Griff laid his head back on a lumpy foam head rest with his body on a raised medical table. A young, chunky nurse ran over to him with a clipboard, and said, “Is this your name? A. Griffith?”
“Yes, it is”.
“Fine, let’s begin”, she quickly tore some tape, pulled out an empty bag, rubbed his arm with iodine, and handed him a red, rubber ball. She plunged a needle in his arm. “Please squeeze the ball slowly three times and then let go. Thank you!”
Griff squeezed the ball, and then heard another nurse ask the man on the table next to him, “Well, all done, Mr. Mullins, that didn’t hurt a bit, now did it?”
“Yes it did, you promised me it wouldn’t you lied to me!” he whined, a fat, pasty man with a weak chin in a stained polo shirt.
“Well, I’m sorry it was so uncomfortable for you, sir. But now that you’ve donated blood to the American Red Cross you can take advantage of some juice and cookies at our snack table”.
“HUMPH!” he jumped off the table.
Griff tried reading a few pages of the crime novel he brought in, “After The Kiss A Murder”, but got bored and closed his eyes, hoping he could sleep while the blood seeped through the needle through the tubes and into the plasma bag.
He heard two women speaking.
“Girl, you looked stressed”.
“Oh, mamacita, that last guy worked my last nerve”.
“He was bitching and moaning all the time he was on the table”.
“Look at him now…don’t stare. He’s plowing through those cookies like it’s his last meal on earth. He’s double fisting the apple juice, Jesus. Can you believe him?”
“For real…Oh no, he’s not. He’s shoving bags of cookies into his backpack for later. Well, I’m going to put a stop to that, HEY MISTER!” the nurse ran over to the snack table.
The nurse leaned over Griff. “How you doing, man? Everything okay?”
“Another two minutes and you’re done”. She walked away.
Griff closed his eyes again and heard a body lying down on the table next to him. He heard two voices, one the nurse that yelled at Mr. Mullins, and the other voice belonged to a young girl.
“Now get comfy, which arm do you want…left or right?”
“Grip the ball three times and then”…..FAAARTTTT!
“There, you did it. You stuck a pin in me and let the air out!”
“That’s enough! Behave yourself, miss. I’ll be back in a few minutes and I don’t want any horseplay from you”.
The nurse walked away and the sound of a hand tapping against the med table rang in his ears.
“’After…The Kiss…Uh… Murrrrrderrrrr!’ Must be a lousy book”, the young girl scoffed.
Griff opened his eyes a crack and saw a tall, thin, dark-skinned girl leaning over towards his table with her head tilted upside down staring at his book. She wore an Exploited t-shirt with a short skirt and Doc Marten boots.
“Why do you think it’s lousy?” Griff asked. She turned her head right side up and faced him with large doe eyes.
“Because somebody’s being murdered and here you are sleeping it off!” she feigned surprise.
“Ah!” Griff chuckled, “Still sleepy from last night’s show”.
“You’re a world-famous performer and you’re donating blood? Hah!” she scoffed again.
“Yeah, well all your soda pop bottle money goes straight to the scumbag club owner, the jock bouncer, the bartender who waters down your White fucking Russians, the cunty chick club booker, etecetera, etcetera. And the band gets nothing except ringing ears”.
“And punctured arms! So, Mister Nightclub, what’s the name of your band?”
“Garbage Truck, and no, you won’t hurt my feelings if you say you’ve never heard of us before”.
“Actually, Blood Boy, I have heard of Garbage Truck. What a novelty, I heard there’s this disgusting, smelly, homeless bum in the band”.
“That would be me”.
“Bullshit artist! You don’t smell. Hyped again!”
“I’m sorry I disappointed you”.
“If I caught your act I would have demanded a refund. What nerve. I can’t stand false advertising!”
Dead pause. The girl’s doe eyes rolled around impatiently.
“My name’s Audrey Griffith, but my pals call me Griff”.
“I’m Trixie Andersson. My father’s from Denmark and my mother’s from Belize. Small world, huh? So, are you guys punk or a bunch of fat grunge hippies?”
“We’re punk but the other guys are trying to edjimicate me”.
“Sorry to hear-“
“Well, well, Mr. Griffith, all done!” his nurse raced over, pulled out the needle, applied a bandage and some gauze. “Ready for some juice and cookies?”
“Yeah, I’m overdue a sugar rush”.
“So long, slugger!” Trixie smiled. Griff waved back.
He wobbled over to the snack table and cracked open his crime novel. Every once in awhile he’d peer up from his book to take a look at her. After the third peek he noticed she was gone.
Griff walked out of the plasma center and turned the corner. Standing in front of the bus top was Trixie Andersson wearing big, bug-eyed sunglasses waiting for her bus.
“Hey!” Griff walked up, “Do you accept rides from smelly, homeless bums?”
“What, you’ve got a car? Hyped again. They made you sound like a bus commando!”
“Shit, where do you get your gossip from, anyway?”
“Java The Hut”.
“Oh, Jesus, that dump. See that Plymouth Valiant over there, the one that some people think’s purple and other people think it’s red?”
“That’s our ride, let’s go”.
Griff drove the Valiant down the sunny Hollywood street towards the depressing decay of Silver Lake. Trixie was so beautiful with her dark skin and European cheekbones he kept glancing over at her. She lit up a cigarette.
“Does smoking bother you? Oops, too late!”
“What do you do outside of selling blood, Trixie?”
“I make guitars, sew fabric, bang metal, carve wood, make things all day”, she blew a plume of smoke out the window. “Today’s my day off”. She rubbed her bare leg against Griff’s and he felt a shock of electricity.
Griff’s pants got real tight. Trixie glanced down and smiled.
“What do you think of Chuck Skylar and Stacey Gash hooking up together?”
Trixie’s smile melted and her eyes narrowed into slits. “That Chuck asshole is such a loser, you know he’s dying to take his head and crawl it up his asshole, and who, Who, WHO does he pick for a girlfriend? That gypsy junkie no-talent crack head slut Stacey Gash!”
“Dead End Kyle’s just crazy about her!” Griff goaded her.
“Dead End Kyle’s just crazy, period! I heard he paid Stacey Gash to jerk off in his wig!!!” she yelled. Griff busted out laughing.
“Is that some more choice gossip you heard at Java The Hut?”
Trixie quietly snorted.
Griff stopped at a red light and saw a familiar figure on the corner, a broken-down old man, Jeffrey Chandler, his trumpet teacher, talking to himself and gesturing wildly. He tried not to stare too hard, afraid he might be recognized.
“Chuck Skylar, that freak”, Trixie chuckled. “You know what’s the difference between Schmuck Skylar and ol' Grandpa on the corner?”
“A recording contract!”
Chandler turned from the girl’s voice, widened his eyes and pointed at Griff. Thankfully, the light turned green.
“Thank God!” thought Griff and he stepped on the pedal harder than usual.
Trixie assumed something was up, chuckled and rubbed her bare leg against Griff again.
“Do that trick again!” Trixie smiled, tossing her cigarette butt out the window, hoping Silver Lake caught fire right then and there.
“Walk quietly”, Trixie shushed, “Don’t wake the baby!”
“What?” Griff whispered.
They walked into her combo studio – apartment with hardwood floors and all manner of materials strewn around the room, power tools, sewing machines, tailor’s forms, hammers, acetylene torches, cordless drills, nail guns, paper mache molds, drill bits, glue guns, chainsaws, some even lying all over the floor.
“What the hell is this?” She glared, exasperated at her floor.
“I always leave spare change all over my floor for good luck, you know, quarters, dimes, it’s an omen of good fortune. Somebody picked all my change clean off the floor!”
Griff reached for the light and knocked over a large pair of scissors, clattering loudly.
“Trixie? Is That You???” yelled a voice down the hall.
“Oh shit! You woke up the baby!”
“That’s a baby?”
Suddenly a white, buff guy with a shaved head with gray whiskers poking out of his skull ran into the room. He wore a beefy tank top, studded wrist bands and camouflage cargo pants with combat boots, and had piercings all over his face.
“Trixie, Trixie, Trixie! Look at what I painted, you just haaave to look at my new piece I painted, you’ll just love it, girl!” The man fawned.
“Ah, heh, we have company”, Trixie sheepishly chuckled. “This is my friend Griff. Griff, Dale Cryer, Dale Cryer, Griff!”
“Pleased to meet you, Dale”, Griff put out his hand.
Cryer gasped.“Ohmygod, Griff from Monkey Wrench, my favorite band!!!! Your trumpet playing was such, such, such an influence on me! You were my idol for so many years! The best clothes, the coolest style! I was your biggest fan, me, Dale Cryer!” he flexed his muscles. “If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have started my own band, Suave Style…oh! The way you held your horn, why it was….just….PERFECTION!” he yelled. Trxie jumped back a few feet.
“Thanks for the nice –“ Griff started. Trixie pushed Dale down the hall. Their voices drifted down the hall.
“Why don’t you show me this new work of yours, Dale?”
“I bought a 24-pack just to celebrate my new work, Trix!”
“Would my missing change have anything to do with this new beer, Picasso?”
Dale Cryer went out to The Strap-On because it was “Game Boi” night (Asian go-go boys), leaving Trixie alone for some quality time with Griff. They laid in bed together after having sex for hours. The most fucking Griff had in months, his unit ached from all the homework he put out. She held his erect penis with one hand and stroked his cheek with the other, kissing his soft black hair.
“Let’s go to sleep, honey”, Trixie whispered.
“Okay”, Griff giggled, “Nighty night, Matey”. They both passed out from sex exhaustion, or sexhaustion. The apartment remained quiet and still for two hours, until 3 AM.
Griff and Trixie woke up slowly to the sounds of a grown-man keening and wailing down the hall.
“OH MY GOD!!!!”
“AAUUUUHGHHGH, JESUS! WHY ME?????”
“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY LONGER! AWBWAHAHA FUCK ME! DAMN IT ALL!!!!”
Griff stirred uncomfortably in bed, his pecker quickly growing limp and cold. “What the hell’s that?” he whispered.
“It’s the baby”, Trxie turned around, scratching her hair. “He’s home from the club”.
“No, come on”.
“It’s that fucking Dale Cryer. I gotta get another roommate”.
“What’s he crying about?” Griff had to pee.
“He’s fucking drunk from all the beer he drank….FROM MY SPARE CHANGE!” she lowered her voice again. “Probably struck out at the club again. The only guys that score at The Strap-On are twinks and rich Arabs”.
“Uuhhh…What should we do?”
“Who cares? Fuck him, he stole my spare change”.
Cryer ripped out a few more moaners and weepers.
“I JUST WANT TO DIE!!!! IT HURTS TO FEEL!”
“Go ahead and laugh”, Trixie pushed her skinny black finger on his chest, “But when we went in the other room he told me he always thought you were gay and he used to fantasize being alone with you. Go ahead and laugh, Mister Garbage Truck, but that’s probably what he’s really crying about!”
Griff’s unit got smaller and colder.
“OH WHY OH WHY? IT’S NOT FAIR, DAMMIT! IT ALL SUCKS!”
“Hahahaha”, Trixie laughed, grabbing a pillow and wrapping it over her head.
“I told you it’s funny, you bitch”, Griff smirked.
The night ended with one man screaming in one room and two people laughing in the other room, and it all started with blood money.
Artwork by Len-Yan