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 The Curious Tale of a Tattoo

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Scratch

Scratch

Posts : 670
Join date : 2010-02-20
Age : 39
Location : Hawai'i, Oceania

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PostSubject: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptyFri Apr 16, 2010 8:28 am

I wrote this like short fiction, because at the time that guise was the only way I could say it. It is all completely true, and tells things about myself that I no longer wish to conceal.

This all happened several years before I found this forum, or willingly entertained the possibility of angels incarnate.


There once was a strange suburban girl, attending a strange suburban college, who wanted to be the woman in “The Ninth Gate.”  She had a strange sort of selective ignorance, which made her not see any problem with this.  Besides, she thought she’d heard that actress described as sort of a French Marilyn Monroe.

What intrigued her most about that story was the idea of the devil writing a book, with the authentic illustrations signed "LCF."  She loved the whole concept, of the devil’s magic artwork.  

She didn’t get who that chick in the movie was supposed to be, for a ridiculously long time.

She’d been dating a boy from the ghetto.  They met at a monthly pagan get-together, in a bar.  The naive girl learned from him, that if someone wrapped thread around a very sharp needle, and had some india ink, paper towel, and enough focused patience while pricking yourself over and over and over...

Being unable to pay for a tattoo, and not caring to explain why she wanted that one, the girl thought about it for a while. Then, one afternoon she knew her roommate would be gone, she locked herself in the bathroom.  She wasn’t sure how much it would hurt, and planned to outline three letters in a sensitive spot, where only she and certain lucky bastards would ever see them. It wasn't bad, for a first effort.


Several years and boyfriends later, she had a dream one night, unlike any she remembered before or since.  She sometimes dreamed so vividly, she felt as if she had lived them.  This one woke her with its intensity, then yanked her back to sleep in order to finish itself.

She was standing in a brightly-lit corridor, with blank, washed-out walls; very narrow and long.  The opposite end seemed so distant, it plunged into blackness.  Then, she realized the blackness was being given off by something.  Someone: someone so dark, blackness seemed to radiate from every pore.

The moment this sunk in, something happened to the walls.  They bent outwards, and inwards, and rippled, and moved in a rush towards her, all at the same time.  When that sensation subsided, the person who seemed to shine darkness was standing directly in front of her.

They were face to face, but it did not have a face.  It had a shroud, of tight, even, wooly black ropes, hanging down to its waist.  The shoulders seemed broad enough to be peeking out on either side, like wings, but that may have been a trick of the eye.  The coat, or robe, or whatever it was wearing, was made of a fabric which seemed to absorb light, and she could not see any contrast between dreadlocks and cloth.

It raised its head, and the dreads parted; exactly like an old theater curtain.  The effect had a split second to unnerve her, until she found herself staring into his eyes.

His eyes were deeply set, black as two holes, and made her understand how a doe feels when it freezes in the headlights of a blaring 16-wheeler.  The worst part was the helpless knowing.  The fear, rolling over her in waves too big for her craft, told her: she would be struck dead where she stood.  It would be hard, and cruel, and bring her no peace. There would be no relief, or release, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

His gaze was the most terrifying thing she had ever experienced.  Still, something in her said that if she had any self-respect whatsoever, she would not look away.  She raised her chin a bit, and watched him watch her.  She stared back into his eyes, until the focus subtly shifted, so it felt as if he was looking into hers.

Then, he smirked.  She felt, for the time, a completely uncharacteristic blaze of indignation.  He was smirking at her?  She wanted to say something, but he spoke first.  

He said, “I like to name things.  I like to give people names.  I am going to call you...”

He paused, as if time had frozen.  Her mind was the only thing which seemed to move, as she waited to hear what he would say.  She had never liked her given name, so nicknames came to her like borrowed clothes.  Something told her this one would be different, though.  This would be the end of all nicknames.  Whoever this was, he was terribly important, and would give her the name she would know herself by.  

These thoughts caused her mind to spiral so furiously, she started to wake.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear whatever it would be, anyway, and it appeared she had no choice in the matter.  She felt herself lying in bed, and it was morning, and she hadn’t set the alarm because it was her weekend.  She started to open her eyes.

Then, she was asleep again.  She knew she was asleep, because she felt the dream pull her back in, and the blackness behind her eyelids was his.  She had never dreamed of being asleep before, but she was, long enough to hear the end of his statement:

“Scratch.”

Then, her eyes snapped open, and she lay rigid, flat on her back.  She was petrified, with tears rolling into her short hair, as she stared up at the ceiling and thought, “Scratch?  Scratch?!  What the hell kind of a name is Scratch?  Ah well...  Who else would have a name like that?”

She hadn’t even heard of Lee Perry yet.  It didn’t seem to suit her at all, but she kind of liked it anyway.


Over the course of time, she had grown tired of her “LCF" tattoo.  She thought it was silly of her, having ink inspired by a movie, and kept looking for something good to cover it up with.

Seven mornings after her dream, she woke feeling odd, in a good way.  The air seemed supercharged, or maybe it was just her head.  In any case, it occurred to her she had never fasted before.  It was the first of two days off, and she had heard a lot about the cleansing properties a day spent solely on liquids could have, so she decided to try it.

Coming out of the shower, after a breakfast of tea, she glanced at herself in the long mirror on her bathroom door, as she always did.  But that day, she knew exactly what to do with her tattoo.  The letters she had inscribed were outlined blocks which never got filled, so it was easy.  The “F” could turn into an “R” without any problem.  “C” was already where it needed to be, and a little creative morphing would get an “S” out of the “L.”  She had put it off to one side, and at the size she had done it, the rest should be nicely centered, just above the base chakra.  She grabbed a pen and drew on her skin for a while, to make sure her idea matched reality.  

You would have thought she had planned it all from the start.

She always kept a few sewing needles and some thread around, and liked drawing with a nib pen.  So, after triple-checking to ensure none of the letters had wound up backwards, since she could only see them upside-down or in a reflection, she set to work.  Ignoring all advice she had ever heard about intelligent tattooing, her crazy little ink job became a crazier, more impulsive, big one.  

It was a head-rush all its own, using that slow, painful method, without having eaten anything.  The high she got was worth the trouble it took to create, and she loved the improvement.  This was something that was hers, alone.


About a month after, was another evening at The Lighthouse.  It was the home of a good friend, who hosted house shows and art nights, and seemed to know everyone remotely interesting in town.

One of these was Scott.  Some evenings, after that perfect amount of wine and weed, she would bum a cigarette from him, and they’d get into strange, intense conversations around the back door.  It would feel as if they were communicating on some level way beyond what they were used to, and speaking entirely in codes and metaphor.  She never told him, but a secret part of her mind always called him “Gabriel."

There was a party that night, and she happened to overhear part of his conversation with someone else.  It was about a woman, from a Pacific Island or something, whose culture believed Death was a giant black man.  She’d given Scott a beautiful woven blanket as sort of a joke, because he was the biggest, blackest man she had ever seen.

Scratch almost laughed out loud.  She had not told anyone about her dream, or tattoo, but had a very definite impression she knew where that superstition came from.  So she butted in, and started telling Scott why what he’d said was so interesting to her.

When he heard what the big black terror had called her, Scott's eyes bugged out like a cartoon.  “So the torch has been passed to you,” he murmured, so quietly he didn’t even seem to hear it.

It sent a shock through her, anyway.  “What do you mean?”

“You ain’t never heard of ‘Old Scratch’?”

“No.  What’s that?”

From the next room, someone started shouting, “Satan, Satan, Satan!”

A lot of people jumped, then dismissed it as another of Josh's random antics, and began talking again.  The two stared at each other, not realizing till then how loud the music and conversations around them were.  

Josh had been eavesdropping again, and chose that moment to speak up.  He thought it was funny as hell.  Though, it was odd he’d been able to hear them so clearly, through a wall and the din of a party.


Incidentally, I was going to get it covered with a red lotus, back when I was practicing Buddhism with my then-fiance. He hated that tattoo. My first appointment was thwarted though, by him going crazy and attacking me that morning. As horrible as that was, it was a blessing in disguise, in all that it revealed about how I had been going about my life. The last thing I did before moving out of that apartment we had shared, to another part of town, was go to a local tattoo parlor and get "Scratch" professionally outlined and shaded. My life has been on a steady uphill since. It wasn't long after that I somehow stumbled across the term "otherkin," and found out I wasn't the only one who seemed to have a deeper persona that isn't supposed to exist. Wink
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Ishtahar
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Ishtahar

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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptyFri Apr 16, 2010 3:27 pm

WOW Thank you for sharing something so personal even if it was third party. The whole thing sounds scary, exciting and strange. Kind of like most of my life actually
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Ashtart

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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptySat Apr 17, 2010 10:56 am

Very deep.

I recognize the man in your dream. It sounds exactly like one of the loas of African/New Orleans/Haitian vodoun (voodoo), a god of death. I think it's "Baron" something.
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Ishtahar
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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptySat Apr 17, 2010 2:35 pm

Baron Samedi. Which translates strangely enough to Saturday. He wears at top hat and in tradition Haiti funerals he dances in front of the funeral cortege. He also appears in Mardi Gras which roughtly translates as Fat Saturday. Some useless information from the font of all useless knowledge Smile
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Scratch

Scratch

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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptySat Apr 17, 2010 5:49 pm

Mardi Gras is actually Fat Tuesday (Samedi is Saturday, Mardi is Tuesday, both in French) Sorry, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and took several years of that language in school.

Interesting of you to say. I can't remember now if I read Neil Gaiman's American Gods first before or after that dream, but there was a very brief mention of Baron Samedi which hugely jumped out at me. Though he had no top hat or cigar in my dream, his face was as black, and there was nothing crass about him, I think you may be right. According to Wikipedia, he can be a giver of life as well as the master of the dead. That can be what happens when you give a name to something.
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Ishtahar
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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptySat Apr 17, 2010 11:09 pm

Tee Hee... you are absolutely right.

Try reading Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad not only for a great laugh but there is a very good and surprisinly accurate rendition of Baron Samedi in there.
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Scratch

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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptySun Apr 18, 2010 2:24 am

Cool, thanks!
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Ari'el
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Ari'el

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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptyFri May 21, 2010 12:54 am

Thanks for sharing that with us, Scratch. I think your story (overall, not just what you wrote here) is pretty interesting, and I'm interested to see where it goes.
Also, I feel I should say that you have my support, even though we barely know each other.
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Scratch

Scratch

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PostSubject: Re: The Curious Tale of a Tattoo   The Curious Tale of a Tattoo EmptyFri May 21, 2010 1:40 am

Thank you. That means a lot to me.

I'm interested to see where yours goes too.
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