Out for the Count
A.J. decided to get a tattoo so she and Lena were looking at the pictures and drawings on the design wall at the tattoo parlor. A.J. wondered how many colors it would take for what she had in mind and how long it would take.
She moved down the wall. The pictures were mostly of men’s arms and chests: lots of knives, skulls, flames, and hearts; not what she was looking for.
A.J. turned around to ask Lena if she had found anything interesting and, much to her surprise, looked down to see a pair of red high top tennis shoes protruding from the doorway, facing up. She just stood there, looking at them, not making sense of what she saw. She was reminded of the Wicked Witch of the East’s shoes, after the house dropped on her in Oz. Only A.J. knew they weren’t in Oz and she knew those were Lena’s shoes.
She couldn’t hear Lena making any sounds and she wasn’t moving. Was it serious? A.J. thought she should do something, but she wasn’t sure what. Why was Lena on the floor? There hadn’t been any commotion. That yellow tile floor couldn’t have been a soft landing. Was Lena bleeding? A.J. had lots of questions but no answers.
Striped socks reached out of the top of the red high tops, just like the Wicked Witch’s leggings. What was Lena thinking this morning when she got dressed? A.J. watched for singing Munchkins and flying monkeys out of her peripheral vision.
She heard someone tsk-tsk-ing, “Got another one down, Vic. I’ll get the footrest and the ice.” A woman came in a moment later, put a footrest under the high tops and went through the doorway with the ice pack. She had platinum blonde hair, teased really high, with a little flip at the ends, just above her shoulders. She was wearing a rhinestone headband and her blouse had lots of sequins; she sparkled as she passed by.
Sparkles wasn’t panicky. “Are you with her?” she asked, peering back through the doorway, motioning towards the red shoes.
“I think so”, A.J. replied.
“You need to stay near her. Don’t let her get up until she totally comes to. Hand her the ice pack if her she has a headache. Keep her feet elevated to get the blood flowing back to her head.”
“Okay,” A.J. agreed. She finally went over to the doorway. Lena was definitely out for the count, looking very much like she was asleep, sort of like Sleeping Beauty.
Then A.J. saw what Lena had seen: a man in the process of getting a tattoo, with blood oozing from the needle’s insertion points. It wasn’t a lot of blood and the tattooist was wiping it away, but A.J. guessed it must have been enough to cause Lena to faint. She wondered if this had happened to Lena before.
Sparkles approached the tattoo station and pulled a curtain across, blocking the tattoo-in-progress from view. “Don’t pay any attention to them, hon. We just don’t want your friend getting another fright and passing out again.”
Lena came to in a few minutes, definitely groggy. They helped her to her feet and put her in a chair. A.J. drove her pick up around to the front of the shop. She and Sparkles got Lena situated, buckling her seat belt. Closing the door, A.J. thanked the woman again for her help, saying she’d be back next weekend, alone.
The woman handed her a business card and waved goodbye. A.J. stuck the card in her back pocket and didn’t look at it until later, after she took Lena home and made sure she was feeling okay. Turns out the Wizard Tattoo Shoppe was owned by Victor and Glenda Fleming. She did remind me of Glinda the Good Witch of the South, A.J. thought. Maybe the shop was in Oz.
With thanks and apologies to L. Frank Baum (1856-1919), author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900.