Even for July, it's hot as hell. The air conditioner has busted in his car again. It's only, oh, 102 degrees outside. No big deal.
He parked his new (technically used, but new to him) baby in the badly manicured parking lot. His mom has been coming to this hair salon for years, but this is his first visit. Her Jetta was being worked on this weekend at the local mechanic, so he'd dropped her off, only to come back to pick her up again. The bells chimed on the door to alarm the employees of his entrance. It was only 5PM, but half the women were already cleaning and packing up their stations. He held the door open for an elderly customer on her way out.
"Thank you, dear," she smiled gratefully.
He nodded and smiled politely in return.
"Paul," his mom called.
His eyes found her in the left corner of the salon. From the looks of it, the hairdresser has just gone to work on her. The seating area is nearly empty so he sits down. Stacks and stacks of magazines are everywhere. He decides the trashy gossip magazine is the best reading material available. It's unbelievable how long he's gone without reading this delightful crap.
"That's last month's issue."
This news comes from the only other person sitting in the cozy waiting area with him. Paul had only seen her at a glance when he'd first walked in. Now she has his full attention. She was cute but he had trouble deciphering her age. She wasn't quite a kid anymore, but her form and innocent features give the impression that she's a brand-new teenager. Her long hair was very dark, almost black. Even from this distance, her uniquely colored eyes are striking. Were they blue or green? Both? Paul couldn't tell.
He flipped the magazine over to read the cover. "I guess it is."
She didn't say anything and returned her attention to a game on her iPod.
Paul had trouble refocusing on the magazine. He tried to let some time pass before he anxiously leaned forward. "I'm Paul."
Her eyes stayed on the miniature screen. He didn't think she'd heard him until she smiles, and almost smirks, still unwilling to acknowledge him.
He made a comical face of discomfort before sliding back against his booth. "Okay…" He could just drop it. Let it go. He could. Hell, he should. This kid just punked him. Yet… "I'm Paul," he repeated.
She does a better job of masking her smile this time.
He chewed his bottom lip, grinning. "I'm Paul."
Her smirk's back and she slightly shakes her head, still refusing to look at him. Almost like she can't believe how persistent he is.
Her lips pressed firmly together now, trying like hell to fight that smile.
"I'm Paul. I'm Paul. I'm Paul. I'm-"
"Kimberley! Would you please just talk to the boy?"
Now he laughs. The woman who had scolded her was the same one who had been working on his mom's hair.
"Mom!" Kimberley complains childishly.
Paul leaned forward. "Kimberley?"
"Kim," she promptly corrected him.
She placed down the iPod. "I didn't catch your name. Could you run it by me one more time?"
"Kim!" her mom reprimands her at the same time his mom chooses to laugh.
"My name's Paul," he says. "I could write it down if that'll make it easier to remember."
The girl folded her arms across her chest. "What makes you think I'd want to remember your name? Shouldn't you try to pick up on girls your own age? Or have they all rejected you already?"
A few women in the salon don't bother curbing their laughter.
"Not all of them yet," he grins. "And I'm just trying to talk here. How old are you, anyway?"
She keeps her mouth shut and shakes her head.
"She just turned 13," her mom answers for her.
Kim's mouth has now gone agape. She stared at her mom, wide-eyed with shock.
"I'm 16." He's beaming at the girl now. "Just in case you were wondering."
"Well, I wasn't," she grumbles back.
He folds his hands together, still smiling. "You know, not every guy you meet is trying to hit on you. Consider the gay ones, for example."
Her smile is shark-like. "Please tell me you're one of them."
"I could be. In five years, I invite you to try and straighten me out."
A/N - I'm reposting this story. Might tweak a few things here and there, but the content will be the same. I know you all felt cheated for the way it ended. I thought it was funny (not everyone agreed). Don't blame me. Blame the 2009-2010 NBA season. Hornets 109, Lakers 100.