Tattoos, bearded ladies, and a blushing Patrick, OH MY!
"Where have you been all day? I had to eat lunch and make fun of Adrienne all by my lonesome." I removed my gaze from the television to see Bridget standing in the entrance to the lounge.
"In this exact spot. I'm attempting to leave a permanent indent." She smiled and sat down by my feet.
"Why have you laid here all day, leaving a groove in the couch?"
"Ty is a dick. He yelled at me and told me to 'take a walk.' Who the fuck says something like that? 'Take a walk.'" I mocked bitterly. Bridget just laughed and shook her head.
"He gets a little nuts. You get used to it." I sighed.
"Let's do something." She tilted her head.
"Oooh, I know. Let's go get tattoos. Matching ones. Of cobras. On our asses. To signify our undying love for each other." We dissolved in giggles at the obnoxious idea.
"Yes to the first thing. No to everything else." The brunette shrugged.
"I'm not really into the tattoo thing." I nodded and remained quiet for a moment.
"I called out Pete today." A smirk spread across her lips, causing her blue eyes to twinkle from behind her purple cat eye frames.
"Yeah? Did you kick him in the balls? Was it bloody? Did he cry?" I chuckled and gave her a slight kick.
"No. There was no blood or tears. I told him I'm over it." Her grin quickly fell.
"What? That's it? No castration? We are so not getting matching snake butt cheek tattoos now."
"You two are so weird." Joe commented with a disgusted look on his face as he entered the lounge.
"Why?" We asked simultaneously and then laughed.
"Do I even have to answer that?" Maybe he had a point...for once.
"You wanna get tattoos, Jewseph?" I questioned, shifted my gaze from my chipped pink nail polish to my brother.
"Tattoos? Now?" I nodded.
"You're done your set, right?"
"And I'm banned from merching, so let's go."
"I wouldn't even know where a tattoo shop is." I sighed, feeling a sense of defeat setting in. Then it dawned on me. We were currently in Milwaukee. A certain, body-inked, Jesus-esque drummer would have a pretty good idea of where to find a tattoo shop.
After tracking down said messianic beat provider and one cab ride later, the gang-meaning Joe, Bridget, Pete, a reluctant Patrick and myself-found ourselves standing in front of Andy's ink-ery of choice.
"'The Bearded Lady'?" Pete asked, peering up at the lighted sign.
"Think there's an actual bearded woman?" Patrick asked, his fingers entangled in his own facial hair.
"No way, it's probably just a cute name or something." I said, feeling the nervousness settling in the pit of my stomach.
We entered through the front door, being greeted by a small bell at the top of the threshold. Vivid renditions of art decorated the walls to the point of deciphering the color of wallpaper was impossible. Facing the entrance was a counter with a burly, tattooed stationed on a stool. He looked up from the drawing he was currently working on and smiled, revealing a few silver teeth amongst his white ones. His head was shaved, showcasing-you guessed it-more tattoos. As if his arms, neck, and legs weren't canvas enough.
"Hello. Name's Travis. Welcome to the Bearded Lady." He said with a grin. Joe and Pete immediately struck up conversation about various tattoos and artwork, leaving the socially and body inked inept to stand awkwardly.
"What are you looking to get?" Bridget asked, her eyes wide as she took in her surroundings. It was quite the brain stimulator.
"A star. Right here." I rubbed the back of my neck.
"No tramp stamp?" Patrick asked, a smirk upon his stupid, cherubic face. I gave him a sharp shove before heading over to the counter.
"I know what I want." I said proudly. My brother slung his arm around my shoulder.
"My little sister is finally becoming a man." I sighed. This is what I've had to deal with everyday for almost two decades. Why haven't a suffocated him with a pillow yet?
"What and where?" The man asked.
"A nautical star and the back of my neck." He nodded.
"Black and green."
"Let me just set up in the back and let Frankie know you're ready." He disappeared into the back through a beaded curtain.
"Frankie? Why isn't he doing it?"
"Cause' he's doing me." Pete said smugly.
"Please re-evaluate what you just said and get back to me." I flicked his forehead, causing everyone to laugh.
"You know what I mean. Pervs." Travis rematerialized from the back room and waved for us to follow him. The rear of the building resembled the front except there were mirrors embellishing the walls and padded tables replicating those of a doctor's exam room dotted the tiled floor. My nerves seemed to ball up in my lower abdomen, nagging and niggling at my psyche.
"I'm scared." I whispered to my ex. He smiled sympathetically.
"You'll be fine. It's more of an annoyance than actual pain." I nodded slowly, but still didn't feel assured.
"Who's getting the star?" A gruff voice asked. I turned to see a plump little woman...with a full on blonde beard growing out of her face. A beard...on her face. Pete and I shared an odd expression.
"I...I am." She smiled and patted a table. I took a deep breath and headed over to her.
"This your first time?" She asked in her gravelly tone.
"Can you tell?"
"Normally the veterans don't pick something so simple. It's a good choice for a first time." I smirked apprehensively.
"OK, now I need you to lay face down on the bench so I can get to your neck." I did as I was told and awkwardly climbed on to the table. My head hung over the edge, giving me a great view of the black and white checkered floor.
"Hey Frankie?" All three of us looked over at Travis, who stood with a beaming smile.
"What's up, Trav?"
"My wife's in labor, I gotta get going. Take care of this one for me." She nodded and dismissed him with a wave of her hand.
"Looks like you're mine, handsome." I gripped the edge of the table with both my hands, one on each side of my chin as I listened to her install a disposable needle into her tattoo gun. My knuckles began to turn a ghostly white at the pressure I was applying. I twitched at the sound of the gun buzzing.
"Want me to hold your hand?" Pete asked as he knelt in front of me. I shook my head, trying to concentrate on how large his teeth were rather than the sound of the needle getting closer.
"Just look at me." He said softly as he brushed a stray tendril of strawberry blond hair from my face. My features contorted slightly as the needle dragged across the delicate skin of my neck, leaving a trail of fire in its wake. Every now and then, she's stop to reload the ink, giving me time to breathe.
"You doing alright?" He asked as he grasped one of my hands. I nodded gently.
"I'm almost done, love." The woman assured me before continuing her work. I smiled inwardly as my ex rubbed the soft patch of flesh between my pointer finger and my thumb with his thumb. It was almost calming. I looked down into his dark eyes. For a brief moment, it was there. The boy I used to know what staring back at me. But it was fleeting. As suddenly as it appeared, it was gone just as quickly.
"You're all set." She bandaged me up and gave me some cream to apply to my new artwork. Pete was next. Or should I say, Mr. Pain. He seemed unfazed by the needle. He chattered away as usual, not bothered in the slightest. Before long, he too, was finished and patched up.
We were emerged from the back, Frankie in tow. The rest of our group surrounded the counter, talking and laughing about something. All conversation stopped in the presence of the bearded lady.
"It'll be 50 for the girl and 100 for you." Pete opened his wallet and handed her 150 and another bill for the tip.
"I can get it." I interrupted but was shrugged off.
"It's on me." He said simply.
"Anyone else?" Frankie questioned the other three but was meant with a stunning silence. "No takers? How 'bout you, sweet cheeks?" Patrick immediately flushed a deep red at being acknowledged in such a way.
"No, it's alright. But, um...thanks." His words where muddled and awkward due to his eyes fixated on her beard. She leaned over the counter, getting close to the round singer.
"You wanna touch it?" Her chubby fingers stroked at her facial hair.
"Not really, ma'am."
"Go on, give it a tug.
"We gotta go." The crimson faced anti-frontman grabbed my and Bridget's arms before heading for the door. This encounter would surely give us plenty of teasing ammunition for quite some time.