Play # 83: The Right Hand

Fashion photographer Randy Medici is on a quest to discover—and employ—the perfect female hand.  He needs it so that he can start making the photographs for the upscale designer-bracelet campaign he just beginning for Harper’s Bazaar.  As the play opens, his New York studio is abuzz with a dizzying array of models—all of whom have hands to offer for his consideration.

Randy (impatient, harried): Just the right hand, sweetheart.  Just hold it up.

Girl 1 (holding up a hand):  Is this my right, Randy?

Randy (gently): Yes it is, Kate.  But it’s quite the wrong sort of hand, I’m afraid.

Girl 1: It is?

Randy: Yes. It’s too white, too moon-pale, dear.  Too medieval!  I need something more vigorous.  The sort of hand you’d find at the end of a tennis racket! Next!

Girl 2 (holding up her hand and waving it):  Hi Randy!

Randy: Hold it still, sweetheart.

Girl 2: It’s a lovely hand, don’t you think, Randy?

Randy: Yes I do—but it’s a period hand.  Way too 1950s!

Girl 2 (puzzled): What do you mean?

Randy: It’s a very nice hand, Heather, but it’s a Jayne Mansfield hand!  It’s all balloon tires and whitewalls, sweetheart!  It’s a tailfin hand!   What I need, you see, is more of a Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s hand?

[The girls continue to parade by, holding out their right hands—a pageant that goes on for the next hour and a half]

Randy:  Sorry sweetheart, too bony.

[Another hand is offered]

Randy (impatient):  No no NO!  That’s a bloody Regency hand.  Right out of Jane bloody Austen! 

[And another]

Randy (growing weary):  Too Venetian.  Too Grand Canal! 

[And still another]

Randy (exhausted):  Mannish.

[And one more.  It will be the last hand of the morning.  Its donor is swathed in yards and yards of black silk crepe de chine, from which is tentatively extended a small, porcelain-like hand that shines under the studio lights like the phosphorescent belly of a fish on a bed of cracked ice.

Randy (breathless, the old excitement stirring again):  What kind of a hand is this?!!  This perfect fruit!  This greengage plum of a hand! This worldly-wise embryo of a hand! 

[The black-swaddled donor says nothing.  The air in the studio has stopped moving and is mica-hard.  Randy can scarcely breathe.  A couple of the models faint.
Violently agitated and yet desperate to understand, Randy moves towards the mysterious figure and, reaching out, plucks the black veils of crepe-de-chine away.  What is underneath, balancing on wooden, stilt-like, prosthesis-legs strapped to her calves, is a dainty child of about six—a little girl, white-faced and staring]:

Prosthesis-Child (holding up her diminutive hand ever higher towards Randy):  This is my hand.

Randy (transfixed):  It’s exquisite.

Prothesis-Child (quietly):  I have another as well.

Randy (more or less unhinged):  Do you?

Prothesis-Child:  My mother told me to come here and offer this one to you.  She said you would like it.

Randy:  Did she?

Prothesis-Child (wonderingly): She did.  I don’t know why she said that.  It’s just my hand.

Randy (now thoroughly enchanted):  Yes.  So it is.