Griff stood outside The Lounge handing out flyers for Garbage Truck’s next show coming up the following month. The music coming out of the club sounded pretty good.
“Why is it that music coming out of a club always sounds better than it does inside?” Griff wondered. It was a lot like the way popcorn smelled better than it tasted. Distance sometimes made things more appealing, and outdoor sounds of indoor music was one of them.
A few laughing girls walked by. “Hi, check out my band next month, we’re called Garbage Truck”, Griff handed out a flyer. One of them grabbed the flyer.
“I will definitely be there!” she said and stuffed the flyer in her pocketbook, walking away.
“Liar”, he thought.
“Hey! Griff! How’s it hanging, bro?” a corpulent hippie-looking guy approached him. It was Cheese, a writer for the punk fanzine Spitball. His real name was Hermosillo, but the punk rock gringos either couldn’t spell it or pronounce it, so he made it easy by calling himself Cheese.
“Cheese, King of the Blues”. They shook hands and banged fists together. “Check it out man, we’ll be playing the club soon”, he handed him the flyer.
Cheese appraised the flyer, “Awesome. I know Helena, the booker for punk nights so I’ll be there. But hell, you guys are really getting around, aren’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you know, your guitar players are doing double duty, y’know playing in Garbage Truck and their band, Lady Godiva’s Operation”.
“What are you talking about?” Griff looked dumbstruck.
“I think I have the flyer here”, Cheese searched his back pocket. “I got it here somewhere”. A joint tumbled out of his pocket and he chuckled. “Huhuhuh, makes music sound better. Oh! Here it is”.
Cheese opened up a folded flyer and handed it over to Griff. It said “LADY GODIVA’S OPERATION” written in big letters and in almost equally big letters, “Featuring members of Garbage Truck”.
“You gonna be there, dawg? I heard Kitten Claws are gonna be jammin’ with them, should be killer”.
“Hmmm…ain’t that a kick in the head?” Griff unsuccessfully faked a smile, “You learn something new every day”. He handed back the flyer. “Well, adios, sleazy Cheese!”
“Later, hoss!” he ambled away.
What a fuckin’ bunch of clowns. They’re not getting enough attention? I give them tons of solos so they can get a share of the spotlight and it’s still not enough. Griff couldn’t believe his eyes. They already had a band with shows booked and kept it a secret from him all this time. He finally had a steady band playing shows with a possible record in the works and they go and fuck it up by starting some band named after a lame Velvet Underground song. Griff hated The Velvet Underground; he thought they sounded like a transistor radio with dying batteries.
After two hours of handing out flyers Griff went to Java The Hut, the new coffee house that catered to alternative bands. Java The Hut looked like some kind of perverse Nursery School homeroom for adults. Infantile finger paintings mixed with nude pin-ups, tiki statues, and the ugliest furniture from the Seventies festooned the bombed out storefront. A few tables and chairs were set to the side with a “coffee bar” against the wall. As soon as Griff entered he noticed a girl standing on a table throwing her coffee cup at another girl.
“YOU FUCKIN’ WHORE I’LL KILL YOU BLAH BLAH BLAH!” She screamed. She was blowsy, had dishwater blonde hair, no stockings, and the ugliest pair of shoes.
“Stacey, chill, baby!” Mort Mortuary, the gothy hipster owner of the club raced over, “Please get off the table!”
“Mort, Mortmortmortmortmort, get that cunt out of here or I’ll rip her fuckin’ hair of her head!” Stacey roared.
Griff walked around the pair and saw Trev standing by the coffee bar.
“Who the fuck’s that?”
“That’s Stacey Gash, new fish in town”.
“What a pill. Does she come here all the time?”
“Well, Mort floats her all the free coffee she can drink and then some”.
“Yeah”, Griff scratched his chin,” That’s the kind of girl that needs more coffee, huh?” Trev laughed. “Did you know anything about those three guys starting a band?”
“What? Lady Godiva’s Operation?”
“YOU KNEW ABOUT IT?”
“Sure, they’re playing here next week”.
“Why didn’t you tell me about it?”
“Who cares? They’re lame, and give them a month and they’ll be ass vapor”.
“They’re ass vapor already as far as I’m-“
“HEY!” He heard a girls; voice bellow behind him. He turned around and it was Stacey Gash, pimpled and too much lipstick staring at him.
“Hi, what’s new?”
“You’re Trev’s friend Griff, you’re in Garbage Truck, so are you like the big new band?”
“We might be”.
“I’m Stacey Gash, I have a band called Spinpsycho, you know like its’ a joke on Spin Cycle, you know? So are you going to be a big star and have hits and stuff? What do you think of Sonic Youth? I think they’re kina old but you know Patti Smith’s an old bitch and I’m a young bitch. Nobody likes me and I don’t like me. I wrote my name on my stomach when I cut myself last night. So you’re gay, huh? That’s cool all my friends are queers but I like really butch boys to date me. Hey, do you know Dead End Kyle? Doesn’t he have like the big, happening record company now? Aren’t you guys making a record for him now?”
“Yeah, I talked to him yesterday-“
“Give me his number, c’mon. I’m sorry I called you a queer, I take it all back, you’re not a queer”.
“I don’t have it on me right now, sorry, I-“
“Oh, okay, whatever! I mean, like I’m sorry I even asked. Look, I have to go can you drive me home? I’m house sitting at this record producer’s house on Pacific Coast Highway. He has tons of coke, you queers love coke, don’t you?”
“Um, well-“ before Griff could answer she spotted Miri from Kitten Claws across the room and ran over to her.
“WHHHOOOOORE!!!” They hugged. Griff looked over in the corner and Shawna smirked at him.
It was 3:00 AM in the morning when Griff got home, dog tired in spite of the caffeine flowing through his veins.
“Jesus, how am I going to get up at 6:00 to go to work?” he pondered, plopping on the sofa, turning on a dim lamp nearby. “I guess I’ll call in sick again. I gotta get some sleep”.
Stretching out in the dimly lit living room, the cat raced out of the darkness towards him, jumping on his lap, and pretending not to notice him. Griff pet him, anyway and felt himself almost drifting asleep.
“Now, this is a sofa, huh?” He asked the cat. “Not plaid, not corduroy like at that junky coffee house, but a real nice sofa. Spanish leather”. He glanced at the coffee table in front of him, noticing a letter-sized page with a primitive scrawl all over it. He picked it up and read the scribble:
DUDE DON’T KILL ME
MY MOM CAME AND SHES TAKING ME TO CRI-HELP OR SOME OTHER SHIT
I GOTTA GET CLEAN BUT DON’T STRESS THE RENT
SHELL PAY MY SHARE WHYLL IM GONE
I LAMED OUT BUT THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME ILL BE CLEAN NO MORE JUNK
PLEASE FEED THUNDER THE BALL EVERY DAY AND GIVE HIM WATER AND LET HIM IN IF IT RAINS YOU KNOW THE REST
I OWE YOU A BIG ONE THIS TIME BRO
PIERRE (maybe lucky this time, ya think?)
“Let him in if it rains? This is fucking Los Angeles. Bull fuckin’ shit if it rains. Great! Well, what do you think of your Daddy now?” Griff asked Thunderball, who simply looked at him with his big, golden eyes.
“Surprise bands, surprise drug cures”, Griff mumbled, falling asleep. “Surprises are supposed to be fun…supposed to be fun….” Thunderball jumped off him.
Two hours passed by, and then the phone rang. The loud ringing scared Griff so badly he practically jumped off the sofa. He blinked his eyes wildly and grabbed the phone, answering it.
“Um, well, yeah, hello?” He heard street sounds on the other end of the line, the call coming from a phone booth somewhere.
“Griff, did I wake you up? It’s me, Jeffrey, your music teacher, we talked the other day, you remember?”
“Yeah……what’s going on?”
“Griff, I need a place to sleep, it’s really cold out here, Jesus, I’m freezin’”.
“That sucks, Jeffrey”, Griff said, thinking ‘how the hell did he get my number? I don’t remember giving it to him’.
“Please, Griff, just this one night. I’m out on the street and I need a place to get out of the cold!” he begged.
“I don’t know man, I’m a guest here, too. It’s not really my place, y’know-“
“I won’t make any noise, I swear, just let me come by this time”.
Griff pulled the phone away from his ear and held his head down. He didn’t know what to do.
“Griff, are you there? Griff?”
Griff pressed his fingers on the pins to disconnect the call. He then left the phone off the hook so it wouldn’t ring again for the rest of the night. It would probably be awhile before he could get any sleep, just like his dear old trumpet teacher.
Photo by Mike Blum