Memento Mori

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1

I was twenty years old. I lived in my parents’ basement. I had a rare medical condition that forced me to shove a cream-colored pill down my throat. If I didn't swallow the little tablet every day, I would've died.
When I was younger, my parents always worried that knowledge of my illness could threaten my well-being. Mom had asked countless physicians to withhold serious information from me. After I turned eighteen, she continued to convince doctors to justify therapeutic privilege, because revealing a diagnosis would only harm my mental health. Some doctors believed her method of secrecy was irrational and unethical, and it would cause much more harm if I didn't know.
I honestly didn't care. I was already miserable and I just didn't want to die.

My parent's basement was dark and unpleasantly damp. Moist like the condensation off of a cold can of soda.
The house was considered new and luxurious in 1974. Somehow, somebody back then thought it was a neat idea to place galvanized steel pipes into weak, poor-quality homes. Old, delicate pipes that would rust so badly, it caused them to crumple in on themselves and collapse. When it happened it allowed mass amounts of water through the line.
The basement would flood. If you flushed a toilet on the overhead level, feces would breach the laundry room drain. Excrement and foul juices would rush up the bathroom sink.

It was lovely.

Sarcasm.

The wall-to-wall floor covering was a thick fabric shag. Yep. You guessed it. Burnt orange-colored. Apparently, in 1970, interior decorators were suddenly in the visual mood for something more muted, contemplative and autumn-y.

The carpet reeked of mildew and pet dander.
The household pet was a not-so-smart Queensland Heeler.
His name was Müttley Crü.
Müttley's breed was developed to drive cattle. Energetic, independent, and intelligent.
Not Müttley.
Müttley was stubborn and lazy. He would even lay down to eat his food.
He would attack the concrete beneath his feet, assaulting his own shadow. He would munch on electrical cords and cower from rodent instigators.

Müttley Crü was one of a kind.

Burnt orange deep-pile carpet. The aroma was horrendous, no thanks to the bad plumbing and Müttley. The walls were a superior solid construction of wood paneling. Espresso brown.
The basement was dark. The only light source in my compact bedroom was a tiny storm window.
I was miserable.
In my gloomy, bleak room, my preferred pastime was art. I would draw, sketch, doodle, and draw some more. I would have a black needlepoint pen pinched between my thumb and fingers, and allow my imagination to run riot. I would draw anything.
I would draw celebrities.
I would draw mythical creatures.
I would draw celebrities being mutilated by mythical creatures. Lose limbs and become mush.
I would draw superstructures. The Chrysler. Empire State Building. Himeji Castle. The John Hancock Center. Union Station. The Eiffel Tower.
I would draw superstructures, only to draw the aftermath following destruction.
I would draw people and portraits. Abstract and surreal.
I would draw men fucking women.
I would draw women fucking women.
I would draw men fucking men.
I wasn't lonely —
I was just alone.
I would draw anything. Everything. I would draw, and I was good at it.

I always envisioned art as a potential life-long profession. Maybe work for an advertising agency, a newspaper or a film studio.
Nevertheless, the entwining serpent-haired woman molded me into stonework and seized me in my footsteps.
My mother.
I love my mom but she's... tyrannical.

In the crisp of the nineties, my mom was an infomercial queen. She was a late-night television advertisement salesperson that promoted a wide variety of products.

Ancient Japanese detox systems.
Stop smoking devices.
Pet rocks that sprout moss.
Facial aerosol anti-blemish sprays.
In reverse robes.
All of which made my mother think that she was this divine celebrated starlet.

It got to her head. She falsified her current life with the bygone days of 1995. Absorbing Lexapro and Xanax, she would reenact her early gigs with tearful eyes in the bathroom mirror. My mom was the supreme matriarch, and my father and I were her manservants.
Her doormats.

I was forced to work as a painter with my father. I was a contractor that painted the inside of small businesses.
Go ahead, ask me anything about interior painting.

Stir thoroughly before use.
Apply in full even coats.
To thin, if necessary, use appropriate amounts of clean water.
Never mix colors.
Do not apply when surface temperatures are below 50°F.
Clean tools in warm soapy water, and final rinse with mineral spirits.
The chemical process that happens during the drying is called evaporation. Evaporation is where the liquid portion alters into a noxious gas. A poorly ventilated space is hazardous to whomever's health.


Painting the interior of constructed piles was never difficult. It just got repetitive and uninteresting after a few years. That, and steadily working beside my old man.
My father.
A man so glorified with his second-rate profession, pride would defecate from his asshole.

The porcelain gods were gratified.

Dad comfortably accepted his position in life. That was his defect. The man had no backbone.

Life.
Hard-boiled and fierce.
The most annoying and wrongful thing about the living duration is the way it ends. The only grasp of accomplishment we get when it's all over is death.
If I'm being honest, the life cycle is completely backward.
We should surrender first, far-fling it into the backwoods. Mature into dust bags and colonize in assisted living communities. Grow younger and get the boot for being too healthy. Go muster a pension. From there, it all gets recognizable. We find some random job that we have an extreme dislike for, maybe stress the grind for thirty years until we've bloomed enough to retire. Drink recklessly, party our immaturity. Grow even younger. Load our book bags for school. Go to college. High school. Junior high. Grade school. Preschool. Become a kid. We'll play video games, we'll collect action figures and adorable little dolls. We'll have no responsibilities and our parents will look upon us as holy terrors.
We'll go back, way back. Spend our final nine months floating with high living and bliss. Like a whirlpool at a mineral spring resort. Central heating. Room service on tap. Finally, we'll finish it all off as a fucking wet culmination.
Hallelujah.
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