It was a dark and drizzly night in late February as I rounded the sidewalk towards the old flickering neon sign. “Tattoo” it read in a fuzzy faded pink lettering. This was definitely not the type of establishment I would normally venture into but tonight I had an appointment with a well respected artist named Jim.
I was given his information by a friend of mine and had admired his work already first hand. Jim was a legend in the tattooing world. If I was going to permanently alter my body it had to be done by the best. As I pushed open the old door, chimes rang out in an attempt to alert a non-existent staff. I found the shop to be virtually empty, except for an old bearded man sitting next to a table reading a dusty magazine. He lifted his head up as I entered followed by a slight nod of acknowledgment.
“I have an appointment with Jim,” I stated.
“I’m Jim. come, sit down.”
I took at seat across from the old man placing my hand on the counter top of the tattoo table.
“What can I do you for today, Mam?” he asked in a subtle tone.
“I would like the name, Jenn, inked across this side of my hand,” I instructed, gesturing as I spoke.
“Typically I try to discourage tattoos of peoples names.”
“Ahh, I understand. Jenn was my best friend. She died one year ago today. I would like to commemorate her life with this symbol of my love and admiration,” I explained.
“I see. I’m sorry to hear about your loss but I suppose that due to your type of situation, this would not be a tattoo you would regret.”
“Absolutely not. I miss her every day….”
My thoughts began to trail off as Jim turned on his machine. The white noise was as soothing to me as meditation. I didn’t feel pain when the needle struck my skin, instead I was enjoying the vibrations.
My mind began to race as memories of the night I lost my dear friend flooded into my brain encompassing my thoughts.
It was just one year ago today that I sat alone in my den strumming my guitar. I had a joint in my mouth and was feeling relaxed as I created an acoustic version of one of my favorite songs by Joy Division.
“Guess you dreams always end.
They don’t rise up, just descend,
But I don’t care anymore,
I’ve lost the will to want more,
I’m not afraid not at all,
I watch them all as they fall,
But I remember when we were young.”
My phone began to ring, creating a sound louder than my guitar, pulling out of my Zen. I grabbed it from off the sofa and took a glance down at the screen. It read, “Jenn.” I was debating taking the call as I had already told her the night before not to bother me after work. She knew this was my alone time. I decided to reject the call and continue my song.
“Those with habits of waste,
Their sense of style and good taste,
Of making sure you were right,
Hey don’t you know you were right?
I’m not afraid anymore,
I keep my eyes on the door,
But I remember….”
I missed a few chords and was becoming frustrated. The sudden interruption of the phone call had broken my concentration. As the anger increased the phone again, started to ring. Only this time I answered.
“Hello?” I asked in a cold tone.
“I’m so glad you picked up! I really needed someone to talk to tonight!” Jenn just barely spit out through her muffled sobs.
“I specifically told you not to bother me after work. I’m not sure how I can be more clear.”
There was a pause on the other side of the line.
“I know, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have called but this is important,” she insisted.
I let out a sigh of annoyance, “Get on with it then.”
“It’s George. He didn’t come home last night. Then this morning, he walked through the front door covered in lipstick and I told him to get out. He just stormed back outside and took off in his car. I tried calling him a little while after and he didn’t pick up. I’ve been calling ever since and he’s still not answering my calls. He’s seeing her again, I know it.”
“How is this my problem? You continually allow him to treat you this way. You must like it.”
“I don’t like it! I think this is the end, I don’t think he’s coming back. He told me he is in love with her.”
“Great. Date someone else.”
“How can you be so cold?” she asked me.
I was more than tired hearing about her problems. She had become so selfish and needy. This was not the friend that I thought I had. Each time he cheated on her she would tell everyone. People were beginning to look down on her and quite frankly, by associating with her, I was being looked down upon too. Why could she not see what a burden her repeated behavior had become on me?
“How can you be so weak?” I asked.
Her crying intensified, “I love him so much, I want him to love me too!”
“I have heard this story before.”
“Okay, I’m going,” she promised as I hung up my phone.
Once again, I picked up my guitar.
“Tears of sadness for you,
More upheaval for you,
Reflects a moment in time,
A special moment in time,
Yeah we wasted our time,
We didn’t really have time,
But we remember when we were young.”
I was suddenly performing up to par and decided to set up my equipment to create a recording. Once it was finished I played it back to myself. It was beautiful, almost perfect.
In a mini celebration I sparked up another joint and began uploading my finished work onto the computer. It was just close to complete when the phone rang.
Once again it was Jenn.
“I told you that I am busy,” I scolded after picking up.
“I can’t live this way anymore! I would rather die!” she shouted into my ear. Her voice was shaken and hysterical.
“Then kill yourself! Get it over with! These continued threats of suicide are petty. Nothing more than a cry for help.”
“I have a gun. I found George’s gun in the closet and it’s loaded.”
“Great, you are halfway there!” I mocked.
“I’m serious, I am going to kill myself,” she was now screaming into the phone.
“You would never shoot yourself, you are too much of a coward to pull the trigger. The “real you” has finally exposed itself. A joke, a mockery of a human being. You are a failure at love and have become the ultimate failure at life. You have no purpose on this earth anymore. Do it, I beg of you. Release the world from the trash you impose upon it.”
“How can you say these things to me? I need your support right now, I need someone, anyone!”
“That’s exactly your problem. You are too needy. George doesn’t love you, how could he? You are disgusting. Nobody will ever love you. You will die alone regardless of if it’s now or when you are 80. People like you don’t deserve to be loved.”
BANG!!!!!!!!! The sound of the gun rang out leaving behind a slight ring in my ears.
“Jenn? Jenn?” I let out a small chuckle when she didn’t respond.
After ending the call, I walked over to my computer. My download was now complete. I took another puff off my joint and moved the mouse over to the play button and clicked. There it was already, broadcasted live and people had begun to comment on my obvious talent. A proud chill of achievement ran down my spine.
“Do you like it?”
“It’s a masterpiece!” I said exhuming a wide spread grin.
Suddenly I was jerked out of my thoughts. I blinked a few times and then looked down at my hand.
“I’m glad you approve,” Jim said acknowledging my compliment.
I paid the bill, handed Jim an extra $20 for his competent services and headed back out onto the wet street. The rain had picked up quite a bit so I pulled the hood of my jacket up over my head and began singing to myself.
“And all God’s angels beware,
And all you judges beware,
Sons of chance, take good care,
For all the people not there,
I’m not afraid anymore,
I’m not afraid anymore,
I’m not afraid anymore,
Oh, I’m not afraid anymore.”