Chapter 51 2019 – Fingers restored

Golden Fingers Reunion Tour for the Benefit of the Los Angeles Home for Aging Rock Musicians dominated not only the music press, but also all forms of communication. Instant Messaging traffic during a show was higher than any time of the day, with fans clamoring to hear the latest from their heroes. Micro bytes of sound data streamed to electronic devices all over the world, and even in the remotest regions, the Golden Sound rang out. Church bells announced the group’s arrival in each city; rocks echoed the strains of their music long after they’d left.

I truly did appreciate his father’s contribution to his success, and lauded him at every opportunity. Tonight’s show, though, was special. Henry and Juliette, both well into their eighties, were present in the front row. Special guests Buddy and Annette Arden and Sam and Samantha Martin were also present, and a memorial wreath was laid for Isaac’s late mother, Sandy. I had designated this show to be “The Henry Mall Appreciation Concert – part II.” He loved his father, and the first attempt to honor him had not been the best example of what could be done.

This time it would be different.

His main concern, as it was over forty years ago, was if Isaac was up to the task. Over and over he tapped Isaac and asked “Are you going to be O.K. with this, man. It’s got to be perfect.”

“I am cool, man. Chilled to the bone,” Isaac quipped in the retro hip-speak making the rounds. “That phase is way behind me. Whatever I was missing from my father, I buried that years ago and recaptured it from yours and the other guys’.”

“That’s good, because tonight is going to blow everyone away.”

“What have you got planned?” Isaac was curious.

“Never you mind. It’s gonna happen, and it will be like nothing you’ve ever seen. This will go down in history!” I seemed especially ebullient. History was what Golden Fingers was all about, after all.

The hall, as always, was a sellout. Because of the significance of tonight’s show, additional audience members were packed into the Standing Room Only areas. Thousands of fans crowded outside; they’d been unable to acquire a ticket during the one hour availability period. For them, a forty foot screen had been erected, giving them a live look inside.

When the band took the stage, a tumultuous din greeted the group. They launched into the traditional set list and when it came to “Only Golden Fingers Could Play So Heavy,” I asked for the crowd’s attention. Rapt, they wondered what was up. The show had a flow, and this wasn’t in the flow.

I laid aside his bass. “Some forty plus years ago, I honored my father…” The crowd burst into cheers. I’s reverence for his father had been a major topic of the news stories these days. He continued, “I honored my father with the first Henry Mall Appreciation Concert.” I was proud he didn’t stumble over the words this time. “You might say, it didn’t come off the way I planned…” The crowd roared with laughter, to hear the lyric turned to describe that first disastrous attempt.

“Well, tonight we’re going to try again, and this time do it right!” The crowd rose in applause.

I signaled them to sit again. “I’m afraid he isn’t getting any younger, so we’d better do this now. Mom. Dad. Come up here and join me on stage!”

The crowd rose once again as Henry and Juliette rose from their front row seats. They made there way up the stage, with a bit of assistance, and the spotlight soaked them brightly. The crowd stayed up despite I’s attempt to calm them and continue with the plan. Henry was a hero as much as anyone could be, and this was his night. He deserved the honor.

Finally, the noise subsided and I began his announcement.

“My father was a great musician in his day, and an even greater as a group manager. The Scuffling Scrappers were the Golden Fingers of the time, and owed everything to him.” O.K., maybe a bit of exaggeration, but it is for him, I thought.

“My dad had a dream, one he never fulfilled, and I want to help him fulfill it tonight.”

Henry looked curiously at I. What dream? he thought. I’ve had so many, and they’ve all been fulfilled.

I looked off stage. “Angela! Bring it!”

I’s beautiful wife came on the stage, carrying a shoebox-sized parcel.

“Many years ago, my father was working on a invention to give him back something he’d lost, something that kept him from doing what he wanted most: the ability to play guitar. Oh, he had played guitar, and probably could have still if he wanted. But he really wanted to play the bass guitar. Tonight, I’m going to give him that dream.”

I reached into the box and revealed a nearly perfectly formed human hand. As he touched the wrist, the fingers clenched, then released. A gasp drew from the audience.

“No, it’s not as monstrous as it looks. Dad, come here and hold up your hand.”

Henry had long ago lost any self-consciousness regarding his missing fingers, but he was a bit uncomfortable in the spotlight now. I took the hand, which turned out to be some type of naturally skin sensation glove, and pulled it down over Henry’s thumb and index finger. As it closed over his palm and then over his wrist, a tingling sensation went through his arm. Henry reacted by making a fist and unclenching. He wiggled all four fingers, and much to the crowd’s delight, flipped a bird, just because he could now do it for real. Henry laughed and turned to I, “But how?”

“Dad,” he began, “I’ve spend millions of dollars with hundreds of research firms to perfect this. I took your original designs, which were primitive, but were proven to have merit, and this is the result. It’s the Henry Mall officially authorized replacement hand!”

Henry looked at I quizzically, “Really? You’ve got to come up with a better name than that!”

The crowd roared once again, and I admitted “Well, more money has gone into development than marketing, I guess. We’ll have to work on that.”

Henry once again flexed his fingers. “It feels like a real hand. I can’t tell the difference!” Cameras began flashing as all recognized the significance of this invention. “Son, I can’t thank you enough!”

“There’s one more thing,” as I reached over squeezed a special area on the wrist. At once the individual fingers lit up in a yellow hue. “I couldn’t help myself. Dad, you’ve now got golden fingers!”

The crowd erupted in a psychotic frenzy which gave I time to retrieve his bass guitar from the stand where he had placed it. He took the instrument and asked Henry, “Will you join us?”

“But I haven’t played in almost seventy years!” Henry protested. “And I certainly haven’t played your songs.”

“Dad, you know you know every single one inside out,” I assured him. “But just to help you out, they still something else.” He pulled out yet another matching left hand glove. “You don’t normally need this, but I think you can use it now.” He pulled it over Henry’s left hand.

Pressing the hidden wrist button, a small area burst into additional light. “Run your finger along the screen,” he told him. Henry saw that it was a menu of the songs in the set list. “It programmed to guide your fingers to the correct frets and strings. Even if you’ve never played before, you can now!”

I turned back to the audience, and called out. “Now, the song you’ve been patiently waiting for, featuring Henry Mall, my dad, on bass. ‘Only Golden Fingers Could Play So Heavy!’”

Henry grabbed the neck as the complicated bass lines emerged from the amp. The band joined in and I took the mike.

I first picked up my bass guitar at the age of seventeen…

The song continued through the chorus

Crowds would gather when I played…

But when it came to the second verse, something had changed.

I played in the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band at the age of seventeen.
My father made sure that we would have a plan, ‘cause we were pretty green
He built a studio, he bought us all our gear, we knew that we were ready
‘cause only golden fingers could play so heavy!

Henry’s flashing fingers lit up as each note was played, and there was never a finer moment in his memory than the one night his dream was achieved, because of the love of I Mall.