A day in the life of a cocksure studio session musician
with abnormally large hands. (short fiction)
Hands all Over
It’s not about being on time in this business; it’s about being early. I arrive at least 15 minutes before any recording session is scheduled to start. That way, I don’t have to rush or stress out when shit happens. Being early also gives me a chance to kick back, glance at a magazine, keep an eye on the competition, and see who might be checking me out. Today, it’s the thin blonde intern here at A List Music. She keeps glancing over at me, but turns away right when I look up. I decide to go in. As I stand up, I make sure to pull my shoulders back to make use of my six-foot-three frame. As I take my first step toward her, I imagine how it looks. It’s definitely in slow motion. She probably hears the firm thud of my boot heel on the thin carpet like a bass drum in short reverb as I approach, and I’m smiling as I arrive at her desk.
“Hi, I’m Joe,” I say.
The tone of my voice is rich, like the bowing of an upright bass.
“Hi, I’m Mindy,” she says. I reach out a hand to take hers, and that’s when I see her catch her breath.
You see, I have huge hands so when I shake with almost anyone, their hand is engulfed by mine. Mindy is taken aback by the way her petite little mitten disappears in my catcher’s glove.
I’m used to this with women.
“Mindy, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” I say.
I’m still smiling at her, although the smile is more pointed now, I’m thinking, you like that big, warm place, don’t you?
The size of my hands is a topic of dinner conversation across the restaurant. I am so used to people staring at them that I don’t notice anymore. Sometimes I feel like Michelangelo’s David, holding a stone in my perfectly chiseled hand. Who needs a slingshot? I could easily high five an entire school bus while it was moving and not feel a thing. My hands are also a huge asset to my career. I have long, nimble fingers, made more muscular by playing electric bass as a session musician for the past eight years. My fingers are incredibly long. Each phalange bone is about the same length as a newborn’s whole finger. There is a perfect diamond of hair follicles on the back of my fingers where each tiny hole is an absolute circle. My nail beds are almond shaped and I know for a fact that my manicurist gets horny working on them. He’s a nice guy, so I don’t say anything about it–cheap thrills. The backs of my hands are smooth and dark and I even shaved them once, thinking they looked dirty with even a few wisps of hair. Above all, I am super careful not to injure my hands. When I reach for a door handle, I’m conscious that it could swing open in my direction and cause a problem. At home, I’ve got huge oven mitts hanging over my stove, even though I haven’t cooked dinner in months. I have made a few breakfasts lately, and that’s when my attention turns back to Mindy. I wonder how she likes her eggs in the morning. I’m about to ask her, when I realize that it’s only 9:45AM and that the question might not make sense. Usually I drop that line around 11 or so at night when I feel like I’m being successful with my date. Since it’s so early, I have to revise tactics.
“So, Mindy, would you like to grab lunch sometime?” I ask.
Mindy is a high seven, low eight. Her straight blonde hair has a natural tone, hinting at authenticity, and the cut frames her shoulders nicely. This is a refreshing change from the all those platinum and white-blonde dye jobs with their schizoid-affected hair spray sculptures that only a bipolar stylist could conceive. Mindy has thin wrists, but an athletic frame, with a nice rack that makes her grey cable knit sweater curve majestically. Her face is fresh, unlined and bright, and she’s moving up the 8’s by decimal points toward nine as we talk.
“Well,” she said, glancing conspiratorially aside at no one, “I’m not supposed to fraternize with the musicians.”
“Hey, I was just talking about lunch, but we can see where it goes from there,” I say, taking her temperature for flirty humor, “seriously, aren’t you an intern here? It’s not like they can fire you.”
Mindy laughed, showing a dazzlingly set of upper teeth. Perfect teeth. I thought, rich parents.
Then I saw her eyes travel down my arm.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said, smiling. “How about this afternoon, I get off at 1:30″
“Sounds great, I’ll meet you downstairs so nobody notices.” I say, smiling at her choice of words.
The session begins on time and the hands are all over it. We wrap the full jingle and the short version in about thirty minutes for which I am paid the sum of four hundred and fifty dollars. It’s such easy money that only a moron would show up late.
As I am standing in front of the door at A List at twenty minutes after one I realize my punctuality has gotten compulsive, but decide there are worse things to get bent about other than being habitually on time. I glance at my Tag Hauer watch every few minutes and, as always, I’m impressed by the girth of my left wrist.
“Hi,” she says, “sorry.”
Big smile, “no worries, is everything cool upstairs?”
“Yep, it’s just hard to get out on time.”
“I know the feeling. So where do you want go?”
“Well, I have class in a couple of hours, so can we go somewhere close to West End?
“Sure, I live in the West, so that’s close to home.” I say, “I know an awesome Asian place.” We arrive at Sumo, in minutes. Mindy and I make small talk over whole roasted shitake mushrooms and sesame oil. She is not only gorgeous, but also bright. She’s studying modern design theory and begins to tell me about one of her classes. I’m studying the design of her sweater, and make enough eye contact to show I’m listening. She pretends not to notice the dexterity of my right hand as I wind a thick noodle around one chopstick with the other. After a pretty comprehensive overview of modern design deconstructionism, and a healthy course of whole broccoli head and soba noodles in miso broth, I glance at my watch. I’m beginning to doubt I’ll get Mindy’s sweater off her before her class.
“Are you ready,” I ask, hoping not to rush her.
“Sure,” she says, “I need to hit the bank before my class.”
“There’s one right around the corner.” I say.
As we walk, I ask her more about school, and where she wants to work when she graduates. I am curious as to why she interns at a recording studio when she is a design student. She tells me that she wants to do concept and set design for music videos after school and wants to learn the music business from the ground up. This confirms what I first suspected. Mindy is a sharp gal, not another easy mark for mid-day hookup. I like this about her, and intend to ask her for another date. As we round the corner to the bank, I look back while reaching for the door.
“You know, Mindy, I…”
Cacophony erupts. The thief hit the inside of the door at a full sprint. The doorframe flew open with such force that the tempered glass shattered as designed. The handle slammed into the cinderblock wall taking my right had with it. I was jerked first to the left by the door then right as I was struck by the thief and landed with my legs askew, crumpled in a ball by the doorframe. There was a dull throb in my arm and sharp white flash in my temple.
I tried to focus. I could hear the clanging alarm bell and grating sound of feet and glass on the sidewalk. I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned my head slightly to see a soft-focus grey-clad angel framed by fine straw hair and smelling of sesame.
“Jesus, Joe, are you alright?”
“Unggh.” was all I could manage.
“OH MY GOD, look at your hand!”
In sync with the pounding in my head was the throbbing pain in my right hand. I was not even aware that I was clutching my right wrist with my left hand. My right hand was unrecognizable to me. I was looking at a mangled mess of blood and flesh. On the back of my hand I could see three tarsal bones protruding through the skin. My long fingers were now knotted sticks forming obscene angles, glass shards having filleted muscle from bone. I looked into Mindy’s eyes and her look of disgust turned to compassion as we both realized the full force of this event. As I began to lose consciousness, I let go of my right wrist. The pain dulled for a moment and my head lolled back against the bank wall. I looked up at a lamppost overhead. Sitting there were three black crows. As surrounding colors faded to grey, I noticed the odd way they were perched along the metal crossbar and the position of their tails looked like the final quarter notes on a session lead sheet.