivated by it there was another who was jealous of it and resented it.

Janice had lots of men who were interested in her but the man she wanted most was involved with a co-worker named Anita. Anita was another stunning young woman. Anita’s hair was also her best feature and it was her shining locks that had first attracted her boyfriend, Tom. Anita’s hair was dark brown, almost black. It was like silk, stick straight, reaching to the small of her back. Tom was infatuated with her lovely hair, at least until he saw Janice. As soon as he saw her long auburn curls he fell head over heels in love and started asking Anita all about her, her likes, her dislikes…did she have a boyfriend? Anita immediately figured out what was happening and tried to find out from Tom what so attracted him to Janice. Their conversations kept coming back to her hair and her long, beautiful curls and Anita decided that one way to keep her man would be to add curls to her look.

Anita wasn’t the only person who noticed Tom’s infatuation. Janice also saw the way Tom looked at her and started to think about how she could get Anita out of the picture so she could have him to herself. She began to spend more and more time with Anita, talking to her and going to lunch together. Anita had no idea that Janice was after Tom and as they became closer friends she began to talk to her about him. She told her that the sizzle seemed to be going out of their relationship. She told Janice about Tom’s love of her long hair but that that seemed to be fading too. She said he seemed to like Janice’s long loose curls but that everything Anita had tried so far to add more body and waves to her hair failed miserably. She couldn’t afford a professional perm and was afraid to try to do it herself. Janice heard this and soon a plan started to develop in her head. Janice told Anita that she would give her a perm if she wanted. She told her that she had gone to beauty school and had permed her own hair which was really as straight as Anita’s. Anita was nervous but really wanted to keep Tom so she agreed.

They made plans to go back to Janice’s apartment after work and spent their lunch hour shopping for everything they were going to need including an egg timer so they’d be sure to know when to take out the perm rods. That evening they went to Janice’s. After they had a few glasses of wine Janice propped a chair up next to the sink. She had Anita sit down and began to wash her long silky hair. When she was done she combed Anita’s hair out and applied the perm solution and rods. They set the timer and went back to the living room sofa for some more wine. Janice was a wonderful hostess, making sure that Anita had everything she wanted. She made several trips to the kitchen for snacks and drinks and each time she went, she pushed the timer back a few minutes. After a long, long time the timer finally dinged. Janice led a slightly tipsy Anita back to kitchen, sat her down and started to take out the perming rods. The rods had been in Anita’s hair much longer than they were supposed to be and needless to say the result was not pretty. Most of Anita’s long silky hair was burned into tight curls that no amount of brushing could loosen; the rest of hair broke off as soon as it was touched. Anita took one look at the damage and dissolved into tears. Janice let her cry herself out and then told her that she would do what she could to help. They tried various shampoos and conditioners but nothing would loosen the tight spirals or stop the hair from breaking. Anita was sitting and staring at her ravaged hair in the mirror when Janice stepped up behind her. She could see the concern in Janice’s face and a pair of sharp scissors in her hand. Janice told her that there was nothing else that could be done but to cut away the damaged hair. Crying even harder, Anita agreed. Janice carefully brushed Anita’s hair and went to work with the shears. She cropped Anita’s once long and lovely hair very short. Dark brown mounds of burnt hair started to pile up on the floor and in Anita’s lap. Every snick of the scissors was like a stab in her heart and soon her luscious mane was reduced to a choppy one inch all over her head. She cried some more, had another glass of wine and went sadly home.

Anita and Tom had dinner plans for the next evening. Not wanting to shock him completely, Anita called Tom and told him that she had a little surprise for him that night. He was very excited and looking forward to the surprise but nothing prepared him for the sight that greeted him when he went to pick Anita up that night for their date. When she opened the door his jaw dropped to the floor. The long dark silky hair that he fell in love with was gone. All that was left was a dark brown crop that was little more than a crewcut. They stumbled through dinner with Tom staring at her hair. He tried not to concentrate on it but it was like seeing a traffic accident on the road, he just couldn’t look away. After dinner they went back to Anita’s but both of them knew that something had changed. Tom made a lame excuse about needing to get up early the next day and left very soon. He didn’t call for a few days and when they finally spoke he told Anita that maybe they should slow down a bit, see other people. Anita was devastated but knew there wasn’t much she could do. She and Tom drifted apart.

A few weeks later, as she browsed the shops at lunch, Anita looked into a café window and saw Tom and Janice enjoying a very intimate lunch. They were sitting very close to each other and kissing each other lightly. Tom was running his fingers through Janice’s long curls, just like he used to do to her before her ill-fated makeover. As she watched Janice looked up and saw her. The look Janice gave her was so smug and evil that Anita had no trouble figuring out that she had been duped. That her bad perm and shearing was no accident but a devious ploy thought up by Janice to get Tom away from her. Janice laughed as Anita spun around and sped away from the window but she was already plotting her revenge.

Other than making a few purchases, Anita did nothing and soon she and Janice started talking and going to lunch again. Tom remained a sore spot between them and they didn’t discuss him at all. Janice thought that she had once again gotten her way but Anita knew differently. She knew that she was just biding her time and waiting for Janice to let her guard down. Several weeks passed and things had settled back down to normal. One day Anita asked Janice if she was doing anything after work, it was her birthday and she was looking for someone to celebrate with. Janice didn’t want to go out but still felt a little guilty about taking Tom from Anita so she agreed. They went bar hopping after work and Janice was amazed at the amount of alcohol that Anita consumed that night but was determined to match her drink for drink. This would have been fine except for the fact that every other one of Anita’s drinks was water while all of Janice’s contained stiff shots tequila. Soon both women were acting very, very drunk. A little past midnight they decided that they’d had enough. Since Anita lived much closer than Janice, they decided to go back to her apartment for the night. Anita talked Janice into a few more drinks and then called a ca
b to take them home. When they arrived at Anita’s, Janice could barely stand. They staggered inside where Anita dumped Janice on the couch. Janice collapsed and was soon deeply asleep.

Janice awoke to Anita slapping her cheeks and splashing cool water in her face. Janice woke up with a nasty headache but that was the least of her problems. When she came to she was sitting upright on a hard wooden chair. Her arms and legs seemed to be taped tightly to the arms and legs of the chair. It felt like there was also tape around her torso holding her to the chair but she couldn’t see it. From the neck down she was covered with a red and white-stripped barber cape. She was facing a large mirror and could see that her long auburn hair was spread out over the cape. She began to get very nervous. After a few minutes Anita appeared. She was carrying a bag and leaned against the wall next to the mirror, watching Janice. Without saying a word she started to empty the contents of the bag onto a nearby table. She took out a comb and brush, a pair of scissors, a set of electric clippers, a razor and a can of shaving cream. When she saw what was laid out on the table in front of her Janice began to pull at the tape holding her to the chair and to curse and scream at Anita, telling her that she’d better let her go or she’d be very sorry. Anita slapped her hard across the face and told her to be quiet. She held up another piece of tape and told her that she’d be happy to gag her. Janice quieted down but continued to struggle with her bonds. Anita walked behind her and started to play with her hair, feeling its softness, running her fingers through it. She picked up the brush and began to run it through Janice’s tresses. The brushing was very soothing and Janice started to relax thinking that maybe Anita was just trying to scare her. She started getting scared again when Anita moved to the front of the chair and began to brush her hair down over her face. The curtain of hair was thick and reached down past Janice’s breasts. Anita stepped back and looked at Janice, “My, what pretty hair you have but you can’t see anything!” It got very quiet and Janice couldn’t hear or see anything until she sensed movement in front of her and then felt Anita slide the scissors into the front of her hair at about eye level. She was just about to say something when Anita closed the shears. She was left speechless when almost two feet of hair slid into her lap and spilled onto the floor. She could see again but wasn’t happy about what she was looking at. She looked into the mirror and saw herself looking back. The face looking back at her now had bangs cut straight across just above her eyebrows. Janice started to cry. “You don’t like them?” “Maybe they’re still too long?” Anita said. Before Janice could reply Anita slid the scissors into her hair again, this time at her hairline. The scissors closed and the remainder of Janice’s bangs fell into her lap. Anita moved behind the chair and gathered her hair into a long thick ponytail. She pulled it taut, forcing Janice’s head up, making her look into the mirror. Anita opened and closed the scissors a few times before opening them around the tail and moving them up as high as she could. Janice began to whimper and cry again but as she watched her reaction in the mirror, Anita closed the blades. The shears were very sharp but Janice’s hair was very thick. They hacked and sawed their way through the ponytail. It was hard but eventually the scissors won and Janice’s hair came away in Anita’s hand. She waved the tail around, dangling it in Janice’s face, stroking her with it and then dropped it into her lap. She moved back behind the chair and started cutting away at the auburn locks. She cut randomly, grabbing handfuls of Janice’s hair and pulling it roughly before slicing it off near her scalp and throwing it on the floor, in Janice’s face and in her lap. Anita was tired and out of breath when she was done, Janice’s hair was unrecognizable. Anita put down the scissors and picked up the clippers, she plugged them in and moved behind Janice. She twisted her left hand into what was left of Janice’s hair and forced her head forward and down until her chin touched her chest. She placed the clippers at Janice’s nape and turned them on with a loud snap, their humming filled the room. She pushed them slowly up into Janice’s hair; the hum deepened but the hungry blades easily devoured her once glorious auburn locks. Anita ran the clippers over Janice’s head again and again leaving nothing in their wake but stubble. She put the now hot clippers down and reached for the shaving cream. Janice watched in the mirror, totally defeated as Anita filled her hand with cream. Janice shivered as Anita spread the rich cream evenly over her head, covering every bit of stubble. She cried quietly as Anita started to drag the razor over her head, scarping away the shaving cream along with the remainder of her hair. Anita wiped away the cream and stepped back so Janice could see the result of her work. Janice broke down completely as she looked at her bald reflection. Anita stood in front of her and lifted her head so she could look into her eyes. She reached into the bag and took out the last item, a can of permanent hair remover. She held the can in front of Janice’s face and said, “If I ever see you around the office or anywhere near Tom, you’re next appointment will be with this. Understand?” Janice nodded meekly. Anita smiled, picked up the razor again and removed Janice’s eyebrows.

The next day when Anita got to work she heard that Janice just up and quit. No one knew what happened or why but she was never seen again. No one knew but Tom had an idea, the very same day he received a package at work. When he opened it he was surprised to find piles and piles of soft auburn curls.

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