The Impudent Tattoo

I’m staring at my arm. I blink. Blink again, in the hope I will wake up. I pinch my arm to check if I’m dreaming. The expensive, painful, carefully drawn dragon has vanished.

This morning, while showering I noticed the ink was fading. Soap trickled into my eyes as I attempted to solve the puzzle. Had I been conned? Money taken for a cheap tacky job. No, I couldn’t call it either tacky or cheap. It hurt.

The tattoo was to mark the turning point in my life. I was free from my husband. I suppose it was an incredibly stupid act of rebellion but  I did it. I got a tattoo, at thirty eight years of age.

Once dressed I decided to return to the scene of the crime – the tattoo shop. It was small, crowded and busy. Despite the recession, many of us are escaping age or misery by acquiring a tattoo.

The door bell jangles as I enter.  The artist looks up. He scowls, then flicks the chewing gum from his mouth into a waste bin by his side. The current victim sitting in the chair is young, pale faced and clutching a tin of alcohol. I grimace, turn from the boy.
“Lo. You’ll have to wait.” He grudgingly acknowledges my presence and waves his implement of torture in my direction.

“I.” Clearing my throat I start again. “We have a problem. The tattoo you gave me is disappearing.”

He smiles. This is not a pleasant smile. It is a horrific metal smile. Cool and ugly. His voice canons into me, “I want whatever you are on.”

The boy in the chair glances at me,  “Can I have some? Does it make the pain go away?”
I ignore him and focus on the artist who is staring at my arm. I glance down. Disbelief washes through me because I have a tattoo of a dragon on my arm.
“I think you should go for a sleep and relax. It looks like a nice clean job, swelling has already vanished. You will be fine.” He dismiss’ me.
I feel the blood drain from my face. ” It’s back.” I whisper ignoring the giggles from the boy.

I leave as quietly as I can.
However two minutes later, cutting through the park, I glance down. No tattoo. This is madness. I head for a park bench.
“I must be crazy.”

“You are not but I wouldn’t class you as being un-crazy either.” The voice is elderly but pleasant. I look around and see nothing. Not even a cat lazing in the bushes or a bird tweeting in a tree.

I feel a tweak of heat on my arm and I glance down. The dragon stares up at me. He is approximately three inches tall and is breathing fire at an amazing rate.
“Please don’t do that.”

“Why? I’ve lain amongst the pages of that blasted book for ever and now that I’m free, why not?’
I shrug my shoulders and think. I can understand that. “But it’s my arm and I would rather not be burnt.”
He smiles at me . “I’m George, by the way.”
I lean over and pluck a leafy twig from the nearest shrub. “Try this.”
He does and is happy with the result. A black shriveled mess.

To prove his happiness he begins to dance, tap dance if I’m not mistaken all the way up and down my arm and along the seat I am sitting on.
A shadow looms above me and I look up. The park keeper is standing glaring at me. “Why would you do that?”
“Do what?”
“Set a twig on fire.” He has yanked off his cap and is mopping his brow with a white hanky. His bald head is a shining example of cleanliness.
“I didn’t..” I begin.
“It was me.” George explains as he jumps onto the arm of the bench. To reinforce his point he releases a bellow of fire that catches the end of the park keeper’s hanky. It goes up in smoke. He looks at me and at George. He faints, landing on the ground with a nice soft thud.
Standing up, I step over the keeper saying, “George, this is interesting.  Would you like to meet my ex husband?”
George smiles and I leave the park with him sitting on my shoulder.

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