Saturday, September 08, 2007

HMH #7

Handmade Heart

Chapter Seven- The wedding of Blood Monkey


Doc squeezed into the front seat next to me and buckled up. “Let er rip Sparky!”

“You got everything you need, cuz it’s a little too far to drive back if you forgot anything.”

“Hey, this is me you’re talking about my friend. I don’t forget. I simply choose not to remember.”

“Don’t make me feel more anxious than I already am Doc. We’re running late as it is. You were supposed to be here no later than 2:00 P.M.”

“The wife had to run a few errands before she could drop me off, so shoot me. I know Wally. He won’t be ready when we get there anyway.”

“He’d better.”

Off we rolled. Between the scanning of the FM band and the concerto of car horns as we entered the highway heading north, we chatted about how we would tackle the recording and scraps of song ideas we were bringing with us. Doc had his window open and his arm extended out of it like he was trying to take flight. The occasional olfactory speed trap of fresh manure made him change his mind and he quickly had his glass barrier back in place. “More comfortable than the trucks we used to travel in, huh Sparky?”

“Doesn’t make the drive any shorter.” I flipped the visor down to block out the sun that had shifted into my vision.

“Actually, I’m surprised that everything’s running so smoothly given this band’s history.”

“Yeah, about that Doc . . . ”

“What? What aren’t you telling me?”

“It appears Grub had a change of heart.”

“What do you mean Sparky? We need a drummer for this. We’re not Placido Domingo.”

"He sug....Placido Domingo? Where do you come up with this shit?"

"You have to admit he doesn't need a drummer."

“Grub suggested we get Arsehole Party.”

“Je-sus, you didn’t? Please, by crippled Christ and Pope-on-a-rope, tell me you didn’t?” Doc’s eyes pleaded for an answer. “Turn the car around Sparky I’m going home! I refuse to be in the same room as that moron ever again. And Skunk! Holy castrated kittens, she’ll friggin’ crap a diaper full. She hates that guy.”

“I know, I know. Relax Doc. Grub will be there. I’m just saying he had a change of heart is all. It was a close call but he came around. You know how he felt about things toward the end.”

“I forgave him for quitting before the big showcase. That probably caused us to tank? Worst gig ever.”

“We only had ourselves to blame for that Doc. You know it.”

“Yeah– well– I’m still glad you didn’t get Arsehole Party. I would have shit blades of steel on Razor Island if he were coming. Holy shit! I swear I was that close to pushing Skunk out of the way and strangling that fat bastard myself. That close.” Doc showed me a small gap between his fingers as if telling me about it hadn’t been enough.

“Arsehole Party had us all that close Doc.”

“So what changed the little Bug’s mind?”

“I gave him something to think about for a few days. I told him his mother would be returned unharmed after this weekend.”

“Je-sus, I don’t know whether to believe you or not when you pull that crap?”

I smirked at him and gave him a sly wink. “No practical jokes for the studio Doc.”

“Like What? Taking a picture of me with Wally’s tooth brush up my ass then emailing him a copy after we’re finished?”

“There’s no time Doc and the joke would be on you. What makes you think Wally would have a computer. No, it has to be all business. No tomfoolery, no Chubs, no alcohol.”

“No booze! but it’s the nectar of the gods, Sparky. What about– ”

“– Doc we need to maintain our focus. No booze.”

“Not even a wee nip?” He showed me the tiny gap between his fingers again. I shook my head in a negative fashion. “OK, OK, Mother Superior. It’s not going to be easy. You know we all used to suck back the John Barleycorn like it was the cure for cancer . . . ”

“Didn’t help Wires much then did it?” I said. I was becoming annoyed.

“Oh yeah. Forgot. Sorry . . . So what did you tell Grub, Really?”

“I told him we only seem to see each other at weddings and funerals. He understood what I meant.”

“Well fill me in because I don’t.”

“You were there. You remember Blood Monkey’s wedding?”

“Blood Monkey? What the hell does that have to do with Grub changing his mind?”

***

Blood Monkey was the affectionate nickname for our light-man back in the Oral Blonde days. He was a young kid when Doc brought him into the fold- fresh and freckle-faced. He looked about twelve, but he was a muscular little guy and fit right in. I don’t remember the circumstances of him earning the moniker, only Doc started calling him Blood Monkey one day, and it seemed to coincide with Grub's simian pet suddenly disappearing.

After the band suffered its last breath and we all ventured down dissimilar roads, some of us kept in touch. So much so, when Blood Monkey brought a long courtship to fruition and finally tied the knot, he felt compelled to invite some of his old band chums to the wedding. Doc, Grub, The Mayor, Alice and I, had all graciously accepted and Chas had signed up as best man.

We arrived and were seated together at a large round table in a corner of a huge ballroom, dimly lit and decorated with the usual wedding paraphernalia. Streamers of all colors flowed from the ceiling accentuated by flowers, balloons, gifts of all shapes and sizes and an air-conditioned freon smell of temperature five degrees lower than it should be.

With our invited guests by our side we chatted and conversed in a jovial fashion. I was in a particularly bad relationship at the time with a girl named Lara. She was hopelessly trapped in the eighties in hairstyle and mentality. Her overall appearance was well shy of being hot and her demeanor barely registered above white trash. In essence, it was a union destined to end a week or two in. However, she had been in a debilitating car crash the second week of our union and I couldn’t bring myself to be the asshole who broke up with her while she lay in a hospital bed in traction, or the ensuing recovering months on crutches. So here we were still together a good nine months after I should have waved goodbye. She was a bad drunk and the open bar wasn’t going to help our evening.

Somewhere between the dinner and the heartfelt congratulations of best man Chas, Lara had leaned over to me from her little boat of insecurity on the jealous sea, and the accusations had started. “You want to fuck that chick over there don’t ya?”

“Who, the mother of the Bride? Are you for real?”

The Oral Blondes had been defunct for sometime and it had been a while since Alice had booked any of our gigs. I wanted the chance to play catch up. She had been through a host of bad dating experiences until she’d finally found a nice guy who had accompanied her to the wedding and was in the process of bringing me up to speed. “They’d always bring me gifts for some reason.”

“Surprise, you’re a very likable chick Alice.”

“No, John you don’t understand these were unusual gifts. Whipped-out gifts. The kind you don’t give to a girl on a first date. On any date.”

“Like what?”

“Like washer fluid, mouse traps, dental floss, a big bag of screws . . . ”

“...I see where that was going . . . ”

“Oh, it didn’t stop there. You want me to go on? Toe nail clippers, talking beer mugs, a budgie . . . ”

“As in the bird, or one of the band members?”

“Bird- Sept it was the middle of winter and he had a pick-up truck. Tossed the cage into the flat bed and the bird still in it. The poor thing froze to death on the way over. Gave it to me anyway. Said, it was the thought that counted.”

“What happened to the guy you started dating the last time we were down your way? Rick was it?”

“Rick. Yes. He was alright until I finally got invited over to his place. The wall above his bed was covered in various sized dildos. I didn’t know weather to sleep with him of go rock climbing?”

“Sounds kinky?”

“Yeah until the KY came out and he started greasing up his own butt. Handed me a strap-on and everything. That guy was demented. Wore bare-ass leather chaps, studded dog collars the whole nine yards. He also had this fetish for shoes. I couldn’t get any sleep even if I wanted to. He was always waking me up in the middle of the night by trying to shove spike heeled pumps onto my feet as I slept. I couldn’t handle it. I need someone more down to normal, plus he had too much shit hanging anyway.”

“Too well endowed was he?”

“No, he had a lot of cold-sores.”

We both laughed. “The new guy’s nice.”

“Yeah he’s a keeper, treats me good.”

Lara budged into our conversation. “Hey John! Can I talk to you? Alone!” She tugged on my arm insistently.

“Excuse us Alice.” I let myself be led away. “What is so frickin’ important?”

“I’ve been watching you from the bar.”

“I’m not surprised. Go on.”

In the background the DJ’s voice like the sweetest sugar rolled over the P.A. system out of the darkness. It said, “Let’s have a warm welcome for the Bride and Groom and their first dance together.” Polite applause and the glittering beams of a mirror-ball, led Blood Monkey and the love of his life onto the dance floor.

“You want to fuck Alice don’t you? I see the way you look at her. The way you laugh together.”

“Alice is a dear old friend Lara. She used to book the Oral Blondes. Now if her sister was here that would be different.”

“Don’t they all look the same? Aren’t they like twins or somethin’?”

“Quadruplets . . . ”

“I don’t care if they’re quad-ra-pa-ledics . . . ”

“You’re so drunk you can’t even say it.”

She slurred in defiance. “I am not!” Lara placed a hand on my shoulder, more to steady herself than a sign of affection.

The DJ’s voice interrupted us once again, “The Bride and Groom have chosen a special song for this wondrous occasion, The Power of Love.” He extended love, so it sounded like luuuuuv. The first notes of the perky pop song from Huey Lewis and the News, burst from the speakers. I glanced at Blood Monkey as he and his Bride remained motionless, their mouths open slightly in disbelief. “It’s supposed to be Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Power of Love . . . idiot. The guy calls himself a DJ?”

“Look at me Johnny, damn it! Don’t change the subject and don’t you lie to me! You want to fuck her don’t you?”

“Look, Lara, even if I did, do you think it would be the smart thing to do with her new boyfriend here and my soon to be ex-girlfriend at my side?”

“What do you mean EX?” She was becoming more belligerent.

Blood Monkey and his bride were still standing motionless as they were joined by various women kicking off their shoes and hollering as they shuffled onto the dance floor in stocking feet. Some of the women were of Titanic proportions. One must have hit an iceberg because she slid and fell on her derriere but was rescued by some passing ships and soon was bouncing up and down again to the rhapsodic thumping rhythm.

“I asked you a question!”

“Lower your voice. You’re making a scene.”

“What do you mean Ex?” She was glaring at me savagely through grit teeth.

“If you keep this up Lara, you will be.”

“Is that supposed to be some kind of threat?”

I felt my hand clenching into a fist. Would I dare? I’d never hauled off and hit a woman in my life. I’d never hit anyone for that matter, but here was this person nattering on ceaselessly with the most preposterous bile, and suddenly for a brief instant I considered performing a little dental examination with my knuckles.

“You’re going to dump me for that . . . that cunt aren’t you?”

“You WILL NOT! Talk about my friends that way! Do you hear me?!” Suddenly I was the one making a scene. Her eyes started to well up as I continued to lambaste her.“ Of all the crass, hurtful, vicious, inconsiderate, white-trashy things to say.”

“— Who you callin’ white trash?”

“— Are you even human under that foul armored exterior you call skin? I’ve never heard or seen such ugliness.”

“I’ll have you know I’m beaugiful.” I don’t know how, but see dropped a G into beautiful.

“Yeah! Well beauty is only skin deep Lara. Ugly’s to the bone, or in your case to the soul. As far as I’m concerned, you couldn’t be much uglier than you are right now. I can’t be around you. You disgust me!” I turned my back on her.

“Don’t walk away from me Johnny. You’ll be sorry.”

“I already am.” I thundered off. I passed Alice on the way out. “This ends tonight. Wait and see.”

I thrust my fist into one side of the saloon-type doors leading from the ballroom. Doc came waltzing through the other. “Is everybody happy?” he yelled. He rushed to join the rotund dancing juggernaut of bare feet and nylons.

I walked out of the building for air and did not return until I had time to put my, It’s not you It’s me, speech in order. I guess it’s the standard goodbye blow-off most people use when they want to dump someone without causing too much of a scene. This was, after all, Blood Monkey’s wedding and I had to be precise in my breakup surgery. I had reached the end of my mental tether and was tired of it all. Tired of Lara and her attitude. Tired of the psycho blowups I could set my watch by. Tired of her drab apartment with the parrot colored towels hung crookedly over the rack, the leopard print throw rug, the blue glass porpoises jumping half-filled candy dishes, the ubiquitous wolf prints on everything from coasters to dishrags to designs etched in acrylic candle holders. They howled at me from the bedroom comforter. They barked at me from the welcome mat. They yammered away from the closet on sweaters of powder blues, ashen grays, and kissing pinks. I was tired of Lara and the whole zoo. Tonight it would end and I would march right back in there and tell her so. Another L was about to end up on the alphabetical pile of Ex’s.

When I returned, I could not find her anywhere. I located Alice cuddling up to her new beau in the hallway as they were preparing to leave.

“Alice did you see my idiot girlfriend?”

“I think she had too much to drink. She went to throw up I’ll bet. I saw her disappear into the restroom about twenty minutes ago.”

“I can’t go into the women’s. Will you do me a huge favor and go see if she’s still in there?”

“She didn’t go into the women’s. She went into the men’s.”

“Sounds like her all right. OK, thanks.”

I walked into the washroom to the echo of retching with the simultaneous grunts and coos of bathroom noises in mid vomit. There was a smell of paper towels, wet with pink liquid soap, and the squeak of shoes on the tiles followed by the occasional banging of a stall door.

“Lara, that you?” The banging and squeaking ceased. The retching however, continued. I identified the offending stall and slowly swung the door in. Lara had her face in the bowl. Her one arm around the porcelain in a loving embrace, the other, reaching up to clutch onto the toilet-paper roll. She had nearly un-spooled the entire coil into a soft white mountain on the tiles below. Her dress was hiked up to the hips and her bare ass smiled at me sideways. Lara’s black dress was draped across her hips and down each thigh like the curtains over a stage of some adult puppet show. Her knees seemed tied by her black lace panties as if they were being held hostage. Grub stood over her, his hand still on his zipper barely just pulling it to attention. There was another wretch and I could hear Lara’s voice reverberate from the bowl. “Why did you stop?! Don’t stop . . . waugh!”

“Someone’s here,” Grub uttered.

Lara again from the throne. “I don’t care, fuck me . . . waugh!”

Grub pushed by me, beet red with embarrassment, and I followed him, letting the door swing shut with a bang.

“I’m sorry John . . . I was in here and she just barged in. She said she felt sick.”

“Really? How does she feel to you now? Oh...that’s what you were doing taking her rectal temperature. You’re not supposed to use a meat thermometer you know.”

The toilet belched. “Waugh!”

“I was just trying to help her throw up.”

“I see. By pushing her repeatedly into the crapper with your penis? I’ll have to try it one day.” Actually I was jumping for joy inside. There would be no need for the breakup talk now. This was perfect, but I kept my face in a scowl of anger and disappointment.

“How could you of all people do this?”

“I don’t know. One minute I was helping her into a stall, and the next— .”

“— you were helping yourself?”

“One thing led to another and...It just happened. I’m sorry.”

“Waugh!”

“I know Lara and I have had our problems Grub, but you should at least wait for the grass to dry before you turn on the sprinkler. You owe me Grub. One day I’ll remind you of that.”

“Waugh!”

Boy I wish I had to take a piss right now. I raised my voice, letting it roar off the tiles. “I see you decided to do the smart thing Lara. Have a nice life.” I turned away, trying to conceal my glee behind my feigned anger, and left them both behind. The satisfaction I felt was one of relief mostly, bordering on euphoric elation. The same feeling you got at the end of a long car ride as
you stood in front of the urinal squeezing the hell out of your bladder with your stomach muscles until you achieved an emptiness through a steady stream. It was the slamming of your hand down on the snooze button for another ten minutes in blissful slumber. It was Rolaids relief quelling the burning esophagus, and in actuality, I owed Grub, not the other way around.

***


“Where was I when all this went down?”

“Dancing the Macarena I think. So there you have it Doc, I just reminded Grub he owed me a debt and it had to be repaid.”

“So you fucked him in the ass over a toilet bowl?”

“I’m sure he probably would’ve preferred that to me exhuming the past and reliving the event.”

“Did he end up with Lara?”

“If he did, it wasn’t for long. Besides being an asshole and a drunk, she wasn’t very good between the sheets. She gave blow-jobs like she was making the driest martini in the world and my dick was the vermouth. By the end of our relationship she wouldn’t even wave at it.”

I turned on the wipers and gave the windscreen a shot of fluid to help scrape off the kamikaze insects. They had started to accumulate in a splat of shrapnel bug parts.

“So is there anything else I should know before we get there?”

I started to fill in the blanks about Wires, Griffin Alexander, the time limit and the visit from the lawyer. “I’m sorry about the details Doc, but I couldn’t tell you until now. It was part of the agreement. You do understand?”

“You get the paper work taken care of?”

“Yeah, but you know what? The lawyer didn’t look the way I expected. I guess I was waiting for someone more Hollywood- the nice suit, every hair in place, the little hanky like a snow-covered peek poking out of the breast pocket. I guess more like Alexander. This guy wasn’t even clean shaven. It was hard to believe Griffin would associate himself with a guy like that?”

“Je-sus Sparky, true life is not all Law and Order.”

“Doc this guy looked like he hadn’t shaved in days. In fact, he looked like he was there to shake me down instead of give me details- scar across the chin, dark complexion, steely eyes, tooth pick wedged between his teeth, great big hulking shoulders, needed a stronger deodorant. You know the type?”

“Sadly I do . . . And what are the details?”

“He gave me a contract to sign, the contact names at the studio, and directions. That’s pretty much it, and then he left.”

“Not a man of many words huh?”

“Other than, ‘Griffin sent me, sign this, take these,’ and ‘see ya,’ not much at all. And I’ll tell you Doc, it was a little unsettling. I just wanted to get him out of my apartment as quickly as possible.”

“I’m sure he’s house broken.”

“Not that. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was his voice, rumbling like a deep threat out of a distant valley. I don’t know. I tell you if there had been reverb on it I would have run screaming.”

“Oh, it couldn’t be that bad, ya scaredy cat?”

“Doc I’m serious. I’m unnerved just thinking about it.”

“What was the contract about?”

“An outline of the procedures involved in the will. I’m taking our copy up to look at it more closely when we get there.”

“You signed something without reading it first?”

“Doc this is Wires we are talking about. Christ you sound just like the Mayor.”

“It doesn’t sound to me like Wires would have sent Charles Manson to your house with paper work. Sorry, I just don’t want to get there and find a big pile of nothing waiting for us.”

“You won’t. I guarantee it.” At the exact moment I spoke those words, the car began to sputter, the temperature gauge climbed well into the red and the hood hissed steam, like there was a cage full of rattle snakes beneath it.

“Oh great. What now?”

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