After the rather chattery welcoming Zero turned out to be matter of fact, especially after I thwarted his up-selling attempts—he wanted to talk me into a fancy version of the tattoo, since it would be my first one. But his service wouldn't be for free anymore, so I insisted on the standard Noddy.
For the procedure I took off my hoodie and the shirt, threw both over my coat on a chair, and laid down on a dark leather ottoman, which was too short for me, as it would be for most people, my feet touched slightly the linoleum. Zero tied a sort of milk chair to his butt and grabbed the tattoo gun.
With a plock he sat down next to me. At first I twitched every time the needle penetrated my skin; only when he finished the first paddle of the defibrillator, I could watch him doing the rest. Frequently, he adjusted his position, each time with the sound of a pirate with a wooden leg on deck. From my lying position I couldn't see him from the belt down, and I imagined Zero wasn't sitting, but instead had very short legs, one made of wood. Plock.
Pop music poured out of the loudspeakers, sometimes he was humming along. By the third song, I recognized the band. My question, if he was a big fan of Jenny Has Traffic, he answered by mumbling a generic «Hmmh».
I took a breath to say something else, but I dropped it. Obviously he wasn't in the mood to talk, probably hoping he'd have my Noddy ready before the next actual customer would enter his store with a more elaborate and expensive wish.
Zero wasn't overly tattooed himself, neither did he have an obnoxious number of studs piercing his face, he sure had other job options. Who knows why he chose to become a contractor instead of working in the Goo? Either way, he didn't have to go to the gym.
The ceiling of the store had remained untouched, an older white, no sign of the new owner. The tattoo parlor could have been anything before he moved in. Of course I didn't remember, although I went by here almost every day of my life.
Boredom. Usually I'd play something, but my device stuck in the inside pocket of my coat by the stool in the corner. This room, his studio, as he called it, was profoundly smaller than the one to the street but plastered with the same tattoo Olympics wallpaper. Next to the box with the first aid kit hung his lavishly framed tattoo master certificate.
He didn't even ask me why I wanted the No-Defibrillator tattoo. For him my job was a bad joke of a self-employment startup, a twist of fate, an irony, if not a nuisance. For me it would mean—in case I needed to be revived, and the paramedics would see the No-D on my chest after racing through the streets and dramatically ripping off my shirt only to find out they were done with their work—that they would transport me to the hospital as an organ donor. I had my donor card since birth. This way childcare was for free.
On the other hand, having the Noddy now meant, I could work an hour less at the gym each day. One hour less work. Now I wondered, why I waited that long? My advisor was right, and I should've listened to him a year ago when he first suggested getting the No-D. Sometimes I am silly this way, almost stubborn. What did I have to lose? I gained an hour of free time a day!
«Hey, are you dead?», he grumbled, «I'm ready with your Noddy, you can get up.»