Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

‘The Trouble With Harry D’ : a short story

By Rob PalladinoJune 1, 2012


“Hey, my name’s Harry D. Harrison Grey Davis, to use the long form.  I like to use Harry D, ‘cos it doesn’t sound so damn pretentious – although a wise ass friend said it sounded like a name for an STD, so what do I know, right?  Oh, and I’m not gonna tell ya where I was born.  It ain’t important.

The story’s about me.  I’m tellin’ you about me, ‘cos I don’t know anyone else’s story, and to be honest, I don’t much care either.  Like I’ve always said: “It’s all about me.”  Yeah, ain’t that right.

First off, I’m a musician.  A drummer.  Yeah, that’s right I said it.  Despite what other asshole musicians might say – and they spew that shit all day long up and down – drummers are musicians.  What always makes me laugh, is that 80-90 per cent of these douchebags can’t even play the drums, yet they reserve the right to tell me I’m a dummy?

Hey, schmuck!  I play guitar, and write songs, and play drums. 3 outta 3 is better than 2, so stick it.  Anyways, I’ve spent 35 years beating these tubs, and I couldn’t think of a single thing I want to do more.  It’s my breath and it’s my life.

But … but… not so long ago some things happened, and I just haven’t been the same since.  In the last two years or so, I’ve been through some pretty serious shit.  My marriage ended, my kid told me she didn’t want to see me again, I got locked in a mental facility for a week, and my gigs dried up ‘cos I couldn’t function due to all of this shit and, somewhere there, I just stopped playin’.

But, as they say, the worse was yet to come.

Since all of my shit went down, my doc had put me on some pretty heavy medications.  Pills for my mental state, Oxycontin for my back pain – which never leaves me – and all sorts of shit for other stuff that doesn’t matter.  Believe me when I say, though, I’m on shit loads of meds.

Well, I’d been livin’ on my own for quite a while at that point.  I hadn’t spoken to anyone, inside or outside the business for months, and I was drinkin’ too.  Not an ideal mix, right?  And, I’d have weird dreams too…well, not dreams so much as nightmares.

Y’know, how someone who’s lost somebody – their wife, kid or some such – will dream of them?  Pretty normal I’d say.  Not me though.  Oh no.  Know what I would dream about?  Drums.  Playing my drums.  Man, it felt great.  I’m playin’ well, in the groove, in the pocket, and then, somethin’ happens.  My drums are gone.  They’re just not there anymore.  I always woke at that point, sweatin’ and cryin’ or some such.

Then, on New Year’s day 2011 I had a heart attack.

I remember I was with my family at the time, which I guess was pretty lucky lookin’ back now.  My brother said to me quietly: “Harry, man, you’ve put on some pounds,what’s goin’ on with ya? I’m worried here.”  I blew him off, changed the subject, and grabbed another cannoli.  After that I don’t remember anythin’.  Next thing I knew, I was in a hospital bed with doctors, nurses, my mom, dad, sister and brother all around me.

So this serious lookin’ doctor  with glasses and white hair says to me: “Mr Davis, you’ve had a heart attack and we’re goin’ to look after you, we need to to do some tests…blah blah.”

Long story short: It was a big heart attack, I gotta get this weight off, stop eatin’ shit and take the heart meds they give me or I’m a dead man.  Terrific.  On top of that, I get stents fitted.  I get four of the little fuckers put in me.  I named ‘em too: John, Paul, George and Ringo.  It wouldn’t be the first time those guys saved my life…

A week or so later I’m back home.  My mom wants me to go live with her and dad, but I say no and go back to my place and think.  Think about how far down I’d gone, and how I was gonna get my shit together enough to maybe start playin’ again.

At that point though, I barely had the strength to lift a ham sandwich, let alone play.  That was in the future, but I had to deal with now, that moment, in order to get to the next moment.  I was playing small ball…

So, here I am telling this story to ya, and it’s 18 months later.  I’ve lost about 100lbs, and I’m feeling pretty good.  I go on long-ass walks – somethin’ I never did before – and, more to the point, I’ve finally found the confidence to pick up a pair of sticks and play again.

Y’see, whenever I picked up my sticks after the heart attack, I would twirl them around like some madman, then put them down again.  I wouldn’t even play any basic patterns.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I was scared that I wouldn’t be good anymore, I’m not sure.

But, then, one mornin’ it happened.  It was rainin’ cats and dogs, so there was no way I could go on one my walks.  I was stuck.  I wandered around the house, lookin’ for somethin’ to do, and then I opened the door to my music room.

I walked in, turned on the light, and there were all of my drums in their cases just sittin’ there, covered in dust.  Made me feel kinda sad.  I hadn’t been in that room in like forever. 

I found my snare drum case and pulled the drum out.  I finger tapped the head, and winced.  It sounded bad; it needed tunin’.  So, I grab my drum stool, put the drum on a stand and start tunin’ her up.  Before I realize what’s goin’ on, I have sticks in my hand, a drum in front of me, and I’m playin’ again.  How ‘bout that shit??It took me a few days before I set up my kit.  Just four drums, coupla cymbals, nothin’ fancy.  I’d spend 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there.  It was like bein’ reborn.

That was a about three months ago.  I’m still on a four-piece, and practicing.  I went through a while there, where I was scared of  playin’ and I’d make any excuse up not to.  I gotta walk, I got trees to polish, whatever.  If there was an excuse, I’d make it.

The fact is, I’d lost the simple joy you can get from just playin’.  Now, I feel like a kid again.  Every time I look at my drums, I smile.  It’s about sittin’ behind these drums and just playin’.  Makin’ shit up as you go along and havin’ fun with it.  It’s not all about gettin’ from one gig to another, dealin’ with other musicians, or music industry assholes.  I’m done with that.

I just wanna play, and no heart attack is gonna stop me.  Besides I got the Beatles in me…can’t let those guys down, right?”

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