Some scars never heal, like the one that occupied Deanna's face. It sat there as gruesome as the devil on his throne on her left cheek. She wasn't ugly despite that hideous mark, but that was something you couldn't tell her. She thought she was downright ugly. She accepted it—no, she loved it. Could there be such a woman who hates beauty and love ugliness? Well, it looks like there had been a special breed in the world.

Deanna was sitting on her couch, braiding some girl's hair. Although she couldn't stand to be gorgeous, she was a cosmetician—had the graduate certificate hanging on the wall over her TV in a lustrous gold frame. She had suffered a hardship at the Glenwood Academy for Beauty some years back: she was Puerto Rican in a predominately African-American school. The black girls were red-hot jealous of her; Deanna DeJesus was gifted, and their uteri couldn't stomach that. Here she was though, plaiting the hair of a former classmate. Deanna was braiding the woman's hair pretty tight, but the woman didn't budge. Her head was between Deanna's legs, and how sweet it was, because that was the only part of the woman in the living room. Just the head.

After she was finished with her masterpiece, Deanna stood and lifted the head so that she was eye level with it. Blood and shredded skin dripped the severed neck. The head's eyes were as brown and dead as a muskrat whose death consisted of a heavy load truck and a dark road. Deanna tilted the head to and fro, checking out her work, stroking the braids that hung from head. They were nice and fully intact. Her hands were as bloody as the bottom of the head, but did that stop her from doing the do?

Hell no.

The phone rang. She placed the decapitated head gingerly on the couch and ran to the ring, ecstatic because of the job well done. She picked the phone up and it slipped out of her hand—there was too much blood on it. She lifted it off of the floor and gripped it with power.

"Hello?" she said, smiling.

"Hey Dee-Dee," said the woman on the other end. It was Deanna's boss Gina at the beauty shop. Venus, Inc. was what it was called.

"Hi, Gina! What's up?"

"Sorry to bug you, but I need you to come in today."

"Sure, no problem—let me just finish this girl's hair."

"Who? Sheryl?" Gina had recommended Sheryl Franklin to Deanna a couple of weeks ago. Sheryl knew Deanna from Glenwood, and they weren't the best of friends back then.

"Yeah," said Deanna, "I'm not done yet. Give me forty-five minutes and I'll be there."

"How's it coming along?" Gina asked.

"I think I'll be the last hairdresser she goes to from the look of it." Deanna wasn't lying—Sheryl Franklin's braided head now belonged to her captor, a longhaired boricua with a nasty lesion across her face.

She was cute, though.

"Is that so?" said Gina. "Don't get cocky on me, rookie."

Deanna had been working at Venus, Inc. for two months; everyone else working there had been there twenty-two months before that since the grand opening. Except for Gina Miller, the owner of the beauty shop for two years, they all were jealous of Deanna. How about that—she came out of cosmetology school full of envy and worked at a shop that was full of envy. How cute.

Not only were people jealous of her looks (which she couldn't understand why they were), but also of her ability to make others look good—and feel good inside when they looked at themselves in the mirror after she was finished. Gina was her only true friend in the place, and she was always likely to work whenever her boss needed her. All the others were stuck-up and spiteful. There's a race of these resentful people, she thought, and you call them haters.

"I'm not," she said. "Trust me."

"Okay, I'll be waiting," Gina said.


They hung up, and Deanna went back to the couch. Blood from Sheryl's head formed a thick puddle on the cream-colored leather of that couch.

"Now you'll be pretty forever," Deanna muttered, and picked the head up by the sides. She kissed the forehead, an act someone might say was necrophilic, but Deanna did it out of common courtesy; a sculptor would kiss his stone statue the same way once he was finished with it. She walked out of the living room with the head out in front of her, leaving a dark crimson trail on the carpet. She went past her favorite mirror—a large antique her mother gave her as a housewarming gift two years back—and stepped backwards to stare into it. She looked in it closer and grimaced at what she saw—a scarred Hispanic bitch holding a head that she had chopped off of a body with a butcher knife, semi-covered in blood. The rest of Sheryl's corpse resided in a green dumpster a mile drive away from Deanna's townhouse. She wanted the head because she thought that the head had the very thing that determined the beauty of a person: the face. Her ex-boyfriend Hector had told her the reason why he had broke up with the girl before her because of her face; he said the girl broke out with acne eczema or some shit—probably chickenpox if wanted to get picky.

In Deanna's little demented world, it didn't matter if you had big boobs or a fat ass or long and sexy legs or smooth skin or a nice personality or all five assets—if your face wasn't up to par, every other department of beauty was closed for good.

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall—who's the ugliest one of all?" she exclaimed. If someone was standing next to her in the mirror,

(or if Sheryl still had her bodacious body)

that person wouldn't see or hear a face in it say, "You are, Lady Deanna." But that was what she heard. She grinned and went on with the head in her hands.

Before long she was in her basement. Moans circulated through it like the raunchy stench of corpses. How cute, for the raunchy stench of corpses was circulating throughout the grayish basement. On each side of Deanna there stood a steel shelf. She strolled in the midst of them barefooted and barelegged, only clad in a red t-shirt and tight high-thigh shorts that made her buttocks look tempting. On each shelf, there were heads of women, spaced apart from each other by at least six inches. They sat on their necks as lifeless as tree stumps in a deciduous Jersey forest. Some were the heads of white women, some were the heads of blacks, some were the heads of Hispanics, some were the heads of Asians—but what was the same about them was that they were all long-haired and staring helplessly at the head on the opposing shelf.

Deanna kept walking through it; it was an aisle that looked like it came from a supermarket founded by Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. She halted when she came to an empty spot on the left shelf.

"You should thank me, Sheryl," she said to the head, smiling like a psychopath who had escaped from her mental institute room with the white padded walls. "You're the first in here to have braids."

With care, she placed the head on the shelf. It wobbled and fell into the blonde head on the left of it. The blonde head fell onto the cold cement floor. In rage, she picked it up and saw that the forehead cracked open on the way down like a watermelon, spewing out rotting brains instead of red and seedy pulp.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Deanna screamed at the blonde head that had frigid blue eyes. "I've spent hours making you pretty, Lillian, and all you do is break your skull? You ungrateful bitch."

She threw the head into the shelf and caused three more heads to fall, one brown-skinned and the other two white.

"Why can't you bitches stand still?" she asked the heads, as if their necks had legs and feet. "You know what? I can't stand you bitches! I have spent all of my time—all of my precious time—making you whores beautiful forever and you all go and ruin the fucking thing! Well since you bitches feel that way, I'll make you all ugly! How does that sound?"

She mustered all of the strength in her thick body, pushed all of the heads on that shelf off, and they fell to the floor like dead birds from the sky. She inhaled hard and exhaled harder, yanking at her brownish-black hair; her eyes couldn't be any wider at that point. She kicked a few heads as if they were soccer balls, and because her legs were pure muscle, some heads flew against the basement walls and cracked open, revealing all of the insides, scattering brains and teeth and eyes everywhere.

This went on for about two minutes, and then she stopped. She fell to her hands and knees, not caring how badly she hurt her feet kicking the skulls about. She slowly turned her head at the heads on the right shelf and smiled, heavily panting.

"I'm going to...leave you girls a...alone," she said, and got to her feet. "You girls know how to stand still and look beautiful, unlike the triflin whores over there."

Deanna limped her way to the old wooden stairs and a moan froze her in her tracks. At first she thought one of the heads came to life to kill her for beheading them, and then remembered where the moan came from.

"Oh damn!" she exclaimed, and limped her way into a room in the basement that had no door. In it, there was a naked brunette bound to a chair with duct tape. A red bandanna was tied around her head and it ran across her mouth. Deanna had drugged her wine yesterday with five generic sleeping pills, and her eyes were closed. The brunette's nipples were gun bullets because the cold of the basement as her head hung down, chin touching the top of her chest.

"I forgot all about you, Lorraine," said Deanna, holding her chest as if she was on the verge of a heart attack. She entered the carpeted room, shaking her head side to side to indicate that she was aware of how forgetful she was. Lorraine Dodson stirred in the chair, looked up at Deanna and her vivid hazel eyes grew huge. She screamed as mightily as she could, but the bandanna muffled the scream. Deanna hit herself lightly in the forehead with the heel of her hand.

"I was so caught up with Sheryl that I forgot you were down here," she explained to her prisoner. Lorraine screamed some more into the bandanna and moved about vigorously in the chair. Deanna scowled and backhanded her across the face, leaving a hot red patch there. The guy Deanna was dating then, who was black and claimed to be a Blood, would've proudly called it a "pimp slap".

"I had to do that," she said with sorrow. "You were acting out of control.

She ran a finger around Lorraine's breast and grinned; she wasn't lesbian,

(did that mean I never thought about another girl sexually did it mean that I never did anything with a girl sexually?)

but she was teetering and tottering on the edge. All of those bodies without heads struck a hot fuse inside of her. Too bad I had to haul them all to the dumpster. But hey! I can do things to this girl with the silky hair and hot pink nipples and hot... hot... hot—

She walked across the room and fetched a butcher knife. I was submersed in a small lake of blood, and when she lifted in her hand she waved it about so that it would be free of the blood. I can never stop to clean up after myself, can I?

After Deanna faced Lorraine again, the captive's eyes widened with horror as Deanna said, "I'm going to make you drop dead gorgeous." She put the bulky knife to Lorraine's neck, and Lorraine shivered like a woman after an electrifying orgasm. Deanna cocked the knife back. "I'm going to make you beautiful forever—or my name isn't beauty."

It was, in her mind—that was why she was going to have an extra head in her growing collection.

How cute.

Hey there,

I know this girl named Deanna who can do hair very well, if you want it done. She does one head at a time and it takes her a while to perfect her work. I would give you her number, but she likes to do that herself-she likes to makes very special arrangements for her clients, for those very clients might not ever go to another hairdresser again. How cute.

Zander Williams