“Apparently,” I answered, looking about the room. There was a chair, some equipment, and three hanging lightbulbs, but little else. A few boxes in the back, still packed and resting on concrete soaked with water leaking through the foundation. And a ceiling tile was cracked next to them, where it had fallen to the floor.
“Go ahead and take a seat,” The man said, and I hesitated. Then I swallowed, and took the chair. It was free. I couldn’t complain about free. And I didn’t want to be the only one of my friends without a tattoo.
“Alright, this will take a bit. I’ll need you to stay still.” He said, “How does your lower shoulder blade work? I have a design in mind, if you will. Something special.”
“That works,” I said, and removed my shirt. And he began, the buzzing filling my ears as I gritted my teeth. When he finished, he held up a mirror for me, and I looked at the work.
Damn, I was happy. And damn, did it look good.
It was a design of sorts, a looping that turned in upon itself, with stands that lay unfinished as the tattoo fell away. “In case you ever want to expand it,” He said, pointing to them, “Free of charge, since you’re my first customer. And I think you’ll find they’re quite addictive.”
Then he led me back to the surface, and to the original shop, where Brent was already waiting outside.
“Thanks,” I said, turning. But the man was already walking away in the direction of his shop, his form already a shadow in the night.
Brent lifted his shirt when I approached, showing me the patch covering his own tattoo, though I could see the globe through it.
“Came out sweet, man. Better than I thought.”
Then Mary and Amy came out of the shop, each with their own patches.
“I hear you have a surprise for us, Copi” Said Amy, “Go on, let’s see it.”
So I turned, and lifted my own shirt. For a second I heard silence, and I held my breath. Then Brent spoke, his voice drawn out.
“Shit, man. How much did you pay for that? You know you still owe me a hundred dollars right?”
I laughed, and turned to see their eyes wide, and eyebrows raised. Mary’s mouth was open, and Brent shook his head.