This One Time

So this girl came in today.

All my stories start like that. Like that girl in American Pie. This one time, at band camp…

This one time, when this girl came in…

Mom says I need a hobby. I say hobbies are for people who are terrified of empty time. Also, I can just watch her do stuff and feel just as tired as if I’d done it.

So this one time. Yesterday. This girl came in. The name on her release form was Renata Grene, but when she was lying down on the table with her breasts in her hands—which seems modest to the girls who do it but really isn’t, I mean, it’s way hotter than if they just didn’t care who saw—she told me: “It’s Wren. Like the bird, not like -and Stimpy. Renata’s too long for me. I’m…not that big a girl.”

She wasn’t. It’s not that she was super-skinny like Steph or whatever. She had a round belly and big shoulders and her hands were totally inadequate when it came to covering up her breasts, but she was so short, like maybe five foot, and so all of that body still seemed small on her, even though it wasn’t, really. That doesn’t make sense, but I keep trying to remember her, and it keeps slipping away. Her name, her smallness, and the tattoo she wanted me to get rid of.

Wren’s tattoo was weird. I’ll say that upfront. It wasn’t good at all—not that the business I get is generally the work of Rembrandts of the needle. But this wasn’t just ugly, it was violent and jagged, just a bunch of black lines criss-crossing over her ribs, like a streetmap, I guess. The lines were sloppy, like gashes. There were bits of writing but they were blurry and sloppy, too, I couldn’t read any of it. The middle of the street-lines was just under her heart, spidering out over her stomach. The last bit circled around her belly button like a roundabout. It was ugly as shit but I couldn’t stop staring at it. It was so black and so stark on her, so big and flamboyant—usually if you get art that size it means you either have something big to say or you’re trying to hide that you’ve got nothing to say. She didn’t seem like either type.

I said: “Where’d you get this done, Wren? We should put him on our Do Not Take Checks From This Man list.”

And she just started crying. She let her breasts go and covered her face and sobbed. Said she’d never had a tattoo in her life, she just woke up one morning and it was there, she didn’t know what was wrong with her, she’d been to doctors and they didn’t know either, and it wouldn’t go away. Well, I thought. Don’t Take Checks From This Man, But Definitely Get Drugs From Him. Poor kid must have been out of her mind to not even remember getting such a hatchet-job.

She kept saying: Just get it off me. Like it was a spider.

So I fired up the machine. It’s funny, I never think about it, but really tattoo removal is like magic. What happens when you get a tattoo is that the ink is injected in between layers of skin. The skin heals around it, but the ink stays liquid in there, warm, like blood, so when it’s done you’re walking around with a big snaking river of ink inside you, almost like it’s alive, negotiating with scar tissue every day to stay in the shape of an eagle or Hello Kitty or a damned butterfly. It’s freaky. Part of you is made of ink. And what UV therapy does is pulverize the ink molecules so that the scar tissue is all that’s left, nearly invisible. The body absorbs the broken ink, and you’re still part-ink for awhile, but no one can see it. It doesn’t even hurt. I just turn on my magic machine and you’re all right again.

But not Wren. I don’t know if that girl is ever gonna be all right again. When the beam hit her she screamed like nothing I’ve ever heard. We put on a topical anesthetic but light therapy isn’t supposed to hurt anymore than a little sunburn—at worst it’s an eyebrow waxing. But she screamed like I was stabbing her. But hey, whatever, some people have sensitive skin. We’ve got stronger sedatives, we’re not cruel.

But even when she’s calm, the tattoo won’t come off. It doesn’t even fade. Deep and black and sharp, just like before. And I told you how it works—there’s no way it should have no effect. But it didn’t.

I’ll have the UV machine checked out next week. All I can do. But I don’t think it’s the machine. It made quick work of an Old English PAINSLUT on this guy’s shoulder that morning. Sounds stupid, but I think the tat just didn’t want to come off. Part of her is made of ink. I had her make another appointment—there are other things we can try, though considering how she reacted to the “painless” option I’m not too thrilled with her chances. But I told her it’s not so bad, she can cover it up, hell, it’s interesting, anyway.

I didn’t want Wren to leave. That’s the truth. Unless the machine’s fucked, she’s stuck with that thing on her stomach. I told her to make a follow-up with Steph because I wanted to be sure I had her phone number.

I am kind of an asshole sometimes.

5 Responses to “This One Time”

  1. Feressa Says:

    I would like to get in contact with Wren. I understand exactly what she is going through and a chat with some friends of mine might help her out a bit.

    Those tats never leave you. No cover will last. You have to fall in love with that ink because it is part of you forever.

    Give her my email if she wants to talk to someone with the same problem:

  2. Ammonite Says:

    hi eddie i would also like to get in contact with ren like fressa said above the same thing has happened 2 me. only my tatoo is on my right ancle (sp?). i also tried 2 get it ermoved and th same thing happened. when they used the lazers or whatever it felt like they were cutting my skin off!! it really hurt and i cryed for half an hour.

    i think i should tell u though that when i said the tatoo ‘happend 2 me’ i don’t mean that i got a bad tatoo done . i mean the tatoo just ort of appeared on me 1 day after i had this weird dream. um.mmm… what happened when i got the tatoo is sort of personal i dont feel comforteble writing about it here but if u want 2 email me or ask ren to email me my email is

    i will ask heavenly father to help u and ren.

    - ammonite

  3. Ammonite Says:

    oh sorry 4 my bad spellnig i’m not a really good speller and i have to type fast b cuz im not supposed 2 be on the computer rite now lol

  4. Desperadeaux Says:

    I, too, would like to get in contact with Wren about this tattoo. My email is Please feel free to give it to her.

  5. Martha Says:

    I would like to talk to Wren too. I think we have things in common. My email is
    Maybe I can help.

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