Asa's father operated the guillotine at Robson and Strange, printers by appointment. He fed great sheaves of paper into the heavy chopper.
It was hard enough hearing the great chunk, chunk of the chopping blade from the parking lot when he delivered his father's bread and soup to the back door, but to see the gleaming edge slice through the the hard neck of the sheaf, was more than his eyes could bear and he turned away from both the blade and his father.
His father startled, turned to say, "Do not come up on me without letting me know you are there.
There very next day, Asa, unable to bring himself to look at the gleaming menace of the blade approached his father with his eyes to the ground. He suddenly bumped into his father's leg.
He heard the swoosh, then the clunk, then the shower of red blood spewed down on him, then the hands dropped on the floor in front of him.
He heard his father's terrified scream. He raised his eyes. He saw his father staring at the squirting stumps of flesh that stuck out his sleeves.
He watched as his father turned and rushed out the open door. Asa chased him, running through the flecking droplets of blood that spraying off his wrists, carrying the hands.
Asa followed his father through a doorway and into the reception of an Accident and Emergency ward.
A tall doctor in a white coat arrested his progress.
'I have my father's hands,' said Asa.
'A miracle,' said the doctor, taking the hands and running off.
Asa started to follow the man but was impaired from doing so by a stern woman in blue.
'Wait here and someone will come for you,' she said.
Asa waited. He waited and waited. And waited.
Finally, a young woman with flowing blonde hair arrived to collect him. He followed her down a long corridor to a green door.
They entered. His father was lying on the bed, surrounded by tubes, huge bandages at the end of each arm.
'He will not come awake today, nor for many days. You can stay with me until he has regained his former self.
Many days passed and his father neither awoke nor moved. In all other respects he was fully recovered.
During one of Asa's daily visits to his father's bedside, the doctor arrived and invited the boy to witness the final removal of the bandages.
When the bandages came off Asa said, 'Those are not my father's hands.'
There was a flicker of recognition in his father's eye. Asa saw the hands rise first, then the arms, then his father rose up off the bed and strangled the doctor. As the doctor was going down, he pressed his alarm.
Security arrived. The doctor was already dead.
Asa's father was taken to an isolated cell in a terrible asylum.
Asa watched him follow every direction without complaint. But he never spoke and one night hung himself.
When the blonde woman came to collect the boy, he asked her, 'Whose hands were they?'
She told him that they belonged to a man named Brody, who by coincidence had undergone an identical operation to reattach his hands at the very same hour in the very same hospital as did Asa's father.
'I must see this man Brody,' said Asa.
'And so you shall,' replied the blonde woman.
She took him to the very same cell in the very same asylum where Asa's father had hung himself, and there Asa found a man awaiting execution for the terrible strangulation of a woman and her two children.
Asa looked at his hands. They were his father's hands but not his arms. His eyes travelled up across his broad shoulders, up his thick neck across his stubbled cheek finally finding a look in Brody's eyes that he instantly recognised as his father's look. He began to cry.
Asa watched with desperate horror and astonishment as Brody caressed his cheek with a slightly curled index finger and asked cheerfully, 'Hello Son. What is it that you want?'