Freedom Is Never Free
Later that week, when the sun was gone and all there was nothing but a moonless, cold night, Kenny and I drove to a small camper. This old camper was deep in a small time trailer park at the end of a dirt road and a maze of mobile homes, where nearly everyone in the Aryan-Viking Alliance got their tattoos done.
This camper was also home to Jamie Pillman, a former top ranking tattoo artist. He ranked highly in international art competitions, both tattoos and other wise. It’s sad that when he joined the Organization 28 he was blacklisted by nearly every tattoo shop.
The man was a canvas of art. He had swastika proudly on the right side of his neck, the White Power cross on the left, ‘SKINHEAD’ inked on his knuckles. If he goes shirtless or if his wife beater moved you can see a bass on his chest, two sleeves of so many designs up and down his arms. I still haven’t figured out half of them. All the ones on his legs; the skulls, the random flames, and the cloverleaf with ‘666’ in it he did all by himself. Jamie was a very cool person, but had one vice- beer, and lots of it. When the times got tough he always had one in his hands, with wishes that beer would make it all better. Tonight was no different. While doing Kenny’s chest tattoo, which was to be the name of his daughter, Faith-Rose, and her birthday. When he started the tattoo he was already buzzed.
“So you two are going to Puerto Rico?” Jamie asked after he took another swig.
He dipped his homemade gun into the ink and continued to write Faith-Rose in Old English.
“Just me. Kenny doesn’t like planes and Tom said he only needs me,”
“Of course that old bastard does,” Jamie sneered. “He needs at least one other person so he can claim unwilling accomplice. It’s how he got out of prison and sent me in,”
Kenny and I looked at him completely surprised. Jamie took a big swig.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Jamie looked up at me from Kenny’s chest; “Tom did go to prison, but for only a few months. He claimed that I was driving while drunk and killed the poor ol’ black man. It was Tom who was driving!” Jamie took another swig of beer; he seemed upset yet relieved about talking about the incident that sent him to prison. “I was drunk in the passenger seat. I told him not to hit the black guy. He wasn’t doing anything to us. For God’s sake he was wearing a construction uniform! He was making an honest living, working overtime for a few extra dollars with some other workers. But no, that is not what Tom believed.
“‘Up to no good, and wasting tax payers’ money,’ that’s what Tom said over and over. So he sped up my truck and ran him down like a dog in the street. They were almost done filling all the potholes, he was about to go home and see his family. But no, Tom says only white men can see their families, that the blacks knock ‘em up and leave ‘em. So he killed him. Hit and run,”
We looked at him in shock. Kenny and I shared an uneasy look. Could Tom Williams, the co-founder of the Aryan-Viking Alliance truly roll over on his own white brother? “How do you know he was going to see his family?” Kenny finally asked.
Jamie laid down the homemade tattoo gun. After smoothing over the ink job he answered, “Because I talked with his co-workers. He was sad because he missed his sons’ high school football game that night. And I was the one drinking, so I was in prison for five long years! Five fucking years!” he spat out and threw his beer can out his open trailer into the cool night. He stumbled over to his small fridge and took out another beer. “I’m sorry. Did y’all want another?”
I began to raise my hand but Kenny waved me down. Now really wasn’t a good time. We both shook our heads when Jamie looked back at us.
He came back and continued to finish the tattoo, “This tat is badass, brother,”
Jamie finally finished a few minutes later, turning the homemade gun off.
I couldn’t stop myself. “What did you do when you get out?”
Jamie looked at me. “I was in The Alliance at the time, so I couldn’t kill Tom without dying,”
“At the time? I thought you were still in it,”
Jamie shook his head, “Hell no I’m not. The week I got out, I betrayed my race, or so Tom says. I found me a beautiful Indian woman and married her. I had a son with her, but Tom ordered the Alliance to take me away.
“THEY TOOK ME AWAY FROM MY FAMILY! Like the church relocates pedophile priests, the Alliance relocates their “disgraced” members. Because of the tattoos they branded on me, I couldn’t find a job, no one would hire me. You think I wanted this fucking swastika on my neck? Or a Cloverleaf with the mark of the Beast? No! I been wanting out, to end it all. But it’s like the Mob, once you’re in and you know too much, they won’t let you go. I am the only one in the entire Organization 28 who knows how to use the tattoo gun right,”
Kenny and I remained silent. All we could do was listen. I knew I surely was. This is a different light on the Alliance that I held so dear to me. The thing I chose over Catherine. The man clearly wanted his family or death and this thing of ours denied him both.
“All I wanted, for years, to see my son once more. To pray he didn’t end up like me, to keep him safe. I just want to see Chato,”
Kenny perked up and finally spoke, “Who was the woman you married?”
“Dawn,” was the only word he breathed as he looked away.
Kenny’s eyes widen. “That’s my mom’s name,”
Jamie looked back up, his beer dropped to the floor. For the first time, we all saw it. The eyes, the body frame, even the tan. “Ch-Chato?”
For the first time, father and son embraced. I was left stunned, my eyes widen. “It makes perfect sense,” was all I muttered.
“I’m so sorry, son” Jamie whispered.
“For what?” Kenny asked, for the first time in all the years I’ve known him, choked up.
Jamie walked over to the small dresser in his backroom. A few moments later he returned, tears flooding his eyes. In his hand was an Enfield revolver! “Don’t fallow in my footsteps, both of you,”
“What are you doing, dad?” Kenny shot up.
“I said I wanted out, son. You two must leave before you’re in too deep! This racism ruined my life; it separated us for 20 years.” Jamie explained.
He placed the gun to his temple and I jumped back, eyes wide again. “I used this gun to shoot a black preacher in the ’60s, to show I was ready. To this day I wish I could reverse the wrong. Now, I can,”
“Dad please. Don’t,” Kenny pleaded. I could see Jamie’s blue eyes filled with tears, he really didn’t want to now he saw his son. “We can escape. Get away from them,”
Jamie shook his head, his gun raised over his head, “You can’t just run, Chato! Look at me! I’m branded, that means nowhere is safe for me. If I run I’m a dead man. Don’t you know what the target mark on both my shoulders mean? It means I’m a dead man walking!”
“But you’re the tattoo artist,” I spoke up.
“Because Tom, that slime ball of a scumbag, has kept me alive. As long as he’s the general of the Aryan-Viking Alliance and I stay in this camper I’ll stay alive. If I leave or if Tom leaves, I’m a dead man walking,”
“But-“ Kenny tried.
“This is the way it got to be. Goodbye Chato,” and with that, he placed the gun back to his temple and pulled the trigger.
The bang that followed was the loudest, as Jamie’s dead body fell to the floor, the blood oozing out. Kenny was screaming: his estranged father killed in front of him. I remained silent. Too shocked to see another great man die for this cause.