I hadn’t seen him in I don’t know how many years. We’d both changed, but I recognized him when he came in the door. I’d grown a beard and he’d grown some pounds.

He put his guitar cases down and introduced me to his son. His father’s bright, intelligent eyes mixed with that silk coffee skin.

He showed me the bass he made himself, looking like a piece of driftwood with a fretboard, polished up to shine. He plugged in, I sat down, and Sheldon started playing chords.

It was choppy at first. Sheldon insists on throwing people in the water to see how they react. From behind the bass, he watched carefully, picking up chords, asking questions. There was a light in Sheldon’s eye and I knew, from behind that homemade bass, he was asking the right questions.

They began talking like guitarists, speaking that occult language I recognize but do not fully understand. When we played “Miskatonic Morgue,” and Sheldon sang some of the lyrics, he giggled, recognizing the references. Sheldon and I passed a stealthy smile.

It took an hour for us to really warm up. He was jotting down notes in his book, recognizing the theory behind the music, applying bass parts that complimented what was already there. We took a break. I kept playing. Every moment behind the kit is magic for me and if I could spend every last minute of this brief life behind that kit, I would. Break was over and we started on the last two songs.

We finished. He seemed to understand what we were doing. Coming out of a prog rock garbage band, he liked the change of direction. “You guys hit it,” he said. Sheldon and I smiled.

Fifteen minutes of rehearsal time left and he asks to play a couple songs a few more times. We go through “Victimless Crime” again. Then, we play that New Orleans song.

Right off, I could tell the adrenaline had hit us. I was playing a little harder, a little faster. Sheldon’s fingers were warmed up, familiar with the fretboard and flying. And over in the corner, the new guy hammered the bass. During the break down, I was watching him, and there was a moment when eight of his fingers were moving on that guitar. Eight. I laughed out loud and shouted something I don’t remember.

We hit the climax of the song. The part where I get two moments of just me playing as hard and fast as I can. The first one was perfect. The second sang. So I added a third. Sheldon laughed and shouted at me. “What are you doing?”

I laughed back at him. “I don’t know!”

Afterward, in front of the rehearsal studio, we all talked for a while. The boy with the bright eyes was smiling. We were all smiling. I hugged my old friend, his father. It had been too long.

We went out for Pink’s after that, still catching up, old friends getting to know each other again.

A band of friends. That’s a lot to ask for.

Mister Cooper
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