I am not human. I am of this Earth, not born of man. I am a golem. Not some ring hoarding, cave dwelling fool, I am a golem of old. I am a creature of lore. I am the real deal. My master carved me from clay and mud. He wetted me with water and then molded me with his own hands. He anointed me with holy oils and formed me into the creature I am today. I am a soldier. A protector. A slave. I am to do as I am told without question. But questioning is not possible without the ability to speak. He withheld that from me. I am to protect my Master at all costs. No one is above him, even me.
Well, that was how it was in the beginning, but now, today, is a different story. I still protect my Master and will until he wipes me away like the dust I am, but I don’t want that. I want to live. I want to live my own life with my own rules. I want to be free from his demands. And I know what to do to get it.
Adam Dreck stared at the old tattered wooden sign that swung in contrast over the modern steel and glass door. Beyond Skin Deep was sun bleached and cracked, but still clear enough to draw the eye or maybe it was the extensively tattooed female that was leaning in the doorway smoking a cigarette that burned Adam’s nose. The shop was not noted for being the best, but Adam wasn’t searching for art. He was searching for quick.
“You gonna stand there all day staring or are you gonna come in,” she hissed as smoke billowed from her nostrils. Adam stepped past her into the cool and surprisingly well lit room. The woman crushed her smoke under foot before following him into the shop.
“You got an appointment big man or do you think we don’t have enough clients to stay busy? We don’t do walk-ins,” she snipped as she pointed to a tattered sign on the counter as she rounded the customer service desk and looked up into his amber eyes.
Adam looked around at the empty room and tipped his head in annoyance as he shoved his hand into his jean pocket and pulled up a neatly folder sheet of paper. He slid it across the counter and waited.
“Jesus fucking Christ, what? Can’t you fucking speak?”
She unfolded the paper and smoothed it out to read, “Well fuck,” she whispered when she read that he, in fact, could not speak.
My name is Adam Dreck and I have an appointment with Wes at 2:00. I am unable to speak, but am NOT deaf. I can communicate using sign language or in writing.
The snarly woman became less snarly as she read. She looked up into Adam’s eyes and gave him a sympathetic smile. “Okay, well, I am going to go get Wes from the back room. Have a seat,” she stated with perfect enunciation as she waved Adam’s note around like it was a flag of surrender.
‘I’m mute not stupid,’ he smirked to himself as he took a seat in a chair that looked like a prize from a day of dumpster diving. Adam sat and waited while Wes and the tatted bitch argued about his lack of sound. “Here, read it for yourself. The dude’s like deaf or dumb or somethin’.” Wes rounded the corner holding the now crumpled sheet of paper and was greeted by Adam’s pissed face. Adam handed the wiry tattooed fuck his phone where he had typed out a simple text.
Once again, I AM NOT DEAF, I am mute. Not Stupid.
“Sorry, dude, I had no idea you was disabled and shit.”
Adam snatched his phone back and texted further.
Not disabled, but I am getting pissed. I am here for a tatt. Are you going to do it or do I need to find someone else?!
Adam held the phone in front of Wes’s pinched face and waited for him to mouth the words as he read.
“Nah, man, I got you. Step into my office,” Wes stammered as he walked over to a station and swept sketches and magazines off the seat Adam was assigned.
Adam pulled another neatly folded piece of paper from his back pocket and handed it to Wes who opened it and examined Adam’s desire.
“That’s it? Did you want me to like give it some style or create a banner or border or, fuck, anything to go with it?”
Adam shook his head and tapped the paper.
“Okay, so where do you want it?”
Adam turned so that his left side was facing Wes and slid his finger across his ribs.
Wes handed the paper back to Adam, “Show me.”
Adam folded the paper into a small rectangle then placed the paper in the position he wanted and looked at Wes for understanding.
Wes held out his hand for the paper. “Alright, man, I’m gonna go make a copy of this so I can transfer it to your skin. Take off your shirt and have a seat,” Wes stood to leave, but halted and spun back to where Adam stood preparing to remove his shirt. “Don’t think I’m being a dick, cuz I really don’t care, but do you want this in black or white? I ask because, well, dude, you are pretty dark, and I don’t know if black would even show on your skin.” Adam’s skin was the color of freshly turned soil, rich and dark.
He knew the ink wouldn’t be easy to see and that was fine with him. Adam nodded and gave a wide smiled then mouthed very clearly, black.
“Black? It’s your money, man,” Wes sniffed then turned leaving Adam to his thoughts.
‘Perfect. The darker the better. He will be less likely to see it.’ With that, Adam relaxed into the process and waited for Wes to return and get to work.
It was five letters that meant life and death to Adam, five letters that kept him walking, breathing, and living. It meant “truth” and “life.” His Master would have to remove his skin to kill him now and Adam had no intention of telling his Master that the word had been etched into his flesh. He would let it be a surprise when his Master decided it was Adam’s time to die.
Adam pulled off his shirt, folded it neatly and set it on the table where Wes would be working from. He sat on the padded table and waited for Wes to return with his pattern. “I printed it off in white so that I…shit!” Wes’ steps stuttered as he approached the table where Adam was perched. “Dude, were you in the war? Shit,” he hissed.
Adam shook his head and pulled his phone from his pocket.
They are just scars. Will there be a problem?
He handed the phone to Wes and waited.
“Let me see where you want this again.” Adam raised his massive arm and ran a finger down his side reminding Wes of where he wanted the tattoo hidden. “Well, there aren’t as many thick scars there. I guess I could work in this area here,” he said while circling a small four inch area. “That cool?”
Adam nodded his head and watched as Wes smeared a gel based deodorant stick along the area to help the image stick and then placed the stencil over the target. Wes pressed and rubbed the paper so that the image would transfer onto Adam’s skin. When it was pulled away a bright white image was left in its wake.
“It touches this scar here, but it shouldn’t make a difference,” explained Wes as he examined the area he was going to work. “We good to go?” he asked as he looked to Adam for a go ahead nod.
Adam looked down at the glowing symbol of freedom and doubted his intentions for only a moment when he gave a solid jerk of his head. He laid down on the table as Wes instructed and looked forward to the journey ahead.
“This is gonna hurt like a bitch, man. The ribs are sensitive so brace yourself.”
Adam wouldn’t feel it. He never did. Wounds were fixed with clay and water. He could be completely scar free if he wanted, but he chose to be reminded of the battles he fought, of the wars his Master waged on man. This tattoo would be nothing in comparison.
He watched Wes work. He watched the letters form. He marveled at the simplicity of it. It a matter of minutes Adam’s world would forever be changed. That must be how humans feel on a day to day basis. One small act can change so much.
“Annnd…done. You were the easiest rib tatt I’ve ever done, man. Most squirm and shit and I don’t think you even bled,” rambled Wes as he cleaned up the smeared ink and gel. He smeared a layer of A & D ointment over the irritated surface and then grabbed a mirror from this work station and handed it to Adam, “Take a look. When it heals it won’t stand out like that. It will actually be a lot closer to your own skin tone.”
Adam took the mirror and admired the image that would forever be engraved on his skin. He smiled and reached out to fist bump Wes who stood leaning against his work station with his arms crossed over his birdcage of a chest with a satisfied grin on his face.
“Ya know, normally I would ask a bunch of questions about why you wanted that tatt and how you decided where to put it, but I get the feeling you wouldn’t tell me if you could,” Wes jerked his hands forward and put them up in surrender, “No offence, man. But, ya know, if you could talk would you have told me?”
Adam handed Wes his mirror grabbed his phone and texted. He smiled brightly at Wes as he held up the screen.
You’ll never know.
Wes snorted and nodded his head at the words on the screen and then began to cover Adam’s side. Adam handed Wes a wad of cash and in turn Wes gave him a sheet of care instructions and walked him to the door. Freedom was bought cheap that day, a hundred dollars bought Adam a piece of mind that most would never understand. When a single word stood between life and death you do what you can to ensure life.
***So…what did you think? Leave a comment and or suggestion. Thanks for reading.