“So,” John sat up straighter in his seat and turned to face the young woman to confirm he was talking to her. “You like the number 42 huh?” he asked. He nodded at the skull tattoo on her right arm; it was a pink and yellow sugar skull with the number 42 in gold numbers on its forehead.
“Enough to get it tattooed on me,” she replied plainly, then refocused her attention in another direction. John immediately felt like an idiot. It was an unexpected feeling after the day he’d had.
Up until that moment, he did not think he could feel any dumber. That morning John woke up late and felt dumb for not double-checking his alarm the night before. While rushing through his shower he did not close the curtain all the way and felt dumb for soaking his only clean suit. Because he was running late already he did not have time to dry it and instead wore his ‘nicest’ jeans with a white Polo shirt.
Once John arrived at work, he felt dumb for forgetting about why he planned to wear a suit on casual Friday. He needed to deliver an important presentation in front of the company’s owner. He also felt like it was a mistake to prepare the night before; the USB drive with the presentation on it was in the pocket of the coat he didn’t wear.
Now, John was riding the bus home mid-day. He was fired and going home to his small, lonely apartment that he could not afford to keep next month. The only open seat on the bus was next to the most beautiful woman John had ever seen. She had shoulder-length curly violet hair and wore a golden tank-top with purple jeans. He noticed her tattoo as he sat down and his mind latched onto the number.
“It’s probably her favorite number,” he thought. It seemed like an easy enough conversation starter. When he got on the bus he felt like he had nothing to live for. As he imagined the countless ways she could rebuff him he realized none of them could make his day worse; but, his day did have a chance of improving. He wanted conversation about the number to lead to more conversation. In his mind, he assumed the best way to do that was to ask her a question about it. When he opened his mouth all she heard was a stupid question about whether she was fond of the number she allowed to be imprinted on her skin permanently.
“Is it your favorite?” he asked as a last-ditch effort. “45’s my favorite number,” he added. She half nodded as a response to the first question as she was standing up to get off at the next stop. When John added his own favorite number she stopped and looked at him. Her eyes looked like flawless amethysts and they sparkled when she smiled suddenly.
“Really?” she asked. “You got that on a tattoo?” John shook his head vigorously. He did not want to discuss his fear of needles in such a public space.
“On or off?!” The bus driver yelled.
“Off!” the woman yelled back at him, then she reached forward and grabbed John’s hand. “C’mon.” John thought about hesitating but the woman was much stronger than she looked. She practically dragged him down the aisle and off the bus. She continued pulling him along down the sidewalk, but she turned to talk to him.
“I hope you didn’t have any other plans, you’re getting a tattoo today,” she said. John stopped walking; he planted his feet and stood firm. She pulled him forward anyway as if she hadn’t noticed he was trying to stop.
“No plans,” John said. “No job. No money for a home, much less a tattoo,” he said. She stopped pulling him and turned to look at him through softer eyes.
“Really?” she asked. John nodded, and her smile grew broader. She stepped back while still holding his hand and moved their hands up and down like a handshake. “I’m Majesty, what’s your name?”
“John,” he said. Majesty smiled.
“Don’t worry about a thing, John. Around here, Uniques take care of each other. Mundo will do the tattoo for free, then we’ll get you set up comfortably.” She started walking again without pulling him along; he followed her willingly. “It’s a really good thing you were on that bus,” she said.