I stepped into the store to a retro-electronic door melody and flipped back my hoodie.
Tropical warm air enveloped me, like in a terrarium. Instantly I was looking for a reptile somewhere, a lizard behind glass or a snake. But only the public health minister in his 'Just Do It' t-shirt smiled from his framed picture over the shoulder of a young man with a sideways bent spine standing behind the desk.
«Welcome to Undertheskin's!»
I nodded slowly, buying myself some time. Any tattoo is a commitment, this tattoo is a verdict.
«Congratulation, you're my first customer! That means 20% off your 2nd tat. Hi, I'm Zero, founder and owner of the Undertheskin's.»
«How did you find me, Arthur?»
I tapped against the pocket holding my device, displaying its shape clearly through the fabric.
«Sunny! Already in the system», he looked down at his screen propped up on the desk.
The walls were covered with tattoo posters: tribals and hearts, fake scars and real animals, fantasy creatures and writings, in all shades of grey.
«Tattooing, scarring, burning, branding, beating, piercing, amputating, I can do it all.»
«I'm licensed for 3rd degree amputations, phalanges... fingers and toes, including ears, nose, lips and tongue, but only one at a time of course.»
Ginger scent in the air.
«You're obviously not here for an ampu, so what can I do for you, Arthur?»
I still could just walk out of here, walk away from the tattoo. Once it was done, it was done, a lifetime decision, a decision that had been a long time coming, and it came with a lot of perks, «Do you do… the No-Defibrillator tattoo?»
«The No-D, sure», disappointment fogged his words, rooted in the charge free service he had to provide in his line of trade. «Do you want the No-D centered or over your heart?» He pronounced it Noddy and continued talking more to himself, while he opened a door to a backroom, «My first job in my own parlor is a Noddy. It can only get better from now on.»
I guessed, «That means you are free... now?!»
«Yeah, yeah, yes. A Noddy.»
«No worry, are you tattooed at all?»
«Wow. A virgin, that's so rare, I can hardly believe it.»
«No. Well, at least not a tattoo.»
«Maybe you got one, a small one, a heart or a band name, and forgot about it.»
«Anyway, let's get the Noddy done, and maybe you like it, who knows, and you come back.»
«Maybe I don't.»
I didn't want to give him false hopes.