Flash Fiction: The Blind Tattooist

Another day, another flash! Posting this one early, because I AM A REBEL AND CAN DO THAT. Or because I have adult things to take care of tomorrow. Dammit.

So! Last week, Chuck Wendig had everyone post sentences that would be the center of this week’s story. This week, we had ten to choose from. I chose “The Blind Tattooist,” a title by Russell. We had 1,000 words to work with. This work ties into one of my previous flash pieces, Sins. The world’s a-coming together!

The Blind Tattooist

“He said he’d make me beautiful!” The woman screamed, spittle flying into his face. Mark composed himself, wiping the stray droplets from his nose, running his other hand through a threaded green Mohawk.

“He said he would bring out your inner beauty.”

“Is this some kind of sick joke? This isn’t beauty!”

The woman turned, throwing herself in front of one of the many shop mirrors. Her skin, still swollen from the incessant taps of the needle, was marked all over with black and gray.

The colors of decay.

“This is bullshit and you know it,” the woman’s voice was a blaze, “I’m calling the better business bureau on your asses. You better have a lawyer ready for what I’m gonna do to this shop!”

Mark waved as the front door slammed behind her, the glass threatening to break. The sign that hung there teetered on its hook.

NO REFUNDS.

“You wouldn’t be the first to try. Endrago,” he called down the hallway, “pack it in, time to go.”

He fisted the woman’s money, shoving it into the inner pocket of his faded jeans.
A bigger man clomped down the halls, wiping his hands on a stark-white towel. His belly was visible over the top of leather pants, a black leather vest hung from his shoulders, open with nothing underneath. A bald head and pale skin stood in serious contrast to his black attire. “Didn’t like what she saw, eh?”

“People don’t listen.”

“Oh, they listen,” Endrago countered, “they just think they’re all sparkly white angels inside. And they’re not.”

Mark turned to him, resting both palms against the front desk. “When’s the last time we found an angel?”

They both looked to the ceiling, though Endrago’s pale-slicked eyes saw nothing.

“One? No, two hundred years.”

“Easily.”

“Ah, she was a gorgeous thing. When the needle hit her skin- POW!- the light of Heaven, man.”

Even after all the years, Mark still didn’t quite understand Endrago’s gift. He knew the story and could recite it in his sleep, but it was a technical knowledge. Most people technically knew how to drive stick, but that didn’t always translate to getting the car to go.

Blind man. Tattoo needle. Auras and angels and devils. He helped sort them out before the end of the world. No idea when that was coming.

Mark’s place in that had always been the curator, the door and bouncer both for Endrago’s gift.

Really, he made sure they got paid. After all, divine power didn’t come with a free ride.

He walked to the front door, flipping the deadbolt and turning the welcome sign to CLOSED. “I think we’ve worn out this town’s welcome,” he surmised.

“Then snap those magic fingers, Daddy-o, and let’s fly.”

Endrago wasn’t hard to please.

“Where to?” Mark asked with a soft voice.

“Ah, hell if I know. We’ve worn out Vegas, LA, New York, and now a bumpkin town in Tennessee. What were we here for, again?”

Mark smiled. “Southern people have souls, too.”

Endrago laughed, a hard, raspy thing. “Souls maybe, but no damned angels.”

“Nowhere’s got ‘em, it seems.”

There was a tap on the glass behind him. Mark turned, catching sight of the pretty young thing.

“Are you closing up?” The young woman mouthed through the glass. She was every bit the epitome of country songs: ruby red lips, blonde hair that hung in tight curls to her chin, blue eyes. A red skirt and V-necked t-shirt clung to her curves, black knee-high boots clasping up her calves.

“Yeah,” Mark said, nodding exaggeratedly, “sorry.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Endrago said, sniffing at the air, “let them in.”

“Seriously?” Mark folded his arms over his electric blue tee. “Another one tonight? It’s already midnight.”

Endrago licked his lips, eager like a puppy. “Let them in.”

Mark turned to the glass, seeing the woman a little bit down the walkway. He hurried to unlock the door, calling after her. “Ma’am? Artist says he’ll take one more if you’d like.”

Her smile cut through the darkness as she hurried up the stairs and into the shop. “Awesome! Thanks. Feels like the right night for some new ink.”

“Great.” Mark didn’t sound as enthused. “What did you have in mind?”

“Nothing in particular. I’m not a flash art kinda girl, though, so let’s say Artist’s pick?”

“He’s a pro at finding inner beauty,” Mark said as Endrago echoed him.

“Then let’s hope it looks good in there.” Another infectious smile crossed the girl’s lips as she laughed.

“Indeed,” Mark replied with a sigh. A flourished arm led her back down the hallway, stopping at Endrago’s portion of the studio. “Let him get set up, and you’ll be ready to go.”

Endrago moved furiously about his workspace, pouring precisely measured inks into cups, lining them up with a precision that every blind man simply did not have. Mark knew the drill: the inks were clear, though they appeared in various colors to the untrained eye.

“Okay,” Endrago said with a clap, “all ready for you… what was your name again?”

“Regina,” she said, “everyone calls me Genie.”

Mark took her ID, doing the mundane paperwork while Endrago got to the divination work. An hour passed by.

Then another.

Mark busied himself, sweeping, cleaning, stacking paperwork, knowing it’d all disappear after this last customer.

Another hour.

Mark locked the door once again before slouching into the office chair at the front, letting himself nod off.

The sky had started to lighten when he was shocked awake by Endrago’s voice.

“Mark! Holy shit, Mark, get in here!”

He hurried down the hall. Endrago sat back in his chair, holding his hands out towards the girl, mumbling holy shit over and over.

“Is holy shit good?” Genie asked, “you’re freaking me out.”

Across the tops of her shoulders, in fresh ink and swollen skin, sat a choir of angels.

“Holy shit,” Mark repeated.

“Oh, it’s good, honey,” Endrago said. “You’re the Mother of Angels.”

*****

Between the two pieces, I’ve found God and the Mother of Angels. I wonder where this universe will take me next!

Did you participate in the Flash shenanigans this week? If so, link us to your work! Until next time, Divining Blind Tattoo Artists be with you.

PS: I AM GOING ON VACATION FOR TWO WEEKS, KIDS! I’ll be back at the end of May with more shenanigans for you all. Here’s some pizza money- fight for your right to party, and don’t let the man pin your down.

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