For One Night Only

Submitted into Contest #73 in response to: Write about a drummer going to a Halloween party for musicians.... view prompt



The Christmas bells joined the choirs of carol singers and once again, he materialized out of star dust.

He watched his small but strong body reform; powerful kicking legs and calloused hands he knew he was seeing again through big brown eyes.

Although he understood that he was not actually alive and that this manifestation was only temporary, he loved this one special night of the year. People said that Christmas was a magical time - little did they know how right they were. The wishing, the prayer and above all, the phenomenal power of loving memory, were enough to conjure up the spirits of Christmas Past to live, laugh and love again one more time. Just because they couldn’t be seen, it didn’t mean that they weren’t there. Often times, they could still be felt by the living.

The echo of Grandad sitting in his favourite chair, watching his grandchildren open their presents. The deceased mother invisibly drying the tears of her children on Christmas morning. The lost child taking the place that was still set for him at Christmas dinner.

And for those with the ears to hear, there would be a very special musical performance tonight.

Taking his drumsticks out of his back pocket, he ran them down the iron railings where the icicles reflected the coloured lights. A small child watched and wondered why the frozen slivers fell, seemingly all on their own, but it was only the barking dog at the end of the terrace who knew that the spirit was there. The drummer grinned and practised a few paradiddles on the dustbin lids for good measure, laughing at the dog who was now going mad.

In the air, he heard the celestial sound checks begin and made his way towards them. Skidding along snow-covered pavements and splashing in icy puddles, not for the first time, he wondered why he had taken these tiny joys for granted while he was alive. Years had been lost to drink and drugs and the care of those who loved him was squandered. He paused. So many wasted opportunities. 

Still, tonight was not the time for regrets. The love that people still held in their hearts granted him this one night of existence each year and that was to be celebrated.

John saw him first. “The entertainment has arrived,” he laughed. “Where have you been? Filling up on Christmas spirit first?”

“I have a reputation to live down to,” the drummer grinned. He raised his thick eyebrows. “Although I think I might have some stiff competition here tonight.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” John replied, pushing his little round glasses up his nose, “Brian and Amy over there are certainly making the most of this annual opportunity - as usual.”

Sitting on the edge of the stage, the two icons already looked pretty “merry”, giggling and falling into each other. Janis and Mama C. were taking it all more seriously, practising vocal warm up exercises together while Jim preferred to prepare alone. All around this glittering place, guitars were being tuned, microphones adjusted and keyboards were played through their scales. Speakers were put in place, amps were positioned and spotlights shone.

And, sitting on a pair of flight cases, Sid and Syd continued their eternal argument about how their names should be spelt.

A heavy hand on his should made the drummer jump. He wheeled round to come face to face with his old band mate. “Ox!” he cried.

True to form, The Ox said nothing in reply but enveloped his friend in a huge hug. They missed each other as much as their fans missed them.

When they parted, the drummer wiped the tears from his eyes. He looked around, hoping that nobody had been forgotten. “Is Bonzo here?” he asked nervously.

The Ox pointed to the other huge drum set from which their pal waved to them. 

"Hey," Harry greeted them, "great to see you again. All we need now is Alice to pop his clogs and the gang's all here."

"Don't hold your breath - pun fully intended," the drummer laughed, "unlike us, he learnt his lesson. Clean as nun's knickers nowadays. Still," he paused, "nobody lives forever."

"That one certainly won't be forgotten in a hurry," Harry added, "so I expect he'll be turning up here sooner or later and once he does, we'll never see the last of him - thank goodness!"

Despite having no actual circulatory system, the drummer felt the familiar rush of adrenaline as he looked at this year’s line up. He probably felt more alive now than he ever had. This is what he had really lived for. It was sad that he had to lose his life to realise that. But, once again, he and his fellow musicians had an annual performance, for one night only, to make it right.

The drummer sat behind his kit and flexed his fingers. This is where he belonged and adjusting his cymbals made him feel at home.

"Testing, testing, 1,2,3." The main microphone crackled into life and the musicians paused as if holding one collective breath. “Why save the best till last? As we now know, life's too short." An appreciative chuckle rippled round the huge auditorium. "So, to start us off this evening,” Mr Jimi announced, “we have the one and only, truly immortal, Mr Rock and Roll himself!”

He swaggered onto the stage. No longer the pitiful, bloated has-been in a white jumpsuit but young and lithe in his blue suede shoes. He tossed back his quiff and swivelled those famous hips.

Keith raised his drumsticks. The musicians' party was about to begin.

“Well, it’s a one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!”

And they did.

Across the globe, those people who had never forgotten their idols, who still played their music and kept them alive in the hearts, stopped to listen to the echo on the winter wind - and smiled.

All those icons who were gone but not forgotten, many of whom lived too fast and died too young -- including, of course, the magnificent Mr Moon -- rocked the world one more time before dissolving back into stardust.

Until next Christmas.

December 19, 2020 22:58

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