Susan’s Nail Bar is sandwiched between a bridal shop and a defunct Blockbuster in a scruffy parade of shops set back from the A24. Walking past Abra Kebabra, Laura notices she is alone and now that she thinks about it, she was alone yesterday too.
Still, she pushes her misgivings to the pit of her empty stomach and eases the door open, causing a small bell to tinkle. Once again, the salon is empty of customers, but behind the counter today is a small Chinese man who, upon seeing Laura, immediately picks up the phone and barks unintelligible orders. He sounds angry, urgent, and Laura waits as he engages in a furious argument with whoever is on the other end of the line. He has, she notices, a large black mole on his right cheek.
Finally, he slams the phone down and runs his hand through his thin black hair. After a moment in which he appears to be contemplating the fate of the universe, he looks Laura in the eye.
‘I am Yippee,’ he says. ‘That’s not my name, but that’s what people call me, because when I am happy, I shout ‘Yippee’.’
‘Hello, I’m Laura.’
Laura holds out a hand to shake. Yippee stares at her, unmoved.
‘You will notice I am not shouting ‘Yippee’ this morning, Laura.’
Laura’s eyes dart to the mole on the man’s cheek, a solitary black hair protruding like an antenna.
‘No, well I just wanted to make an appointment, if that’s okay.’
‘Impossible. We have nothing available today. We are very, very busy.’
Laura looks up at the security camera in the corner of the room and stifles her laugh. If this is a reality show prank, she is determined to emerge with dignity intact.
‘Here’s what I need you to do,’ says Yippee. ‘I need you to turn around and walk out of here and forget you were ever here. It’s best for everyone, and I mean everyone, if you leave and don’t come back.’
Laura allows her mouth to drop and finds her breathing has become heavy. Yippee points to the door.
‘Go. Now. Before it is too late.’
Laura’s legs carry her out of the shop and across the A24, where she sits on a mound of grass and watches Susan’s Nail Bar for four hours. No one enters. No one leaves. She will return tomorrow.
This is Part Two of The Appointment, one of several short stories that appear to be developing at the moment. Click here for Part One.