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The Beauty Salon Operator
CHAPTER ONEPeggy Blair was proud of the diploma she had received from beauty school. She felt equipped with the qualifications to find a job. Having graduated from high school a year ago, she could only find work as a waitress. That was tiring to Peggy and so many men had made passes at her that she didn't enjoy working in that capacity. That was when she made up her mind she was going to become a beauty operator.Having saved up enough money from working as a waitress, Peggy was able to enroll in Wilkinson Beauty College.It was not an easy thing to satisfy her exacting teacher. However, with perseverance and patience, she managed to graduate. Equipped with a diploma, Peggy felt eminently qualified for a position. However, she was discovering, much to her dismay, it was not an easy thing to find a job. All of the beauty salons she visited said they didn't need anyone. She was beginning to wonder whether or not she'd made a big mistake when she decided to make one more effort at the end of a weary day of job hunting. There was a very attractive beauty salon on the corner. White and green striped awnings hung over large windows with flower boxes in front of Liz Addison's Beauty Salon. The place looked so imposing Peggy wasn't certain it was worth the effort. No doubt they had no opening, and if they did have, they'd probably have a long list of applications. That had been the case at every other place where she'd applied for a position. Nonetheless, as long as she was right in front of the place, she figured she had nothing to lose if she applied.She entered the impressive beauty salon with its white marble floors and gold and white decor. The receptionist at a small white desk at the front of the salon asked if she could help her."Maybe you could," Peggy told the receptionist, "I'm looking for employment as a beauty operator and I just thought...."The red-haired receptionist stopped her right there."Sorry, honey, but we don't have any openings. If you want to, we could keep your application in our files. We do have a long waiting list. But it's up to you."Peggy sighed heavily. It was depressing to keep searching and never find an opening. Yet, she knew she must not despair. Gathering what courage she had left, she thanked the receptionist."Thank you, I'd appreciate it if I could apply. You have a lovely place here and I'm sure I'd enjoy working here.""Alright," the red-haired receptionist smiled understandingly, "here's an application and you can fill it out at the desk over there."She gestured toward the corner where another small white desk was situated. Peggy took the application, went over to the desk, and began filling it out.Liz Addison, who was always keeping watch of what was happening in her elegant beauty salon, happened to notice Peggy Blair filling out the form. She couldn't help but notice what an attractive hair style the young woman had. Peggy's blonde hair was swept to one side and fell gently around her shoulders. She was a stunning looking girl with deep set blue eyes, and a trim figure.Going over to the desk where Peggy was finishing the form, Liz introduced herself."I'm Liz Addison," she smiled. "I take it Paula is having you fill out one of our applications.""Yes, Miss Addison," Peggy smiled as she got to her feet, handing her the form."Who fixes your hair?" Liz Addison asked curiously."It's my own hair style," Peggy smiled proudly, "and I fix it this way myself...""It's becoming to you," Liz Addison complimented her. "I might be able to use a girl like yourself ... someone who has talent.""Oh, thank you ..."Realizing Peggy might assume she was already assigning her to a position in her beauty salon, Liz Addison pulled back a moment.I'm not saying I can use you for sure," she explained. "I just had a girl tell me she is quitting. So there is a definite opening. But I must give this some more thought."Liz Addison was reading Peggy's application for a job now and trying to determine whether or not she should give her a break."Normally I don't hire girls who haven't had previous experience in a beauty salon," she hesitated, "but I could make an exception.""I would appreciate it if you would consider me. I am creative. I enjoy the problems a beauty operator must face because I have found so many solutions to hair-styling difficulties. If you would give me a chance ... I would be so grateful to you."Liz took Peggy into her back office. It was a posh place with white leather French Provincial chairs, and an attractive provincial desk. Liz sat behind her desk thoughtfully and spoke candidly to Peggy."I wouldn't want you telling any other girl here that this was your first job since you left Wilkerson's Beauty College. I'm in trouble if you do, Peggy, because I've insisted every girl here has at least two years of experience in a top salon. And if I start making exceptions, they'll never forgive me.""I understand," Peggy assured her. "I would say nothing about my previous experience.""That's the only way I could consider taking you on," Liz said flatly. She read the application some more, and finally looked up."I'll take a chance on you. My instincts tell me you would make an excellent beauty operator. Only I must warn you about something else. Some of the husbands who come here to pick up their wives after they've had their hair done can be bothersome if you know what I mean.""I think I do," Peggy nodded knowingly, "but I can take care of myself.""It's a delicate situation," Liz Addison explained to Peggy. "You certainly can't take the faithless husbands up on their wicked suggestions. But you can't offend them either or they'll never come back with their wives. They'll tell them their hair looks awful, and we'll lose business."Liz Addison had it all figured out Peggy could see and she was determined she wasn't going to do anything to turn customers away."I assure you I know how to be tactful," Peggy smiled at Liz and suddenly she picked up a strange vibration. For a tense moment she almost thought Liz Addison was turning on with her. But she understood how wrong she was a moment later, when Liz explained the cause of her total admiration."You've done such a superb job with your own hair I am eager to see what creative hair-styling concepts you can come up with for some of my customers.""I'm just as anxious as you are," Peggy enthused, "to get going. I've been looking around quite some time....""Could you begin tomorrow?" Liz Addison asked her."Why ... why, yes, I could," Peggy grinned from ear to ear.When Peggy got home that night her mother was pleased to discover she had finally found a job."When do you think you'll be moving?" her mother asked abruptly."Moving?" Peggy asked in amazement. "Why the rush?""Peggy," her mother smirked, "do I have to draw you a picture? I got Bert coming over here and he's objecting to you being here.""Why?" Peggy asked anxiously. "What have I done to him?""It's not you, Peggy," her mother explained. "It's just that when a man wants to be alone with a woman he doesn't want her daughter in the next bedroom."Peggy caught on immediately and she wasn't pleased with her mother's comment. It was quite apparent by her admission she was carrying on with Bert and Peggy was getting in the way."Oh, I see," Peggy shrugged. "You want me out of the way so you can carry on your shabby affair with Bert. I think it's disgusting!"That upset her mother completely."How dare you speak of anything Bert and I would do together as shabby. We're not kids you know and we've got a right to....""I understand perfectly, mother," Peggy said evenly. "As soon as I get some money saved up I'll move out. I hope you and Bert have many good times together ... in your bedroom!"Peggy didn't care to talk to her mother anymore. She was disillusioned with her illicit affair with Bert. Twice Bert had made plays for her when he had staggered drunk into her bedroom. She had always resisted his advances, simply attributing it to drink. But for her mother to want to throw her out for Bert was sickening. It revealed just how shallow a woman she was, Peggy thought to herself. She vowed she'd never be like that.The following day Peggy showed up half an hour early at Liz Addison's Beauty Salon. Liz had an assistant who helped her find a white nylon uniform that would fit her. The green trim on the pockets and the neck of the outfit made it look very attractive.Peggy brushed her blonde hair before a white framed mirror and saw Liz walking toward her in the background. Liz was pleased to see her on time and delighted to notice what she did for the uniform. Peggy's jutting bosoms, trim waist and lithe legs gave her a large amount of bodily appeal. Combined with the blonde hair that framed her face, the even features and deep-set blue eyes, she seemed to symbolize what Liz Addison's Beauty Salon was all about, so Liz thought to herself as she greeted her."Good morning, Peggy," she smiled, "we'll have you begin in booth number four. We have individual booths, with complete privacy so we can allow some of the famous women who come here the exclusiveness that is so important."White lattice work framed the door to the room which was separated from the next one by a small swinging shutter door. A huge mirror covered the wall before her, and the various machines for hair-styling were standing close by."You can begin with Laura Cunningham when she comes in around 10," Liz told her. "Laura is extremely wealthy and she tips extremely well. She has everything, and what she doesn't have, she buys. Last summer in Palm Beach she bought a handsome husband."Peggy Blair listened in amazement as Liz told her about the woman who had everything. She hoped she would be up to satisfying her."Maybe I shouldn't begin on someone so important," Peggy insisted."Don't worry about her," Liz Addison laughed, "Laura Cunningham is stoned out of her mind so much of the time she won't know the difference.""Is that why you gave her to me first?" Peggy Blair demanded, wondering if it was some kind of an insult."I thought you'd appreciate the good tip," Liz insisted, feeling a bit miffed that Peggy Blair didn't appreciate that fact.She left Peggy alone now and there was still forty five minutes until the first customer would be there. Peggy went to the lounge and fixed herself a cup of coffee and spoke with one of the beauty salon operators who was reading a Confession magazine.Peggy didn't say anything. But the woman who was reading the magazine finally spoke up."I'm sorry ... I didn't notice you. When I get lost in one of those confession stories I don't know anything. My name is Florence. I guess you're Bev Wilson's replacement.""Hi, Florence," Peggy smiled, "I'm Peggy Blair ... I'm pleased to meet you.""This is a good place to work," Florence smiled agreeably, "long as you keep your nose clean if you know what I mean."Peggy sipped her coffee and nodded."What goes on here is as wild as what I'm reading in this Confession magazine," Florence laughed, "this story I started today, 'Musical Beds' really grips a reader. It's hard to figure out who is going to be sleeping in whose bed before it's all over. It's like 'Peyton Place' only set in a bedroom. It would make a neat TV show."Just then Liz Addison walked in."It's a good idea to be in your room ten minutes early. Mrs. Cunningham should be here any moment."Peggy thanked Liz and told her she would be. there shortly. Florence laughed, "that one is a character. Wants to dress like a teenager. She's a rich trollop if you know what I mean."Liz was listening by the lounge room door, and she came back in to comment on what she heard."I don't want any degrading comments about our customers, Florence. I've told you that before?"I'm sorry," Florence shrugged, "I am sorry.""I'll believe it when you quit gossiping," Liz shrugged.Peggy Blair went to her appointed area and waited. She didn't have long to wait. A tall suntanned muscular young man in his twenties came in with a stout middle-aged woman in her forties. Liz directed them to the number four room where Peggy had to catch her breath. The young man was so strikingly handsome she could feel herself falling for him. It was easy to understand why Laura Cunningham wanted him."I'm Laura Cunningham," the stout, wealthy older woman announced to Peggy, "and I hope you can do something with my hair. It looks perfectly dreadful!"Instantly Peggy could see the color was coming out at the roots and her hair was brittle and breaking. She knew she would have to give her a scalp massage with the vibrator and make sure she used a good conditioner that would keep her hair from breaking and control the dandruff. The young man with her smiled at Peggy. She tried not to pay any attention to him for she was certain that if she did she might betray her feelings. And this could prove disastrous."When can I pick her up?" the young man asked her. "I'm Todd ... I don't think we've met."Peggy looked up at him and the moment she did, she felt a magnetic pull toward this carefree young man in spite of what he obviously was, a cheap fortune hunter."We should be through about eighteen," she told him, "I will possibly be a half hour longer. I plan to give Mrs. Cunningham a scalp massage."Laura Cunningham who had been drinking pulled at Peggy's hands. It stunned Peggy so much she froze."What is it?" she finally blurted."Just checking to see if your fingernails are long. I don't want you massaging my sensitive scalp and scratching. I pick up infections easy," she slurred.Todd laughed. He couldn't help himself. But his middle-aged frumpy-looking wife didn't find it funny."Are you laughing at me, Todd?" she demanded, her eyes glinting like a miser who has lost a gold coin."No, no," Todd tried to cover himself quickly, "I was just thinking of that horse I bet on yesterday ... came in last.""Don't remind me," Laura shook her head grimly, "I paid a tea leaf reader for a tip on that horse, and the horse came in last.""Perhaps I should call you around eighteen,! Peggy," Todd smiled, "so I can see if you have! finished.""That would be fine," Peggy told Todd and then I he was gone. Laura Cunningham was a very difficult customer. She kept asking for her purse and I would slip liquor from a silver initialed flask she I carried with her at all times."It's hell trying to be beautiful forever," Laura I lamented, "I don't know what I'd do with the beauty I salon. I spend my money here instead of church because I can see results. Of course I don't expect! miracles, but I do expect to look better when I go out than when I came in ... if you know what I mean." "Of course," Peggy consoled her as she began the beautifying process with a lemon-rinse shampoo, going on to a vibrator massage and then the drying. This was followed by tinting and finally the hair styling. There was so much to do to carry Laura! Cunningham to the point where she would have! beautiful hair again that Peggy Blair was bushed by twelve o'clock when the phone rang. "This is Peggy Blair," she answered the phone. "Peggy ... this is Todd," the virile male voice began, "Ive got to see you alone ... please Peggy, I must see you.""I should be finished with Mrs. Cunningham by eighteen thirty," she told him in a distant voice."I'll slip you my card with a private phone number," Todd informed her, "we've got to get acquainted Peggy."From under the hair dryer, Laura Cunningham spoke up."If that's Todd, let me talk to him."Peggy Blair handed the older woman the phone."Hello darling," Laura purred into the phone, "this new girl has me looking beautiful for you... I can hardly wait to see you, Todd.""Love you," Todd told her briefly, "see you soon ..."Laura threw Todd a kiss over the phone and handed it back to Peggy."Oh, it's wonderful being in love," she smiled, "Todd thinks the world of me and I think the world of him. We can hardly be apart a moment. I guess we were lovers in another re-incarnation.""That's nice," Peggy told her, secretly thinking of how unfaithful Todd was being to her."A psychic said we were Siamese Twins in another life," Laura explained, "that's why we can hardly be apart for a moment now.""Laura was primping when he came to the room where Peggy Blair had worked so hard to bring her back.."I look like a twenty year old," she laughed, "thanks to you, dear." She handed a twenty dollar tip to Peggy who accepted it gratefully."Thank you, Mrs. Cunningham," she smiled.Just then, Todd entered the room."She looks beautiful, Peggy. You've done a good job.""That's because she had something to work with," Laura Cunningham almost took a bow.Todd helped her out, and then reaching back handed a small card to Peggy. Peggy took the card and dropped it, then bent over and picked it up and slipped it swiftly in her uniform pocket.She hid it none too quickly for Liz Addison was back in her room seconds later."You have done a superb job in satisfying one of our most difficult customers," she complimented her."Thank you," she replied quietly."We don't have many like her, thank God," Liz Addison laughed, "but she is very generous, and that is all to the good."Peggy went out by herself to lunch. She found a small cafe a couple blocks away from the beauty salon and then had time to slip out the small card given to her by Todd Cunningham. She read it rapidly."Peggy, you're beautiful! I've got to know you. Please call me at my private exchange number and let me know how I can get in touch with you, Love, Todd."He had scrawled his phone number underneath his name. Peggy was doing a lot of thinking about phoning him.So much so in fact that when the waitress came to take her order she almost didn't order."Do you want something, lady?" the waitress finally blurted, becoming irritated at her hesitation and knowing she was losing tips when any one customer took so long."I'm sorry," Peggy apologized, "I'll have a ham on rye and iced tea."The waitress called the order out, and while Peggy waited for it to be filled, she was thinking. Todd did have plenty of sex appeal. And she had to admit to herself she felt magnetically drawn to him. But he was a married man.Back and forth the balances in her mind moved. On the one side she told herself she couldn't think of such a thing as having anything to do with a married man. Yet, on the other side ... where her emotions held sway, she wanted desperately to have some fun. She deserved it.Finally, the ham on rye arrived, and she still had to wait for the iced tea. She eventually had to call out to the waitress to remind her the iced tea had not been served.At last it arrived and she began eating. She was thinking about Laura Cunningham. She had taken advantage of Todd's financial plight she argued to herself. She had bought Todd. Todd wasn't married to her but in name only! She had as much right to have him as Laura did. After all, she did feel a natural attraction toward Todd, and apparently he felt the same thing for her. She could sympathize with Todd, considering the unpleasant wife she'd worked over all morning to make beautiful... which was asking the impossible. Why shouldn't she phone him? Maybe something good could come of their relationship, something more genuine than what existed between him and his wealthy spouse.CHAPTER TWOAfter the day was over Liz Addison spoke with Peggy in her private office. She congratulated her on a very successful first day."I've really got to hand it to you, honey," Liz told her frankly, "you have done a remarkably good job for your first day.""Thank you," Peggy smiled, delighted she had made such a good impression.