Black Petals Issue #92, Summer, 2020

Out of Juice

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92_bp_outofjuice_knott.jpg
Art by A. F. Knott 2020

OUT OF JUICE

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

          Nine days without power. Or is it nine years?

And nobody knows why.

          Outside, neighbors scream. “I can’t take it!” someone screeches. That nut upstairs, with the wild eyes. Freezers stuffed with rotting meat. Melted ice cream and slime drip onto kitchen floors.

Outside, garbage piles up. Always, you smell it. Why hasn’t it been picked up? No answers, just rumors: the gas shortage, runaway garbage trucks, sanitation workers are dead.

 Today, on your way out to charge your cell, the stench is the worst. It follows you to U Bust It, I Fix It, that new computer store.

A lotta good, you think, technology does now.

Still, this place is the new town center. Between the generator, and hot dogs sizzling on the grill outside, this place is your only hope. Dozens of neighbors, chilly in just hoodies, wait impatiently for their laptops and smartphones to charge. Power strip after power strip is added, each connected to the ones before, all hooked up to the “Big G.”

And, for what? No answers to the Big Question. Just crazy theories, fears of Amageddon.

 “Thank you!” you mouth to Daniel, the young owner, whose smile seems to hold ancient secrets.

 “Any idea?” someone asks, nervously. “when the power’s coming back on?”

It gets quiet. All eyes are on Daniel, as he turns a fresh batch of dogs. Finally, he shrugs. “Maybe never.”

Above the franks, the stench of garbage wins out.

 

*     *     *

 

It’s outside U Bust It, I Fix It that you find Rudy.

“ ‘Einstein,’ ” he says, like it’s the good ol’ days.

  Despite the sad, gray sky, he wears his shades. Something wrong with his eyes, always the palest blue. Dark curls receding. How long has it been?  Since he just . . . vanished?

He goes home with you. Sex hot as ever, even on ice-cold sheets. His shades keep you from reading him: Where did you go? you wonder, as he rams you. Will the power ever come back on? He cums, hard.

Upstairs, that nutjob paces back and forth. Her “Can’t . . . take it . . . anymore!” sounds muffled.

Rudy lights the gas burners, to cook: beefaroni, minute rice, spam. Steam makes the windows fog up. But outside, what is there to see, anyway? Rats crawling up piles of trash.

On the window, he writes his legacy: RUDY LVS EINSTEIN.

But you left, you think. Why?

Outside your window is a grate. Something huge thumps against it on its way down. Screams say the nutjob checked out.

You wipe the window, to see better.

Across the street, another neighbor jumps to his death. More screams. “Did you hear?” a female voice wails. “Why the power’s gone? They say . . .”

It’s gone forever.

Trucks trudge along, with megaphones blasting unspeakable news. Soon, you’ll all be one with that stinking trash heap.

Still, inside here, it’s dreamy. Steam curls like from a witch’s love potion.

In your bed, Rudy drowses, shades still on. Very slightly, his thin chest heaves.

You edge closer.

As you reach for his shades, images haunt you: scarred tissue, empty eye sockets.

You, he once said, watch too many zombie flicks.

From behind one lens, a worm crawls. But you smile, as it encircles your finger.

 

 

 

“Out of Juice.” Copyright 2012 by Cindy Rosmus. Originally appeared in Yellow Mama, Issue #41, December 15, 2012.






Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants. She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, Dark Dossier, and Twisted Sister. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights activist.




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