I Thought My Free Tattoo Was A Stroke Of Luck, But I’m Terrified Of What’s Been Happening Since

“What can I do to help,” He asked when I entered the empty shop, his eyes narrowing. I looked young for my age, and I was just barely old enough to enter the shop alone.

“I just turned eighteen, and want a tattoo. I was wondering though, I’m a little short on cash- can I pay you later?”

“Don’t you think we could work something out? It doesn’t have to be anything big, or nice. Come on, man, please?”

“Out! And come back when you have cash, or don’t come back at all.”

“Damnit,” I said as the door shut behind me, and kicked the fire hydrant outside the shop, sending pain up through my toe.

“Bit of an ass, isn’t he?” Came a voice from behind and I turned, seeing a man standing on the sidewalk and leaning against the building, a binder under his arm.

“Yeah,” I muttered, starting to walk away, but his next words stopped me.

“You know, I’m trying to open my own shop. And I’ve got pictures of my own art that you can look at. It’s, well, it’s a bit different, so I’m looking for someone to try it out on. Maybe advertise it a bit for me, show it off a bit. And I’ll do it for free.”

“Free?” I repeated, raising an eyebrow.

“Free.”

“Let’s see those pictures.”

He handed me the binder, and I opened it, viewing them. There were ten or so, and they were good. Heck, they were great. The type of art that I should be paying heavily for.

“Thoughts?” He said, waiting.

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“I’m in,” I answered, “But what’s the catch?”

“I just want my talent to come to life,” he said with a smile. “It’s hard to get started in the industry. So tonight then? You can meet me here.”

“Deal,” I answered, and that night I returned with my friends.

“Aren’t you coming in Copi?” said Brent, holding the door to the shop.

“I, uh, I got my own guy. Scheduled some personal art, you know. I’ll meet you guys after.”

“Sure man,” said Brent, “but we were supposed to do this together.”

Already I could hear the voices of Amy and Mary from inside as they started talking to the artist, and I withdrew slightly so that I wouldn’t be visible through the window.

“Trust me man, it’ll be cool. I want to surprise you guys.”

“Whatever you say,” Answered Brent, and walked inside, holding a sketch of the globe that he wanted for his own tattoo.

I waited outside, and a few moments later the man from earlier appeared, touching my shoulder from behind.

“Ready?” He said, and I nodded, following him down the street. Night had begun to fall, and his shadow melded with the dark as he tucked into a side alley, and led me down some stairs. And there we came to a door, with a fresh sign over the door, and he led me inside.

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