Under The Gun
I believe a great tattooist is the DJ of your temple. The moment his needle touches your skin he’s mixing a timeless song, to your beat, just for your pleasure. Others can watch but you’re the only ones dancing.
“The silhouette of birds, bursting into flight, following this line of my hip bone…” I continued to describe the vision to the tattoo artist while sitting outside a simple hut in Nicaragua.
I’d seen William’s work on a friend’s arm, drawn freestyle she trusted him so much, and I knew he was the one, my first and probably only. I’d heard that he was coming from Managua to Ometepe island and would be at El Zopilote – my home away from home away from home just a few days ago. In that time I found the money and mustered the courage to finally have my dream tattoo come to life. I nearly backed out 3 times. It’s the magic number of times I back out before hitting something strong.
William sketched out a few positions in the garden with me. Then stood me up inside the hut as I tucked my top under my bra. He dotted 6 dots where each would be placed and spoke Spanish describing things that I imagined were positions and fine fine details. Hiro his assistant assured me he was going to hook me up with a tattoo even more amazing than my original vision. I already felt this the moment I met him.
He sat me down in a chair and placed some bed cushions behind me. The setting was simple. The walls were a little dirty from the jungle. Green light streamed in through the mosquito mesh window and a forest of plantain leaves. Aline sat perched with her feet up in a chair grinning across from me. She lit up some italian sage in a pipe and handed it to me. We’d talked about getting each of ours done in purple. We share a favorite colour. Purple it is then! Oh my God I can’t believe I’m about to have a spray of purple birds across my hip!!! Forever! Oh yeah!!!!!!
The moment the needle hit my skin, on the thinnest and softest spot on my uncovered body, I felt a massive flood of confused danger signals hit my brain. It was intensely uncomfortable, gritting stabbing scalpel pain. After 10 minutes looking away and clenching my teeth and breath, the endorphins kicked in. The pain felt delicious. Exquisite. I looked down and watched this gorgeous Nicaraguan kid, working away on me, painting one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time, on my belly. His expression was so intense, beads of sweat were forming. He was fierce and angular and pretty all at once. I laughed with exhilaration from the pain a lot and told Hiro how he’d take me to the brink of more pain than I could possibly bear and stop just in time every time before I burst. William laughed and said he knew exactly when that was. He could feel me. His smile as he said it was drop dead gorgeous. I realised after that, that my leg was entwined with his and my foot hooked round his. I don’t know who did it first but each time I changed position so he could reach a different part of my waist our legs would eventually end up together again. My toes would curl from the agony and my leg would push or pull from his, but his always stayed solid. Unmoved. It was my only form of release. I was moving but he controlled it.
With each bird I released something hard I’d held onto for a long time. The birds are simply an expression of life bursting out of me. Of letting things go. And letting them be as they are. Beautiful. Everything is perfect just the way it is.
I am so grateful to Cristiano from El Zopilote for making this day unforgettable. And to William who’s art and love and life-force has changed me forever. What a beautiful day. What a present it was. Those present moments.
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