The man behind the counter looked me over as I staggered into the shop.
“Full up?” he asked.
I nodded stiffly. I was afraid to move too fast.
The man, George, lifted one hand. “It’s all right,” he said. “I’m glad you’ve come in. But why did you wait till now?”
“I—there was just so much to deal with.” I could barely move my mouth. “And then it all began piling up, one thing and then another. It’s completely stuffed.”
“Stop talking,” said George. He walked around the counter and stood in front of me. He put one warm hand on the top of my head and another under my chin. For a long moment he studied me in silence. “Okay,” he said finally. “We can begin. You’ve done this before. You know how it goes, right? No, don’t say anything, just blink for yes.”
“Good,” he said. “Now, look up beyond my shoulder. Up at that shelf. Which one do you want? They will all fit you, that’s the woman’s section. Can you tell me? Try.”
“The one in the corner,” I mumbled. “Brown hair.”
“Ah,” he said. “Yes. Good choice. Okay, let me get it down.”
Before I knew it, the temporary replacement head was sitting on the counter.
“You’re quick,” I whispered.
“I should be,” he said. “Thirty years in this head shop! Now, close your eyes. It will just take a minute.”
Again, his warm hands found their place on the top of my head and under my chin.
I closed my eyes, felt a slight tug and blanked out.
When I opened my eyes again, I was ensconced in the replacement head, and my real head sat on the counter.
George and I looked at my real head.
“Stuffed,” I said. “Completely stuffed!”
George grinned. “Well,” he said, “We’ll take care of that. I’ll send it to the lab today. You should have it back in three days.”
“Definitely,” said George. “We’ll lay the contents out and clean up all the duplication we find. Get rid of the sludge. Get rid of those worry bugs too. You’ll get your head back cleared out and able to function.”
“You won’t erase anything important, right?” I asked anxiously.
George shook his own head. “I’ve never, ever seen that happen,” he said. “The lab is infallible. Now, do you remember how to manage with the replacement head?”
He took a step backwards and looked me over. “Nod,” he said. I nodded. He reached out and pinched something on my neck. “It’s screwed on, okay,” he said. “A little wobbly, but all right. Just don’t go swimming—it might drift away and scare people, ha ha!
“See you in three days. Bye, now!”