NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 94

3 Red Sea Rising It was way too bright outside for me. Thirteenth Street was all aglow a sickening mushroom cloud yellow. I’d been down in the basement most of the night, getting rid of the body. I stood there squinting in the early morning haze, with McCreedy looming over me like Mount Vesuvius over Pompeii. Fish opened the door of an unmarked maroon cruiser that was parked at the hydrant in front of my shop. He grabbed a manila envelope off the passenger seat then slammed the car door. He looked at McCreedy and me as though he were annoyed with us both. “Come on. Open it up,” he said. I unlocked the front door, flicked on the lights then led the cops inside the one and only (as far as I know), world-renowned (not really) Red Sea Rising Tattoo Shop. 92 “Here we are,” I said, trying not to sound hysterical. There’s a small reception area just to the right as you come in, with a dark blue L-shaped couch and a varnished wooden spool table covered with dog-eared tattoo magazines. A little further on, past the body piercing jewelry display case, there are two workstation cubicles each with its’ own tattoo machine, stool and barber’s chair. The wall on the left is covered with hundreds of pictures of tattoos; mostly drawings, but some photographs as well, and even a couple of framed classics on skin. At the very back of the shop, a pair of swinging saloon doors warn: absolutely (on the left door) and no admittance (on the right). BRN-FALL-2013.indb 92 Fish sat on the couch and set the manila envelope on the table. McCreedy remained by the door, not so much glaring at me as staring through me. “Commercial designs from stencils.” I pointed at the large black photo albums lined up on the windowsill. Fish flipped halfheartedly through one of the albums. “Have a seat please,” Fish said to me. “Some of this stuff is sick,” McCreedy said. He was slack jawed like a caveman gaping at the pictures on the wall. I sat stiffly on the couch. I ran my fingers through my hair. Fish removed a pen and a notebook from his jacket pocket. If you didn’t know what he did for a living, you might guess insurance salesman down on his luck, or an off-duty tollbooth attendant with a bad case of hemorrhoids. “How long have you been in business, Mr. Walker?” he asked. “Well, I’ve been here since O-seven. But I’ve been pushing ink for about fifteen years.” “Really?” Fish scribbled something in his book. McCreedy left his post by the door and started snooping around the shop. I carefully eased the gun out from under my shirt and stashed it beneath the couch cushions without shooting myself in the ass. Way to go Moses! “This is all your work?” Fish asked, gazing up at the wall of tattoos. “They’re my designs,” I said. “But I also do custom work. And a lot of flash too.” “Flash?” “To each his own,” I said, grinning at Fish. Fish didn’t grin back. He asked to see my Health Department license. I pointed it out. It was in a frame above his head. Some detective! “What’s back here?” asked McCreedy. “Office. Bathroom. You guys interested in getting tattoos?” McCreedy opened one of the saloon doors, glanced inside then let the door swing shut. He walked back and planted himself by the front door. Fish picked up the manila envelope and unwound the string fastener. He slid three photographs out of the envelope and onto the table. “Take a look at these,” he said. Each of the 5” x 7” color photographs was of a different tattoo. The first was a flaming rose with bloody thorns entwined around a woman’s thick brown ankle. Next was a delicate silver death’s-head bracelet on a girl’s pale slender wrist. The last one was a blue, abstract, V-shaped design adorning a woman’s lower back. 9/13/13 12:48 AM