I’ve been in something of a funk, recently¹.

I’ve been pondering some of the awful life choices that have brought me to my current point in time (did I ever really and truly think my childhood detective agency, The Four Investigators, would solve a single crime of note?), and, I’m sorry to say, it’s brought me down.

I wish I had more money; I wish I had some really, really great shoes. I wish I’d read more serious literary works; surely I had the time?

And so I’ve been sifting through my mental archives, opening my files, shuddering at what I’ve found, and hastily closing them again. Every now and then, a stifled ‘FUCK!’ emerges from the darkened shelves of the Congressional Library of my memory.

It’s been a long, dark, Sunday afternoon of the soul, fitfully illuminated only by the release of the first episode of Season 2 of The Vampire Diaries and Ian Somerhalder at his very finest.

And then… inspiration.

And I realised that my current trajectory can be traced back to a single moment in time, a fulcrum point, when I struck out, horrendously, horribly, and also, kind of humorously, with a French girl who looked just like Milla Jovovich.

I don’t think it’s at all hyperbolic to say If the back-and-forth between us had been a Zeppelin launch, then it would have been the Hindenburg. Which at the time had been on a mercy mission to save orphaned kittens. And everyone who watched the footage would have suddenly caught syphilis.

And yet… I wonder.

What if I’d gotten it right? What if, rather than making an inappropriate observance on the weather, I had come up with the perfect line? The perfect thing to say in that situation to sweep my Milla Jovovich doppelganger off her feet, out of her breath, and into the pleasantly-appointed bedroom I assume her suburban host family had provided for her?

What that line would have been, I don’t know. Something about Napoleon, probably.

Although I would have avoided any references to the Western Front.

Too soon.


‘Ow do you feel?’ Laura asks me, her eyes clear and steady, like an ocean, in the soft rain.

‘Like Napoleon when he first set eyes on his beloved horse, Emmanuelle, ma cherie,’ I say, softly – even softer than the rain that damps our faces.

She melts, and I take her in my strong arms.

We make sweet, unconcerned, French love in the night. Already soulmates, we move back to France, where she finds me a job in her father’s boulangerie and boot-resoling store.

With my sudden disappearance, two minor parts are left unfilled in our high school performance of Whistle Down the Wind. Rather than recast any of the understudies, who are even more useless at acting than I, Mr. Ritchie, the director and year 12 drama coach, gives both parts to my friend Ben, who is already a lead. Ben’s performance of three characters is rightly received as magnificent, and he is awarded the title of Australia’s Best And Greatest Actor. He flies to Los Angeles, where the creators of 6 Feet Under swear they will have him as their own. They make David Fisher a much younger part. Michael C. Hall never gets the gig, never comes to the wider attention of the public and thus, Dexter is never created. After Oz, David Zayas cannot find work, and sinks into depression. He contracts syphilis from a prostitute he knew during his time as a New York beat cop, and dies.

I have killed David Zayas.


‘Ow do you feel?’ Laura asks me, her eyes open and assured, like a secret agent’s bank vault, in the tender rain.

‘As if I’ve been dosed with arsenic, mi corazon,’ I say, even more tenderly than the rain that falls on our shoulders.

‘That is Spanish,’ she says.

‘Oh.’ I say.

She swoons, and I take her in my strong arms.

We make passionate, stylish, Parisian love in the early evening. Fuelled and impassioned by true love, I write a magnum opus about a traveling Russian pony circus that touches the lives of people everywhere, and becomes a movie starring Michael C. Hall as the head pony. It is translated into dozens of languages, and I am a hero. Everywhere I go, screaming crowds scream my name and throw double handfuls of money at me, because they know that is the only thing that will get my attention these days. Laura and I move to Los Angeles, but the pressures of fame, and my growing flirtation with Milla Jovovich, who looks even more like Milla Jovovich than Laura does, lead to our bitter, acrimonious, and very public divorce. Laura flies back to France, weeping endless hot and bitter tears, her only companions her beloved pet tortoise Stuart and her new and almost totally debilitating cocaine habit.

Milla Jovovich and I go to the New York premiere of my film together. Secretly, I am destroyed by my divorce from Laura, and Milla Jovovich is getting on my nerves. I drive drunk, and I accidentally hit David Zayas, who is directing traffic. When the inevitable press comes out, Luc Besson realises that Milla Jovovich is cheating on him, and throws himself into the ocean.

Damn it.

I’ve killed David Zayas again.

And Luc Besson too.


‘Ow do you feel?’ Laura asks me, her eyes black and lacking in even the most basic sparks of intelligence, like her pet tortoise Stuart’s, in the gentle rain.

‘Like the guy who killed Napoleon,’ I say, gently – even more gently than the rain that is ruining our hairstyles.

She blushes, and I take her in my strong arms.

We make foolhardy, art-noveau, Eiffel Tower love in the haze of twilight. Laura reveals her family is secretly rich, and neither one of us will ever have to work again. We drop out of school and travel the world, smoking French cigarettes, wearing denim jackets and striped scarves, and getting fauxhawks before anyone else realised they were fashionable.

We go to a West End play starring Laura’s old family friend, Michael C. Hall. Laura takes me to meet him backstage after the show. Although I have never been attracted to a man before, there is an undeniable spark between the actor and I, and I yearn for him to take me in his strong arms. Laura notices the flirtation between Michael C. Hall and I, and the next week is cold and stilted, and I cannot enjoy the afternoon we spend at the Rockefeller Centre. One night, after too much red wine, she makes several cutting remarks in French. What she does not realise is that in our time together, I have learned to speak French perfectly.

Sobbing, I run from our hotel room to a nearby payphone. There is a storm. As rain pummels the glass box, I call the only person I know in New York – Michael C. Hall.

‘Can I come over?’ I plead. ‘Laura and I… we’ve had a fight.’

Michael C. Hall says of course I can come over. But David Zayas, who has long nursed a crush of his own, sees me going into Michael C. Hall’s apartment.

In a drunken fit of jealousy, David Zayas kicks down the door, and, with his service pistol, shoots me, Michael C. Hall, and then himself.

I have killed us all.




And Laura marries Ian Somerhalder.


¹ and while I’d very much like to be the boss, I’m afraid that’s just not a cost I can pay right now.

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

78 responses to “Alternate Endings”

  1. So many life choices and I have rarely been certain on the right ones. I’ve incorporated a lot more faith into my life, and a confident sort of hope lately. That should help me out to make the best endings possible.

    Milla Jovovich is the only person I know who can melt millions by saying, “Cheeeeken gooood.”

  2. Matt says:


    I’m wearing my Mario’s shirt right now. Damned SSE.

    Hold on….

    OK. I’ll write the rest of this comment all shirtless and manly.

    I used to drive myself nuts with all the “what if..?” scenarios used to run through my head post-break up. I was like a Cray supercomputer with those things…always, of course, in retrospect. Somewhere along the line, though, I learned the value of three simple little words: Ah, fuck it.

    Doubly-important policy to adhere to when the life of David Zayas is in peril should one conduct oneself otherwise.

    • Simon Smithson says:


      Keep your eyes peeled for a French girl. The trick is: don’t say anything stupid.

      Yeah, Monday morning quarterbacking is a real bitch. Those three little words are probably the most valuable in existence. Apart from maybe ‘Don’t press that.’ Those are also a very valuable three.

      Poor David Zayas. He was just innocent collateral. And he has such a charming way of speaking!


  3. Zara Potts says:

    Brew, I love this piece.
    It’s funny and it’s proof that good things can come from dark times. Phoenix and ashes and all that jazz…

    And besides, you still have all your own teeth – so how bad can it be, right????

    Oh, and Emmanuel is a stupid name for a horse. Surely Napolean could have done better? It doesn’t hold a candle to Alexander’s Bucephalus or Zorro’s Toronado.

    A good horse name is essential for victory.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, thanks brew!

      Yeah, I’m told the way out is through. Why can’t the way out be downhill? That’s stupid. If I made the Universe, success and personal fulfilment would never be more than a button press away.

      Believe me, everyone would thank me.

      I have no idea what Napoleon’s horse’s name was. If it was actually Emanuelle, I’m going to be very impressed with my own powers of osmosis.

  4. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    I think you need to come up with a line that lands you the role of Keith on Six Feet Under.
    Take Michael C. Hall in your strong arms, Simon.


    • Simon Smithson says:

      You know, I’ve never actually seen an episode of that show? I’m very curious to see it after seeing Michael C. Hall only on Dexter.


      • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

        I’m in L O V E with that show.
        If that show put a ring on my finger, I’d say yes.
        I’d never watch another TV show again.
        Divorce would not be an option.
        Till death, and even then…
        Alan Ball is a genius.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yes, but if that show put a ring on your finger it would end with a horribly realistic fight and Nate would call you a c*** and throw your ugly ring at you and you would end up crying while he went and knocked up that awful Seattle wholefood’s check out chick.
          Oh, I love that show with a passion.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          Yeah, but you know what else, Z. Kinnara? I was thinking about this very scene today on a drive in Malibu: When Nate starts reading my autobiographical manuscript on my laptop after I’ve had a crazy threesome and he says to me: Who are you? I get to say: I’m the woman who fucked you in the broom closet of an airport. That’s who I am.

          Then. Nate flicks the ring at me.

          I want that show so bad. Come back. Come back. Come back.

        • Zara Potts says:

          That’s so funny, I was thinking about that exact same scene today too! Weird!!!

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          This is just bw you and me, Z (and whoever else is reading this comment board, but we’ll just ignore all that)… I think I might be a magical bird too. We’re on a telepathic flight.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Meet me telepathically tonight? We’ll have a drink and toast Six Feet Under…

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          oh for sure. maybe brenda will take us to one of those kinky parties…

  5. Aaron Dietz says:

    You know–there have been some big decisions in my life, I suppose, but in general, I’m doing what I do today because of odd, random occurrences that I had absolutely nothing to do with.

    However, long live Leelu! Hot stuff.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I wonder if there’s some kind of meeting place between intention and opportunity where having sex with Milla Jovovich lives? I guess it’s in France, because Luc Besson found it.

      Goddamn Besson.

      Every goddamn time.

      • Aaron Dietz says:

        Oh, yeah, he has totally taken that one away from all of us. He’s like a magnet that sucks these opportunities up.

      • Matt says:

        Uh….you guys DO know she hasn’t been with Besson for like, ten years, right? She’s married to – and has had a kid with – the guy who directed her in Resident Evil.

        So as much as we might want to blame that chubby Frenchman, at the end of the day, he’s not culpable.

        And really, shouldn’t we be thanking him?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          You know, I didn’t know that.

          And in my head, I’m relieved. Because it’s like I’ve suddenly seen the competition go down a few notches.

          It’s like, somehow it’s easier in my mind to win $20,000 than it is to win $20,000,000, even if the odds are exactly the same.

        • Matt says:

          Yeah, the guy who created such cinematic masterpieces as Soldier, Resident Evil and Alien vs. Predator seems like way less of an insurmountable obstacle than the guy who did La Femme Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element, doesn’t he?

  6. Gloria says:

    I think “We make foolhardy, art-noveau, Eiffel Tower love” wins the award for the most random, yet oddly beautiful words in the English language that I’ve encountered toda…no! That I’ve encountered all weekend.

    • Simon Smithson says:


      Damn, though.

      Labor Day Weekend was last weekend, wasn’t it?

      That would have been an even higher accolade.



  7. “Passionate, stylish, Parisian love”

    This makes me wonder about world cities and adjectives to describe their native fucking styles.

    “Rude, obnoxious, New York love.”
    “Polite, dignified, London love.”
    “Ancient, cheap, Edinburgh love.”
    “Pushy, forceful, Seoul love.”
    “Schoolgirl-dressed Tokyo love.
    “Swinging, frantic Rio de Janeiro love.”
    “Elegant, superficial, Milan love.”
    “Efficient, domineering, Berlin love.”
    “Paedophilic, big-hatted, Vatican love.”

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, Berlin love sounds technically excellent.

      ‘Inferiority-complex-having, laconic Australian love’.

    • Judy Prince says:

      David, David, David . . . . ““Paedophilic, big-hatted, Vatican love.”


      • Thank you. That was my favourite, too.

        Incidentally, the old bastard is in Scotland today. Oh joy… There is a hilarious cartoon in the Scotsman that has him wearing a Rangers shirt as part of his “reach out to other faiths” thing.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “There is a hilarious cartoon in the Scotsman that has him wearing a Rangers shirt as part of his ‘reach out to other faiths’ thing.”


          David, re your “Paedophilic, big-hatted, Vatican love,” it was “big-hatted” that had me hooting. Love it.

  8. Then there’s the one where you’re actually with Joan of Arc and she mistakes your whisperings for the word of God in her ear, urging her to fire Luc Besson.

    I enjoyed this read, particularly this line rang true – “Every now and then, a stifled ‘FUCK!’ emerges from the darkened shelves of the Congressional Library of my memory.” My library’s always sounding out like this.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      The Maid of Orleans would have been much less Maid by the time I was through.

      Of course, in this fantasy I am also 14, and we find young love.

      One day, as Joan is on her way to church to confess her sins, we are ambushed by English soldiers. Their captain? David Zayas.

      Oh, man, going through the stacks is a surefire way to ruin a day. Dewey was an asshole.

  9. Slade Ham says:

    Man, what a great start to my morning. We should make a short film, starring everyone as themselves. Milla can play Laura, too.

    Except I’ll play you, so I can make imaginary Texan love to Milla Jovavich. You can be my stunt double when it comes to the Michael C. Hall scene.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Can we get David Zayas to play David Zayas?

      I would imagine Texan love to be more ‘thundering, high plains Texan love’. But maybe that’s setting up too much of an investment? Jesus, what a phrase to live up to.

  10. Joe Daly says:

    One of the many awesome things about this is that it FINALLY answered the question that’s been on my mind for the past four days- what was that show where they kept jumping into alternate realities, like when the Brits smothered the American Revolution? I just saw the Motown crooner character on another show and its been driving me crazy. I hearted that show.

    And for the record, it’s pretty clear that this French amie was brought forth on this earth for the sole purpose of unleashing your pimping. She is/was a pimp agent. You’ve never been the same, brah. Pimps all over the world, from Ottawa to Burma, thank her for that.

    I enjoyed the fuck out of both pieces. Of course you forced me to chug my coffee, throw on a sweater, and take a stroll down memory lane, past some of my own Monuments of Abysmal Decisions. But I suspect you and I share the same outlook- you/I ended up exactly where we were supposed to land.

    In my final six months living in Chicago, I found myself faced with two girls professing their affection for me. How’s that for a quality problem? Both were girls I had mad crushes on, and it seemed as if all of my Christmases were coming on the same day. Knowing them as well as I did, I knew I had to choose one and pursue it wherever it would lead me, understanding I’d irreversibly destroy the relationship with the other. The one I chose followed me out of Chicago back to Boston. Then she suggested we move to San Diego. Then she broke off our engagement. And now here I am, living in my fave place ever, happy as a clam with stunning pimping skills. It only took 6 years for me to see that I made the perfect choice.

    Rock on, brother. And get your pimped out dome back here soon!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, dude, Sliders was awesome.

      You might see a store in SF while you’re there, which is the story of the dumbest thing I have ever thought.

      I was walking down Castro Street in SF, and I saw a burger joint just called ‘Sliders’. And I thought I wonder if that’s a whole joint themed after that early ’90s Jerry O’Connell show?.

      My subsequent thought was: there it is, Simon. The single dumbest thing you will ever think in your life. It’s all uphill from here!.

      I’ll pimp my dome across the water as soon as I can, brother. Pimp on!

  11. Mary Richert says:

    Ok, so what did you really say when she asked “Ow do you feel?” Because I might have said, “HOW! Jesus. The word is HOW. For a people who get all uppity about other people not speaking your language, you could really work on your pronunciation.”

  12. You are such a hopeless romantic, Simon! I love it.

  13. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    Angel Batista lives. Always. He’s my fashion icon. There is no space in any alternate universe where he doesn’t rule supreme.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, man, he’s the pimpinest pimp since Joe Daly first erupted out of a volcano somewhere on the North Pacific Rim.

      The shirts? So damn sweet.

  14. Greg Olear says:

    How very O. Henryish of you, Simon.

    I hope Laura goes to the dentist more often than MJ does…

  15. Ah, the what-ifs. They plague us all, don’t they? I love how you take that and give it a humorous, original treatment. I’m often paralyzed by the idea that some small choice I make (even if it’s just, I don’t know, putting ice-cubes in my drink or not) is going to have some domino-effect, disastrous result somewhere, maybe even halfway around the world, maybe even in Australia (!). Maybe it’d have nothing to do with me, and I’d never know about it. Or maybe it would. And which would be worse!? *sigh* My mind is a scary place, man. Also, I happen to be a bit sleep deprived right now. But good piece!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      This one just came to me, after a weekend/morning of frantically thinking Oh God! Oh God! Why did I do that thing I did! Why do I keep doing this thing I’m doing! Oh God! Oh God!.

      But now? We cool.

      With the internet, now a butterfly flaps its wings in Florida… and in Australia, some dude gets syphilis.

      (not me though).

  16. D.R. Haney says:

    Those flapping butterfly wings are leading in some strange directions, huh?

    Also, as per your second scenario, I have it on fairly good authority that Milla Jovovich would get on your nerves.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      God, I wish.

      What I have learned about myself is that actually, the butterfly was on autopilot.

      Unless I get to take narrative control of my entire life, which would, of course, lead to wonderful scenarios where all of us could have all the money thrown at us by all the screaming crowds we could handle, and many sleepless, panicked nights in a protective bunker for David Zayas.

      • Joe Daly says:

        He was most excellent in “The Expendables.” In a Zayasian sort of way.

        I’m still waiting for someone to give him the role of a lifetime- an inner city physics teacher with a heart of gold and a passion for chinchillas who transcends cultural barriers to make a real difference in the lives of his students, many of whom are later murdered because it’s a horror movie.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Oh, man, I just saw The Expendables last weekend. It’s so pimpin, I kept looking for you. I figured maybe you played the part of the explosion at the end.

          I’ve been thinking that I need some sort of positive mantra to help me discard all these unfortunate thoughts, straighten up, and fly right.

          What I’ve come up with is, when faced with an obstacle that I need to overcome, to simply take a breathe, find my stylish Latino centre, and say: ‘David Za-yes I can!’

  17. Tawni says:

    Oh, silly, silly Simon. You know that Ian Somerhalder will be marrying me. We already covered this, sweetie.

    I’ll give you some time to edit this piece, don’t worry. We all make mistakes.

  18. Richard Cox says:

    Welcome to the sci-fi genre, Simon! See how easy it is? And hardly anyone seemed to notice.

    It’s not all ray guns and Reese’s Pieces, people!

    P.S. I love this line: “…and my growing flirtation with Milla Jovovich, who looks even more like Milla Jovovich than Laura does…”


  19. megan says:

    It’s a seasonal funk, Smithy. Although I am hazy on what season it might be now in Melbourne. That always messes me up.

    ‘That is Spanish,’ she says.

    ‘Oh.’ I say.

    I love your deadpan humor. It always gets me.

    Please read the legendary Margaret Atwood’s similar-style piece, Happy Endings:
    You will love it: http://users.ipfw.edu/ruflethe/endings.htm

  20. Judy Prince says:

    At last, a literary tale that rings true! How many nights I’ve dreamed of killing David Zayas whom I do not know—-and you have killed him thrice (or is it frice?). How many nights I’ve dreamed of working in Laura’s father’s boulangerie and boot re-soling shop making very tough pastry. How many nights have I dreamed of Milla Jovovich who looks more like Laura than David Zayas.

    Thank you for this, Simon.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, poor David Zayas. He’ll wake up choking for the next few weeks, muttering feverishly about the hands he felt around his neck as he was dreaming…

      • Judy Prince says:

        My mistake, Simon. It was Laura’s father the baker and shoe resoler I dreamed of killing. These dreams took place on bad pie dough days.

  21. Quenby Moone says:

    Michael C. Hall is better off with his sister. Er, wife. Er.

    Milla Jovovich is cute, but I suspect her doppelganger is now a lonely French scullery maid cleaning up after people like Luc Besson when they stay in their five star hotels, instead of a wonderfully successful painter who uses you, her one true love, as the inspiration for a great body of work, thereby becoming an international sensation. And now she’s a poor, lonely wretch making only enough money to pay for a cold water flat in the suburbs of Paris. Great, Simon. Just Great.

    Never fear, Simon. There’s always another possibility.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      That’s so weird. That’s so weird that they pretend to be brother and sister most of the day and then they go home and bang each other!

      Oh, poor Laura. I guess she’s the cold one one! A ha ha ha ha!

      Wait, why am I laughing? This way, we all lose.

  22. Marni Grossman says:

    “Laura and I move to Los Angeles, but the pressures of fame, and my growing flirtation with Milla Jovovich, who looks even more like Milla Jovovich than Laura does, lead to our bitter, acrimonious, and very public divorce. Laura flies back to France in tears, her only companion her new cocaine habit.”

    I think this is the perfect plot for the novel that will be made into a movie that will make you famous.

  23. […] Something tells me I should save David Zayas for you.  There’s one clear stand-out in that b-line: Terry Crews.  I think he may even garner […]

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