“Ditch it,” he said. “It’s of no use to us.”
“Easier said than done.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’d have to throw it in the dumpster.”
“Lenny, the dumpster’s right outside. People would see.”
“Wait until it gets dark then.”
“That’s no better.”
“There’s always a cop around.”
“You know, Brooks, you’re my assistant. You’re supposed to do what I say.”
“Don’t I always?” said Brooks, a scrawny, mousy-looking man.
“Not right now.”
Brooks said nothing.
“I could fire you, you know,” Lenny said.
“Go ahead,” Brooks said with rare bravado.
“Maybe I will.”
Lenny was sitting at his desk, a hunched mound of flesh with thin, gray hair combed over a head the size of a soccer ball.
“You’d have a hard time finding anybody who can do eyes like me,” Brooks said.
“There are others.”
“But nobody who can do them like me. Lips too.”
“You’re kind of full of yourself today, aren’t you?”
“Just stating the facts.”
Brooks seldom stood up to Lenny, but he knew the big man needed him, so he decided to push it.
“I won’t even mention hair,” he said.
“All right!” Lenny bellowed, slapping the desktop with his meaty palms. “I’ll do it myself!”
He got up and waddled across the room, passing head after head, arranged in neat rows on narrow, wooden tables. Dozens of heads, each one anchored to a tabletop with a metal collar. Each was expressionless, staring blankly ahead. Some had hair. Others were bald. Some sported eyelashes and wore lipstick. Others were unadorned. Most were the heads of men and women. One row, though, was made up of the heads of children.
Finally, Lenny reached the body, propped up in the corner, wedged between rows of boxes stacked high against the walls. He wrapped his fleshy left arm around the naked torso and pulled it close. He grabbed hold of the head with his thick right hand and twisted it until it popped off with the sound of a bottle being uncorked.
He dropped the head on a table and drug the decapitated body toward the door of the shop, his shop, where he had worked for nearly five decades, preparing plastic and fiberglass heads for storefronts all over the world.
Why, he wondered, during all that time, had only one arrived with a body?