[One story. 7 parts. This is another part.]
What’s going on with you?”
“Oh, you know. Worked this morning making coffees for all of the lovelies who had to work in freezing weather. That was a joy. Took a nap, came here. You?”
“Nothing. I just read today.”
“Oh yeah? Another romantic inspiration of one man dominating thousands of men and his name going down in history?”
“Something like that. I don’t know, Elle. I just don’t think this is it. Or maybe I’m just scared that this is it.”
But before I could answer, the door opened timidly and that familiar brown hat peeked in. He looked at me through his fleshy wrinkles around his little brown eyes.
“Yeah, hey Frank, sure. Come on in.”
Frank had become a consistent visitor on these particularly cold nights. He didn’t say much. We had tried to get his story out of him, but he preferred to keep his past the past. All he wanted was to survive the night. He poked through the magazine rack until he found something that would keep him interested. He wouldn’t last long though. He never made it past the first few pages before he fell asleep. He must have been exhausted. The freezing cold howling wind wasn’t exactly a lullaby.
I pulled my peacoat from the coat rack and laid it over his shoulder. He glanced through the side of his eyes at me and I looked away. I took a long pull from my beer and walked back over to my chair. I pushed myself back in my chair until my head could rest and the ceiling was in full view.
“I don’t know, Elle. I want something more than coloring on people’s bodies. I want something more than the same ole walk to work every afternoon. I want to be a warrior. I don’t want to just read about warriors, I want to be one. I feel like I was born in the wrong time or I took a wrong turn somewhere in life and ended up here instead of where I am supposed to be.”
“Oh, but this isn’t so bad. You have your freedom. You make a good living. I mean, look at you, you own your own tattoo shop. You get to be an artist every day.”
“I wouldn’t consider what I do on the norm artistry. There are only so many butterflies and Chinese symbols I can do before I’m ready to stick the needle in my eye. I do like the ones with a story, though. I like it when a person wants something that means something to them. You remember the guy I tatted on his ribcage the seven tick marks? He said he wanted to keep up with the times he wanted to die and something kept him from doing it. He said they were there to remind him that there was always hope around the corner. I’ve never forgotten that guy. I wonder if he has any more tick marks? Or if he gave up and died?”