"WATER IN LUNGS"
by Kyle Carrier
JOHNNY: tattoo artist
BEN: getting tattooed
SHELLY: Johnny's wife
Lights up inside JOHNNY's tattoo parlor. JOHNNY, big guy, covered in tattoos, is sketching behind the counter. Radio is playing. The parlor bell rings.
ENTER BEN, little guy, glasses. He walks up to the counter, where JOHNNY is still sketching.
BEN. Do you guys do walk-ins?
JOHNNY. Looking up, friendly, What's up?
BEN. Hey, what's up? Do you guys do walk-ins?
JOHNNY. Sure do, depends on the work.
BEN. Just something little.
JOHNNY. laughing, Like what?
BEN. Just some words, in script.
JOHNNY. Yeah? Where at?
BEN. with his hand over his heart, Here.
JOHNNY. For sure. You're looking to get it done today?
BEN. If that's cool.
JOHHNY. Sure is. What've you got in mind?
JOHNNY hands BEN a piece of paper, and a pencil.
BEN. Well… draws for a little bit, finishes, hands JOHNNY the sketch and pencil.
JOHNNY. That from a song?
JOHNNY. Alright, alright.
JOHNNY pauses, mulls over the sketch, then breaks from concentration.
JOHNNY. Alright, cool, man. Tell you what, I'll have this drawn up in a couple of minutes, you take a seat on the couch, fill this out -- just some regulatory shit.
JOHNNY hands him the paperwork.
JOHNNY. I'm Johhny, by the way.
They shake hands, and BEN takes a seat while JOHNNY gets drawing.
BEN. after some silence, She means the world to me.
JOHHNY. Oh yeah? Who's that?
BEN. My wife. Well, my girlfriend. We're going to get married, though, some day. That's who this is for. It's for her.
JOHNNY. still sketching, Cool bro, engaged?
JOHNNY. No? Gonna propose?
BEN. No, not yet.
JOHNNY. I hear ya. How old are you two?
BEN. I'm nineteen, she's twenty.
JOHNNY. Ah, shit, too young to tie the knot. Way too young. Laughs.
BEN. Yeah. What about you? Are you married?
JOHNNY. Yes sir, five years. No ink to show for it though, you got me on that one.
BEN. Why not? You're covered anyway.
JOHNNY. laughs, Yeah, man, but I've got the ring. And if I catch her cheating, I can take it off. You can't take off a tattoo. laughs again.
BEN. But, you're married--do you think she'd ever do that?
JOHNNY. Truthfully, no, bro. But I don't care how loyal someone says they are. The fact is, shit happens, and I'm not risking my body for it. laughs again.
JOHNNY. Yeah. Well, what do you think?
BEN gets up, hands JOHNNY the finished paperwork, and looks at the final drawing. BEN nods in approval.
JOHNNY. Alright man, let's get this needle in you. Take your shirt off and lie down on the table in there.
BEN walks over to a chair, takes his shirt off, and lays down on the table in the room over. JOHNNY follows with the drawing, gets a bottle of black, gray, and white ink. JOHNNY gets his needle out and prepped, turns the air compressor on. A buzzing sound.
BEN. She really does mean the world to me.
JOHNNY. I hear ya, bro. I believe you. laughs.
JOHNNY puts on latex gloves, grabs the needle. JOHNNY leans over BEN, the gun buzzing. JOHNNY starts the work, BEN cringes for a second, then relaxes with the sting.
BEN. I mean, she really does.
JOHNNY. Right on, man.
BEN. You think I'm nuts.
JOHNNY. No way, bro. Does she know about this?
BEN. It's a surprise.
JOHNNY. Right on. You must really love her.
BEN. I do. That's why I'm doing this. Because I love her.
JOHNNY. Well, you know how to show it. I sure hope she loves you, dude. laughs
BEN. She does. She has to. She tells me she does.
JOHNNY. You don't sound so sure.
JOHNNY. You don't sound so sure, man.
BEN. Well, she does. She loves me.
JOHNNY. Alright, dude.
BEN. She doesn't mean the things she does. She told me that. She loves me.
JOHNNY. Oh, yeah?
BEN. Yeah. I know she loves me. She just does stupid things sometimes. That's it. She doesn't mean it.
JOHNNY. She fucking another dude? laughs
BEN. She does, sometimes. But she isn't going to anymore, she told me that. Because she loves me.
JOHNNY. Shit man, I'm sorry.
BEN. For what?
JOHNNY. I don't know, I wasn't being an ass. I was just fucking with you.
BEN. It's alright.
The parlor bell rings. ENTER SHELLY in a jacket with a waitress uniform showing underneath.
JOHNNY. What's up, honey?
SHELLY walks over to the two of them, kisses JOHNNY while he is still tattooing. He doesn't stop.
JOHNNY. How was work?
JOHNNY. Aw, I'm sorry.
SHELLY. Have you eaten?
JOHNNY. No, I'm fine though. I'll eat when I get home.
SHELLY. Here, your favorite.
SHELLY hands him a doggy bag of buffalo wings.
JOHNNY. Aw, you're the best.
SHELLY. Alright, I'm out of here. Just wanted to keep you fed. Love you.
JOHNNY. Thanks, babe. I'll see you when I get home. Might be late, I've got one more guy booked after this.
SHELLY. Okay, see you, bye.
EXIT SHELLY, the parlor bell rings.
JOHNNY. No, my sister. Yeah, my wife. laughs
BEN. She's sweet. That was nice of her.
JOHNNY. Yeah, she's great. What's your girly's name?
BEN. Cassie. Cass.
JOHNNY stops. Lets go of the foot pedal, buzzing stops. Presses back on the foot pedal and continues working.
JOHNNY. Oh, yeah? That's cool, man.
BEN. Yeah, I love her.
JOHNNY. I'll say! laughs.
JOHNNY. She'll like this.
BEN. I hope so. She told me I didn't love her. She said that's why she does the things she does, sometimes. She said I had to show her.
JOHNNY. Well, I hope this does it for you, bro.
BEN. It will. It has to. She means the world to me. Once she sees this, she's going to love me so much. She's never going to touch another guy again. She said she was going to stop, and after she sees this, she will.
Silence. Awkward, JOHNNY says nothing. then,
JOHNNY. Well, I hope she stops too. For your sake, man.
BEN. She's the only girl I've ever loved.
JOHNNY. That's a good thing, dude.
BEN. She's the only girl I've ever even touched.
JOHNNY. That's something to be proud of, man, you're a rarity.
BEN. getting worked up, I try to tell her that I love her, but she fucks other guys.
JOHNNY. I'm sure it's got nothing to do with you, man. It's on her.
BEN. getting more worked up, No, it's me. But not after this. She's going to love me.
Silence. Awkward. Then, JOHNNY's cell-phone rings.
JOHNNY. Ah, shit. Give me a second.
JOHNNY lets off the foot pedal, buzzing stops. Rushing, he puts the needle down. Takes his gloves off, and grabs his cell-phone out of his pocket. Checks the number.
JOHNNY puts his phone back.
JOHNNY. Fucking telemarketers, man. They've got my cell now.
BEN stares. JOHNNY gets his gloves back on, buzzing going, and starts tattooing again.
JOHNNY. What'd you say her name was? Your girl?
BEN. Cassie. But I call her Cass.
JOHNNY. She got a daddy? laughs. Last name, man?
JOHNNY. You don't say? Name rings a bell.
JOHNNY. Yeah, might've seen her around. Has she come in here to get ink, do you know?
BEN. No, she doesn't have tattoos. I don't think she knows this place exists.
JOHNNY. Yeah. Well, shit, who knows, then. Thought I might've tattooed her. Guess not.
JOHNNY. Yeah, man.
JOHNNY's cell-phone rings again. He doesn't flinch, doesn't pick it up, let's it ring.
JOHNNY. Almost done here, bro. How you holding up?
BEN. It's fine. It's worth it.
JOHNNY. For sure, man. She'll love it.
BEN. I hope so. I really do love her.
JOHNNY. You do. You've got balls, man. I mean, I love Shelly too, you know? But something's just stopping me from putting it on my body. Cause, you know, shit happens, man. Like, I'll get her name on my forehead, she'll suck off some other dude, and fuck, I'm stuck with Shelly on my skin for the rest of my life.
BEN. Yeah, I guess so.
JOHNNY. I mean, I could tell everyone it's my dead dog, right? laughs. Shelly. My dog. My old dog. Dead. People love their dogs that much, right? That would work.
BEN. Yeah, that would work.
JOHNNY. I hope everything works out for you and Cass, man. I really do.
BEN. Me too.
JOHNNY lets off the foot pedal one last time, the buzzing stops. He takes his gloves off, and stretches.
JOHNNY. Alright, shit, man. Looks great. Take a look.
BEN gets up slow, sore, and stands in front of the mirror. He reads the words on his chest aloud, more to himself than to JOHNNY.
BEN. "I need you, like water in my lungs."
JOHNNY. Fuck yeah, man. What do you think?
BEN. It's perfect. I love it.
JOHNNY. I do too, if I do say so myself.
JOHNNY's phone starts ringing again. He takes it out, looks at it nervously, and silences it. BEN slowly slips his shirt back on over his aching chest.
BEN. How much do I owe?
JOHNNY. Shit man, forget about it. It's on me.
BEN. No, really, how much?
JOHNNY. Dude, house tattoo. It took no time at all.
BEN. Are you sure?
JOHNNY. For sure, man.
BEN. That's really nice of you. I really appreciate it.
JOHNNY. Dude, it's no big. You're a cool kid.
BEN. Thanks. Do you think she'll like it?
JOHNNY. Oh, man, laughs, she'll love it.
JOHNNY. Alright, man, it's been real. I've gotta make a call, and got that appointment coming in.
JOHNNY and BEN shake hands.
BEN. Thanks a lot, I really mean it.
JOHNNY. Dude, you're welcome. I'll see you around
BEN. See ya. starts to walk away
JOHNNY. Later, man.
EXIT BEN. JOHNNY stands there, anxious, waiting to hear BEN's car pull out.
JOHNNY. to himself, Shit, man. Weird.
He takes out his phone again, and dials.
JOHNNY. Hey Cass. -- Yeah, sorry. -- No, I was tattooing. -- Yeah. -- Yeah. -- No, I'm fine. -- Just something weird. -- I'll tell you about it in a bit. -- Yeah, I'll come by in a little. Just got to wrap up shop. -- No, no more appointments today. -- Yeah, that's it. -- Alright, babe. -- Yeah, I love you too, Cass. Bye.
JOHNNY hangs up phone. Starts putting everything away. Lights down.