Readers Gazette Short Stories

Short Story Bad Hair Day

Bad Hair Day by John Pirillo Fantasy short story

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“A Samuel Light Junior Story”

Approximately ten minutes after P.E., after a shower, after a four mile run, after cramps in his right leg, after Jimbo making his life a hell by shoving a cigar in his gym clothes hamper and Coach finding it, and after another four mile run and a hundred push-ups for that, Samuel was finally able to go home.

It had been a Bad Hair Day for him.

Now he knew why the girls called it that. It meant that anything that could possibly go wrong had or would. He wasn't a pessimist by nature. But some days it seemed like the world was going to end. Or at least a reasonable approximation, if there was such a thing.

Oh and by the way Samuel is a spiritual detective. That's what his Mom calls him. The big, cuddly blonde who has raised him since he was...well, born. She always told him he was born for a purpose and as he began sprouting psychic abilities and some right scary stuff he began to believe it wasn't just for a purpose, but to scare the Holy Crap out of him.

Samuel didn't swear. Usually. He saved those spare words for when he cracked his head on the kitchen cabinet door, which was often. He was sprouting inches a lot these days. And for those times when he burned himself, which was frequently, because he usually made his own breakfasts, because Mom was running off to her day job...she had two, night and keep him and her in the home that his father had built and was now being taxed so heavily that she could barely keep up with the taxes, let alone the payments for the supplies that built it. It wasn't much, but when you worked for a K-Mart or Wal-Mart, you didn't make much. She never got a degree. Never had time for it. She had him almost right after she'd met his father. Least that's what she told him, though he suspected sometimes that she was withholding a secret from him.

And yeah, he could read intentions, if not minds at times.

Right. Another one of those things his Mom called psychic abilities, but his friends called weird and crazy, and voodoo. He laughed to himself as he stuffed his gym shorts into his backpack, and headed for the gym exit.

Mister Peterson stood there at the door frowning at him, as he said good-bye to his Rat Pack; he called the kids of this period. They were his favorites. Sam knew it. He always told the other teachers, because they were smart and motivated.

“How's the throat these days?” Mister Peterson asked him as he prepared to exit.


“Stay away from those stink sticks, Mister, they'll punch holes in your lungs.” He was warned as he exited.

Sam didn't respond. What could he say? He had been framed! Nope. Wouldn't work. The Coach was not anything, if not stubborn. He refused to see the other side of the poker deck, the part which one had been dealt. He said it was because he grew up in Chicago where everyone had a story, but Sam suspected it was just his nature, or at least the one he had decided to fix himself on.

“Hey Sambo!” Jimbo's taunted.

Sam spun around and glared at his friend, who was almost as tall as him, but built like a tank by comparison. “You framed me!”

Jimbo, his reddish hair tinted almost blonde from the hard light of approaching summer, grinned that annoying grin he always gave when he was going to start shoveling...the compost heap at him..And said. “You look good in one. Should mount you on the gymnasium wall for all the girls to ponder the meaning of why they never give that kid a chance, and then remind themselves why they don't.”

“You through?”

Jimbo shrugged. “Going to Papa Maries for a malt. Wanta come.”


Just like that all their quarrels and Jimbo's terrible jokes were forgiven. Sam never held onto anything, except some doubts about himself, which he only brought out when he sat facing his closet where the giant Knight lived.

As they walked past the admin building and then headed onto the main sidewalk fronting the two million dollar school that looked more like a two million dollar prison with all its metal doors and gates shutting off the rooms and openings, and waved at the Campus Cop, who gave them a sour look, they headed across the street, avoiding the sidewalk crossing where the cheerleaders were gathered for the bus.

“You think any of them like you?” Sam asked as they passed them.

Jimbo shrugged. “Don't really care. All the other girls at school do.”

“You're so lucky.”

“Son, it's not luck.” Jimbo told him with a grin. “Some of us are born cockeyed crazy with powers that drive mortal men mad.”


“Yup!” Jimbo agreed. “And some are born powerful handsome and maddeningly gorgeous to the ladies.”


“Hey! You're firing on all eighteen cylinders this afternoon.”

“I don't have eighteen.”

“Seems like it sometimes.”

“That's because you're still working on firing up two.”

Jimbo cracked into laughter, pounding Sam on the back so hard he almost fell over. “Now...that...was funny!”

As they walked he could see Papa Maries neon sign hanging over its dark front. It always seemed to be darker there than anywhere else. He could have looked into it deeper, but he didn't like fooling around with psychic powers. Mom had told him to use them wisely or they would be taken away.

How she knew that, he never asked. He trusted her in that, because the one time he had tried to open up his third eye in an older part of time, he had seen a ghost straight from Hell. He had run home screaming at the age of seven, a disillusioned and chastised runt of four feet in height, who would never doubt his Mom's wisdom again.

As they entered Papa Marie's he smelled something weird.

“Smell that?”

“Yeah.” Jimbo replied, his nose wriggling from the effort of trying to block out the annoying scent.

Sam suddenly perked up. He felt, rather than saw what was happening. He threw down his back pack and ran past the tables of kids who were eating and drinking, but lost to what was going on. Jimbo was hot on his heels.

They tore into the kitchen and Papa Marie was slumped over a kitchen sink, his hands limp at his sides, his grill smoking, starting to catch on fire. Jimbo ran for a bucket in the back. They sometimes helped clean up for free food and drinks. Sam put a hand on Papa Marie. He could feel warmth, but it seemed to be cooling where he touched him.

For no particular reason his hand began to glow a bright green.

“Holly Batman Droppings!” Sambo yelled as he saw it.

Papa Marie suddenly jerked upright, coughing and hacking, and then he wiped at his mouth and his forehead and gave Sam a peculiar look.
Sam said nothing.

No one said a thing, until the smell of burning burgers caught their attention again.

Jimbo tossed the water on the grill and then they spent the better part of their afternoon helping Papa Marie to clean up the mess.
He never spoke to Sam or Jimbo about what had happened, nor did they talk about it to each other at that time, but everyone had changed that day in some way.

But like the friends they all were, he and Sambo finished helping. Papa Marie made them super whoppers on dishes heaped with curly fries and a separate giant mug of vanilla ice cream with coke in it and everyone went home happy that day. Especially Papa Marie!

To see more of John Pirillo's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit John Pirillo's Website.

Images used for the story are John Pirillo's own work.

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Approximately ten minutes after P.E., after a shower, after a four mile run, after cramps in his right leg, after Jimbo making his life a hell by shoving a cigar in his gym clothes hamper and Coach finding it, and after...

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