cares?" Lew said, when asked whose birthday was tomorrow.
Snake said. The crack-whore, I thought.
do something for her."
what?" I said. Picturing balloons on the ceiling and bouncing all over the
bar. Maybe Nina wearing them.
party?" Snake said.
I caught Lew's
eye. Yeah, balloons. And a cake that nobody would eat. Nina milking all the
guys for drinks. Top-shelf stuff vs. the usual cheap beers.
“Hell, no,” Lew
It was Labor Day
weekend. Most of Scratch’s regulars were down the shore. The place was dead,
but a party meant work. Labor Day was
for not working.
And fuck parties, I thought, bitterly.
scumbag who’d stole my heart, was MIA. For like a month. That blue-eyed,
poetry-spouting fuck made me cry for weeks.
Lew had said. Donny’s was the biggest bar tab at Scratch’s.
said. “Just a cake, or cupcakes. Balloons and streamers from the dollar store.”
said. “What’re we, in third grade?”
And I’d get stuck
doing it. Last Halloween I hung the fake cobwebs and cardboard skeleton. No
sooner was the skeleton up, than some drunk bitch pulled it down and was
dancing with it.
Nina, I realized.
her,” Snake said. If she comes in tonight, we can’t talk about it.”
“Who says we’re
even doing it?” Lew said.
Nina burst into
the bar. “Doing what?”
Lew’s tone said he was giving in.
“Hey, guys!” She
practically crawled into Snake’s lap. “Guess what tomorrow is?”
Day.” Lew winked at me.
I’d be baking the
* * *
Donny. Everything reminded
me of him: Skynard tunes,
since “Simple Man” was his favorite song. Vanilla-scented candles, since he was
such a romantic fuck. Even cake batter . . .
When I was a kid, he said once, I felt so left out. ‘Cos my birthday’s in
August. Other kids got to bring in cupcakes for theirs. But not mine, man. ‘Cos
school was out.
He was still
pissed, like there’d been spies at the school out to get him. Donny was big on
So there I was,
candles burning, Skynard in the background, mixing chocolate cake batter and
bawling my eyes out.
You don’t really
he’d said last
month, that the Kennedys had nothing to
do with Marilyn’s death?
* * *
“Maybe Donny’s dead.” I handed
Lew the cake.
He trudged around,
like it weighed a ton. “I wish.”
Next to the
register, was a huge plate of hot dogs he’d grilled out back. He dumped the
cake next to it.
“Fuck it,” he
said. “I ain’t hiding it.”
“But nobody’s heard from him.”
haven’t.” He smirked.
“Don’t mean nobody else has.”
My heart sunk. If I’d eaten a hot dog, it’d
be on its way up.
Labor Day or not, people came in. Sunburned guys
sick of the family
barbecues. And some chick with blue hair that fucked both Lew’s sons.
As fast as I poured beers, I couldn’t forget
Donny, I kept thinking, where the fuck. .
Then, Lew nudged me. “Surprise, surprise.”
There they were, in
the back doorway, the Three-Fucking-Musketeers. Tube top down so low, her
nipples should’ve popped out, Nina was between Snake and . . . Donny.
“I’m here!” she screeched, holding
up a can of Coors. “Happy B- . . .”
“Hey!” Lew yelled. “You can’t
bring your own beer!”
“But it’s my . . .”
Donny hugged her, I saw red. Like the world’s jugular was slit. He turned to
me. “Shelley?” he pleaded.
His eyes looked
wide, crazed. His “all-day drunk” eyes. I’d woken up with him, heard him crack
that first beer. It took hours for his eyes to get this way.
When Nina grinned,
impishly, I lost it.
said. “Gotta catch up with these two.”
The night dragged.
You’d think I couldn’t hate them more. But they kept making out, or he squeezed
her skanky tit.
I slammed down
their drinks, so they jumped. Charged for every fucking one, birthday, or not.
How could you? I glared at Donny.
we’d made out to Skynard. He’d squeezed my
tit. Had beer-and-Pretzel Crisps-breakfasts in bed.
“You think,” I
asked Lew, “he’s just trying to get me jealous?”
He glanced behind
The bar was
sticky, from Fireballs that people sucked down. The blue-haired chick started
I washed shot
glasses like mad. Dropped an empty Bud bottle that rolled to God-knows-where. Later,
I’d probably trip over it.
The balloons got
loose, and people popped them. Some guy popped one right behind Nina. When she
squealed, Donny got up, his face lobster-red.
“Oh, jeez,” Lew
said, “S’gonna be a fight.”
Good, I thought. Die.
Fucking birthdays. . . . Instead of a
it was time for cake. Behind the bar, Snake removed the Tupperware lid.
“They’re not gonna
fight?” I said.
“You get candles?”
“No.” I flicked
Lou’s lighter, and the flame shot up high.
“Oh . . .” Snake said.
Then, “Happy Birthday to you! Hap-. . .”
Like life had
ass-fucked him, Lew trudged toward Nina with the cake.
Then Karma kicked
That bottle I’d
dropped? It rolled right in Lew’s path. The cake went flying.
When it struck
them, they fell apart. Nina, almost off her stool. Chunks of chocolate cake and
frosting were stuck to their faces, and clothes. It looked like they were
smeared with shit.
Through the fudgey
mask, Donny’s eyes looked even wilder. He wiped off some frosting. Smiling, he called
frosting all over Lew’s face.
“You fuck!” Lew
yelled. “Get out! All of you’z.”
Some people got
up, slowly. But it was like a mob getting it on. Blue Hair smirked at Lew.
“You too, Bluesy!”
He never remembered her name. “And Happy Birthday, my ass!” he told Nina.
It was like that
old movie, Animal House. Suddenly
people grabbed gobs of cake and frosting, began flinging them at each other. Especially,
I ducked, but it
landed behind the bar. On booze bottles, the register, everything. The sweet
smell was like, noxious. I almost puked.
“Cake fight!” someone yelled, too
“Get out!” Lew was
still yelling, when I got up, like ten minutes later, to check out the mess.
It was like
Godzilla had shit all over us. The stools, floor, pool table . . . everything
was mucky with devil’s food cake.
And, guess what? Nina
was on Snake’s lap, nibbling cake off his face. Now he was squeezing her
Beside them, was
Donny, smiling, waving me over.
Like a lovesick
fool, I went. Hating myself more, with each step.
Once there, he
painted a chocolate mustache on me. First one side, then the other, with little
“I guess,” he
said, “I really . . . fudged things
I couldn’t help
Even though I knew
he’d probably fuck me up again; even though tomorrow, I’d probably be cleaning all
this shit up, I waited, hoping . . .
I’d be surprised.
Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and
talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out a lot, so needs
no excuse to do whatever she wants. She hates shopping and shoes, chick lit and
chick flicks. She’s been published in the usual places, such as Hardboiled;
Shotgun Honey, Twisted Sister, A
Twist of Noir; Beat to a Pulp; Pulp
Metal; Thrillers, Killers, n’ Chillers; Mysterical-E; and Powder
Burn Flash. She is the editor of the ezine, Yellow
Mama. She’s also a Gemini, an animal rights activist, and a Christian.