I felt his gloved fingers pull my skin taut, breathed in a deep breath, and exhaled as I felt the first sweet sting of pain shoot through my whole body. The outline is always the easiest part of getting a tattoo, the skin fresh before the six speedy needles turn it into raw meat. William Forsythe was driving stakes through the hands of some battered man tied to a chair, and I closed my eyes as I felt Swag’s needles draw closer to my ankle bone.
My hands became fists and I drew in a deeper breath letting it out so slowly that I had to catch another one right afterward. All of five minutes had passed, and I was ready to jump out of the chair and scream, “Enough, already!” but I didn’t. I wanted this tattoo, and the sting of a thousand bees was the small price I had to pay.
I never watch the tattooist’s hands while he does his business; not because I don’t want to see what’s going on, but rather I just don’t want to calculate how much longer it will take. It’s always a good surprise, too, when I take that first look in the mirror at the fresh tattoo, the first time I’ll see what is going to be on my body forever.
So I’ve added another picture to my gallery, a roadmap that only I see when I take a shower, but while I lather up and see the water make each tattoo glisten, I feel the joy and pain each and every one gave me.