Echoes of Scotland Street

Page 3


Letting my hands fall to my sides (defensive posture wasn’t really a good way to start an interview), I waited for a woman with her pram to pass by the studio before striding up to the door and pushing inside. An old-fashioned bell at odds with the rest of the decor jingled above the door as I entered.
My low-heeled boots sounded loud on the expensive-looking white-tiled flooring. It was shot through with chips of silver mosaic pieces and was more elegant than I would have expected for a tattoo studio.
For a few moments I eyed the rest of the interior. It was like a typical tattoo studio but less . . . grungy. The main room was large and spacious. A small curved black marble counter sat to my left, and on it was a shiny iMac I would have given my eyeteeth for. Behind the counter was a massive closet I couldn’t miss because its door was open, revealing a chaotic mass of files on the shelves inside. Opposite the counter on the other side of the room was a huge, well-worn black leather L-shaped sofa that looked really comfy. A glass coffee table was positioned in front of it, with a scatter of magazines on it and what looked like a bowl of shiny-wrapped toffees. Directly ahead of me was a mini gallery of sorts. The walls were white and nearly every inch of them was covered in tattoo concepts. The only walls that had been left bare were the partition walls placed here and there throughout the space. On them were television screens where indie and rock music played softly as a sound track to snapshots and video footage of the artists’ portfolios.
It was all about art here.
But where were the artists?
I stared around at the emptiness, my eyes eventually coming to a stop on a door near the back left-hand corner. I could hear the buzz of a tattoo needle. The workshops must be back there.
Should I venture in?
I hesitated only to be shuffled forward by someone attempting to open the entrance door. Moving out of the way, I gave the young man an apologetic smile.
“All right?” He nodded at me in greeting before swaggering over to the counter. He hit an old-fashioned bell a few times.
Oh. Okay.
A few seconds later a figure appeared in the doorway at the back. A huge, hulking beast of a figure. I stared openmouthed as he moved toward us, and slowly recognition hit me.
The graying beard and long wiry hair, the jolly grin and crinkles around the blue eyes. No, not Santa Claus.
Stu Motherwell.
He approached the counter in slow, measured steps and I noted that the black motorcycle boots he was wearing had definitely seen their best day a long, long time ago. The buzz of a tattoo needle continued from the room beyond, so I guessed there was at least one other tattooist back there.
“Hi, son,” he greeted the young man. “How can I help?”
“I’ve got an appointment for a tattoo removal in ten minutes.”
“Darren Drysdale.”
Stu bent over to look at the computer screen, clicking the mouse a few times. “Drysdale. Take a wee seat. Rae will be ready for you in a bit. I’d offer you a coffee, but my last assistant bought that fucking contraption and none of us know how to use it.”
The customer snorted. “No bother, mate.” He nodded at him and turned around, wandering over to the sofa to wait.
I then found myself under the scrutiny of Stu’s bright blue eyes. He seemed to take stock of me for a moment and then he gave me a massive grin. “And what can I do for you, wee fairy?”
Wee fairy? That was new. If he wasn’t my interviewer, I might reply that this “wee fairy” would ram her wee but effectual foot up his arse if he “wee fairied” me again.
It was possible I was a little angry these days.
But also desperate . . . so . . . “I’m Shannon MacLeod.” I stepped forward and held out my hand. “I’m here for the interview for the admin position.”
“Thank fuck,” Stu pronounced jovially, striding around the counter to enfold my hand in his huge one. He shook it, shaking my whole body with the motion. “At least you look normal. The last one looked like she hadn’t seen a human being in forty years.”
“Oh?” How was I supposed to reply to a comment like that?
“Aye. She didn’t even know what an apadravya or an ampallang was.”
I winced just at the thought of those genital piercings. A brave man, was all I’d say, a brave man indeed who sucked it up and got either one of those. “You do those here?”
“Simon is our piercings guy. He does it all.” Stu grinned. “I take it from that wee flinch you know what they are.”
I nodded, not really comfortable discussing penis piercings with my possible boss—although I guessed if I got the job, that might very well become normal conversation between us. “Surely, you don’t get a lot of requests for those, though, right?”
“I’m sure women the world over would prefer more than we do get.” Stu chuckled at his own joke and started walking toward the back room, gesturing for me to follow him. “My office is through here. Let’s chat.”
We passed through the back door, entering a long narrow hallway where light from three doors streamed through. The buzzing noise was coming from the middle room. Stu pointed at them. “Three workrooms.” He pointed to the one nearest us. “I share that one with my manager. He’s our main tattooist and our finest artist, so he usually does the big projects, unless I take a particular interest. Fridays are his day off, so unfortunately you won’t meet him today. The middle room is Rae’s. She’s finishing up a small tattoo at the moment. She does our tattoo removals as well. The last one is Simon’s. He’s a tattooist, but you’ll find most of his appointments are for piercings.” Stu nodded toward the closed door at the end of the hall. “My office.”
We passed by the workrooms and I sneaked a peek inside the middle one. I saw the back of a skinny, purple-haired woman I guessed was Rae. She was tattooing what looked like a butterfly on the lower back of the curvy girl braced over a chair.
I peeked inside the last door, meeting the eyes of a nice-looking, tattooed bald guy. He had a customer, but he gave me a little wave as I passed. I returned it, thinking he had kind eyes.
“In we go, wee fairy,” Stu boomed heartily as he opened his office and swept an arm in a gesture for me to enter before him. He frowned as I moved past him. “What did I say?”
I realized I must not have been able to keep my irritation off my face. Oh well, he’d caught me, so I might as well be honest. “Wee fairy? Not really sure how to take that.”