Working Title - Man with the Steel Face
UNFINISHED Started in 2012
My basement is my comfort place. I live there, I work there, and I grow there. If it was not for my human instinct to interact I would never leave, but my circuitry will not allow that. I think it is the natural spirit to explore the living world that makes me leave. The longer I stay inside the more it feels like the world ends at my walls and the second I look out the window I realize it does not, it goes on forever.
In regards to my dilemma, I go out. I experience society, but it never compares to the safety of home. The streets are littered with people wandering around trying to find some sort of meaning to their lives. But that meaning is only something that is held within the psyche of others. If those other people were not there to interpret actions then the “purpose” of these people’s lives would be empty.
Jeremy leaned back in his chair overlooking his newest post. There was nothing there, but juvenile theories. Theories that he had evolved past years before, but he did not have the respect for his fellow humans to post anything deeper.
He needed to get out of the house. The post was an attempt to avoid the inevitable. He thought maybe if he imagined the terrible time he would have going out he might be able to skip the pointless event. It was to no avail, he would go crazy if he stayed in. But, first he had to make some money.
He grabbed the lucha mask that was permanently stationed on the side of his desk and put it on. He had not had a “real” job for the last ten years. Thanks to the internet he had become a masked celebrity. His Youtube channel received a quarter million hits a day. His Facebook page had set the record for number of fans and his personal blog was commonly reported on TMZ. He was truly famous.
That night he was getting paid nearly ten thousand dollars to do a spot for some new domain hosting company. It was the normal for him at this point in his life. Make a few grand whenever he felt like turning on his webcam, just now it involved working in a trademarked phrase into some public domain classical song.
He grabbed the guitar and checked his email. It was Flight of the Bumble Bee and the lyrics “I will never need a new name, because I have the perfect one, they got it for me, they got it for me, from they got it for me.” It went on with the name of the company. Jeremy knew that it would be a flop, but as long as he got paid and did not have to associate with other people, he was a happy guy.
He pulled up the tab on the computer so he could learn to play the piece. It took him ten minutes to play it through very slowly without making any mistakes and he had it. His muscles recorded every movement as if it was being dropped into a database. The entire song was saved within his body. He noticed the spot was only a thirty second spot, so he knew he had to play it at a quick pace. He made sure he had the lyrics on the screen and set the webcam to record. One deep breath and he let his fingers go. They went through the song without any hesitation, every note plucked perfectly in time. He read off the lyrics as he played, listening to the music and ignoring any thoughts related to the movement. It was as if he was timing his words around breaths, seamless and without any effort. He recorded the entire song with lyrics in twenty eight seconds. He hit stop on the webcam and emailed the video to the company. Done.
In twenty four hours he should have the deposit into his bank.
He got up from his computer desk and grabbed some clothes from the closet. He considered the black shirt with skulls versus the black shirt with daggers. Only took a few moments before he realized the idiocy of the question. He was not going out to make an impression on anyone, he was going out to appease his mind and his body.
He threw on the dagger shirt and headed out the door.
It was a couple hours before sunset. He knew that he did not look like a day dweller, but he also did not care what others thought. He got in his car and drove.
It was a dance he did all the time. He liked to keep it down to once a week, but his brain did not always let him stay inside quite that much. Typically he drove until he was bored, then a movie or a club. It was always the same, except for that night.
It had been three months since he had been to the tattoo shop. That night was the perfect time to build on his art, his body modifications. He had come to the realization that he was an artist. Not the sell out music he played, but the canvas of his own flesh.
He donned thirty six tattoos, but they had begun to collide into one grand piece. His vision was to use his ink as a type of frame for the real art that he displayed across his body. At an early age he began to experiment with piercings. He had pierced every available spot on his face, usually admiring the jewelry for a few days before taking it out and allowing it close up. After a few years he learned of body implants, small metal and silicone structures that he had inserted into his skin to create the appearance of scales, protrusions, all the way up to what appeared to be broken bones.
But he had grown past those as well. Recently after removing each implant he replaced them with brackets. Thin slats of metal that ran across body parts almost unnoticeable. He currently had one across each forearm, running along the topside of the appendage reinforcing the stability of the bones. They had holes drilled into them so he could eventually pierce the skin and screw in a spike or hook of some kind that would be temporarily attached to his body. Unfortunately, the slats had been slipping. Occasionally he would have a painful slip of the metal scrapping across his bones and tearing into the flesh and muscle that surrounded.
This was his venture for the day. Visit his tattoo shop and discuss how this could be avoided. Far from the average person’s daily activity, but for Jeremy it was the most acceptable use of his time.
He drove for hours just experiencing the outside world. Seeing cars and trucks glide down the roads of his town left him in awe of the blindness of the everyday man. They did not understand the amazing accomplishments of the human race. The Earth had been leveled, powerful machines had been designed and built, and people just took everything for granted as if it was a normal occurrence for an animal such as themselves to be motoring around in death machines to accommodate their pointless and insignificant lives.
He passed by a bridge that had been out of commission for at least a decade. The rotting wood leaned a little more to the side than intended by its builder. This was the type of structure that made him feel like the average unaccomplished slacker.
Sure, he had money and a useless talent, but the person who built that bridge had accomplished something that would live well past his own life. Even in the dilapidated state it had been left, it was standing as a monument to someone’s ingenuity. It had let a smile cross his face until he realized how disrespectful society would be to the powerful structure. One day the people of that unappreciative town would tear it down. Leave it rubble before re-paving the Earth and making way for a new structure with less personality. It was the cookie cutter architecture that made him sick. Why would anyone want to live in a town that looked like every other?
As had become a theme on his venture through the town, he felt bad for the city itself. He knew that one day, after his own useless life had come to an end, his city would fall. There would be no more Tradicionite City except in name. It would become Anytown USA, the one place he would never want to be associated with and the only place left in existence in the country.
His stomach churned at the thought making him change directions and head towards the tattoo parlor. He hoped his mind would be satisfied with his venture for the night. After his conversation with his body mod artist, he would be back to his cave where he could hold up until he absolutely had to get out again.
The tattoo shop was near downtown, if it could be called that. A city of only a couple hundred thousand barely deserved the designation of such an area, but since it had grown out from that point it was deemed as such. The streets were less friendly in the area. Although the yuppies from the suburbs tried their best to avoid those specific streets, Jeremy was perfectly at home wandering them.
He had no qualms with the drug dealers and prostitutes that could be found strolling up and down the roads and he felt a larger connection with the older buildings of the area. They were not ancient or even that old, but just the fact that they had stood there for nearly a hundred years gave him a sense of history. He turned his beat up sedan down Main Street where the tattoo parlor resided. Just the sight of the old store front put him at more ease than anything else from the outside world could.
He pulled up in front of the building parking at a broken meter that had not been repaired since he started coming to the establishment. He got out of his car and took in the sight of the building. The old store stood no more than twenty feet high, its yellow painted brick had chipped away showing a bit more of the structure than most would feel comfortable with. He even liked the greens and purples of the graffiti that surrounded the windows and their accompanying bars.
The simplicity of the sign, which read “Tats”, gave him that last bit of relaxation that drove him to step foot inside the door.
A terrible deep chime coincided with the push he gave the door as the cowbell on the other side clanged against the steel frame of the door. It caught the attention of Phil, the owner/manager/artist who worked there.
“Jeremy? I haven’t seen you in weeks!” Phil clapped while letting his excitement show across his face. “What the hell, man? Where have you been?”
Jeremy stepped across the surprisingly clean studio floor staring at Phil, hating the small talk that always came with the upkeep of his art. “Busy man. Busy.”
As Jeremy approached the artist, Phil jumped up from his chair to close the backroom door. It was an odd thing for him to do as Jeremy was typically welcomed in the parlor as if he worked there, but he assumed if Phil did not want him in the back there was a reason. Maybe a hooker had rented the area for a couple hours or maybe a meth lab had moved in to cover some of the rent, whatever it was it did not bother Jeremy.
“Hey, Phil. My implant plates seem to be sliding. There is no way I can eventually use them for extra jewelry if they don’t stay put.”
Phil moved his chair to block the closed door and reached out for Jeremy’s arm. “I was afraid of that. I thought we should screw them into the bone, but I’m not a surgeon, man. Who knows if I would split the bone?” There was an alarm in his voice. There was something he was hiding.
Jeremy looked into the man’s eyes sensing the underlying urgency Phil had to keep Jeremy away from that door. He pressed the conversation forward attempting to keep the artist from knowing he noticed. “Right. Maybe there is something else we can do. Maybe run some kind of wire through the joint or put plates on each side so it is more like a gauntlet?”
Phil tried to consider what his favorite customer was suggesting, but there was something else on his mind. Something behind the door that was more important than the possibility of losing his best customer. “Maybe, man. Why don’t you come back tomorrow after I have thought about it?”
Jeremy disliked what the man, he considered to be a friend, was doing. He was trying to get him out of the store, away from the door, more importantly away from what was behind the door. He refused to be sent away. “I don’t have time tomorrow, let’s figure this out tonight. What do you think? Four sides. Top, bottom, and each side. Then run a cable up through my wrist or something?”
“I don’t think that would be feasible, man.” Phil stole a quick glance at the door again.
“Then why not just drill into my forearm? If it breaks it will heal.”
“Jeremy. I don’t know about that. I just would hate for you to have all these snapped bones because of me.” His attention was lost. He was panicking with the man in his studio.
“Fine. I’ll come back.” Jeremy stood up to leave swiping a roll of gauze just out of Phil’s view.
He turned to leave and Phil quickly said his goodbyes and went into the door that he had been so valiantly protecting. He stood with one foot in and one out obviously waiting for his customer to leave so he could return to whatever lay within the threshold.
Jeremy knew that Phil was using the cowbell as his alarm to come out of the room so, he hit the door hard while leaving letting the low toned thud echo across the room and he quickly shoved the roll of gauze between the bell and the door. He paced out towards his car to appear as though he was leaving, but as soon as he saw Phil go back into the door in the back of the studio, he came back inside. The gauze silenced the cowbell just as Jeremy had intended.
Jeremy took careful and quiet steps moving towards the backroom wondering what was happening behind the closed door. The room was a simple place. It was a stockroom of sorts. Jeremy had been in there a thousand times. It had the feel of a warehouse with nothing special to attribute to it. Some scaffolding on one side and typically some boxes on the other. There was an emergency shower that stood in the corner which always left Jeremy to wonder what was housed in the building before Tats.
His mind wandered as he took each step towards the unknown. The closed door seemed to laugh at him, tempt him, and make him risk more than he usually did by coming to that side of town. His breathing increased as he reached his hand out to the handle. He did not know what lay on the other side and for once in his life his normal physical response kicked in. He feared for himself. He did not know if he should take the gamble and open the door. What could be hidden on the other side? His imagination ran wild with mobsters, human traffic, and cops. He paused before he grasped the doorknob.
Over to his right on the desk there was a small scalpel, Phil used for carving on his customers that liked the scars. He grabbed it for his insurance beyond the doorway and grabbed the cold brass knob turning and pushing his way into the next room.
Jeremy pushed the door open without a sound revealing the familiar warehouse. The painful fluorescent lights burned into his retinas as if he had been locked in a darkened closet. He squinted past the light to see Phil quickly striding towards him. Anger and frustration strewn across his face but his hushed voice was a story of fear and concern for his friend.
“Go! Get out, now!” Phil was not joking, he was determined to get Jeremy to exit the store and get away from whatever was beyond the threshold.
Jeremy tried to peer past the tattoo artist, but he could not see anything in the backroom. He conceded to his friend and turned to leave the store. But he could not help throwing in a remark. “What you got going on back there, man?”
“You don’t want to know. Get out before you fall into all this shit.” Phil pushed Jeremy out the door and locked the entrance.
Outside in the unsafe area of town, Jeremy found himself wondering what had just happened. There was something in the back of Tat’s that he wanted to see. He did not want to be excluded from whatever was there.