“Wake up Bernard, I’m headed out for breakfast and my morning rehab walk. Do you want to come along?” I asked.
“What time is it?” he moaned.
“7AM, I’m running late,” I said.
“Get the hell out of here and come back at a reasonable hour,” he demanded.
“Okay, you can use the land line to call your people, if you like. I’ll bring you some food and make some coffee when I get back.” Since he wasn’t coming along, I got the bike out for another ride.
The parking lot at Helen’s Sit Down was full, so I parked the bike on the sidewalk. I had to share a table with a couple of fire fighters, since there were no cops around. Paramedics and nurses had two full tables, which also forced me to gravitate to the fire fighters.
I didn’t know any of them, but one of them recognized me from the promos. I would be happy when Bernard taught me how to hide in plain sight. I had the crispy corn beef hash, cheese, and egg sandwich on a bun at least twice the size of a hamburger roll. The potato fritters were excellent as usual. From the beginning Helen had made the best coffee in town. She had three or four kinds of Gourmet shit, but her house brand was the best in my opinion. I called it truck stop coffee, because it was black and seemed thick.
After breakfast I rode the bike to the Mall, where I did four laps. Every few days I added a little more distance to the morning walk. After the walk, I rode around town just a few miles, then went back to Helen’s. I ordered the same breakfast again, but without coffee and I got it to go. I figured I would buy Bernard a decent breakfast, once anyway.
When the bike was stored properly, I went inside the house to find Bernard sitting up on the sofa but in a total daze. “Hey Dude, I am going to make coffee and I even brought you breakfast from the best place in town. So get your ass moving and eat.” I said it putting the sandwich onto the tool bench that served as my dining table.
It was late enough and Bernard was awake, so I didn’t care how much noise I made working on the coffee. I had a somewhat intimate relationship with the Mr Coffee, so I did my little dance for it. Mixing two kind of coffee grinds into a thin paper towel, which I trimmed with a pair of kitchen scissors so that it wouldn’t wick coffee onto the counter top.
“Wow, that is a great sandwich. If I opened that thing up and put it on a plate. It would be a full breakfast. My God that is the best corned beef hash I have ever eaten. With cheese and the spicy egg, that thing is to die for.”
“I taught Helen how to make decent regular coffee, so if you want to get your gay ass out of bed tomorrow, you can go to breakfast with me. You don’t have to do the mall walk, if you don’t want to.”
“Trust me I need it, so I might try it once,” he said.
It was nice to have someone to sit and talk with while I drank coffee. Bernard was funny as hell and he didn’t take himself too seriously. Most people who are different tend to be defensive, not so Bernard. “If you like me, wonderful,” he said. “If not, fuck you.” then he laughed. “I am just not going to waste my time trying to change your opinion.”
“Very cool, now where do you want me to drop you and your luggage?” I asked.
“Your sofa is comfortable and I won’t be here long. Why don’t I just stay here with you.” he asked.
“Sweetie, I have lots of things going on. I can’t entertain you.” I replied.
“You don’t have to entertain me. That’s what Earl and Willy are here for.” He turned his attention to the camera in the corner of the ceiling. “Did you hear that guys,” He said.
They came down shortly after and took care of Bernard most of the day. I spent the day working on the new information from Lucas. I made a few calls myself to get ready for the gag. It was well after lunch when Bernard returned.
So are you ready for today’s lesson?” He asked.
“Oh yes, I need to learn how to build the disguises and then go shopping.” I informed him.
“Okay then lets get lesson one over with,” he suggested. From his man purse he removed a Cd. “Put this in your drive and watch the first question, then we will discuss it.” he said.
I slipped it in and waited for the video to start. The camera operator walked into a room. Then obviously he walked toward a woman a step or two, suddenly the video went black. Within seconds the questions began. I answered ten. Six of which I actually remember the other four I guessed at the answers.
1. Hair color was reddish brown, I said aloud.
“Actually it was red but not flame red,” Bernard said. “That is the most correctly answered question, so If you want to look different? The number one thing to buy is a wig. In your case it will be easy. You have short thin hair so the wig will work beautifully.”
“I have no problem getting my hair cut shorter,” I said in agreement.
“Good that will make the wig work even better. From a butch cut to shoulder length hair will alter you significantly.” he informed me.
2. “Eye color was brown I said and it was a pure guess.” I informed him.
“Actually they were a greenish color. Don’t feel bad, that is the most missed question on the list. So there is no sense changing your eye color unless you go bold with electric blue contacts.
“Not likely to happen.” I replied.
“I didn’t think so,” he admitted.
3. I described her blouse as “A red checked thing”
“Yes that is also a question most people get right. So clothes will help to disguise you. But they need to be clothes different from what you normally wear and with some noticeable feature like a logo or pattern.
“So, no jeans when I want to be someone else,” I said.
“Exactly so,” Bernard replied.
4. I described her breast, “Larger than average.”
“Yes also a question the men get right more than women though. You are pretty small there, so bigger boobs will help with your disguise but not huge. And go with the sagging look. I can show you how,” he admitted.
Height was a loser but weight was a winner. “You are thin so a slightly padded body suit will help you a lot.” he said.
I could go on but you get the idea. Somethings were worth investing in. as a disguise. Some of the other things just weren’t worth the expense.
“So Maxine what do you think would be the tool for you to purchase first?” he asked.
“Without a doubt it would be wigs,” I said.
“I agree wigs will make the most difference in a low light situation. But it’s important to note that cheap synthetic wigs will just alert people that it isn’t really how you look. That will make them take an even closer look at you. It has to be a completely natural looking wig, and it has to be well styled to pull off the, ‘I’m not me’ look,” he said.
“Okay, so I can’t scrimp on the wig, and I have to carry it to a stylist,” I said.
“Exactly, so lets go shopping,” Bernard suggested.
The sun fell on day one with me and Bernard headed to the local wig shop in the mall. I found it hard to go inside. My short hair made me look like one of the mannequins. Still I sucked it up and entered the store.
“This lady would like to look at a top of the line human hair wig,” Bernard said.
I knew that me and Bernard needed to have a talk. Anything I bought might well end up being left in a pool of blood, so top of the line was out. Better than just good enough was in, but not top of the line. The shop manager took over for the sales girl. Both of them were oriental. It looked as though the hair for wigs came from china, just like everything else in the mall.
“This is our best wig,” the oriental lady said with hardly any accent. The wig was very nice looking. It was styled well but much too long for me.
“The wig is too long for her face and body style, but how much is it?” Bernard asked.
“$925 is the list price.” the shop keeper said. My heart stopped.
“Bernard that is way more than I can afford, and I need more than one of them,” I said. I made sure the woman overheard us talking. “It still has to look natural, but this is just way more than I can afford.” I turned away from the shop manager and I smiled at Bernard.
“Could we see something quite a bit less expensive, but still human hair and well made,” Bernard demanded. The great thing about Bernard was that he knew when the wig was well made. I might have known when it was natural looking and attractive but quality wise I would have been at their mercy.
The manager brought out three wigs in three different colors and hair styles for us to see. All three had much shorter hair, but they still looked natural. She and Bernard discussed the stitching and the color treatments. “I think these will do,” he said to me.
“Before I try them on how much?” I asked.
$350 for either of them. These are high quality wigs, but priced more reasonably.” she said to Bernard. She was intentionally ignoring me. I could not say that I blamed her. It was Obvious Bernard was the expert.
I tried them each on. The red one was short but because my hair was short and thin, it looked great on me. The Blond one was longer, but it too looked natural and very good. My very favorite was the wig which was a much darker brown than my own hair. Still it looked the best with my eyes and tan. I looked at Bernard and he smiled and nodded with every change of wigs. I could tell I had his approval.
“I’ll give you $900 for all three,” I said removing my debit card from my wallet.
“I can not do that,” she said. She would have been more believable, if she weren’t drooling.
“Bernard honey, I told you we should have gone to my beautician.” I put the card away with a finality that was obvious.
“I will take $950,” she said.
“How much is the transaction fee these days on credit cards, 3 percent. Do nine hundred and I’ll pay you in cash and you do what you want with it.” I said smiling.
“Very well $900 cash right this minute.” she said.
I nodded. I had loaded my wallet with hundred dollar bills before I left home. I knew how credit cards and debit cards worked. Not to mention sales tax and income taxes. I watched her pack the wigs before I handed her the nine one hundred dollar bills.
“You do drive a hard bargain,” Bernard said as we pass through the mall on our way to the food court.
“Not so hard, you just have to be able to read the person you are dealing with. She was ready to make a deal. Actually you set it up.” I said that as we got in line for grilled Subway sandwiches.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“When you asked for the big ticket wig, the manager ran right over to make sure we didn’t get away. I knew then she was ready to make a deal with us. If nothing else to show the sales girl that she was still tops.”
“I see what you mean, the sales girl could never have done that kind of deal,” he said. “We got to her without asking for her.”
“Yes, but most likely we still got gut shot,” I said laughing. When the sandwiches hit the counter we took them and headed for a table.
“Well, let’s take these with us and go to cowboys to drown our sorrow,” he suggested.
“So, does this mean you are ready to learn the texas two step?” I asked.