Page 2 of 3
And so Sarah told me about the worst tattoos she ever saw on patients. She told me about taking off this kid’s pants one day, and he had two tattoos. They were on his knees. On his right knee was a tattoo that said, “Fuck.” On his other knee was a tattoo that said, “You.”
Sarah wondered why people didn’t tattoo themselves with the truth. She wondered why they didn’t tattoo things like, I’m Sad. She wondered why they didn’t tell who they were. I am not a butterfly. I am not a unicorn. I am not a snake. I’m afraid. I have panic attacks. I like to steal shit. I never loved you.
And then she told me about the saddest tattoo she ever saw. She told me about this guy from North Carolina who was brought in with gunshot wounds to his chest and spine and throat and head. His sister had been living in West Virginia with her baby daddy. The baby daddy beat her. So the brother from North Carolina came up for the weekend to protect his sister and have it out with her boyfriend. He brought his pistol. He stayed with his sister and kissed her bruised face. He touched her pregnant stomach and he held his nephew. He played video games with his niece. He imagined himself inside of a video game.
That night he waited for his sister’s boyfriend. It was 1:30 at night when he heard the car door shut. He took his pistol and walked outside. Sarah told me that there was an argument, and then there were gunshots. And then the brother was on his way to the hospital with a bullet in his chest and a bullet in his spine and a bullet in his throat and a bullet in his head. There was an operation and he was brought to the ICU. Sarah hooked him up to the intubator, and it was obvious he wasn’t going to make it. Earlier that day, he’d been playing video games. He’d been throwing the football. He showed his nephew how to fade his hair. And now here he was, and he was dying. His mother drove in from North Carolina. Sarah kept him alive long enough so the mother could say her goodbyes. Sarah was hanging another IV when she noticed the tattoo. It was tattooed right above his pubic hair and ran the length between his hips. What did it say? It said: BEDROOM BANDIT. Then beside the words Bedroom Bandit were two small pistols, and the pistols were smoking and then beneath them...
What was it?
It was a couple of tattooed pussies, and the pussies were smoking too. Sarah heard the Bedroom Bandit’s mother outside. She knew that the Bedroom Bandit wouldn’t want his mother to see his bedroom bandit tattoo. So Sarah quickly threw a sheet over the bandit. The mother came in and she was crying, My baby. My baby. She stopped crying and then thanked the Bandit for being her son and then she thanked god for allowing her to be his mother. Then she started talking about Saturday afternoons long ago. And then she touched his stomach and the sheet started to slip. Sarah thought, Oh shit. She’s going to see.
Sarah said, “Oh I’m sorry” and tried to put the sheet back up on the man but the mother stopped her. The mother pulled it away and looked at the tattoo. She took her fingers and ran them over the length of the tattoo. Sarah said, “I guess sometimes we do things we don’t want our moms to see.”
His mother didn’t say anything for a long time. So Sarah thought about the true tattoos.
I hate myself. I’m alone even when I’m with someone. I quit dreaming my dreams a long time ago. Then Sarah said the mother told her, “No. I’m glad he liked life. I’m glad.” She told Sarah that her son dressed up like a ghost when he was in the third grade. Then she repeated, He dressed like a ghost. Sarah didn’t say anything.