Memento Mori

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9

It was interview day. I was not on speaking terms with my parents and didn't tell them about the opportunity. They would do anything in their power to prevent me from succeeding. I once applied to be an ice cream tester. I figured how hard could it be? I love ice cream. They said I was underqualified, and that I would have to understand every component because there's a science behind it. They told me that I would literally have to try every version of the frozen treat until my tongue would numb.

They also said it would make me fat.

I took a bus to the interview. I stared out the teardrop window.
Roughly every 400 meters, were advertising billboards. My attention was fixated on the unfunny, witty slogans and distinctive visuals.

Wave Rapids Water Park. The advertisement displayed a mother and son splashing each other in a cool, relaxing swimming pool. Obviously, the model playing the mom was a bad representation. She was far too perfect to be enjoying the wizz-crowded water. She was a thirty-four, twenty-four, thirty-four. Her eyes were sapphire blue and her charismatic smile was filled with pearly white teeth. What kind of quintessential mother takes her child to a public water tank looking like that? The catchphrase on the bulletin read, "Wildly wet wavy fun!"

Throw Mr. Exterminator in a repulsive, contaminated pool. Immediately after, tip a drum of gasoline in the collection of liquid and ignite the top surface. If we're fortunate enough, Mr. Exterminator will either drown or burn to death.

One hundred meters down the road, Do-It-Yourself Hardware had an advertisement promoting their annual sale. The signboard displayed a photo of an industrial 8-gallon wheelbarrow air compressor.
Cut Mr. Exterminator until he's senseless. Use a sharp instrument and carefully create a small opening in his waist. Next, take the industrial 8-gallon wheelbarrow air compressor and place the suction head against his kidneys. Patiently wait for him to wake up. When he does, power on the compressor, and witness his bean-shaped organs take to the air!

"Preparing is logic! Get ready now!" a billboard announced, some kilometers down the road. It was an awareness ad for the flu season.
Gash out Mr. Exterminator's eyes, and vomit contagious bacterial broth into his bare sockets.

Was that over the line?

I couldn't concentrate. I was nervous to meet Mike, the lead coordinator of the arts department. I wished Memento Mori was with me. She became my confidence.

Forty minutes and fourteen miles later, I finally arrived at my destination. I stood before the all-powerful children's place for pleasure.
Fantastical! Family Amusement Center. The building was insanely overwhelming. It was equivalent to four and a half football fields filled with indulgent, fatuous nightmares. The roof even formed a powerhouse dome to house an indoor ferris wheel.
The car park was as I expected.
Jam-packed and loaded with milk-white mini vans and mulberry family-sized SUVs. Every street lamp throughout the parking lot was jazzed up with a bouquet of balloons.
I had my portfolio of submissions in hand, anxious and enthusiastic to show off my creations.
Once I entered the establishment, my jaw quickly dropped. I was astonished. Beaming, vibrant lights. Powerful, radiant colors. Bright sparkles and glowing flickers. The walls were masked with enchanting, saffron polka-dots. Star-shaped fixtures were suspended from the teal rafters. The staff members all shared the same artificial, jovial smile.
I was in awe because of the thrilling rides and addicting games.
The Littlewinder Kiddy Coaster. Tilt-A-Whirl. Tea Cups. The Rainbow. Railway Choo-choo. The Mama Moo Roundup. Balloon Race. Frisbees. The Little Ferris Wheel. Crazy Shakes. The Looper. Tip-top.
So many more.
I stood frozen from astonishment, imagining my breed of lollipop race inhabiting this fairytale land. It was a remarkable feeling.
"Can I help you?" The blooming preteen at the welcome counter asked.
"I have an interview with Mike, the lead coordinator of the arts department," I said.
"Right this way please," the short preadult signaled me to enter a team of double doors behind the welcome counter. I always envisioned art as a potential life-long profession. This is it, I thought to myself.

Jackpot.

Not quite.

Behind the team of double doors was a large, utility-looking space packed with five dozen people all patiently waiting for the same thing.
That's right.
Sixty sweaty fantasizers all waiting to flaunt their lollipop people to Mike, the lead coordinator of the arts department.
Dammit.
I took a seat. The chairs were uncomfortable classroom-style plastic with a tubular steel frame. No chair was alike. Some were mustard yellow. Some were navy blue. Some had cracks. Some had gaping holes. Some had epoxy repairs.
To my right sat an older gentleman costumed like an eccentric beatnik. His odor was a back-dated carton of cigarettes. It made me think of mom.

Tie up Mr. Exterminator and shower him with gasoline. Use a strong, fast-acting adhesive to entrap a cigarette between his lips. Light the tucked tobacco.

Sitting to my left was Fawny. Fawny's mother was one of those socially unconventional flower children that thrived on fresh air and mother nature.
In case you're curious about her name, yes like a baby deer.
Fawny was... unusual.
She was decorated in a faux fur-hooded puffer vest, seamless leggings, and floral damask print rain boots. Her hair was untamed with savage curls and was toasted almond-colored. She sat beside me constantly coiling her chaotic hair twirls with her pointer finger. She was delightful, yet erratic. Fawny's face was long and confined. Her large baby blues opened up her face and lent a feeling of wonder.
She was an odd, odd bird.
Her voice was sharp and high pitched.
She was a talkaholic. A windbag. We discussed her youth. She told me how self-conscious she was about her teeth, and how she wore brightly colored bands on her braces to match her outfits. She told me about the glints in her hair and her funky toe rings. Her dad was a mechanic and his specialization was classic microbuses. Her mom was an artist and painted landscapes with oils.
She presented her lollipop caricatures to me, and confessed her passion for art.
Talking to her was exhausting. It made me miss S3xy_S0utherN3R and Cheryl_N_cherriesPLZ. I made me miss Memento Mori.
The one-sided conversation lasted well over an hour. Eventually a short, thickset woman with a dirty, chic bob haircut shoved through a push bar, steel door.
"Fawny Deer?" The stocky woman shouted.
"Your last name is deer?" I asked.
"Shut up," she snapped.
Again, the woman roared, "Fawny Deer? Mike is ready to see you."
"Wish me luck," Fawny said. I gave her a smug, little smile. I wasn't going to wish her no such thing. I wanted it. I wanted to be the absolute Lord of the lollipop civilization. Fawny followed the stout woman behind the push bar, steel door.

I waited.
And waited.
And waited.
I counted the diamond plate ceiling tiles. 264.
I counted the sporadic coughs the eccentric beatnik barked out. 44.
I examined the stains on the textured, tan carpet. Some looked like tomato-based products. Maybe blood?
Who knew.
Memento Mori once told me she was served a mysterious beverage of crimson color. A masked man approached her and placed the beverage in front of her.
"For you," the man said.
"No thank you," she replied.
Supposedly it was at a time when alcohol production and sale was prohibited.
"You can make it illegal, but you can't make it unpopular," the man whispered to her.
Memento Mori abruptly left the establishment and went outside where prominent citizens were protesting in the street. She walked up to St. Peter to avoid all of the commotion. Once she turned down the street, she was attacked.
Memento Mori said she was struck in the face with a heavy bludgeon, and received a cut to her ear. She quickly realized her attacker was the masked man. Fortunately she was pocketing a penknife and stabbed the man 39 times; in the throat, lungs, heart, liver, and spleen. He was found dead the following morning.
Lo and behold, Memento Mori did the community a huge favor. Citizens rejoiced because the masked man was a suspected rapist and murderer. Law enforcement firmly believed the man's motivating force behind the attacks was his recent diagnosis of cancer. The red beverage he was offering women was actually a glass of his bloody urine.

Yeah, gross.
The girl is a storyteller.

Fawny rushed through the steel door. She was crying her eyes out. Her whimpers were loud and obnoxious.
She sounded like a smothered bunny wrapped up in a snake's constricted coil.

Vacation on a tropical cruise to the warm waters of Indonesia. Invite Mr. Exterminator as your guest of honor. Catch sight of a 990 pound python, and push Mr. Exterminator overboard. If you're lucky, Mr. Exterminator will be the angry serpent's midday meal.

Fawny ran to me.
I leapt to my feet.
She ran to me and squeezed my boney physique with her delicate limbs. My shirt was saturated with Fawny's watery, oily mucus.
She smelt like fabric softener and peppermint tea.
The blubbering was authentication that she wasn't qualified for the position. She told me specifically what Mike was expecting from an admirable candidate.
I was in trouble.
The short, stocky woman with the dirty bob hairstyle shoved through the push bar steel door again.
"Phineas Hines? Mike is ready to see you."
"Me!" unthinkingly I blurted.
"Your name is Phineas?" Fawny chuckled. I rolled my eyes and gently nudged her out of the way.
"Phineas!?" The stocky woman groaned.
"Coming!" I shamefully called out.
I could hear Fawny wish me luck as I approached the steel door.
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