But I think different now.
ACT 1, SCENE 1
TATTOO REMOVAL CLINIC, LASER ROOM, SAN FRANCISCO
PLACAS stands shirtless, chest and arms
full of tattoos.
What’s in a number? Any number.
It was the Mayans invented the zero. Simón.
Short, dark indios staring at the stars above
the Yucatán thousands of years ago decided that
it all came from nothing. The universe birthed
the first. To the Maya, zero was God.
How about the number one? Americans believe
everything starts with the number one. First
is the most important. First day of the month.
First kiss. First son. First kill. First toke.
First tear. One nation under God. It’s a
cheerleader song at every game: We’re number one.
Number one is God.
Trip on that, ese.
And how about the number three? That’s an
important number. The Father, the Son and
the Holy Ghost. Karma comes in threes, right?
The Lencas, The Spaniards, then the mestizos.
Three dots on my hand. Three words to live by:
Mi. Vida. Loca.
One. Three. Thirteen. Which is from Southern
California. All the clikas from the south show
our unity with the number thirteen.
I got thirteen tattooed all over my body,
and sometimes I wonder which came first:
bad luck, or thirteen? It’s what you call
Prison library—what can I say?
Conundrum. I like that complex word. Kinda
like my tattoos. I’m supposed to burn them off.
Part of my probation. But these placas are for
life. My loyalty to the homeboys. My history.
My clicka don’t like no drop-outs. To them,
tattoo removal is disrespecting the hood.
You can get killed for that.