|The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine|
by Sean Garcia  /  fiction  /  13 Jul 2007
It was midnight Sunday and a youthful mass was gathered in the Lodestone Tattoo Parlor, a neon basement lined with futuristic European furniture, and rioting crystalline new-wave punk rock. A polished onyx floor reflected the colored lights like the frozen artic waters glint and ripple aurora borealis: cigarette butts, condom wrappers, scraps of paper with phone numbers on them, floated everywhere on its surface. Bright iconic templates and pornographic tableaus, waiting for the needle to make them flesh, papered the walls from end to end. Some of the drawings had been scrawled over in elegant Latinesque graffiti; sample fonts, with the price of engraving, were displayed in a showcase by the front door.
In the center of the room was a giant transparent tabernacle, a box with walls of limelit green glass, where artist communed with willing suffrant. People were free to observe the magic: a natural magnetism pulled their faces, dazzlingly painted and glittering with shards of metal, up against the glass. It was a right of passage of sorts, an initiation into some Elysian mystery. While the action took place, the gallery made comments, gestures of approval or disdain, facial expressions to frighten or encourage.
That night, the eyes of the world, it seemed, were watching. Myriad voices whispered anxious wonder.
"The hell is going on?"
Slouching in the leather chair like a cased museum piece was a naked man. His legs were spread wide; the sinews of his thighs strained and trembled. With his left hand, he stroked steady and powerfully the broad sceptre of his cock.
"That thing is king-size."
"What do you think? Nine inches?"
"So…is seven inches not that big, really?"
"Honey, you're only five."
"Nine's all right; I've taken bigger."
"And enjoyed it?"
"No. But this one's, like, the shaft of God."
"The perfect rod."
Like the main pillar of a temple, portioned in the golden mean, the wide, strong beam seemed to support the rest of his frame. The man was lithe and gorgeously toned, his skin tanned a gentle bronze; a mane of tawny hair the hue of ripe grain in sunlight fell down below his shoulders. Seagreen eyes glazed in frenetic concentration, he stared at the back of a whiterobed figure stooped over a sterile tray, pulling latex gloves over a pair of pale and slender hands. Then, all at once, the movement stopped: his eyes rolled in his head and the tendons disappeared in his neck as it went limp against the back of the chair.
The man mouthed something.
"It's about to happen."
"What do you think he's saying?"
"Suck my cock, probably."
"Move this way, I can't see."
"Goddamn it, some guy is about to get a nail rammed through his magnificent schlong—would you just shut up a minute and watch?"
The priestly figure turned, and holding aloft various monstrously shaped iron trinkets intoned a few words. In her hands the ingots flashed like lightningbolt runes stolen from an ancient alphabet: omega, Roman trident, halfmoon, ram's horns. Keeping them high overhead, the girl walked slowly over to the chair, the tresses of her alabaster long robe gliding soundlessly behind her. Only her face was visible. In another time, she would have been a Delphic Oracle, or Siren, or Norse maiden, with her features so clear and sharp. Her nose and cheekbones were chiseled delicately out of ice; the taut cruel bow of her mouth was drawn into a knowing almost-smile. It was her eyes that startled most: against the snowy whites spread two pools of jet black ink, breathtaking, serene.
She drifted to the man's side, and bent her ear to his lips.
"Which will he pick?"
"These things are profoundly symbolic, man. A tattoo of a heart with your mother's name cut through it on your shoulder means you're a mama's boy little sailor who will call out her name as the ship goes down; a girl that has a cancer sign below her belly button will make you cut your pubic hair off, and rob you of your manhood. Like I got a bullet done on my foot—"
"It's called a Prince Albert of Wales, after the husband of Queen Victoria who didn't—"
"Why would a guy want to pierce his dick?"
"I don't know. It's a game of Russian roulette: red, it feels great; black, you can never get it up again."
"For chicks it's different. I pierced my clit last summer, and I've been a walking orgasm since."
"What's your sign?"
"I'm a Libra. Don't tell me you believe any of that mythological horseshit."
"Funny. I'm a Virgo."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"—Basically he never wanted to want to shoot it again, because the queen was totally unsexed."
"—Long story short, I shot myself in the foot."
Against the base of his phallus, the man pressed the Roman trident, and the crowd roared. The men hollered and beat the glass with their forearms, as though they were legionnaires saluting one of their brothers in arms before battle. The women winced at the thought of marring such a beautiful instrument — or grinned at the thought of the pleasure the modification would afford.
The wild fear seized him, as the man glanced over, that they were trying frantically to warm him of impending disaster.
"Don't worry," the priestess whispered in his ear. "They can't hear us."
With that she cupped her left hand over the excess symbols, and wrapped her right around the thick column. Both began moving in sync up and down in quick deliberate jerks. She did not look into the man's eyes, or at his softening manhood: the priestess' gaze fixed imperturbably on the hand gamboling the runes.
"Don't stop," the man said.
At the same instant, the priestess shouted something in a dead language at the top of her lungs, and tossed the ingots across the floor. Her black eyes glinted in recognition; she got down on her knees in front of him and in one sweeping gulp took the man's entire codpiece in her mouth.
It was as though he had fallen into the ocean. The pane began to shake in furious pounding waves. When the man looked at the people's faces through the green glass, he found them watery, indistinct; they blurred in his vision into a single rushing train like a school of fish. The man grunted, spread his legs wider, and let his hand rest on the girl's head.
At the word, the priestess stood obediently and turned to face the crowd. She lifted the edges of her long white robe, shimmied her hips, raised her arms and pulled it off over her head and flicked it away. Naked, she walked over to the glass and rolled her breasts, then belly, then thighs against it, the black thatch between her legs spreading like kelp. Staring blankly at the sea in front of her, she began undulating her hips, grinding her breasts in slow tantalizing circles. A slimy streak appeared on the glass between her legs.
Someone put a hand out to cover one of her breasts; another person followed suit. One of the girls knelt at her feet, and put her open mouth over the wet clamshell starting to drip down the glass, as though to drink it.
Behind her, the man was beating off animally, without restraint, his chest heaving wildly.
The priestess mouthed over her shoulder at him. The man called something in reply. The crowd let out a bated sigh as she solemnly withdrew. The man and the crowd both watched the sigil tattooed on her lower back dance as she went toward the corner of the room and bent over the hospital tray. She reached a hand around behind her; it disappeared under her firm buttocks. The sigil gyrated as she swirled her hips in long circles, performing some trick no one could see. Then she shook her hair free and spun around and strode toward the chair.
Dangling from between her fingers and grazing her nipples as she walked were two sets of handcuffs. Efficient and businesslike, she knelt and crossed the man's ankles and fastened them together. Then she raised his wrists over his head and put one over the other and locked them to the metal bars separating the head of the chair from the body. She swept a stray hair out of her face, and brushed the chains from view. The man looked like a god at resplendent ease, reclining on a couch.
Confident as a man, she threw one leg across his torso, then the other, and mounted him like a horse.
"When is she going to stick it in?"
"The first bit was sexy; now it's just dull."
"We could be watching this on television, for Christ's sake."
"Show us something we haven't seen before!"
"Or lots of blood!"
"Shut up and watch, you loudmouth asshole."
"Who are you calling an asshole, linguini dick motherfucker?"
"It isn't interesting any more. Some dumb bitch has tied her man up. She's not even riding him that hard. Where's the drama in that, Shakespeare?"
"What about the piercing?"
"Not happening, from the looks of it."
"It was a setup. They were using us to get themselves off."
"I came when she humped the wall."
"Are you bisexual?"
"I'm not really sure. I just got really wet and thought, what the hell?"
"This place is dead. Let's dig out."
The people ebbed out in a giant swell: five minutes later, the Lodestone was a deserted beach at low tide, scudded by a thick layer of litter. It was one-thirty in the morning. Beyond the doorway, the streets were deserted: the music inside the shop could be heard dancing faintly on the pavement.
Duncan Hunter was the only man in the world that lonely hour. Passing quietly on his bicycle between the yellow islands below the streetlamps, enjoying the cool night air and the silence of a world abed, a gorgeous gently keening music called to him from somewhere in the dark. It pulled him along winding narrow roads and down black alleys, up a hill to a flashing golden sign.
It had been ages since his last inking. He thought about a small insignia, maybe on his forearm, but there was little time. Thirty minutes was about enough to get an ear pierced, or an eyebrow. He swung off the high seat of his tiny carriage and locked it against a false parking meter designed for parking bikes.
The hole in the wall a seriously cool place. He slung his hands in his pockets, leaned easily against a glass counter full of charactery he didn't understand, and drank in the scenery. There were murals on the walls, and inscriptions; like roman candles spewing brilliant tinted plastic tissue papers in collage, the neon lights melted the air technicolor. It was as though he had come upon the abandoned ruins of a cyberpunk temple.
There had been people here—lots of them. He traced with his eyes their dusty footprints and lost earrings, swatches of lipstick and, he thought, semen.
"Wicked," he could not help but whisper.
The most impressive part was the tattoo chamber itself. Most parlors kept it clear, so people could observe the artist at work, and see how painful the process really wasn't. This was a more private, secretive place: the pane separating the bystanders from the hot seat was stained a thick, dark crimson.
He realized someone was in the chain ahead of him, and sauntered around to the open door, knocked softly on the wall, and poked his head through. A man white as a ghost was sunk against a leather chair, still dripping with blood, with a trident shoved through the head of his enormous gangling penis. A layer of brown oozed out behind the body.
Morphine chills dripped down his spine. It was as though someone were watching. He ran to his bike, fumbled with the lock, and disappeared.
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