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How It All Got Started 018: Alex

Tuesday, June 19, 1984

Alex left Hagar’s for the relative warmth of the mid-day June sun and walked to where his bike was chained to a lamp post.

He had a job.

Whoopee.

Hagar’s was the third place he’d filled out a job application, and the only one to interview him on the spot. Just his luck.

He supposed there was a chance the toy store or movie theater might call him for an interview before next Friday. He didn’t need to abandon all hope.

“Fuck.”

He just didn’t want to work at a fast food joint. It was embarrassing.

There wasn’t anything left to do but to head back home. A nap wouldn’t hurt, after all.

Still, no trip to Belltower Plaza was complete without going into Pinnacle Records.

He didn’t really want to walk into the record store holding the plastic-wrapped Hagar’s shirts. He’d look like a dork.

Fate intervened in the form of a ratty, but still serviceable, Fargello’s grocery bag the breeze had stuck on the corner of a nearby parked car’s bumper. Alex appropriated it and shoved the shirts inside before he pushed through the doors of Pinnacle Records.

The record store was a kind of sanctuary for Alex. It was the size of a supermarket, with row after row of vinyl, a huge cassette section… even a classical music section in its own glass-walled room. One side of the store had been dedicated to tee-shirts, posters and “smoking paraphernalia,” but some time since Alex’s last visit, that had been replaced by a video department.

The booming, store-wide sound system blared what sounded like the Tubes’ “White Punks on Dope” sung in German by a woman with flaming balls of barbed wire in her throat. Alex had no idea what he was hearing, and that was part of what was so freakin’ cool about Pinnacle Records.

He didn’t have any money, of course, so he browsed the aisles and admired the huge murals on the walls. He could tell all the art was custom-made; air-brushed stuff mounted on huge squares of foam core. He wondered if the artist was on-staff, or if they commissioned the pieces. How cool a job would that be?

In the imports aisle, Alex checked to see if any new U2 or Alarm 12-inch singles had arrived.

“You like U2, you should check out the Virgin Prunes, man.”

Alex turned to see a tall, broad-shouldered guy with a ruddy face and black flat-top haircut standing behind him. A Pinnacle name badge hanging from a lanyard around the employee’s neck told Alex he was being addressed by Frank.

“Oh… thanks. I hadn’t heard of them.”

Frank raised an eyebrow, but nodded. “Yeah, both bands go way back. In fact,” he pulled a record out of the stacks and tapped one of the blurry figures on the cover, “it was this guy who gave Bono Vox his nickname.”

“Huh!”

“And this guy,” another tap, “is the Edge’s brother.”

“No kidding?”

“Of course,” Frank shrugged, “they don’t sound anything like your U2.” Alex picked up on a little good-natured criticism. “So you might not be that into them. It’s a lot more dark.”

Alex smiled. “I’m just browsing today, anyway… but thanks for letting me know. I’m gonna check them out.”

Frank carefully put the album back in it’s proper place in the stacks. “My pleasure.” He held out a big hand. “I’m Frank.”

Alex shook his hand. “Alex.”

“Nice to meetcha, Alex.” He pointed at him. “Tell you what. Swing by next week, look for me. I’ll put together a tape of some Prunes stuff for you.”

Alex smiled. This place was built out of cool and the people who worked there were totally boss. “That’s—that’s really great. You want me to bring you a blank tape?”

Frank waved his hand. “Pshah. I work in a record store. Don’t worry about it.” He nodded. “I gotta get back to it. Catch you around, Alex.”

“Thanks again, Frank.”

Too fucking cool.

Alex resumed meandering through the store. He was a little surprised to see a “now hiring” sign hanging near the Ticketron booth near the entrance of the new video section. If he hadn’t wandered over to that side of the store, he never would have seen it.

He hadn’t seriously considered working at Pinnacle. Part of him assumed the store was fully formed, all one thing, and that the people who worked there had come included with the walls and floor and ceiling, built into the whole Pinnacle Records thing.

Of course, that was ridiculous. But would they ever hire someone like him? It didn’t seem likely.

On the other hand, how badly was he looking forward to wearing maroon polyester and a hair net?

Alex strode into the video department. He stopped short when he saw the woman behind the counter.

She looked like the daughter of the singer from Aerosmith and a carnival fortune teller. Long strands of fuchsia, white, green and black hair flowed from the tight scarf that covered the top of her head. Her green eyes were framed with carefully drawn, over-the-top eyeliner that seemed inspired by Cleopatra. Her cheekbones were high; her face graceful and almost elfin. Huge, slender hoops dangled from her ears. The light, patterned shawl over her shoulders barely concealed the black leotard and the curves of her upper body.

Alex didn’t know where to look and not to look.

“Um… do you… can I get…”

She favored him with a languid smile. “You want an application?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

She handed him the sheet of paper and a pen. “You can fill it out here if you want. It’s slow enough. Just let me know if anyone comes around, okay?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

What had happened to the rest of his vocabulary?

She went to the far end of the counter and left him to it. The application was pretty straightforward, especially since he didn’t have any previous experience. Under “Hobbies and Interests”—a section the Hagar’s application had not included—he put down that he was a guitarist, singer and painter. That couldn’t hurt, right?

After a few minutes, the woman came back. This time she was on his side of the counter. Alex tried not to stare at the sway of her black spandex and silk scarf-clad hips as she approached.

She held out a thin hand, fingers covered with rings of chrome skulls and silver flowers. “All set?”

Alex handed her the application. She gave it a quick look. “Hi, Alex. I’m K.C.”

They shook hands. “Nice to meet you.”

“You too.” She turned and sashayed toward the rear of the store. She looked over her shoulder and waved. “Good luck!”

“Thanks…”

Screw maroon polyester.

He really, really wanted to work at Pinnacle Records.

Oh, yeah.

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Copyright 2003 ~ 2018 Matthew Wayne Selznick.
The Sovereign Era, The Shaper's World, Daikaiju Universe, Protector Universe, Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights, How It All Got Started, Thing, Carson Meunetti, Lina Porter, Alex Kent, Crystal Dubois, Abbeque Valley, Dana Cove, Pinnacle Records, Hagar's and related characters, institutions, situations, and representative depictions in media are trade marks of Matthew Wayne Selznick.
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