A journalist sometimes has to stick her neck out - knowing that someday it will probably be chopped.

But when one of your bosses (Let's call him Mr. De-Farge, shall we?) says, "Hey, Collins, we have a little job for you . . . " Well, what can you do?It turned out he wanted me to enroll in a new weight-loss program: Live an exciting life on the razor's edge and lose 15 ugly pounds in the process. You know, let the good times roll!

"If you don't do it," he menaced me, "your head will roll."

DeFarge forgot to mention that my head would roll anyway. "It" turned out to be a quick trip to the friendly neighborhood guillotine.

Alfred "the Magnificent" Lediard was the author of my fate, and the Harvest Festival - a three-day event featuring food, entertainment and displays, plus lots of exotic for-sale items - was the site.

Before you could say "Off with her head!" I was kneeling on the floor of the stage, head locked firmly into the dastardly machine while Alfred engaged the audience with some cheerful "pun-ishment" about splitting headaches and sore-throat cures. I was nervous and I may have misunderstood him, but I thought I also heard a crack about an "empty-headed blonde." My word!

Within seconds, the blade had passed "through" my neck, leaving me miraculously whole. They say, "A fool and her money are soon parted," but it's a lot harder to part a fool and her head.

Lediard became enthralled by magic when he was about 10, and he's presented shows ever since, traveling with his wife Betty, who runs the sound system. He said he once had a terrible stuttering problem, but he found that when he's performing magic he's confident and doesn't stutter.

The Harvest Festival runs through Sunday at the Salt Palace. For more information on Alfred's act - or to book it - call 484-6024.