“Birthday Suit” by R Scott Tyler
“And that’s supposed to help your argument how?” He knew he had blown it with that train of thought. His mom thought that actors like Clint Eastwood and Ben Stein were a little too middle-leaning and the band, Alabama, had too many racy lyrics in their music.
Laying on his bed, fists clenched, head pushed back into the pillow and heels pumping up and down, Tony’s only retort was “I’m not fourteen anymore!”
“Well then why am I folding your underwear mister…” He felt the pile of laundry, warm still from the dryer, land on his stomach and heard his mom’s steps as she left his bedroom.
“Crap!” he yelled after her as she gently closed the door. He could almost see her smiling as she went down the hall to the living room.
“Okay, here’s what the picture you described looks like to me.” Trenton showed Tony the small drawing of himself, catching an errant drum stick that got away from Paramore’s drummer, Zac Farro, at the first rock concert he had attended. It was finally the afternoon of his 18th birthday, closing in on 4:00 p.m., and he was picking out his first tattoo.
“Yes, that’s completely it. I love it!” Seeing the tattoo Trenton designed from his memory almost made his finger ache again where the drumstick had broken it when hewent wild to catch it.
“Then let’s do this thing. I can have you out of here by 8:00.”
It was a bit after 4:00 when Tony followed Trenton back to the ink stations. The tattoo was going in the classic tramp stamp location because, even though he would be 18, Tony figured that was the place his mom was least likely to see it. He did still have college tuition to worry about.
“Lay face down on the table with your pants off.” Trenton was preparing the colors and the needles, facing the table.
“Really, my pants off?”
“Yeah, I’ve got to be able to move you around at will to get the right angles. You don’t want a fucked up tat, do you?” With a grin he added, “If you’re too much of a priss you can lower them to about mid-thigh.”
Well, he certainly wanted the perfect tattoo. And he had never been a priss before, he thought, taking off his jeans. He sort of wished he’d worn clean underwear, but hell, he had taken the bus over here. No chance of an accident.
He lay down on the table, feeling quite exposed, especially when he looked at Trenton and noticed where his eyes were glued. Flipping his head the other direction, he glanced at the flat screen on the wall playing, what sort of looked like, Japanese anime porno. Great, there was a mirror, too. It was just at the right angle for him to watch as Trenton rested his arm comfortably on his, um, cheeks, and got ready to start. A glance at the clock situated between TV and mirror told him it was 4:30 p.m. It reminded him of the many times his mom told him that his delivery had been difficult –she said this basically every birthday— her labor lasting almost twenty hours, with Tony finally being born at precisely 4:30 in the afternoon.
On the day of his 19th birthday, Tony was working. This was perfect because, he was a lifeguard at South Sandy Point, one of the huge beaches in the Padre Islands of Texas. Here summertime meant girls. Lots of girls with very little clothing. He wore Aussie style swimsuits to guard duty and he rolled them down to make sure his tattoo showed.
“What time are your parents leaving, Tony?” Archer was especially excited about the little party Tony planned on throwing tonight.
“They’ll be gone by the time we get off work, not to worry!” Glancing at the clock he realized he’d been counting down the hours, then minutes, till 4:30. Quitting time. He was hoping that the party wouldn’t turn into a free for all, but if it did, well, who really cared. He had plenty of time to clean up before his parents were back from their Galveston weekend. Not much time left now. It was 4:17 p.m.
When he looked back up from Archer’s distraction and the clock, he noticed some odd activity a hundred yards out and just to the right of center on the horizon. Grabbing his binoculars, he focused on the area and saw two girls in the water, flailing their hands and splashing all over. Like they were being attacked. Shit. He grabbed the megaphone and yelled “Shark! Shark! Everyone out of the water, now!” He hit the siren button and jumped from the top of the tower, grabbing the safety board and running as soon as he hit sand.
The last thing he remembered before his lifeguard training totally took over was glancing around to see the other guards in hot pursuit to help, but all of them, except Archer, were spread up and down the beach and would be a ways behind them.
“Oh man, I was going to be so pissed off if those chicks screwed up your party, dude!”
Sitting on his parents couch, drinking his third beer, Tony just looked at Archer through post-adrenaline tired eyes. He had to admit, he was disappointed also. That little bull shark attack had totally made him loose interest in getting laid. The two girls were going to be fine, they probably wouldn’t even have much scarring, but his mojo was drained from seeing the blood…and of course the fear.
Twenty four hours after the attack he was again –still?—laying in bed. He was sleeping off yesterday’s beers and the excitement that came before them. The feeling started as a tickle in the center of his lower back. He ignored it until it became more of a scratch and then a yelp inducing pinch. The constant pinching made him get out of bed and trot to the bathroom with a scowl. “Must have swam over a jellyfish on the way to those girls…” he thought.
He pulled off his tee shirt, slid his shorts partway down his butt and craned his head around to look at the area where he felt the needles. It only took him a minute to come to terms with the fact that the pain was coming from his tattoo area. And the tattoo seemed to be growing. The pain of the needles kept going as he slumped to the floor in a dead faint.
An hour and a half later he came to. He opened his eyes and he was looking at the tile where it came to meet the bottom of the bathroom sink cabinet. There were loads of curly hairs down here on the floor. Didn’t his mom every clean his bathroom floor? Oh yeah, he forgot. She had stopped cleaning his bathroom the same day she stopped folding his laundry.
As he became more aware, he realized the needles had stopped. Crap though, his lower back felt really sore. Like someone had been poking needles in him for a couple of hours. Getting up, he reached into the second drawer down in his cabinet and grabbed his hand mirror. Closing his eyes, he turned his back to the mirror again. His shorts were still down below his butt. Positioning the mirror about where he thought it should go, he slowly sneaked his eyes back open.
There it was, slightly to the right of his drumstick tattoo, totally integrated into its edges, and about twice its size. One of the most detailed and beautiful tattoos he had ever seen. It was an artistic stylization of a shark attack. He was clearly featured between the shark and two beautiful girls, their eyes wide and mouths open in fear.
His jaw dropped as he immediately began to think about how he should spend the late afternoon of his 20th birthday.