[Short Story] The Tatoo Shop

In Southern Vietnam, there are four seasons, hot, very hot, extremely hot, and hot enough that you can die.  Don’t believe the rumor? Try to visit the country in the summer, and you will stop complaining about having some winter.  It’s noon; the restaurants are getting filled by people who are taking a break from works.  Students are done with their morning classes, try to rest and be ready for their afternoon classes.  Under the shadow of a big tamarind tree, there are two motorbike taxi drivers complained about their business dying out because people all use Grab, Uber and everyone is getting their vehicles now.  Traffic starts picking up; car horns are getting louder and louder.  The sun gives life under it.

“Hello, what is the process of getting a tattoo like?” – A lady looks like she is in her sixty, with a Central Vietnam accent ask the guy in front of the tattoo shop.

Clearing his throat, with a deep voice, he answers: “pretty simple; we check whether you are 18, which you are, obviously.  You pick a tattoo, or we can design one for you with a little, just a little extra cost.  You pick a spot on your body”. He stops for a second, with his eyes scan the lady from head to toe.  He continues “then you pay.  You are lucky since it is not busy right now,  we can get things done pretty fast, wanna come in?”.

“How about,… mm,  I want to get it for someone else?” –  She is nervous but tries to remain calm.

“Lady, people don’t get a tattoo for someone else, unless you mean you want to pay for someone’s tattoo?” – he thinks this woman lost her mind.

“mmm, I mean I want to get a tattoo for someone else, someone in my family” – she sounds like talking to herself.

“what a day, it’s too hot out here” – He left the lady, walks back in the shop where the air conditioning is running hard.

The lady follows him.  She took a piece of paper out of her handbag.  Taking a deep break, she is trying to put herself together before saying something.  Her voice shaken, she says “my son, oh well, can I get a tattoo for him?”.  All the eyes in the tattoo shop are on her.  Everyone tries so hard to make themselves not looking so awkward and nosy.  Their ears are listening carefully.

“Where is your son?” – the guy said, a little bit confused but they can tell he is a nice guy.

The lady looks back at the front door, nodding her head.  She is doing some sign language with someone else.  With her shaken voice, she said: “mmm, can you get this tattoo for him, please?”.  She shows her piece of paper to the tattoo artist.  On the paper was written someone full name and a long address which is not a main street in the city. “My son, due to an accident when he was a kid, he does not remember things sometimes, including his name and where he is from.  I am too old to keep an eye on him all the time.  However, I don’t want to lose him.  With the tattoo, if whenever he gets lost.  People can how who he is and send him back to me.

Outside, suddenly the rain comes in.  People try to move inside to avoid getting wet.  The traffic is getting worse.  It does rain a lot during summer in Southern Vietnam.




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