The day after the viewing I watched YouTube all day. First I saw a seven year-old play drums to Tom Sawyer by Rush. Then I saw a baby, a literal baby thrash out the beat to a Pantera song. This baby was in command. Well not really. Someone in a black shirt was manipulating the baby from behind, controlling its hands and the sticks the way some people make that cat play the Casio. Then there was a clip of a brunette in lingerie rocking out on a Pearl kit to Welcome to the Jungle. Paul Simon appeared after this. First he appeared in South Africa and stole rhythms from South Africans. Then he materialized in Brazil and stole rhythms from Brazilians. As the room darkened, I lowered the brightness of the display. There were fireworks in a huge paper sack beside the dresser, stolen from his job at the gas station. Our band would have lit them off at our next show. I disassembled his snare, taking the skin off, filling the insides with fire crackers. I put the skin back on, tightened the key. Now it was a musical bomb. Paul Simon went away. Another clip began. Amateurs again. In a music store in France, a five year-old who sucked, tried to jam along with Highway to Hell. They were way behind on the kick, they were ahead on the crash and ride. This kid looked happy. That Pantera baby was better though. But that Pantera baby was a puppet and puppets don’t last. The phone rang. I told Michelle I was in his room, using his laptop, and I told her again, yes I would take his drum set to his brother like we’d agreed, end his hollering about it. After the phone call, I felt bad to have lied to her like that. But the brother was just going to pawn the drum set to buy heroin and then the brother was going to die this way too. So, instead I filled the kick drum with fun little warheads and drove through the dark, certainly through no moonlight, to the house where I knew the bags come from. A normal buttercup-colored house on a pretty street. While the house slept, I set the kit up on the lawn. Just the way he used to set it up on stage. I’d put an M-80 on the seat, and all over the rest of the kit I dumped Lady Fingers and Black Cats, and ground spinners and smoke bombs and poppers, snaps, and snakes until the paper sack was empty. I stuck heavier artillery in the lawn, angled towards the front door. I splashed lighter fluid on the toms and the cymbals and everything else and I clipped my phone to my shirt and started filming. I lit a sparkler and gave it a toss. A whoosh of blue flame licked up from the lake of lighter fluid on the floor toms. This part of the show only lasted three minutes but my god. Thunder. And fountains of lava. And a pyrotechnic chicken that laid a burning egg. Electric angels rode down on green lightning! Blue bolt demons burst up shrieking from the dirt! A glowing wheel launched up like a UFO raining sparks across the grass and house and roof. And then the Roman candles crackled and flashed, blasting against the front door, shattering its glass. Missiles ricocheted off the gun metal BMW. Hahahaha. The snare drum bomb finally went off. You should have heard it, holy hell. The orange lights came on in the house and the curtains shook. The door opened. Another Roman candle went up wildly in a tree. But here was the grand finale. Sky rockets exploded out of a canister and pummeled the picture window, bursting it. War! Deafening noise and the stink of gunpowder. Pink light rushed out from the kick drum and engulfed the house in more smoke and light. One second the dealer was screaming at me from the doorway, and the next second they were gone. One of the neighbors, all of the neighbors, must have called the cops, which was cool. Cruisers rolled down the street with their reds and blues on. And I was laughing so loud I was crying, finally. But I got away. And I got it all on video. Tomorrow I’ll put it up. I want my friend to be remembered, but I’m not sure anyone will. He couldn’t help himself. Some power dragged his strings. His little brother is the same way, will live just another few weeks, till he finds his shit somewhere else. That place is out of business now. Brother, the fire trucks were there all night.
Bud Smith is the author of Teenager (Tyrant Books), Double Bird (Maudlin House), and WORK (Civil Coping Mechanisms), among others. He lives in Jersey City, NJ.
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