JO JANOSKI resides in Pittsburgh, PA, USA with her husband, Ron.
Drum Roll Please
his mother was a rocker....
Drum Roll Please
Martha Collins pounded out one last round of drum rolls, punctuated by a clang of the cymbals before laying down the drum sticks for the last time. The drum-playing granny, if she ever wanted to, could have competed with the best of them. But what an unseemly occupation for a woman, even in these liberated times. Besides, she had a family to raise, no time for hopping around on gigs from bar to bar. How would it sound for her children to write that ghastly occupation for mother on their school forms. In fact, she never told anyone about the drums, keeping the set hidden in her basement in a sectioned-off and securely locked alcove. She never told anyone but Teddy. With a sigh, Martha picked up the butcher knife and ran her finger along its sharp edge. This should do it.
The suicide came as a shock to the entire family. Mom slit her wrists with a butcher knife right there in her cute little yellow kitchen. Quiet, demure, thoughtful little Martha Collins.
"I can't believe this," Sarah said, wiping away another burst of tears. They were gathered for the reading of the will. There were just two of them, Sarah and her brother, Teddy. Martha Collins had not left much of a family behind.
Unfortunately, the tears were not for her mother. Sarah cried because of the will. Her mum had left her nothing. It all went to Teddy.
That fellow sat in shock. The lawyer's words still lingered in the air. Teddy had gotten all that Martha Collins owned, namely her house. According to the will, there was nothing more.
"I don't understand this. What happened to the money from when Dad died." Sarah's face was now flushing an uneasy red.
"I don't know. She had repairs done to the place. Maybe that's it," Teddy replied.
"I'm going home." Sarah left in her usual icy huff.
Afterward, Teddy stopped by the house to reminisce, pausing on the front porch, running his hand along the weathered old railing, scuffing his shoe along the wooden deck. Sunny days and childhood ways danced in his memory. He had spent afternoons there with Mom, just the two of them in silence, she on the glider and he on the stoop, but understanding each other in that peaceful quiet.
Inside, he took a deep breath and imagined the cookies she would bake. There were so many memories. Funny how Sarah was never part of them. That girl was always off with friends. It was no secret she and Mother didn't get along. Bitter disagreements were a daily occurrence. Mom always treated her differently, perhaps because she was a girl. She fussed over Sarah's behavior more; whereas, Teddy she let roam free. Mother always said Teddy was more trustworthy.
"Some day I'm sure that girl will disappoint me," she told him.
And so she did, simply by neglecting her family, moving out of the house as soon as she was able and not looking back. Teddy wondered if any love was lost between them.
He switched on the light and took careful steps down the dim basement stairs. Once Sarah was gone, Mother shared with him her most precious secret. He would never forget his surprise.
"Come downstairs. I want to show you something," she had said, leading him to the alcove that she had kept under lock and key his entire life. She'd told her family that a woman needs some space that is her own, a place to go and read or simply think. But he never saw her use the little space, unless she did when no one was home. But on that day, Mother shared her biggest secret with him.
She not only showed him the drums, Mom performed for him. He just about fell over realizing his mother was a rocker good enough to stand with the best of them. He begged her to tell everyone, to show everyone how she could play drums. She refused and begged him to keep her secret.
"Teddy, you've always been special to me. That's why I showed you the drums. I want them to be our little secret. Someday this will all mean more to you than it does right now. You understand?"
That was 40 years ago. He'd kept the secret. His sister being an antagonistic woman, he wasn't tempted to tell her. And now, Mom was gone, and only her house and these drums remained.
He sat at the set and picked up a drumstick, tapping out an awkward beat. Letting loose, he hit the drums harder and with more fever. He'd never be as good as her. In fact, his music sounded dull at the outset. He gave the big drum a pounding and stopped in surprise. Something was wrong. When he hit it, the bang was muffled, not strong and loud like it should be.
Looking closer he spotted a tear along the rim on the bottom. Bending lower he saw it extended half way around the drum. Someone had cut the big drum open.
He pulled back canvas and bent low to look in, fishing around with his hand. His fist grabbed onto a wad, a wad of money, thousand dollar bills, a whole stack of them.
"There must be a hundred thousand dollars here," he murmured, sitting back and trying to contain his pounding heart. He remembered his mother's words, "Someday this will all mean more to you than it does right now. I'll always take care of you, Teddy."
"Thanks, Mom," he whispered, clutching the bills to his heart. "You rock...oh, and I love you."
Copyright 2007 JO Janoski
Posted: 09:05 AM, September 29, 2007 in Short Stories