Pseudopod 039: Some Things Don’t Wash Off

By Joel Arnold

Read by Ben Phillips

Finally I looked at him. Bald, thin, muscular and his body covered with tattoos. I mean everywhere. On his face. His ears. All up and down the front of his back. He wore jeans and suspenders. No shirt. Just suspenders.

I caught myself staring at his teeth.

“Scrimshaw,” he said, widening his smile to expose more detail. “An art practiced for centuries by sailors.”

Each tooth was etched with a picture of a man hanging from a tree. The etchings disappeared into his throat.

May 25th, 2007 2:37 pm

Very nice. I was inked by a preacher’s son in Champaign, IL at the Mark of Cain. (shameless plug).
Don’t use anti-biotic ointment.
Bag Balm! Keep it wet for 2 weeks.

May 26th, 2007 4:09 am

I didn’t find this to be terrifying or horrifying. It was beautiful.

May 26th, 2007 4:31 pm

I agree with Ben…It was heartwarming in a sort of twisted, morbid way (no pun intended with the “heartwarming” thing *GASP* *SPOILER*)

May 26th, 2007 4:32 pm

I must say too, that this story, conceptually speaking, is like one part Sin Eater, one part Illustrated Man.

June 23rd, 2007 3:26 am

I sincerely loved this story. I agree, it was beautiful. My vivid imagination caused me to shudder when the guy ripped his chest open…

But I really enjoyed this one.

July 30th, 2007 4:49 pm


Not only was this a fantastic story, but a masterful reading by Ben Phillips. The combination brought tears to my eyes.

I’d agree it might not be your classic horror fare, but, man, was it an effective piece.

December 13th, 2007 10:50 am

Does anyone know if Joel Arnold has a website?

i’ve been searching and searching but can find nothing about him!

i really need to get hold of him as i’m desperate to illustrate this story!!

January 25th, 2009 5:04 pm

Strong story… forgiveness.