Nothing, nothing, nothing and more nothing. Opportunities in sales, plenty of that, but no jobs in graphic design. Her head in her hand, Bubbles zones out for a moment. Her unfocused eyes burn a hole in the classifieds, while her finger lazily traces the coffee cup rings on the table. Snapping to, she looks at her watch, and swallows the last cold mouthful of her latte. Kicking back the chair, she jabs a cigarette in her lips, and with two long strides she's out the door. As she fires up her smoke, she recalls feeling pretty heroic, dropping that shitty pharmacy job, just like that . . . for a couple of days, anyway. Luckily she was paid on Tuesday, so she was good for at least three weeks, maybe a month. After that, it would mean . . . a call to Mom.
Her Mom was cool, though. Well, perhaps too cool. As in stoic. That's how she described herself, stoic and pragmatic. The woman had put herself through Princeton, pedal to the metal, good grades, bright future, then a minor detour — nothing she couldn't handle, unexpected pregnancy, no father — then, baby on hip, she finished grad school, and shifted into a full-throttle career as a psychologist.
Stirred from her thoughts by her cell phone vibrating, Bubbles steps aside of the sidewalk traffic, and goes into her little dance she does when she's trying to pry the phone from her way-too-tight jeans pocket. Working to squeeze it out, like a deep splinter, it finally pops loose, causing her to juggle it like a wet bar of soap.
"BUBBLES!" A female voice is raging on the other end. Tears and fury.
"Angie? What's up? Slow down, I can't understand . . . Yeah. OK. Josh? Again? Alright, I'll be there. Soon, yes, soon."
Bubbles rubs her temples. Angie and Josh. So much drama. She tosses the newspaper in a can and strides the three blocks to the apartment Angie and Josh share with Tony. Good old Tony. Completely unflappable. There he'd sit, smack in the middle of one of Angie and Josh's scorched earth scream-fests, reading a graphic novel with a well-baked grin on his big face.
As she climbs the three flights, she hears a serious racket from above. When she gets to the landing, there is Tony, sitting in the hall, reassuringly baked and grinning.
"Tony, what are you doing out here?"
"Things are flying. Safer out here."
Something heavy crashes against the door. Tony shrugs and says, "Josh's stuff. Mostly."
Bubbles cracks the door and peers in. She sees Angie toppling the CD rack, sending hundreds of disks crashing to the floor, sharp plastic bits flying everywhere. Standing on the pile, she kicks the disks in every direction, a few whizzing out the open window. The disks are slipping and sliding dangerously under her feet, causing her to lose her balance. With her arms flailing, she goes down hard, her head rebounding off the floor. Bubbles, horrified, rushes in, and kneels at her side.
"Angie, holy fuck! Are you all right?"
Angie opens her eyes and looks up at Bubbles. The corners of her mouth curl down and her eyes well up.
"Noooo, I'm NOT all right. He's gone. He did it, the bastard."
"Where did he go?"
"Los Angeles. With that bitch, Chloe."
Bubbles looks over at Tony standing in the doorway. He nods his head.
"Yup, he did. Called me yesterday. From L.A. Dude gave me a list. Wants me to send him some of his choice CDs." Tony surveys the wreckage and snorts a laugh. "Sure, Josh, no problem."
Bubbles gets Angie upright and checks the back of her head. No blood.
"C'mon, Anj, let's make you a cup of tea."
She helps the sobbing girl to her feet and guides her into the kitchen. Setting her in a chair, Bubbles goes to the cupboard for a tea bag and a mug. Though she's still breathing hard, Angie seems to have settled down a bit. Bubbles puts the kettle on the greasy stove, then sits across from Angie.
"You sure he's not coming back?" As soon as the words leave her lips Bubbles knows she shouldn't have gone there.
Angie stiffens and shoots Bubbles a look.
"No, he's NOT coming back. Says he's going to be a gaffer, whatever the fuck THAT is. CHLOE knows people in the industry. CHLOE has connections . . ."
"OK, Anj, take it easy. Here, take some deep breaths and sip this tea." Bubbles slides the mug in front of Angie. She regards it suspiciously, then takes a tentative sip. She looks at Bubbles with a weak smile. "S'good. Thanks."
"It's Oolong, I think. So, Anj, it's time to move on. Josh has been jerkin' you 'round forever. It's good he's gone. You're gonna be fine."
Bubbles can see that Angie's not listening. Her eyes are wandering around, until something catches her attention in the living room. Bubbles looks to find what's caught her eye, and sees Josh's bass guitar leaning in the corner. That crazed look returns to Angie's face. Bubbles reaches over towards her.
"Anj, don't do it . . ."
Suddenly Angie jumps from the table and tears into the living room with Bubbles stumbling to follow. Angie grabs the bass by the neck, and tries to launch it through the open window, but only manages to take out a lamp. She drags it weakly across the floor before it drops from her hands clattering, strings going WONGNGNG! She's ready to stomp on the defensless instrument when Bubbles grabs her.
"Anj, stop! That bass might be worth some money. You could sell it or something . . ."
"I don't want to sell it! I don't want to look at it! Goddamn piece of shit. He couldn't play it anyway. Fucking poseur. Just get rid of it."
"If you don't take it outta here, I'll smash the thing, I swear!"
Bubbles looks at Tony. "Don't you want it?"
Tony gives her a look that says, "Are you crazy? No fucking way!"
Bubbles looks at the bass. She'd played a little guitar when she was in middle school. She knew a few chords. "What if he wants it back?"
"He's not getting it back! He owes me money, and he can consider it gone! I'm serious, Bubbles, just get it outta here!"
So Bubbles, hugging the instrument, heads back to her apartment, Tony following along carrying the little amp that came with the bass. She feels sort of conspicuous, so she's trying to look cool, like "Yeah, I'm always just walkin' around with my bass, no case, whatever . . . you know, got a gig tonight."
Arriving at the apartment, she gives Tony a big hug and sends him off with a cold beer from the fridge. She drags the amp and the bass into her bedroom. All her roomies are away for the weekend, so she plugs it in and starts to fart around. She can't make it sound like much. She puts it down and turns off the amp. It's stuffy in the little room so she kicks off her jeans and her big sweater. Flipping through her CDs, she stops at Bitches Brew. This one's pretty rough and edgy, she recalls. Miles' electric stuff. She picks the second disk, pops it in, cranks it up and flops back on the bed. She closes her eyes and she's taken deep into an electric jungle city, full of sounds she's never dreamed before. The instruments rise and fall, conversing, screeching, creating a strange, harsh beauty. There's no soloist supported by accompanists, it's all soloing, but no soloing. After the first two tracks, she feels this weird energy from the music. She reaches over and picks up the bass, flips on the power, and starts to thump on it rhythmically. Soon she's dancing around the dark bedroom, undulating in her underwear, throwing down her own strange funk as Miles Runs the Voodoo Down.
Bubbles Meets the Prince of Darkness
International Assholes' Day
Bubbles Runs the Voodoo Down
Bubbles Takes a Magic Carpet Ride
Big Brown lets Bubbles Down
Bubbles, Baked and Fried
Bubbles, Biff and Binny
Bubbles and the 99 cent Epiphany
Bubbles' Trip To See the Doctor
The Doctor and the Prince of Darkness Meet Again
The Doctor and the Naked Glory
More Troubles for Bubbles
What a Lame Vacation
In Careless Act, 17 Drown, 3 Survive.