Oh What a Night by the Four Seasons was playing about as loud as Sid’s radio would go. Sid was in the center of the room dancing—sort of. He was swinging his wide butt, which was actually a bit too small in proportion to the rest of him, back and forth. His arms were above his head like a stripper showing off a new boob job.
“Shit, Sid!” she yelled. “Nobody needs to see that!”
Sid jumped and turned around, then blushed. “I didn’t hear you come in!” He stepped over to the radio and turned the volume way down. “I didn’t hear you come in,” he repeated.
Xochitl handed him the paperback book.
“Michael Whelan is the cover artist,” she replied. “I want to use this, this, and this.”
“That’s pretty dark.”
“I’m pretty dark.”
He nodded while shrugging. “Alright. Get in the chair.”
The tattooist worked all morning on her arm, stopping only to walk a fiery redhead and her boyfriend through a selection of fairies sitting on mushrooms, and then scheduling them for the next day. When he was done, Xochitl’s entire right arm was completely covered in an intricate panorama of the macabre. In between Stephen King’s head and Marilyn Monroe’s feet was the shape of a human cocooned in a spider web, the bright red arachnid crawling across him the only color in the whole sleeve. Between Batman and Betty Page, whose nether regions were covered by the 75th Ranger Regiment banner, was a pile of grinning skulls and a tree whose trunk was made up of gasping mouths and ogling eyes. The entire thing was tied together with a background of bats, spider webs, and tentacles. Only the lacy edging at her wrist and shoulder were not images of horror and even they seemed now somehow threatening.
“That’s definitely my best work,” said Sid, as he slathered on antibacterial gel. “I’ll have Terry over here at noon tomorrow.”
“You can’t wait until Monday?”
“I’d really like to get it done. I need to get my signs and ads done. I’m losing money.”
“What?” she asked.
“You’re going to get cleaned up, right? You look… bedraggled.”
“Fuck you, Sid. Bed… that’s not even a real word.”
“Don’t be like that, Xochitl,” Sid whined. “You know you’re my perfect woman.”
Xochitl rolled her eyes, but she could tell by the breathless way that he said it that Sid was completely serious.
“You can drive my truck out to get your hair and I’ll set up some time at the spa there for you too. It’s my treat.”
“Fine. I’ll leave right now. I don’t want to look bedwrangled.”
Sid smiled meekly and handed her his keys.