October 3rd, 1951

"The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"  The announcer's exuberance burst from the radio with the intensity of an artery geysering blood across the room. You couldn't help but notice it. "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thompson hits into the lower deck of the left..."

"Turn that damn thing off," Mott said, putting down the loop cautery and motioning with his arm toward the radio. Jesus Christ, he said to himself, thinking of the damn Brooklyn Dodgers. How could the bums have a virtual lock on first, thirteen and a half games up with just forty-four to play, a month before the season ended, and still manage to rise to that particular level of mediocrity that is second place? It sickened him.

Second place was an untenable position to Trevor Mott. As a brain surgeon, it represented a compromise he couldn't afford inside someone's head, an intolerable concession that could only bring pain or suffering at best, death or invalidism at worst. Of course, it wasn't he that would suffer in such a case, it was his patients. And suffer they did he thought, for however untenable second place might be in his own mind, it was a plight which visited his - any neurosurgeon's - operating room with a certain morbid regularity.

An image of the neurosurgical ward two floors above suddenly flashed into Mott's head. It was a large open rectangular room with pale cream walls and dingy gray floor tiles, all of it scuffed by too many years of use. Tall windows lined the walls on each side of the room's long axis and the early morning sun spilled in from one side, lending the room a soothing but unbalanced look; Mott saw tiny specks of dust suspended in the golden light.

On either side of the wide central aisle lay eight beds. Mott stopped by each in turn, briefly arousing its occupant, then unapologetically shining a small flashlight in their eyes and asking a few simple questions: Follow my hand. Any double vision? Do you have a headache this morning? Can you squeeze my fingers? The questions were similar at each bedside and in each case he neglected to say either good morning or hello; Mott was not a man to waste time on such simple salutations, thinking them pointless in the overall scheme of his morning. Time was a precious commodity as Mott saw it: on some days he would visit as many as twenty patients on morning rounds, then retire to his office for an hour to write letters, review charts, and enjoy a cigarette or two with a cup of coffee before his first operation of the day, which always began promptly at 9:00 am. He might have one or two cases scheduled, depending on their perceived complexity, but he would nonetheless be out of surgery by late afternoon, whereupon he would make rounds again, this time looking for pus, changing dressings, and doing more detailed, and sometimes lengthy, neuro exams. Twice a week he would hold office hours in the afternoon and see perhaps thirty patients each day. Most of the patients he couldn't help, and with the others came a price that was only made bearable by the ghastly alternative of doing nothing.

Yesterday Mott had operated on a middle-aged man for trigeminal neuralgia, a syndrome of facial pain so severe that the man had forcefully made known his intention to kill himself rather than suffer its pangs for another month. His suffering was such that the left side of his face had neither been washed nor shaved in weeks, though the right side offered barely a whisker. The man had been mostly unable to brush his teeth as well, and the proof of this was on his breath. The man spoke in a low mumble out the right side of his mouth, making a concerted effort to keep still the left. He had lost thirty pounds in six months from lack of eating and he said the slightest stimulation, even the wind against his skin, sent the left side of his face into a spasm of pain that lasted mere seconds. It wasn't the duration that bothered him though, it was the frequency, sometimes forty or fifty times a day, and the sense of it. He compared it to a hot poker going through his cheek, or a toothache that seemed to flare immeasurably over and over again. Indeed, the man had been to two dentists and had half the teeth in his left upper jaw removed to no avail.

When Mott had offered to sever the nerve and render the one side of the man's face completely numb as a result, the man had agreed without hesitation, was even eager to proceed. The man's resolve hadn't faltered when Mott had informed him that the operation would entail opening his skull and lifting the left side of his brain to get at the nerve, risking stroke, epilepsy, and even death. Anything was preferable to the pain, the man had said.

The surgery had gone fine, though the man had not yet learned that he could speak in anything but a mumble. He mumbled a thank you to Dr. Mott for saving his life. Mott's response was a barely audible "your welcome" and he turned to face the final patient of the morning.

Jimmy Peeples was an eight-year-old boy with a large tumor on the right side of his brain. For a number of reasons, not the least of which was hope, Mott suspected that it was not a cancer, but a rare benign tumor actually outside the brain itself. Tests had seemed to verify that the boy might potentially be cured with surgery. Now, as Mott crossed the aisle to the boy's bed, he found young Jimmy wearing a Dodger cap, there was a large 'B' for Brooklyn over the bill, and Mott couldn't help but smile.

"The Dodgers and Giants are playing in a one-game playoff today, you know!" Jimmy said excitedly. "The winner goes to the World Series!"

"Calm down Jimmy P," his mother said. She was standing on the left side of his bed. Jimmy P was what everybody called him; his mother had told Mott this on their first meeting almost a month before.

"I know, Jimmy P," Mott said. There was something about the feisty kid that seemed to get to him. There was an almost infectious zeal to the boy. "And the answer is no."

"Oh," Jimmy P said. He slumped back slightly, then suddenly brightened again, "and what's the question?" He tried to lift his left side as he said this, wanting to put his hand out to greet Dr. Mott, but it wouldn't follow his command to do so. The extremity tensed a bit, and rose maybe an inch or two off the bed, but nothing more.

Mott noticed the left arm tensing and instantly changed course to come around Jimmy P's bed and arrive at the child's right side, the good side. He shook his hand. "No, we can't postpone the surgery until after the game."

"Shoot," Jimmy P said. "It don't seem fair."

"Doesn't seem fair," his mother corrected. Jimmy P ignored her.

"I figured the season would be over by now when we set this up a few weeks ago," Mott replied. "Figured we'd be able to get the surgery done and then you could sit and listen to the Dodgers in the World Series. Who knew they were gonna drop the ball like this and need a playoff?"

"Well, if we can't wait..." his voice trailed off but Mott could see there was something more behind those active eyes. Jimmy P was full of energy, and although he was more or less paralyzed on the left side, he still moved constantly. Mott had to chuckle to himself; it took a brain tumor to lay this kid up, nothing else would have been able to.

"Is there something more, Jimmy P?" the surgeon asked, nodding at the kid's mother.

The boy looked at her, then back at the surgeon. "It's just that my dad, well, he was a big Dodger fan when he was alive and I sort of promised that I would follow the team for him." Jimmy P's eyes watered almost imperceptively; his father had only been dead six months. This was about the duration of Jimmy P's problems and as a result, the doctors had thought for months that Jimmy P's difficulties were psychological. They had been partially right. His problem was in his head after all.

"Tell you what, champ. We'll listen to it on the radio in the operating room. How's that?"

"Gee, that'd be great!" Jimmy P smiled widely and perked up. Apparently, it never occurred to him that he would still be asleep throughout the game.

The image of the ward that morning receded into the fog of memory and Mott returned to the moment. The morning's happenings had occupied his mind for no more than a few seconds. As he stood looking down upon Jimmy P's brain now, Mott found himself saddened by the Dodger's loss only a few moments before. It seemed almost to break his concentration briefly, to interrupt his mantra. Mott seldom thought of anything except brain surgery in the OR and he supposed it was that which kept him at the top of his game. He knew that in brain surgery, the difference between paralyzed and normal could be as cold and thin as a scalpel blade - and as likely or not as the talents of the man using it. It was crucial, he believed, to keep one's mind in the game at hand. 

Dr. Mott stepped back from the table and took a moment to assess the situation at hand. The room was hot and the scrubs he wore clung to his body with the tenacity of sweat-soaked cloth. Like the Dodgers, he had visions of this particular crucible slipping away from him. He looked at the clock and noted that nearly nine hours had passed since he first incised Jimmy P's scalp. He turned and the circulating nurse toweled his forehead and wiped his brow lightly.

"All right, let's turn the damn fan on, get some air moving in here," he said. "I need some air."

The nurse left her seat behind the surgeon just long enough to accommodate his wishes. Returning to her position, she stood and looked over Mott's shoulder, down upon the brain that pulsated in front of him. Mott had a standing rule that the circulating nurse should be within arm's reach of him at all times. He felt that to wait longer than a few seconds for anything in the midst of an operation might put his patient over the top and into the dead zone. Or worse.

Worse? In his mind, in the mind of any brain surgeon he was certain, death was not as bad as it could get - considerably less so in fact. The worst thing that could happen, the absolute worst possible outcome that could occur, was for his patient to survive at something less than the full measure of the human experience. If death was second or third place, the vegetative state was last place. That nebulous condition accorded no honor, no dignity he thought; it allowed no awareness of self or the world around him, at least in so far as anyone could tell. Such poor souls couldn't know the joyous taste of the summer's first ice cream cone or make love in the back seat of a car. They wouldn't laugh at the antics of Abbott & Costello or watch as their son or daughter walked down the aisle. Worse yet, from Mott's viewpoint, vegetative patients never went away. They stuck out like a hole in a condom - they might not be noticed in the short run, but sooner or later they tended to make their presence felt. In the brain surgeon's mind, in the administrative halls of the hospital, and, yes, even to the patient's own family, a vegetative patient was a severe liability that was far worse than a dead one. At the very least, a dead patient could be mourned and buried - then eventually forgotten with the blessings of time. Time does heal, Mott thought, at least in death.

This information was stored somewhere in the deeper recesses of his mind, but Mott wasn't consciously thinking about any of it at the moment - it wasn't something you thought consciously about anyway. Just now, he contemplated the best way to peel the remainder of the tumor off the large vein it adhered to. He had used the loop cautery, an ingenious device that looked like a wire probe and used electricity to instantaneously burn tissue and thus stop bleeding even as the surgeon sliced through it, to shrink the size of the mass. Still, Jimmy P had lost a great deal of blood and the anesthesiologist, sitting at the foot of the table to give the surgeon access at the head, was only barely keeping up.

The challenge at the anesthesiologist's end of the table was to keep Jimmy P viable while Mott, working on the other side of the drapes, cut this way and that through the boy's brain. To the anesthesiologist, the surgeon's job is rather like advancing through a minefield of flesh and blood, at any moment the surgeon could step on something that might blast a hole in the patient's heart rate or blood pressure. It would then be the anesthesiologist's job to fill in the resultant crater and re-level the playing field.

At that precise moment, the anesthesiologist was having trouble filling one of those craters. He pushed blood into Jimmy P as fast as it could be brought up from the lab. Unfortunately, this wasn't quite as fast as Mott extracted it from his side of the curtain and the skin of Jimmy P's legs had begun to look pale. Mott would carefully pass the cauterizing loop through the mass of tumor, taking a gram here, two grams there, and then stop to apply pressure to the wound in hopes of reducing the bloodletting long enough for the gentleman at the other end of the table to catch up. This vital game of give and take could only go on so long and everyone sensed that the end was near, one way or another.

Bleeding always stops, as the old adage goes.

Beneath the open windows, the sounds of a city at work raced by. Far off in the distance, a propeller whined; a horn blared continuously down the street. The cacophony of a thousand car engines competed for attention. All of this however, was a barely audible din beneath the mechanical back and forth whoosh of the life-sustaining ventilator. The surgical field, initially draped in that peculiar sterile greenness that seems to be the sole province of the medical profession, had taken on a dull reddish-green hue over the hours as the blood collected and congealed, its proteins twisted to an unnatural state by the air. Blood is not designed to come in contact with the atmosphere and when it does, the result is a mostly useless glob of sticky ooze, a morass that can easily churn the stomach and leave last night's dinner on the floor.

It helped Mott to think of blood as the enemy, the foot soldiers of an opponent that would willingly sacrifice its entire army to defeat him, the surgeon. All the enemy needed was a chance - a hand that jerked suddenly at the wrong instant; a small tremor of the fingers, barely perceptible to the naked eye; the cautery lingering too long in one place. Any such mistake would do. Mott had learned long ago that his opponent was a patient one; that he would take full advantage of whatever mistake he might chance to make.

As Mott returned to work, his skilled and practiced hand tugged once too often and too long at the rubbery mass of tissue that ran along and within the crucial vein. Suddenly, as the tumor rolled back, the field was awash in dark red, that irritating color of blood devoid of oxygen that announces a vein is open and the enemy's foot soldiers are on the move. Jimmy P's blood percolated into the field with a determination and gusto that only a liquid can muster. It didn't jet out in a stream, rather it rolled out across the land like the waters of a flood overtaking all in its wake. The amount of blood was truly phenomenal, but Mott's response was immediate and equal to the task as he grabbed a sponge and pushed it into the opening in the boy's head. He aimed to block the egress of the foot soldiers. In this he was only partially successful.

"Suction, I need suction," he said in the peculiar way that a surgeon has of addressing everyone and no one at the same time, nonetheless expecting an instant and measured response. Though sweat beaded his forehead, his voice was a calm one; this battlefield was familiar territory.

"I've got some bleeding here." A crater had opened.

"He's tachy," said the anesthesiologist as he peered over the drapes. He worked feverishly to support the blood pressure and watched as his sleeping boy's heart rate skyrocketed. Having no more blood to give at the moment, he gave salt water instead. Jimmy P's circulation, reminiscent of a closed hydraulic system, was beginning to shut down as blood, the vital oil that primed that system, poured out from the surgical wound at the top of his head. This had the effect of lowering the pressure in the lines, the miles of arteries and veins that coursed here and there throughout Jimmy P's body like the most intricate plumbing system ever devised. His body's natural response was to increase the heart rate, to accelerate the pump - a protective mechanism that could go only so far before it too failed. The climbing heart rate was thus ominous, a sign of impending doom.

"I can't keep up," the anesthesiologist reported. The crater was growing faster than dirt could be shoveled into it.

"I know, I know," Mott muttered softly, knowing it was crucial that he clear the field of blood and find the hole in the vein. "Sponge," he said, though even then his voice sounded calm and confident, almost soothing. If he could not clear the field, perhaps he could staunch the flow.

The scrub nurse handed him a white cotton cloth, dingy with the signs of perhaps a hundred or so previous washes but sterile nonetheless. He thrust the three-by-three-inch piece of material into the wound and pressed it against the vein. It turned blood red in an instant and the bleeding continued. Mott's stomach churned anew. He began to feel an uneasiness and a queasy sensation flashed through him. It was not the sight of the blood that caused this, but rather the amount of blood and what that had to mean to Jimmy P. With so much blood on the floor, piled high in a useless conglomeration of red muck, it seemed impossible that enough remained to carry the spark of life to the far flung reaches of the boy's anatomy. I'm losing the battle, he thought.

Jimmy P was bleeding out, moving ever closer to the dead zone.

"Pressure's falling. 60/30." The anesthesiologist looked up at the glass bottle attached to the tube going into the boy's arm. A sick feeling twisted his stomach as well. He checked the pressure again, "50/35." The crater had a bottom and they were rapidly approaching it.

It's not the fall that gets you, it's the sudden stop, someone had once told Mott as a kid. He recalled that now as Jimmy P spiraled toward the bottom of an impossibly deep chasm. Bullshit, he thought, in neurosurgery at least, the fall can fuck you up pretty good itself. Too long with a pressure in this range, Mott knew, and it wouldn't matter whether or not his patient hit the bottom - the damage would be done either way.

Time was running out.

"Fuck, I can't get this controlled," the surgeon thought, uncertain if he had actually said the words aloud. In a flash it occurred to him how close he actually was, or had been, to victory over the unwanted invader. That invader now seemed determined to make a final fight of it. Then Mott had an idea, an extreme measure he realized, but there was nothing else left.

Mott had to have maneuvering room to marshal his forces and thus, while attempting to hold pressure with one hand, he pushed the index finger of the other into the adjacent brain. With no more force than it would take to push through a bowl of Jell-O, he scooped out a finger-size portion of it. He didn't bother to watch as it tumbled to the floor. Instead, he adjusted the pressure on the vein ever so slightly by sliding the sponge into the gap where the missing portion of Jimmy P's brain had sat so contentedly only a moment before. The bleeding abated slightly, enough to allow Mott to regroup briefly. "Slowing down," he said softly.

But his foe responded in similar measure. The brain became angry and took on a grotesque dusky appearance as blood backed up in the closed vein. It ceased pulsating and began to swell. The enemy had called in his artillery and was about to lay waste to the land.

Mott saw this immediately and relaxed his hold on the vein. The blood percolated once again and a new swath of red highlighted the field, trickling down to the floor below. Jimmy P's brain relaxed a measure and returned to its rightful place in his head, as if someone had turned a valve. Mott recognized an old foe - the boy would either bleed out or his brain would swell until it could no longer fit in his skull. Either way, death was the equally untenable result.

"Stitch!" he hollered. He held his right hand out without looking up from the patient.

On the back table, the scrub nurse quickly searched for and found the small needle-nose type instrument she needed. Its shape was reminiscent of a pair of scissors, right down to the finger holes, though in place of cutting blades it had flattened points for holding a small, curved needle. She picked up a delicate C-shaped sliver of metal and, with a deft motion, quickly passed a thread of silk through the eye of the curved needle and doubled the thread back on itself. She slapped the instrument into the surgeon's hand. The entire evolution took less than ten seconds.

Mott's hand grasped the needle holder without putting his fingers in the holes. Instead, he palmed the device and quickly brought the business end to bear on the crimson field before him. He once again applied pressure to the vein, this time just long enough for his assistant to suck away the accumulated blood and clear the field. Mott quickly located the rip in the vein and passed the tip of the needle through first one side of it and then the other. The small thread followed and, in a blur of activity brought into focus by perhaps 20,000 similar such moments before it, tied the damn thing. His actions brought the edges of the tear into apposition and the bleeding diminished, though only by a trickle. Again, he thought.

"Stitch!" He still didn't look up.

The nurse repeated her frenzied activity on the back table. Mott took the needle-holder and this time he visualized the rip in his mind's eye and placed the stitch blindly. Mott did this five more times in quick succession before the rent in the vein was vanquished. He stepped back from the table, slipping slightly in the puddle of blood and clot at his feet.

Damn, he thought, that's one hell of a lot of blood.

"Mayo scissors," he said, and held his hand out once again.

The scrub nurse slapped them into his hand as she had the needle-holder before them. He shortened the silk threads down to the knots. For the first time since the operation began, the bleeding had stopped and Mott looked up from the field. His blue eyes were blood red, this time his own blood, with fatigue. There was however, the faintest hint of a smile behind the surgical mask that framed his eyes and hid the trace suggestion of satisfaction from the others in the room.

"How's he doing?"

The anesthesiologist took only a moment to render his opinion that the boy was stable from where he sat. "The bleeding appears controlled and I expect that his vitals will recover momentarily. BP is 80/50." The crater was filling in.

Not great, but above the dead zone, Mott thought. His lower pelvic region, that small area below the belly button but short of the gonads, ached. Mott had been working for hours, boring deeper into the skull with every moment that passed, the challenge looming ever larger and the stakes growing ever higher. He had worked with a single-mindedness that could hardly be matched, culminating in the most difficult part of operation: the final ten or twenty minutes of tumor removal, when he fought an accumulated wealth of fatigue, boredom, hunger, and the need to urinate. This last had gone oddly unappreciated in the midst of the battle, but it asserted itself with great vengeance now that combat had ended.

Mott needed to pee and no amount of mind over matter was going to forestall it.

Three, four, five minutes passed. Mott resisted the urge to cross his legs, allowed the discipline of his training to rule. He realized that the room was chilly now, but felt that the cold kept him alert, kept him at the top of his game. Finally, he again turned to the anesthesiologist at the patient's feet.

"How is he? Stable?" He knew that the word stable was the wrong one - hell, a rock, or a dead person for that matter, is stable, yet not in the most enviable condition - but he thought it was the best way to convey the essence of his concern just then.

"Pressure is 100/70, heart rate is coming down. Seems to be holding his own, responding to the fluids." The battlefield had almost leveled out.

Dr. Mott noted the lack of the word 'stable' but could wait no longer. He turned to the room nurse and she was instantly at his side, ready to assist.

"I'll be back in a moment," he said.

She immediately untied the straps on his gown as he removed the rubber gloves that fit like a second skin on his fingers. As the gown came away from his front, the dark red stains on his pants were moot testimony to the battle most recently fought and won.

As he turned to leave the room, he hesitated. "Turn off that damn fan," he said at last, and walked out. 

Mott stood at the urinal, his right hand dealing with the necessary business while he looked up at the ceiling, sucking against an eye tooth and trying to discern the shapes of the water marks he saw there. He exhaled, slowly and deliberately, pursing his lips slightly. Outside the window, rain fell lightly and, had he bothered to look, he would have seen the sun dipping towards the horizon with the lateness of the hour.

Christ, it feels good to piss, he thought. Such a simple, soothing act, comfort -

"Dr. Mott to OR 17 stat! Dr. Mott to OR 17 stat!"

The words brought Mott back to reality. He finished as rapidly as he could, but one can only piss so fast. He quickly shook himself dry, adjusted himself, and tied the drawstring of his pants. He didn't bother to stop at the sink on the way out. 

Room 17 was not the same calm room he had left only moments before.  The team, like participants in a hideous drama, had gathered about the bed, Jimmy P at the center of it all. In a later time, say the late 1960s and after, someone would have been pounding his chest with great vigor, their fingers interlaced and pushing down mightily on the breastbone, counting a cadence of five: one, two, three, four, five...one, two, three, four, five... But that was later, this was 1951 and they had no such tool at their disposal. So they stood there and watched the EKG tracing on the oscilloscope, almost mesmerized.

"What the hell happened?" Mott said.

"Not sure, he just went into V fib," the anesthesiologist said. Mott watched as the squiggly line on the heart monitor jumped back and forth in random fashion. It lacked the jagged peaks of the steady, predictable rhythm that is the normal heartbeat. The line was anything but calming.

Dr. Mott's immediate impulse was to look at the brain, which he noted was not actively bleeding. It didn't pulsate either, not in a normal sense anyway.

It quivered.

Mott was not an individual to sit idly by and watch a situation deteriorate. He tore the surgical drapes from the boy and looked down at the left side of Jimmy P's chest. The nipple there quivered as well, though arguably with more vigor than the brain.

What the fuck is going on? he asked himself, and then, without bothering to wait for an answer, said "Knife!"

He had no gown or gloves, but simply took the scalpel and made a deep incision just below the left breast, out along a rib. The blade cut a deep swath through the skin of the young boy's chest, slicing through the muscle and down to and between the bones of his rib cage. Mott made a mental note of the relative lack of bleeding.

Fuck, he thought, we've lost.

Second place, last place. An image of Jimmy P's mother came to him just then. She was dressed for mourning, with a black veil over her face. She stood between two polished oak caskets, one somewhat smaller than the other. Father and son, Mott realized.

"Spread those ribs for me. Come on, come on." His voice was calm but firm. Inside, in that place where hope and desire collide with reality, reality was beginning to assert itself.

The assistant put his hands through the hole in Jimmy P's chest and pulled the ribs apart. The entire room heard the audible pops as several of the bones fractured through. The surgeon thrust his hand past those of the assistant and deep into the rib-lined cavity. He grasped Jimmy P's quivering heart in his hand and squeezed.

First once, then twice, then again and again and again... 

As he sat down on the bench in the surgeon's locker room, Trevor Mott felt the weight of a century on his shoulders. He suddenly felt like a very old man, weary and spent, as if his entire life was behind him and he had but to die.

He had left OR #17 only a moment before, and he realized now for the first time how much blood was caked down the front of scrubs. He began to shake, not quite uncontrollably, and tore at the clothes with furious yanks and pulls. Separating himself from the boy's blood seemed the most important thing in the world just then.

When he finally had the bloody things off, he flung them into a corner across the room. His head ached and sweat glistened anew on his forehead. He covered his mouth with his fist and stood in his underwear staring at the floor a moment, trying to hold back the anguish he felt building within him. He would have been thankful for a distraction, any distraction just then, to take his mind off the scene he had just been a part of.

The boy was just eight years old, too young to be dead, but that was life in all its randomness he supposed. He had done his best and, on this day at least, his best hadn't been good enough. That's all. He could accept that, maybe not right then, but later, after he had spoken to Jimmy P's family - his mother. Of this he was certain. He had done it before.

And he would do it again.

There was always another crucible on the horizon.

Trevor Mott had a headache. The day, a long one already, had seemed to lengthen grotesquely in a matter of minutes. Someone had left a radio on down the hall and Mott could just hear the hiss of static through the wall. There were words he realized, an interview. Don Newcombe, the Dodger pitcher, was delivering an apology of sorts. Mott decided he would rather not hear it, stood, and walked into the bathroom. He rinsed his face in cold water and then moved to his locker. He opened it, and on the back of the door, beneath the small mirror that framed his image as he stood there, was an eight-by-ten-inch sheet of paper with a typed verse:


Bless these hands that have touched life.

Bless these hands that have ministered to the sick.

Bless these hands that have dealt pain in the name of healing.

Bless these hands that have cut and sewn with compassion.

Bless these hands that have bathed in blood and toiled in sweat that others may live.

Bless these hands that have comforted the dying and held the dead.

Bless these hands, for they are but a humble extension of your hands, Lord and Father

Mott put a suit on, looking conspicuously at his hands more than once as he did so. Not so blessed today, he thought.

Then he went in search of Jimmy P's mother. 

Copyright Edison McDaniels 2002. Title graphic: "O.R." Copyright The Summerset Review 2002.