Transcending the Physical
Jude’s right buttock portrayed the twelve signs of the zodiac. The inky tattoos of the twelve symbols circled a golden sun.
He’d read once that each of Christ’s disciples was a different sign. He was an Aries, like Peter, a beginner, a new spirit, sometimes a hothead. Too much passion. Energy coursed through him, and he wanted to taste most of what life offered. But that was wrong. His mother had taught him to say ‘no.’ So had the church. But sin kept calling to him. And sin had a name—Desiree.
She came into his bar at least once a week. Too young. Barely legal. Only a few notches above jailbait. Long dark hair. Green eyes. Full lips. And scanty clothes. She often left with whoever sat next to her and bought her drinks.
A slut. But damn, the girl looked good.
His left buttock was dyed like seven pieces of a pie—each slice portraying one of the deadly sins—anger, avarice, envy, gluttony, pride, lust, and sloth. As he toweled himself off after his shower, he studied his taut, muscled body in the mirror. Women wanted him, but women were unworthy, weak creatures. His mother preached good sermons, but gave into the flesh over and over again. And then hated herself for it.
Even she was unworthy. Read the warnings staining your skin. Stay on the path of righteousness.
The commandments formed a serpent’s coil around his neck. Thou shalt not. Thou shalt not. The Lord’s prayer circled his waist. Lead us not into temptation.
He was tempted.
It was Friday. Desiree would be in tonight. A ring circled her left finger. His mother had struggled, raising him on her own. His father had caught her in bed with another man. He’d packed his bags and left. He’d been a loving father, but left Jude behind. With the cheat.
“Don’t be like me,” his mother said every time Jude came home to her closed bedroom door. “Be stronger.”
He tried, but he’d reached out in second grade to touch Susie Miller’s ponytail. Her hair was so blonde, so shimmery. The nun had whacked his knuckles with a ruler five times. Don’t touch.
It starts out so innocently. Fingers touch, knees bump against each other, a hand on the thigh, and then . . . sin.
But Desiree’s husband never came in with her. Did he even care if she slept with other men?
He tugged on his clothes and drove to visit Damian.
Damian watched him walk through the door and shook his head. “What have you thought of now?”
Damian was an artist. He sold covers and illustrations for books and magazines. He used the needles to subsidize his income.
“I want to cover my leg with the twenty-two Major Arcana of the Tarot.”
Damian frowned. “They’re not religious. Nothing out of the Bible.”
“No, but like the horoscope, they can help a man reach his greater Destiny.”
“And what kind of destiny is that? The never have fun variety?”
“The kind that helps men rise to their nobler selves.”
“Whatever.” Damian was dedicated to his art. Jude was dedicated to following the righteous path. “Which card first?”
“The Fool.” Jude handed him the card. “A soul balanced at the precipice, ready to begin a long journey of faith.”
Damian rolled his eyes. “Which ankle?”
Jude sat in the chair and removed his right shoe and sock. This was going to hurt.
“Want something for the pain?” Damian often offered a stiff drink of whiskey or a drag of pot. But he didn’t understand.
Pain was good. Jude LIKED pain. That was part of it.