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Baby It Was Divine-Fiction by P. K. Augustyn
Reservation Beer Run-Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Dark Streets-Fiction by Harry David Moss
Breathless-Fiction by Mick Rose
The "Birthday Blues"-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Redhead Reba-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Thor's Anvil-Fiction by J Brooke
You Never Know-Fiction by Jim Harrington
Something About the Devil's Pickup-Fiction by Walter Giersbach by
Do I Know You?-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The One and Only Alexa Kalekar-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Guillotines Cause Permanent Disability-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Biology is Destiny-Flash Fiction by David Powell
Knucksie-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Cell-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
Urban Renewal-Flash Fiction by Gerald E. Sheagren
Pearl-Poem by Meg Baird
Conundrum Street-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Hope of It-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Endings #2-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Immense Hot-Air Balloons-Poem by Alan Catlin
Red Fires Up the Bike-Poem bt Alan Catlin
Jazz Standards-Poem by Kevin Rabas
The Evening Air-Poem by Kevin Rabas
For K-Poem by Mark Young
The/Secret Life/ of Wilhelm Reich-Poem by Mark Young
A Line from the Leningrad Cowboys-Poem by Mark Young
Delta Leo Remembers Her Nephew-Poem by David Spicer
Rosa and the Creep-Poem by David Spicer
Tribe of Two-Poem by David Spicer
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



“Hi,” the fat guy said, “My name is Richie . . .”

And I’m an alcoholic. . . . drug addict . . . compulsive gambler . . .

Not this gang.

“All my birthdays were horrible,” Richie said, sniffling. “But the worst . . .”

I rolled my eyes. Theirs were on him.

In a church basement, we met, with dying A/C, in mid-August. Like a real “Recovery” group. But. . . why? Everyone has at least one shitty birthday. These people were freaks.

Always a whipped cream cake, or cutsey cupcakes. And candles. Not too many, or we’d feel old, besides being out of our fucking minds. All fanning ourselves in the heat, like being here was life, or death.

“Mine is Thanksgiving week,” one girl said. “I’d just get a piece of pumpkin pie!”

“With a candle?” our leader asked. This week, ancient Andy led the group.

“Some-sometimes.” From the back row, you heard a sob.

“Mine is on Christmas!” a disgusted voice said. “How’s that for a buzz-kill?”


I wasn’t here by choice. I’d first come with Vee, my childhood best friend, ‘cos she was scared to come alone.

Till last month, on her birthday, she hung herself.

“The ‘Birthday Blues,’ ” one speaker had said, “is a real issue. A bizarre phenomenon. . . .”

The closer you get to your special day, the greater the chance . . .

Of a dirt nap.

The DIY kind.

“Nobody’ll do what I want.” A whiner. “Ride the Tilt-a-Whirl, or eat salt water taffy for breakfast.”

What’re we, I thought, in fourth grade?

It was in fourth grade we’d met, Vee and me. On Vee’s ninth birthday, her psycho dad strangled her mom, then shot himself. 

Even before her own suicide, Vee had these freaks beat.

“Let’s take a break,” old Andy said.

A mad rush for cake. Ice cream, too, that Andy had brought, ‘cos it was so hot out. The shitty, supermarket kind.

“It’s melting,” the whiner said. Still, she’d scooped plenty of it onto her cake.

I stayed seated. Fuck sweet treats. Know why my birthday would suck?

My best friend was gone, forever.

During break, this new guy came in. A weirdo. Even weirder than us.

Handsome, but in a skeletal way. He wore shorts and a tank top, but they didn’t suit him. And bagged, like crazy. Even his cap seemed too big for him.

Like a rotted corpse.

As they passed with their drippy cake, people glanced at him, then away. His smile looked painted, or sewn on. Nobody smiled back.

Mysteriously, the A/C was working, now. At least, I was chilly.  

Who was this guy? He seemed familiar, like I’d known him, once. His eyes bulged, like an old Chihuahua’s.

Part Two of our meeting opened with the song “Happy Birthday to You.” Tonight it seemed even more depressing.

Lights flashed. Cops and paramedics passed, back and forth. On the back porch we’d sat, huddled together, two nine-year-olds and a dog. The old dog Vee never saw again, same as her parents.

“My story is special.” The new guy was sharing, now. Without stating his name, first.

What was his name?

“Very special,” he said. I knew the voice, but from where? “And stranger . . . than all of yours.”

Some people looked skeptical. The whiner’s lip curled.

“It wasn’t my birthday that got ruined. In fact . . .” His smile got creepier. “Mine was today.”

Was?, I thought.

Almost mesmerized, others watched him. No “Happy Birthdays,” from anybody. Something “stranger” was coming, for sure.

“All she wanted, was cupcakes. No party. No presents.” His smile seemed more human, now. “Not even a puppy.”

A very old dog, I thought.

“Just cupcakes. Chocolate, or vanilla. She didn’t care which.”

People shifted in their seats. Old Andy leaned over the podium.

“On their birthdays, kids brought in cupcakes for the class. But not her.” Suddenly he was angry. “‘Cos she was born in July.” He clenched his fists, and some people got up.

July . . . cupcakes . . . More was coming back to me.

“My mom,” Vee had told me, one drunken night, “dragged out this fruitcake . . . from last Christmas! For my birthday!”

Vee’s howl of laughter became a heart-wrenching sob. . . .And now these howls—of terror, these sobs, were real! In the basement, people were running, and falling.

God knows where he’d hid the gun. But he was up, firing. Laughing, and crying, between shots. Shooting up more than that mangled cake. Blood sprayed everywhere.

But . . . how? It wasn’t possible.

Heart pounding, I lay on the floor. Praying he wouldn’t remember me. Struggling to recall how many shots there’d been.

Wondering, how could the last shot kill him . . .

If he was already dead?




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