Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cat and Dog (09/04/14)
TITLE: Tim Happens
By Joe Moreland
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Tim is the lead guitarist for a local Christian band that I run the mix board for. The technical term for what I do is “Sound Guy”.
The first time he came to play with us, it was an audition of sorts. We didn't know him, he didn't know us. We were all going for a test drive together.
Everyone got set up and plugged in. Our lead singer tried to hand Tim music for the songs. Tim waved her off.
“Just let me hear what you guys got. I'll join in where I can.” Mind you, these are all mostly original songs. He couldn't possibly be familiar with anything they were about to play.
The band whirled into it's first song, one that's heavy on drums and bass and has a kind of funky sound. I watched Tim. He had set himself up on the floor right in front of the stage, and now he stood facing the other musicians as they played. His head was thrown back, his eyes closed—absorbing the sound being thrown his way.
The drums and bass guitar beat out a steady rhythm; Tim gripped his thirty year old Stratocaster and began to play. I won't lie and say that the first notes that erupted from his guitar were perfect and fit the number. Instead he kept fiddling—trying different sounds and ryhthms. Starting, stopping, listening, starting again. Each time he began to play again, he got a little closer to the perfect lead for the piece. By the end he was the lead guitarist that was born for that song and everyone on stage was staring in slack-jawed amazement; grins splitting their faces from ear to ear.
The most amazing thing was the transformation in Tim. As he played life seemed to pour back into him. No longer looking tired and worn, he stalked back and forth in front of the stage, engaging all of the other musicians in his playing and the band came together as I had never seen before.
As the last notes of the song drifted away, Tim's posture seemed to deflate, just a little; but before all was silent, he was off and playing something else, imploring the band members to join in on an impromptu jam of a popular worship song we've all heard on Sunday.
It was the most furious rehearsal ever. Tim drove everyone into one song after another, rushing through all of our originals and filling in with popular favorites whenever someone else wasn't ready. It was like he just didn't want the music to stop. Ever.
Sometime, during an infrequent break, Tim tried to strike up conversations with other band members. It seemed forced. I overheard him telling my daughter (the keyboardist) about his cat. A humorous story about trying to walk it on a leash, and getting a nice scratch to show for it. My daughter thought it was hilarious. I don't think Tim knew it was funny.
At the next rehearsal Tim brought much more of his equipment. He wanted to see what he had that could be used to improve our sound. He had written a couple of songs that we rehearsed and fell in love with. He talked to my daughter some more about his cat. As I listened, I could tell he was trying to relate.
Pets are good conversation starters, right?
Tim loved his cat. He went on about him for a good thirty minutes, weaving it in between songs and while we were packing up our gear. He asked if we had any pets, and when he was told we had a cat and a dog, he asked a hundred questions—about our cat.
Later that day, as our family sat down to eat, I received a text from the band's drummer. I let out an audible gasp at the words I read.
Tim got home from practice to find his place burned down. He's lost everything except what he had with him today.
My daughter leaned in to look at what had so shocked me and read the message.
“Oh no! Is his cat okay?”
My phone beeped again. Another message.
His cat died in the fire.
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