The Magic Manicurist

The Magic Manicurist

A Story by Georgina V Solly

Man found dead with manicured nails.




 The helicopter flew over the woods, barely touching the treetops. For the pilot it was almost impossible to see the ground through the entwined branches of so many tall trees. When a gap or clearing appeared before his eyes he strove to see what was actually below. The pilot, Walter Williams, had been told to look out for a stranded four-wheel-drive and some policemen standing beside it. Walter and his companion, Leo, were old hands at this job, but where flying over woods was concerned, it made an agreeable job much more awkward.

“Look, Walt. I can see it, down there to the right,” Leo said, pointing out to Walter a group of policemen standing beside a four-wheel-drive. On hearing the sound of the helicopter, those on the ground looked up and waved to attract the pilot’s attention. The helicopter descended, and softly landed not too far away from the group. Walter and Leo got out.

“Welcome. Well, we’ve got an accident here. The driver’s in bad shape but he’s still alive,” the inspector who had been expecting them indicated.

“Come on, Leo, let’s get this poor man to hospital. I suppose you’ll be by to take down any details the doctors may have for you,” Walter said.

“Yes, that’s right. You get him there as soon as possible and we’ll be there shortly,” the inspector replied.

The two pilots manoeuvred the injured man’s body onto a stretcher and gently placed him inside the helicopter, then they got in, and took off.

The inspector, whose name was Thomas Donner, and his sergeant, were in his car and driving along at a fairly high speed. They were both afraid the man who had been found beside his vehicle would either be dying or dead by the time they arrived at the hospital. The sighting of the upturned four-wheel-drive had been sent in by an anonymous caller, who had seen it from the road. No time had been wasted and the police had gone without hesitation to the named spot. Now they wanted to know how and when the accident had occurred, if indeed it had been an accident.

The police were unable to get a statement from the man found in the woods. He had died on the way to the hospital from extensive injuries. The pathologist, Pauline Simmons, told Donner that there was an anomaly with the dead man. His false nails were manicured and were probably made of acrylic. His name had been found in his jacket pocket. It was Malcolm Pace, he was fifty years old and a business man. In fact he was a commercial traveller and was on his way to an appointment when his vehicle had overturned. All this information had been found on his mobile.

“Do we have an address for Mr Pace?” Donner asked Pauline.

“Yes, I think so. There’s an address on his driving licence,” Pauline answered.

“Thank you very much, Pauline. When will you have the autopsy done?”

“I’ll ring you as soon as I have the results.” Pauline told him. Inspector Donner made his way out of the mortuary to his car, telling his sergeant, Mark, he would see him the next day.


Every week there were demonstrations of all categories in the department stores and the shopping centres. A stand with a podium was set up, so that the general public could see easily what the demonstrator was doing. The week before the vehicle accident had occurred, a manicurist called Gail, had been demonstrating her talents with nails in a shopping centre. In front of the podium there was a large board on an easel with large letters painted on it in blues, mauves, and silver sparkle, announcing:


Come and see and participate

in a nail session with Gail.

What she can do with your nails,

you won’t get done anywhere else.


 Attached to the words was a full length photo of Gail, who was a rather pretty, busty blonde. It also announced that Gail was only in the shopping centre for just one week, from Sunday to Sunday included. Every day saw queues of women and girls anxious to get their nails done. Gail took her time and never rushed her work. The most ordinary of people sat down in front of her and waited in silence till she had finished her creation. There were pictures of the different models that could be attained. Gail herself had stiletto nails that extended from her fingers at a frightening length. She could do square, oval, and short nails. The most impressive of all these nails, was the art work that she created: flowers, fruit, glitter, butterflies, spiders, and anything that could be made inventive and presentable, anything in fact that would cause a sensation.


The two detectives went round to Malcolm Pace’s house to find out why he might have been in the woods. They banged and knocked on the front door, until it was opened stealthily by an elderly lady, who stared at them suspiciously, “Yes? Are you from the council about the bins?”

“Good morning, Madam. We are from the police and we’d like to talk to you,” detective inspector Donner explained.

The lady returned a hard stare, and then said, “What is it you’d like to talk about?”

“Do you know Malcolm Pace?”

“Of course I do. He’s my son. Has he been up to something?”

“He’s been in a fatal accident,” Donner answered

The front door was opened suddenly and the two detectives were almost dragged into the cottage. “May I get you a cup of tea?” Mark asked the worried looking lady.

“Yes, please, and make one for yourselves, too. How did the accident happen and where did it happen?”

“The accident took place in the woods, quite a way from here. Do you know them?” Donner asked.

“Yes, I know them, and of course Malcolm knew them too. He drove through the woods quite often on his way to work and back again,” Malcolm’s mother said.

“What was the nature of your son’s work?” Donner asked.

“He was a commercial traveller for a manicure products company. His vehicle was always full of boxes of the goods. He would then distribute them to different areas. He had a lot of work. He wasn’t at home much.”

“The pathologist said your son’s nails were false and manicured. Is that possible? I thought manicures were only for women,” Donner said to the victim’s mother.

“He told me that everyone who worked for the firm had to have impeccable nails as a good advertisement. Bitten nails or broken ones were not permitted, and a man could get the sack if he didn’t keep his hands up to scratch.”

After bidding the elderly Mrs Pace goodbye, they got into the police car and started up, to begin their journey back to the police station. The inspector’s mobile rang. “Hello. Oh, it’s you, Pauline. What’s up?”

“There’s another thing you ought to see as regards the victim,” Pauline said over the phone.

“Can’t you tell me now?”

“I’d rather you saw this for yourself.”

“OK. We’re on our way. It had better be good,” Donner answered.  Then to Mark, “We have to go to the mortuary. It seems that Mr Pace is more interesting than we thought.”


At the mortuary the two police detectives went straight to the room where Mr Pace’s body was still lying on the table. Pauline said, “Take a look at this,” she pulled back the sheet and pointed to the man’s feet. They were not only manicured but painted bright red, too.

“Well, it looks like the dead man was very vain, Sir,” Mark said, looking with amusement at the dead man’s toes.

The two returned to their office. Donner told Mark to ring the company where Pace had worked. The company was called Magic Nails, that promised all kinds of good things would happen to anyone who used their products. Mark made an appointment for the next day.


Gail was worn out. She was on the podium from ten o’clock in the morning till four o’clock in the afternoon. The only exercise she had was when she went to the bathroom in the department store. The rest of the time she was sitting at a small table that was covered with cloths, a towel with paper towels on them. There were small bowls that held water and essentials. There were also jars of acrylic in varying colours on display. That was Gail’s domain, nevertheless, at the end of the day she was exhausted. The centre itself would close two hours later but the demonstrators had their own timetable and left earlier. The drive to her house on the edge of the town didn’t take Gail very long, and she was soon inside her personal paradise. Gail lived with her two teenage sons, who were doing their homework when she opened the front door. She called out to them as she entered, “Hello, boys. I’m home. Everything OK?”

“Yes, Mum. We’ve had a sandwich and we’ll see you later.”

Gail’s sons knew their mother would have a shower or a bath, then dressed in pyjamas would go on her bed for a short nap, an hour before preparing their dinner. That evening was no different, Gail showered, and in pyjamas sat in front of her dressing table and moved her head this way and that, to see how her face was doing in its ageing process. Gail did many things in the beauty world apart from nails. She gave massages when her nails were shorter, and advised on preparations for skin problems and weight. Gail was also a moonlighter, she gave drag artists and pop singers and actors manicures privately. That work was carried out in theatres or clubs, anywhere where nobody knew her. Gail liked money, and was willing to work in the evenings at weekends for the extra money. She gave her and her sons the life style they enjoyed. Gail’s bedroom was full of frills and fancies. She had her windows dressed with Austrian blinds in a heavy champagne-coloured satin, and the bed was covered in the same material. The bed had innumerable frilly cushions on the head end, which she used to rest her head on for a short nap.


That night on the news, there was a short piece about a man whose dead body had been found in the woods that morning. Gail and her sons were busy eating when the news was on, and missed out on the man’s name.


The nail manufacturers gave the police names and addresses of salons and stores where they would find manicurists using their products. As there were so many to choose from, it took the police more time than they were willing to dedicate to finding where Pace had received his manicure. The police thought it unusual that a man would have false red nails.


Gail meanwhile continued her work at the shopping centre. On Sunday she would finish till the next store or centre would send for her.


The forensics had found an odd substance in the red varnish on Pace’s toes - it was like a tiny, shiny sequin.

“Who on earth would have such a decoration on their toenails?” Donner asked Pauline.

“Normally women have them on their fingernails. I’m not into manicures, so I imagine some kind of artist?” Pauline answered.

“What kind of artist would wear such nail enamel?” asked Mark.

“Someone who works in a nightclub,” responded Pauline.

“Now I suppose we’ll have to find out more about Mr Malcolm Pace, and what other employment he had besides commercial traveller,” Donner said.


Gail was installing her stand in a new commercial centre, at the same time wondering about her favourite client who never failed to turn up for his special manicure. She hadn’t seen Autumn Rose for a couple of weeks, and yet she knew he needed the extra work just as she needed the moonlighting, albeit for different reasons. The last time she had seen Autumn Rose, he had asked her for a simple manicure to avoid suspicion falling on him at work. So she had invested her time on his feet.

The police had allowed news media to publish a photo of the dead man with his name, to see if anyone recognized him. There had been the usual response from his work colleagues and nothing more. Gail rang up the night club where Autumn Rose had been working the last time they had met. The manager of the club answered the phone, “Hello. Who’s speaking, please?”

“It’s me, Gail. I’ve just heard that Autumn Rose is dead. How he died I don’t know, but his face is all over the television and the newspapers. I thought you’d better know, so that you can find another act before the weekend.”

“Thanks for ringing, Gail, and letting me know, but we’d already seen his face in the papers. How are you dealing with this?” the club manager asked Gail.

“I’m doing the best I can. Fortunately, there’s a lot of work for me.”

“Shall we be seeing you this week or not?”

“You know I went to the club for Autumn Rose, so I’m not sure if or when I’ll be back. Thanks a lot for all you’ve done for me. ‘Bye.”

Gail felt rough around the edges and not in the mood for doing nails, but she struggled on till the day’s work was over and she could once again return to her little piece of paradise. That evening, Gail didn’t have much of an appetite and went to bed early after dinner.


The following day she handed out perfumed pamphlets to the public walking around the commercial centre, in an effort to encourage them to visit her stand. When the receivers of the pamphlets see Gail’s name and Magic Manicure on the stand, they go along for a manicure, even though it didn’t figure in their plans. Now Malcolm was dead, where would she get the hypnotic perfume from?


Malcolm Pace was a drag artist. The character he had created in order to make more money, was called Autumn Rose. It had been Gail’s idea, so that they would make extra money for their expensive tastes. Detective inspector Donner and Sergeant Mark, didn’t find out the whole story for a long time. They never discovered why, or who had killed him.


The last weekend of Pace’s life was too busy, even for a workaholic like him. On Saturday night he had performed in three shows, and on Sunday he had helped his mother in the house and garden.

Early on Monday morning he had got into his four-wheel-drive for the journey to work. He had chosen the route through the woods as a short cut. An animal out of nowhere showed up in the headlights and he swerved to avoid hitting it. The vehicle turned over and he was killed in the act. The police never realized that there were foxes breeding like mad in the woods.


When the whole story was made public, Gail felt very upset by Malcolm’s loss. She did her best and carried on as she usually did, but her heart was no longer in the night club business.


Donner and Mark had eventually discovered that it was Gail who had done Pace’s nails. They paid her a visit.


The two detectives asked her how many male clients she had, and Gail answered, “Only Malcolm. He was my ex-husband, and when we split up I reverted to my maiden name. Although we were divorced, we remained good friends.”  

© 2014 Georgina V Solly

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on April 20, 2014
Last Updated on April 20, 2014
Tags: nails, glamour, art, creation, accident, death


Georgina V Solly
Georgina V Solly

Valencia, Spain

First of all, I write to entertain myself and hope people who read my stories are also entertained. I do appreciate your loyalty very much. more..