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The Last Meal of Laughing Boy Reilly-Fiction by Jason Butkowski
Miss Pearl-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Vegas, Napalm Strike-Fiction by j. brooke
Favorites-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Salton Sea-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
We Must Never Find Out-Fiction by Sam Graham
Collateral Damage-Fiction by Jim Farren
Radiant Night-Fiction byPauline Duchesneau
Late Returns-Fiction by P. K. Augustyn
Bad Influences-Fiction by Marci McKim
Where My Fathers-Fiction by Willie Smith
Nothing I Could Do-Fiction by Brian J. Smith
The Magician-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Sky Toucher-Falsh Fiction by Jerry Vilhotti
Dark Morning-Flash Fiction by M. G. Allen
What Might Happen in Vegas-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
San Mateo County Easter Egg Hunt-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Doing Some Resaearch-Poem by Roy Dorman
A Lack of Rain-Poem by Michael Keshigian
In Traffic-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Distinguished Souls-Poem by J. J. Campbell
The Ghosts of Murdered Children-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Digging Season-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Sometimes the Light is My Enemy-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Char-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Gone Feral-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Rat Tamer-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Imaginary Hedgehogs-Poem by Michelle Hartman
I Knew Him when He was Six-Poem by Michelle Hartman
A Reason for Everything-Poem by Michelle Hartman
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2018







Cindy Rosmus



          “Fritos,” Noreen said, that day in the lunchroom. “Chips and dip.” Mary smirked.

“I’m giving up ice cream,” Greta said.  They both nodded, sympathetically.

 Greta didn’t mean Breyer’s, or Howard Johnson’s. Her dad made his own ice cream. Mary’s mouth watered, just thinking of it.

“How about you?” Noreen asked Mary. “What’re you giving up for Lent?”

“Spaghetti,” she said.

“Mare!” Greta was horrified.

“You hate spaghetti!” Noreen said.

“My mom’s.” Wistfully, Mary thought of real spaghetti, like you got in a restaurant. 

“You should give up your favorite,” Noreen said.

Mean Ricky Kelly was on his way over to their “dork” table. In her belly, Mary’s lunch felt like cement.

“So Zilenski hates spaghetti!” he said. “So why’re you five hundred pounds?” he asked Mary, who shivered.

“Ignore him,” Greta whispered, trembling herself.

Ricky grabbed his crotch. “Wanna eat this?” Around them, kids snickered. “You fat slob!”

          “Where’s Sister Stephen?” Noreen said.

Mary just looked at her. Brain that she was, Noreen could be so dumb, sometimes.

Sister Stephen had no clue about stuff. She didn’t teach from their books, or teach, period. Usually she just yelled till her face was beet-red. “Get up to that board!” she screamed at their class, and the cool kids howled with laughter.

Ricky was Sister’s favorite.

“Kneel down!” she’d told Ricky, that morning. He never stopped laughing, even when she roughly twisted his left cheek while smacking his right.

“How ‘bout it, Zilenski?”

Mary gritted her teeth. When she didn’t answer, Ricky asked Greta, “How ‘bout you, Fornell?”

For years, he had tortured them: Noreen for being a genius, Greta for being a basket case, but mostly Mary for being fat and creepy and ‘cos her Pop drank. Once Pop had passed out, outside Lenny’s Bar.

Hey, Zilenski! Watch your Pop don’t get picked up with the trash.

If the teacher called on her, and Mary’s answer was wrong, Ricky sang out, “Zilenski is a dumbbell!” If she answered right, his “Wanna tutor me after school?” was followed by, “I’ll bring the Devil Dogs!”

Next day was Ash Wednesday. Mary dreaded what Ricky would say about the big, black cross Father Tom smeared on her forehead. The cool kids always wiped off their ashes, but she was too scared to.

Why, she asked herself, am I scared of God? When He lets Ricky rule the school?

Was he God’s favorite, too?

When the bell rang, Ricky slunk back to his own table.

 They gathered up their garbage. Not one Devil Dog wrapper on her tray, but to everybody, Mary was still a fat slob. She wished school was over, so she could cry.

 It’s just not fair, she thought.

Back in their classroom, something big had happened.

Sister Joseph, the principal, was in there, sobbing. The nicer kids were crying, too. It was like back in second grade, when President Kennedy was shot.

Noreen heard first. “Sister Stephen . . .” she said, “had a stroke!” The others gasped.

By 2 P.M. they had a sub, Mrs. Lane, who had taught some in seventh grade. Really taught, with books, peering over her bifocals at the cool kids, who to Mrs. Lane, were just dumb.

“What page are you on?” she asked, today. Before Sister Stephen’s body was even cold.

“Page of what?” Ricky said. But nobody laughed.

Mrs. Lane asked tough history questions that only Noreen knew. “Ugly bitch,” Ricky muttered. Mrs. Lane ignored him. 

Mrs. Lane didn’t smile once, all afternoon. Or mention Sister Stephen. Even the cool kids fidgeted in their seats.

When she finally asked each kid to get up and state their name, she skipped Ricky like his seat was empty.

“What about me?” he said.

Mary had dreaded her turn. But this was worth it. She tried not to smile.

Zi-len-ski . . .

“When’s the funeral?” Ricky asked Mrs. Lane later, but she made like she was deaf.

It was chilly but sunny out, when they left school. For once, Mary didn’t feel like crying.

At Lenny’s bar, Pop was in his usual spot, smelling like he’d gotten there real early. The bar itself smelled like kielbasa.

Mary’s favorite. “Wanna sammich?” Pop slurred, as she sat next to him.

“Sure,” she said, without hesitation. She took Pop’s arm, rested her head against him.

It was hours till supper. 

And tomorrow she was giving up kielbasa for Lent.




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, 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.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018