Green, spindly ones, all
over the lobby floor Bingo Joe had just mopped. And on the stairs, leading to
the second floor.
the fuck?” he said.
dragged the broom out of the
supply closet. “Didn’t Georgie say, ‘No live Christmas trees’?”
upstairs, we heard voices.
“No, hold the fucker this way.”
Creepy Bobby G., in 2-B. And a whiny chick. Door
was wide open. You could
smell the tree, all over the building. A nicer smell than most, but still. . .
As I swept the stairs, Bingo Joe confronted Bobby.
“Yeah, I know,” Bobby
said, “Georgie’s got rules. You’re only doin’ your job.”
“Who’s he?” That whiny voice
“The super,” Bingo Joe said.
The whiny chick came out of Bobby’s place.
Chubby-cheeked, with that
two-toned hair every bitch had, these days. But something about her eyes made
me back down a step. They were cold, glassy. Like those dolls in movies that
rip your throat out, with their teeth.
“I’ll shut up,” Bingo Joe said.
“Just watch the needles, OK?”
The whiny chick snickered. As she went back in
his apartment, Bobby said,
“That’s Rosalie.” He peeked inside, to make sure she wasn’t listening. “My new piece. She just loves Christmas.”
“Lucky her,” Bingo Joe said, under
Lucky her, was right. How strange was it, that
two female tenants keeled
over, in the past six months? Looney Tunes in 1-E was found hanging, and
Kissy-Face in 2-D drowned in a vanilla bath. Both times Bobby G. was too close,
Death comes in threes, I thought.
“Guy’s got balls,” Bingo Joe
said, once we were back in the basement.
“Should we warn her?”
Itchy, our littlest cat, crawled up his leg, pulled
at the drawstring of
his pj’s. “About what?” he said.
might be a serial killer.
“Nothing,” I muttered.
“He picked the wrong one, this time.”
How Bingo Joe knew that, was a
mystery. But by 10 AM, he’d cracked a beer.
* * *
Tenants always called us, for stupid shit. But
when one came down the basement,
you knew it was trouble.
When the bell rang, all five cats scattered, one
clawing me as it jumped off
my lap. I sucked the blood from my arm as I answered the door.
Fucking Rosalie. “Know what we should do?”
she said, out of the blue. “Play
‘Secret Santas.’ ”
Secret Santas?, I thought. That dumb office Christmas
I shut the door behind me, to keep her out. “With
“Each other!” she gushed. “The
neighbors. We’ll pick names out of a Santa
cap, and give fun little gifts.”
I forced a smile. “I’ll pass.”
“Samantha,” she said, “We all
gotta do it.”
My name on that creepy doll’s voice chilled
me. I didn’t even know she
smiled. “Or it’s no fun.”
* * *
“Not me,” Bingo Joe told me. “I
ain’t doin’ it. I’m the super. They should
be givin’ me gifts.”
“Me, either.” I crumpled the paper
I’d picked. Old Miss Roberts, who
didn’t know her ass from last Wednesday. “Or anybody else, I bet.”
That night, as we lugged out the garbage, I snuck
up the back way, checked
out each floor. No gifts outside anybody’s doors. Not even Bobby G.’s.
But as I passed Bobby’s, there was a racket
inside. “I told’ja!” he
yelled. “Nobody wants to do that baby shit!”
“They all took names,” Rosalie said.
“Yeah, to fuckin’ shut you up!”
Heart racing, I ran down to the basement.
In our doorway, Bingo Joe stood, holding a small
foil gift bag. “Gee,” he
said, “I wonder who.”
Inside were homemade cat treats.
But she’d never been inside our place.
The treats smelled strange. Sweet, not like what
you’d expect. The strange
sweetness you smelled in a car’s works.
Bingo Joe smelled it, just as I did. The look
we shared held fear, disgust.
He crumbled the treats into the toilet, flushed
it a zillion times. As he
washed his hands, he was almost crying.
“That . . . psycho . . . bitch,” he
A half hour later, I went out to play numbers.
On the stoop was the psycho
bitch, herself, next to a Despicable Me
backpack and overstuffed plastic bags. On her head was that old Santa cap we’d
picked tenants’ names out of.
dumped me,” she said, “Right
“Really?” I could still smell those
poisoned cat treats.
“Said to get the fuck out.” She stared
straight ahead. Then, she smiled.
Those doll’s teeth looked sharper, somehow. “And ‘Happy Holidays!’ ”
I couldn’t get away fast enough.
* * *
That night, Bingo Joe and I were chilling, watching
the Grinch stealing Christmas, when the
building shook. Cats raced all over, as the loudest music ever started playing.
“What the . . .” He was already out
From Bobby G.’s, it was coming, two flights
up. “Rockin’ Around the
Christmas Tree,” but it might’ve been Metallica.
Tenants came out as Bingo Joe pounded on Bobby’s
door. “Hey! Quiet down in
The guy from 2-C had pillows over his ears. “I
can’t break down the door,”
Bingo Joe told him.
We went back downstairs. “Guy’s got
balls,” he muttered.
Between the earsplitting music and the live tree
. . .
I had no clue when the music stopped. Somehow,
we’d both passed out. But,
very early next morning, when only Mrs. Dietz in 1-D would be up, washing
clothes, something shocked me awake.
A scream. But had I dreamt it?
With the next scream, Bingo Joe bolted out of
Outside our door, he’d knocked over a foil
gift bag. That psycho bitch, I
thought, following him upstairs.
In her doorway, Mrs. Dietz wailed. On top of her
laundry was a gift bag,
its grisly contents spilled onto her whites.
“Oh, my God,” Bingo Joe said.
Gift bags were outside other doors, too. More
tenants had come out. Miss
Roberts peered inside her gift bag.
“Don’t!” Bingo Joe said, too
late. The old lady muffled her scream.
“9-1-1.,” the weary dispatcher told
me. “What is your emergency?”
Bingo Joe grabbed my phone. “Body parts
. . .” he said, as calmly as he
could. “Someone left human . . .”
thought. Who else?
he’s just getting started.
Figured: The first cop there was the same bull
dyke who’d found Looney
Toons hanging in the closet. And yanked Kissy-Face out of the tub.
. . .” she said, smirking.
“It does come in threes.”
On each floor, “Secret Santa” had
left neighbors something special:
fingers, toes, ears, nose, heart, intestines. Lots of intestines.
People were crying, holding each other, trying
not to scream. The hallway
floors were marbled with gore. CSI would have a picnic here.
Bingo Joe let the other cops in Bobby’s
place. The butch cop came
downstairs with me. She would see what was in our gift bag.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” I said, on
the way. “It’s a shame she’s dead, but Rosalie
was like, crazy.”
would’ve poisoned our cats.
“Yeah?” the cop said.
“But Bobby is crazier,” I said, as
she checked out the bag. “I mean . . .
really. And he had some balls . . .”
She interrupted me. “Had, is
I covered my mouth.
Outside, a car cruised past, as “Run, Run,
Rudolph” played softly.
Rosmus 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. She has recently been branching out into photo illustration, under the
guidance and mentoring of Ann Marie Rhiel.
a young artist born in the Bronx, but raised in Jersey City. He has been in a
number of musical theater productions throughout his academic career, from the
5th grade all the way up to college. Daniel has been in a few choirs and has even
competed in the World Choir Olympics. He currently sings with Saint Peter's University
Schola, the Saint Peter's University Choir. Having been a founding member of the
choir, he has since been in 2 albums that are available on both Spotify and iTunes.
At Saint Peter's University he received a Bachelors Degree in Biology. Daniel
has been interested in the arts since very young, and particularly became interested
in drawing, painting, and sculpting since having taken classes at Saint Peter's
Preparatory School. He considers photography as a hobby, but hopes to one day
get more involved with the art.