In the Summer of 2004, just after signing his name away to the RAF, he stepped into a small tattoo parlor in the sleepy eyed town of Portee. Plopping down onto the stool he handed the older man the money he had been saving for the deed, tilting his head to point to the smooth skin just behind the right hinge of his jaw, on the firm muscle beneath his ear with a smile on his face, “Make it a roman four.”
There’s an interesting meaning behind the simple black ink of the iv, scrawled nicely over skin that had seen far more than that sleepy town. It’s easy to tell it’s seen more vivid days, slightly faded over the years from the simmering sun and brutal winters, a small, sleek scar raised over a branch of the V to nick the center of the I. But in every way, it’s him. Four is his number.
Fourth to leave Alba.
His great-great granddad was Simon Donnachadh McCrimmon, his great granddad was Simon Nathrach McCrimmon, his granddad is Simon Alasdair McCrimmon, his uncle Simon Bryce McCrimmon, and him, Simon Fife McCrimmon. He’s the fourth Simon in the line of McCrimmon’s on his father’s side, known across Skye, and the rest of Scotland, as natural pipers. (Another story for another day)
Simon has a large family, but few siblings. The first born was a boy, killed after a month from a case of pneumonia. The second was also a boy, miscarried prematurely. The third was Roderick, Simon’s older brother who is currently a well off lawyer after serving his own time in the services of the British Army. Then Simon came along. The fifth was a young girl, killed at the age of three by a drunk driver.
Simon’s mother was nervous to let him leave, hating to watch Roderick go off and join the forces only to have Simon follow a few years later. After getting the tastefully sized numeral he hid it from his mother, not showing it to her on his next leave. He worked his way through the ranks and became a helo gunner for the SRR not long after joining. His work took him all over the place, meeting new people and cultures that most small town teens would be frightened of.
After his return from the services and relieved of his contract, Portee just wasn’t enough. It couldn’t stand against wild rides and screaming turrets, so off to America it was. Plenty of friends in the services were yanks and he figured leaving would be just another adventure. Yet very few of the McCrimmon family, within the knowledge of the family, left Alba, if at all. Simon was the fourth, known, member to leave.
Creepier still, I met him in my fourth college Lit. class, which, no lie, was the fourth class of the day, and classes started…. the fourth. A coincidence? A hell of one if so! He’s had it no where short of easy, coming from a family who mostly died before they took their first breath, but he won’t let it drag him down.
Hell, he just might have four lives!