Harry plucked burrs from the tall black llama, Elvis’, coat, humming “You were always on my mind”, and glancing every few seconds through the window of the Twist of Fate, their knitting studio in the converted barn. He could see Vee and Rose Laine in profile. Neither smiled. They looked like they were negotiating a peace settlement between Israel and Palestine, not participating in a job interview. Vee didn’t smile much these days. She told Harry smiling pulled on the scarred skin of her scalp which felt like wet tissue paper about to tear.
Rose sat as straight as a knitting needle, staring at Vee’s nose. As she asked questions, Vee caressed her hairless head which glowed from a recent application of vitamin E. From the side she looked like a full moon. Rose certainly acted like there was a full moon, nervously gathering her long hair in her left hand, then her right and flinging it over her shoulders. Harry fought the urge to rush in and wallop her. Look at the woman opposite you! She’s got no hair! Stop playing with your mane!
Rose Laine. What a name for a stripper. She sounded like an Edwardian society mistress or an address. Vee nearly made a snack of his head when Harry suggested they hire Rose. “But she can knit, darling. And you’ll laugh when you meet her. She’s got a neck like a llama and she’s as tall as Elvis.” Thank goodness Vee didn’t ask why he was in a strip club that afternoon.
Harry hadn’t expected Vee to like the girl. Vee had a crust as thick as his calloused heels and the skin grafts on her scalp just added another layer of impenetrability. But since the accident, Vee dropped into grinding episodes of depression more frequently. They needed help. Harry couldn’t knit and he sure as hell didn’t have Vee’s imaginative edge. And lord, this girl could knit – fast. She designed her own patterns. Most importantly, she wanted out of her, um, situation. Plus, she had legs. Long legs. Harry reasoned customers would flock to her at the farmer’s market.