Wax Job

“So,” he said, “How long before my hair grows back?” “Three weeks,” said the woman. “Maybe four.” She started applying the hot wax to his cheek.

“Woaw, dass hot,” he mumbled.

“Stay still,” she said. She applied a cloth strip and let it sit as she spread wax under his chin. Then she counted to three but ripped the first strip away on two.

All he could do was pant, and he choked on that when she ripped off the next strip.

When he could breathe again, she said, “Okay, are you ready for the... um, the...”

“Yeah, let’s get the rest of it.” He exposed his neck, then noticed a stillness. “What’s up?”

“Does your face... feel all right?”

“Well, it stings, but--”

“Sir,” her voice caught. “Um.” Without taking her eyes from his face, she fumbled for a hand mirror, then lifted it to his face. A greenish, textured surface has replaced the skin and hair on his his left cheek. Scales? It was the same under his chin.

“Sir, are you okay? What is it?”

“I have no clue,” he said. “But I want to find out.” He settled his head back on the table. “Keep going.”