For all my new followers, today is Fourth-Wall Friday. Every Friday I host another wonderful author who has granted us a look into their world build and characters. Sit back and enjoy the show. I am trying to figure out what fresh ink I am getting next at James’ shop and I did not expect to have Deacon Chalk walk in. I am glad I am wearing black, because the drool won’t show up as bad if he decides to look my way. Welcome ….
James R. Tuck
used by permission
I walk through the door and all I see is red.
It covers every wall, blaring out at me, screaming at my eyes.
A buzzing fills my ears.
“Hey, how’s it going? What can we do for you today?”
I look down from staring at the art covered walls and see a young, thin teenager with spiked hair standing by the couch. His hair spiked messily over clear horn-rimmed glasses and a Doctor Who shirt.
Before I can say anything a big man stood up from the back of the large open room.
“My Sho-nizzle! C’mon back.”
Stepping through the opening between two four foot high half walls that divide the room from lobby to work area, I walk towards him. The teenager follows. The man, James, moves around the hydraulic chair he’s using as a desk, a tiny red laptop perched on a shiny metal tray. Boots, jeans, and a black t-shirt.
He’s dressed just like me.
Clasping outstretched hand, we both lean in, hugging like brothers.
We pull back and stand eye to eye.
The teenager watches us. “This is just really bizarre.”
The man smiles. “This isn’t weird, son. This, is Deacon Chalk.”
The teen looks at me. His eyes widen. “Oh.” He thinks for a second. “Oh!”
James nods. “Yep. The main man himself.”
“Deacon, my son Conor. Conor, Deacon.”
I stick my hand out. “Nice to meet you.”
My son would be this old now.
I clamp that down HARD. Fold it, push it aside.
James waves his hand toward the front of the shop. “Alright, back to work. Let us talk.”
Conor smiles and walks back to the lobby area.
I indicate the walls. “I like what you’ve done with the place.”
“Really? I was a little worried you’d be pissed. I mean, that didn’t stop me, but it did pass through my mind.”
“It’s your shop now. You can do whatever you want. Besides, this is much better.”
“I’m pretty happy with it.”
“This looks like a tattoo shop now.”
“Looked like a tattoo shop when I bought it from you.”
I shake my head. “Nah. Those walls I built were rubbish. This is much better.”
“You’re knocking your Frankenstein seams on the drywall?”
“Hey! I was a tattoo artist, not a construction worker.”
“That was definitely not construction, more like con-fuck-tion.”
We both nod at the same time.
This feels good. The back and forth, the chit and the chat of two people who know each other pretty damn well.
I nod at the laptop.
“How goes the writing?”
“Working on a Lovecraft urban fantasy.”
“Not book 4?”
“That’s next. Book 3 just came out.”
“Yeah, Tiff picked it up. She liked it.”
“Good.” He picks up a sketchbook. “You wanna see your design?”
He hands it over to me. The page is filled with thin, red lines. They swirl and squiggle across the recycled paper, making big, loose forms. Over them is a series of darker lines, number 2 pencil lines, that sculpt and define the image, drawing its shape out of the chaos of the sketch.
It’s a Sailor Jerry-style pinup of a girl leaning on a pole. The banner under her feet reads POLECATS in traditional tattoo-style letters.
I look up. “I love it.”
“Nope, run it.”
He nods. “I’ll get set up. Make yourself at home.”
I wander back to the lobby, grab a tattoo magazine, and sit on the leather couch.
I’ve just flipped past the third article on a different TV show with the word ink in the title. When the holy hell did tattooing go on television?
I’ve been out of the loop for a while since . . .
since . . .
I look over at Conor. He’s wiping down the jewelry case.
Fuck it. I’m not thinking about my family. Not here, not now.
The door chimes.
A guy who looks just a year or two older than Conor walks in. He’s also thin, but where Conor looks wiry, this kid looks damn near hollow. Sunken cheeks, jutting jawbone, eyes in deep caves under his eyebrows. If they weren’t steady, and his skin smooth and clear, I’d think he was strung out on some shit. He has a black portfolio clutched in skeletal hands and the shoulders of his t-shirt are stained blue gray from the shitty, black No 1 dye job on his shaggy hair.