Secret Santa #3
The tattoo idea came to me at 14. Then two years on the Internet and in libraries, searching for the perfect roses and the perfect font and the perfect vines. When I spent time with Daddy I wasn’t there at all, I was scouring the depths of the Web and thinking of the roses and vines.
At sixteen, I found the image I wanted, from Feast of Corpus Christi, a medieval manuscript. My vine was there too, but I still needed the font for the text. www.freefonts.com, Annabel Script.
Photoshopped it all together, and armed with a color print I went downtown. The high profile tattoo shops all turned me down.
”That thing would ruin you, you know.”
”It’ll stay with you forever.”
”Wouldn’t touch that.
”You’re not 18.”
I drifted downstream into the seedy part of town and found ”Toddy’s Tattoo Parlor”. I saw this brown guy, with dreadlocks like a furry octopus on his head, loading up his water pipe.
”If you got through the door, I guess so.”
”Will you do this for me?” And I showed my design to him. His smeared walls were filled with double polaroids, of past jobs still bleeding and maybe four weeks after, when the colors were finally set and the design was shown in its full glory.
”Nope. This thing’ll follow you to your grave, y’unnerstan? I can’t take the risk someone finds out I done that, they’d ship me back to Kingston. And that text. No.”
I explained that was the whole point. I wanted it to stay with me forever.
”You’re not 18. And you don’t have the money.”
Like hell I didn’t. I saved every fucking cent I ever got after I hit on the idea. ”I can pay you 200,” I said.
He weighed the issue. ”An’ you never tell anyone where you got it?”
”Cross my heart.”
”Sit here. Let’s talk design. Across the shoulders? The text’ll look bad. Tell you what – I’ll do the roses and the vine across the shoulderblades and the text below, howzzat?” I smiled and stripped.
The first touch of the needle penetrating me was like a jackhammer, but I bit my lip until I tasted blood. Just like with Dad. Every hit of the needle hurt less and less until I felt nothing. I closed my eyes and dreamed of the roses on my back, and the vines, and the text. Oh yes, the text.
It took ages for him to finish, but I just sat there and let my mind wander while his needles punched my skin. I must have flinched every now and then, because he muttered something like an apology, but then, at 42 kilos there’s not much padding between the epidermis and the bone.
An eternity later he leaned back. ”Done, wanna see?”
I woke up from my stupor and glanced over my shoulder. This guy was good. He wiped the last blood off and gave me a mirror so I didn’t have to twist my neck around so bad. The roses, even if still weak in color and oozing, would look so good in a couple of weeks. Medieval beauty, my skin. And the vine that connected the roses was hammered on me so beautifully that it made me want to cry.
And the text, in the perfect font and style.