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Fiction #221
(published April 7, 2005)
A Wide Ass And No Shame
by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz
Myra Davis had one of those behinds that sat high up on her back. Couldn't miss it—her dresses stretched across. Her garments, the ladies at Mama's beauty shop always said, were too low, too tight and too short. Wore 'em that way to church, even.

"A wide ass and no shame," Mrs. Wilson said. "That's all she got."

Well, she had many a man in church crossing his legs as she strutted down the aisle. Cooling himself with one of the fans from Mr. Grover's funeral parlor. "Thank you, Jesus," one of them might murmur. Least that's what I saw on Sunday morning.

She also had a husband or four that weren't her own. That's what I heard during the week at Mama's shop.

Before she opened up for business, Mama put me to work making sure every stand had enough combs and that they were all clean. I made sure the curling irons and straightening combs were hot enough, flicked the switches on the dryers to make sure they worked. Most times Mama forgot to tell me to go on once the ladies arrived.

There was sudden silence in the shop that day when Myra Davis strolled in.

"Everybody always looks so good on Sunday morning, Clara," she told my mama, "I decided to let you work on my head as well."

The ladies in the shop exchanged curious glances and silent smirks. Mama just invited Myra to have a seat in a chair before the sink.

The conversation turned to the price of eggs and the new chiffon dresses at Miss Gladys,' just in time for summer.

Myra Davis touched her hair after Mama had washed, conditioned and dried it, eyeing herself in the hand mirror Mama had given her.

"Ooooh, it feels so soft. You've worked a miracle; I can't tell you what this dry heat has been doing to my hair," she said as she put the mirror in her lap and began again flipping through Ebony.

The other women oohed and aahed as well; turned out Myra Davis had good hair too. Thick and long.

"Clara, would you do me a favor?" Myra Davis asked. "My cooler ain't working right. Would you send your husband over to look at it?"

The shop was suddenly quiet. All eyes turned to Mama.

She parted Myra Davis' hair and picked up the hot comb.

For a few moments, Myra Davis sat there, turning pages. She wrinkled her nose, sniffed at the sudden pungent smell. That's when she grabbed the mirror and held it up. That's when she saw a good chunk of her hair in Mama's hand. That's when she started screaming.

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