Tattoo |
by Mitchell Grabois

Careaga thins his wardrobe.

Among the casualties is a pair of linen trousers, once his favorite.
A leisurely ride to Goodwill. The sun is bright. Careaga reaches up and presses a button
and the sunroof slides open. Fresh, cool air blows through the old Cressida, which once belonged
to a cardiac surgeon. The leather seats have hairline cracks, like wrinkles on an older man’s face.
Careaga reaches for his Starbucks cup and takes a sip.

When he returns home he realizes that he’s left several hundred dollars, gambling
winnings, in the right front pocket of the much-loved linen trousers. Or maybe he took the cash
out a long time ago? He agonizes for a few minutes, then hurries back to Goodwill. This time he
leaves the sunroof closed. All the coffee is gone from his cup.

A young woman with tattoos all up and down her arms is at the cash register. She goes to
look for the pants, then comes back with them. “Nothing in the pockets,” she says. One of the
pockets is turned out. She holds up her fingers, positioned as if they are holding something. “Just
a little lint.” She smiles.

Careaga is unsettled, suspicious. He’d like to search her pockets. On one of the woman’s
arms is a tattoo of a woman who looks just like her, but with bare breasts. Careaga is a super-
smart guy but now he asks, “Is that you?”

Mitchell Grabois's short fiction has appeared in nearly seventy literary magazines, most recently The Examined Life, Memoir Journal, and Marco Polo Arts Mag, all published this Spring. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, was published in April by Dirt e-books, founded by Gary Heidt.