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The Audition

by Jeremie Nicholas 2 years ago in art
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Story by Jeremie Nicholas

Image by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels

"With the faith of a mustard seed, anything you imagine is yours" popped into my mind as I stored my drumsticks in my bag. That's what mom would tell me whenever I'd beat myself up for not getting a gig--

I affirmed the proverb again and couldn't help but wonder how much faith mom had in our family before she failed us, or if she ever imagined laying unconscious in a hospital bed, leaving me with a secret that's supposed to be hers. It wasn't my place nor was it my responsibility to speak of it, but every time I thought I found peace, these twinges of disgust popped up like pimples.

Dad knocked before walking in into my room. "I need you to--where did you get that?" He said, nodding at the shiny purple drum set sitting in the corner of my room.

"Guitar House." I said, twiddling my thumbs.

"With what did you get it?" His brows drew together and he clenched his jaw, as if he already knew the answer.

"Some of the money from the savings." I avoid his glare.

"Have you lost your mind?"

"Dad, it's okay. I'll put the money back once I win this audition, there's a $10,000 cash prize with--."

"Gambling with your mother's life." He gave me a dirty scowl before directing it toward the drums. "You have always failed to make a proper living off that thing, how is this time is supposed to be any different?" His words pierced my chest.

I hide the hurt with a nose rub. "I feel like mom would've been okay with this. Wanting to follow my dreams shouldn't be such a problem when I've worked with you for so long."

"You're being selfish, Yohan. Did we not agree to run the restaurant together? You know the circumstances we're in, yet you're leaving to go play rock star?"

"Dad, you're acting like I'm going on tour, it's only one night!" I said, though going on tour does sound nice, and it's a great excuse to get the hell out of here.

"Unless you remake the money you stole" Dad said, wagging his finger at me, "Don’t come back home." He marched out of the room, nearly ??? On his way out.

I proceeded to place the drums in their cases and onto my car. Dad always had his doubts but I felt different about this audition--I saw things working out for me. I made my way to downtown Chicago, arriving at a large maroon building with many windows, "Rosebud Records" displayed across the front of the entrance in bold letters. I got my drums from the trunk and hauled them inside to the front desk. The lobby was a round space with carpeted floors and wooden walls, velvet sofas lined up against them. I notice a painting of Iris Imani, one of my favorite neo soul artists.

"How may I help you?" said the receptionist.

"I'm here to audition for the Rosebud commercial."

"Go through those doors and straight down is the audition room. Mr. Bob will welcome you."

"Thank you!" I couldn't help but chuckle at that name before grabbing by drums and waddling my way through the doors and into a bigger room just as cozy as the lobby, except with instruments lined up against the walls. About a dozen people sat in seats that faced the center of the room, nearly all of them held an instrument. A tall, thin man who looked to be in his late thirties got up amongst them and approached me, his stride exerting authority.

"Name?" He pointed his pen at me.

"Yohan. Drummer."

"I only asked for your name. I'm Mr. Bob." He said, jotting something down in a small black notebook before pointing his pen at a spot near the center of the room, "Set up right there, you're up next."

Mr. Bob strode back to his seat, waving at a saxophone player to come to the center. I start setting my drums up while the sax player performs a solo, a soothing hum erupted from the bell, the player tickles his sax and manipulates the tone in a melodious way. Several minutes in, Mr. Bob shakes his head ferociously and orders him to stop.

"You make that instrument sound like a dying parrot." Mr. Bob Looks at the sax player with his nose wrinkled up. "How long have you been playing?"

"3 years, sir."

"Sounds like 3 weeks to me." He faces the other players. " If anyone in this room thought this young man's performance was good, let me known so I could let you go for being so unbelievably tone deaf." He flicks his hand at the sax player to have a seat, who now looks totally deflated. He packs up his sax and leaves instead.

"$10,000 commercial deal is on the line, people." Mr. Bob waved his pen in the air. "You better play like you want it."

"Yohan, you're up."

By now, my drums had been set and tuned. My stomach started to feel like it's filled with angry bees as I grabbed my drumsticks from my backpack. I sat on the drum throne before looking at Mr. Bob for permission to start.

"Whenever you're ready." He twirls his pen through his fingers and leans back into his chair.

My mind went blank and my arms felt like noodles. So many people were staring at me, Mr. Bob's eyes bore into me, my knees were trembling--was it a double stroke roll or a buzz roll that I was supposed to start with? Fuck!

"I know we don’t have a deaf drummer on our hands." Mr. Bob said, crossing his arms and feet.

"With the faith of a mustard seed, anything you imagine is yours." popped into my mind again. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and for a brief moment, pictured myself playing like the rock star that I knew I was. My arms began mirroring my imagination, and before I knew it, my drumsticks were hitting against the drumheads with speedy stick-work, the hits rolling so fast they blurred together like rapid fireworks, the snare kissed the beat, cymbals crashed to release tension built by the booming drums.

"Impressive." Mr. Bob said, walking toward his seat with hands behind his back. "Sadly, we're not looking for drummers at the moment."

I stared at the drums, almost paralyzed by defeat and humiliation. I rose, packed up and left without another word. As I was dragging my drums to the car, the man with the purple shirt and blazer ran out of the building and caught up to me.

"Yohan, isn't it?" He extended his hand for a shake. "Name's Donnie. Excuse my brother. He's never been fond of drumming."

Too distraught to talk, I cracked a half-hearted smile and shook his hand before shoving my drums into the car and walking over to the driver's side.

"Hear me out, Yohan." Donnie continued, "My brother may not be looking for drummers, but between you and I, that's exactly what I came here for. I think--"

"No disrespect, Donnie, but I've got more important things to worry about right now." I get into my car and start it.

Donnie rushes toward my window, grabbing a pen and a leather wallet from his blazer, "Here's what I'll do for you, Yohan." He pulls our a small rectangular paper and scribbles something on it before handing it to me. "That's double what my brother was offering. It's yours on one condition."

I stare at the $20,000 check in awe. "Who are you?"

"I manage Iris Imani."

"No fucking way!"

"We lost our drummer for our upcoming tour. You have enough potential to fill his shoes from what I've seen." He hands me his card. "The spot is yours in you're interested, just let me know." He beams at me before heading back into the building.

I sat in my car still transfixed by the miracle that just fell into my lap. I knew things were going to work out for me, but $20,000 and a chance to perform with my favorite artist isn't something I expected in my wildest dreams. I grab my phone excited to tell my dad about it when I notice a couple missed calls and a text message from him.

"Your mother has woken up, I'm on the way to see her."

Ecstatic to hear even more good news, I put the car in drive and make my way to the hospital. When I got to her room, mom was awake and moving on her bed was holding my dad's hand as he stood next to her. Their smiles grew brighter once they noticed me enter the room.

"There's my big boy!" She exclaimed, reaching her hands out for a hug.

I give her a warm embrace. "How're you feeling?"

"Much better, son." She squeezes me before tapping my stomach. "You've lost some weight, has your father been feeding you?"

"She's having trouble remembering what happened before the accident." Dad says.

Those twinges of disgust are ignited in me again and I narrow my eyes to look at mom, "Does she?"

Mom smiles and shuffles her feet before answering. "Last thing I remember I was on the way home after picking up your drums from Guitar House." She says, "Were you able to get them?"

"They got damaged and didn't last long after that, but dad helped me get a new one." I smile at dad, who responds with a stern frown. "Which reminds me." I pull the check from my wallet and hand it to him. He takes his glasses out his shirt pocket, puts it on and almost stumbles back into a chair once he sees the check.

"Who gave you this?" Dad fixed his gaze at the check as if examining its authenticity.

"The manager of Iris Imani." I take a seat at the end of the bed, looking at mom. "Can you believe it? Iris freaking Imani!"

"What is it?" Mom bends her neck to see what the paper's about.

"I was expecting to make get a $10,000 commercial deal today. Ended up leaving with $20,000 instead."

Mom froze and stared with wide eyes. "What?! I'm so proud of you mamapooh!"

"Faith of a mustard seed." I said, pointing at her, grinning.

"Faith of a mustard seed!" she winked at me.

A woman with long silky blond hair wearing all black appeared at the door, her arms crossed, giving my mother a nasty look.

"Melissa! I'm glad you could make it." My dad approaches her, his hand clasped and his face twisted with concern once he sees the woman's demeanor. "You wanted to talk to me about something?"

"Richard, your wife has been having an affair with my husband."

It was as if she sucked all the air out of the room. Dad looked over at mom with a perplexed look, mom returns a gaze looking just as clueless.

My father shakes his head and chuckles. "Melissa, you have the wrong woman. My wife's been in the hospital going on two months now."

"It was happening prior to her accident." Melissa said, still giving my mother the evil eye. "They were both in the middle of it when the accident happen."

"That can't be true." Mom said, fidgeting with her feet. "I was the only one in the car, I remember that."

"What proof do you have?" Dad asked Melissa, his fists clenched.

"Your son saw what happened." Melissa said, glaring at me. "Didn't you?"

"Yohan," Dad turned to me, pain in his voice. "Is this true?"

I take a deep breath before answering, fidgeting with my fingers. "I'm sorry dad. I didn't want to be the one to tell you. I wanted mom to do it herself."

Dad cringed, shaking his head in disbelief. "But how? You were with me when the accident happened."

My face flushed. I felt some resentment toward mom for putting me in this position. "Mom facetimed me on accident while you were cooking. I saw what she was doing."

Dad glowered at mom, looking for her to deny it. She didn't. He grabbed his jacket and stomped out of the room. The woman gave my mother one last look of disdain and followed my dad.

art

About the author

Jeremie Nicholas

I dream of writing best-selling novels someday.

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