Phantom Pain

12 Mar

Sometimes goofing around with a friend can inspire a story. Actually in this case it inspired more than one. But this is the first. I am lucky I have a couple of people that just seem to ignite my creativity by just riffing or hanging. I’m not sure what it is but it’s very enjoyable.


Phantom Pain


Have you ever forced yourself to do something that either scared the living shit right out of you or was just so completely out of character that nobody would believe you’d done it if you didn’t have visual proof? What about something incredibly stupid, humiliating even, just to challenge yourself? If your answer is no then you are not going to get why I decided to get Simone’s lips inked onto my inner thigh. Unless of course you have ever had Simone’s lips actually on your inner thigh and then I’m pretty sure you’re feeling me.


I have a lot of ink but it’s concentrated mostly on my left arm and back. I don’t like the look of random ink. I believe that placement of art on your body is even more important than placement of art on your walls. But in this case I was recreating a memory. I knew it was going to hurt. I wanted it to. It was appropriate that it did. And I wanted to feel… anxious, jittery… so I went to a shop I’d never been, in an area of town that got really fucking restless as soon as the streetlights came on and then someone usually shot them out again. Like I said “incredibly stupid”.


The neon sign was a vivid red against the black of the glass and the reflection of the bikes parked in front. I was hoping the bikes belonged to the bars on either side but I wasn’t holding my breath. Besides not all bikers were psychotic, some of them were sociopaths. Let’s face it nobody does charming like a sociopath. But I was not looking for a relationship; I was looking for an artist.


It took me a minute or twelve to get used to the dim. If it wasn’t for the buzz I would have thought the place was deserted but from the sound there were at least two people inking. Once my pupils dilated to the best of their ability I could see that there were three.  But that’s about all I could swear to. I couldn’t tell if they were male/female, white, brown, old, scarred, conjoined or scaled. The shape farthest away from the door beckoned. I found myself shuffling so as not to bump into anything violently. Funny, you’d think I would have turned and run. Not me, I was so scared I could feel the blood draining from my face and yet it just made everything seem more perfect.


By the time I got to the station I could see that the pale beckoning hand belonged to a woman of indeterminate age and not the ghost of Christmas Past. Her hair was long, dark and hung in her face. I have no idea what her eyes looked like. I could not see them. For all I knew she had no eyes. I told her what I was looking for. Pulled the letter with Simone’s lip print on it out of my pocket and held it out to her. She motioned for me to put the letter on her table. I took off my jeans and jumped up on the bench. I knew it was my imagination but it smelled of the fear of the countless others who had lain before me in anticipation of that first jolt. No two people tattoo the same. You could get an identical image done in exactly the same place by 8 different people and they will all feel completely different ranging from almost nothing to excruciating. I know this sounds nuts but I like it to hurt just enough to make it feel like a bit of a heroic quest. Not a Beowulf quest, I don’t think I have the pain tolerance for that but at least fording a raging river or walking into a gale. This was like neither.


To be completely honest I really couldn’t tell you what it felt like because I can’t remember getting the tattoo at all. I just know I got it because I can see it but other than that… nada. In fact I have been wracking my brain trying to remember the name of the fucking place and where it was.


People who believe in ghosts believe that almost anything can be haunted. And conversely that anything dead can be a ghost like even a whale or a wolf spider. I don’t know about you but I find real spiders terrifying enough without adding a whole invisible, moving through walls and even your body, element. Fortunately I’m not a big believer in the paranormal so ectoplasmic arachnids remain the stuff of nightmares. I am however on the verge of believing in transmundane tattoo parlors because my new ink… is interactive.


I know, I sound nuts. Maybe I am. Not that I’m complaining. There was a reason I wanted to remember Simone’s lips on my inner thigh and now I feel them every night, many times a night. The only thing is I’m not getting a lot of sleep. Oh well I guess I can sleep when I’m dead.


One Response to “Phantom Pain”

  1. Robert Constant March 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Very witty and very well paced. Completely drew me in.


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