Sam stood in the dark street, staring at the storefront before him. The sign in front read “The Parts Store” and nothing outside the store explained what that meant. In the window front was a mannequin dressed in a long skirt with a hat on her head and long red hair flowing down her back. Scattered on the ground beneath her were parts of mannequins. A wig of hair was at her feet. Another pair of legs rested under behind her. Other female body parts were scattered here and there.
And then he read their slogan that had stopped him in his tracks. “Need a new part? Come and get one!”
That phrase wouldn’t have stopped Sam if it hadn’t been for something that happened to him earlier that day. Something at work.
For years Sam had known he was going bald faster than most men. By the time he left high school, he already had a big bald spot in the middle of his head. By his mid-twenties, that bald spot had spread all over his head. And now, here in his thirties, Sam was completely bald with not a scrap of hair on his head.
It hadn’t bothered him much. Until he had overheard one of the girls at work commenting on it.
He didn’t hear the entire conversation. Only the part that applied to him.
“…Sam! He’s so…old! Isn’t he, like fifty or something?”
“No, I don’t think he’s that old,” replied another.
“No, he has to be fifty!”
Sam knew exactly what they were referring to. Nobody in their thirties was bald like him, were they?
If only he could change it. If he could switch out this part about him for another… that might interest him. He didn’t want to mess with those pills or creams. Transplants sounded painful and laborious. Maybe this was why he was single. He always blamed it on not meeting the right girl, or just bad luck… but after overhearing that conversation at work that day, he knew the real reason he couldn’t get a date. He was bald. And that made him look old and unattractive. He needed a quick fix. Something he could use right away. He wanted to be able to wake up tomorrow and look different. He would pay good money for that.
Maybe this store had just the “part” he needed…
Sam took a deep breath and walked inside. A bell over the door tinkled back and forth as he walked in.
“Just a second,” a woman called from the backroom. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
Sam looked around the store. It almost reminded him of a Halloween store. Shelves were filled with old gray bottles, the perfect holiday decorations. Costumes were everywhere. Looking around the store, Sam thought he might be in the wrong place. It clearly specialized in women’s attire. Outfits he had seen only on television surrounded him. And nothing here seemed to be for men.
Convinced he was in the wrong place, Sam turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” the woman from the backroom asked him.
Sam turned to see a long haired woman staring at him. Her hair was black with a single streak of white that reminded him of Rogue from the X-men comics. She appeared to be about twenty, though Sam himself had never been good at estimating ages.
“I’m sorry. I entered the wrong store.”
“No you didn’t,” the girl said plainly, sitting down behind the counter on a stool there.
“Excuse me?” Sam replied.
“You knew what store this was. At least you thought you knew. And you knew what we could do for you.”
“I do, huh? So tell me, Miss?”
“Feleen,” she replied.
“Miss Feleen. Tell me, what did I come in for?”
“A hair tonic,” she said plainly, reaching behind her.
“A hair tonic? Oh. Of course you’d say that. I have no hair!”
“Precisely!” she exclaimed.
“You’re just like the others. That’s all people ever see. And they judge me because of it.”
“But they don’t have to,” she said.
“They don’t? Oh, and I imagine you’re going to give me something right now and tell me that it’ll fix all my problems.”
“No. I’m not.”
“You’re… you’re not?” he said, taken back by what she said.
“No. I’m not going to give you a tonic. I’m going to ask you a question.”
“You are,” he said intrigued, walking toward the counter now. “And what would that question be?”
“Blonde, black, or red?”
“What color hair would you like? If you could regrow your hair that is.”
“Well,” Sam said, leaning in on the counter now. “If I could magically regrow my hair and have whatever color I wanted… If I could have the perfect part… Hm, well, then I think I would want… red hair. Reddish brown hair to be exact. Not some crazy orange and not some reddish red, but a reddish brown maybe.”
“I thought so,” she said, reaching behind the counter and handing him a bottle. “Here, take this and rub it on your head tonight. Use the gloves that are attached to the bottle too. Do not wash it off after. Go to sleep just like that. In the morning, your hair will begin to grow.”
“Well, you can’t have luscious red hair overnight now, can you?”
Sam looked over the bottle that once again reminded him of something he would see at Halloween. “No, I guess I couldn’t ask for that fast of a cure, huh?”
“Of course it’ll take less time when you apply more. But I wouldn’t suggest that. Not at all.”
Sam looked hard at the bottle in his hand. “And how much is this, may I ask?”
“Oh it’s free!”
“Free. We give all our new customers one part for free.”
“Really?” he said, now seriously looking it over.
“Yes. And with that we give you a loyal customer card.”
Miss Feleen reached under the counter and handed him a blue card. One of the numbers was already punched. “Just buy four more parts and you get one free. It’s really slick!”
“Sure it is. But you realize I might not be back.”
“Oh you’ll be back. I’m sure of it,” she said confidently.
“Oh I will, will I?” he said, grabbing the bottle.
“Well, we’ll see,” he said. He turned toward the door.
“Just remember,” she told him. “Don’t wash it off tonight. And use only a little.”
Sam waved his hand back at her in acknowledgement and walked out of the store. He didn’t have much faith in hair creams or tonics, but what did he have to lose? She gave it to him for free.
It couldn’t hurt to try, right?
That night, Sam stood in front of his bathroom mirror and stared at the old bottle in his hand. He had followed all the directions to this point. He had taken a shower and scrubbed his bald head. He had washed his hands really well and put on the pair of latex gloves to protect his hands. Now was the moment of truth.
He almost stopped at that point, feeling a little foolish. What if this didn’t work? He’d have to resort to wearing toupees. But he wanted real hair. His hair. Would this tonic actually work? He took a deep breath. He looked himself in the eyes and said to himself, “Sam, you can do this. You’ve always wanted hair. Real hair. Ever since you lost it all. Now you can have it. And even if it doesn’t work, it can’t get any worse. It’s not like I’m out any money.”
Sam tried not to think about what could happen to him. He could break out in hives. He could be allergic to something in it. The bottle mysteriously lacked any labeled ingredients. All it said was “The Parts Store – Proprietary Blend.” For all he knew, he could have been fooled into doing something stupid by some crazy girl. What business gives stuff away for free without a customer first buying something? Maybe it’d stain his head pink or something and he’d have to return to buy the antidote from her.
But he didn’t want to think like that. He wanted to trust her. Still, something urged him to be cautious. Splashing a little over his gloves, he massaged it into his scalp as directed. The liquid surprisingly felt warm, though he hadn’t warmed it up. Maybe it’s like one of those heating pads, he thought. Felt pretty good, actually.
He looked at himself in the mirror. His scalp was covered in the purple goo, making him look something like an alien standing there. “Only use a little,” he thought. “That’s what she said and that’s what I’ll do. I’ll see what happens in the morning.”
Pulling his gloves off carefully, he placed the bottle and the gloves to the side of the counter. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid, in the morning!”
The next morning, Sam awoke in a daze and wandered into the bathroom. As he drained his bladder, he peered up at himself in the mirror. At first he didn’t recognize the man staring back at him. This man had hair! And not just any kind of hair either but red hair coming in as a fuzz all over his scalp. It was like waking up from a dream. At first he wondered what had happened, momentarily forgetting about his visit to the store last night. How could he forget about that? The Parts Store. That girl with the white streak in her hair. The purple goo she gave him. The application. Right. And the hope he felt. The hope of a new beginning.
And now that hope seemed to be coming true, if only in stages. Sam looked closely at his head for a moment. The hair was only beginning to come in. Just the roots right now. He would need to wear a hat to work today. If he didn’t people might laugh at him. They’d call him a furry cat or something and ask him what product he’d used. He didn’t need that. Not yet at least. He needed to show them a full head of hair. Something that even they couldn’t laugh at.
Grabbing his favorite fedora, he returned to his room to continue preparing for work. He had begun a journey into becoming what felt like a new person. A new lease on life. Looking his age, being attractive to women. Only… something made Sam pause. If he used a little more, or maybe a lot more, on his head now maybe he could make this process go even faster. Maybe he could surprise them all today.
Returning to the bathroom, he grabbed up the bottle and was about the dump it on his head when he remembered the gloves beside them. Carefully picking up the gloves, he put them on his hands before dumping the rest of the bottle on his head.
His scalp grew warm then, warmer than it was before, and the color of the goo went from a light purple that to a dark purple color. His skin started to tingle too, a feeling he hadn’t felt before. Still, determined, he rubbed the mixture into his skin.
“I’m sure it won’t be too bad,” he told himself as he stared at his reflection again. Slowly, but noticeably, something changed in his appearance. The fuzz that populated his scalp began to grow longer and longer right before his eyes. As he watched, his hair grew out from his head, growing thick with body and volume with every passing second. Red, auburn brown hair pushed out from his head, covering his baldness and then growing out longer and longer, down over his shoulders.
Sam stared at his mirror in shock. His beautiful long auburn hair covered his entire head now, flowing down past his shoulders and touched his back. His hair was even a little curly and wavy. He liked it.
Sam pulled his hair over his ears in a way he had seen women do for themselves.
“This is… unbelievable,” he said, staring closely at his reflection. “Is this a dream?”
Anxious to confirm he wasn’t dreaming, Sam hit himself across the face. The wet slap of the gloves and the purple goo didn’t wake him. This was real.
Suddenly hair started growing on his face. Red hair sprouted on his cheeks, just like the hair covering his head. From a thin fuzz it quickly grew out and long, past his chin and down the front of his shirt.
Sam screamed, staring down at the mass of hair head now growing on his cheek.
“Oh no!” he cried. “What did I do!?”
As the hair on his face stopped growing, Sam grabbed a pair of scissors from the drawer, leaned in, and cut if off at the roots. “This is so weird,” he said, reaching for his razor.
Only before he could reach his razor, the hair on his face started growing again, down the front of his shirt to the same length as before. Grabbing the scissors again, he cut it a second time, only to watch it do the same thing again!
“Oh no…” This hair tonic was a powerful.
He knew only one option remained. Return to the store.
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