The Blind Tattooist (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: May 5, 2016 in Fantasy, Fiction, Uncategorized, urban fantasy
Tags: , , , , ,

This week, pick a title and go! I’ve used Blake before in a bit of flash (“Nothing Like Getting Rained On“) though if I’m being honest this is more vignette than flash. Ah well, and so it goes. I think I’ll come back and flesh this out, give it a proper plot.

Blake walks into the parlor, the smell of wet rotting garbage and asphalt trialing after him like a stray dog. He shakes his shoulders out, stares around at the crimson walls as his eyes adjust to the relative gloom after the fluorescent lights of the city. His eyes linger over the blown up artwork, abstract designs and flashy pinups hanging on the wall.

“Can I help you?” The girl behind the counter stares hard at Blake, violet eyes locking with his. Her voice carries the edge of practiced boredom. She’s wearing too much makeup and too little clothes for his taste, but then he isn’t there for her.

Blake pulls a bit of crumpled paper from his overcoat, smooths it out over the counter top. Someone’s sketched a design of swirling lines and hard angles across the paper. “I’m looking for a bit of work done.”

The girl pulls her eyes away from the design with a bit of effort. “Okay, I’ll have to see who’s-”

Blake shakes his head. “Michiko.”

“Excuse me?”

He raises an eyebrow. “Did I stutter?”

The girl shakes her head. “She doesn’t see just anyone-”

“Tell her it’s for Blake.”

“You could be the second coming of Christ. I’m not sure she’s going to care.”

Blake smiles, revealing too white, too even teeth. “She’ll do it for me.”

The girl turns around and walks toward the back room. Blake folds the paper, stuffs it back into his pocket. He can hear muttered conversation coming from the back, low enough he can’t make out the words but loud enough he can hear the intent in the words. He’s not waiting long when the girl comes back out.

“She’ll see you.”

Blake smiles at her, tries to put some warmth in it. “I don’t take it personal.”

He wanders into the back of the studio, into a room that looks nearly like a doctor’s office. Michiko is sitting in her chair, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. She picks her head up when she hears Blake enter the room, a broad smile crossing her wizened face.

“Been some time, Blake. What do you need?”

“I need a bit of work done, Michiko.”

She snorts. “I should know better than to expect a social call from you. Well, what are you waiting for? Strip down already. But keep the boxers on. Unless you want-”

“No, nothing like that.” Blake sheds his coat and his shirt, revealing a ravaged torso. A puckered scar from a gunshot twists the skin of his abdomen. Faded white lines show where knives kissed his skin. His left shoulder is a mass of keloid from an old burn. Dark ink ripples along his back from previous tattoos as he flexes his lean body.  He sits down on the bench, goosebumps rising as Michiko brushes her fingers along his skin. Not for the first time, he’s surprised how young her hands look compared to the rest of her.

“Would you prefer some arthritic old crone ink your skin?” she asks.

Blake shakes his head. “That’s uncanny.”

She laughs, a loud crow of a noise. “Why do you think I do it? So what ink do you want now? Finally going to get the tetragrammaton tattooed on your ass?”

Blake chuckles. “Be a bit much like tempting fate, wouldn’t it? No.”

He unfolds the paper and passes it to Michiko. She runs her hands lightly over the page, feeling the bumps and whorls of the ink on the paper. She wrinkles her nose, hawks and spits on the floor. “You’d be safer with the tetra. This, this is Chaos.”

“I know. That’s why I need it.”

“Let me get my needles.”

Blake blinked. “What about that?” He pointed to the tattoo machine.

Michiko smiled in his general direction. “That’s for tourists. My friends get the authentic experience.

“Oh fuck me.”

“You’re not my type, you know that. I like my men with a bit more meat on their bones.”

“Yeah, yeah. This going to hurt like a bitch, isn’t it?”

“All true art does.”

Blake emerges from the depths of the tattoo parlor a few hours later with pain along his lower back and instructions to keep the tattoo clean and a jar of ointment. He tried to tell Michiko he knew what to do, but she was having none of it.

He reaches into his pocket for his smokes, but stops halfway. A group is standing huddled together on the other side of the street, auras of power streaming off them like water vapor in a heatwave. Blake works his tongue around the sour taste in his mouth, the weight of his gun in his pocket not bringing any reassurance.

One of the group strides across the street, all bravado and swagger, skin gleaming from the recent rain. Sniffing the air, Blake gets the distinct impression of wet dog.


Blake looks up from lighting his cigarette. “Yeah?”

“You get inked in there?” The youth bounces on the ball of his feet, all coiled energy.

Blake nods, hand curling around the grip of his revolver.

“Nice.” The youth gets up on his toes to stare over Blake’s shoulder and into the shop. “I want to get a tribal piece around my arm. You know, some Maori shit or something. They got Maori?”

Blake shrugs, his eyes still locked on the rest of the pack across the street. “Probably. I know they do a lot of Asian influenced art. Japanese. Chinese. That kind of thing.”

“Oh.” He stopped bouncing. “I really wanted a Maori piece.”

Blake shrugs, sliding to one side, keeping the rest of the pack clear in the corner of his eye. They watch him back, lips pulling back in feral grins, daring him to run. Blake curses his timing, wishes his tattoo was healed already. He’s not ready for this level of shit. “You can always ask.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll do that. Hey, who did your ink?”

Blake forces a smile. “Michiko. She doesn’t ink just anybody though.”

“Okay, okay, thanks man. Have a good night, okay?”

“Yeah, you too.” Blake turns and walks off, feeling the stares of the pack on his back, feels his back itch from more than just the fresh tattoo. It isn’t until he’s around the corner and in his car that he breathes a sigh of relief.

  1. moteridgerider says:

    You’ve outdone yourself on this one. Excellent scene description, dialogue and characterisation. I didn’t do Chuck Wendig’s challenge this time as I’m tied up with projects, but I’ve stored away your title for a future short story even though it didn’t make the cut.

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