I'm one of those people that always does a run-through. Draw the tat you want and live with it for a while, see how you like it. I inked this one with a Sharpie just last week, way shorter than I've left the others, but I'm getting more sure of them as they get done. It gets easier to accept that all that skin is mine and just waiting to be filled.
This one, my monogram going down the left ankle, seemed so right -- I thought the Achilles' Heel would be a good place for it. Right calf, right and left shoulder blades, now the heel, and I'll have the design for his sleeve done soon. When Del's finished, he taps Bobby's calf and says he's going to clean up and he'll be a few minutes, which is B.S., but Del's good like that. He may not know exactly what this is, but he knows we could use a little peace.
I ruffle Bobby's hair, ask if he's okay. He's still breathing a little heavy. He just pulls my hand down and turns it over to kiss the palm then smiles, bless him. "This one hurt worse than the other ones," he says, and he's holding my hand between his, staring at it. "Thank you." He thanks me every time, and not because I'm paying. "Beth, I--"
"I know you do, honey," I tell him, and push my hand over his mouth for him to kiss again.
Sometimes, stories linger for me. Gratitude was one of those. I loved this entry to my tattoo contest because I could see the characters. Truly, I felt as if I were sitting up on the counter at the tattoo parlor, watching this little tiny sliver of their life. I'd love to read a whole book about them. Follow them home. Peer into their medicine cabinets and refrigerator. Check their closet to see if they have Docs or Fluevogs.
The writer, K. Dex Gabriel—and is that not a hot fucking name, or what?—graciously agreed to stop by for tea. I mean tequila. (It starts with a "t.")
Alison Tyler: Do you need a certain mindset or tools or other to enable you to get into your writing, and if so, what?
Dex: You mean other than a swift kick in the pants? That's the biggest thing. I procrastinate like a pro, so the thing I always need most is something that keeps me writing. I tend to write better longhand than at a computer as a result – less distraction (I love the internet, but sometimes it is nothing but trouble). Write Or Die has actually proved pretty useful for this.
Alison Tyler: Do you have a writing ritual or routine? Do you need quiet or noise? Can you work at a café, or do you have an office? Are there ways you like to warm up?
Dex: You know, I've tried to do the routine thing. It's helped a little, but not as much as it seems like it should. Music without words is good, music with words is bad (I sing along and stop writing), noise is fine as long as it's indistinct. A cafe where I hear things but don't really pay attention to them is fine, but someone sitting next to me having a conversation or something is no good. I don't really do warm ups at all, as I would think of them. I tend, I guess, to babble a bit in the beginning just to get words coming out – they're unformed, but they're ideas, and they frequently can be reshaped into something productive.
Alison Tyler: What's your favorite season?
Dex: They all have their merits, and their differences are what really makes them (would Spring be so nice if you hadn't just had to slush through the end of Winter?) but Autumn is the clear winner here. I love the weather and the leaves and the *smell*. I love the holidays, the food, the coziness that comes with it.
Alison Tyler: Do you hang out with other writers for inspiration and critical feedback or do you self appraise?
Dex: I don't hang out with other writers particularly. It's not something I've known how to start doing, I suppose. I'm not the most sociable of people at the best of times (I have a few friends who give me introvert hugs, standing back a few feet and patting the air), and introducing myself to strangers (whether they're flesh and blood or pixels and bytes) is not the best of times. Letting alone trying to elicit help from them. I would love to be able to, it's just not something that's happened.
Alison Tyler: Describe your ideal lover.
Dex: My aesthetic, gender and power preferences are wide and varied and I'm a notoriously indecisive person, so this is a really difficult question if I think about it too hard.
Generosity, patience and creativity I would say are the biggest keys. As long as they have those three things, they can be taught just about everything else. Oh, and they have to be kinky. They don't have to know they are, but the spark has got to be there in some form or fashion.
Alison Tyler: Describe your ideal meal.
Dex: Mmm, food. The first love of my life. Indecision strikes again! I don't like playing favorites. I'm the person the server has to come back to three times because I still don't know what I want. Good mussels steamed in white wine and herbs, with a loaf of French bread is definitely up there. A granny smith apple sliced thin, then you take two slices, dip one in honey, and spread it over both of them (the right honey to apple ratio is key, and it's the only way I've found to manage it). Prime rib with horseradish, medium rare. I'll stop now.
My ideal meal at the moment is because I'm about to go make it: crepes with amaretto cream cheese and strawberries. Ask me again tomorrow and you'll get a different answer.
Alison Tyler: What was your inspiration for “Gratitude”?
Dex: Power dynamics are hot. I like them subtle, and I like them subverting the way people normally see or imagine them. I'd poked around at a couple different ideas and didn't like them, but I got stuck on this concept of a big, badass looking guy covered in tattoos, who mostly only has them because his girl tells him to. There is an enormous depth of control there that is fascinating and incredibly hot to me, because it went beyond controlling his body to changing the perceptions other people would have about him, to his professional life, his family, the entirety of his life. There was a lot of thought behind it that didn't make it the 250 words.
Alison Tyler: What color are your sheets? And are you going to send me a picture of your bed?
Dex: Given the choice, they're either white-on-white houndstooth with blue trim, or blue (I also own brown. Exciting color palette, I know). the important thing is that they're high quality cotton. And I will indeed send you a picture or two. As soon as I have my crepes.
Alison Tyler: Thanks so much for stopping by!
Dex: Thank you for the opportunity. And if I may ask a question of my own, you said you ask questions of writers when the story particularly interested you even if they weren't a contest winner -- what was it about Gratitude that caught you?
Alison Tyler: Ha! You're probing me back! I'll steal your own words right from your mouth— power dynamics are hot. But also, you drew me in. I felt as if I knew your characters intimately. In 250 words that's not a small feat.
Pictures of Dex's bed will show up on the Boudoir Blog shortly.... If you want a chance to be interviewed by me, be sure to enter my contests.