"Nightmares again?" Kara Henderson blew out a long breath as she rolled over in their bed. "Maybe you should talk to someone...?" She glanced at the clock on the small bedside table: 3:45am.
"Go back to sleep," Les whispered as he ran his hands alternately through his hair. He began to relax when he realized his meticulously maintained locks were still there. He closed the bathroom door and shook his head side to side. Yup, his well trained "do" performed its magic, with a strategically styled lock of hair dangling over his right eye as he dipped his head forward. "Whew," he whispered.
"I heard that," she shook her head as she smiled. "Stop flipping your hair around and come back to bed." Kara rolled over, pulling a pillow over her head.
Les turned off the light, then peeked out from the bathroom. His former NFL sideline reporter fiance wasn't watching as he slid back under the covers. He heard a muffled groan emanating from under the pillow she clutched over her face. He had just closed his eyes when Kara decided to scream "HAIRCUT!" in his ear. He screamed too as he rolled out of bed, landing hard on the floor. Les heard laughing as he pulled himself up to bed height. "Soooo not funny..." was all he said as he grabbed a pillow and headed off to spend what was left of the night on the couch.
When Les arrived at his office in the Rams Headquarters building, he dropped his briefcase and dove onto the sofa. He hadn't been sleeping well for the last couple days. As the circumstances that caused his insomnia flashed through his mind, his desk phone began to chirp. Groaning, he sat up and rubbed his face. "Get it together Les," He said aloud to his empty office as he walked to his desk. The image on his desk top froze him in his tracks and his lower lip began to quiver. His computer's screen saver had been changed from rolling images of Rams players to a pair of snipping scissors, with tufts of hair falling in the 3-D background. His phone began to chirp again. His still eyes fixed on the computer image, he reached for his phone. "Yeah...Er, uh... Hello?"
Les rolled his eyes, "I slept great, you?" He heard soft chuckling in the background.
"I didn't either in case you're wondering," Jeff Fisher said as he continued to watch game film of Tampa Bay. "Are you really going through with it?"
"This is your fault, you know that, right? All you had to do is tell me she was standing behind me, but nooooo!" He recalled the conversation he and Jeff Fisher had the day before the Minnesota Vikings game. His confidence in his team brimming over with the Rams three game winning streak, he said he'd shave his head if they failed to stop Adrian Peterson from rushing for 100 yards. The medical miracle had rushed for 212 yards. Damn! What the two men hadn't known was someone had overheard them. They didn't know that same someone had passed Les' off-hand pledge to shave his head onto the rabid pool of sports reporters before the game started. It made its way to a bunch of talking heads on the NFL Network, who'd raced to Photoshop a rendering of Les without hair.
"You know, that one guy was right. You will kinda look like Lex Luther..." Jeff laughed.
"Shut up! Look, I have no intention of shaving my head... 212 yards.. You should have to shave your..."
"Don't even say it! My mustache is in my contract... and it's insured." Fisher reflexively stroked his famous 'stache. "So what're you going to do?"
"I'm going to reason with her, and..." He stopped at the sound of laughter coming through the phone. His shoulders slumped as he shook his head.
Still laughing, Fisher said, "Good luck with that!", and ended the call.
Les slowly hung up his phone. He'd just started to lean back in his chair when his office door flew open. What he heard next caused him to tip his chair over backwards. His head bounced off the wall as he tumbled to the floor.
"Mornin' Lester! There's a whole slew of reporters wheeling an old barber's chair into the press room." Derinda peered over Les' desk. "You tryin' to hide under your desk?" She shook her head. "Bet you weren't all that good at hide n' seek when you were a kid, huh?
Snead grabbed the edge of his desk and pulled himself upright. "I hate you..." He muttered.
"Oh, don't be like that Lester. Besides, I'm just about the only person in the world who can save that slicked back hair of yours." Derinda smiled slyly as she waited for what she'd said to register.
He pointed at her, and was about to spew verbal venom when his brain grasped what she'd said. He looked at his pointing finger, then back at her. She was nodding, so he decided to holster his possibly offensive digit. "This whole thing is your fault! Well, you and Jeff's anyway..."
Derinda slowly walked around the desk, "You know I'd never do anything to hurt the team, right? We're a team, aren't we Lester?" She took Les gently by the arm as she nodded her head. Les' lower lip was quivering as be began to nod his head too. "So you know I'd never let anything happen to someone who means the world to the Rams, right?" He continued to nod as she led him through his office door. Later that day, he wondered if she'd somehow hypnotized him. She kept talking to him as they turned a corner and walked into the press room.
Lights - both fixed and flashing - came on. He shook his head and looked side to side as fear raised his heartbeat to all time highs. He was standing behind the podium in the Rams press room, Derinda standing next to him. "How did I get here?" Les mumbled.
Derinda leaned toward him and whispered in his ear, "Kara told me how she gets you to go shopping." She covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud at the look on Snead's face. Reporters were filing forward to place small recording devices on the podium. Each made eye contact with Les as they chuckled, some pointing to the barber chair to the side of the small stage.
Les stared at the barber chair, and he felt sweat rolling down his cheeks. He turned to Derinda, who winked at him. "What do you want to make this go away?"
Derinda looked at him with a feigned look of shock on her face. "What could I possibly want that's worth your honor and integrity?" Les' eyes were pleading now. "OK, if you want to keep that mop of hair, I get to make one of the first round picks in the next draft."
"WHAT! NEVER, I..." Les yelled. Cameras began to flash, and Les noticed the room full of reporters had gone silent. He look straight into the TV cameras at the back of the room. He forced a teeth grinding smile, "I'll be right with you guys. Just give me a second..." He grabbed Derinda by the arm as he smiled and walked a few feet away from the podium. "You're black mailing me?"
She shook her head slowly, "Of course I'm black mailing you Lester..."
"Why do you call me Lester? My name is Les, and there's no way I'm giving you a first round pick... You can have a sixth rounder in 2013 and a 2014 seventh round pick." He crossed his arms in front of him.
Derinda smiled, "I call you Lester because you look like a Lester. I'll take the lower of the first round picks in 2013, and a second round pick in 2014."
"Not going to happen... Best I can do is a third..." He stopped talking when Derinda raised a pair of scissors and began to snip at the air. "OK, a second round..." Snip, snip went the air in front of him. "FINE, you can have the lowest first rounder in 2013, but you can't tell Jeff or Kevin Demoff..." He glanced over his shoulder to see if anyone could hear him giving away the St. Louis Rams draft picks. "Now how are you going to get me out of..."
"You just don't worry that pretty little hairy head of yours," she shoved Les aside and took the podium. "Good morning and thanks for droppin' in today. I'm Derinda Platt, and I have some sad news. Y'all came here thinkin' Les Snead would be getting a big 'ol hair chopping today. Les really wants to comply, but I've just learned he has a medical condition all that hair covers up. We have to think about what'd happen if the public could see all the nasty sores bein' hidden by his wig. Oops! I made a boo-boo! Can you guys just forget I mentioned his wig? He's kind of sensitive about it, since it's made with hair donated by the actors Brad Pitt and Snooky." Camera were flashing, but they weren't pointed at her. They were focused on Les standing jaw dropped off to the side of the stage. "So that'll be all for today, and thanks again for stopping by..." She smiled her beauty pageant smile as she waved at the reporters. As she walked by Les, she said, "See, problem solved."
Les watched her walk away. "I really hate that woman..." He mumbled, and headed back to his office. As he settled in behind his desk, he lifted a small mirror he kept near by. He studied his hair for a few moments. He decided a first round pick wasn't too much to ask for his do of do-s. He began to laugh when he considered the deal he'd made with Derinda. Little did she know he would have gone higher...