Know any stories about camouflage tattoos?
June 20, 2011 7:50 AM   Subscribe

A recent conversation reminded me of something I once read. It was in a Playboy magazine, likely mid-80s, and it was either a short story or an excerpt from a novel if Playboy even does that kind of thing. From what I remember it was written in the first person about a guy (a reporter?) who hears about this Vietnam vet that has learned some art of tattooing which acts as the perfect camouflage.

There was a confrontation or showdown or something like that in the woods where the narrator described the guy taking off his clothes and disappearing.

Of course I read it when I was a kid, so I don't have the clearest recollection. Maybe it wasn't a Vietnam vet, maybe it was second person narration, I don't know.

Regardless, ring any bells?
posted by komara to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could it possible be something by Lucius Shepard? I vaguely remember something of his about camouflage, maybe in Life During Wartime or one of his short stories. The timing would be right and I think he may have been a Playboy favorite.

Could it have been something by Tim O'Brien? He would fit the Playboy + 1980's + Vietnam equation, but I don't have even the haziest memory of anything he wrote that had tattoos.
posted by rtimmel at 9:17 AM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: Hell, maybe it wasn't even tattoos - maybe this guy was blending into the foliage with the power of his mind. I seem to remember it being tattoos though.
posted by komara at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2011

I looked around to see if there's any archive of fiction from Playboy - this article seems to indicate that one can subscribe to the site and search for any of their published content since the first issue. Not sure if that's worth $8/mo to you.
posted by dubold at 9:33 AM on June 20, 2011

Best answer: Was it "In the Country of Tattooed Men" by Garry Kilworth?

I read it in OMNI, which had a lot of content shared with Playboy. Here's the description:
After each drunken binge, a Vietnam veteran wakes up sporting another tattoo that he can't remember getting. The markings resemble those he saw in the Southeast Asian jungle, where you could never spot the enemy camouflaged among the foliage.
The short story appears to be collected in a volume of the same name, sadly out of print.
posted by BrashTech at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2011

Best answer: Apologies, I munged the link: In the Country of Tattooed Men by Gary Kilworth
posted by BrashTech at 12:31 PM on June 20, 2011

Rings a bell. I remember a passage in a science fiction novel or story about a GI in Vietnam who had entered into the Tao of body language. He could walk along the path next to a rice paddy in full combat kit and be unnoticed by the farmers because he walked like one of them.

Don't remember where I read it, but not in Playboy.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:32 PM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: BrashTech: that's it! Ah, OMNI, I'd totally forgotten about you. Excellent! Now I just have to start digging to find a copy because I really want to read it again.
posted by komara at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2011

Check your MeMail...
posted by codswallop at 12:09 PM on June 21, 2011

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