Walker made his way carefully across Tiefer Graben towards the friseure. Traffic along the street was bumper-to-bumper and horns blared as impatient drivers waited to move through the intersection.
Cars were parked willy-nilly all along the block, including on the corner of the sidewalk. A woman walked her dog along the curb, talking to the little long-haired Dachshund about doing his toilet. The dog seemed otherwise inclined.
Walker waited until woman and dog passed and then stepped up to the building. As he did so, he saw his reflection appear in the large, plate glass window of the hair salon, just under the sign that said, ‘Dreaming Hair.’
“They probably meant to say, Dreamy Hair,” he said, to himself. He shielded his eyes and peered into the salon, trying to see around the large potted plant that sat on the window counter. There appeared to be just one styling chair in the shop. It looked like the pilot’s chair in a Startrek movie.
The chair was turned away from the window so that Walker saw the stylist from the back. She had hair clippers and was running them up the back of the person’s head completing what appeared to be a buzz cut.
Walker turned and walked through a short side alley and into the salon. The stylist nodded to him, turned the chair, and motioned for him to take a sit. To Walker’s surprise, there was no one in the chair.
“I thought you had a customer,” Walker said to the stylist, a slender young woman, with straight black hair, heavy eye shadow, and black lipstick. The woman gave him what Walker considered an indulgent smile, and motioned again for him to sit.
As Walker sat in the chair he checked around the shop for the person he’d seen in the chair when he had looked in through the window. The salon was a sterile looking, small rectangular room with white walls and a white and black tile floor. The stylist’s work counter and sink ran against one wall. A large mirror hung over the work counter. Other than that, there were no furnishings of any kind, not even chairs for customers who might be waiting their turn.
The stylist turned the chair so that Walker faced the mirror above the stylist’s work counter. Her leather pants creaked as she moved behind him.
“Nicht zu kurz,” Walker told the stylist, which was close to the limit of his hair styling lexicon in German.
“Hmm,” the stylist said. Then began humming tunelessly, while readying her styling instruments.
Walker looked at the stylist’s reflection in the mirror. She was totally absorbed sorting though scissors, clippers, and combs. Walker was struck by the woman’s pale, almost white complexion. Was it makeup? He shifted his gaze to the shop behind him and to the philodendron, and beyond it to the window. He saw a man peering into the salon. He sat up and leaned forward for a better look. The man looking in the window was him.
“Wait!” he said to the stylist, who had just turned on her clippers and brought them to the back of his head. Walker jumped from the chair and ran out of the salon and around the corner to the front of the shop. There was no one at the window. He walked across Tiefer Graben and looked up and down the busy street.
“I’m seeing things,” Walker said to himself.
Walker made his way back across Tiefer Graben towards the friseure. The woman with the little long-haired Dachshund was still there talking to her dog.
Walker stepped up to the salon and shielding his eyes, peered through the window, trying to see around the philodendron. The chair was turned away from the window so that Walker saw the stylist from the back. She was running her hair clippers up the back of the person’s head who was now sitting in the chair.
“What the...!” Walker said, as he hurried back into the salon.
“Hey, I was getting my hair...,” Walker was saying as the woman turned the chair to face him. It was empty. She motioned for him to sit.
“I thought..., didn’t you...” Walker stammered.
The stylist gave him her artificial smile and motioned again for Walker to sit. She was humming her tuneless hum, sounding like the oscillation of alternating current.
Walker looked around the salon as he sat in the chair. Once again, he saw no one else in the salon. The stylist turned the chair to face the mirror and reached for her hair clippers. Walker immediately looked at the reflection of the salon window in the mirror. There he was again! Peering into the salon.
“What the hell!” Walker shouted, bolting from the chair and rushing outside to confront his doppelgänger.
But the result was the same. No evil double stalking him. The same woman walking the same toilet-resistant Dachshund, the chaos of the city all around him. Walker stood on the sidewalk scratching his head. Then walked back to the window of the salon and didn’t even think twice when he saw someone in the stylist’s seat. “That’s me,” he said, and turned and walked into the salon.
The stylist started humming and Walker said, “Nicht zu kurz” just as she pressed her clippers firmly against his neck and ran them up the back of his head.