Aiming for a creative life

I Am Santo

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Jimmy never wanted David to get ink. This despite the fact he’d been working as a tattoo artist since he was twenty and was covered in them himself. But whereas he felt compelled to hide in art, his son was art just by virtue of breathing; a flawless pallette inside and out colored through experience. David’s skin was beautiful and near blemish-free but for a birthmark under his right arm, and as Jimmy bathed the child he considered how some canvasses seemed perfect blank. In fact, despite his career and his own frivolous ink, he’d started to believe that lack of forethought by many in their tattoo choice made unsullied skin more meaningful and beautiful. Of course, he often did work that meant a great deal to the recipient and last night was one of those. Four women, nearly of four generations, arrived in the early evening of his Saturday night shift, a time when he’d often start turning the intoxicated away. They were not drunk, but in mourning for a lost son, brother and boyfriend. Old skin was harder to write on, but they’d all elected on having their ink in the same place, and the mother’s skin was still taut on the wrist. Her’s was simple and direct, initials and a birthdate with a small heart. Jimmy did the math and realized the kid was young, too young to be gone and he felt a wave of sympathy for her loss as his greatest unspoken fear was losing David. She cried while the others held her hand and the hands of each other. The younger of the two sisters was next, crying too as she got a small city skyline on her wrist. Then the girlfriend, tearless but still committed to a pair of red Converse Chucks. Finally, the older sister got two roses, one thriving and standing over one slightly wilting. Jimmy found it interesting they’d not all settled on a specific tattoo to bind them, but the girlfriend summed it up as they were paying, “our ink is love.” It wasn’t the picture or words or even the event that bound them, but the affection for someone gone. Jimmy dried off his son’s perfect skin and suddenly hoped someday there might be single one on David for his dad, a constant reminder of the strongest ink shared by all.

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