Griff kept a lot of his rock magazines and newspapers in milk crates to expedite moving his stuff since he moved so frequently from apartment to apartment. It was one of those magazines that caught his eye as he wrapped newspaper around his beer glasses. The cover of an old Spin Magazine stared right up at him with a picture of his hero Wolf Gang Thompson, former lead singer of the band The Inkblot.
Thompson had a distant look in his eyes, his hair much shorter than when he had been a star, chopped short as if he took a scissors to it himself and didn't care how much he took off. A real suicide cut. A Bellevue hairdo. Griff stopped his wrapping and crouched down and picked up the magazine, opening to the article on Wolf Gang Thompson. He'd read many times before and he never seemed to tire of it.
"SHOT BY BOTH SIDES: WOLF GANG THOMPSON AFTER THE INKBLOT", read the headline. The article showed a before and after montage of Thompson, group photo of him in The Inkblot with a full head of dark brown hair and pretty looks right next to the current face looking electro-shocked with hollowed out eyes, Bellevue hair and a large, deep scar running down the side of his face.
"In their prime The Inkblot was England's most sinister psychedelic band, weaving sonic textures of amplified noise tempered with pretty, bubblegum pop melodies. A few singles in the Top 40 and they were well on their way until Thompson indulged a little too much in his favorite pharmaceuticals.
"Things are looking up for former Inkblot leader Wolf Gang Thompson, looking a little more robust than he has in years and playing tapes from his forthcoming solo album, 'The Court Jester Mumbled'. Nervously lighting a cigarette that he placed on an ashtray which stayed there unsmoked for the rest of the interview, Thompson said, 'People who write their own songs and don't cover anyone else's are rather boring'. Ironically, every song on 'Court Jester' is an original.
"'When I'm not playing my guitar I putter around in my garden and check up on my garden gnomes. It's all good fun.'
Was being in the band too much pressure for you?
'Why would you say that? You're not referring to THAT show, are you?'
Thompson referred to the final Inkblot show where he simply stood on stage with guitar strapped on and spent the first three songs staring at the spotlights beaming down on him.
'That was a mere trifle, you know, just a misadventure. After that we went our separate ways, me and the boys. They're doing well, aren't they? I don't know, everybody seems to be having fun and I never seem to have any'.
"Actually, our question about pressure referred to THE INCIDENT.
Thompson felt along the side of his face, gently grazing the long scar that ran down.
'Oh yes, that. Well, I was good and tired of being the face of the band. Took a straight razor to the side of my face and all that sex symbol nonsense was over and out, know what I mean? Do you read me?'
Do you ever regret it?
"No, never. Now it's all about the music, man. The Court Jester is back and he's mumbling. Would you like to see my paintings?'"
"We were then invited to his tiny bedroom to view his paintings, several small works that wouldn't look out of place in a Nursery School homeroom. Bright primary colors, crude brushstrokes of simple images of shapeless people smiling and motorboats floating by crooked lighthouses,and subjects of that nature.
'People keep offering me large sums of money for my art just because I'm Wolf Gang Thompson, but I won't sell them. My art belongs to me, mind you'.
Will you play us a track from your new album?
Thomson brightened up and played a track, a small echo-laden number with only him and an acoustic guitar. The song is called "Dry Tidal Wave".
Griff turned the page of the magazine and read the headline, "Boxer Rebellion Call It Quits After Three Years, Citing Musical Differences". The band looked mopey and unhappy in the photograph. Another turn of the page and yet another headline, "Pol Butcher Goes Solo, Leaves His Band Butcher Shop Looking For New Vocalist". Butcher Shop were cool for their first two albums and then started to suck real hard. They probably stole all the material for those first two records. Shit.
Bored with the whole business of packing, Griff got up and headed for Canter's, open for coffee even though it was already 2 am in the morning. He slid into the booth and a waitress named Norma took his order.
"Hey, I remember you. Didn't you used to come here years ago with an old guy, glasses, beard, the whole bit?"Norma smiled.
"Yeah, that was my trumpet teacher Jeffrey. After our lessons we used to stop over for some coffee".
"He played trumpet? Well I'll be...he wasn't a bad guy, a little fresh, but he was alright. Whatever happened to him?"
"I haven't been taking the lessons for awhile so I haven't seen him. I was hoping maybe he's been here for some coffee".
"Nah, he stopped coming after you did. Well! I'll hurry up with your order", she ran off.
"Thanks", Griff voice trailed behind her.
Griff started thinking about those coffee breaks after their trumpet lessons and how weird the conversations went. Jeffrey was funny and so together then. What a shame he went over the deep end.
Jeffrey: Coffee and cornbread, that's all you need out of life, Audrey.
Griff: What about pussy?
Jeffrey: DID I FORGET PUSSY? Jesus, Audrey, I must be losing my marbles, how could I forget that? Definitely pussy!
Waitress walks by and bends over to put silverware on table across from them. She has very thick legs.
Jeffrey: Holy cow, Audrey, how'd you like to have those big thick legs wrapped around you? That would be pure heaven!
Griff's face reddened.
Griff: Let's change the subject. Did you ever play on any rock records?
Jeffrey (makes sour face): I had offers, but you know that rock stuff, I just don't get it, all that repeating and repetition. How can you feel that? It's like saying the same thing twenty times, over and over again. Griff: Hmmm....Who do you think I should listen to for inspiration?
Jeffrey: Oh hell, Audrey. There's Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, there's a great player, Lee Morgan got some strong chops, and of course Dizzy the Great...look at that beautiful black goddess. Black women, most perfect looking females.
Griff: Jeffrey, you're Jewish. Don't you like the Yiddish chicks?
Jeffrey: Hell, I love my mother but I wouldn't marry her. That's just sick! Ba-doo-bop, ba-da-bop-a-dee-bop. Hiya gorgeous, our cornbread's finally here, corn stalks lend me your ears!
Norma makes a face.
Griff chuckled to himself over the memory. The streets were dark, the night was cold, his friend was gone, and from a distance he could see Norma the waitress coming by with his order of coffee and cornbread.