The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 8

“Dear Sovereign God of the Universe, I pray for courage and wisdom to carry out your plan. Thank you, dear Lord, for choosing me for your service. Just as you knew Jeremiah even before you formed him in the womb, you knew me, dear God. You set me apart, as well. I am deeply grateful, and will do whatever I am called to do., Please empower me. in Jesus name, AMEN!” I prayed, wholeheartedly. Sitting on a bench where Orion and Rigel used to sit right next to me, or on my lap. They were not here in body, but I can feel their spirit.

It had been two months since my confrontation with the bully, Justin Wells. Every day I come to the pier to pray and meditate. Physically, I am transforming. Marvelous changes, body and soul, since the Orion Constellation was inked upon my back. A ravenous avidity for eating and a rigorous exercise routine is helping muscle cover bones. Mama Kate would be so proud. Still not sure what any future assignments will require. All I can do is pray, and pray often. This is God readying me to be commissioned.

Tonight Auggie is bringing Reb to stay awhile. He’s going to Tennessee for a visit with his mother, Maybel, and sister, Jean. Miss Maybel’s health has been on a steady decline following Mama Kate’s death.

Reb is a mutt, a black lab mix. He is a very large boy. A big ole baby when he has a vet check. Auggie always asks me along to help hold him still, and keep him calm. Reb listens to me. He is almost ten now. I used to beg Mama Kate to ask Auggie to give him to me. Truth be known, that was his plan all along.

When Auggie first brought Reb over, I was eight years old. Our dog, Queenie, had passed away only six months before. She had been my Mama’s dog. When Mama Kate inherited me, she got Queenie, too. She was a German Shepard. Mama Kate said Queenie grieved for days after Ruth died.

Auggie brought me home from the hospital. As he placed me in my crib, Queenie was sniffing and jumping to get a peek of me. She lay down beside my crib and didn’t budge. She knew I belonged to Ruth. I was her new charge. We were inseparable up until she died. My world came falling down. Queenie was my best friend. As bad as I took this, I know it was much harder on Mama Kate. When Auggie came along with Reb, she said she didn’t have it in her to raise a puppy. Although, we knew Queenie’s death had taken an enormous portion of her heart.

Since my calling, people were seen as color wheels. If I made eye contact, I could get a picture of their color wheel. It would even send positive or negative vibrations that I felt to the core of my soul. Everyone’s colors vary. Some very bright with very little drearily dull tones. Others, not quite as vivid, with drab tones intermittently mingled. The bully, Justin Wells, had a color wheel with pleasing colors that were lackluster. Contrasted by the most soul-chilling dimness imagined. Would I ever get a glimpse of the Thacker twin’s color chart? Am I being used to promote kindness, thus brightening the color wheels of those within my scope? So very much to absorb! Nevertheless, I was feeling stronger every day. Stronger in mind, body, and spirit. I’m up to the task!

I set out on my evening walk, Reb, dog trotting alongside. The city square was only a mile and a half from my house. Normally, I walk to the square, loop around, and walk home. As Reb and I approached the south side of the square, I began to receive vibes I can only describe as highly malevolent. Reb instigated a growl, although soft, a guteral grumble.

Reb hopped on the bench at the corner, still snarling. I sat down and began to pray.

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The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 7

My tattoo from the sketch I drew this afternoon and the one planned for me were the same.  Exactly the same.  The Orion Constellation.  Inspired by Orion and Rigel, my dear pet cranes.  Now, I knew they were more than just pets.  They were really angels in the form of long-legged, long-necked birds, sent from heaven to prepare me for this role.   So many years of joy on that pier, feeding those cranes!  When I was on that dock with those birds, I felt a sense of well being.  Mama Kate always told me to be kind. there are angels among us.

As I lay face down on the table, Z began to fill my skin with the most magical ink. The pain had never felt so right.  I know it is only a symbol of what is happening to me right now.  But with it, I am strengthened and empowered.  If not for Orion and Rigel, I might not have been chosen.

I was on that table for only two hours.  I raised from the table and was given a mirror to admire the divinely inspired artwork.  It was absolutely flawless.  Upon leaving, Z told me I would affect many lives with that tattoo.  Mulling around in my head was the magnitude of it all.  Would I be able to handle being used by God for a specific purpose?  Would I know what to do?  These answers would come to me.  And I was ready for the call.

Driving home, I realized there was no mention of money.  I had not paid or been asked to pay.  Oh well, I would go back tomorrow and talk to Z.  I wanted to pick his brain as well. There had to be a reason he knew about the Orion Constellation.  But now, I need to sleep.

Waking up to birds chirping, and sun radiating through my window.  I dressed, grabbed a couple of oatmeal cookies, a cup of coffee, and headed out to Z’s.  When I arrived, I parked in the same spot as the night before.  As I headed down the alley, it seemed different somehow.  When I got to the door, there was no sign saying, “Zhau Llu’s Ink”.  In fact, there was no trace whatsoever of a tattoo parlor.  Nothing!  It disappeared without a trace!  This was falling into place.  Rather than being alarmed.  I just knew. I was going to be alright.  Peace was with me.  Knowledge was being sent.  I’ve never been more ready for this.  Life had a purpose.

Wondering if I would be used right away, or if I had more to learn was answered almost immediately.  Pulling into the main street, I noticed two young boys being followed by an older boy.  I pulled into a parking spot.  As they walked past me,  A sensation came over me. I felt fear, the fear I had when the Thacker boys were after me.  I was channeling the fear felt by the boys walking in front of my parking spot.  Then as the bigger boy walked past, I felt a feeling of sadness, mixed with darkness.  A feeling I had never felt before.  I knew at once the younger boys were scared of the older boy.

Getting out of my car, I called out to the older boy.  Sensing I knew what he had planned, he turned and ran across the street.  Barely missing being hit by a truck.  I yelled out again and the boy turned to look at me.  “Hey fella, I just want to talk.”  He turned and started walking toward me.  Relieved I didn’t have to chase him down, I motioned for him to sit on the bench beside me.  I was going to get his story.  I would make sure he never bullied anyone.

As he sat next to me, I  said, “Hey buddy, why did you run from me?”  He just shrugged his shoulders.  I asked him if he knew the boys walking ahead of him.  He, again, just shrugged his shoulders.  What he didn’t know, was that I knew.  I knew what he was going to do to those boys.  It was much worse than anything that the Thackers had ever done to me.  His evil vibrations were easy to read.  If someone’s character was a color wheel, with bright colors depicting good, and dull drab colors depicting evil, his color wheel would be predominantly dull and drab.

What’s your name, boy? I said.  He started to shrug his shoulders but met my stare. Hoping he could tell I was reading his soul, I leaned forward.  He stuttered, “My nah nah nah name is Juh Juh Justin Weh Weh Weh Wells.”  “So, Justin Wells, what would you say if I told you I knew what you have been doing to those boys, and others?’  I asked. He stared at me, eyes wide.  “Justin, you have a story, I’m sure. Is your home life bad?  Are you being mistreated?”  I asked.  He looked down, then said, “My dad ye ye yells and beats mmm mmm me.  um, uh uh uh li li li live with mmm mmm my mom.”

At that point, I was seeing more light from his color wheel.  He was a victim turned bully.  Maybe he could be saved.  I told him I was going to be watching.  He was visibly shaken by our encounter. Probably divine intervention.  He got up and walked away as I sat there wondering if I had passed the first test.

When I got home, I saw Auggie’s car in the drive.  This time he had pulled into his normal parking spot.  As I came in the door, I smelled chicken, when I rounded the corner, I saw Auggie sitting at the table with a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The one thing Mama Kate never had to beg me to eat.  He said, “Dig in, my boy.”

We talked about Mama Kate, his dog Reb, the weather, and how dang good that chicken tasted. Then I got up, took my shirt off.  Turned to display the magical tat, against my reddened skin.  I couldn’t see his expression, but there was a barely audible gasp.  Then he said, “My boy, when did you get that?”

We went out on the porch where I told Auggie the whole story.  If I could trust anyone with all this, it was Auggie.  Afterward, he didn’t say much.  We stood, as he was about to leave.  He stepped toward me,  to give one of his characteristic bear hugs, and I stepped back. “The tattoo!” I said.  Then shook his hand. He grinned and turned to go.

Thinking about something Mama Kate always said after the Thacker boys pushed me around, “Makes me angry, Pehr, but anger isn’t Godly either.  Jesus would say turn the other cheek. But those boys get right up under my skin!”

It was time for me to meditate on my newfound fate.  God, the universal sovereign, would make it clear.

 

The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 6

Lonny and I were friends since fifth grade. He moved here from Alaska. We had science together and quickly discovered our mutual love of astronomy. He didn’t live within walking distance to my house. However, Mama Kate was always available to drive him to our house and back during our breaks from school. Actually, he and I shared a Thacker Boys bullying episode when we were thirteen. His father was absolutely furious, although we only had a few minor scratches. That night I prayed he wouldn’t call their father. To my knowledge, he never did. I’m sure Lonny had something to do with that.

He and I are opposites. He is husky and about five feet seven. His weight has been an issue all his life. A lack of weight has been my problem. His pimpled complexion over the years had left him pockmarked. His mother always cut his hair, one side noticeably shorter than the other. But Lonny has a heart of gold. He never has a spiteful tongue towards anyone.

Entering high school with my thick glasses was not an option. After much pleading with Mama Kate, she agreed to let me get contact lenses. My eyes had improved over the years and my glasses were not as thick as they once were. Switching to contacts improved my looks quite a bit. Mama Kate said, “Your blue-green eyes are smiling Pehr! Pure sunshine to my soul!” She had such a sweet spirit. The kindest woman I’ve ever known.
When I turned seventeen, I finally hit a growth spurt. Mama Kate said, “Sweet boy, you are going to be as tall as your great great granddaddy before this year is up!” I was growing up, but not gaining weight. I had never known my great granddaddy. but I loved him. Mama Kates stories brought him to life. I felt a connection with him.

Aside from the Thackers, most people liked me and loved Mama Kate. It was evident at Mama Kate’s funeral. There was standing room only at the chapel by the bay. She left enough money to last my lifetime. I was rich, however, because of the friends I’d made in Fairston. Lonny, especially. He was by my side through it all. I knew he was saddened by her death, as well, but he was stoic for my sake.

That sad day I came home from running errands, Auggie’s pick up truck was parked askew with the driver’s side door wide open. Curious, and honestly, a little worried, I parked behind his truck. Hurrying in, I heard sobs, and my worry became full blown. I ran through the kitchen, rounded the corner towards her reading room. There I saw Auggie sitting on the floor in front of the couch. Face in hands, sobbing. I startled him when I frantically said, “What is going on?” He stood up and walked over to me, wrapped my small frame with his arms and said softly, “She’s with the Angels, my boy.”

Squirming out of his arms, I ran over to her side and said, “Mama Kate, Mama Kate please wake up! You just gotta wake up!” I laid my head on her sweet chest and matched Auggie tear for tear. “Why Lord? Why now?”

We gathered our composure after a while. Auggie called the funeral home. We sat there together for hours after they drove away with our entire life in that Hearst. We told stories and cried. Finally, around midnight, Auggie went home. He tried to talk me into going to the houseboat. He thought I’d feel so alone here. But I slept on the couch that night sensing her spirit.

As I stood there, spellbound. Z’s drawing brought on a premonition. I was not going to be the same when I left this studio. My life would be different, yet sublime. To be used greatly by the Lord, to transform lives. In a flash before my eyes, I was transformed. The days of being pushed around were over. Mama Kate always taught me there is an extraordinary power available to believers of God. It comes by the spirit. Enlightened, and filled with knowledge and wisdom, from the spirit. Serenity and peace inhabited my soul.

The Magical Tat of Pehr: Chapter 5

The tattoo parlor was in an ally off Tenth street in downtown Mobile. As I parked on the street, I witnessed a possible drug deal going down. The street lights were out except for the one flickering on the corner. As I exited the car, I was taken aback by the strong odor of garbage, and urine. Suffice it to say, I was not in the best part of town. However, I was not afraid. A peace came over my entire body when walking that dark ally. At this point, I couldn’t explain what was happening. But, it was a pleasant change from the tormenting sorrow of the last few days.

I came to the door of the tattoo shop. Hesitated briefly, then opened the door. The smell of incense penetrated every inch of the reception area. It faded as I was led down a hallway by his apprentice. She knew my name, and greeted me as I walked in. She said, ” Mr. Pehr, please follow. I am Chen Li. I will take you to Z.” She took my hand and walked me to the end of the hall and knocked on the door to the right. As Zhau Liu opened the door, the lighting projected an aura around him. This whole experience was beginning to feel bizarre. He introduced himself and asked me to please call him Z.

There was a hypnotic ambiance to this room. An array of posters on the wall, spiral and fluorescent designs set against a black background. A faint smell of incense and classical Chinese music gently spilling from a small speaker hanging in the corner. Z asked if I had a certain design in mind. I’ll have to admit, I was a bit intimidated after seeing the beautiful artwork in the studio. Z was quite an accomplished artist. Certainly more experienced and talented. But, Mama Kate taught me to always appear confident, even when my insides were like jello. So I handed him the sketch I had drawn.

He took my art, without looking he set in on the table beside me, face down. Then disappeared into what appeared to be a closet. When he emerged, he smiled, then passed to me, a piece of sketch paper folded in half. He said, “When you called, I knew exactly what was meant for you. My drawing, It is what is planned for you.” Please open. Not knowing what was on that paper, I had already decided to accept. A calmness washed over me

Her wake was only one day. She planned her funeral years ago. She had it all taken care of down to the songs and scriptures. She made it clear, she wanted to be in the ground as soon as possible after her death. “There is no need to drag it out,” she said, “The living need to get on with living!”

Plans were taken care of so that only left me with trying to muster the courage to view the body and greet people at the wake and funeral. This was still so overwhelming. Turned out to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life!

Auggie discovered Mama Kate. When she didn’t answer the telephone, he was alarmed. He tried calling me, but I had the music up, too, loud. He drove over, got out, leaving the door open on his truck. He used his set of keys to open the back door after knocking and ringing the doorbell. He called her name upon entering. As he walked down the hall, he entered her reading room. He saw her there sleeping on the couch, her pink shawl covering her up to her neck. She looked at peace, without a care in the world. He called her name. Knelt down and shook her gently. Her chest wasn’t moving. He checked her pulse, then began to weep.

That day was sunny, and pleasant for a summer day in Fairston. A gentle breeze was blowing the moss in the trees. I was in my newly acquired studio, painting the pussy willow tree in our back yard, with the row of birdhouses Mama Kate had collected over the years.

Taking a break, I decided to sit with Mama Kate for awhile in her reading room. She sat with me sipping her tea as I drank a coke. We talked about the Thacker boys. She said she was so happy that we didn’t have to worry about them. I reminded her they would probably come back to Fairston during their breaks from College. But I assured her I was not afraid. It wasn’t as if I lost sleep worrying about them. It had been almost two years since they ganged up on me. It was the end of August, and I was fishing on the pier. My mind was on Orion and Rigel. It had been two or three days since I last saw them. The twins stormed the deck of the pier, grabbed me by the leg and arms, one on each side. Then tossed me, and my rod and reel over the decking. As I splashed in the water, I managed to save my reel. But climbing up that slippery, barnacle-laden post was a challenge. Eventually, I was able to grasp a plank on the floor of the pier and pull myself to the deck. As I sat, trying to catch my breath, I heard Cam and Devin laughing like hyenas in the distance. At that moment, I was determined to teach them a lesson. All those years of bullying were going to catch up to them! Little did I know, at that time, what an indefectible plan was conceived for them!

Placing her dainty teacup on the end table, she picked up a flowered paper pad and tore out a page. She said, “Pehr, I don’t want to interfere with your art plans, but I really need you to run these errands for me.” I put an arm around her frail shoulders, and said, “Yes, ma’am. You know you can count on me.” In hindsight, I wish I had sat there longer with my arm around her. She smiled at me with a lifetime of love in her eyes. She loved me completely. It made me wonder if my biological mom, Ruth, would have ever measured up to this wonderful woman.

She always prepared enough food, just in case Auggie dropped by. She had hoped I would finally fill out. Many times I heard her say, ” You’re so skinny, you can’t see your shadow! Sweet boy, please eat.” I actually gained some weight in my junior year of high school. Some girls were starting to flirt with me. But I would not find love, not at that point in my life

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.