A tattoo comes to life.
|The Dragon On His Back
25 December 2004, Yokohama
A tall thin man, his hands submerged within the pockets of his trench coat, supports a voluptuous woman. She has her left arm entwined around his right and her head on his shoulder as they cross the bridge spanning the canal. This side of the canal the neon signs advertise in a subdued almost polite manner. The narrow streets are nearly silent, for every building is a love hotel. Soft lights at ground level guild the way along paths that narrow, forcing couples closer together, and cleverly placed bushes guard customers from prying eyes.
The man pulls the woman towards an entrance. She resists for a moment, embarrassed, then follows. Taking the few steps through the small garden, they enter past the dark sliding glass door. No voice, look, nor smile disturbs their anonymity. They stop in front of a vending machine with pictures of the available rooms and the prices. The woman chooses a room with a karaoke machine and walls of mirrors encircling a round bed. The man slips in the money. A key drops out: room 555. They take the elevator to their floor and step into their room.
They sing a few songs, shower together, and make love on the slowly rotating bed surrounded by mirrored walls. Later, as they lie in bed, the man asleep on his stomach, the woman on her side, she admires the colorful and intricate tattoo covering his back and thighs. In the foreground is a samurai in an orange and yellow kimono with a scroll in his hands. He has been disturbed while reading it. He is looking calmly over his shoulder at a green dragon. On the left is a naked woman next to a large mirror floating in air. She is on the ground, her left hand supporting her body and her right raised to protect herself.
The man’s lover traces the curve of the dragon’s body, she murmurs, “This is so gorgeous and eerie.” She scrutinizes the tattoo of the naked woman and concludes the woman is too skinny, a flaw. She stares at the mirror next to the woman and whispers, “The scroll? It’s written in the mirror!” She squints, and whispers the Chinese characters, “Awake, King of Dragons!”
Her finger continues meandering along the lines of the dragon until she becomes aware the tip is hot and slick. Then, she sees his back is glistening. She jerks her finger off his body, and shakes her head.
The building groans, walls tremble, curtains flutter, mirrors creak; she thinks it’s an earthquake, until a sulfuric fog rises from the floor. A shriek reverberates as it ricochets off the mirrors.
Emerging from the tattoo, a scaly form swirls upward steaming. The woman backs away unable to utter a word and falls off the bed, as the dragon, its forked tongue tasting the air, looms over her. Raising her arms, she sees herself terrified in its ruby eyes. Its talon gleam as a force encases the woman. She vanishes.
She unfolds in a two dimensional world. Kneeling with her legs to the left, her right hand on the ground, her torso twisted towards the samurai behind her, she extends her left arm, pleading for help. Towering over her, the dragon leers. Her motion lashed and mind gagged, she is powerless as the dragon unveils and adds to his treasure her soul.
The rays of the sun awake the man. He stands and stares into the mirrors. Pleasure transforms his face as his magnificent tattoo, altered and improved, is reflected endlessly.