It was one of those bad ideas that was available all night, cheap and close to where the locals handed out free drinks to the heathens, the drunks, the gamblers, the strung-out weekend warrior bachelor party meatheads whom- if you listened to them talk- you would think them to be sired from the same man.
“Bro,” Greg slipped out of a shamelessly SUV-styled limoscene, lime green of course. “Let’s fucking do it! Vegas, baby!”
(None of them had ever seen Swingers.)
Pete’s Tats offered custom art, designed, sketched and inked within at most two hours. They promised professional, quality work for a fair rate- so long as you could stand on your own feet and quote your birthday.
Greg hopped on to the leather-padded bench, leaning up and forward to inspect his artist as she plugged away at her machine. She was the exact type of looking girl one would find in any tattoo shop on the planet. Slipping on plastic gloves and cradling her needle like the cigarette she so desperately wants to go out back and smoke, she makes reluctant eye contact with Greg.
(In his head, Greg assigns her a numerical rating based on her looks and proceeds to tailor his attitude as such.)
“What do you want to get, and where?” She musters out words pained by overtime and an endless supply of tourists.
Glancing towards his friends, Greg exchanges smirks among the choir of boys disguised in 200 pound suits of meat and testosterone, soaked in the cheapest of free whiskey and tequila found at the casino in the hotel the married bro’s girlfriend booked through some kind of social media coupon thing; they’re not sure because Kevin didn’t explain it well, but it was thirty bucks a night each to share two-bed rooms with enough ice and privacy to snort cocaine and talk themselves into prostitutes. They wore the mark of the confident, yet plain and lazy; various combinations of shorts, jeans, sandals, polo shirts and black tees bedazzled seemingly by autistic feral cave children. They were unremarkable, and maybe six of them.
“I want something epic. On my back,” Greg hiked his his shirt up and over a shoulder, a task made easier by popping his collar earlier in the evening.
“Okay. Like?” She really wanted that cigarette.
“How about a centaur? Can you do centaurs?
“Wicked!” Balled fists slap amongst the choir- an alto with a gold chain, a soprano with a moustache- The longer you look at them, the more individual each piece start to look, like a Where’s Waldo of confused bravado.
“Alright. I want TWO centaurs, okay? And they’re running towards each other.”
“One has a trident, the other… a fucking, what’s that thing the devil has?”
“You mean the Grim Reaper.” She sighed, eyeing the Belmonts on the counter directly in her line of sight.
“Hell yeah, that bad ass motherfucker!”
“A Scythe. You want a Scythe.” What would it take for him to change his mind and go for a ying yang? A gawdy flag? Mom? Momentarily, she considered flirting with the guy- the basic and effective hair fidgeting followed by the arm touch, peppered always by constant laughing at every terrible word to come out of his mouth. Finally, she’d do the standard fake phone number and promise to meet up later to party. Just to talk him in the god damn koi fish. (Nicotine gets ahold of you., and it doesn’t let go)
“Yeah. Okay. So They each have that weapon, right? They have to look angry, like they’re ready to fight. They want to tear each other’s dicks off!”
The mere mention of a penis causes a stir of joy from the choir.
“Cool. Two angry centaurs. One with a trident, one with a Scythe.” She trades the needle for a pen, sketching the beginnings of a tattoo she’ll take a picture of because that’s the new policy apparently, to make every tattoo seem like a big deal. And as she shakes it, it being the polaroid picture she has just taken and is now shaking (like a polaroid picture), she’ll tell him what Pete said to tell him to make Greg feel like his hair-brained bong-fart of a permanent idea was a good one. But she will never display that photo in her portfolio. It will go on the wall in the back for other artists to mock- friendly- while Greg will go back to Tucson and high-five everyone he shows it to. (A surprising eighty percent will be genuinely impressed, happy or amused by it.)
“How much you want to spend? A hundred gets you stick figures, three gets you…”
“Whoa there, sweet-cakes,” Greg said it like he had said it before. “I’m not done.”
There was even a lighter next to the pack of smokes. She could stand up; punch Greg in the face and groin, then douse him with the sterilizer that she assumed was flammable. She’d grab the smokes, convert Greg to Buddhism, and walk out the door puffing away as the nicotine queen. Free and into the night. Fuck Greg. Fuck the locals. Fuck the Polaroids. Fuck Pete and the two days off he owes you for working a triple over Memorial Day weekend. But she couldn’t do that, because she would get fired. (She really wanted to though.)
“Fucking two centaurs bearing down on each other like Napoleon and Caesar at the battle of who gives a shit, okay?” Greg takes a breath, waiting for acknowledgement.
“Each if them has a giant dick. Massive. Has to be huge. Centaur with the trident- on the LEFT- we’ll call him Centaur A. Nah fuck that. Call him, Emilio. So Emilio with the big dick- it’s so big it’s in a knot, but he don’t mind! Plus I suppose he’s got bigger fish to fry with the other centaur. And before you ask, uncircumcised please. So- Centaur B. Nah, fuck that. We’ll call him Horatio. Horatio also has a big ass donger on him. You ever see the movie The Shawshank Redemption?”
“You remember that scene where that guy- I believe the character’s name was Andy Dufferins- anyways. Andy has just tricked the warden with the poster, you know it covered the hole he had dug with the fucking rock tools he got after doing said warden’s taxes or some shit? He dumped a little pile of sand in the yard every day. He had patience. I have patience. So I want my tattoo to include that aspect my originality. After Andy displayed that patience, he escaped during a thunderstorm by crawling through a sewage pipe. Covered in shit. But free. Free and patient. So Horatio, the second centaur, I want his cock to be that scene: Andy coming out of the sewage pipe, except instead of sewage pipe it’s Horatio the centaur’s giant penis. And instead of Andy from Shawshank I want it to be the guy from the I Want You America poster.”
“Uncle Sam?” She asked.
“Yup! You’re quick. Cute and smart, that’s rare in a chick. Okay. Alright. Two centaurs, massive and unique appendages, ready for battle. Now, I got one more request with this.”
“Okay but it’s already a little… complicated–”
“Hey! Lady, I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘complicated’, unless it’s that tight-ass song from fifteen years ago that dead Canadian girl sings. So we good? You gonna be my bro?”
She shakes her head no, giving absolutely clear body language cues Greg is oblivious to
“On top of each centaur shall be a warrior. Knotty-dicked Emilio will have Jesus Christ- YES. I understand that may sound offensive but hear me out. I want Jesus to be ripped to shit, like Christian Bale in Batman ripped. He can have his little diaper and crown of thorns so it’s PC, but my Jesus is white, thank you very much! I say that only because you strike me as a lesbian, or at least a vegetarian- but businesses aren’t safe spaces, so don’t try to be sneaky and give me a Mexican Jesus or something weird. So, ripped white jesus is summoning fireballs- preferrably Dragon Ball Z style but if you think that’s a stylistic conflict, I’ll defer to you on that one. He’s got the blood from the thorns- his hands should have holes in them because the spikes have been ripped out prior him getting on Emilio. I guess that goes without saying but whatever. So we got Jesus there, on pissed off Emilio. Who do you think we got on Horatio? Nope, not going to give you a chance to answer because you’d never guess it. Three words. Martian. Luther. King.”
Suddenly and without the dramatic physical outburst one would expect from such an unexpected occurrence, Greg dies from a brain aneurysm.
He isn’t able to finish explaining his tattoo.
His friends are sad but the artist gets to have her cigarette.