drums trigger psychotic thoughts

Interaction with my boss is no longer instruction, performance critique, or even friendly casual conversation. Every interaction, no matter how instructive or inconsequential, is clearly peppered with a hidden meaning, a message . . . a clue to my history and destiny. The government is now communicating with me at work throughout the day, every day.

Successfully selling his home, after only a few months on the market, my boss announces to the office that he is going to have an estate sale. He declares that he is flush with unneeded furniture, random appliances, and various knick nacks that we might find interesting.

Having moved only six months earlier, he is aware that I am in the process of looking for a sofa and in need of other furniture for my apartment. He approaches me and asks if I want to come over and look at everything before he releases it for public sale.

I know his gracious offer is a disguised directive. He can’t tell me the real reason he needs me to come over because all communication must be in code. I don’t know if he wants me to come over to reveal all of the secret plans that have evolved and revolve around my existence as a government bred operative. I don’t know if the time has come to abduct me and begin my initiation into a secret sex cult. My stomach drops. I swallow my anxiety, well-founded fears, and instinct to flee and accept his invitation.

Driving out to his house, I negotiate winding and forested roads snaking through the northern Maryland suburbs of Baltimore. I pass a group of orange vested surveyors on the side of the road. I know they are placed there as a sign. Their presence serves as a message. I am watched as I make my way. I am being “surveyed.”

My boss and his son are waiting for me in their driveway. I walk towards him, and he turns his back, instructing me to follow him to a sizeable shed-like structure behind the main house. Walking up a ramp and into a cavernous storage space, I meet a profusion of sofas, chairs, end tables, vases, paintings, mirrors, and . . . musical instruments.

Motioning to one of the sofas, he asks if I would be interested. Beautiful navy blue and in excellent condition, he graciously offers it to me for free. Of course, he does. There is no doubt this is all part of the plan. They intended for me to have it all along. But I’m no idiot. I know it’s probably bugged or rigged with an electronic device that will deliver messages directly to my brain. I eagerly accept and thank him.

Before I leave, he motions to an electric piano steadied against the wall. “You wouldn’t have any interest in this, would you?”

I took seven years of piano lessons as a child. It had been many, many years since I had played. And now, like many other childhood memories, I realize those lessons, and this piano is all part of a plan. I recognize this is further proof that the government bred me, and my upbringing had is carefully engineered. Are they trying to tell me I am destined to become a rock star too? 

I tell him of my musical background and agree to take the piano. He asks me to text him my address and head back to my apartment. He and his son will meet me there with the sofa and the piano and move them in for me.

They arrive at my apartment, but now they have a surprise. As a complement to my new piano, my boss and his son now include a full drum set. “Sorry, I didn’t point this out to you at the house. But I remembered it after you left. Since you have a music background, I thought you might find this a fun addition to your instrument ensemble. You don’t have to take it if you don’t want it.”

I am shocked, confused, surprised, and excited. Adrenalyn is rushing through my veins . . . what could this mean? Why would the government want me to have a piano and a drum set? Stunned speechless, I accept the drum set and set it up alongside the piano in my living room after they leave.

On the floor, sitting in front of the beginnings of a small start-up band, I rack my brain to make sense of it all. Why did the government want me to be proficient in music? They had trained me in piano, but I had no experience with drums. Why would they include a full drum set along with free furniture and an electric piano?

Finally, it hits me . . . . 

When I was growing up, my favorite Sesame Street character was Animal. Animal was a Muppet that feverously played his drums. . . if you can call it “playing.” You can describe his playing as frenzied, rabid, to the point of delirium. So frantic and agitated, Animal had to be chained by his neck to his drums either to force him to keep playing or to prevent him from leaving.

Now I know my childhood love of Animal is not an organic preference but engineered. And my newly delivered drum set was not just a whimsical act of kindness. The coming together of my past and present was and is designed to provide a message. I am chained to this secret organization. Shackled by power and manipulation, I can never leave. I can never escape. No matter how hard I complain. Not even if I lose my mind.

Frustrated and defeated, I sit down and start to bang the shit out of the drums . . . . sweat beads all over my body, and my arms burn like fire.

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