It was the long curly red tresses that caught Gloria’s eye as she strolled along doing some window-shopping in lower Manhattan one fine day. She was quite fond of wigs, which was a good thing, as she had needed them ever since the chemotherapy put an end to her beautiful locks.
She decided to go in and peruse the goods. A long line of mannequin heads was on display along one wall of the shop with a second row of heads just in back and above eye level. She walked along the row examining the wigs and marvelling at how life-like the mannequins were these days when she heard a whisper just behind her.
“Psst. Over here.”
She looked around but there were no other customers in the shop and she had seen the owner go into the back of the store just moments before. She began walking along examining the merchandise again when the voice became a bit louder and more persistent.
“Please, over here. I need to talk to you.”
She turned around, startled now and somewhat afraid.
“It’s me, here in the second row. Black wig with bangs.”
She looked where the voice was coming from and was aghast to see that one of the mannequin heads was looking directly at her.
“Yes, it’s me. Please, come over here. I need to talk to you before the owner comes back out.”
She glanced over her shoulder and moved closer to the speaking head.
“Yes. I’ve had a spell cast on me by that evil witch who owns this place. Please help me.”
“What do you mean? The woman in the back is a witch? I don’t understand.”
“It’s a long story. She thought I did something I didn’t do and she cast a spell and now I’m trapped here. The spell must have weakened; it’s only in the last few hours that I’ve become able to speak. Listen, I know how the spell can be broken. Will you help me? Please don’t leave me trapped here like this!”
Gloria put her hand to her mouth in horror. She felt a sense of unreality overtaking her and wondered if her medications were making her hallucinate.
“Please, you’re my only hope.”
“Well…all right, what is it you need me to do?”
“Do you know the fountain in the park a block down on the right?”
“Yes, such a lovely park. I go there often.”
“Good. I need you to go to that fountain and get in it and stand near the falling water. You must take off your mink stole and wave it over your head and sing It’s Raining Men. Do you know the song?”
“Well yes, but I’ll look like a right proper fool!”
“Please. I wouldn’t ask this of you, but if you don’t do it I may be stuck here forever. I swear I’ve done nothing wrong. Please do this for me. I’ll do anything you ask in return. Just do it and then come back, okay?”
Gloria dithered for a moment. This was so unreal she honestly didn’t know what to do. She looked at the mannequin head again and the imploring look in the eyes decided it for her.
“I’ll go do it now.”
“Oh bless you. Thank you so much.”
When she was gone the girl rose up out of the platform and removed the wig and readjusted the heads to fill the empty space. She was wiping the makeup off her face as her mother came out of the back.
“Oh Emily, no. Tell me you haven’t been at it again. What have I told you about this?”
“Oh mother, that dreadful woman is wearing a mink stole. She’s guilty of animal murder. You know how I feel.”
Brenda shook her head and straighten the wig display.
“I swear I’ll be glad when summer is over and you’re back in school.”