Spiders and Snakes
Author B H Branham ©2014
The second in a collection of short stories about the teenage years of Tsika and Glycerin. The two later grow up to make their way in the music business in the series “It Really IS Rocket Science”. When the Russian teenager Tsika first met Glycerin (the previous story “Even Longer”), the tall woman was a damaged soul who found it traumatic to interact with people. Tsika was damaged as well, battling episodes of psychotic rage. As “Spiders and Snakes” begins, the two have been friends for several years and bunk together in an international boarding school for students with psychiatric needs. Both have improved vastly, more through loyalty and love for each other than any official treatment.
Glycerin glared at her textbook, desperately trying to stay focused on the content. The lanky sixteen year old twitched dramatically as she sat curled up on the plush cushions on the sill of their dormitory room’s window. She grit her teeth while skimming the paragraphs of her political science reading assignment. Glycerin was not cold. She itched. So much itching. The maddening sensations looped from her collarbone down between her breasts and trailed off at her navel.
We thinks it quite possible this was not a blooming brilliant notion. Yes, yes, my dear playmate. I knows you are proud of it. It was done for you after all. But it itches! So much! Hush now. Hide in the shadows, love. I can hear the steps of our precious doll approaching in the hall.
The bang of the door being shoved open announced the arrival of her friend Tsika. Four years now her closest and dearest friend. The short waifish teen trotted into the quarters the two women shared, closed the door and slung her gym bag on her desk.
“Привет, мой мышь Glycerin! Haha! Damn! Am feeling fantastic today! This tiny crazy bitch defeated the school fencing instructor! Finally stopped hiding skills! Shocked the shit out of him!”
Glycerin continued twitching. “That’s lov-lovely my doll! You mustn’t m-make the man angry, perhaps lets him think he helped you, yes? You should … should … OH MY GODS! I can’t STAND it anymore!”
She dropped her textbook, furiously rubbing her chest and stomach. Glycerin growled and muttered inarticulate noises as Tsika stood watching, astonished at the tall brunette’s spasms.
“Omigod! Glycca?! Are you having a seizure?! This is new! What the fuck?! Helping! Let me help you!”
“No, love! No. It’s … that’s n-not it! Augh!” Tears flowed down Glycerin’s cheeks as she anxiously rubbed under her shirt. “Bollocks! Can my doll keeps it s-s-secret and helps us? We don’t know what to do!”
She slowly unbuttoned her blouse, exposing her skin from neck to navel. The little Goth’s mouth dropped open. Her flame-tinted pupils seemed lit from within as she absorbed what Glycerin had done.
“It? This is … Holy … I can’t … Oh. My. God. Glycca! That is MAGNIFICENT–.” Tsika clapped her own mouth shut with both hands, then whispered her next words. “Is glorious fucking awesome snake tattoo! So sexy and pretty! Omigod! Omigod!” Tsika arched her eyebrow and smirked at Glycerin twitching and jerking. “It itches like fucking ants. Am I right? Yes?”
The shy teen tearfully nodded. “We gots it last night, while you were at the-the tournament, love. We s-s-stewed on the idea since we, since I spotted the parlor while shopping. It is run by a nice woman. She assumed I was old enough, like they does at the pub when we s-s-s-sneaks over for darts.”
“I am thinking I am more amazed at your adventure getting there and back than event of getting actual tattoo! My brave Glycca! Such a heroic adventure on her own! Is huge accomplishment for you!" Tsika busily dug around in her gym bag. “Here! I will medicate you. This is gel for skin burns and such. Should work nice to stop itching. Be still and I will do it for you. Loosen your bra, amazing Mouse.”
Glycerin blushed as she pushed her shirt open and unsnapped her bra. She sat quietly as small darling hands applied the gel, covering the tattoo in slick goo from navel to collarbone between her breasts.
Oh my goodness! Must - Not - Focus on lovely delicious touches! Empty our brain! We doesn’t want to scare our precious adorable friend with what excites us.
“Already feels m-much better, pretty doll. Thank you.”
Tsika nodded and put the gel away. “What brought this on, Mouse? You have never mentioned wanting a tattoo! It is so large! Fuck, it would go from my knees past my throat!”
How to answer? We cannot tell Tsika the truth. We already seems a mad loony to most people. My little friend tries her very hardest to tolerate my mood swings and weirdness. Ah! Good idea, my playmate! That’s lovely help, dear! So good you pay attention to outside! That ruse will satisfy our beautiful doll.
“A badge! To mark my days after the tsunami. Surviving the rooftop with the s-s-snakes … rats … things. The snakes won.”
Tsika nodded assertively. “Is good. Important reason. Such pretty colors! The itching is fading with gel medication, yes? Skin still looks angry. Did they not tell you what to do for taking care of skin?”
“We panicked. We were paying when a m-man came in. I threw my mon-money and r-r-ran.”
“Understood. How in fuck hell do you plan to avoid getting caught with this new art? Is not written as forbidden in rules but can imagine total spasm coronaries from shithead school bosses.”
“Our new doctor is nice to me. She helps me feel s-s-s-safe even when she tries a new drug combo on us to helps us. We thinks she’ll keep my s-s-s-secret, maybe even tells us that we were brave.”
Glycerin could see Tsika’s mental gears spinning at full throttle. As the melancholy teenager buttoned her bra and shirt, her precious little friend’s face began to light up.
“I want one! Yes! Not be leaving me behind in such thing! It should fit my style like yours does you. Must stew on what kind of art the ink should be. Such things must be chosen carefully!”
“That w-would be splendid, sweet doll. Choose wisely.”
Tsika’s gaze went to Glycerin’s arms. Both limbs were crisscrossed with a network of scars. Normally the strange young woman wore long sleeves to go to classes. Tsika had not discovered her friend’s damaged arms until they began bunking together when transferring from the wretched school where the two had met. In addition, Glycerin had added more scars since arriving. Twice since Tsika had become her friend the forlorn lassie had attempted suicide during psychotic episodes. This was, after all, a school for students with psychiatric needs.
“You could tattoo your arms, Glycca. Decorate. That would shut down stupid hurtful questions. But will have to wait until we are done with these fuckwit boarding schools. Maybe at university.”
“I had not thought of that.” Glycerin made a noise, the best she could construct for a giggle. “That’s a brilliant notion! But yes, w-w-would have to wait. Couldn’t hide that amount of inky decorations.”
“Shall we play guitar now, Mouse? Feeling energetic after my big win!” Tsika was already hauling her bass guitar case out from under her bed and flipping the latches. Glycerin silently nodded in agreement and picked up her Fender electric guitar from where it leaned against the wall. She loved making music with her adorable petite friend. It pushed the gloom away.
Synthesizer class. Back when the pair had first registered on arriving, Glycerin had been overjoyed to find there were music classes for the keyboards. A popular rock band she idolized, Gothic Fire, had a keyboardist she especially worshipped. A tall beauty named Aina. Silver hair, ice blue eyes, a glorious witchy sorceress who coaxed amazing sounds out of her instruments. Glycerin had band posters on her wall, all their albums, and magazines about the band. Total fan girl, as Tsika gently teased.
Glycerin had mastered the basic keyboard skills, but she could barely manage more than a few tunes before she was wracked with claustrophobia. Her body wanted to move with her music. The boards forced her to sit still. Her long fingers danced elegantly on the keys but her brain scattered, often into panic. This day she was sweating profusely by the time she finished the last note of her latest composition for the instructor.
“That was excellent, Glycca. Take a break. I don’t want you passing out again. You’re much too tall to catch after all. Your composition is coming along nicely. Just keep at it! Why don’t you go center yourself with your guitar in the solo room? We’ll carry on here.”
The teacher moved onto the next pupil as Glycerin got up. At first she roamed the room, her body randomly twitching and jerking as she recovered. At least the class had stopped laughing at her. Everyone had gotten much nicer to her since she had discovered the guitar was her happy space. Her classmates treated her gently now, even sympathetically. She got her instrument case, then isolated herself in the adjacent soundproof room. Plugging her guitar into the amplifier, she began to play.
Within a few moments, Glycerin was dancing happily, weaving her movement with the notes. Her eyes closed, blissfully unaware of anything but her music. The students and the teacher sat mesmerized watching her through the solo room’s plate glass wall. Her transcendent performances had made her a school idol, the fact of which she was completely unaware.
“GOT IT!” Tsika leaped up from her desk scattering her work. The two young women were studying for an upcoming math exam. Glycerin clapped and cheered for her most important doll.
“Good show, luscious pet! You f-figured the derivative out?”
“Ah-h-h-h-h-h, no. I am totally screwed deep up my small butt on that. No, Glycca! My tattoo! A spider! A black widow! Venomous! Right over my heart! Poisoning my toxic black heart with its fangs!”
Glycerin felt sad. “Little doll doesn’t want something happier? Her heart is lovely precious. Not black!”
“Mouse is sweet liar. She knows the darkness in me. No, I think this is perfect idea. Now to plot getting it. Will be challenging! Tricky part is getting it without some mouthy shit tattletale seeing me. You are so good at sneaking naturally. Me, I have to plot such things.”
“My scrumptious doll should work on her derivative. Test. Remember the test. We w-w-wants her to do well and keep her grades up. You’ve been doing so-so-so brilliantly this semester.”
“Is all your doing, Glycca! Would be flunked without your tutoring. H’okay. Math is my nemesis now. Will stab, stab - oh! Ah ha! Is transformation right here. Fuck! Can not believe I missed it. Am stupid moron.”
“No, my doll is not a moron! She just thinks differently, likes we … likes I do. Keep at it, pet.”
A fluttering shadow scuttled along the edge of the campus hedges. The thickening fog sucked up the last remnants of daylight as night settled in. The dark form hopped the short fence and slipped off into the village. A block away, a street light transformed the shadow into Tsika. She moved at a confident pace now, a little strut in her walk as she celebrated her getaway.
My Mouse is with people I trust. They are working on their music compositions. Is good. She is spending a lot of time with her guitar these days. Not just in our room but with other classmates. Seems to drive her gloom away to play. Much more happy than with keyboards. Heh! I should take actual music classes, not just pick at my bass guitar with her. She is so God damned good. Don’t want to fall behind or be forgotten. Maybe … maybe we could form band or something after we graduate.
She laughed out loud at that fantasy thought. Turning the corner, she spotted the parlor Glycca had acquired her python tattoo from. She pranced to the front door and entered the shop.
“Hello?! Am looking for artist, yes? I would like to get tattoo!”
The woman who ran the shop emerged from the back room and burst out laughing.
“What a darling little sprite! I’d love to help you, little girl, but you’re far too young for tattooing!”
“What?! I am same fucking age as Glycca and you gave her wondrous tattoo! What the fuck?!”
The woman’s face turned to fear. “Uh … how old is that young woman? Glycca, you said?”
“My friend is sixteen! Same age as me I am saying. Would like tattoo.”
She turned paler. “Oh my bloody knickers! I was sure she was eighteen! I didn’t even ask! No, little moppet. You have to be eighteen in Wales to get a tattoo! Oh, please tell her not to tell anyone who gave it to her! I’d lose my license and permits!”
Tsika stewed. She was not going to give up. “I must have tattoo! She is my most important friend. Fuck! She is my ONLY friend! I pay you cash? Quietly? Will never say a word!”
“That’s so sweet … but I’m terrified now. Even if I took your money I’d likely mess it up I’m so upset.” The inking artist sat down, obviously distraught. Tsika was now stymied to the point of tears herself.
“But I must have bond with my friend! Must be a way!” The aggravation on the small Goth’s face faded as an idea formed. “H’okay! Creative new plan. I will be blunt. Is there artist less worried about such things? Who would take cash? Is totally fucking hard to sneak off campus at evening. Please?”
“You are bloody serious about this, aren’t you? I do know one man … but he’s, uh, a wee bit creepy. I wouldn’t send a little elfin sweet like you to him!”
Tsika drew up to her full height, all four feet ten inches of it, taking a defiant stance. “I am probably far more dangerous to him than he is to me.”
The woman smirked at the short faerie creature but then her eyebrow cocked. “Wait a bit. I think I ‘ave heard of you! One of the older boys was here the other day, old enough for his first tat. He chatted about a fight he saw last year. Tiny pixie girl waylaying three brutes with just her hands and feet. Cursed magnificently the entire time, he said. You?”
Tsika clapped and grinned. “Yes! Was me! Fucking pigs bothered my friend and then made fun of me. Was bad day for them?! See?! Sketchy pigs are nothing! It will be fine if you give me directions! Then is my choice after that! H’okay?! Am not defenseless. Frills and lace hide steel.”
“I get it, little slice of sweet treacle. I’m trusting my gut and the look in your eyes.” She drew a map on a sketchpad and tore the sheet to hand to the small woman. “Keep to that route. The alleys and bars are nasty. It wouldn’t matter how dangerous you were if there were too many buggers. Please don’t be too stubborn to run. I’d feel blooming awful if I read about you in the paper, but I won’t be an obstacle. You’re such a stubborn doll with purpose.”
“That is what my Glycca calls me. Her little doll. She is my best friend. I will not be denied. Thank you!”
Tsika tipped her for the information and left, following the map. In a few short blocks, she switched her thinking to tactical battle mode. It was an exceptionally sketchy part of town. Not evil so much as wild and boisterous. Harassment or worse more likely to come from someone too drunk to take no for an answer. Tsika had specifically dressed in street fashion clothing to blend and put her hair in a ponytail rather than her preferred twin tails. She knew her young looks and size would draw attention no matter what. It would be more surprising if she did not encounter a problem at some point.
She approached her destination just after nightfall as fog squelched the remaining light. Tsika let out a grateful sigh on seeing the OPEN sign in the window and lights. A customer was inside so she loitered out of sight until the man had finished his business and left. She slipped in through the doorway. No one at the desk but she could hear movement in the rear of the establishment.
“Привет?! Hello?! I am hoping shop is still open. Would like small piece of art commissioned!”
A tall thin man appeared from behind the curtain and lurched to a halt. Not ugly but he was heavily tattooed and smelled of tobacco. “Ah, what’s this? My word! Really? You’re a scrumptious candy bar! But you aren’t bloody legal for a tattoo and what are you doing in these parts after dark, lassie?”
Tsika’s heart fell. “Was told you were not too particular about customers if the money was good. My friend, she got a tattoo and I am determined to get my own in support. Am older than I look! I am sixteen! I have cash. Strictly mum deal. Was hoping?” She fell silent with a glum face.
“Before I tell you no, spank you, and send you home – what tattoo do you want, my little lollipop? And how much is it worth to you?”
“Am wanting black widow spider, about this big. I want it over my heart.” She unbuttoned her shirt halfway and tugged it open just enough to reveal a hint of the curve of her breast. “Here. Over my heart here. Is worth seventy pounds to you if good art. I researched prices.”
The man gazed at the ivory skin she pointed at. He did not move for a solid ten seconds. “Oh I am definitely going to hell for this. Little morsel of candy? Let’s choose you some art. Come back here and look at my spider art books.”
He walked past her to flip his store sign to CLOSED. He locked the door. “Just making sure we aren’t bloody bothered. I’m very fond of my business permits and such.”
Tsika’s antennae were fully extended. The man did not radiate evil or any menace she could detect. Nonetheless, she kept a wary stance. “Following you then! What should I call you? My name is –“
He waved his hand. “Don’t give me your real name. My name is Edmund, Eddie is fine.”
“H’okay, Eddie. Then you already named me. You shall be calling me Candy!”
“Brilliant choice, Candy! That is going to be a fine little piece of art on a fine little piece of art.”
The man was shoveling praise and admiration of her looks. Tsika had to work hard to keep a tight clamp on her ego. She was not used to having anyone but Glycerin praise her appearance. Eddie seemed to adore her, complimenting how she moved, her delicate bone structure, porcelain skin, subtle comments about her curves. He was almost poetic, but in a creepy way.
“Is seventy pounds good price?” She kept appraising the spider design she had chosen.
“Won’t mess you about on price. Depends on how exquisite you want the art. Usually charge by the hour.” Eddie stopped to admire Tsika yet again, his eyes flicking up and down as he appreciated her body. His shoulders slumped as he rolled his head back.
“Oh bugger all! I’ll do it the best I know how for seventy pounds! Bloody artist in my head just wants to put something beautiful on such a pretty little canvas.”
Tsika stared at the client chair, examining her tactical options. “Do … do I have to take off blouse?”
“Good idea to remove it. Depends on how much you like the blouse. Ink does splatter.”
Tsika’s lips twisted as her pragmatism kicked in. “Fuck it. I want this. Want it done right. Damn it! I have no bra today. Did not think about this issue because I thought it would be woman doing the work. Screw it. Off with the shirt. Will burst in embarrassment later.”
Eddie watched as she quickly undid the remaining shirt buttons, then grit his teeth and put his hand up. “Wait! I’m torn between heaven and hell here and I’m not sure which is what. I have a towel you can drape on yourself. Look, little Candy, I admit straight out that I am totally enjoying you. But I do not want you freaking out to the Bobbies. Here, I shall step out here. You take your shirt off, get in the chair and make yourself modest with the towel. Just leave the skin for the tattoo uncovered.”
A few minutes later, he sat next to Tsika as she lay in the chair with the towel draped over her breasts. He hummed a popular tune while arranging his tools. “That is a right cute little navel and waist. I see you’ve got some nice tone in your muscles. Tattoos look better on that. Right then! Lecture time for your first tat. Here are the paints brand new, sealed. Here are the needles. Also brand new. Always ask to see that. Never let anyone use something you haven’t watched them open or unwrap. Make sure the seals are real. A good artist won’t complain. Now. I am going to swab your skin down with disinfectant, sketch the design on you with this marker, then we will get underway. You comfortable?”
“Fucking hell, no! I am scared shitless! Never done this before!”
“Good. Now I know the little sweet treat isn’t a liar. Yes, getting inked hurts but remain still and it’ll be done faster. I want to do this right. You are far too pretty to have a crappy messed up tattoo on that lovely pale skin you have.”
“Ha! H’okay, Eddie. I will be still like pretty canvas for you. Holy shit. Guess I am ready.”
“I’ll talk to you while I work. That helps. Want music?” Eddie began penciling a spider outline on her chest. Tsika twitched at the sensations.
“Nyet. Chatting is fine. That … tickles a little. Let us proceed on this.”
Soon the whirr and click of the inking began. Tsika felt her eyes leaking tears almost immediately.
“Oh God damn! How did my Mouse do an entire fucking SNAKE on her body?! Every click feels like fire!”
Eddie stopped to wipe the tear tracks off her face with a tissue. “Yeah, you understand now, darling sweetmeat. Your friend must be quite a fierce lady to do an entire python from navel to heart like you described. I’d love to see it sometime. But I think I’m going to be quite proud of this. Such a beautiful little creature. The spider will be pretty, too.” He chuckled.
Tsika ignored his joke and watched the project unfold in the mirror Eddie had arranged for her. The spider began to appear under his artistry, her porcelain skin around the ink reddening in protest. Tsika burned off pain by cursing in Russian. Occasionally Eddie adjusted her modesty towel to keep it out of his way as he worked. The young woman remained wary but the man seemed to be more intent on his art than her body. Her radar continued to report him as lecherous but gave no sense of violent danger.
“I don’t know diddles about the school over there. Just that it’s a boarding school. You studying anything in particular? Here, let me wipe those tears.” He picked up his tool again. “Amazing words spouting out of you. Not sure I want to know what you’re babbling, Candy. Sounds like lethal hexes and spells in some dark language of Mordor.”
“Am Russian born. Very naughty words. Would like to study languages. Chinese fascinates me. Began playing bass guitar a few years ago so music keeps … ow, fuck … bubbling up.”
“You live on campus, right?”
“Truth. Parents died before middle school so am ward of estate lawyers. Total jackass lawyers … ah, mother of … crap! Damn! Cannot believe Glyc did not mention it hurting! Just the itching later.”
“Your friend Glyc is a real trooper. Stay still. This is a tricky bit – want to get this leg tip perfect and ….”
The modesty towel slipped down and fell to her lap. Tsika’s eyebrows shot up as her muscles went taut. Eddie froze as well, gaping at shapely little breasts with pretty nipples. He reached for the towel but the hand had another idea and drifted up to stroke one of the treasures.
Spears of thought collided in the young woman’s head.
Kill him! Now! But I want this tattoo so much! Is good work! Touch feels so fucking good! I am pervert!
Her legs shivered as she softly moaned at his stroke. Then she growled, grabbing his wrist in a hand lock. Tsika’s other hand now held a dagger, flashing in the spotlight. Her next words were a monotone.
“You are not dead … because I want this tattoo and you clearly have skills.” Eddie spotted the dagger. He began sweating. Tsika let go of his wrist, but now with an appraising look in her eyes.
“Is also true I am not getting any sensing that you are evil man. You are simply weak and perverted. Not sure how to process this.”
Eddie slowly sat up and raised his hands. “Aye, lassie. You are such a desirable tasty treat. So lovely to look at. But, I really really do not want to go to jail and neither do you. I hope.”
“Is honest words. Truth. H’okay. New deal, Eddie. We understand each other now I think. I am practical about this. If price is fifty pounds … will allow some touching as long as you pretend it is professional and necessary for better art. I shall have a marvelous tattoo. That is my mission.”
“Wow. You’re going to be formidable as an adult if you’re like this now. Uh, I forgot to ask. May I take a photograph when we are done? Uh, if it makes you nervous -- just from the lips down to just below the spider. Not asking for porn! Just for my portfolio.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I do not believe you. However. If I get to approve whole picture, might allow face and boobs. No crafty shit, I know how cameras work. Someone taking naughty pictures of me, it should cost them much more.”
“Very formidable. Deal.”
“Yes, is fair deal. Shake hands.” She extended a hand, her eyebrow still arched. They shook on it.
She relaxed back in the chair. Eddie recovered the towel and made to drape it on her. She stopped him, took the towel and hung it on the chair arm. “Is fine. Is part of deal, yes? Towel was obviously distracting you from artwork keeping me modestly covered. Just be honest and respectful. I will allow you to look and touch as needed to do your work if it gets me beautiful spider. Honestly? I am totally baffled someone finds my small boobs and body attractive.”
Eddie took a deep breath, set his machine and loaded a new needle. “Little Candy? Some blokes really really like petite women. I’m one. You are a total gobsmacker, a regular Gothy little Snow White. Gonna enslave some lucky bastard someday. He won’t even look at my art. With that lovely body, your beauty will swamp his mind.”
Eddie showed Tsika the screen on his digital camera. The image displayed captured her unclothed appearance from her navel past her pert breasts and the new tattoo to the top of the ponytail sprouting out of her head.
“Is wonderful camera! First time seeing a computer camera!”
“Hah! It’s a Canon EOS-1D. Fairly new on the market. Wonderful for business. But I meant the image.”
“Makes me feel like beautiful model and you should be paying me for my work. My ego is on fire now, you may keep entire image. Maybe it will freak out some administrator in for secret tattoo. Ha ha!”
He handed Tsika her blouse as she handed him the cash. She donned the shirt and buttoned as she spoke. “Thank you for tattoo. I believe we are all square with money? I will be going now.”
Eddie peered out the window with an aggravated look and checked his watch. “Right. Bloody hell. Can’t have this. Let me walk you back to campus, Candy. It is not a good idea for you to be alone in this neighborhood at this time of night even if you are a little ninja girl. I want you to be around to show my work off for a long time and not be dead in a few hours.”
“Will not object to the escorting. Is appreciated such chivalry. See? You are not evil man! Just perverted and creepy.” Tsika snickered quietly with a smile as the pair left the shop.
“My doll let-let-let the man do WHAT?! What … what-what-what if he had … what if you had not come back! We couldn’t do without you … our doll!” Glycerin sat on her bed wringing her hands and sniffling.
Tsika sat next to her, hugging and shushing. “Glycca. I wanted tattoo. For you! I was in control! Man was just creepy. Thought you would be happy and proud of me! Look at it! What do you think of art?”
Glycerin took several deep breaths, wiping her nose as Tsika opened her shirt for a complete view.
“It is per-perfect for my little treasure. She’s nimble like a spider and-and deadly to her prey.”
The small Goth was ecstatic at Glycerin’s praise. She took her strange friend’s hands in hers.
“H’okay. You and me! The two of us! We get in trouble together! Yes? Always! Am I right?!”
Glycerin nodded. She bent over and kissed Tsika’s ear before whispering, “Friends forever?”
The little Russian laughed merrily. “Even longer!”
Idź do # 3