The tattoo studio was like a beacon. Its pink neon glow spilled out onto the street and spread like water, bathing the surrounding blocks in soft light. At night, the studio stood out amongst the other closed shopfronts. I could even see it from my apartment. Every time I looked out my window, the tattoo studio was there, front and centre in my vision, almost like it was calling me, refusing to be ignored.
Most days I would close my curtains and fall back into bed. But tonight was different. I shrugged on a coat and stepped out into the cold winter air. I’d seen the flyers for the studio around, the loopy writing that said their staff included the best tattooist Brisbane had. I don’t usually pay much attention to flyers like that, since they are often just cheap and desperate attempts to entice customers into a store, but there was something different about the way the tattoo studio did it: I actually believed it.
The streets were quiet, and although I had never been to this part of town before, the light from the studio guided me all the way, casting my footsteps in a pale pink glow. It was hypnotising. I pulled the doors to the studio open and was immediately hit by the fresh smell of cleaning products and the warmth of the heater. I took my beanie off and looked around. The studio was larger than I thought it would be, a spacious square room divided into sections by reclining chairs and desks that held tools and ink.
A welcome stand that held a realism tattoo artist portfolio stood inches away from the entrance I had just walked through, but the room was otherwise empty. The studio had looked so inviting from my apartment. Even now, up close and personal, its warmth was undeniable. So where were all the people?