The Apartment Manager’s office didn’t have a desk and chairs you could sit in. When it was time to pay the rent tenants would have to stand in front of a little barred window, the kind you’d see for bettors at the race track. It was very cold and official, the way old Kim Moon and his wife liked it.
Griff stood in line behind two other men, a Hispanic and a black man. The black man was having words with Kim Moon, who was loudly arguing with him.
“You late with rent, Ballard, you pay now or we call sheriff”, Kim Moon’s old face ordered.
“Ah told you”, the man named Ballard insisted, “Ah can pay half now and the other half late next week”.
“No, you pay all rent now!” Moon’s face turned red.
The Hispanic man turned to Griff. “I don’t believe this old bastard Moon. I pay my rent and a week later he sticks an eviction notice in my box”.
“You too? I paid my rent last week and got a notice”.
“My name’s Castillo, I’ve seen you in the hallway a couple’a times, and take it from me”, Castillo lowered his voice, “That old coot’s so senile he doesn’t have a clue who paid their rent and who hasn’t. He does this back and forth with all the tenants”.
“No shit. My name’s Griffith, I just moved in and already I got my notice”.
“Shit, here comes the wife”. Mrs. Moon came out from behind the cage window towards the two men.
“Mr. Griffith, Mr. Castillo”, Mrs. Moon, an elderly little frail smiled, “I’m so sorry for the mix-up. Your notices meant for tenants on the upper floor. I’m afraid my husband missed his medication and got a little disoriented. Please accept my apology and his as well”. She took their eviction notices and tore them up in front of them to demonstrate good faith.
“Yes, ma’am”, they both said together. She turned back to the cage window and Castillo twirled his finger round his head disgustedly. Griff laughed and ran back upstairs.
Later that night, Griff’s band Garbage Truck played a cattle call gig whereby twenty-five bands were booked in one night with the proviso that they not play for more than twenty-five minutes, hence prompting the ad in the paper: “The Banana Peel presents Twenty Five Bands in Twenty-Five Minutes, Hot Dogs and Beer 25 cents All Nite!” It was a stupid club but the band needed some scratch to raise for their coastal tour.
The band that preceded Garbage Truck, Flower Drum Drum, left a ton of flowers and flower petals all over the stage without bothering to clean up the mess. Since the club provided the drumset and amps all the band had to do was plug in their shit and start playing.
“Good evening, we’re Garbage Truck and by the flowers around the stage you can bet this is our psychedelic show”, Griff announced to the crowd.
The band slammed into “Polka Dot Flag” and the pit grew in front of the stage. Griff picked up his trumpet and started blowing a stream of ear-shattering blasts that Joshua blew down walls in Jericho. Bert jumped around the stage and immediately slipped on flower petals, sliding across the stage and crashing into Griff.
Griff picked up Bert and the charge from his guitar merged with the mike stand sending Griff jumping in the air from the electric shock. When he jumped down he slipped on some petals and fell into the pit, narrowly missing a slammer’s elbow in the face.
At the end of the song Bradley gingerly walked around the stage picking up flower petals and throwing them at the audience. Bobby tried doing the same and slipped, catching himself from falling.
“Who needs stunt doubles when we can do our own? SHIT!” Griff joked. Trev angrily brushed a bunch of crushed chrysanthemums off the top of his bass amp, some of which fell on Ricardo’s floor tom.
“Hey!” barked Ricardo.
“I didn’t do it intentionally!” Trev yelled back.
“Watch it, you fuck!”
“Ahahaha, the brotherhood of man, the dove of peace, where is thy sting?” Griff quipped. “This one’s called ‘TOSS THE MIDGET!’”
Ricardo angrily pumped his beat on the floor tom shooting dirty looks at tall bass player standing next to him. The crowd picked up on the aggression and slammed even harder in the pit, prompting the cheap blonde cocktail waitresses to splutter like wet hens at the kids in the crowd.
Griff picked up his Gabriel Armageddon horn and some fool tried tossing a few petals into the bell of his horn. Griff kicked the idiot in the chest. The audience heaved first towards Griff, and then at the geek in the crowd. Bobby stomped on his fuzz-wah pedal, peeling out waves of twisted notes around the packed tiny nightclub.
The sound man, a failed bassist from Tennessee, worked the lights by constantly flipping the light switch making the stage lights change colors like a bad carnival ride, lights kaleidoscoping from blue and red and yellow, flickering non-stop, creating no real effect because the light dynamics were low-budget, like the 25 cent hot dogs – made from old dying horses, and the 25 cent beers – tasting like stagnant dish water with a cup of rubbing alcohol thrown in for some “kick”. The nightclub sold cheap because its stock in trade was so cheap. The punks and metal heads liked it, so somehow it didn’t matter.
Once more Bert slid across the stage without falling, but not without knocking over Ricardo’s hi-hat stand. Ricardo shot daggers at Bert, fuming so you could almost see smoke streaming out of his big ears.
“People”, Griff cracked, “you gotta love ‘em. This song’s called ‘THE RIFF THAT KILLED”, check it out, bitches!” Griff hollered. During the song he had to catch Bobby falling on his face 5 times, Bradley 3 times, and Bert about 10 times alone. “Banana Peel” indeed. The set was over fifteen minutes later. Bobby, Bert, and Bradley hung out by the patio after the show, Trev hung out with his power entourage, and Ricardo left the club immediately, not saying a word to anyone.
Griff held the flashlight down on the Thomas Bros. guide. “He’s two more blocks down, make a left at the next light”.
“Gotcha”, Trev nodded. He piloted the 1963 Mercury Comet station wagon, which grumbled loudly down the road.
“Nice car, Trev”.
“It’s a gas guzzler but it can carry any sized bass cabinet rain or shine. And even though it’s over 30 years old I still keep it pretty cherry!” As if in agreement the Comet blasted out some backfire ass-smoke out the tailpipe.
Cherry was a mighty debatable word as the station wagon was a tad rusty and had a few more dents than an old beer can, but they needed the cargo sled in the back to pick up their boxes of singles. They were on their way to Dead End Kyle’s house to pick up their first record. Dead End Kyle was the self-titled “Non-Impresario” of Paint It Black Records, whose promotional slogans ran on the order of “HEY, HOWZABOUT ANOTHER RECORD COMPANY?” or “SHIT, MAW I STARTED A RECORD COMPANY! WELL FUG ME!”
Griff and Trev walked up the lawn to Dead End Kyle’s humble abode and knocked on his door. Kyle himself opened the door and yelled, “Howdy!”
“Hey, what’s up?” the boys asked. Dead End put out his hand.
“I’m Kyle, you are?”
“Trev, I’m the bass player in Garbage Truck”.
“-And the driver, sometimes”, Griff added.
“Ah, a road slave”, Kyle laughed. “Well, somebody’s gotta do it”.
Everybody chuckled. Trev and Grif looked around Kyle’s living room, a veritable museum of vintage toys, weird statues, sketches from underground comic artists Griff worshipped for years, comics and magazines from the Fifties and Sixties and a few big paintings on the wall. And two cats.
“Okay, dudes, I guess I haveta assume you aren’t here for my stunning good looks. You’re here for some records, huh?” Kyle grumbled.
“Okay, follow me”, he stopped and turned around. “We’re gonna have to walk by my bedroom, so don’t judge me by how messy my bed is or I’m gonna throw y’bums out”.
Trev laughed. “Deal!”
The three guys walked through Dead End Kyle’s bedroom to get to Kyle’s little office. Trev looked ahead as he walked but Griff out of curiosity looked around, only to find an 8 x 10” glossy of himself on the wall right by Kyle’s bed. What the hell?
“I think the single’s gonna do real well”, Kyle said as he opened his office door, switching on the light. His office was even more cluttered and dust-filled than the living room, posters of old shows and more knick-knacks standing in the way of everything. There was nowhere to really sit so everyone just stood in the cramped, airless room. “As a token of good faith I’m gonna throw in 200 more copies so you guys can sell ‘em on the road. You can keep the profit. Yeah! Just sign here, Griff!”
Griff had a small, dirty piece of paper slid in front of him, saying, “I’m signing this document because Dead End Kyle is a real cool guy and put out my single, ‘GREEN BLOOD AND HAM’, cause he rules. Signed, ___________.”
Griff signed. Kyle folded it away, “Okay, that’s another one for the archives. Glenn Danzig wouldn’t sign, the bastard. Claimed I bootlegged him, lies, all lies”.
“That sucks”, Trev countered.
“Jon Spencer, Lux Interior, they’re all washed up. They tried to sue me”.
“How many boxes are for us?”
“All ten of them”, he watched Trev bend over to pick a few up.
“This is gonna take a few trips to the car”.
“Okay, cool”, Kyle clucked, “Hey, you wanna hear my new single I’m putting out? These crazy chicks from Kyoto called The Hara-Kiris. They’re pretty wild. They have this great song called ‘Wanda Jackson Ginsu Knife Twist’”.
That’s pretty gay, thought Griff.
Trev began grabbing boxes and walking out to the station wagon for loading.
“Hey, remember when you gave me your business card to give to Kitten Claws?”
“Shit, yeah, I do”, Kyle scratched his goatee.
“Well, they didn’t want it so they handed it over to Stacey Gash. She has that band SpinPsycho”, Griff winced.
“SpinPsycho?” Kyle lit up and flushed. “That’s my favorite band!!! Next to yours of course, Griff, but wow, that’s awesome. I guess she’ll be calling me soon”.
“Yeah, welp! I’d better give Trev a hand and move some of these singles out”, Griff chuckled, bending over carefully.
“Yeah….I guess so”.
Griff schlepped half the boxes up the stairs, trusting Trev to hold the other half of the stock. He noticed that his answering machine light was flickering. He walked up to the play button, and heard the following.
“Hey, Griff, this is Ricardo”.
“Ricardo never calls me”, Griff mused aloud.
“-this must seem weird to you cause I never call you, but….I haven’t been satisfied with the band for a long time. I’m not cool with the new direction, the three guitar players, you know, like, everything….. Well, I guess that’s it….. Don’t call me, don’t look for me, I’m done… and better yet, you guys are done, as far as I’m concerned. Peace out”.
Griff heard the beep, which sounded a lot like, “PEACE”.