Drum

Elvis

I’m on Ventura Boulevard, coming out of the Barnes and Noble that was once the Studio City Theatre, when I get talking to a guy who is from England.
He’d been behind me in the line inside the book shop where I’d bought a book called ’10 Things to do When Your Life Falls Apart’, and so, standing there in the street he tells me he has bought, amongst others, a book about the life of Jerry Lee Lewis.
‘He took his 13 year old wife to England,’ he tells me as we start walking along the street together, ‘caused them to talk about it in Parliament,’
‘Sounds like a thing the English would do,’ I say.
We laugh and I ask where he’s from.
He says he’s from the London but has lived in LA for 14 years and I tell him I’m from Australia and lived in the UK for 14 years
He’s tall with slightly unkempt grey hair and he’s wearing shorts and a black tee shirt with the name of a place called the Baked Potato on the back of it.
He tells me he plays with a band and he stocks up on books for when he goes on tour.
‘What do you play?’ I ask him.
He tells me he plays drums.
‘Do you play anything?’ he asks me.
I tell him no.
‘I have tried many instruments,’ I say, ‘but I get to a certain level of skill and can’t manage to go any further,’
‘The trick is,’ he says as we stand at the crosswalk waiting for the lights to change, ‘is to play with someone better than you and learn,’
‘Maybe I should play with you then,’ I say and he laughs.
Then he tells me he plays at a place called the Baked Potato in a band called Jack Shit, but wont be back for a few months because he’s going on tour.
‘Go down there,’ he says, ‘tell them Pete sent you,’
Then I ask him who he’s going on tour with.
‘Elvis Costello,’ he tells me.
‘Oh, nice,’ I say and then I tell him ‘Shipbuilding’ is one of my favourite songs and that, during moods of melancholy, I used to play it on repeat,’
‘When we played it in Liverpool I cried,’ he tells me.
Then as the lights change we cross the crosswalk together and I say — ‘Ive forgotten your name,’
He laughs.
‘I’ve forgotten yours, too,’ he says, and then we retell each other our names and shake hands.
And as we walk he tells me the kinds of books he likes to read, and I tell him about one of my favourite books, Stasiland, a book of stories about various people who worked for and against the East German regime.
Then Pete begins to talk about Cuba.
‘There’s a young guy there who’s discovered a cure for lung cancer,’ he tells me.
‘Woah,’ I say, ‘I didn’t know that,’
He tells me a US company has purchased the discovery and then we talk about how the USA manage to get their hands on everything.
By this time we are walking along a side street and he says he’s going a different way to me now and we shake hands again.
‘Good luck in LA,’ he says to me.
And I tell him- ‘Good luck on tour,’
And then we wave and smile to each other and, because I’m feeling cheery from our interaction, instead of going home, I go to the Coffee Bean, order a decaf latte, sit at a table in the sun, and open up the cover of ’10 Things to do When Your Life Falls Apart’.