Lost and Found
He was walking down the street when the nightclub caught his eye. The Jazz music was blaring and his feet carried him inside before his mind even realized what he was doing. Peering through the haze of the smoky room, he looked up at the band and immediately felt a strange pull. George missed his trumpet but he vowed he would never play again. The memories tied to his beloved instrument were forever tainted when she broke his heart and sent him running out into the middle of the street reeling from the image of her in their bed with his best friend, his mind so clouded he didn’t hear the car coming nor did he see it until he was halfway over the hood. The events that followed his show that evening would always be tethered to the worst moment of his life, so he put his trumpet away and swore to never take it out again.
So he wondered why he was suddenly drawn to this club, the band, and especially the notes of the trumpet. For a moment, the sound made him feel the familiar stirrings of the emotions he’s tried so hard to suppress, the ones he’s always been resigned to being intertwined with the devastation he suffered on that fateful day in 1924. The trumpet was supposed to be a memory of betrayal, of shock, and of a sickening feeling so strong it almost made him vomit. He briefly allowed his mind to travel to thoughts of her. It’s been three years. He wondered where she was, what she was doing, and if she was still with the man he once called his best friend. Were they married? Did they have children? Were they divorced or have they not spoken since that day? Did the universe reimburse them for their terrible deed and propel them into a life of heartbreak and loneliness? He tried never to think about them too much but up until tonight, the sound of the trumpet was synonymous with their names, their faces, and the picture of them together forever burned into his brain.
As the band played the final notes of the song, he was brought back to the present. The musicians were taking a short break and set their instruments down before heading over to a table. Strangely, or perhaps not at all, the trumpet player was the only one still on the stage, hovering over his instrument doing something George couldn’t see. After a few minutes of doubt and moving a couple of paces towards the man only to turn right back around, he finally resolved himself to walk over and talk to him. He approached with a timid and tangible nervousness. The musician sensed someone there and turned around, smiling at him. He hesitantly smiled back, feeling a little ridiculous that he was letting something so small get him this worked up, but he supposed that’s what the memory of a traumatic moment will do to you.
“Hello.” the man said, and his anxiety lessened. “Hi, I’m George.” “Sam.” He introduced himself. “I was a trumpet player for years myself.” George looked longingly at the instrument. “You don’t play anymore?” Sam asked. “Yeah, I quit. I used to play all the time before I decided to put it away forever. Up until tonight, I could barely stand a single note of it.” When Sam inquired why, he remained silent, a pained look across his face. Taking the hint, he quickly changed the subject “Well that’s a shame. I hope enjoyed the set tonight though.” It was then George did something he never expected himself to do, he started to tell Sam everything that happened. The full story from start to finish, including how long it’s been since he’s actually played and what lead him there that night. It was surprisingly easy to talk to this man. He felt like he was emptying the contents of his soul, the weight he’d been carrying all these years was lifted and he felt so much lighter than he had since before that horrible day.
Sam listened to the entire story without interruption and when he was finished, offered him the chance to play on stage that night with the band “How about it? It sounds like you could really use it.” Initially George was against the idea, not only were the memories still strong, but he was sure that he was too rusty “It’s really been too long, but thank you for the offer.” he declined but an extreme, unexplainable urge overtook him and after trying to reason with himself that he shouldn’t do it, that he wasn’t ready, that the memories would hit him like a ton of bricks right in the middle of the performance and ruin it, the overwhelming feeling in his heart that said it was the right thing to do was too powerful for his brain to override. “If you love playing that much, you shouldn’t let them take it away from you.” Sam was right. “Okay, I want to play.” He smiled. Sam returned it and led him to the back to get another trumpet and show him what songs they were going to play.
Once the band was ready to go back on stage, his nerves were starting to make him second guess his decision, but that same overwhelming feeling was so intense it quelled the voice of doubt in his head. He was introduced and ran out to the stage before he had the chance to over think it again. As the music started, he waited for his cue to join in. Sam gave him the signal and he put his lips to the instrument. The moment he blew the first puff into the trumpet, it was like he came alive again. The past few years of aching misery disappeared and he watched as the gray world he had been living in was washed away in a burst of color right before his eyes. All of the emotions swirling inside of him poured out of every note he played. He spent the rest of the night living for the first time in years. The crowd was loving it. Everyone was up, dancing the Charleston, moving wildly and charging the room with a fun, wild, carefree energy.
As daylight slowly but surely crept up on the city, the liveliness of the club was winding down. People trickling out onto the street, exhausted from a night of dancing were slowly beginning the trip home. The band had only stopped playing a short while ago and as they were packing up, Sam and the rest of the musicians all congratulated George on a fantastic show. He beamed back at them, thanking them for the chance, and when they walked away, he pulled Sam aside “Sam, I can’t even begin to thank you. Not only for the opportunity but for giving me the greatest gift I could ask for.” Sam smiled again “No need to thank me. You were going to start playing again no matter what. It’s in your bones.” George couldn’t help but think maybe he was right. “Still, Sam, if it wasn’t for you I could have wasted more time wallowing and giving up the one thing that always made me happy” “You’re welcome. Come by any time, we would love to have you play with us again.” Sam offered. “Absolutely, I’ll be back.” He and Sam said their goodbyes and he left the club. He was back on stage and it felt right. It didn’t matter what his ex-girlfriend and best friend were doing now, all that mattered was what he was doing. And that was finally taking his life back from the two people who had stolen it.