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This page last viewed: 2017-04-25 and has been viewed 1083 times
Summary: A tale of the genesis of an important aspect of BA.
Disclaimer: I don't own the A-Team. I don't make any money from this.
BA stomped into the hairdressing salon, wearing overalls and carrying a toolbox. A slightly built, middle-aged man, sat at the reception desk, counting cash, while a young woman swept the floor. Blinds were drawn over the front window.
"Got a call for an electrician from some guy named..." BA fished a slip of paper from his pocket. "Henry."
"Henri," the man at the reception desk corrected, in a strong French accent, and scowled at BA. "Yes, I am he. You are very late. We are closed and waiting to go home."
"Busy today." BA shrugged. "You want it fixed or what?"
The girl with the broom had stopped her sweeping to stare at BA in awe. Her long hair - fire engine red - matched her fingernails, which BA considered taking co-ordinating a bit too far. After a moment, she shook herself and continued sweeping up the hair on the floor.
"Brooke," Henri said. "You run along, mon chere. I will deal with this... person."
"Are you sure, M'sieur Lemieux?"
"Quite sure. Off you go now. Allez, allez."
The girl put the broom away in a closet, retrieved a purse, as bright red as the hair and nails, and left. Henri followed her to the door, locked it and then lowered the blind to cover the glass door. He turned back and smiled at BA.
"Good evening, Bosco. Sorry about Brooke. Next time I'll make sure I've got someone who can sweep up faster than a sedated tortoise."
Some hint of Henri's accent remained, but only a hint. Now it had the Californian inflection BA would expect from a man raised in Sacramento. All for show. Just like the waiters in those restaurants Face would drag the guys to.
BA dumped the toolbox - also just for show - and let Henri guide him to one of the chairs, where he draped a protective cape around BA tying it at the back. BA had learned to ignore the lilac colour.
"Just need a trim," BA said. "Keep it neat."
"Of course." The hairdresser examined BA's hair, ran his fingers through it. "Condition's good. You're using the treatment?"
BA nodded. Of course, he'd decanted the creamy conditioning treatment into another bottle, one with a hand written sticky label, reading "oil". If the guys ever realised what it really was...
Henri led him to the sinks, where he washed and conditioned BA's hair, while chatting, with copious name-dropping, about the Hollywood stars that came in here for his services. BA had to wonder how it had come to this.
For years, he'd just shaved his head. It seemed the most practical approach in the Army. When they went on the run, he let it grow, for the sake of a disguise, and heck, that was trendy at the time anyway. But somehow, he could never get a really good 'fro going. Not without paying more attention to caring for his hair than even Face did.
Then one day, he'd spotted the picture in National Geographic. A Mandinka warrior sporting an unusual hairstyle. Like a Mohican, yet different.
It struck him, that was all. He kept the picture around for weeks and kept checking it out again. Somehow, the haircut captured his imagination, held it in thrall, until at last he decided this wasn't just a haircut.
This was his destiny.
The first barber had quite simply laughed at him.
Well, there were plenty of barbers in LA. BA felt certain he would soon find one willing to give him the cut. "Soon" proved to be optimistic. A pattern became apparent very quickly. The barber would start by trying to talk him out of it, saying he knew BA would regret it later. And when BA stuck to his guns, would politely decline to do it, because he didn't want BA walking around looking that way - the word "freak" being heavily implied - and telling people who had cut it.
He'd almost given up. Until that day, back in '78.
After another unsuccessful attempt to find someone to do the cut, BA sat in a diner, eating a sandwich and wondering if he dared try to shave it in himself, or maybe ask Face to help. Looking out of the window, he noticed a girl come out of a hairdresser's salon across the road, with hair four different colours that BA could count. And the cut... he thought the cut he wanted was weird, but that one...
One of those punk rockers, he supposed. But if a hairdresser would do that, wouldn't they do the Mandinka cut? In comparison, the now dog-eared magazine picture he had in his pocket seemed tame.
BA read the name of the salon on a simple sign over the door. Lemieux's. He knew, mostly thanks to Face, that when the salon had just the name of the hairdresser and not some dumb name like "Curl Up and Dye", or "A Cut Above" that marked it out as a classy joint.
Yet this one stood in a low rent part of town, on a street no celebrity clients would venture down, unless they were slumming it for the thrill of the danger. That meant a man with ambition, BA thought. A man out to make a name for himself. A man prepared to draw attention to his work.
That's how he met Henri. The French accent hadn't been as thick back then. The further uptown Henri's salon moved over the years, the thicker that accent became. Expected. Part of the image. The same as the pastel shirts with a little frill detailing on the collar and cuffs, and the pants so tight they made BA's eyes water.
But, despite the effete image, that almost made BA turn right back around and leave that first day, Henri had been as taken with the haircut as BA, and couldn't wait to try it.
"So exciting!" He practically swooned over the picture, while BA squirmed a bit. "Yes, such a statement. So fierce, so proud. It will look magnificent on you!"
Henri adored the result, and though BA learnt to maintain the cut pretty well himself, with his razor, he came back to Henri every few months, to get it just perfect, especially at the back. An ordinary barber could give him a trim, in a pinch, but only Henri got it perfect. Only Henri really understood what the cut meant to BA.
"How's the family?" Henri asked as he snipped carefully at the back of BA's neck. He gave a small smile that BA saw in the mirror. "And your mother. She's well?"
BA had realised after the first few visits that Henri knew who he was. It had been a strange moment in fact.
"You know, Bosco," Henri had said, quite nonchalant, scissors and comb working with never a flicker. "If my opening times are at all inconvenient for you, you can ask for an appointment after hours. Just call me and I'll arrange it." He bent closer to trim the hair around BA's ears with absolute precision. "Much more convenient for you I'm sure, without all these people around."
BA froze and didn't speak for at least a minute. Two possibilities occurred to him as to what might happen if he did indeed come along after hours. One, that Henri was going to make a pass at him. Two, that the MPs would be waiting. After all, ten thousand bucks would be a useful sum to a guy building a business.
And yet, he'd talked himself into showing up. True, he didn't want to burn this place, he wanted to keep coming back. But something else brought him back too. BA knew men. He'd learned to judge them. Learned to pick out the ones you could trust. Back in the war your life could depend on getting that judgement right. Well if Henri had taken a different path, and he'd ended up in the jungle, toting a rifle and not a hairdryer, BA would have trusted him to have his back, no question.
So he came back.
"Bosco?" Henri prompted and BA realised he'd lost himself in memories for a moment and never answered Henri's enquiry about his mother's health.
"My mother's fine, thanks. Your family okay?" He knew Henri's 'family' consisted of some guy who went to a lot of auditions, and two yappy balls of fluff besmirching the proud name of "dogs". Henri didn't even seem to like the so-called dogs very much, but as always, he lived up to his image.
"Oh fine, fine. Tell me, when are you going to bring Mr. Peck to visit me? I could do wonderful things with him."
BA hoped like hell he meant with Face's hair. Not that there was the remotest chance of BA bringing Face here, since that would mean admitting he went to a top Hollywood stylist for his cut. Face did too. But he didn't lie about it.
"I think he's pretty happy with that Rene guy," BA said. Henri snorted and looked disgusted.
"That butcher? I wouldn't let him groom my dogs."
"Well, ah, Face's hair usually looks pretty good."
"It could be even better."
Possibly, BA thought, but there was such a thing as diminishing returns. After all, how many women could Face seduce in a night? The hair helped get the job done. Not much improvement needed.
"Maybe one day," BA said, making Henri nod, satisfied. One day after hell freezes over.
Within a few minutes, the cut was back to its perfect, sculpted glory, and Henri whipped away the lilac cape and brushed away stray hair from the back of BA's neck, with a few brisk strokes.
"As always, a pleasure, Bosco. I so rarely get to do such an exciting cut as yours now." He sighed. "But all artists must sacrifice some creativity for commercial gain."
That's how he saw himself. An artist. Sometimes BA felt like some kind of living statue, with Henri sculpting his hair. He didn't say "artiste" either, BA noticed. That was pretentious. Not that Henri didn't have plenty of pretensions. But not when it came to the work. The art.
BA understood the attitude. Most people didn't understand. They didn't see a finely constructed and perfectly tuned engine in the same light as a painting, or sculpture. Well BA didn't know much about art, but he knew art when he saw it. He saw it in his hair and in a moment he'd be back at his van and he'd see it there too.
He paid his bill. The price Henri charged him had never gone up since the first day he came in, and though BA appreciated the artistry, he still couldn't see himself paying two hundred bucks for a haircut, the current going rate in here.
"I'd better have some more of the conditioner too," BA said, counting out a few more bills. "I'm nearly out."
"Of course." Henri slipped a bottle of it into a paper bag for BA, and handed it over to him, taking BA's money. "See you again, Bosco, and take care of yourself."
"Sure, man. See you in a couple of months."
He had to rush then, nearly late to pick up Face for a meeting with Hannibal about some new case.
"You get a haircut?" Face asked, almost as soon as he climbed into the van. Face always noticed.
BA shrugged, staying cool. No big deal. Man gets a haircut. Hardly worth noticing. But when Face wasn't looking any more, he smiled. Yeah. He got a haircut. Ask him where he got it cut, and torture wouldn't drag the answer from him.
Just his little secret.
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