The hero is a veteran who has lost the tips of his middle three fingers in the war. As a guitar player in a big band, he's finished. He's burned and disfigured, so he thinks, away from his movie-star good looks and promising new career in the cinema. When he takes the hotel guest widow to hear some of his fellow musicians, he realizes what he is going to miss for the rest of his life.
“Heart Man!”Men quickly lit their cigarettes and gathered around Lee.
“Heard what happened, man. How ya doing?”
“Hail the hero!” Slap on the back.
“Hey, Lee, what’s cookin’?” The drummer wiggled his sticks, hitting them against the wooden wall with machinegun rapidity.
Right back, like he hadn’t left. Right there with the guys, his guys, only he wasn’t one of them anymore. He laughed and nodded, turned down the offer of a cigarette, laughed and smiled and hid his hand in his pants’ pocket.
Red peeled away from the crowd, pulling Lee with him. “We all heard, kid. Sorry. How bad is it?” He puffed at a cigarette, blew the smoke into the night.
“Bad enough. I can’t play, Red. My left hand is shot. No fingertips on the middle fingers.”
“Hell. But there may be something….”
Lee turned away. “I’ve had it. The doctors told me there was nothing….”
Red put his hand on Lee’s shoulder. “There are ways, kid. Come see me.