Two kinds of ink (Writing in a tattoo shop)

I’m drinking coffee in a tattoo parlour. It’s also a coffee shop. It serves really good coffee.

It’s a long and narrow space, like most storefronts along these streets. In the front an old door functions as a table, and a bench quilted with rainbow colours and skulls stretches along its length. An old tin ceiling, painted white, floats above dark purple walls covered in indie art and hanging skulls threaded with heavy twine. There are skulls on my chair, too: an almost cartoonish print that seems suited to pajama bottoms. Festive heads and crossbones.

The woman making my coffee is laid back and nice. Like a friend that you would sit up with all night, drinking wine and waxing reflective about the 80s. I wonder if she’s the one who wields the needles in the back.

Old and new rock music drifts out from a lone speaker. It’s just the right decibel level. It warms the bones of the place.

It’s so bright in the front that I can’t quite see the colour of my coffee as I pour in the milk. A little dizzied by the holographic skulls flashing upwards from the coffee mat. Winking.

Into the dark back room, there are plush armchairs in deep reds and purples, embroidered with rich and gothic designs. And skulls, of course. All decadence and comfort. This is presumably where the inking happens.

I resist taking out my camera, as much as my fingers beg me. But I don’t want to feel like a tourist here. Because here I can be a writer.

But I’m also thinking of something more permanent.

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