Summary: Audra has a bad hair day.
Category: The Big Valley
Word Count: 1871
The front door banged open followed by a strident, loud and quite perturbed voice.
“MOTHER! MOTHER, WHERE ARE YOU?” Sitting in the study Victoria would have thought Nick was experiencing a particularly nasty cold causing his voice to sound feminine if he hadn’t been well within her view. Usually he was the only one of her children to enter the house yelling at the top of his voice.
“I’m in the study, dear.” Footsteps pounded across the floor and Audra entered with a flourish. It was plain to see she was highly agitated. Victoria didn’t fail to notice that her daughter’s head was wrapped in a towel, effectively hiding her beautiful blond tresses. She marched directly to her mother and addressed her angrily. Her speech pattern rose and fell with a swooping emphasis on certain words.
“Can you BELIEVE Ellen Marshall CONVINCED me to let her try out a NEW tonic on my HAIR and quite CONVENIENTLY forgot to tell me there have been some, SOME, adverse REACTIONS to it?”
“Surely, it can’t be all that horrible, dear.”
“HORRIBLE doesn’t EVEN begin to DESCRIBE what SHE has done to ME. Just LOOK at my HAIR.” With this Audra swept the towel from her head. Victoria gasped in astonishment. Unfortunately Audra had not detected the presence of Nick and Heath in the room but their booming laughter brought it to her attention.
“Boy howdy, Sis. If we paint you orange you could pass for a pumpkin.”
“Or paint her green to match the hair and she would look exactly like a Brussels sprout.” Both boys were having a difficult time containing their mirth over their sister’s predicament and there was no way they would pass up on an opportunity to tease her mercilessly. Audra glared at them then turned her attention back to her mother.
“And to make matters WORSE, Ellen says that SOME of the ladies THIS….” Audra held her hands up to the sides of her head “……has HAPPENED to have had SOME of their hair FALL OUT. My social life is RUINED, absolutely RUINED.” Audra glanced searchingly around the room. “Where’s Jarrod? Surely there is some law pertaining to this type of calamity. I’ll teach Ellen to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth before applying her wares on her customers.”
“Do I hear a lovely la………..Good Lord, Audra, what in the world has happened to your hair?” Although Victoria, Nick and Heath had already heard the explanation once they listened to it again to see what Jarrod’s reaction would be.
“So, is there anything that can be done legally, Jarrod?”
Jarrod silently pondered his response. Putting his arm around her shoulders and giving a squeeze he tried a diplomatic approach. “Honey, don’t you think it would be better to talk to Ellen and ask her to reimburse you before taking her to court?”
Audra pouted. “I guess but see if I ever let her touch my hair again.”
Victoria breathed a sigh of relief to see an end to the worst of this situation.
“Come along, dear. Let’s try washing your hair several times. Maybe some of the green will wash out.”
“If only I could be so lucky. I’ll just cross my fingers that none of my hair falls out.” As they exited the room Nick couldn’t resist getting in one more barb.
“Well, if it does you could always get one of those specially made wigs. You could even pick out a color you might like better than your current one.” Audra didn’t miss what he meant by current or his wink to Heath or the snickers from all three of her usually much loved and adored brothers.
“I just might do that, Nick, if my hair falls out. And I know just the color I want and where to get it.” Victoria felt slightly uneasy by the way Audra’s eyes narrowed with a touch of the devil in them. She re-evaluated her position that the worse was over.
Indeed, by the following week patches of Audra’s hair began to fall out. And, remembering Nick’s suggestion, she set about gathering the materials for and making a perfect wig. She spent a whole day working on it and wore it to supper that evening to proudly show it off. Everyone admired its beautiful color; it complimented her complexion perfectly. Victoria was amazed that Audra had
been able to find everything she needed to craft such a fine wig.
“Audra, where in the world did you find the hair for your wig? It is such a brilliant and radiant color.” Audra’s eyes drifted around the table and lingered on Nick for several seconds as if she
expected another one of his teasing remarks.
“Oh, I didn’t have to go far, not far at all. It is lovely isn’t it.” Everyone voiced their agreement and finishing their meals headed to bed.
Once again the front door to the Barkley home was slammed open and a very loud and angry voice bellowed.
“AUDRA! AUDRA, GET YOUR LITTLE FANNY DOWN HERE. NOW!” Victoria, Jarrod and Heath had all emerged from various rooms of the house to see Nick furiously pacing in the foyer. Audra regally, gracefully and calmly walked down the staircase. Upon seeing her Nick advanced menacingly in her direction.
“YOU LITTLE WILDCAT! I’M GONNA TURN YOU OVER MY KNEE FOR THIS STUNT!” The rest of the family knew he was serious and just angry enough to do it so they quickly placed themselves in his path. Victoria tried to calm her son.
“Nicholas, please lower your voice and explain what you are ranting about. What exactly has Audra done?”
“What has she done? Well, you see that beautifully colored wig she is wearing?” Nick waited for each of them to nod their heads before continuing. “You know how we all wondered where she found that hair. Well, I have the answer now. Minding my own business I go the barn and when I enter Coco’s stall guess what I find.” Victoria and Jarrod groaned aloud, anticipating what Nick’s discovery had been. “This little minx acquired the hair for her wig by using Coco’s hair. It’s bad enough that she roached the mane but she cut off every last hair on the tail also. MY HORSE HAS NO MANE OR TAIL HAIRS LEFT!” Jarrod closed his eyes and slowly shook his head while Heath was literally on the floor in stitches. Victoria turned to look at Audra.
“Audra, you didn’t.”
“I most certainly did. Besides Nick was the one who suggested I pick out a color I like and Coco’s mane and tail hair colors are the loveliest I have ever seen. Don’t you agree, Mother?” Victoria
refused to acknowledge the question, instead trying to soothe all concerned.
“Audra, what came over you? You know better than to do something like this.”
“That’s right, move aside Mother and I’ll tan her hide good.”
“Nicholas, you’ll do nothing of the sort. I will handle Audra’s punishment myself. I’m sure I can come up with some particularly unpleasant tasks for her to do.” Audra’s smug expression faded, she had previous experience with her mother’s creative forms of punishment and knew she would truly regret BORROWING Coco’s mane and tail hairs before all was said and done. Nick was satisfied seeing Audra’s crestfallen expression.
Once again Victoria briefly thought everything was smoothed over until Heath, who had recovered from his laughing fit, slapped Nick on the back.
“Well, big brother, hate to tell you this but looks like I won’t be riding side by side with you for a while, especially to town.”
“Oh, and why is that?”
“It’s bad enough being the town bastard but being seen in the company of a man riding a bald horse could ruin what little GOOD reputation I have.” Heath wasn’t stupid and he was already out the door by the time he completed his statement.
“Why you….” Nick gave chase and Victoria shook her head, wondering what Nick would do to redeem Coco’s reputation.
At breakfast the following morning Jarrod unknowingly stirred the pot.
“Heath, do we have any new saddle horses on the ranch?”
“Well, I saw Nick head out early this morning but didn’t recognize the horse. At first I thought it was Coco but the animal’s mane and tail were intact and black to boot. That horse sure
did move like Coco, even seemed to be the same in conformation.” Heath’s fork hit his plate with a clang and Jarrod looked up just in time to glimpse his youngest brother’s backside scoot
out of the dining room. It seemed like he had only been gone for a few seconds when he burst into the house and grabbed his hat and vest. Victoria was beginning to wonder if her children
had lost their minds.
“Heath, sweetheart, where are you going in such a hurry?” He barely glanced at her as he headed out the door.
“Me and Nick gotta have a little talk.”
Jarrod walked to the door and watched Heath’s departure. Victoria never could say why she asked since she already knew the answer. “Jarrod, is Charger……”
Jarrod replied before she even finished the question. “Afraid so Mother, he’s definitely BALD all right.”
Victoria hated the thought of having to smooth another confrontation when she heard horses charge onto the property late in the afternoon. She shouldn’t have worried. Although both Nick and Heath had some bruises and minor cuts on their faces, they entered the house with their arms thrown around each other’s shoulders. Apparently they had made their own peace and all she had to do was clean their cuts. She threw in some scolding about brothers fighting each other, just for good measure.
As Nick and Heath headed upstairs to clean up for supper Victoria’s curiosity got the better of her and she just had to go see the damage rendered to the two horses for herself. Charger and Coco’s stalls were side by side and Victoria stood looking at the two pitiful creatures until her laughter caused tears to roll down her cheeks.
“It is rather amusing, isn’t it?” Victoria spun around to see Jarrod standing at the barn doors.
“Yes, it is. I feel sorry for these two, though. Poor, innocent victims of one bad day with the hair dresser.” Jarrod laughed heartily.
“Where are you headed with a bedroll, son?”
“Well, Mother, Jingo is too faithful, loyal, distinguished and old to suffer the fate of Coco and Charger. I believe he has earned the right to live ALL his remaining days with dignity and a bald horse is definitely not dignified. Heath has just enough of the devil in him to pull a Nick and Audra so I have decided three weeks of fishing at the cabin are in order. By then Coco and Charger will have enough hair grown in that Jingo should be safe.” Jarrod winked at his mother, mounted Jingo and headed in the direction of what would be his horse’s “safe house” for the next three weeks.