Only the most fertile imagination could find some semblance of beauty in the endless row of cubicles at the law firm of McTeague, Woodward & Teller. One of the clerks Griff knew referred to his cubicle as his “house”, which always made him chuckle. Sometimes he wished he could burn his house down.
It’s hard work trying to look like something people might find socially acceptable. Poorly groomed in an attempt to look like everyone else, Griff bunched his normally messy hair back behind his ears, strands spilling out; his suit needing ironing barely keeping his shirt tucked in; his belt so old the leather had cracks all over the cinch; his dress shoes could use some updating and the laces were broken and retied in places. He was a good clerk, though, quick, efficient, and reliable.
He stared at the clock that told him it was still 3:45 in the afternoon, another one hour and fifteen minutes to go. It was a Friday so there was still hope in the monotony. He had to catch Mr. Teller before he left so he could get his time card signed. He lightly knocked on Mr. Teller’s office door with his time card in hand.
Teller looked up from his paper work and smiled. “Ah, Mr. Griffith, come on in. I’ll bet I know why you’re here”.
“Yes sir”, Griff handed him the time card.
Teller perused the card and signed. “You mean to tell me you actually expect to get paid for doing this stuff? Really?” Griff gave off a fake laugh.
“Any big plans this weekend?”
“You playing any big rock shows this weekend?” Teller handed Griff his time card. “You know, we have a rock guy in our stock room. Yeah, what’s his name? I think it’s Roberts, yeah Roberts, has a rock band of his own. You may want to meet him. Have a good one, Griffin!”
“You too, sir”, Griff ambled away.
Out of morbid curiosity Griff walked by the stock room to see rock man Roberts. He saw a thick-set guy with a buzz cut cutting open boxes of stationery singing along to George Benson’s “On Broadway” playing quietly on the radio. “Badoo-Ba-Ba, Doo-Doo-Way-Doo-Bah” Roberts scatted along. Griff quickly walked away trying not to laugh. Roberts rocked the house.
Later that night Garbage Truck were breaking in their new guitarist, a third one named Bradley. They rehearsed at Action Studios, a condemned old motor lodge with cars parked in front of the rooms. Each room were torn up empty spaces that held nothing but a PA system with battered monitor speakers and an old, greasy, soiled sofa that was three years overdue for the garbage dump. With barely sound-proofed walls and bare light bulbs hanging low, every room looked like a crime scene. All that was missing were the chalk marks of dead victims on the floor. The hourly rates were cheap but there were many interruptions from street people barging in or stray musicians looking for the wrong band or asking them to move their car.
Bradley, the new guitarist, thickened the band’s sound now that there were three rather then two guitars blaring away. It was a huge sound bordering on some misbegotten symphony. He had the songs down pat, a good sign for a new player. Griff taught them a new song called “Lazy And Crazy” which the guys picked up quickly. After running through the song for half an hour they kind of just stood there.
Bert, Bobby, Trev and Bradley stood with their guitars strapped on while Ricardo sat back behind his drum kit. Griff always spoke to the band through his microphone.
“Bobby, what did Betty Frost say about us?”
“She said we’ll never play her club again”, Bobby frowned.
“What the hell?” the guys asked.
“She said we played too long”.
“Did you tell her to bite your wet spot?” The guys laughed.
“Oh, and she also said we played too much feedback. She said something pretty corny, it was like, ‘Feedback doesn’t rock, it’s just noise’. Something like that”.
Griff started chanting, “Feedback doesn’t rock, it’s just noise, feedback doesn’t rock, it’s just noise”. The other guys picked up the chant, mumbling loudly like Cavemen over and over, “FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE, “FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE, “FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE”, Ricardo pounding a monotonous drum beat in time with the chant, and the three guitarists and bassist turning their axes against their amps and emitting ear-shattering squeals of brain-cracking feedback.
“FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE, FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE”, Griff chanted over the PA system.
The rehearsal room door opened a tad, and Rip the studio owner poked his head in looking puzzled. The band stopped.
“Hey! What’s going on in here?”
“Um, band meeting”, Griff said.
“Right on”, Rip split, closing the door.
“Where were we?” Griff asked the band. Ricardo busted out a surf drum beat and the guitars squealed again.
“FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE, FEEDBACK DOESN’T ROCK, IT’S JUST NOISE”, Griff chanted over the song of doom.
Tiring of this awful song for two minutes, they stopped.
“Hey, Griff, we should do a ten minute version of this song at the next Devil’s Den gig”, Bert quipped.
“I think we’re toast at the Den”.
A harried heavy metal dude poked his head through the door. “Does anybody here own a ’76 Caddy? You’re blocking my ride, I gotta bounce!”
“Ope, that’s me”, Bert threw his guitar down and ran out the door to move it.
Griff looked at the guys minus one guitar player.
“Let’s take a break”.
After rehearsal Griff went to The Tribal Room for a few drinks. It was mostly a bar with a bandstand in the back and was darker than most watering holes. A man needed a flashlight just to find his wallet to pay for the strong drinks. At first he saw a girl that looked familiar sitting by the bar, and as he came closer she turned to him.
“Hey, Griff!” It was Mykela.
“Hey, Mykela, what’s going on?”
“Oh, just decompressing. Terri, set up some Jager shots for me and Rock Star here”.
“This must be a special occasion, or are you just glad to see me?” Griff asked as he picked up the 12-step chip she wore around her neck. Terri the bartender laid two shot glasses in front of them and poured.
“All of the above”.
“Aren’t you afraid of being seen here?” He picked his drink up.
“Are you kiddin’? Terri won’t talk, would you Terri? Anyway, this place’s darker than a monkey’s bunghole”. She knocked hers back.
She signaled Terri to pour two more.
“I feel kinda guilty about this, what the hell?”
“It’s cheaper then heroin and a lot safer, too. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know”, she shrugged.
“Keep on comin’”, Griff joked.
“Yeah, right, keep ‘em comin’”, she laughed, signaling Teri for more shots. “Make me laugh, Griff”.
“We’ll never play The Devil’s Den again”.
“What, Betty Frost? That old cow?”
“She said we played too long and made too much noise”.
Mykela almost gagged on her Jager shot. “When was punk NOT supposed to be noise? Well, join the club, she never even booked us”.
“She won’t book girls in bands. Doesn’t even want to hear us. Always cards me at the door, when she feels like letting me in”.
“You don’t know the half of it! She asked me to be her sponsor!”
“Bullshit!” He knocked back another Jager shot. “Say, what do you think of George Benson?”
“George who? You’re drunker than I thought, you’ve had enough!”
“Yeah, you’re right. Careful driving home, I gotta bounce, as the heavy metal guys say”.
“Thanks for the laffs”.
“Thanks for the drinks. It’s been real”. Griff trudged slowly through the dank lounge to the creaking barroom door. The night time city streets were bright by comparison.