Fiction: Tattoo You

Duane Vorhees
Embarrassed over the night’s activities, the morning blushed into being.
“Lighten up, why don’t you?” I said.
you got me ticking gonna blow my top
“I got to the reception late. Bruno, the twerp, was already giving his speech.  “And so, my associates, together we’re about to launch a glorious new chapter in the history of L’INX. Some of you are old friends of the establishment, and some are about to become much closer.”
But I hadn’t come to listen to him anyway. He was just a short f**k with thick glasses and bad breath. An artist, of course, and like all artists he was crazy. So I went to check out Bruno’s work or, more precisely, to check out some of the hunks his work adorned. And to take him up on the invitation’s offer of a free update.
say what the hell, hang fire
The first likely-looking person I saw was standing at the wet bar, smiling ruefully at the gals who had come to gawk at the job Bruno had done on him. Mike, his name was, a high-powered broker with easy access to moneyed clients, he claimed. He was certainly dressed for this particular occasion, wearing a purple Speedo and expensive sandals. The torso tattooed across his pecs had a green snake across its back and was topped by a mop of wild red hair, and its legs wrapped around Mike’s body, knees at his side, one shapely thigh down the back of his leg and the other around his shoulder.
Mike was half of a broken set, it seems. His ex had left him long ago, taking with her a similar pattern front and back, except that the figure on her chest looked like Mike seen from behind. While she would be bouncing on his cock, Mike would be able to see her actual body sprouting like a sunflower toward the ceiling and, simultaneously, a simulacrum of her back hugging his chest; and, their positions reversed, she would have a similar view of him f**king her and embracing her at the same time. And the effect would have been even sexier, I’m sure, had they performed under a full-length ceiling mirror.  It would be almost like doing clones! Just the thought was enough to almost make me wet my panties.
don’t want to be your slave baby go, baby go, baby go
But when Mike’s soul mate stopped mating with him, he still carried her corpse on his skin. He was in desperate need of a replacement; but no woman had an appetite for any threesome in which she would be just another slice of rye and Mike’s old lover would be the prosciutto in the middle.
But my heart went out to the old flame. After Mike was gone, it would be bad enough for her to have had a “Mike” across her tit. But can you imagine what it would be like wearing all of Mike all over her bod when she was trying to make it with Bill or Dave?
the pool’s in but the patio ain’t dry
“Did I miss anything? The traffic was terrible,” I lied.
“Just before you came in, Bruno was going on and on with some long-winded metaphor about the lines of his new tattoos being like the circuitry on an advanced computer chip. Wireless, instantaneous communication and control. Some shit like that. I suppose he was trying to make some point about being connected to his customers through his art, but I couldn’t quite understand the imagery.  Would you care for a drink?” Mike motioned to the seat beside him and rambled on. Good luck with that smile, I thought, and withdrew, making a polite excuse.
“We’ve worked hard to design and execute the world’s most advanced tattoo art. But the journey, my friends, has just begun. And, as great as the art is – and I’ve won many prestigious awards for it – the art is not as important for my future as you, my associates, are. You are the ones who are going to make it all possible.”
            say what a pair, say what a team
            we used to ride, ride, ride
            Leaving Mike, my attention was drawn to an elderly fellow, in his forties. He wore a face on his tummy that was almost photographic.  It was like a portrait of a younger woman that one might see in a museum. Although he was not my type, I walked up to him to congratulate him on his taste in art. But as he pivoted to talk to someone, I saw the oddest design on his back. Beginning at his spine and then curving up to his left shoulder blade and then more gently arcing down toward the crack of his butt, was the outline of an ear, or maybe the handle of a loving cup. On the right side of his back was the cryptic message
            “I guess beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder,” I thought, puzzled that someone could be so upfront about his traditional taste in art and then, behind his back, be such an ardent Dadaist.
            do unto strangers what you do to yourself
I half listened to Bruno droning. “I have devoted my whole life to the development of my wonderful new process. And now it is complete! With your assistance, this revolutionary new method will change our world. And that is why we are celebrating our success here, and why I am extending my offer to augment your earlier tat work, at absolutely no charge.”
Chatting with the old guy with the young woman on his chest was a burly fellow I decided I wanted to meet. He was wearing a loose-fitting jacket. Its parka peaked over his head, and a pair of inked legs emerged below the hem.  “After I flunked out of clown school, I became a preacher,” he said, winking, by way of introduction. He had first come to Bruno to get a little crucifix on his ass, and one thing led to another. And he flipped off his jacket and made a graceful pirouette to show me what Bruno had done. Both shoulders had huge, black, carefully feathered wings etched across them. A great bird of prey covered the rest of his well-muscled back, its huge razor talons perched on his calves, its fierce beak and piercing eyes screaming out from the man’s bald head. I couldn’t help but be a bit frightened by the bird’s dramatic pose and wondered how rapturous it would feel to be carried off by such a raptor.  It would be like flying, with his powerful bulk hovering above me, and I holding his pinions for dear life to keep from falling.
            sometimes I wonder why you do these things to me
            My reverie was interrupted by the passage through my peripheral vision of someone I thought I’d seen before. Oh yes – she looked just like an older version of the woman whose portraiture I had admired earlier. As I turned my full attention toward her, I noticed her bare midriff. Staring out from it was a younger version of the Old Guy. As unobtrusively as I could, I stole a glance at her back. She too had a huge ear running down her right side and strange lettering on her left.
Now, these two belonged together! Imagine, having some inscrutable private joke permanently engraved on your skin, one that nobody else could possibly figure out.
            you should leave this small town way behind
 I didn’t particularly want to talk to her, but I couldn’t help but overhear the loud, animated woman she was with, talking about “changelings” and “government conspiracies” and “kidnapping rings,” and how she had Bruno tattoo bar codes on her whole family so she could always check their identities. I didn’t want to talk to her either, not then, but I made a mental note to try to contact her later. We all need to be careful in this world and keep informed.
nothing will stop you, and nothing will stand in your way
“I will, of course, be scheduling all of you for new work in the coming weeks. And tell your friends! For a limited time, I will also provide them too with my new-process tattoo art. Gratis.”
So, Bruno was finally finishing up his own remarks and introducing his star attraction, a local celebrity often featured in the newspapers and on TV. I think everybody in town knew about Sam Wise, the man standing on the platform wearing a posing pouch and nothing else . He was tall enough to play forward in the NBA but built like an NFL tackle. So the man had a gigantic canvas for Bruno to work his magic on. And gradually, over the course of years, and after much careful planning and consultation, Bruno turned the behemoth into an Illustrated Tolkien.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings both begin and finish at Bag End,” Sam told us. “So the patterns begin on both my ankles and wrists as well. And the story line proceeds up my arms and legs, circling around and around.” He pointed out the geography as he talked. “Mirkwood to Lonely Mountain and Lake-Town. Crickhollow to Old Forest to Barrow-downs, to the Inn of the Prancing Pony at Bree. The mines of Moria. Lothlorien. And, of course, Mordor!” He struck a body builder’s pose. “Right here,” the bicep on his right arm bulged out, “is where Gandalf the Grey escaped from Orthanc!” And here,” his left bicep, “is where he fought with the Balrog and became Gandalf the White! And here,” he indicated the vaccination scar on his arm, “right here is where Bilbo got stabbed with the Morgul-blade!
“And, of course, we have the different adventures as the Fellowship breaks up in all directions, but the narratives meet up again here at Rivendell,” his sternum, “ and here, in the Misty Mountains” – his butt cheeks jiggled, and we all laughed.
“And, believe me, Bruno has vividly realized all the characters. Shelob, Aragorn, Legolas. Gimli. The Witch King and the Ringwraiths. Gollum and Sauron. Tom Bombadill. Ents and orcs. You name ‘em, they’re all here somewhere.” He christened his left armpit Parth Galen and proudly pointed to a sad but noble visage there with grey remorseful eyes.
And Sam went on and on, marvelous though I didn’t know half of what he was talking about. And I didn’t care. The sight of his massive, graceful, multicolored, almost naked body was enough to keep my attention.
---Until Bruno the f**k interrupted, breaking the spell. “There was only one more figure to put in place. We saved it for last, until I had finally completed my hypnodermic process. But last week, Sam and I finished the job. With the addition of Smaug, it’s done!”
Sam unexpectedly turned pink and stammered, “And it’s a beautiful dragon, too! But unfortunately, I can’t properly display my Smaug in public. I’m too shy. And, besides, I’d get arrested.”
While the crowd hooted, Sam spotted me, in the front row, ogling. He winked at me, much to Bruno’s obvious chagrin. “Of course, for the right person, I’m always amenable to private showings.”
“You mean, a showing of your privates,” Mike yelled out, starting the crowd up again. This time, it was my turn to do the Pink Lady bit. But at the same time, I was grinning like a four-year-old in July who’s just been promised a pop sickle.
standing in the kitchen looking way out across the fields
you see a face in the window it’s not real, it’s not real
It was at that time that a disheveled figure burst into the studio.
“Don’t trust that Bruno! He’s up to no good!”
Everyone’s eyes turned to the intruder.
“I got this skull on my arm last week.” He ripped off his sleeve to show us. It seemed to pulse, purple and lurid. “And I’ve had terrible headaches ever since, and bad thoughts. And I’ve had to fight off the strangest urges. It’s all I could do to stay sane this whole time. I know Bruno’s responsible! Something isn’t right—he’s up to something. Don’t trust him! I’m warning–“
He broke off his diatribe when he spotted a fleshy freight train charging him from the stage. In a panic, he turned on his heel and fled down the street, with gorgeous Sam in hot pursuit, howling and cursing at his prey as he closed in upon him.
The stranger didn’t get far. We all watched in fascination, as Sam slammed him head first against a wall and then began pounding him repeatedly with his ham-like fists and kneeing him with all the furious force he could muster. Before anyone could interfere, the man’s face was a bloody pulp, one eye bulging from its socket. The reverend with the bird on his back tried to intervene, but Sam shrugged him off, almost effortlessly. And we could all hear the SNAP when Sam jerked the man’s chin from his neck. The sound seemed to bring Sam to his senses as well, and he slumped to the ground and began bawling like a sudden widower. No one moved until Bruno, pushing his way from the back of the crowd, kneeled beside Sam, put a big towel around his shoulders like a shawl, and cradled him in his lap until the police and ambulance arrived. The victim of Sam’s attack lay bent and unmoving the entire time. He didn’t even twitch.
I’m just standing in a doorway I’m just trying to make some sense
I got home that night in time to turn on the evening news. I saw myself in the crowd watching as the police escorted Sam, in handcuffs, into a patrol car, and as the ambulance crew put a draped figure on a stretcher into their van.  An attractive young reporter breathlessly recapitulated the events. “A Man Well-Known In Our Community! For His Love Of The Greatest!! Fantasy Novel Of Our Time! Has Been Charged! For The Brutal! Mauling! Death! Of Jimmy Hazelwood! An Unemployed Truck Driver!” Even though I had been a witness to the beating, seeing it all on television again made it all seem more real somehow. I felt sorry for Hazelwood, and I felt even sorrier for Sam. But to tell the truth, mostly I felt sorriest for myself and the lost Smaug. But that’s life, I guess. I watched a zombie movie and went to bed.
Strangely, over the next few days, I started seeing the people at the reception in the news as well. Mike was found with a self-inflicted bullet wound in his mouth. Friends who were interviewed claimed he had been depressed after his girlfriend had left him, but police were also investigating whether all of his clients’ funds were accounted for.
A photo of “Reverend Eagle,” as I called him – I never got his name – flashed on the screen as a fugitive from justice. “The Minister! Has Been Accused! Of Robbing! His Own Church!!! Of A Large Sum Of Money! And Disappearing! With It! If Anyone! Knows His Whereabouts! Or The Location Of The Stolen Cash! Please Contact The Sheriff! At The Phone Number Or E-Mail At The Bottom Of the Screen!”
Even the art lovers were being accused of committing arson against a series of tattoo parlors, though their whereabouts was also a mystery. This account in particular caught my attention. I was relieved to learn that L’INX was not one of the targeted establishments, because my appointment was scheduled for the next day.
I showed up promptly at 10:00 that morning. The décor had improved remarkably since the reception. There was new paint on the walls, new furniture; very attractive oil paintings instead of the old magazine cutout pictures of tattooed movie stars. Bruno, wearing a stylish new sweater and designer jeans, was waiting for me with a portfolio of butterflies, ankhs, and roses. “Or perhaps you’d like me to do a nice heart on your breast. It would give me a great deal of pleasure to do my best work there.” But I knew what I wanted and insisted on an intricate pattern of Celtic and Arabesque chains on my forearms and ankles. “Maybe that is even more appropriate,” Bruno agreed.
While he inked the design into my skin and sponged off the blood, Bruno seemed positively cheerful. He rattled on about how many years he had devoted to his new procedure and how it would enable him to achieve all the fantasies he had been harboring since his youth. When he finished, he made a clumsy pass at me, as I had anticipated, just like the first time he did his work on me. But this time, when I refused -- with some heat on my part, I should add – he didn’t seem to take my rejection too badly. An almost-smile even crossed his face, and he just stared sort of dreamily at me as I left his place of business. “I’ll see you again soon,” he said.
Over the next few days, I guess due to all the stress from watching the dire fates of all my friends on the news, I had a severe migraine and trouble sleeping. Shortly after midnight this morning, just to find some relief, I left home and drove around in my car. Without paying much attention to the route I took, I found myself in Bruno’s neighborhood. Seeing a light on in his parlor, I decided to see if he was in. I was surprised to find the front door open a crack, so I went in.
            I was even more surprised to see Bruno standing in the middle of the room, stark naked. Though he did not seem surprised by my entrance at all.
            But, again surprisingly, I actually started to take my own clothes off as well. At first, it was just a casual, automatic kind of action, like I was readying myself to go to bed after a long day at work, but by the time I had taken off my blouse I settled into a more rhythmic, undulating kind of vamp. And I became quite the tease, I tell you, as I slowly kicked off my shoes, one at a time, peeled off my stockings in a slow, sensuous motion, unhooked the snap on my skirt, and wriggled out of it after it fell to the floor. Then I turned around, with my back toward Bruno, and undid my bra. Holding the two ends to my side, with my arms crossed over my chest, I turned around again facing Bruno and allowed the bra to fall a bit and then I’d pull it up, let it drop a little more and bring it up again, repeating the action until I saw Bruno start to whet his lips. Soon I flashed one naked tit briefly at him and immediately covered it up again, and then the other; and then the bra was on the floor and I was coyly cupping my hands over my nipples. After some moments, I removed my fingers to my sides and stood there waving my upper torso to and fro. (Actually, logically, shouldn’t that be from and then to? I always wondered about that.)  
I stood there dancing in place, shaking my ass and tits a bit, and then I started to arch my back and move my butt farther and farther out. I put my left thumb into my panties and pulled the top slightly off my stomach and put my right hand down on my crotch and started to rub myself as I began a low moan interrupted by an occasional squeal and intake of breath. By now, we were both licking our lips, although I hope I was doing it in a suggestive manner; Bruno was salivating like Pavlov’s doggie. And then I started to unroll my panties down my gyrating, swiveling pelvis. Once again I turned around, and this time I shook my naked butt in Bruno’s face. As he stretched his wriggling tongue out toward my shivering buttocks, I moved just beyond his reach, grabbed my panties with both hands and deftly tore them off. And then I turned again and stood stock still, waiting for Bruno to force himself on me.
Bruno was square in front of me, slack jawed, flaccid, his eyes squinched closed, his breath deep and irregular.
After what seemed an eternity facing off as bare as when I was born, I realized that Bruno was finished. There would not be any f**king this night. I dressed as quickly as I could and started out the door.
“I’ll see you again soon,” I heard rasp out faintly behind me.
That prick. I never did like him. I left his place in disgust, glad that he hadn’t laid his hands on me, and certainly pleased that he hadn’t touched me with his pathetic little peter. But I was humiliated, all the same. I had never been in a similar situation in which my partner had been so utterly unimaginative. Being with Bruno made me feel like a zombie – worse than that, in fact; zombies were mindless automatons, while I was fully conscious throughout, though entirely unable to control my own actions. I never wanted to experience anything like that again.
But how would I ever be able to avoid it? The events of the past weeks coalesced into a pattern: the free procedure, the news reports.
So I decided to look up the deranged bar code lady. I’m sure that anyone as paranoid as she is must have all sorts of guns and knives we could use.
But, while I sit here waiting for full daylight to arrive, I still don’t know if I’m supposed to use them against Bruno or against myself.

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