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.
Let’s see if I can get the story straight.
Burnside High School had exactly $500 to spend on musical instruments. For the whole year. $500. The concert piano went one half step out of tune at the exact center of the keyboard, making it virtually unplayable. Two years earlier, the drum set had caught fire in a mysterious bong-related accident.
$500 got us a Yamaha Standard Eb Alto Saxophone, purchased off a drug addict who’d done time with a regionally popular jump blues troupe.
There were three of us in the saxophone section. None of us actually owned any saxophones.
After getting deep into The Who and The Stranglers, I sold my sax, which I’d been playing since 6th grade, to buy a Fender Precision bass. I left it in the backseat of the car while I caught a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Cumberland Twin. When I emerged at 230AM, both the car and the bass were gone. My dad was really pissed about the car.
Kyle was a hotshot skateboarder with a cruel sense of humor. With every passing mention in Thrasher, he turned into a bigger dick. A few summers past, he ollied himself down a flight of stairs and suffered a concussion. The next day, undaunted, he tried the same trick with the same result. Kyle was moved into special education and spent a lot of time chewing on the necks of his t-shirts. His parents figured that playing the sax might improve his motor skills.
Rodney was a musical prodigy who’d travelled around Canada with a splinter version of Up With People. When his mother left the ‘religion,’ she took her kids down to Rhode Island and bought a gun. Rodney was fluent on about 10 instruments and was looking to expand his repertoire. The band director wisely placed him in the sax section, seeing how we could use fortification.
It usually went like this…
Rodney, Kyle and I would sit in a row. I’d be in the middle, with the sax on my lap. The conductor would call out a number – ‘Birdland,’ by The Weather Report, in this case, let’s say. I would play ‘the head,’ which is the easily identifiable melody. Generally pretty cool.
After a few measures, I would hand the sax to Rodney, who would conspicuously wipe the thing down with antibacterial swabs. Once the horn had been fumigated to his satisfaction, he’d tear off a fairly impressive solo. Another eight bars down.
Rodney would quickly give the sax to me. I would explain to Kyle that we were in the middle of playing a song. Kyle’s eyes would narrow; he would bring the mouthpiece to his lips. An indescribable series of parps and grunts would emerge. This would continue until Kyle either burst into laughter or tears.
The sax would return to me, and I would bring it on home.
…and that’s how we all got mono at The Toronto Invitational.