“By god, we’ll knock you down a peg or two!” exclaimed one voice. Another shouted, “He thinks he’s better than us!”
I listened outside of the window as Michael John Beddome, my friend and colleague, was berated endlessly (or so it seemed), by the members of a society to which he desperately wanted to belong. “But at what cost?”...Read More
I asked him days before. Later, as I trembled in the rain, having followed him secretly for blocks and blocks of busy street to this back alley locale, I began to truly understand the horrors that lay ahead for him…and I began to weep.
“You’ll unlearn everything you’ve learned, relearn that, and unlearn it again, only to learn a whole new set of things to unlearn!!! Hear me, fancy-pants?”
I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design with Mike Beddome. He was a talented young man who grew up in some of the Northern-most regions in Ontario, and we were all jealous of his artistic prowess. For some reason, however, he became fascinated with “The Society” and their reputed goal to “change the colours of the people of the earth.” I could only assume that this meant marking them with the revolting skin designs that had been emerging in the brothels, bars and barrios, and I couldn’t help but feel that he was on a dark path, from which I wanted to protect him at all cost. When we graduated in 2011, he laughed and lit a cigar with his diploma, as I watched his imminent descent in horror.
“God, give him some more pemmican. He looks pale. Hahahahaha!” Chills ran down the spine, as the cackles grew louder and other voices joined in.
Shortly after graduation, he received an apprenticeship with an adept artist named Mr. Joe Baker, and Michael quickly picked up the art medium under his tutelage. Despite my disliking for the art of tattoo, I’d have to say that he accelerated quickly. But why throw away a perfectly promising art career to consort with the worst kinds of people from the underbelly of society? My mind boggled.
“I hope you’re awake enough to comprehend this…this is a new world, and this is your new home. Old arrangements ain’t being honoured…ya get me son? Get used to it, fancy pants!” What the hell were they talking about?
The Society, though extremely secretive and largely elusive, had gained quite a reputation. Legendary spectacles and events curated and promoted by the society drew enthusiastic crowds and revelry, but nobody knew much about the members or what went on behind the closed door of their clandestine quarters. Dark tales circulated regularly, and children were told to afford the members a large birth, should they happen upon one. Mike Beddome became drawn and his curiosity gave way to obsession. As he developed his skill, he began to openly speak about his desire to become a member of the society. In one seedy establishment, on one particularly dark night, he met a young Asian woman who claimed to be a member and promised to introduce him to the others. Within a week, he had packed up Bowzer and Sheeba, his beloved hounds, and little else, and simply vanished.
So when I caught sight of him that cold, rainy evening, I was compelled to follow. Perhaps I could talk some sense into him…snap him out of his trance-like state and make him aware of the perilous danger he may face. He rushed into the hidden-in-plain-sight doorway before I could get his attention, so I secured my poition under a partially opened window in the back of the building. As I listened in terror, I realized that Micheal was experiencing a transformation of sorts. His being was being torn down and stripped. There was little I could do now, without putting my own safety at risk. I shooed away some young raccoons and hurried out of the alley way to hail a handsome, and went home entirely discouraged.