So, I Can Taste the Blood.
Where did the idea originate?
In the seedy bathroom stall of a seedy St. Louis pizza joint.
Sounds legit, right?
Okay, there’s a place in south St. Louis called Blackthorn Pub & Pizza. It’s a little dive bar—and I say that with reverence. The world needs more dive bars. It’s an approximation of Chicago-style pizza, being deep dish and containing a bowel-clenching amount of cheese. It’s delicious, and my wife and I get there as often as we can. If you come to St. Louis, I heartily recommend it.
Anyway, I had imbibed several hard ciders along with my pizza on one such visit and needed the use of the facilities. Weaving my way inside the small men’s room, I was confronted by concentrated seediness. Again, not that the restrooms were appallingly unclean, even by the somewhat loose standards of dive bars. No, it was that the stalls were plywood and covered…and I do mean covered…with graffiti.
As a guy, it’s often nice to have something to look at while pissing. It makes the time go by quickly and takes your mind off of the somewhat questionable ambience of the restroom—the heady aromas, the piss-sticky floor, the thought that someone might come up behind you in that vulnerable position and stick a knife in you. This is how I think…don’t judge.
Graffiti, as a restroom art form, is welcomed in these circumstances. So, as I recycled my cider, I perused the surrounding walls. Much of the stuff one would expect—toilet witticisms, filthy humor, abjurations against someone’s girl, mother, latent sexuality, etc.
But there, like a jewel amidst the turds (somewhat literally), was the one line that jumped out at me as I zipped up.
“I Can Taste the Blood.”
Right there, eye level.
I stood there for a moment, a curious and ill-advised thing to do in the pissoir of a dive bar, and marveled at this phrase.
Then I did something even more ill-advised.
I whipped out my (easy, there, hoss) cell phone and took a picture of it.
With a flash.
In the stall of a dive bar men’s room.
Luckily, there wasn’t anyone else there.
So that phrase lodged itself in my mind, and the wheels began turning.
“I Can Taste the Blood.”
So ripe, so open to so many interpretations.
I mulled it over for a while, then talked to Joe Schwartz about it. We live close by and meet regularly to have coffee and discuss (read: bitch about) writerly stuff. He liked the idea, too. Liked it so much, in fact, he wanted to write something referencing it.
Then it struck us. Why not do this together, write two pieces with the same title?
Then it really struck us. Why not invite some other writers to join us, and we can show people how different writers can approach the same idea from far different perspectives.
It would also give us our own project to write and ultimately bring to market (again with said savvy publisher), effectively making our own paying gig.
To those ends, I think we succeeded.