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Monologue to a Tattoo Artist

by Eric Scot Tryon

We were so fucking cool. We blasted the Pixies out of car windows, quoted Reservoir Dogs start to finish, and smoked unfiltereds like our lives depended on it. Me and Sara. Sara and me. We did everything together. We broke into hotel hot tubs after midnight. Put on The Moldy Peaches and fucked in the middle of the day. With the blinds open. We wanted to be seen. To be heard. To let our cool get caught up in the wind, trickle into air vents and cracked windows, maybe let the fog carry it across the bridge.

So when she first started getting headaches we thought it must be the cigarettes and switched over to Parliaments. Yeah, P-funks. That’ll keep her level. Sara always said we were old enough to be free but young enough to be dumb. So we went to parties we weren’t invited to and bounced early from the ones we were. Or didn’t go at all. Didn’t matter. Sitting atop Twin Peaks sharing a whiskey bottle and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s was it. It’s all there was and all there needed to be. We dangled our legs off the edge of the world and watched the stars melt to butter.

But that Saturday when she fainted for the fourth time we knew we were in some real shit. So we went full straight edge. No smoke, no drink. Even though I could still bench press the moon, I did it with her. Switched up our game. All-night picnics in Dolores Park, Kung-Fu movies in the old, abandoned church, hopping on the first BART that slid into the station, taking it to the end of the line, any line. Find our way home the hard way.

Then we went absolutely bat shit crazy waiting for the test results from the lab. One week, they said. But by day nine, our mantra was “fuck the lab.” It was our answer to everything. Hey, baby, what do you want for dinner? I dunno, maybe tacos, but also maybe fuck the lab. Shit like that. We used to do prairie fire shots at a bar called The Lab down in the Haight. We’d stay after closing on the nights Z-Man was tending bar. Drinking, listening to The Unicorns, and playing dominoes for quarters until the sun came up.

So hey man, no halos or angel wings or none of that heaven shit. She would have hated that. Just as long as her name is so black and bold that the ink bleeds down into my bones and spreads through my body until I can taste it in the back of my mouth, and then just make my arm look cool, man. Make it look so fucking cool.

Eric Scot Tryon is a writer from San Francisco. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Willow Springs, Pithead Chapel, Los Angeles Review, Fractured Lit, Monkeybicycle, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Longleaf Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, and elsewhere. Eric is also the Founding Editor of Flash Frog. Find more information at or on Twitter @EricScotTryon.

Lead image: “Buzz” (via Flickr user David Crummey)