Alternative Ending


The radio was blaring, “The thrill is gone…gone away.”

She made a face. “What is that crap?”

Before I could tell her the tuner was scanning, she punched a button, twisted the volume knob and KROQ was pulsing like a bright neon light.

“Know who that is?” She asked

Fast ball.  Right down the middle.

“Nirvana,” I sneered.  “What is this, a test?”

Her eyebrows formed semi-circles as she shot me a look across the bridge of her nose.  “What does that group have to do with tonight?”

It was a test.  I hit the ball out of the park.

“The guitar player from Nirvana is in the Foo Fighters.”

She wasn’t impressed.

I brought her with me to make sure I was on the cutting edge of the Alternative scene.  As Network 40 is getting closer to the Commercial Alternative section we’ve been planning, I needed to involve myself deeper in the netherworld.  She would be my guide.  Not that I needed much guidance.  I reminded her that I had invented the format.

She still wasn’t impressed

“Put the car phone under the seat so no one will steal it,” she said.

First there was the diner at some Italian restaurant with Jeffrey, Chris and Brian from Capitol Records.  Lopes kept quoting from The Satanic Verses.  I couldn’t figure out why and didn’t try very hard.  I couldn’t talk with Jeffrey.  He was too busy hanging with his boy, Robert Woods.  Brian was talking with her.  He told her I invented the format.

She still wasn’t impressed

The trouble started at the Troubadour.  Supergrass was putting on a show and I was bogarting a warm, watery beer.

“Yo, chick, what’s up?”

I heard the voice behind me.  She rolled her eyes.

“Gerry,” she said, “this is Zandar.”

I turned around and immediately wished I hadn’t.

“Dude, it’s good to meet you,” Zandar shouted over the band.

I nodded.  There was no need to speak.

“What are you guys doing?”

She told him we were listening to the band, then heading to see the Foo Fighters.

He was impressed.

“Got any extra tickets?”

I pretended not to hear him.

“I don’t have any money, but I can give you some of this.”  He held out his palm.

I shook my head.  “Been there, done that.”

“Dude, It’ll make you see Jesus.”

I thought I was looking at him.  Except that in all the pictures I had seen, Jesus had never been depicted with fluorescent blue hair.

“I’ll take a pass on the pills, Zandar.”  I handed him a shot of tequila.  “But I’ll share a couple of these with you.”

“Far out, dude,” he shouted.  “What is it?”

“Just drink it.”  I knocked mine back.

She wasn’t impressed.

The hype on the Foo Fighters is big.  But not big enough.  The band was, in Zander’s words, “Awesome, dude.”  We stayed through the last chord, then headed for Before Dawn, a little known after-hours club just off the strip.  She asked for the phone to check her messages.  Zander was lying on the hood, trying to catch bugs in his mouth.

We were half-way through the first set of Secret (LA’s best unsigned band) when a truly Alternative urge hit me.

“I want a tattoo.”

She looked at me.  Impressed. Finally.

“I’ll show you where I got mine.”

“Great.” I took a step back and waited for her to show me.

She made that face again.  “No, I mean the parlor.  It’s right down the street.”

I took another shot of courage.  “Let’s go.”

She and I walked into the night.  Zander was right behind.

Inside the tattoo parlor, I was met by a half-naked man with no hair.  Lot’s of tattoos, though.  She was on a first-name basis with him.

“My friend wants a tattoo.”

He looked at Zandar in disgust.

She grabbed my arm.  “No, this one.”

He gave me the once over.  “What did you have in mind?”

I shrugged.  “Something small on my butt.”

I got the look he’d just given Zandar.  “On your butt?  Then it’ll be hidden.  Why don’t you let me put a giant eagle across your chest?”

“Why don’t you kiss my ass before you put a needle in it,” I snapped.

Zandar passed out in corner.

She pulled me over to a wall covered with pictures of tattoos before the guy could put a needle in my eye.  “Let’s pick one of these.”

I passed on different variations of “Mother.”

“How about a rose?” she suggested.


She pointed to a dagger.


“Well, what do you want?”

I was about to say I didn’t know, when I saw it.  I took her hand and placed her finger on it.

She looked up at me.  Really impressed.

“That’s perfect.” A smile.  “I’ll bet you invented that.”

She was catching on.

I dropped my jeans and Dr. Frankenstein went to work.  I felt no pain.  When it was done, we left.  The tattoo guy had Zandar spread out on a table, the flying eagle stitched across his chest.

In the car, she asked for the phone to check her service again.  I fumbled under the seat for a while with no luck.

“Maybe I put it under yours.”

She searched for a minute, then sat up.  “The phone is gone,” she sang softly, “gone away.”

I was impressed.

Later we compared tattoos.  Hers was in a place where she couldn’t see it without a mirror.  But I could.  Mine was in a place where I couldn’t see it without a mirror.  But she could.

You think you’ll ever see mine?

A lot of things are going to happen…but that ain’t one of them.

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