I go in for a haircut but the salon has become a tattoo parlor instead. My usual stylist is there with the tattoo machine, preparing the needles and the inks. We make some chit-chat, catching up about The Boy and that time my refrigerator exploded. She asks me what I want and where I want it. I produce a sketch of a knife superimposed over a stylized Celtic knot of a circle; the tip of the knife is shaped like a scorpion’s stinger and the hilt has a distinct shape as well, suggesting the legs of the scorpion. She explains to me that she has to work from certain templates or else she needs to charge me a significant amount more. Plus (she goes on) she would really prefer to apply the tattoo to my arm and not my chest. I relent and she preps the skin on my upper left arm. Before she can make the first prick though, I pull back. We need to renegotiate.
I get her to agree to do the tattoo on my chest like I’d originally asked — not giving a damn if she alleges that it will hurt more. She has a template for similar tattoo but it’s not quite the similar enough for me. We try to work out a compromise where she executes the tattoo as it appears in her template (viz., a standard straight dagger piercing a black circle) but sneaks in the barbed tip and the correct curve of the hilt. She fusses over it all though, hemming and hawing about what might happen to her if she got caught and how she wasn’t really confident enough in her free-hand tattooing anyway.
I put my shirt on and walk out even as she tries to convince me otherwise.