The Town Gossip
Along the row of six, over-stuffed, beige, leather recliners sat an equal amount of over-stuffed, beige, leathery skinned reclined females. They were getting their talons sharpened and shaped, all the while sharpening their tongues on the latest caustic gossip in their small suburb. With the smell of acrylic and acetone permeating the air and the stuttering, machine-gun Mandarin cutting through the brief and small silences that were few and far between.
The town gossip Gladys Paige, walked past the small Buddha near the doorway and tightly held her latest secret that no amount of buffing or pampering could erase from her scurrilous mind and if she didn’t tell someone, she would almost certainly explode. As she scanned the small tables in front of her beneath the Chinese scenes that hung on the wall, with their bright adjustable lamps that seemed to suit a diamond cutter’s station rather than a manicurist’s, she spotted Carly Ann Warren.
Carly Ann was a recent addition to their town, having moved last year from a major city-no one knew which, and it was said that she changed her bed mates the way she changed the colors of her nails, frequently and with no care in the world for the style nor shade; for in her world, the shadier-the better.
After tipping the young Chinese girl, Carly Ann meandered past Gladys, towards the bank of U.V. Ray machines. She passed each until she found on a spot on one of the circa-1974 Mike Douglas Show-looking chairs and sat her shapely and petite frame down beneath an ominous-sounding sign that read “Certificate of Barbery and Cosmetology”.
Other women in the salon also eyed the 30 year-old with contempt and outright jealousy for many had heard or had invented the story that she had undergone obvious breast implants and much liposuction and as ironic it was for a beauty parlor to be so ugly. These women although not formally educated, were not stupid; they were acutely aware that many of their men had been seen with the slutty Carly Ann at the bars. They were also aware that their men had probably slept with her but did not know what a Gladys Paige knew from working at the hospital; a secret she could no longer keep from leaving her smiling mouth. Carly Anne had been born a man.
As a Pushcart Prize nominee, Joseph Grant’s short stories have been published in over 230 literary reviews such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Underground Voices, Midwest Literary Magazine, Inwood Indiana Literary Review, Hack Writers, Six Sentences, Literary Mary, NexGenPulp, Is This Reality Zine , Darkest Before Dawn, strangeroad.com, FarAway Journal, Full of Crow, Heroin Love Songs, Bewildering Stories, Writing Raw, Unheard Magazine, Absent Willow Literary Review