Ignores all the signs
“Dude look at my tattoo!” my client said. “What the hell
“ Man, calm down. We
can look at it and see what happened.”
Jose answered. Bizarre things were
Jose led his client down the hallway of rooms to his client
“I took the bandage off this morning, took one look and put
the bandage back on. I got here sa soon
as I could.”
“Okay, let’s see what we have got.” He gently pulled on the bandage off the
skin. There was his tattoo art. “Ummm, what’s wrong with it?”
The client yelled: “What do you mean, what’s wrong? Do you not see the hair all in the tattoo?”
“Uh huh. I see it”
Jose answered. “When you got the tattoo,
did I not tell you there might be unusual healing? After all the lion tattoo is a special tattoo
only I do.”
“But the hair!” he exclaimed. “In the tattoo….I don’t think it should be
Jose put a clean bandage back over the tattoo. “Like I told you already, this tattoo is a
new technique. Relax and let it
heal. Keep the bandage on for three more
days, then come see me again.” Jose led
his customer up front to the cashier area and ushered him out.
“No charge today” Jose told him.
“Better not be.” aas muttered and the client left the shop.
Jose and the cashier’s eyes met. Jose shook his head.
“My special technique seems to be surprising people.” Jose said.
The cashier shrugged.
Jose headed down the hallway to the living area. He debated between beer, cola or water as he
opened the fridge. HE took a cola,
popped the top, and found a seat in the room.
Bossman walked in.
“Hey Jose. I heard
your client today. Did you keep him
Yeah, I think so. Rebandaged and reminded him it was
“Great, I would hate for your special technique to bomb.”
“Yeah, me too.” Cola
finished, Jose went back to his office next to the client room.
He sat thinking about the three tattoos he had done with his
new technique. The first one healed up
and looked good. The second time, there
were a few glitched, but he managed to get it right for the client. This third one, he did not know what was
going to happen.
The hair had not been as thick in the first tow he had
do0ne. This third one looked like a real
lion with a mane. He looked over at the
new ink and machine he had bought cheaply in Tijuana. He call and have a chat with the old woman
who had sold him the equipment. She had
said something to him about the equipment, but he did not listen.
He found the card that came with the equipment. He dialed the number.
“Hello, Tijuana Mane. Can I help you?” said a voice with no
Spanish accent. Jose thought this was
“Hello, may I speak to Marie?”
“May I ask who is calling?”
“Tell her I bought some tattoo equipment from her last
“Okay, hang on”
Jose heard the girl yell for Marie. She told her what he wanted. Marie came on the phone.
“Oh, I am so glad you called, that equipment I sold you was
the wrong equipment. Tell me you have
not used it yet.”
“Only three times.
Why?” Jose was puzzled.
“I will bring you new equipment, better equipment
today. Whatever you do, do not use the
stuff you bought from me.”
“Okay, okay.” Jose said reacting to the panic he heard in
Marie’s voice. “What time you think you will be here?”
“About three. Again,
put the stuff away and do not use it again. Lock it up if you have to, but do
not use it.”
Jose hung up the phone.
It was two hours until three. He
took the equipment down off the shelves.
He managed to find all the ink he had bought from her. He noticed skulls on the jars that he had not
seen before. He was getting worried as
he gathered everything together. He
liked this tattoo machine. It fit his
hand perfectly. Even the ink was smooth,
gliding out of it perfectly. Jose placed
the equipment and ink into a box and closed the lid. It was hard to walk away from it.
He went up to the front of the store at a quarter to three
to wait on Marie. When Marie finally walked
in a half hour late, Jose was shocked.
She was not the lady he had bought the equipment from in Tijuana. She was carrying a box and was grateful when
he took it.
“As promised, new equipment for the old equipment. Can I have it back please?” Marie said.
“Sure, let me go get it.” Jose answered. He walked to his office and retrieved the
box. Marie looked relieved to have
it. She checked the contents very
“Good it is all here.
Thanks.” She turned to go.
“Hey. Don’t I get an explanation?” Jose queried.
“Let me put this in the car where it will be safe. I will comeback and tell you a story.”
Marie walked out the door to the parking lot. She opened the
trunk of a white car, put the box in. and slammed the trunk lid own. She walked back over to where Jose stood
“Got a drink?” She asked.
“Oh sure. Beer, cola, or water?” he asked.
They both had cold beers in hand when they sat in Jose’s
“Tell me the story you promised.”
“Okay, okay.” Marie said.” Let me get a drink and my
thoughts straight.” She stared off into
space as she drank a few gulps of beer.
She finally looked at Jose.
“That equipment belonged to my grandfather. It was never meant to be sold. My mother has tried several times to get rid
of it, but it belongs to our family now.
I have had to track it down each time.
This is the last time, I am going to lock it up and bury it tonight.”
“But it is great equipment. It works great and..”
Marie interrupted him. “Have you noticed anything weird
about the tattoos you did int hat ink with the equipment?”
“Well, yes. I have
had the three customers heal differently than normal.”
“Lucky you only did three.
My grandfather did ten tattoos with it.
By the fifth tattoo things got weird. At first we thought it was the new
technique he was doing, but it was the equipment combined with the strange
ink. The tattoos healed funny at first,
then there was hair inside the tattoo as it healed, then the tattoos started to
Jose laughed uneasily. “Tattoos do not move.”
“These did. They
would move up and down arms and legs restlessly. We could do nothing for the clients. It drove a few of them to suicide. One went to get laser surgery and died from
it. Grandfather decided that the
equipment was cursed and put it away.
But he could not stop using it. I
found it in his office one day and asked him what he was doing with it. He told me he could not help it, he had to
tattoo with it. He showed me the little
tattoos that were moving all over his skin.
He had tattooed himself, rather than use his clients. He was a great tattoo artist for years before
the equipment came. Afterward he
withered away into his tattoos.
Jose listened to the story with disbelief. “Marie that sounds crazy. But, I have seen my three client tattoos do
exactly what you described. They healed
strangely. The third one had hair
growing in it.”
“I told you.” Marie said. “It’s the equipment.” She rose off the chair she had been sitting
on. “Do not buy strange old tattoo
equipment. Most of it carries a
Jose watched Marie leave the store, get into the big white car in the parking lot, and drive off
.Written by Katherine Soto February 2019