Scene 6

Prosperity Junction, February 10, 2084. 1408 hours.

 

A room in a shabby hotel. Jules peeks through the Venetian blinds. Main street of Prosperity Junction, an industrial suburb of Efficiency City. Small, grimy storefronts. The sidewalks are crowded with the wives of industrial drones shopping, and with the unemployed.

Jules opens a duffel bag and quickly dresses in worn tight black denims, combat boots, a white t-shirt that says “I hate your favorite band” on it, a black motorcycle jacket. She walks out of the motel and down the street. A small man with a passing resemblance to Quasimodo bumps into her on the sidewalk and before he can pass her she has him by the throat. They both look down and gaze at his fingers on her wallet, pulled halfway out of her hip pocket. Quasimodo begins to smile. Jules lifts him off the sidewalk by the throat and slams him against the brick wall.

− Ack!

− Pickpocketing can get you killed in Prosperity Junction.

− Chhhhh….

Jules drops him and he settles against the wall like a pile of kindling. Jules crouches down in front of him.

− I’ll spare you if you help me out. Take me to an out-of-the-way tattoo parlor.

 

If the joint inspires confidence, it’s only in Jules’s knowledge that she will contract hepatitis if she gets her work done here. Whatever. Jules goes in and sits in the chair. The artist turns to her. A troglodyte with thick strands of unkept hair hanging down among patches of ruinous baldness. Filthy, long fingernails. Dark brown teeth. Acne leaking pus.

Jules tosses a scrap of paper on the counter.

− Do this, here. She points to her left ovary. The artist studies the design. It is the universal biohazard sign.

− What color?

− Black.

− Lie back. The artist cocks his head toward an operating table.

− Whiskey.

− Pay in advance.

Jules slams 100 dushbars on the counter. She lies butt-down on the table, leaning on her elbows. She unzips her fly halfway, pulls her jeans down a little on the left side. She’s not wearing panties. The artist sets a shot glass and a fifth of Brand X whiskey on a little table next to the operating table.

− Can’t get at you good like that. Gonna have to take off your pants. He rips an operating curtain closed. Sketches and photographs of finished tattoos are pinned to it.

− Nice try, douche bag. Work with what you got, because 100 dushbars is your pay, not 100 dushbars and a beaver shot. And bring me a fucking coffee mug.

The artist scowls and prepares the needle. Jules pours the mug full to the brim and empties it in two gulps. The artist turns on the needle. Jules examines the ink tank. An iridescence floats on the black ink, as if the artist had added droplets of cooked human fat. There is a bit of flesh stuck on the end of the needle. As he brings it closer to her womb, she pours a splash of whiskey over the needle tip from the bottle.

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