Today we have part two of Dear Katherine. My comments will be in purple and I hope you'll add yours. When we left off yesterday, Katherine was talking to a tattoo artist...
I hadn’t realized he [Derek, a customer] was standing next to me. When I looked up, he stepped back. “Sorry. I got curious.”
His smile looked so innocent; I gave him one of my own. “No worries.”
“I don’t think you want the regular glow-in-the-dark ink,” the artist said. “You won’t be able to differentiate the colors very well. I have my own blends that show normal color in daylight, but will gleam in faint light. I call it moon glow.”
I bounced on the balls of my feet. “That sounds perfect!”
“I hope you’re getting it somewhere visible,” Derek said. “I’d love to see the finished piece.”
Rick cleared his throat rather loudly.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “Everyone will be able to see it at the beach.”
“But it can’t get any sun for a week,” the tattoo man said. "The colors need some time to stick."
“I know,” I said to him, then turned back to Derek. “Can you wait a week?”
His smile matched mine teeth for teeth. “Even longer, if necessary.”
I could see Rick shaking his head in the corner of my eye. Maybe I should stop flirting. So Derek and Rick aren't partners? Didn't someone call someone else dear in our first installment? That tells me they're partners.
“Where do you want it?” the tattoo artist asked, demanding my attention.
“I drew it to scale.”
“That’s big. Is this your first?”
“Not at all.” I lifted my hair and let him inspect the pearls and the orchid. “I got this one in Maiorca and this one in Carmel. I also have one on my ankle,” I said pointing down.
“Did you draw them all?”
“Not the horseshoe.”
“I could have guessed that,” Derek said.
The tattoo artist gave Derek a glare that should have shoved him out the door. When that didn’t work, the man opened the passageway in the counter. He looked straight at Derek when he spoke. “Why don’t we go to the back room, Katherine, so you can take off your clothes and show me where you want it. This will take hours. Can you guys come back tomorrow?”
Derek’s smile suggested he was willing to wait, but Rick took his arm and dragged him towards the door. “We’ll come back when he decides what he wants.”
I waved. “See you at the beach in a week.”
Caio, the artist, was right: it did take several hours. Halfway through, I wished I had eaten lunch. First, he massaged some coconut scented numbing lotion on my back, which was a whole different experience compared to the solutions the tattoo robots brushed on before the needles attacked. Caio outlined the four whorls and filled in the planets and stars. He had asked me to pin my hair up, to make sure the colors he was using didn’t clash with the yellow orchid on my shoulder. The man was meticulous. Once in a while he narrated what he was doing or asked me a question if he wasn’t sure of something I drew. But most of the time he worked in silence, concentrating on the image that was coming to life on my back. None of my other tattoos had been done by a person, so I had no idea how faithful to the drawing this one would be. I had to trust him--and there was no way I could see what he was doing most of the time.
He bandaged the site after he finished, (is that normal to bandage the site?) before I even got a peek. “If you want me to fix anything when you unwrap it, just let me know. But come show me how it turned out even if you think it’s perfect.”
“Of course! And I’ll make sure I let everyone know where I got it.”
My back felt a little sore, mostly from lying still for so long after six hours speeding through a wormhole, but my excitement hadn't diminished at all. While Caio cleaned his equipment, I put on a loose dress instead of my travel clothes and let down my hair.
"So, how much do I owe you?" I asked.
"Five hours, six colors. Thirty four farm tickets."
I should have asked that question earlier.
I placed one of the gold coins in front of him. "How many of these? I traded one for ten tickets, but being local you’ll probably get more."
I forced a smile and handed the last of my coins to him. It had taken me a week to earn each of them. When I walked out into the late afternoon sun, I wondered if I could still afford a room for the night or just food. Maybe I could find a job for the evening at one of these restaurants.
“You looked worried. Did it not turn out like you expected?”
I spun towards the voice and found Derek leaning against the wall that separated the tattoo parlor from the restaurant next door. “Don’t tell me you've been waiting out here since noon?”
“Not at all. I just happened to walk by and saw you settling the bill.” His boyish grin seemed to contradict his words. “How does it look?”
“I won’t know for a week.”
“Neither will I. Would you like to join us for dinner? We have a table on the patio.” He pointed behind him
to the back of Rick’s head.
A waiter was removing a pile of plates and an empty jug, but there were two more jugs and four plates of nibbles left behind. Just the spiced smell coming from the tables close to me made my mouth water.
“I couldn’t say no after you've waited so long.”
I hadn’t had a chance to look at prices and I had no idea how many tickets I would spend at the restaurant. There was no way I would be able to afford a bed without a night job, but I needed to eat.
We talked into the night. I found out they were from a forth whorl planet called Kavadash, which I still hadn’t visited. Both men were impressed with all my travels and I spent a lot of time telling them about Maiorca and Carmel, my favorite places.
When we realized the restaurant staff wanted to close, Derek paid the entire bill. (she doesn't protest? Just lets this guy she just met pay?) "Can we walk you to you lodgings?"
“If only I knew where they were...” I said.
“You didn’t book a room?” Rick asked.
“I arrived this morning. I was supposed to look for something this evening, but I’ve been talking to you instead.”
“Then the least we could do is offer you a room at our house,” Derek said.
My smile faltered. The last time I followed a guy home was eight years ago. I woke up to only half of my belongings and a bill for the room that I washed three weeks of dishes to pay. (so even in the future we still have to wash dishes by hand? Bummer.) I promised myself not to do that again.
I'm curious about the tattoo. Is it important? If it is, great, if not, then I might do some serious cutting here and move things along. I also found it odd that she doesn't seem to have much money with her to pay for her travels. Is it easy to find work as you're traveling? And why didn't she bring enough? These are little questions but every time a reader pauses to wonder about something they don't need to makes them aware of the fact that they're reading. Better that the only questions the reader has are the mysteries associated with the story, like why is she traveling. Just to do it? Lastly, it seemed obvious to me in the first part that Derek and Rick are gay but then Katherine flirts with Derek and it sort of seems like he flirts back which doesn't make sense. Being friendly is fine but flirting with someone else's honey, definitely not cool.
Now, I'm still interested, but the action has slowed to a crawl with this getting of the tattoo and there's been next to no character development in this part. If I'm going to care enough about Katherine to follow her then I need to know more about her. Maybe more could be revealed in the conversation she has with Derek and Rick over dinner?
But what do you guys think? Any suggestions?