The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 4

Auggie and I left the graveside and began walking the gravel path to our car. The day was perfect, weather-wise. Mama Kate loved living on the coast. From the time I was small, not a beautiful day wasted. She never let me sit inside on a nice day. She’d say, Come on outside, Pehr! This is a day sent from God in heaven.” How grateful we were to bury her on such a lovely day. I’m not sure I would have survived this on a rainy day.

My mind was racing in panic mode as we got closer to our car. No one could love as sincerely as Mama Kate! I was the kind of love that would stick to you. She is really gone! Such a hollow feeling. So surreal. I blurted out, “What are we going to do, Auggie?” He said nothing. He draped his arm across my shoulder and squeezed my arm., fighting tears. Somehow, we just had to do this. But how?

Just a week ago, she and Auggie attended my graduation. She was so pretty that day., beaming with pride. She wore her sapphire blue dress that made her eyes sparkle. The same dress she wore the day I painted her portrait. Auggie and Mama Kate were amazed at how my painting bore her likeness. Though, I felt I had not captured her spirit. Auggie had painted my great granddaddy’s portrait for her 75th birthday. It hangs over the mantle across from my portrait of Mama Kate.

I graduated with high honors, yet refused to apply for college. It didn’t seem right to leave when she needed me the most. During my high school years, her health began to decline significantly. Knowing she didn’t have a lot of time left, I didn’t want to be away when something happened. After all her sacrifices for me, I owed her this!

She loved God, family, and friends with all her might. She not only knew how to be kind, she knew how to show it to everyone she met. She knew it’s effect and was the sweetest person anyone had ever met.

Once, when I was around six, I asked her, “How can God be everywhere all at once?” Always eager to share anything about God with me, she said, “Sweet boy, God is a spirit. He is everywhere!Pehr, you have the holy spirit inside! It is in all of us! He made us in his image. He’s over all the Universe!.” She could see the wheels turning in my little head. I asked, “Wouldn’t he look like a person if he made us in his image?” She smiled and replied, ” A lot of people think of him as an old grey-bearded man. But being made in his image means we all have a little bit of God in us. It’s pure love, Pehr! It is a big responsibility. We need to make sure our choices line up with the God in us.”

Art was my passion. Auggie had stoked this desire all my life. He and Mama Kate had surprised me by transforming our sunroom into an art studio. A graduation gift that was perfect.

Arriving home, I was overcome with grief. I wept deeply and extensively. When the tears would not come, I showered and dressed in my most comfortable sweats. Wishing I was old enough to purchase alcohol, anything to numb the pain. Then, hearing Mama Kate’s voice in my head, “Don’t follow the crowd, son. Drinking will only lead to no good.”

I grabbed a coke out of the fridge and went to my new art studio. I sat and began to draw on my sketch pad. For about an hour I was so absorbed and completely at peace. Usually, I am such a perfectionist with my work, I go through several sketches before I am satisfied. But this time it was like I was inspired. My hands were steady. Every mark perfect. Finishing up, I held it at arms length to admire. This is it, I thought. This is the one.

Around dusk, another wave of depression brought tears. I was ugly crying. I screamed out, “Why! Why now, God?” No way to dam the tears, I got up and reached for the car keys. For the two years, I had my driver’s license, I have driven Mama Kate’s 1985 Chevy Impala. Although over thirty years old, It only had 52,00 miles on the odometer. It was kept in our shed out back, and in mint condition. Except for the small scrape on the passenger side door from the time I sideswiped the side of the shed. She knew I had done something when she saw my face as I came in the back door. She loved that car! I hated to tell her I’d been careless. But she just wrapped her arms around me and said, “It’s alright, sweet boy. You’ve learned a lesson.”

Sitting in the Chevy, I wiped away my tears on my sleeve. Took out my phone and hit up Google for an address. The first thing that popped up caught my eye. An easy choice for me. The only Chinese tattoo artist listed. Zhau Llu’s Ink. He said for me to come in right away. Thinking this was amazing luck, I would soon know it was divine providence.


The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 3

After running my fingers through my hair to rake out the dirt.  I went into the house.  I could hear Mama Kate ranting, as I checked the condition of my glasses.  it took a while to find them as they flew off my face when I was thrown in that dang bush!  They were slightly bent, but fixable.

When the harassment first began, I tried to protect myself.  But clearly, the fight was unfair.  Two against one, and even if it was just one of those guys, against me, it would be lopsided.  For almost a decade,  I prayed for a way to change the evil twins.  Were they so miserable with their own lives, they turned into pathetic oppressors?  What was their story?  For some reason, deep down, I had to know why they picked on me.  My desire was not revenge. Perhaps I’m in search of a sincere apology.   God will answer my prayers. My faith is unwavering.  My motive is pure.

My glasses were easy to bend into something wearable.  I heard Mama Kate hollering for me to come to supper.  She always made a big deal out of eating together and blessing our food.

On the weekends Auggie joined us.  He is the oldest son of Mama Kate’s best friend, Maybel Cooper.  She lived in Fairston a few miles inland until I was twelve or so.  Then she moved to Tennessee to live with her daughter, Jean.

Auggie, Augustus Cooper, lives on a houseboat, christened after his late wife, Darcy.  He became a widower when he was in his twenties.  They never had children.  They were married only five years when she succumbed to cancer.  To me, he has always been a father figure.  From his houseboat deck, he taught me how to fish when I was six.  When I was ten, he dubbed me first mate, and we floated the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  We made this voyage every summer after that.  He is an artist and loves fueling my interest in Art.  It is his passion, and now mine.

Tonight it was grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade chicken noodle soup. Served with a big glass of sweet iced tea!   As I sat across from Mama Kate, she asked me to bow my head, then she prayed her sassy prayer, “Dear Lord, Why must this continue to happen to Pehr?  What is your plan, dear Lord?  Please forgive my hateful heart, because you know I want to hurt them!  They have to stop torturing my boy!    Lord, you know,  I just want these hooligans to leave him alone!   Make me understand, Oh Lord!  Bless this food, Lord.  May it add meat and muscle to his bones. Thank you, Lord,, Amen.”

Comfort food, it was.  Mama Kate didn’t have an ounce of hate in her soul.  She was only worried about me.  Life seemed good, after that meal.  In spite of my stinging shoulder blades and hurt ego.

The day I got my one and only tattoo, I knew everything was going to be just fine.  A feeling of serenity and peace filled my soul.  Totally empowered by God.  The God of all the Universe.  His plan is perfectly perspicuous.  Still, there was so much more to learn.















The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 2

Slowly, I raised myself from the wisteria.  Propping briefly on my boney elbows.  I stood to assess the damage.  As usual, just a few abrasions on my back, but my self-esteem had taken a huge hit, again.

Mama Kate squirted the dirt off my back with the hose pipe, then attended my wounds.  All the while, fussing about those mean ole Thacker boys!  She was determined to fill their hyde with buckshot if she ever caught them.  But I knew she didn’t mean that.  It was very difficult to see me bullied that way. She begged my permission to call the Sargeant.  But I pleaded with her not to do that.  I have to learn how to deal with them on my own.

It became easier to fool the bullies as I grew older.  But eventually,  I let my guard down. Thackers, Cam and Devin, were fraternal twins.  Cam,  with orange-red hair, light complexion, and countless tiny freckles. Devin, hair as black as soot, and skin with a golden tone. Their build was identical.  Compact and burly.  Practically athletes straight out of the womb!

Their father, Gunnery Sergeant Max Thacker, was an instructor at Fort Union Military Academy in Virginia.  The boys, along with their daddy, packed up to move from Fairston every September.  Returning early June to spend summers there.

Fairston is a quaint little coastal town.  Located among the scenic cliffs and shorelines of Mobile Bay.

Thackers were old money.  The family mansion on fifteen acres with access to the coast.  Left to their dad by his Aunt Bess Thacker.  Bess was an old maid.  His father’s only sister, a renown author.

My great, great granddaddy, Pehr moved to Fairston the year Mama Kate was born.  He built the house with the sweat of his brow.  A quite modest house on coveted coastal land.  Hurricane Frederick came close to wiping it out in 1979.  But the foundation endured and was built upon and expanded.  When Mama Kate passed, the house and everything else she owned was left to me. A beautiful white house with wrap around porches.  A long gravel drive nestled between a huge stand of mossy oaks.  One of the oaks stretched over the sidewalk and seemed to longingly reach for the sea. About a block from our walkway, the city pier spans into the gulf.

Many afternoons were spent there fishing, just to feed the cranes.  Two cranes that had gotten very used to my being there.  They would eat the fish out of my hand.  Feeling comfortable with me, they would stand on my lap whenever I sat on the bench enjoying the gulf breeze.  I called them Orion and Rigel, from my fascination with astronomy.  Orion, a constellation on the celestial equator is visible throughout the world.  Orion’s brightest star, Rigel, is a blue supergiant with luminosity 100, 000 times brighter than the sun!

After Mama Kate died, I never saw them again. The evening of her death, I walked to the pier seeking solace.  They were not there.  Yet, after I was inked, I felt their presence in a most inexplicable and glorious way!

The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 1

Tossed on my back, again.  The Alabama sun seeping through the wisteria, burning my pasty white skin.  The scrapes on my back stinging from the dirt and rocks beneath.

This was the scenario of my life from late spring until school began in the fall.  It started from the time I was ten until my life changed in a most consequential way.

The Tucker twins knew I was an easy target. My last name is commonly the first name, My first name isn’t even a name!  Well, not a name anyone my age would have heard of. My middle name is the maiden name of her great granddaddy’s mama.  I was named after my great granddaddy, Pehr Dreyfus Lucas.  This was Mama Kate’s idea. It had meant so much to her to name me after him. She wanted to erase any connection to my biological father.  She had hoped this would instill pride in my heritage.

Mama Kate raised me. Her only child had died giving birth.  Her name was Ruth.  She was my mother.  She became pregnant after she was brutally raped.

“My faith was being tested.”  Mama Kate said about that time in her life.  Mourning the life of a child.  Trying to wrap her head around raising a grandchild at her advanced age. Could she love the offspring of the man who raped her daughter?  Could she accept this child completely, and love unconditionally?  When I was born all her worries vanished. She felt a little ashamed of her doubts.  It was love at first sight.

She tried her best to raise me to be courageous, like my namesake.  But I had so many strikes against me.  Besides my name, I was a string bean.  I wore glasses, coca-cola bottom thick.   I was the stereotypical nerd, minus the pocket protector.

Mama Kate signed me up for a new sport every spring from the time I was six.  She finally gave up when I was nine.

Protein powder in my milk.  Piles of food on my plate. Yet, my appetite was not obliging. She exposed me to a variety of foods.  A few bites are all I could ever get down.

She loved me so much.  She loved my tender heart. She knew I would not be scrawny forever.  She told me, time and again,  I was every bit as handsome as her granddaddy.  She knew it would take more than a couple spoiled rotten trust fund boys to ever break me!

She met her maker the day I turned eighteen.  The day she was laid asunder was the worst day of my life.  It would also be the day I would experience the most pivotal moment in my life.

(Thanks for reading chapter 1.  Please follow my blog.  Chapter 2 coming soon)