The Drummer

I am writing this in a notepad while sitting on a driftlog with my back to the ocean. It’s 7:30 in the morning and rain threatens.

Some 30 feet away an older, grizzled man is sitting on the sand and drumming an overturned paint bucket with his hands.

He saw me a few minutes ago and smiled a big smile on his weathered face. He took off his ear buds. I asked him if I could listen and he said sure. I asked him if I could take a picture. He said sure. He asked me how it sounded and I said great. He told me he was playing along to Paul Simon’s Graceland and then pulled out a tiny speaker, fiddled with his phone, and then the album began playing. I could barely hear that classic record but when he began drumming along to it, I heard that fine and the sounds of percussion drifted to me on the breeze while the ocean provided its low harmony.

I feel rain drop on my head. It’s going to bust loose soon.

He is barefoot, wearing a gray hoodie and an oil skin brimmed hat. Pinned to the hat is a Grateful Dead pin. An ornate staff is stuck in the sand near him.

More droplets fall. I get up to go. I tell him thanks for the show. I wish I could have tipped him but my wallet is at home. I pass by and notice his shoes and a bag of chips behind him.

A minute later I am on the road above him. A squall whips up and I pick up my pace. I turn around and see him still drumming away, in the rain, while the surf lands closer and closer.