A route in Paris

Submitted into Contest #33 in response to: Write a story set in a salon or barbershop.... view prompt

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A little boy, around the age of 8, walks hand in hand with a woman that he barely knows. Her hand grips his tightly, leaving no room for him to escape. Luckily, the boy has no such ideas. He, more or less, goes skipping around, watching other women and men walk past. The new March breeze, cool and wet, kissing his round face. The woman steers him forward as if a rope were tugging her forward. She has a goal to get to. How much she looks like his mother. Straight, brown hair, always pinned up, small blue eyes, a skeleton frame under a heavy dress. He missed his mother terribly. Her soft hands tucking him to bed, their time at dinner together, her stories of working for other Mistress’ in other countries. This woman doesn’t seem to care much for him. He still receives warm meals, a small bed, and permission to roam around the city. But there are no more soft hands or love. He feels nothing to her. She may as well be any other person in Paris. This is the third time in a row that this woman has taken him down this route. 4 streets from the house, iron-clad hand gripping his. They turn the corner. At last, they arrive at their continuous destination. The building is easily neglect-able if not purposely looked for. It looks identical to the others on the street. Brick walls, wooden door, a small window in the front. The boy's eyes hold on to it for just a second before stepping in. Sour blood seeps into his nose. The interior of the room is ordinary. Wooden floors, brick walls, a window or two filtering light into the room. A small worn-out sofa to the right of the room, 3 stools to the left, 2 beds. 4 people are on the left side of the room. 3 men and a woman. The woman is getting her hair done up. Her hair all bunched up and placed on her head like a bird's nest. The man doing her hair is doing his best not to muck it up. She has very pretty golden hair, the boy thinks. Very much like his own. The other 2 men he saw on his previous 2 visits are lying on the beds, moaning and groaning like wounded animals. The boy doesn’t know what is wrong with them, he doesn’t care. Their faces are yellow, their bodies covered in bumps, they reek of pus and blood.

“Mademoiselle, I was wondering if you were arriving today.” a familiar voice says fondly from the back of the shop. And there he is! Hiding in the corner of the room sits another man. The owner. He is as old as the woman with a clean, young-looking face. He rushes out to them and kisses the woman on her cheek.

“You're very forgetful, Eudes” She snaps at him as he takes a step back. “I told you yesterday specifically that we would be returning.”

“Ah, my apologies Mademoiselle. My clients make me forgetful.” He says, nudging his head towards the others in the room. The woman looks at them in distaste, cocking her eyebrow.

“I see.” She says, her eyes lingering over the 2 groaning men. “Shall we continue as we have been?” Eudes withers under her words. He rocks a little from his heels to his toes.

“If Mademoiselle chooses too.” He grimaces. “But I believe that it is ill-advised.”

The woman's face puckers.

“Ill-advised? Do tell me how now? Why haven’t you raised these concerns of yours until now?” Her head snaps back to stare at Eudes.

Eudes took a look at the boy. The boy exchanges the look with Eudes. Eudes seems to quiver even more.

“Mademoiselle, he is just a child. You come to tell me again that no orphanage who will take a good-looking young boy like him?” Eudes whispers.

The woman sighs.

“Eudes. We have spoken about this already. He will waste away in those orphanages. They care little about their children. I have my own children to care for as well. I wouldn’t want to see such a bright child fall so quickly.”

Eudes scans the room, eyeing the blonde woman. She quickly looks away when they make eye contact.

“Very well, let us continue to converse in the backroom.”

The woman drags the boy behind her again, but he’s already a few steps in front of her. The backroom is nothing more than a small closet. There is barely enough room for the 3 of them. The woman on the left, Eudes on the right, the boy squished between them. Dust lines the shelves filled with knives, scissors, bandages, and other tools. There are a few dripping candles for light.

“I have two other points, Mademoiselle, then I will continue with the procedure,” Eudes whispers as he shuts the door behind him.

“Very well,” The woman says, squeezing herself into the room. She juts her chin out. “Let me hear them.”

“First off, this is the third day you return to my shop after being unsuccessful. You don’t believe that this is a sign from God, that this is a bad choice?”

The woman’s head tips back as she laughs. It sounds like rotten honey.

“Oh, Eudes. I stopped believing in God since the death of my husband.” She says matter-of-factly.

His face turns bright red as he recounts a few apologies. The woman puts her hands up to stop his stuttering.

“Your second point, please?”

Eudes rubs his hands against his trousers.

“Yes of course. The procedure is beneficial. It removes any impurity from the body. May you tell me, Mademoiselle, how this procedure can harm? As I have said already, you have already tried 2 times without success.”

The woman straightens up.

“I have my own thoughts, Monsieur.” Eudes waits for a further explanation, but it seems that he won’t be getting one.

“Very well, If you insist, I will proceed.” He states, turning sideways to look at a shelf, already rummaging around.

“I do indeed insist.”‌ The woman says. “I will come back in a few hours. I expect everything to be done.” She lets go of the boy’s hand. He sighs sadly as he waits.

Oui,” Eudes says as he hears the door click behind him.


The woman returns a few hours later to the shop. She is wearing the exact same clothing and look. She enters the shop, the smell of sour blood entering her nose. She pays no attention to the others on the left, heading straight towards the back. She opens the door, the smell of fresh, copper blood entering her nose. She smiles.

“Is it done?”

“Indeed Mademoiselle.”

The boy's body is limp against the wall. The color has completely drained from his once bright face. There are slits under his inner elbows. There are 2 other slits on each arm above the new ones. His blood is in a small jar next to him. She is thankful that she doesn’t have to dispose of his body. A weight lifts off her shoulders.

“Thank you, Eudes. Now, may I‌ get my hair cut?”

March 20, 2020 13:38

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1 comment

Inactive User
03:20 Mar 24, 2020

Good story


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