The Drummer

Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes.  Here is what I came up with.  I hope you like it.

“You should let Barry play in your band.  He’s been so depressed, lately.”

Every few years, his mother would – offhandedly – make that statement.  Sometimes in the kitchen, crouched over the slow cooker.  Sometimes from the other room.  It was something tossed off.  An aside.

Barry had a six piece Ludwig Vistalite drum set:  parade snare, two rack toms, a floor tom and double kicks.  Transparent gray plastic.  He was the fastest drummer in his high school and he had never been in any band longer than six months.

After high school, Barry enlisted in the Coast Guard and went to Texas, where he played in eleven bands.  With Barry gone, Marc took advantage of the extra space, both physical and spiritual.

Marc formed a little combo:  him on bass; two talented brothers who alternated on guitars and Vox organ; a groovy kid from Spain on drums.  They played moody originals – The Doors meets the third Velvet Underground record with some Radiohead and early R.E.M. thrown in there for good measure.  Small amps.  Within a year, they were getting regulars gigs.  By the time Marc was in college – a nearby state school – they were a huge draw.

Once Barry returned from the Coast Guard, he immediately made it known that the family had betrayed him by allowing his younger brother to form a popular band without him.  He sulked for weeks, drinking Seagrams Escapes wine coolers in his room and listening to Frank Zappa and Phish.

Barry approached playing the drums in the same manner that Sha Na Na approached performing numbers by Danny & The Juniors or The Marcels:  if the crowd liked it when we played it once, then they’ll love it if we play it seven times and make funny faces while we do it.  He never missed an opportunity to drop a wild fill or shoehorn a drum solo into a simmering r&b number.  One of his favorites was to insert the Spike Jones shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits routine into songs he considered dull, such as Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” or Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.”

His most notorious tactic, back in high school, had him buying a yellow plastic novelty hardhat, one with a built-in siren mounted on the crown,  When his band played ‘Wipe Out’ – Barry’s idea – he flicked on the siren.  The room filled with pale pink light as he flailed and stuck his tongue out.  They did not win The Battle Of The Bands.

“You should let Barry play in your band.  He’s been so depressed, lately.”

At the next band meeting, the foursome elected to move to Chicago.  If Barry tried to join them, they’d beat him into unconsciousness.

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