The Glitter House, 5 PM. Nothing squelches the excitement of a big show than afternoon sound check. Scheduled six hours before show time, the band sets up their equipment and play cold run-throughs of songs while other bands impatiently wait for their turn to get up and make noise.
Garbage Truck were up playing little snippets of songs from their set like “Polka Dot Flag”, “Lazy And Crazy”, and “Green Blood And Ham”. Midway through “The Riff That Killed” the guys noticed The Neurotics staring at them with angry impatience on their faces. So much for brotherhood on the scene!
“That’s enough guys, next up, Neurotics”, the sound man mumbled through the PA. “Are they here?”
“DAMN STRAIGHT WE’RE HERE!” Gussie Neurotic bellowed from the floor with the rest of his band twitching nervously.
“Hey”, Griff asked, “Where’s Flip Wilson Neurotic?”
“Aw, dude, he’s taking his real estate broker’s license exam but he’ll be here in time to play. He’ll just have to take pot luck, haw haw haw!”
Shit, every man for himself. Griff noticed Bobby Callahan sulking as he tied up his patch cords and packed up his guitar.
“Dudes, bad news”, Bobby turned to face the band, “Kitten Claws backed out of the show!”
“Yeah, the club wouldn’t meet their price so Moish Wilson told them to back out, but all’s not lost, guys. Wilson himself will be here tonight checking out our set, Shawna and Miri are comin’, too”.
“And not only that but my pals from Spitball Magazine are comin’, too”.
The band all drooled at the promise of these high-profile guests coming to see them play. Griff just looked bored. Bored with all-girl bands. Bored with power-tripping clowns. Bored with competitive bands. Bored with bad music fanzines.
Griff was always the first to finish up and jump off the stage because all he had was his small trumpet case. “See you guys at eleven”, Griff waved.
“Yeah, right”, chuckled Bradley. Trev chortled a bit, then mumbled something Griff didn’t catch.
He walked towards the back of the club, milling around the bathroom with the utility room nearby. He saw a friendly Mexican guy in his fifties with a Mil Mascaras tattoo on his arm putting away a huge ladder that must have been eight feet tall. Griff nodded at him. “Sup!?”
“Hey, Jefe, do you like The Hardy Boyz?”
“Do I like The Hardy Boyz? Does The Pope piss wine? They’re pinche badass, homes”.
“Yeah, well, how’d you like to help a blanco out and make fifty bucks?” Griff smirked.
“Is it legal?”
“Legal as El Presidente, dude”.
Garbage Truck’s dressing room was the weirdest one at The Glitter House because it had tiny alcoves and winding hallways, so one could hide from the rest of the band if they wanted to. The band made a point of not talking to Griff following their knock-down fight the night before, so Griff and Trixie stayed in a tiny alcove away from everyone. Trixie sat on his lap hugging him while he kissed her. He didn’t tell anyone in the band about her since they were notorious girlfriend stealers. Because of this the sight of Griff with a girl was incredible to them.
Like people gaping at an aquarium people would come in, nervously stare at Griff and Trixie and run out of the room. First it was Mykela who entered, nervously peering over at them.
“Ohhh, Griff!” Trixie cooed loudly. “You have the best comics collection in town, I just love reading them...in my bedroom!” Mykela’s face turned red and she ran out of the room.
Trev then walked in. “So after the show, Griff!” Trixie purred, “Are we going to watch TV on that big, huge screen of yours tonight?” Trev quickly dashed out.
Shawna peeked in, too scared to walk in. “Ohhh, Griff, my bed feels so much smaller since you moved in!” Trixie kissed Griff’s messy black hair. “Darling!” Shawna’s head popped right away.
Trixie laughed, and quietly said, “I recognize those tired whores from Java The Hut! Fuck them”.
“GARBAGE TRUCK, YOU’RE UP IN FIVE!” a bouncer/sound man/whatever boomed loudly.
“Gotta go!” Griff stood up, Trixie jumping off his lap. “Watch the show from the side of the stage”.
“Nah”, she said, “I’m gonna watch it from the back of the hall like a real fan”.
“Okay. See you after the set back here, Trixie”.
Griff walked into the main dressing room and the band all stared at him real funny, as if seeing him for the first time.
The band weaved through musicians and scenesters in the hallway, some of them still sweaty from playing just a few minutes before. When Shawna saw Griff walk by she whipped her blonde head away in disgust.
When they got on stage they looked out at a sold-out concert hall, music fans crowding every corner of the room. Griff recognized some faces but most of them were new fans. Ironically the new fans were the loudest and most excited. He even thought he saw the three thugs from the night before. Weird.
The band stormed through their opening number, “Green Blood And Ham”, guitars spitting our feedback, drums pounding like a runaway locomotive, trumpet blaring like Gabriel’s call for Armageddon. A huge swirling pit broke out on the floor with girls pushing themselves away and behemoth boys elbowing each other in the head. Bouncers were flipping out trying to sort out the hardiest ones.
Next song was “The Riff That Killed” and Griff sang his head off on this one, hitting notes he didn’t know were possible. Beyond the swirling pit was an ocean of bodies in the darkness, cascading before his eyes in the dark hall.
In between songs while Bobby tuned up Bradley played the opening chords of “High School Deodorant” which the clueless kids cheered.
“WTF?” thought Griff. He turned to glare at Bradley who just laughed in his face.
Fritz-Franz Klein beat the intro to “Polka Dot Flag” and the band was off and running again. Griff looked out at the crowd and noticed some guys from Spitball Magazine standing by the back of the room.
After the song was over this time G. Bobby Callahan played the opening chords to “High School Deodorant”. Griff turned and glared at him this time.
Off mike Bobby yelled, “I want to dedicate this song to my fallen comrade in arms, Chuck from Shangri-La!”
Everybody applauded. Griff wanted to kill him. He looked out at the hall and thought he saw Dead End Kyle of Paint It Black Records with a small, troll-like man standing next to him.
The next song was “Toss The Midget” and Griff felt as if someone punched him in the side of the head, because his punk rock arrangement was now being played like some bad grunge-death metal crap. The whole band was in on it. They changed the arrangement to make it sound more Seattle, and it sounded awful. Miri and Shawna were on the side of the stage banging their heads like it was the greatest thing they ever heard.
The fifth song was “Sweet Sixteen Lucky Thirteen” and by this time the band was jumping in front of Griff and posing like rock stars. Fed up, Griff stormed to the side of the stage and brought out the eight foot tall ladder, practically missing Bobby’s head by six inches. He kicked open the legs of the ladder, grabbed his microphone and climbed up the ladder in the center of the stage. The band looked on, horrified.
“We are called Garbage Truck, my name is Griff and this concludes my performance tonight”, he reached the top of the ladder, “…and forever!”
Griff leapt off the ladder, arms outstretched like a high diver, diving ten feet down and because of the elevated stage dove an additional ten feet down into the crowd. The crowd let out a deafening roar to the band's disgust. There was no space to run to, so Griff landed on the crowd and was carried off into the back of the room.
The band now played out of sync with each other, losing their place in the song, but it didn’t matter. The sound man was so pissed off he turned off the power on stage, so Garbage Truck stood there looking confused, disoriented, pants off with their tiny dicks in their hands. Griff had the last laugh, he basically fucked them over.
“GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY CLUB, YOU GUYS ARE FINISHED YOU WILL NEVER PLAY THE GLITTER HOUSE AGAIN!” a fat man with gray hair yelled at Bobby with his finger pointing in his face.
Moish Wilson and Dead End Kyle were with him backstage as Griff walked in.
“Oh, there he is! The loser”, Wilson hacked. Bobby turned to him, furious.
“What was the meaning of the behavior, hmm??? You didn’t consult ME about that little stunt, Bubba”, Bobby yelled.
“What’s the matter, buddy, not laughing anymore? It’s not so funny when you’re on the receiving end, is it, asshole?” Griff lunged his head at him.
“THAT’S IT! YOU’RE FIRED! YOU’RE SO FIRED FROM GARBAGE TRUCK. PACK UP YOUR HORN AND DON’T COME BACXK UNTIL I GET AN APOLOGY FROM YOU!” Bobby’s eyes bugged out of his head, yelling.
“That’s telling him!” Wilson egged him on.
Griff shook his head, looking at Bobby hard. “What is this, a joke? You’re firing me from my own band? Are you a total idiot?”
Wilson jumped in front of Griff. “That’s right, Buddy Boy! Did he stutter? Well, did he? Listen, Pally, there’s a new sheriff in town and it’s not you, so from now on you just sing when HE tells you to and you toot that little horn when HE tells you to, got me?”
“Who the fuck are you, some bossy little turd who can’t play an instrument, write a song, fuck, you can’t do anything but yell at people who have talent BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T GOT ANY!”
“Lissen, Chief, I am Moish Wilson of Varmint Booking and I’ve booked better people than the likes of you, Shangri-La-“
“You’re through, boychick. Go back to whatever street corner Dead End Kyle found you on. You’re nobody to me.”
“And you’re nobody, period, without us bands that make assholes like you and Kyle over there look important, If it wasn’t for guys like me you’d be making change at some video arcade or selling crappy action figures in a store. Without guys like me who make music or paint or anything creative you guys are just hanging your dicks out to dry”.
“You’re a bad bet, Pally”, Wilson boomed, “I’d sooner put my money on a sick mutt in a dog race than on you any time!”
Griff picked up a metal folding chair and bashed it into Wilson’s fat face, sending him keeling over unconscious to the floor.
“Alright”, Griff waved the chair at Bobby and Kyle, “Who’s next?” They just stared at him, terrified.
“I thought so”, Griff growled, throwing the chair at them. They both jumped away. Dead End Kyle picked up Wilson’s prone body and dragged it over to a bar stool.
“Hey, can I get some help here?” Dead End Kyle yelled at some bouncers. “I’ve got an unconscious man here!”
The bouncers were busy yanking some punk kid around by the neck. “We’re busy, man, take a number!”
Bobby looked at Kyle, pleadingly. “It’s cool, dog, I’ll start an all new Garbage Truck with a way better singer!”
“What, are you kidding me? The band ain’t shit without Griff”.
“Wait a minute, man, we had a deal!”
“Yeah, the deal was you could lead the band if Griff stayed in the band, but…”
“But that’s Impossible!”
“Not my problem, Hoss!”
The first thing Griff saw when he walked out the door was Trixie Andersson jumping up and down, throwing her arms around him, yelling, “MY HERO! Oh my god, I pissed myself when I saw you jump! Are you okay???”
Griff smiled. “I never felt better”. They walked out of the concert hall arm in arm while The Neurotics were on stage. “Hey, you want to hear something funny? I think I just got kicked out of my own band”.
“Get the fuck out!”
“Did you ever hear such stupid shit in your life? Ah, fuck, I quit anyway! Let’s go get a drink”.
“Wanna learn how to sew leather pants?” Trixie smiled and kissed him.
Griff just smiled as they walked out the club to the sidewalk. As they walked a few paces Trixie suddenly stopped walking and looked serious. “Hey, wait a minute!"
“Griff, did you ever notice how much better music sounds outside of a club?”
Griff smiled. “No, but I’m glad you noticed”.
Audrey Griffith and Trixie Andersson snaked through the large crowd outside the club. The very same man they cheered jumping into the crowd just 20 minutes ago walked through largely unrecognized and forgotten. Walking hand in hand, they drifted through the nightclub crowd like a pair of ghosts into the night.
The crowd outside the club did the very same thing it always did, musicians passing out flyers for their upcoming shows, fanzine writers scamming to be put on guest lists, punk kids throwing up by the curb, bouncers tossing out unruly yobs, punks setting the dumpsters in the back on fire, and of course, everyone oblivious to the cherry top lights of four fire trucks and five police cars rapidly advancing from a distance towards the noisy and vomitous merry-go-round.