Life As A Tattoo
by J White
I walk out of the paper factory all sweaty and pissed off. My tattoo-covered arms are dripping with dirty sweat. My long hair and beard are full of dust and bits of raw paper as tiny as gnats. It is always the same at the paper factory in the summer time. By day’s end I am sweaty and pissed.
Before I know it I am gliding along U.S. 309 on my motorcycle. A straight stretch. Good for the high gears. I’m fucking flying. The wind feels good. I think of the dream. The one I had early this morning. Irritation sweeps back over me.
In the dream it was nighttime, in a field, and there were half-dressed women. Thank God for women. I was sculpting the dream. Been able to do it since I was a kid. Dream shaping. Used to shape them about winning ball games. Now it’s women. That’s life.
I feel the wind.
Up ahead I see someone pulled to the side of the road. Working a flat.
In my mind I see the dream. The moonlight. The women. Dancing and laughing. I am the only man there. What can I say? The only male within a hundred acres of dream real-estate. The women, nearly naked (tits bouncing) – all ethnicities, all shapes and sizes, huddle around me, showing me their ink, drunk, sober, legs, backs, other places where tattoos are less obvious. Groovy. Keep on Truckin’.
And then, suddenly, it isn’t groovy. The old man shows up. His wild blue eyes and his plaid pants and white t-shirt. He looks crazy. He is crazy. And worst of all, I don’t know how he got here. I didn’t invite him. Wild fucking eyes.
I tell him to fuck off. He pulls out a gun. Starts shooting. Blood. And then he bails. I don’t know how. He jumps from the dream. I am left looking at blood and then the alarm goes off. Time to wake up. Get to the paper factory.
I slow the bike down, pull over and park in the grass. See if the flat tire dude needs any help. I’m trying for a good deed. Could use a few points. He’s hunched over, working at the jack.
Before he turns to face me I know who he is. The plaid pants. T-shirt. I know the pistol is on the ground beside him.
“How did you leave the dream?” I whisper.
“Your whole life is my dream, fucker,” he says with a brown-toothed grin and then he grabs something, the pistol, and holds it to his own neck.
I have a moment to consider this but it’s like