#615: Drumbeats

April 1st, 2016

There was a sweeping view from the waiting room.

It was one of those glassy towers downtown, entire outer walls just one massive view of the tips of skyscrapers, orange-vested workers skittering among the Wrigley Building roof columns, bits of sky that reminded you there are other colors to downtown than Beaux-Arts ecru and Miesian steel black.

She had her back firmly against all that. She was sitting staring forward. I thought she might be the photographer there to meet me for the freelance gig.

“Being a photographer sounds like an interesting career,” she said absently, staring off into space.

A few moments of the most awkward of silences.

“What do you do?” I asked.

She smiled.

“I’m a drummer.”

She looked in her 40s, or maybe a poorly aging 30s. Her mouse brown hair hung limply unwashed from her head. She wore dark casual wear, the only light spot was the sticker guest pass she had affixed to her shirt.

There was something off about her, something dim and injured. Her eyes were fixed and lifeless. Her manner too casual with a stranger.

She smiled sweetly, was open and kind. A strange being, human emotion told in robotic tone.

Then I remembered we were in a law office’s waiting room.

Something bad had happened to her.

We talked about drums and we talked about photography. She wasn’t in a band right now, she said. She doesn’t think she could be a photographer. Just isn’t her personality, she said.

A smile flickered whenever the word “drum” left her lips, then flickered away when the word was over.

We didn’t talk about her case, and even if we had, I wouldn’t share it with you. She was scared about what was coming, she was scared about what would happen and she was reaching out to a stranger for idle chit-chat and banter in her odd robotic voice.

Whatever drums were pounding in her head, whatever rat-tat-tat tempo of worry was keeping her back to the view and her conversation on the light and frivolous, she only let out once, at the end.

“I hope they can help me,” she said not to me as the lawyers walked in.

A stranger starts a conversation about murder

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