Blaze Fingers Episode 5: The Keys to the Kingdom
by Rex Djere
2020 November 20
Maurice Fingers Sr.: Officer Adams, what’s this all about?
Maurice Sr., Maurice Jr. and Leticia Fingers sat uncomfortably on their couch directly across from Police Officers Adams and Rowland, who sat on pulled-up chairs. Police Officer Adams was both an imposing and intimidating figure. At 6 foot 6 inches tall, he was a full four inches taller than Maurice Sr., and he was 245 pounds of solid muscle. Maurice Sr. was a large and strong man as well, but his work schedule left little time for working out: his physical fitness came from lifting heavy equipment at a West Side of Chicago machine assembly factory, the first of three jobs that formed his daily hustle.
Police Officer Rowland was a petite woman of about 5 feet 7 inches tall, but it was very apparent that, like Officer Adams, she was not to be messed with.
Police Officer Adams dropped a photo onto the table in front of the Fingers Family.
Police Officer Rowland: Mr. And Mrs. Fingers, do either of you know this man?
Mr. and Mrs. Fingers looked at the picture of a heavy set man with dark brown hair. In unison, they motioned their heads “no”.
Police Officer Adams: How about you Maurice Jr.? Have you ever seen this man?
Maurice Jr. looked at his father, and then at his mother. There was a long uncomfortable pause in the room before Maurice Sr. finally spoke.
Maurice Sr.: Look officers, I don’t appreciate you coming here and scaring my boy. He is a good kid, and he spends all of his time at home. He doesn’t know that man!
Police Officer Rowland: Maurice Jr., how did you get 100 dollars to buy your saxophone?
Leticia Fingers’ mouth dropped wide open in shock: What are you accusing my son of? His saxophone was loaned to him by his school for Beginning Band Class.
Police Officer Adams: Is that what he told you?
Adams dropped the receipt onto the table:
Castellano’s Pawn Shop
Purchase Date: July 17, 1959
Purchased Item: King alto saxophone
Serial Number: 345,627
Purchaser: Maurice Fingers Jr.
Rage slowly diffused from Maurice Sr.’s face to the rest of his body. Maurice Jr. looked at his father’s waist, and noticed that he was wearing his 1/8th inch thick rawhide leather belt. He had become intimately acquainted with that belt in the past, and he had absolutely no desire to meet it again.
Boy, go to your room and bring that saxophone IMMEDIATELY!!
There was a tone rarely heard in Maurice Sr.’s voice. When you heard that tone, you immediately knew that he wasn’t messing around. Maurice Jr. followed his dad’s order with EXTREME ardor.
Maurice Sr.’s eyes quickly scanned the receipt, and then the back of the saxophone. Then the receipt again, and then the back of the saxophone again.
POWWWWW!!!!!!! Faster than the blink of an eye, faster than the speed of light, Maurice Jr. felt the intense sting of virgin rawhide leather; smoke billowing as it impacted the small of his back. He howled in agony as strike after strike landed with surgical precision.
Maurice Jr. ran into the bedroom and locked the door behind him. His father was so angry that he was sure that he would not survive if he did not escape.
Police Officer Adams: Mr. Fingers we understand your anger. Please let Maurice Jr. come back so that we can continue our conversation.
Maurice Fingers Sr. was calming down: he carefully put his belt back onto his waist, and he called for his son to come out. Tears were still streaming down Maurice Jr’s cheeks.
Leticia Fingers: Maurice Jr., you’re a good boy. You never used to lie to us. How did you get $100 to buy a saxophone? Why didn’t you tell us? I pray that you’re not into drugs!!
Maurice Sr.: She asked a question, boy!!! How did you get the $100!!!????
Maurice Jr.: I mmm-mmm mmm mmm-mmm mmm……
Maurice Sr.’s left hand started moving with great deliberation back towards his rawhide belt: I can’t hear you! Say it again like a man!!
Maurice Jr.: I stole it from momma’s purse.
Maurice Jr. saw bright yellow stars as his father’s powerful blow connected with his unshielded buttocks. He was immediately accelerated to orbital escape velocity by the kinetic energy imparted by his father’s muscular biceps.
15 minutes later, Maurice Jr.’s sobbing stopped, and relative calm came back over the room.
Police Officer Rowland: Bill Castellano, the owner of Castellano’s pawn shop, was robbed and almost beaten to death last night: he’s in the Intensive Care Unit at Cook County Hospital, and he has a 50/50 chance of making it. A witness reported seeing a suspicious looking large black male, about 6 ft tall, and muscular, in the area of Castellano’s Pawn Shop last night. That witness claims that it was you, Mr. Fingers.
The entire Fingers Family gasped in unison.
Maurice Jr. wouldn’t dare say this out loud, but he immediately thought “Johnny Lightfoot’s revenge”.
Maurice Sr.: That’s absolutely not true. I have never hurt anyone. I have never even heard of Bill Castellano until now.
Police Officer Adams: After the witness made the allegations against you, we looked at Mr. Castellano’s business records, and saw that your son had recently bought a saxophone from him. If you’re telling the truth, you have nothing to worry about. We’re going to need to take you down to the precinct for finger-printing.
Maurice Sr.: I’ll come. I have nothing to hide, and I AM innocent!
Maurice Jr. began to cry again. They were treating his father like a criminal, and it was all his fault.
Maurice Sr.: Please let me talk to my son before we go.
Police Officer Adams: Absolutely Sir! Please take your time.
Maurice Sr.: Thank you.
Maurice Sr. motioned his son to the bedroom with his eyes. When they were both in the room, he shut the door behind them for privacy.
Maurice Sr.: I don’t like to spank you, but it is very important that you never lie to us. Do you see how much trouble lies cause? Do you remember what I told you about the blues?
Maurice Jr. nodded “yes”.
Maurice Sr.: People avoid the truth because it makes them feel uncomfortable, so they tell themselves lies to make themselves feel better. You wanted a saxophone, and instead of telling us, you took the easy road: stealing from your Momma. What I am going tell you now is the keys to the kingdom: dedicate yourself to the truth, no matter how painful, no matter how ugly. When you play your horn, just tell people the truth. The world is a VERY imperfect place. Sometimes you will have to suffer for telling the truth. But if you have the strength to be dedicated to the truth for the rest of your life, a great Kingdom awaits you. Do you understand?
Maurice Jr.: Yes daddy!!
Maurice Sr. gave his son a hug and kissed him on the top of his head.
Maurice Sr.: I’ll be back soon. You’re the man of the house until I get back.
Officers Adams and Rowland put handcuffs on Maurice Sr., and led him downstairs to their police car.
Johnny Lightfoot gently rubbed the wound above his left eye like a wounded animal. He snuck a peak around the corner to see the police officers guiding Maurice Sr. into the police vehicle.
Johnny Lightfoot chuckled to himself, basking in the mischief that he had created. “I ALWAYS win in the end,” he thought.
Maurice Jr. sat by himself thinking. He played the tape of his father’s words in his mind over and over again: you will sometimes have to suffer for telling the truth. For the first time in his life, Maurice Jr. saw life itself as a constant battle: light versus darkness, good versus evil, the truth versus lies. He put his gym shoes on: they were a little bit tight; he hadn’t put them on in about 6 months.
Maurice Jr.: Momma, I’ll be back in a little bit. I’m going for a run.