Only fRINGE could get deceased literary geniuses to reach out from beyond the grave and turn their jaundiced eyes on the artistic merits of up-and-coming underground bands. Our decomposing authors shall piss on the putrid and fawn on the fabulous in their own distinct and inimitable styles. Our first installment of Dead Eye Review features the poet laureate of skid row, the late Charles "Hank" Bukowski. His quarry: the NYC band SLUNT, currently gigging all over the US and touring Europe this fall with Mötörhead. Their first CD, Get a Load of This is now available. Take it away, Hank...
By The Late Charles Bukowski
It began as a joke. The flyer said one word, SLUNT. I laughed. The first time in a while that I laughed. I took a swig of my Gallo wine and headed for the door. The twelve-year-old working the door didn't ask for my ID. Only told me I couldn't bring the bottle inside. It was half full, but I drained it right there and handed him the empty. Once inside, the club was dark. The walls were painted black. It was my kind of place, stocked with alcohol, and filled elbow-to-elbow with acne-clad post-pubescent choirboys, old lechers like me, and young girls too dumb to know the difference between the two. A loud chord rang out, guttural, off-key and reverberating. I looked up at the stage. That's when I saw them. The one that looked like Modigliani's Jeanne Hébuterne had a guitar and was clearly the leader, the other, a dark-hued beauty, looked like she could smash the wall down with her bass.
These girls looked wild. I wanted to tame them. I had to tame them. That was useless, I knew. It was as hopeless as mowing the lawn and trying to get all the hairs. And it was much more dangerous. If I failed this time, it wouldn't be my father's strap waiting for me. It would mean my soul. I asked around. I learned that Abby and Ilse were their names. I bought a beer and settled in for the night.
The lead singer, Abby, took a few runs on the fingerboard, up and down, up and down, then grabbed the microphone. "We're Slunt. And we were born at the Continental." The bass player, Ilse, stuck her tongue out and licked the air. Then the band ripped into some loud cacophonous dirge. I was focused on Abby's T-shirt. It was the kind of shirt I'd see on high-school kids riding the bus with me, except Abby had taken shears to it and it was just hanging on by a thread. The shirt clung to her perfect chest and seemed to scream, "Rip me off." Or perhaps Abby did. Either way, I wasn't drunk enough yet.
Two men were on the stage too. One was a bald drummer walking a thin line between Vin Diesel and Uncle Fester; the other one, on guitar, looked like an Irish version of Satan. But I barely saw them. I was here for their women. Abby and Ilse. One was Madonna, the other whore. But they kept trading off who was which. I couldn't tell who to worship and who to fuck. That's why I decided to fuck the whole band, Irish Satan and all.
The music stopped again. "Somebody buy us some Jack Daniels!" Did my ears hear Abby correctly? I drained the remnants of my beer and headed to the bar. The kid behind the bar looked like that kid on that sitcom from back when I was alive. I waited and waited while the band whipped through another number, then another. I picked up my glass and threw it at the picture of Iggy Pop on the wall. That's when the kid bartender noticed me and gave me seven shots of Jack Daniels, four for the band and three for me. I drain one on the way back to the stage. I drop another when some kid with an anvil haircut bumps into me. I knock out his girlfriend and he runs away. I muscle my way to the stage and see that the band already has twelve shots of Jack just lined up and waiting for them. Fuck them. I down two of the shots on my tray and look up at Ilse. Damn, she's fine. She's wearing a faded rock shirt over some sort of silky pajamas, with pants that end at the shin before her boots even begin. Shaggy hair covers her eyes while she sings harmony. Her mouth is a perfect circle, open to taste life. I want to taste Ilse. I down another shot. Then another. Then another. I drink all seven shots. These girls played me for a sucker. Like every other guy here who bought them whiskey.
I drop the tray on the floor and sway with the latest song. I know this song. I don't know their music, but there's something familiar. It's slow and incessant. But I know it. It's older. The eighties. I think I'm used to hearing it on keyboard instead of on guitar. Yeah, I know it. It's that song; the one from that band with the big fat, sexy chick. It's catchy. The chorus comes up. "I might like you better if we slept together!" That's it. "Never Say Never." Fuckin' A right. I reach down on the stage and grab one of the band's shots of Jack and down it. No one notices. I grab another and down it. Abby shoots me a look. She's not smiling. But I sense she's daring me. I grab another shot of Jack and throw it back. Abby lets fly with her boot. It's got one of those four inch-thick heels. I feel every inch of it against my front teeth before they go shooting out of my mouth. I smile as the blood mixes with my spittle and drips down my chin. I pick up another Jack and drain it. Irish Satan takes off his guitar and slams it down on my head. It all goes dark. I've been here before.
I come to. The band is standing over me. It's late now. I can feel it. Everyone's already gone home but the band and wait staff. Ilse looks concerned. "I think you killed him, Pat." My sweet Ilse.
Ilse's eyes are dark. I muster up courage to introduce myself. "Hi, Ilse. I'm Hank. Hank Bukowski."
Abby looks down, defiantly. "Bullshit, asshole. We know Bukowski. And Bukowski's Dead."
I look up and smile through the blood. "Never say never, bitch."
Label: Repossession Records
Venue: The Continental