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The Blue Drums

by Sam Hackel-Butt (Age: 28)
copyright 04-11-2005

Age Rating: 13 +

***My first post in months! Well, I wrote this for a contest which I missed the date for, but my brother entered it instead of I, so I guess I didn't miss the date! We are still waiting for the winners to be announced... The themes for the story was music, and community. I focused more on music, and drowned the story in depression, and drugs. A typical Samantha story!***

His name was Anthony. He was my friend. Who am I? That’s not important. If you asked me if I expected what happened, I’d have to say yes. But before I go into what happened after the event, I must tell you of the event first.

Anthony and I were friends since kindergarten. We met at the park on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. If you asked me right now if I knew I’d be friends with that whining little brat at this moment, I’d say no. We crossed paths in the sandbox, fighting over the same shovel. From then on, something clicked. We’d always meet in the park every Sunday, and play. We went to the same elementary school, and our friendship grew.

When we were ten, Anthony’s mother was killed. She went on a business trip to New York, and wasn’t there for more then twenty-four hours when she was one of the countless thousands killed when the planes struck Twin Towers. If you asked me if I remember where I was, or what I was doing when I heard, I’d have to say bits and pieces. Anthony and I were playing with blocks when Anthony’s dad told him. He was ten, and he lost his mother.

For a graduation from elementary school present, Anthony’s father bought him a set of drums. They were blue, and made the most awful racket ever when Anthony first showed them to me, and demonstrated. During all of grade seven, Anthony spent all his spare time playing those drums, teaching himself music and losing himself in rhythms and words which meant nothing until grade eight. A group of boys I know were missing a drummer to complete their band. Anthony jumped for the opportunity, and instantly got caught up in drugs, alcohol, and sex. At the age of thirteen, I was scared for him. More scared than when I heard his mother died.

He seemed to use music as an escape as the guys dragged him deeper and deeper into musician hell, practicing every waking hour, performing at community centers and talent shows, desperate for the exposure, and waiting for the one person to see them, and sign them up with a contract. At age thirteen. Years, they stayed together, all of Anthony’s pain and depression fueled his desire to write and play music. At age fifteen, they got their break. They were invited to an exclusive rock club. Only the crème de la crème were allowed in. Needless to say, we had a fight when he refused to allow me to come.

I can’t remember more than a few of the things Anthony said to me. He said he didn’t want me to get involved, and to become a drug addict like he was. Anthony grew further and further apart from me in the next few years, barely calling, or coming to school. When I went to check on him one day after school, I found him in his room, half off his bed, and hung over. The room smelt like marijuana, and one of the other band members was passed out on the floor. Both were stripped to their boxers, and I will never forget the scars all over both of Anthony’s arms. He never told me he was cutting, he never told me he skipped school to get high. He never told me anything anymore.

We were entering grade eleven, our final year of high school, and the band was doing extremely well. They were a major hit in the community, playing at every event they could. They’d show up to block parties, and private parties and still managed to get high every other day. Only then did it click, that Anthony stopped smiling, and stopped putting his all into his passion, and into the band. One day, he showed up. It was raining, and he was drenched. He said to me, “Jamie, I wanted to thank you for sticking by me when I ignored you, and for being there when my mother…” he got up in a flash, and stormed out. The next morning when I brought in the mail, there was a letter for me. In Anthony’s hurried handwriting, there were the words: I’m sorry. Please forgive me, and pray for me. On the bottom, was his own bloody thumbprint as a signature.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Anthony committed suicide. He left a long and detailed letter, and a journal for the past eight years, laying on his dresser, all of it made out for me. In them, he confided his worst feelings. He felt helpless, broken, and alone. He tried to forget by getting stoned, or drunk, and even tried to escape by using music. Nothing helped. His father was working three jobs to make ends meet, his three younger siblings seemed to forget about their mother, and he couldn’t take it anymore.

The impact this had was incredible on the community. Hundreds of people, all of whom Anthony never met with the exception of a few, turned out to his funeral, and then to his burial. I was always front row, centre stage, as Anthony said many times before we drifted apart. And that day, that rainy day he showed up on my doorstep, he seemed to be at peace for the first time since receiving his drums. After I took off my black dress from the funeral, I sat at his drum set in his basement and cried as I thrashed against the blue drums.

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        11-18-2006     Amelia Zada        

OMG! Sammy! That is so sad :( It's an emotinal story and I was almost crying by the end of this. Sometimes people never really get over detahs of loved ones and they turn to things they shouldn't as an escape. You did a great job showing that in this story. Wonderful!

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