Momento Mori

Momento Mori

A Chapter by Cameron Haskell

Chapter 1, second draft of my novella


Nunc lento sonitu dicunt Morieris

Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, thou must die.


      People always say that the journey is more important than the end. I always disagreed with that. I thought that reaching your goal was the most important part. But somehow I knew there had to be some truth to it. My life was one of benign darkness. I was a person who was unable to see the whole picture, just pieces of a puzzle that wasn't put together. The one thing that I did enjoy though, was cloudy, rainy days. I thought it always served as a reminder that life didn't have clear answers.

      And so I stand here on a rocky cliff watching the sun shine through the dark clouds and reflect on the waves of the ocean. Peaceful, just the way I liked it. I felt my stomach growl, It was then that I remembered that I haven't eaten in awhile, I tried to remember the last time I did, but was unable to. Lead by my hunger I left the cliff and walked to the store four blocks away. When I got there I counted the money I had, twenty dollars. It wasn't much but I knew it would have to do. Writing wasn't a very lucrative endeavor, and the part time job I had didn't pay that well either. But, put the two together and I was able to pay the bills.

      In the store I bought a couple cans of soup and some pizzas. The total adding up to eighteen dollars and some odd cents, I was never good with numbers. Although two bucks wasn't much, money was still money. After i left the store I lit a cigarette and started walking towards my apartment, which consisted of two small rooms, a tiny kitchen and of course a bathroom. I didn't like to watch television but I had a ton of books. All written by the masters of the classic literary canon. The rent wasn't that bad, 250 a month. Which I guess is the best a person can get in this great state of Washington. Other than the apartment my other sancturary was the coffeeshop down the street. It was rarely crowded and it had good music. It was a good place to go when I had trouble writing in the silence of my apartment. I would go down there, listen to some jazz and let the vibes wash over me like a warm bath. Then I would begin writing, sometimes until they close.

      Night was falling when I got to my place. So I made myself a pot of coffee and began to write in my notebook. I didn't like computers so I wrote my first and second drafts in longhand and then used my Clark Nova typewriter to sqeeze out my final draft. I liked writing this way, it made the writing process that more real to me.After the coffee was gone I was good and wired, it was my best friend when I wanted to work. It was always this way. My editor, who discovered one of my short stories in the slush pile, didn't understand this. But he still published my material, he said to me once that I could become the voice of my generation and that my offbeat style can show people how to think outside the box. I personally thought he was blowing air out of his a*s to just get me to write more but I was just glad that I had someone who was willing to publish my writings. Although the checks were small at first, when I had two novels under my belt they gradually got bigger. But in this day and age writers can't live on writing alone. So I got a part time job as a dishwasher at a cafe to make ends meet.

      After about three hours into my writing I finally got sick of the silence of my hovel. So I packed my notebook and pens in my knapsack, left and walked towards the coffeeshop. I checked my watch, 8:00 P.M. perfect, they were going to have a woman to cover songs by Diana Krall. I reached into my pocket and felt for my two dollars, it was enough to get me a large expresso. Since I started drinking their coffee, I started buying the beans since it was more fresh and lasted longer. The only thing I needed was a coffee grinder, which only set me back approximately twenty five dollars.

      When I passed the alleyway next to the coffeeshop I noticed a person standing in the middle of it. He had shoulder length black hair, same color as mine, and he was at least four inches taller than I was. The streetlight only shown his face. That was when I noticed he had some sort of symbol tattooed on his forehead.

"The world is blind and so are you."

      I looked at him, confused at what he said.


      But he didn't answer, he just turned around and walked away, disappearing into the darkness of the alley. The world is blind and so are you. I thought. I wonder what he meant by that. The saying stuck with me as I entered the building. I looked around and found a table set in a corner that had a good view of the stage. I ordered my coffee and sat down. I looked to the stage and let the woman singing take me away from the present moment. For the second time that day I was completely relaxed, nothing worried me in the darkness that was my world.

      Recently my editor has been wanting me to write another novel. Although I kept telling him that I was working on it I didn't have an outline or even a chapter done yet. But, after tonight, I was confident that I would send something off to him tomorrow. I knew some people that could write a full novel in a month, but I wasn't one of them. I had to let it come naturally or else all I wrote was complete s**t. I keep telling my editor this but he keeps hounding me nonetheless. When the coffee came I was already deeply absorbed in my writing. When I was in high school my english teacher always said, "write what you know."  Although I didn't like that particular option I somehow always unwittingly found myself putting real events that happened in my life in my fiction. And, before I know it, it's so deeply engrained in the story that I can't take it out.

The world is blind and so are you.This thought came back to me again. Just who the f**k was that guy? And why the hell was he standing in the middle of the alleyway at night?  I looked around the room then and noticed that the woman on stage was singing Devil may care, my favorite song. The place had some people in it but it was nowhere near packed, that was good. I didn't like it when it was crowded. I can't concentrate in an enviroment like that. Plus, the noise would block out the music most of the time.

      I put my pen down, shut my notebook, drank half of my coffee, and then lit up a cigarette. The woman singing had a haunting voice that I swear I could feel in my bones. When the song ended I drank the rest of my coffee, finished my smoke, and walked outside. It was then I suddenly felt something hard press against the side of my head.

"Give me your money or I'll drop you here where you stand."

      Crap. I thought, of all nights.

"I don't have any money."

      He pressed the gun harder against my skull and then I heard him pull the hammer back on the gun. I closed my eyes, waiting for the inevitable. But then I heard a soft popping noise, and then the man with the gun to my temple fell to the ground. I looked at him and saw that he had a hole in his head the size of a quarter.

"You alright?"

      I looked up to see a person who looked to be around my age, late twenties, wearing an expensive suit and holding a silver gun with a matching silencer on the end of it. I looked at my surroundings. The whole block was deserted, no one was around to witness what happen. When I looked back at the man who saved my life I saw him putting the dead body behind a dumpster.

"Who are you?" I asked.

      The man put the gun inside his suit jacket and walked up towards me with his hand out.

"My name is Stephen. And your's is?"

      I shook his hand.

"Thomas, sorry, but I'm kind of still in shock about what just happened. But thank you."

      Stephen grinned.

"It's not a problem, I was just in the area."

      We then started walking towards my apartment. When we got there I invited him in and I made some coffee. I decided not to ask him what his work was so I steered the conversation away from that.

"So, where are you from?" I asked as I poured him a cup.

"Los Angeles. I'm here on vacation." He said blowing on the coffee and taking a sip.

"So what is it that you do?" Stephen asked as he put the coffee down on the end table.

"I'm just a lowly writer of fiction."

      He smiled at this and took another drink. We talked the whole night, we never slept.

© 2009 Cameron Haskell

Author's Note

Cameron Haskell
This is my first attempt at something longer than a short story, reviews would be helpful.

My Review

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Very creative. you set up the main character very well. Your descriptions of things could be a little better. For example, when you said that he put a cigarette in his mouth you could describe what it taste like to him. Does it tast bitter or sweet? Does it make his mouth water at the thought of not having a smoke? Things like this could be more helpful to the reader to make them feel more as if they are the character. One more thing is that when he is held at gun point you could add a little emotion. Other wise this is a very great start. I would love to read more.

Posted 11 Years Ago

This is a very good and I love the main characters personality. One thing though, I was surprised that Thomas didn't freak out when the guy got shot. Has he seen something like that in his past before and he's desensitized or was it just a plot hole. Oh well, either way, it's a hell of a good start! I'd like to read more when you post it.

Posted 12 Years Ago

You set up the main character pretty well. Overall, I think it's well written. The only part I found implausible was Thomas' reaction to the mugger being shot - he was a bit too calm and collected given that he just had a gun pulled on him, and then the man that put the gun to his head got his brains splattered all over the place.

Posted 12 Years Ago

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3 Reviews
Added on March 7, 2009
Last Updated on March 7, 2009


Cameron Haskell
Cameron Haskell

Norfolk, NE

I am just an unpublished writer enjoying my passion. My stories usually revolve around the surreal and mostly have the same general theme, mostly. In essence all i want is to send a message with my st.. more..