The Blind Tattooist

Mom Braille Tattoo

 

His fingers moved up and down her arm. He could tell by the slenderness of her wrist that she was a looker.

 

“So do you do this a lot?” She asked.

 

He could hear the tremble in her voice. Most normal people wouldn’t be able to sense that sort of thing, but he could.

 

“Is this your first time, hon?” He asked.

 

“Yes.” She said. “My mother just passed. Some of the girls at work had gotten ink when they had babies or got married. I thought this would be a good way to remember her.”

 

“That is very sweet of you.” He said.

 

“Are you sure you can do the picture though?” She said. “You know because…”

 

“Because is what?” he asked. “Because I’m blind?”

 

“We’ll yeah.”

 

“Let me reassure you, miss, that I am very capable of doing my job. Perhaps you wouldn’t buy milk from a lactose intolerant farmer, but I would. Maybe you wouldn’t watch a one legged Olympic runner, but I would. Maybe you wouldn’t even trust a deaf man’s music recommendations, but I would.  I would see that a man like that would take such an immense amount of pride from his job that he wouldn’t let his physical limitations stop him from his dream.”

 

“I’m sorry,” the girl said. “I didn’t mean to offend you, but you have to understand that this is all a little new for me.”

 

“I understand,” He said. “and I apologize for my rant. All of that being said, are you sure you want to do the picture? I think you have beautiful wrists and I would really like to do the piece there. However, this picture would be too big to fit and shrinking it would take away from your mother’s beauty.”

 

“You’re the expert, I’ll leave it to you.”

 

The man nodded and pulled the needle from a drawer and attached it to the tattoo machine.

He could feel her start to tremble as he brought it closer to her skin.

 

“It will feel like a pinch.” He said. “I have found that it helps to close your eyes for the first few minutes until you get used to the feeling.”

 

“Okay.”

 

He pressed the needle to her skin. The girl winced at first, then relaxed.

 

 

“How is that?” He asked.

 

“Not as bad as I thought it would be.” She admitted.

 

“Good.” He said as he continued to work. “Tell me about your mother.”

 

“She was a wonderful woman.” The girl said. “When I was little we would travel to the shore in the summer. We would walk the shoreline in the early hours of the morning and pick seashells from the sand.”

 

The image of a rising sun over the water and gentle waves lapping up on a sandy shoreline came to his mind. He imagined a woman and her daughter scooping down to pick natures treasures out of the sand. It was beautiful. He hopped the girl’s eyes were closed because he felt a tear drop from his.

 

“I remember,” She continued. “we would bring those buckets. You know the cheap colorful ones that they sell in the gift shops to build sand castles with?”

 

“Yes, I know them.” He said.

 

“Yeah, we used to bring three of those with us every morning. She would carry two and I one. Each day they would be filled to the brim by the time the sun was above the horizon. We would head back to our shore house and spend the rest of the day doing crafts with them.”

 

“What sort of things would you make?” He asked.

 

“Oh all sorts of things. We would create a wreath of seashells. Kind of like a Christmas Wreath but made entirely of shells. That way people could hang them outside their house in the summer. We bought birdhouses and glued seashells to the outside. Sometimes we would even make little shell animals out of them too.  Turtles, Seagulls, fish that sort of thing.”

 

“Wow it sounds like you two had some serious talent.”

 

“Yeah, when I got older we would sell our creations. Some of them fetched a pretty good price.”

 

The man sat back. “Speaking of creations, I’m finished with mine. Why don’t you open your eyes and take a look?”

 

“Wow, that was quick!” The girl said.  After a moment of silence, she added. “Wait, what is this?”

 

The Man felt a stab of panic. He removed his glove and felt the damaged skin where he had just worked. It had said just what he had intended, but there was one problem.

 

“I’m so sorry,” He said. “It’s braille.”

 

“Oh,” the girl said. She didn’t sound nearly as angry as he feared she might. She sounded curious. “Well what does it say?”

 

“Mom” He said.

 

“Really!?” The girl exclaimed. Now she sounded much angrier. He felt the muscles in her wrist tense just before she yanked it away. “I give you that whole emotional story from my youth and the best you could come up with was Mom!?”

 

“Hey lady,” He said. “Take it easy on me. It’s only my first day.”

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Merry Christmas, Ice Cream Man!

 

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‘Twas the Sixteenth of April, when all through the house

every creature was stirring, even a mouse;

The laundry was folded on the dresser with care,

In hopes that relaxation soon would be there;

The dogs were nestled next to their mother;

Both were quiet Paige and her brother;

And mamma with her book, and I with mine,

Had just settled our brains for relaxation time,

When out in the distance, what do I hear?

Is that really Christmas music playing this time of year?

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

Sure enough as the music grew nearer;

I heard jingle bells clearer and clearer;

Once Jingle Bells turned to frosty the snowman;

I could tell it was none other than the Icecream man.

The summers at my Grandparents house came back in my mind;

But somehow so did Christmas Time;

In the summers when visiting and we heard that distinct chime;

We knew if we went fast enough we would make it in time.

As the truck rolled into view;

I clambered downstairs, taking them by two;

“One Spiderman Pop” I said with delight;

Imagining the taste of that very first bite.

He had a wood brown stick, his head was lumpy;

His gumball eyes were half melted and bumpy.

I thought “This doesn’t look like the spider guy;

It looks like Strongbad with a lazy eye.”

Still, I chomped down;

And memories from child reached the foreground.

The gumballs were stale and the ice cream was sour,

But what mattered were the feelings that came back this hour.

It’s not about the look or about the flavor,

It’s about the memories that the Pop makes you savor.

“Merry Christmas!” I said “and to all a good night.”

“Whatever.” He said as he shoved a cigarette in his mouth and drove out of sight.

 

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling Review

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“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is full of the same magic as the first two entries. The invisibility Cloak, Quidditch, and Diagon Alley are all back as Harry, Ron & Hermoine start their third year at Hogwarts along with some new mainstays such as The Muarders Map, Crookshanks and Hogsmeade. The tone this year though is a bit darker though.

This darker tone is a new and welcome change to the series because otherwise it does feel like a rinse and repeat story line of the first two. The darker tone does make the book move at a slower pace. This isn’t really an issue because the first two are lightning fast, but it does give way to a small problem toward the end of the book.

In order to corral all of those loose ends she had been carefully hinting at for the entire book, Rowling left us with a pretty hefty info dump toward the end of it(the scene in the Whomping willow.) Of course “The Prisoner of Azkaban” is still great and every author is entitled to an info dump if they have you hooked up until that point, but it does take you out of the story.

Because of this sudden info dump, the end felt rushed. This could have been because Rowling originally had a much longer draft and had to cut it significantly back because, well, it’s a children’s book and it’s longer then the first two as it is now.

I don’t think this you would deter you from reading this book if you enjoyed the others and it shouldn’t. Besides odds are if you’re a real fan of the series, you’ve already read this book a long time ago.

“StarWars: Aftermath” by Chuck Wendig Review

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“Aftermath” is a story about the little people in the StarWars universe right after a huge event took place. That event was the destruction of the second Death Star and fall of the Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi.

By “little people” I mean the most major character in this story is Wedge Antilles and his part isn’t even that big. Okay, Han and Chewie have a very small part too but if you blink you’ll miss it. (Which is tough to do since you’re reading it.)

Instead, Wendig centers the story around a rag-tag band of unknowns which include a Rebel Fighter, her incredibly mechanically inclined Son, his self-built Droid, a Bounty Hunter, and an Ex-Imperial. These characters are all fun for the duration of the book and can get cheesy from time to time but they aren’t memorable. They honestly feel more like party members from one of the Old Knights of the Old republic games rather than potential “Cannon” characters. Although one does make an appearance in The Force Awakens. However, its another one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it deals. I’ll leave you to your own research to figure out who.

The character I enjoyed most was the Imperial Commander, Rae Sloan. She was essentially this stories “Villian.” but I felt she showed much more growth throughout the novel than the whole group of good guys combined.

Wending’s style of writing was perfect for the StarWars universe. If this shares one thing with TFA it’s the fast break-neck feel of the whole piece. Wendig’s chapters are short and effective and make you want to turn the page.

Speaking of chapters, the “Interlude” chapters are where “Aftermath” really shines. Each chapter is titled after a planet or city and focuses in on some small part of that setting. As word of the fall of the Empire gets around, many beings react very differently to it. These show that war is never over as quickly or cleanly as it was in Episode 1 when Anakin blows up the droid control ship and they all just power down permanently. It also adds to the sheer scale of the event.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book even if the characters were forgettable, the action and overarching story was not. The worst thing that happened to this book and the real reason I think people are hating on it so much was that it was marketed as a direct tie-in to The Force Awakens. (It was released in September just a month and a half before TFA hit theaters for crap sake!) Go into this book knowing that it won’t have basically anything to do with TFA and I think you will enjoy it as well.

“1984” by George Orwell Review

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The Wordplay in “1984” is it’s most powerful attribute. Orwell either takes words at face value and uses their literate meaning like the “2 minutes hate” where the people of Oceania literally stand and scream hateful things at a picture of Emmanuel Goldstein for two minutes everyday . In other cases he does the total opposite and names something the exact opposite of what it does or contains. For instance, the “Ministry of Love” is where people are said to get tortured. Even Big Brother himself eventually turned into a euphemism for the government watching you years after the book was released. Now that’s power!

Another strong point if 1984 was the visual picture the Orwell paints of Oceania. It’s a total militant regime that keeps close tabs on all of it’s inhabitants. Most of which almost act as if they are brainwashed. This dystopian back-drop only adds to Orwell’s literate archetypes in this book. It’s easy to infer what you want into these archetypes or relate to them however you want. That’s probably why this book has had so much success.

The only issue I had with 1984 was, unfortunately, a pretty big one. It didn’t feel like a story. Usually when I read a fiction book, I expect to be taken along for a ride. I want to start somewhere and end up somewhere completely different with some great change having occurred. This doesn’t happen in 1984. It almost feels more like a documentary or essay about a “day in the life in Oceanana.

That being said, it is still definitely worth a read based on Orwell’s use of language and the haunting world he builds alone.

“Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain Review

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“Quiet” could just as easily be called “Chicken Soup for the Introverts Soul.” Cain uses real life examples from years of research(I believe she said it took her 10 years to write this) done personally or other wise to support what exactly it means to be an Introvert. She explains how our Society, which prides Extroverted Salesmanship and collaboration, can actually be harmful or at least hindering the efforts of some people who could have a lot of introverted people who have a lot to bring to the table. I don’t want to give me too much away to those who haven’t read it, but I can say that I highly suggest it. Especially if you are an introvert, or have one in your life.

If you’re on the fence about reading this book, search for Cain’s Speech on “TED Talks.” This is where I first came across her. It’s completely free to watch and it goes over some of the general points of this book. If you like what you see and want to dive deeper than this book is the perfect opportunity.

To Fan Fiction or Not to Fan Fiction

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Have you ever watched your favorite show or movie, read your favorite book or comic book or even played your favorite video game and thought “Man, I would love to write a story with these characters!” Well there is a whole genre of fiction writing dedicated to just that. It’s called Fan Fiction.

If you just google the word “Fan Fiction” you will find a vast array if tales from licensed universes anywhere from Doctor Who to My Little Pony. Yes, I said My Little Pony and I’m sure you will find far weirder if you dig far enough. Careful though, some things you can’t unread.

How do these work, you ask? Well it’s quite simple. You write a story set in one established universe of your choosing, this can be a story set between two seasons of a TV show, two episodes of the show, in between movies or a retelling of said shows, movies, games, books, or comics. It’s really whatever you want it to be. You can even go all “Rule 63” and swap genders of the main characters if you so desire.

One of the best/ worst things about Fan Fiction is that it’s completely free. It costs nothing to write stories, nada to post them and your readers’ zilch to read them. (Had enough zero synonyms yet?)

Why is free a bad thing? Well since your readers get to read your work for free, you don’t make any money off of it. And you can’t charge for it either. The websites that house communities of Fan Fiction won’t allow you to charge for your work and there’s a bigger reason why. You don’t own it. Yep you just spent days, months, and even years slaving over a stories you made up, but because it is set in a universe that someone else created with characters they created, it’s not yours. The Hulk is owned by Marvel, Doctor Who by BBC, and Harry Potter by JK Rowling and Warner Bros and so on. If you charge for your Fan Fiction work, you could be sued, heavily!

The other reason free can be bad is that anyone with a keyboard and internet connection can do it. Again that sounds like a wonderful thing, doesn’t it? Realistically a good chunk of people will write something in the span of a few minutes or hours and post it without revision. The work looks sloppy and misguided, like Gollum.

Man, I’m really bringing the mood down here aren’t I? Okay well there are some really positive things for the average Novel Noob to get out of Fan Fiction. One of those things you can “get” is noticed. As much as it pains me to say it, one famous example is “50 Shades of Grey” author E.L. James.

Before she became a millionaire making readable porn for dummies, EL James wrote Fan Fiction for Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series.  When she started work on 50 Shades, she had enough recognition around the Twilight communities that she was able to get published. This is obviously just one really extreme example, but there is no reason to think that you couldn’t gain a decent readership from your Fan Fiction work to help launch your own personal stories. All you have to do is make sure your stuff is polished, professional and most of all entertaining!

Something else you can gain from fan fiction is practice. If your Novel in Progress has you stumped beyond recognition to the point where you stare at the blinking word processor icon for hours on end and never throw words behind it. Jumping into a universe of already established setting and characters might be just the jolt you need to keep your mind racing and ideas regenerating. By the time you finish your Fan Fiction work you might have ideas to bring back to your Novel in Progress. Not to mention techniques you may have stumbled across while writing the Fan Fic.

In the end, the choice is yours. If you choose to write Fan Fiction, you have to be okay with the face that you will never earn money from it directly. However, it could be rewarding to you in other ways. That is, unless you write My Little Pony Fan Fiction. I don’t see how that could be rewarding, ever!