Black Tears

The man with two black tears tattooed on his face and I have the same dentist. I’m at the office for a cleaning when Black Tears walks in. Sweatpants, puffy winter coat—he looks like he was a fat kid back in the day, but a stretch of time spent in the clink has hardened him some. Opposite the tears, on the other cheek, he has what looks like a hanged man, the black stick figure etched into his skin like the tears. On his hands—one on each fist—he’s tattooed grenades. They’re green, the only other color I imagine you can get in prison.

This is gonna be good, I think. Whatever this guy does in this dentist office is gonna be good. I pretend to read a book.

He stuffs one of his grenades into his puffy pocket…

I hold my breath.

He pulls out…

His phone.


To play a video game. A loud video game—probably called Annoying Sounds. Every now and then he curses in Spanish, upset with the game in his hands.

I feel like cursing too. You have black tears tattooed on your face, dude! You can’t find an original way to be a dick? Playing your video game too loudly in public? Really? That’s all you got?

He receives a text, which interrupts his game. He answers it. Pauses. Looks up at me. Speaks. “How do you spell ‘operate’? Like to operate on somebody?”

I spell the word for him. I get my teeth cleaned, X-rayed. No cavities. No tears. No dicks.