It's about 11:30 A.M when we pull up to the place. Completely empty and closed just for us, just as planned. A plan designed so no one, not even the paparazzi, would be showing up. I highly doubted the whole idea that every single photographer would be gone. With us, that would be a rare occurrence. I would guess there would be maybe two or three photographers from some sleaze magazine waiting to pounce on us for one single photo. And that would eventually leak onto the internet and spread to the world like a wildfire. I don't blame them; this is something monumental, even for me.
I was fortunate enough to have a spot right in front for an easy in and out. Amazingly, it was big enough for my Escalade to fit in since it's like a tank. Bill has always been bugging me on getting a new car; something more "economically friendly." I say "screw that, it's my car and go hug a tree." He always gets annoyed and pissy whenever I say that to him.
The car was perfectly in park position. There was nothing I could do about it. My heart was pounding right out of my rib cage, arguing with my mind on what I was about to do. I cut the engine and locked the doors as I faced the parlor with my brother at my side.
So I know you're asking: Tom, how come? The answer to that can be summed up in several reasons, one of which to prove to Bill that I'm not a pussy and back out of everything. It all started one day when he thought that I should change myself a bit, not drastically though, just little tweaks as he called it. It was justified, I'll admit that. It wasn't long ago when he started to wear less make up and be more natural. And how did that start? Me of course. I told him how beautiful he was in his natural state and how he should show it to the world. With time and a hell of a lot of patience, Bill gradually wore less and less make up and he has no regrets about it. But he did reassure me that I would have to repay him for such a change. And so he chose a piercing or a tattoo. I always figured he wanted me to do something like that.
We first tried the second piercing. Personally, I already found my single lip ring to be plenty but according to Bill, it wasn't. So I decided to go with a tongue ring like Bill. Everything was set up perfectly like today, but the day of the piercing, I chickened out and refused to go. He was so disappointed that entire week. I never felt worse in my whole life. I vowed to not do that again and make it up to him, with a tattoo.
Another reason would have to be the fact that I'm the only member in the band without one. Bill has his notorious star on his hip, the logo on his neck and Freiheit 89 on his forearm. Gustav has a falling star on his forearm and wings on his back. That to me was a pretty awesome thing to get, but I didn't want to seem like a copy cat. Georg claims he had gotten a tattoo. The only problem is that no one has seen it ever or even know what it is. Though his story may be a load of bullshit, it still left me out of the loop. I was the lone black sheep of the group and I didn't like it.
Yet the main reason that I could see clearly is how happy it made Bill to know that I was willing to go through such a change. When I first told him about the tattoo, he practically shot through the roof. He started talking about how great it is to get one and where to go and rambling on about all this nonsense about permanently drawing on yourself. I did make one good point to him though: the awkward "I wanna tattoo just like grandpa" is not very flattering as time goes on, however Bill was willing to take on that challenge. But my point being is to see him so delighted over such a miniscule act is really a precious sight. It is like watching a newborn child smile and giggle in your arms. How could anyone resist something like that? I know I can't and that's why I am here today.
There were so many emotions pulsating through my veins as I pictured my future standing in front of that door. I wasn't sure if I was excited or nervous or scared shitless. My entire frame started to tense up and that's when I felt a familiar tender hand grasp my tight fist.
"Don't be scared Tomi," pleaded Bill, "I know you can do it. I know you can."
"Thanks," I bluntly replied, "let's hope I don't do what I did last time."
"You won't because I'll be holding you down so you don't run away." With a hearty laugh, we walked inside so I can face the chair.
There were two artists at the parlor: a middle age couple that looked like they spend their nights romantically together at a biker bar. His name was Rocco and her name was Mercedes (like the car, I know). They were both dressed in dark to black clothes that seemed to be made out of leather, had multiple tattoos going down their arms and both reeked of motor oil and body odor. But they were the nicest couple of freaks I have ever met. And believe me when I say I've met a few freaks of nature in my time.
"Hey there Kau boys," Rocco called from behind a counter. Kau boys? Was he for real? "Which one is getting it done today?'
"Hi Rocco," Bill cheerily replied, "My brother is. First timer so treat him well." I could tell that this wasn't Bill's first time here and boy how totally not surprised I was.
"So ya know what ya want doll?" said Mercedes, the shriveled up woman from behind Rocco. It seemed like she was a frequent customer at the local tanning salon she was so withered and orange.
"Well yal better make up your mind pretty damn soon before them photographers get a hold of yal." I had no idea where she got a southern accent in the middle of Germany from but it annoyed the living crap out of me. It took every ounce of will power not to blurt out some pretty nasty words for her to shut her trap.
After our little meeting in the lobby, I was directed to a room with Bill and Rocco. Thankfully he would be applying my potential tattoo instead of that irritating "southern belle" he called his wife. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the ink pallets and the needle. Sweat started forming from my pores, not only from the objects that will be breaking my skin, but the fact that I had no idea what kind of tattoo to get. During the prepping process for the tattoo procedure, I was too stupid to figure out what the actual tattoo would be. I decided to ask the expert himself.
"Rocco," I sheepishly started, "what kind of tattoo should I get?"
"Ah such a rookie question," he sighed shaking his head, "what I did was I picked important things in my life and turned them into a work of art." He began by pointing at this tattoo of a road sign on fire. "See this? This represents my passion for the road. And the eye with an apple in it is for my beautiful wife, 'the apple of my eye', get it!"
"Oh yeah, sure," I could spot out what he meant now, "alright then. I'm ready."
"Swell. Okay Bill, get on outta here," he said to Bill pointing to the door. Apparently no one told me that there wasn't supposed to be any spectators during the process since it makes him "lose focus." That mean no one to cheer me on or hold me down or even hold my hand if I'm scared. And I was scared! I needed Bill's hand right about now.
"C'mon Tomi," said Bill in the doorway, "I'll be right here. I love you so much. Thank you for doing this. I know you don't want to and don't lie about it. You're doing this for me, just like I eased up on my make up for you. And I thank you for it. Shows me how much you care for me." And then he was gone. The door slammed shut behind him and I was alone with this guy holding a needle waiting for me. I knew he was counting on me. I won't back out. I loved him too much to crush his hopes once more for my selfish ways.
***Two Hours Later***
OW!!! Man did that hurt! I mean I figured it would sting since it's a needle being used but it felt like I was being carved into with a butcher knife. That was one experience I did not enjoy at all. But it was totally worth it in the end, it looks so cool. I don't even know how Bill does it, getting it done three times and possibly more. I got one and I'm done.
"Thanks Rocco," I said to him as he was cleaning up, "you mind if I talk to Bill in here alone?"
"Sure man, I'll go get him. But I do have to come back to patch that thing up. It's gotta be throbbing right now."
"It is, but I'm good."
"You're alright Kau. You're alright." He left the equipment on his tray and left to retrieve Bill. I was so excited to show him what I got. For the element of surprise, I quickly put on my jacket to cover it up. Just as I zipped it up all the way, Bill waltzed into the room. The fabric felt like a blanket of hot ash over my sensitive skin around the fresh ink. I tried to not show it as best as I could.
"So you really did it," proclaimed Bill in disbelief.
"Yep," I proudly stated, "it didn't hurt one bit."
"From experience, I know that's a lie. So can I see it?"
I smiled widely but controlled as I slowly unzipped the barrier between my bare chest and the outside world. As I did this, my eyes locked onto Bill's and I wasn't willing to let them go. I was then standing before him half naked and his jaw down to the floor.
Over my right breast, I got a heart with an arrow going through it. On the arrowhead, it had Bill's name on in and inside the heart said always and forever in a black script. It's something more than close to the heart, it was my heart. It belonged to Bill and I wanted everyone to know it. I was ultimately satisfied since my message to the world is now imprinted right on my body so I will never forget who I belong to. And right now, that person was before me with tears of joy in his eyes.
"Oh Tomi!" he exasperated and he collapsed right into my arms.
"Ouch!" I wailed, "wait for the bandage to be put on and then you could do whatever you please."
"Sorry I should know how painful the aftermath is. I think it's beautiful by the way."
"Really? Then it sounds like someone I know."
His face turned red as he smiled with the glee of a child. "I'll be outside," he said as he turned away with a playful flip of his hair. Like I said, who couldn't afford to see such a special person be so happy?