A Mooging

Drumsticks can take a beating, drummers not so much

Moogus the drummer is a recurring character in all the Rolly Waters mysteries. He’s a longtime musical partner and personal foil to the main protagonist, guitar-playing detective Rolly Waters. In the first novel of the series, Black’s Beach Shuffle, Moogus gets mugged after a gig. As is so often true of first novels, you write what you know and it’s true in this case. My band’s drummer was once mugged after a gig.

It happened a lot like it’s written in the book. We were performing at Patrick’s Pub downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. There was a restaurant next door to Patrick’s called The Crab Shack (or something like that. It’s long gone now). We’d finished the gig and were packing up for the night. I was walking to pick up my van so I could bring it back to load out the equipment. As I walked by the Crab Shack, a waiter stood in the door. He looked over at me and asked, “Hey, are you in the band?”

I answered yes and waited for the praise or criticism that almost invariably follows that question. In this case, however, there was something else on the waiter’s mind.

“There’s a guy in here,” he said. “He says he’s with the band. Somebody beat him up.”

I followed the waiter into the restaurant and sure enough, there was our drummer, sitting in a chair with his head tilted back, holding a bloodied towel to his nose. Two waitresses were helping him out. One of them had brought a glass of water along with a couple of aspirin. He told us what had happened. This is where my fictional mugging diverges from the real story.

In the novel I had Moogus get mugged by a professional thug, who mistakes the drummer for his intended victim, Rolly. In some ways it’s Moogus’ fault. He’s been working hard to make time with Rolly’s date the whole night, leading to his misidentification by the assailant.

In real life, our drummer was mugged by two teenagers. It might have been some kind of gang initiation. Or just for kicks. At any rate, they used the old trick of having one guy crouch down behind you while the other one pushes you from in front so you fall over the other guy. Once our drummer was on the ground they punched and kicked him a few times and then ran off. I don’t think they even took any money. They were lying in wait on a dark sidewalk. It was a thrill mugging. It was entirely random.

At some point the paramedics arrived and had a look at our drummer. They wanted to take him to the hospital. I assured him that I’d notify the owners at Patrick’s of what had happened and ask them to store his drums overnight. The medics put him in the ambulance and I returned to the club, packed up and went home for the night.

The injuries ended up not being too serious and he was back playing with us the next week. The sad thing is I don’t even remember the guy’s name. He was a sub who filled in for our regular drummer for a couple of weeks. I wonder if he ever played at Patrick’s again.

The other true bit I used in the story is that the back entrance (the band entrance) to Patrick’s did smell like rotting crab all the time because the trash bins for the restaurant were back there too. Ah, the glamorous life of the rock musician.